I will be honest, nine months ago the fair was not on my mind when we found out we were expecting. Having another baby was something I had dreamed about for the past two years, and now it was a reality. Once the shock and excitement settled, we quickly began to realize just when our little one would be due: We were due during fair week. In addition to our three kids showing, we made a commitment to two other families to allow their kids to show heifers from our farm.
I honestly wasn’t worried about it — the last two pregnancies I worked until the day I went into labor. Well this pregnancy was not like the rest. I spent the first four months either physically sick or sleeping 20 hours a day. My husband and the kids were on their own — I could barely function. Looking back, those four months were a complete blur. The only thing I did to help on the farm was pay the bills, and even then I had to catch up on all the main book work and filing once I got back on my feet.
We live an incredibly busy lifestyle, and I am very much a person who likes to have a plan, a list, and the need to feel like I have everything under control. I have a hard time accepting help or admitting that I might need help. It’s not a trait that I am proud of, but it’s who I am nonetheless.
We found out about halfway through this pregnancy that our baby was having kidney issues. We were told that this is actually common in boys, and they typically correct themselves by the time they are born. This unfortunately was not the case — with each ultrasound we noticed no changes. At 35 weeks, we had an ultrasound on his kidneys. We found that his left kidney was almost at normal levels while the right was in the high-risk category.
We went from everything was going to be fine to hearing things like “high-risk pregnancy,” “early delivery,” and “your baby is going to need surgery.” Everything else seemed so trivial. With everything going on, I knew the best thing to do was back out of the fair. I couldn’t do it all especially not knowing if I was going to have to deliver early or what he might need once our baby arrived. I didn’t need the added stress of having seven of our heifers at the fair while we focused on our baby’s health issues.
I let the two families as well as our own kids know that it just wasn’t going to work out for the kids to show this year. I felt sick to my stomach to do that to them but it was just too much for me to handle. The moms were more than understanding and let me know they were there if I needed them.
A couple days went by and I felt this overwhelming desire to make this whole fair thing work out even if I didn’t know what to expect with my pregnancy. I had made a promise to these kids and I needed to honor it. The problem was, though, that I needed help. I contacted the moms to let them know, and I asked if they would help if something were to happen. Of course they would; they had been offering help the entire time. Several others from the dairy barn who knew what was going on offered to help as well.
As we prepare for the fair, I have no idea if I would go into labor or what will happen once our little one arrives. I do know however that I don’t need to worry about our seven heifers that will be at the fair. I have amazing people who are ready to step in and take over the care of our animals and make sure they get home safely. All it took was for me to step back, let go of the control, and allow my friends to help. After all, the show must go on!
Krista Stauffer is a wife, mother of three, and first-generation millennial dairy farmer. Krista works side by side with her husband and kids on their 140-cow dairy.