I rolled over to the side of the bed and stuck my head over. Thor had a look on his face that made him appear like he’d been hit between the eyes with Mom’s best cast iron skillet. We just sort of started at eatch other. Finally I got tickled at the look on his face and no matter how I tried I could stop the snicker that wanted to escape.
“Rochelle, are you messing with me?” Thor asked suspiciously.
“No,” I said choking off another laugh. But then I took a good look at his expresses and started to wonder. “Would … would you prefer that I was?”
He sat up and then gott of the cold floor while I moved back over to my side of the bed. However, Thor didn’t come back to be but stood before the fireplace.
“No, I … you just caught me off guard.” That’s what he said but I was pretty sure that wasn’t what he was thinking.
The room was dark except for the light that came from the banked fire in the grate. I was already tired and the limited lighting and the warmth of the pile handmade quilts I was snuggling under weighed my eyelids down.
“Rochelle this changes everything,” Thor said abruptly, starting me out of an incipient doze.
With my eyes still closed I said, “No kidding, but it was always going to eventually.”
Thor was silent and finally I mustarded enough energy to pry my eyes open a crack. Thor was staring down into the orange coals and his body language told me he was feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. I started to get out of bed and go to him but Thor turned at the sound of the covers rustling and rumbled, “Stay in bed.” But I also heard what he didn’t say, “… because you’re pregnant.”
As tired as I was I was more determined to straighten this out. “You aren’t going to get all strange like some guys do are you?”
That finally got me a focused look. “I don’t know what you mean.”
I yawned, sat up yet again and said, “Bet you do whether you want to admit it or not. For the last time I’m not made of glass. I’m not going to melt in the rain. I’m not going to go all weird just ‘cause I’ve got a bun baking.” After a breath I said, “OK, so I might get a little strange – Dad said Mom did – but time will cure that, at least ‘til the next one.”
He swallowed some spit the wrong direction and coughed out, “Next one?!”
“You only want one? Which flavor?”
“What? No,” he said flustered.
“No what? You …”
Starting to come out of the weird twilight zone act Thor growled, “Dang it Rochelle!” I didn’t know whether Thor’s hair on his head or in his beard was going to need more combing out.
Fluffing my pillow, preparing for a late night discussion I said, “Thor, just tell me …”
I never got to finish. Thor was on my side of the bed in only a couple of steps and he yanked me into his arms. Then it was my turn to squeak; he was hugging me so tight I just about couldn’t breathe. Under normal circumstances that might have led to something else but this wasn’t normal circumstances, least ways not the first time around I had to tell him I was pregnant. He finally let loose enough that I could tilt my head back and say, “So … you’re happy about it?”
Thor kissed the top of my head and instead of answering asked a question of his own, “Have you talked to Ms. Hefling?”
“What’s to talk about?” As Thor’s eyebrows snapped into an irritated V I told him, “Yes, I did. Today. Relax already.”
“Relax?! You’re gonna have a baby!”
As dryly as I could managed I said, “Yes I am. And I’m pretty happy since the baby is yours. Not sure how I’d feel otherwise.”
Thor gave a good imitation of a wide mouth bass. I kissed him in part to shut his mouth and then because I wasn’t tired anymore and had started thinking about something else.
Thor groaned, “Play fair girl. This is what got us into trouble.”
“We’re not in trouble, we’re married. I hope the baby is a boy, I’m not sure I’d know what to do with a girl.”
Thor groaned again, admitted defeat by bowing to the inevitable and finally started to relax albeit reluctantly. Just to be contrary I’m sure he said, “Well I hope it’s a girl, one just like you.”
“Uh uh, not like me,” I contradicted a little disturbed at the image of it.
“OK,” he admitted. “Maybe not with your same problems but with your personality.”
Arching my eyebrow I asked, “You want her to hang around with guys so much she can pass for one?”
Thor got a slightly alarmed look on his face that he quickly hid … but not quickly enough for me not to see it … and said, “OK, so maybe not exactly like you … or me either. I still think a little girl would be best to have first. Chuckri said girls are easier to raise.”
I gave him a penetrating look and then he remembered that Chuckri hadn’t exactly been right about that particular bit of wisdom and blanched. I smiled and then in compromise I said, “Boy first, then a girl.”
Thor got a close to panicked look on his face and said, “Let’s get through the first one before we go making a blasted wish list.” We both crawled back in the bed from my side and then cuddled for a few minutes just communing without words. “Hon, you sure you’re OK? I can’t … I … I can’t lose you.”
“Stop worrying about what we might lose and be joyful about what we’ve gained. It’s not like we’re doing this alone.”
Thor said with a snort, “You never struck me as someone who bought into the it-takes- a-village crap … especially given your background.”
Rolling my eyes whether he could see it or not I told him, “I’m not. I’m talking about God.” When Thor didn’t say anything I poked him in the ribs.
“Hey!” he yelped. “Watch those boney fingers before they put a hole in me.”
“My fingers aren’t boney, they are large and capable and I haven’t even started trying to give you what for yet,” I warned him. “Are you forgetting what Uncle Bedros said?”
Thor sulked, “Bedros isn’t here.”
I poked him again before saying, “No kidding, but God is and you know it. I thought I was the worrywart in this family. If I’m not worried then you shouldn’t be. I trust God to plan things right. And I trust that you’re an instrument of God’s plan.” Then I chuckled.
“I don’t see anything funny,” Thor said more than a bit miffed.
“Not laughing at you so don’t get bent out of shape, I was remembering something my parents used to do. See when things would happen, especially things that looked bad at first glance, one would look at the other and say, ‘Romans 8:28 Sweetheart.’ They said it a lot.”
I could hear the disbelief coloring his voice when Thor asked, “And that made it all better?”
“All better? No, not every time, but it at least got them heading in the right direction. I remember one year Dad had just field of gorgeous corn coming up, some of the best looking he’d ever had. It was only about two feet tall when a freak storm hit our little valley and destroyed all of it; every stalk in every field. All that time and money was just gone in a single night and it was too late to replant … at least in corn. Dad was staring at the sky and Mom and I were really worried. His hands were balled into fists. Then Dad turned around and looked at Mom and said, ‘Romans 8:28 Baby’ before going to get his truck and take off to the feed store to pick up potatoes and squash seeds.”
“And I repeat, that helped?”
I shrugged, “We were the only ones that were damaged by that storm cell. Everyone else felt sorry for us, thought we were finally going under. Had a bunch of offers that didn’t even come close to what the farm was worth, even with depressed land values. The price of corn had been going up every year and most farmers were looking to end up well in the black for the first time in a while. Then they approved that new fuel additive out of the blue – you remember that? – and started phasing out ethanol. Mexico had a fantastic harvest and China and Brazil also had bumper crops. Corn prices and futures tanked. Dad worked it out. God letting our corn be destroyed saved the farm. On top of that the squash and potatoes did better than we could have hoped for, primarily because of all of the extra compost that was tilled in. What looked like a disaster at first wound up saving us in the long run.”
Thor was quiet so long I thought I’d put him to sleep but then he murmured in my ear, “Fine, we’ll try it your way. But I still want a little girl.”
I snorted, “You’re just afraid you’re gonna have one just like you.”
Thor shuddered theatrically and said, “Don’t jinx us Hon.” After some more cuddling we both fell asleep with smiles on our faces.
The next couple of weeks was an exercise in patience for both of us. Thor would try and get over protective and I’d have to set him straight. Then morning sickness finally struck and I became very tired by the end of the day and had to be the one to accept that sometimes he was right about needing more help. He’d take it too far and we’d start all over again.
Thor would get particularly irritable when others would assume I would tote and carry as I always had but I begged him not to say anything to anyone. I was keep the pregnancy a secret for as long as I could. Only Granny C knew at first and I trusted her not to let the cat out of the bag. Thor soon convinced me to let him tell Mr. Dink and Miz Louise but they too understood and kept the information to themselves.
Eventually I stopped going to town but it wasn’t because I was showing; at five months my waist was thicker but I still appeared slimmer than I had when I played football. There was no question that I was pregnant though I sometimes wondered in the beginning if I hadn’t been imagining things. That flew right out the window however the first time I felt the baby move and when Thor felt the baby flutter underneath his hand he was almost impossible for over a week. I think becoming a father must be like a huge combined shot of adrenaline, dopamine, and testosterone; it turns some men real strange until their hormones stabilize. But truth be told the biggest reason I didn’t go to town was that I just couldn’t spare the time to socialize; there was just too much to do.
March and April was garden prepping and planting things in the green house and the hooped row covers. We mulched the garden beds with three inches of organic mulch. That was such a big job that Thor ran the spread on the tractor again. The chickens also wanted out more which meant making sure the blasted things couldn’t get out to attract trouble to the rest of the flock. The horses and mules smelled spring and got so frisky that we enlarged the corral so they’d have more room to kick up their heels and frolic. We spent a lot of time pruning trees but to address the work we went in shares with Stro and Sand and their brothers. No one else was informed of the old orchards for obvious reasons. The small branches when through manual shredder and larger one were cut up and put in the wood pile to season for later use. Repairs were made around the farm caused by neglect and the harsh winter weather.
May was time to plant. Since Thor and I had agreed that succession planting rather than a ginormous field of something all planted at once was better for our current needs we would plant several rows of things rather than an acre at a time. Potatoes, corn, winter squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and bits of this and that. We’d get to the end and then turn around and start another round that was at least a week separate from the first rows.
One of Thor’s reasons for asking me to stay at the farm most of the time was because strangers were beginning to use the highway that ran through town and everyone had learned to be cautious with them.