Jarvis Babies: A Short History

So here’s me letting the mini pig out of the bag: I’m pregnant!

I decided to break the news on Instagram with a crossfit-themed post:

Jarvis pregnancy announcement

And Jerod posted a video on YouTube:

(If you don’t get the joke, click here.)

We have been planning and praying for this baby, so we’re both very excited. We had an appointment with our midwife a couple days ago and were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. It sounds really healthy and strong, at 160-170 bpm.

Baby J is 11 weeks in utero today. We found out I was pregnant when I was about 6 weeks along. The realization triggered excitement, but also trepidation. Not because we were afraid of starting a family, but because we already have one baby in heaven, and we didn’t want to experience losing another.

We lost our first baby to miscarriage earlier this year. It was 8 weeks in utero when the Lord decided to call it home. Death is traumatic in any case, but the death of a child I’ve never seen was a completely new and heart-wrenching experience. We had felt God calling us to start a family at the beginning of the year, and we followed His lead. When we got pregnant 3 months later, it seemed like everything was going according to plan. We were following God’s direction, and He was blessing our obedience.

Then he took the baby home.

What do you do with something like that?

My miscarriage wrought raw wounds in every area of my life: physically, emotionally, mentally. My body and mind were in shock. I felt so much shame, frustration, and grief. Sometimes I felt relief, which led to more guilt and shame. It must be my fault I lost the baby. My body isn’t good enough. If I talk about this, will people judge me? Will they blame me for something I had no control over?

The gamut of emotions following miscarriage is wide. I wasn’t sure how to deal with all of them, so I sought comfort in Jerod, my counselor, and close friends. I was lifted up and supported by women at my gym, our small group at church, and our families. For me, part of my healing process was talking about the miscarriage and verbally processing through it, and having a healthy support group around me enabled me to do so. I also discovered that it opened a lot of doors to talk to other women about their past experiences, too. We don’t talk about it much, but miscarriage is more common than we think.

Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Chemical pregnancies may account for 50-75% of all miscarriages. (americanpregnancy.org)

I had a clinically recognized pregnancy. Multiple tests confirmed it. Do I blame myself for the loss of my child? Sometimes, even though I know it’s not true. Grief can sneak up on you when you least expect it. It can knock you down and put you out of commission for a while. It can last for years.

But there is hope, even in the midst of crippling sadness.

This current baby, our second, is part of that hope. It is our “rainbow baby“: a baby following a miscarriage or other infant loss. Hearing the heartbeat was so uplifting for Jerod and me. At first, I couldn’t hear the heartbeat, and a wave of fear crashed over me. Where is it?? But then the midwife gently said, “Don’t you hear it? It’s going so fast.” Fear was immediately replaced with joy. Our miscarriage probability plummeted with the audible thump-thumps of Baby J’s heart.

Our personal journey in this area is dotted with tears of pain and of joy. We have every confidence that we will see our firstborn in heaven someday. And we are looking forward to meeting our rainbow baby in 6 months. They are both blessings and part of our family story that God is knitting together.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for and walked with us through this trying time in our lives. We are looking forward to sharing Baby J’s progress with you as he/she grows!

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Life on the farm

I currently have a mini pig curled up on my lap. So clearly I’m not getting anything done today.

We adopted a Juliana mini pig in February, which prompted exclamations of delight from some and confused expressions from most. Not a lot of people understood why bacon lovers like us would want the pre-cooked version running around our house, rooting in our garden, and peeing on our carpet. (To be fair, no one likes potty-training.)

Jerod was pretty reluctant at first. I’ve been the one enamored with mini pigs for a few years, and nothing put a smile on my face like a teacup pig fresh from Google Images. (Teacup pigs are a myth, by the way. More on that later.) So with a little convincing and a LOT of saving (mini pigs aren’t cheap), I was finally able to get Sir Pompey Moofus the Third (Moo, for short). We went through a private breeder, who was amazing to work with and provided a lot of my base knowledge on how to raise and keep a pig.

Since Moo is more than 6 months old now, and people have loved following his progress on Instagram, I figured I’d write a behind-the-scenes blog post about what it’s like to own a mini pig. Overall, the experience is pretty awesome — I’d give it two thumbs up. But there’s also a LOT of hard work involved, more than I expected at first.

Julianas are the smallest (healthy) breed of pig. I throw “healthy” in there because mini pigs cannot and should not remain teeny tiny teacup size. The only way pigs are kept that small is if they are undernourished starved. That’s animal abuse and that is NOT OK. That being said, Julianas can vary in size. Right now, Moo is 25 pounds. He is going to grow for 2.5 more years. So in theory, he’s going to be a big boy. Which is why my breeder strongly recommended that we live in a house with a fenced yard before bringing Moo home. Pigs are big and need space, even when they are babies.

Apartment living is not ideal for pigs or pig owners. Not only because of the space issue, but because pigs are loud. Like, REALLY loud. When Moo is mad, he sounds like an angry baby crossed with a smoke alarm. Pigs can scream at 115 decibels. To put that in perspective: the sound of a jet engine is around 113 decibels. It’s funny for about the first 2 minutes, but when Moo is screaming an hour after I put him to bed and I can’t sleep, it gets old really fast.

Fortunately, Moo has acclimated to home life, but it took him a couple months to even begin to trust me. Pigs tend to primarily attach to one person in its family, so in our situation, I became Moo’s Person. But in the beginning, Moo wouldn’t let me pick him up. I got peed and pooped on. He was skittish and ran around the house screaming bloody pork murder when it was time to go to bed. Pigs are used to being hunted in the wild, so their automatic instinct is to run for dear life when a giant reaches down to pick them up (I guess that would be my automatic response, too, come to think of it). It’s VERY discouraging to try to bond with an animal that doesn’t trust you. But once Moo got into the rhythm of our routine and realized that he was safe, he became more affectionate and interactive.

Pig affection = pain. That is the 100% unsensored truth. In order for Moo to climb into my lap, he uses his hooves (obviously). Which are SHARP. Way different than the soft pads of a dog or a cat. And when he wants to snuggle, he roots his snout into whatever body part is closest to his face, which is usually my bicep or my ribs. Pigs use their snouts to dig things up and push dirt around, so that part of their body is very strong. Having a snout dug into your ribs is not a pleasant feeling, but the upside is that I know he’s trying to say, “I love you, now pay attention and scratch my belly.” I’ve come to deal with the discomfort of being trodden upon in exchange for the bonding time with Moo. Although, once he’s on my lap, I’m pretty committed to staying in one spot for a while. Did I mention he’s 25 pounds with spikes for feet? He gets what he wants.

Moo is incredibly smart. But he’s also crazy stubborn. This makes him extremely hard to train, but consistent training is so worth the effort because he won’t forget what he’s learned. He chooses to understand the commands “No!”, “Outside,” “Bed,” and “Come” about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he is playing dumb. The only words he understands 100% of the time are his name and “Good boy!” (because it’s usually accompanied with a treat). It’s equally fantastic and infuriating to own the fourth-smartest animal in the world (behind dolphins, chimps, and elephants).

This is the sweetened condensed version of life with a mini pig. I’m certain I am forgetting a bunch of answers to FAQs I’ve received since February. Let me know if you have questions about mini pigs and I’ll answer them in an upcoming post!

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