Unexpected Harvests – Donate a Post by Audra Lawlor


June 27, 2013 by Katia

Hope can wear many different shapes. When I had just moved to Canada I was grieving the loss of my previous life. I remember wandering around the grocery store one day and noticing Brussels Sprouts. It’s very possible that we had them back home in Israel, but I’ve never noticed, for lack of interest. Like Napoleon’s army I too march on my stomach, so that day I decided I was going to eat Brussels Sprouts here in Canada. They’d be a part of this adventure of newness. Brussels Sprouts didn’t turn out to be my favourite food, or one that I’ve had more than a couple of times in six years, if I’m being completely honest, but they are deeply connected in my heart with hope.

I love Audra’s post for so many reasons. The fact that her hope came in the form of asparagus is just one. Read her post and fascinating biography and feel free to share your words of support .


In one year of my life I have felt the nervous rustle of joy that comes from seeing two little pink lines on an over the counter plastic stick, three times.  And three times I have felt the uncontrollable urge to free-fall that comes from losing them.  I’ve had three miscarriages over the course of one small year.  I’ve been hesitant to write about this – in fact, after my second miscarriage in December, I felt completely blocked, unable to find the words to express how I was feeling, and consequently unable to write about anything.  What I needed most desperately, was to just ‘get on with it’.  “Get on with it” — I’ve heard my Irish husband say it a thousand times.  But this was the one time I deeply felt the need to do so.  Intuiting and reaching further inside myself to find words to explain what couldn’t be explained seemed futile.  So I got on with it.  I finally hatched the plan for a business I had been incubating for some time – I got excited, genuinely excited.  I gave the blog a makeover.  I made plans for our future that didn’t revolve around where I might be when I was 9 months pregnant.  I had to.  Move forward.  Get on with it.

This is not to say I forgot.  A woman never forgets.  Once in a while I’d find myself paralyzed with overwhelming sadness, frustration, or anger — or all of them combined.  I spent the morning of Mother’s Day crying into the arms of my husband.  I made sorry for myself donuts, rich, old fashioned glazed chocolate cake donuts, and I ate two of them and cried some more.  I’m not sure if it was desperation, self-pity, or masochism that led me to then take a pregnancy test – earlier than usual.  This little outburst, however, was the third time that week I’d been deluged with a wave of unexpected tears (starting on the plane ride home from my sister’s bachelorette after the flight attendant made me check my carry on bag…), so I suspected something might be amiss.  I peed on a stick like so many other times, looked away and asked the powers that be to please let me be pregnant and (I have learned to be very specific) to please let me carry this baby to term.  I looked down and saw nothing but the control line, all by itself.  Momentary hope fizzled — I choked back a final tear and stood up to face the day.

As I got up, I couldn’t help but peer closer.  There was a second line.  I angled the test into the light streaming into the window, and watched that second line as my hand shook.  On Mother’s Day, I found out I was pregnant for the third time.  I called my Mom.  Despite my almost instantaneous anxiety about loss, it felt destined.  Who or what power would let me find out I was pregnant on Mother’s Day and then let us lose it?

But we did.  This time even faster than the last.  One week later, on the morning of my sister’s bridal shower, we lost our third baby.  I know you don’t know what to say.  I don’t expect you to know what to say.  People have told me I should be thankful I can get pregnant.  As if losing three pregnancies is any easier than struggling with infertility.  Both conditions are losses–losses of anticipation, expectation, desire, and control.  There is not one loss that is worse than any other.  But it’s the loss of joy that hurts me the most — all the excitement, and blissful naivete that accompanies a healthy pregnancy is gone – for good.  I am unblissfully aware that if I am pregnant, I could not be at any moment.  Pregnant one day, not pregnant the next.  I can’t begin to tell you how that affects the psyche.  I often wonder if this is preparing an unprepared me for motherhood, for a life of worry.  But mostly I feel the weight of all the things misunderstood or incomprehensible in our world, and chalk this up to random, unexplainable suffering, common the world over.  Suffering we all live with, and in.  This type of suffering, however, we don’t talk about — we whisper about it among other women, and then we bury it.

I have a friend who just suffered her second loss – she told me she feels like screaming on the rooftop to explain to everyone why she’s unhappy- but instead, she carries her pain intimately, with a small group of people whom she trusts.  The world goes on around her, it undulates and whoops and wallops, but she doesn’t go on, whoop, or wallop.  She spins, round and round and round with her pain.  Why is this so sacred and untouchable when it involves the most elemental experience of our being- reproduction?  How can something so important be so shameful and so hushed?  There is so much to talk about.

I could start by telling you about my faith and how this experience has shaken my very core.  I could also tell you how I feel guilty that my miscarriages have given me more time to focus on other priorities– that I’ve actually grown, personally.  But this narrative is more than a story about repeated loss– it’s about patience, waiting, and growth, both minuscule and infinite.  And for this we have so many guides.  More than any one person, despite having so many wonderful souls in my life, my garden is my solace, my ever present shoulder and my perennial teacher.


I planted asparagus seeds in early April and waited with anticipation for them to push their ferny heads through the soil.  I waited several weeks — more than enough time — and nothing.  I watched those asparagus seeds like a hawk for 8 weeks – a lifetime in plant time.  Finally, with nothing so much as a dot of green showing, I reluctantly resolved to use the extra bed space for winter squash.  But on the ninth week, as I was setting out seedlings of Buttercup and Delicata squash, I saw the tiniest feather tip of green sprouting from the soil.  By the end of that week, a hair-thin blade had risen above the soil in several places, with wispy ferns at the tip.  My asparagus had risen, against the odds.  Hope.


But the waiting doesn’t end there.  For an asparagus plant to get fully established for the long haul, it requires years of waiting before you can harvest even just a couple of  those ancient looking spears.  Amazingly, a well planted asparagus bed can last decades – each year sending up savory green flags announcing the beginning of spring, and later shooting several feet high into thick ferns that gather energy to push back down to the roots for the following year’s crop.  This all may seem like a lot of waiting.  Waiting that requires loads of patience and multiple trips to the market for asparagus.


There is a reward.  And in our case I want to believe there is one as well.  Patience is a river, winding and undulating, ebbing and flowing, but it leads somewhere — to its mouth, where hopefully, one day, it speaks.  The poet Kay Ryan, in her poem, my favorite, aptly entitled “Patience” says:

“Who would /have guessed/ it possible/ that waiting/ is sustainable—/ a place with/ its own harvests. Or that in/ time’s fullness/ the diamonds/ of patience/ couldn’t be/ distinguished/ from the genuine/ in brilliance/ or hardness. ”


Patience is a difficult, sometimes heart wrenching lesson, and waiting can too often feel unbearable.  I know this, and we all share this.  But we continue to grow things, or try to, and perhaps we become better at waiting each subsequent time.  There are harvests to be had from this smattering of seeds we’ve planted–harvests, like the well planted asparagus beds, that will nourish, and feed us, for decades to come.


Grilled Asparagus with Sage Butter


Serves 6

2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Zest of one lemon

25 fresh sage leaves

Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat outdoor grill or oven to 450 degrees.  Toss asparagus gently with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.  In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the sage leaves and cook until the butter begins to brown – a few minutes.  Stir in the lemon zest and a 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Remove from heat.  Grill asparagus directly on the grill until al dente (or roast in oven on a tray).  Remove to a platter and dress with the sage butter mixture.  Top with thin shavings of Parmiagiano cheese.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


City slicker, farmetter & perennial kitchen fly, Audra once moonlit as a currency and interest rate derivatives marketer on Wall Street.  Author of the farm to fork blog Girl Meets Dirt, chronicling her city slickin’ transition to NW country & island life, she spent ten years working at investment banks wishing she was doing something else.  She’s currently launching a line of Girl Meets Dirt fruit preserves–made in an old-school style that emphasize structure and pure, ripe, naturally grown San Juan Islands’ fruit.  She’s working hard on a family, but for now her extended flock of chickens, ducks, dogs, and husband leave her with plenty of poop to clean up.  Connect with her on Twitter @girlmeetsdirt.
If you are interested in contributing your story to Donate a Post, please contact me with your submission or questions on iamthemilkblog (at) gmail (dot) (com).

13 thoughts on “Unexpected Harvests – Donate a Post by Audra Lawlor

  1. You’re right – I don’t know what to say that might comfort you, other than, thank you for sharing this. We do try to forget, or at least only talk about it in hushed tones, which somehow makes it seem something we shouldn’t talk about to begin with. Isn’t it funny that pregnancy and, especially, loss, are such taboo topics and yet, they happen to so very, very many of us?

    • Katia says:

      I completely agree with you, Melissa! I think we don’t know how to approach the subject. If you know someone going through this then you don’t want to pick their wound or emotionally abuse them, so we often wait for cues from them. If it’s us who go through this we don’t want those around us to feel uncomfortable, so once again we don’t provoke a conversation. I think it’s great that these days we can at least have conversations online.

  2. Beautiful post. I decided to plant my own deck garden this year, after my second miscarriage. Normally nothing grows for me. But I planted a lot Mother’s Day weekend, and I am amazed at how much everything has grown! It must be all the love I have to give. I will definitely be trying this recipe out!

  3. […] to quickly recommend you check out Katia Bishops’ funny and unique blog reflecting on motherhood, I am the milk, where my post “Unexpected Harvests” is being featured today in her campaign to raise […]

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for this unique and absolutely wonderful contribution. Sometimes words fail me and this is one of those times. I just hope that as many people as possible read this post. 🙂

  4. Considerer says:

    Oh wow! That’s so hard. I had mine the other way around and started losing my second the day before mother’s day. I couldn’t take the test – I simply didn’t want to confirm what I already knew.

    Thank you for sharing this – the more people who know the horror we go through, so much the better. I really hope you get your baby soon, and are able to carry him/her to term and onward into a rich life of motherhood. All the very best to you.

  5. This was a beautiful contribution to an amazing series. You summed it all up so perfectly- that sinking feeling of only seeing the control line, and then tipping it into the light to see a faint second one. I have been there so many times. I have had three losses- two in a row, and one before my first child, and I can relate very well to your feelings. Your asparagus/patience analogy was so fitting. I found patience to be very difficult when recovering from loss and trying again…

  6. Sarah Almond says:

    I have read some amazing writing this week-this post is no exception! The idea of using asparagus as an analogy for patience is unique and at the same time quite fitting. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Audra says:

    I’m so touched by the support and thoughtfulness of my readers and those of this blog, and am deeply grateful for those reading, sharing, and talking about this. I’ve found much solace from writing- but so much more from those reading and sharing. This is life!

  8. Pregnancy loss is so hard and you’re right – there is really nothing to say. When I experienced a miscarriage, my (then) husband came home, gave me a hug and said that it was no big deal – we’d try again. Well it was a huge deal to me and I found it impossible to not continue to count down to my due date – to not think “oh. He/she would be x months today.” I did eventually carry a healthy baby boy to (almost) term, although I ended up on bed rest from 26 weeks forward (completely worth it, though I did complain a little at the time). Hugs to you and the very best wishes that your hopes and prayers to hold your full-term baby in your arms happens soon. This series is so incredibly important and amazing. Thanks for sharing another amazing contribution, Katia. I love the nurturing of the asparagus plants and hope your business is an incredible success, Audra.

  9. This post gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. I had two miscarriages before having my daughter. You are right that nothing can prepare you for the rollercoaster of emotions. And how hard it is to be patient, when you have gone through what you have gone through. It takes a ridiculous amount of hope and faith and courage.

  10. Whitney says:

    What a devestating and beautiful story. I have so many, too many, friends who need these words of hope. Thank you for your honesty, your humor, your candor and your grace through words. Sending so many prayers your way.

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