Third Year (1973): Mateo is Born

January 17, 1973: We've been back home for a couple weeks. Managua was a mess (after the earthquake) but back here on the farm everything is as before - only more growth. We are in great shape and Elizabeth had a check-up in Ocotal. We're now planting and working on the house and enjoying our place. Today I rode our trusty horse Guambuco to San Fernando - it's the first time I've come in for supplies since we got back.

We've been working for 23 days straight now. Tomorrow we may take a holiday, cook up a chicken, to celebrate 2 years since we started on this journey.

February 16, 1973: We're working hard to enclose a pasture for our horses and new beautiful, sad-eyed, red cow. She has great big teats and she'll have a calf in about 2 months. A few days ago we got up our courage and worked with the bees. We bottled 15 quarts of honey. In the morning it sweetens our fried rice and in the evening, our chocolate and, in between, our fingers. Elizabeth is fine. About March first we are planning to go and live in Ocotal near the hospital!

February 26, 1973: Joy! We have a healthy baby boy and healthy Mom too! This morning, with three more days to go to finish the fence, to hold the horses, to catch the cow, to get the milk, to feed the Mom, to feed the babe before we were planning to go to Ocotal to have the baby, Elizabeth had a little pink in some vaginal mucus followed by a few cramps. Over breakfast we monitored these unexpected events, rushing to fill a pack, another sip of coffee, extra corn for the pigs, another bite of rice, tools moved inside. Yes, this must be it! Cramps kept coming. I galloped my horse 5 miles into the mountains to Don Concho Amador's farm. He was "at my service." Two hours later we arrived at our Doctor's office in Ocotal. Elizabeth was explaining how labor was intermediate and he said, "what are we doing here? - let's get to the hospital." Thirty minutes later we had a baby. His name is Mathew Mateo Millett.

It's about 9 o'clock now and Teo is getting his first taste of Mama's breast and/or a bottle of sugar water - whatever he's getting, it's out of Mom's breast that he likes - he'll only squiggle up his nose to the bottle. Since the baby was born he's been in our room. I have a bed too and Kelly's happy under the bed. They only feed Elizabeth, but Kelly and I do OK on the leftovers plus some bread we brought along (and honey) and plus an occasional beer from down the street. Now he's gone to work on the bottle!

There was one thing that really scared us. Three nights ago we were driving in the horses and one stepped on Elizabeth's foot and pushed her over which resulted in one hell of a strain on her vaginal area. She cried a bit that night (scary and helpless feelings welled up) and damned if the next day she couldn't hardly move. She stayed flat in bed all day and we both had some pretty mixed up feelings. By night she was doing better and yesterday she'd bounced back almost normal. And then came today when the baby decided he'd had enough horse kicking.

Our doctor is a jewel. I attended the delivery and he talked about what he was doing all the way - and in my humble opinion he did a lot and was very good. Elizabeth bled a lot and needed extra medication to stop hemorrhaging and intravenous feeding to rebuild body fluids - but no blood this time. He also stitched up the tear and helped a lot getting the baby and placenta out quickly. We're very happy to be here tonight.

February 27, 1973: Today I went back to the farm to feed the animals and picked up the mail on the way. The fellow that brought us to the hospital, I met about a year ago at midnight. He came walking to the house looking for help. His jeep was hanging off the mountain and I managed to pull him back on the road with the chain that Uncle Glenn gave us. Just two days before, our best horse had learned to pull oak posts with that chain from where I split them -- up to a couple hundred yards to their holes. We heard from the children and they all sound good and are doing great in school in Austin.

March 13, 1973: Mathew Mateo Millett is 16 days old today. My first trip out will be tomorrow at sunrise - for fencing staples and the mail. Elizabeth probably started off a bit too eagerly when we got back and her bleeding started to increase. She took to bed for several days and the last three days, though, she's been staying in the loft, she is up and around and starting on some small projects. Bleeding has stopped and her strength is coming back. The 6th day back Mateo started a fever and fussed through the night. Baby aspirin held the fever below 102 and the next day he was OK, however, he's been bothered by gas - farting and belching ever since - his best day was today. Elizabeth's milk supply is abundant and Mateo eats well, has gained weight and has great color and strong, lean development.

Lately I've been doing the cooking and washing - hauling the shit bucket to and fro and keeping the farm animals happy - except for the rooster I butchered today and turned into a fine "arroz con pollo" dinner. Breakfast one morning was honey and muffins (plus small slices of cheece and banana bread) fried rice cereal with milk and sugar, a banana and coffee with milk and chocolate. And to balance my good meals there was the vegetable bean dish that was too hot to touch, let alone eat because I put in too many hot peppers. And the fried yucca dinner with pasty flour inside the yucca patties.

Yesterday was a nice break in the household chores, when Don Concho came down, and I spent half the day helping him replace a broken spring in his jeep. I have the tools he needed. Also gave him our piglet. He's going to fatten him and when the moon is right (no kidding) and the pig is fat, we're going to all get together for the slaughter and his wife and him show us how to do it.

April 1, 1973: Mateo and Elizabeth are coming on strong. It took awhile but things are fine now and Mateo is smiling, down to two feedings per night and following moving objects. A few days ago we took our first family outing - walked up to Don Concho's. Nice chatty time and a few ticks were the only bad result. Thursday and Friday we had a guest - peace corps boy. Nice time chatting with him.

Imagine this! The day after the earthquake, helicopters (U.S. Army under orders from the Ambassador) picked up every Peace Corps volunteer (maybe 100) everywhere in the country and flew them to Managua and out of the country. What a waste of money and good manpower. This boy is back and running a refugee camp - says the biggest problems are (1) everyone wants something for nothing and (2) most aid supplies are still being held up by government red tape. For example, they don't have beans at his camp, yet there are warehouses full of food in Managua.

Sadder than that mess is, that for 2 years now, we have had a terrible drought (though it hasn't effected us much here in the mountains). Between the earthquake and the drought, food prices (corn and beans) are going up substantially. The Indian population are starving and the Peace Corps volunteer said that in his old work site, Totogalpa, people and children are dying everyday. Meanwhile there are people in this country with lots of money and luxurious houses. And if the local priests of every little pueblo could get their asses off the ground (or maybe I should say on the ground and out of heaven) -- they are also in a good position to help.

And so, on we struggle to make our ends meet. It's the peak of the hot-dry season and everything is burning up; however, our over one-hundred orchard trees are doing fine. We carried water to half of them yesterday afternoon and evening. Rains begin in a month or month and a half and we are ready for a great planting of maybe one-hundred different kinds of seeds including large plots of beans, corn and sorghum.

April 5, 1973: Today may have marked full recovery for Elizabeth - saddling up at 7am and riding off to show off Mateo. Me too with a rainbow reboso cuddling the little mut to my chest riding through the cool morning air with the song and smell of the pines and Mom looking just as straight in the saddle as could be. We visited several people. First, and on our return, Dago and Mercha (the cowboy), 2 of their kids, 2 grown sisters, the father (cheese-maker) and the 3 hired hands; next to Troy's house (lumberman) for a visit with his cook and daughter (he's ill and in the States); then to Tom's house (other lumberman) and a visit with his Nicaraguan wife; next to the lumber mill store to see Dona Emilia and her sister (the fifty year old proprietor (black from the east coast - speaks English), one of their daughters who just had her first baby and another daughter who's now in love with and successfully raising rabbits (we gave her a pair a year ago); then to see Willie (black foreman) and a Spanish mechanic (who welded my broken tools a few months ago). They all cooed over the little fat, white Gringo baby and we weighed him at 10 pounds even! He was perfect for the whole trip - especially liking to sleep to the rock of the horse.

At the store we bought:
10 pounds rice -- $1.50
6 pounds sugar -- $0.75
2 pounds lard -- $0.90
5 bars soap -- $0.75
1 package candles -- $0.30
2 cans of dried milk -- $2.00
3 pounds of onions -- $1.00
1 bottle catsup -- $0.65
1 bottle grape soda! -- $0.15
TOTAL -- $8.50 (this is about what we have to buy every two weeks)

Yesterday I practiced my midwifery skills on our cow - she aborted her calf several months early and dead. Dammit -- and 24 hours later the umbilical cord was still hanging out her rear, so while Elizabeth held the rope, snubbed around a tree, I went in and did a D and C. Well, she's still alive and we're trying to get her milk to come in. No luck yet.

April 14, 1973: We haven't been going out lately, but tomorrow I'm going to Totogalpa (10 miles past Ocotal) to meet Steve (the Peace Corp volunteer) and to help him bring two horses back to our farm. We will ride all night - cooler and it's now a full moon. The 45 miles should raise a sore or two - especially on our friend Steve, who's been working mostly behind a desk.

Elizabeth, Mateo, me, the cow, all other plants and animals are in fine shape. Mateo has grown into quite a little fellow - good sleeper, voracious eater (likes to suck on bananas!).

Lately we've been clearing new land in preparation for planting (a shower a week ago settled the dust and brought on cooler weather); tearing down the cabin we lived in for a year and using the materials to build a good chicken house and soon improvements on the barn and a caretaker/guest house attached to the barn.

April 14, 1973: We've built a bed, for Mateo - with a bell and mosquito net canopy. It fits in a hammock in the loft or downstairs. Thank goodness he's a good night sleeper and he's always up with the first light of day.
Right now we're really into our farm and anxious for the May rains and a great planting.

May 9, 1973: Tomorrow we plan to ride to Santa Clara for cement. We have discovered that by horse trail Santa Clara is closer than San Fernando and also has a better store so we are changing our mailing address to Santa Clara. We have been having a fine time lately - working on building projects and waiting for the rains to begin. Our old tent/cabin is completely gone. We have only the so many special memories attached to it and the big nanci tree that marks its spot. We have completed a new guest/caretaker house next to the barn. Steve, who left only yesterday, helped us a lot on it. He lived in it once it was far enough along and adopted it as his special project.

May 24, 1973: The rains have come - beautiful earthy smells and plants popping out all over. We're planting like mad - probably four times more than ever before - twenty different varieties of peas and beans!