JUST Bee-lieve

Emily’s big idea buzzed around for a while then she went for it, with a very tragic out­come...

Real People - - QUEEN BEE - Emily Mueller, 35, New Franklin, Ohio, USA

Plonk­ing the hat on my bonce, I ad­justed it care­fully to cover any bare bits of skin.

Fi­nally, tuck­ing in ev­ery piece of flap­ping cloth­ing, I was ready.

Re­sem­bling an ex­tra in a line-up of aliens from Star Wars,

I strode into the gar­den.

The kids, who were hap­pily play­ing, didn’t bat an eye­lid. ‘OK?’ I asked.

A cho­rus of ‘Yes, Mummy’ came from my three kids.

They may not have taken any no­tice of my pe­cu­liar pro­tec­tive garb, but when I’d first started parad­ing around the gar­den in it, I’d raised a few eye­brows with the neigh­bours.

But this was my uni­form.

I was a bee­keeper – I ran Mueller Honey Bee and Res­cue from my home. I’d had the idea to keep bees af­ter I suf­fered three mis­car­riages, los­ing the ba­bies at eight weeks.

I had a child from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage, Ca­dyn, 10, and two with my hus­band, Ryan, 37

– Made­lynn, three, and Westyn, al­most two.

But we were keen to add to our brood.

Want­ing some­thing to take my mind off the pain of our losses, the idea of bees had winged its way to me. Af­ter all, I had rel­a­tives who were beekeepers.

‘Bees rep­re­sent the be­gin­ning of new life,’ I’d told Ryan.

‘I can’t un­der­stand why peo­ple are so fright­ened of them.’

The hives they cre­ate are fas­ci­nat­ing and they’re so im­por­tant in pol­li­nat­ing lo­cal plantlife.

And that’s how I found my­self with hives dot­ted around my gar­den. It was a bee sanc­tu­ary. If an un­wel­come swarm had set up home in some­one’s shed or chim­ney then I was the per­son they’d call. I’d res­cue the colony, some­times re­hom­ing it in my gar­den.

There could be 50,000 bees in a colony, all dot­ing on the queen bee.

They were docile crea­tures, re­ally. Of course, some­times I got stung, but I’d never had any sort of re­ac­tion.

‘I do this, other peo­ple do yoga,’ I told Ryan, a heat­ing and cool­ing tech­ni­cian.

‘You’re my queen bee,’ he grinned.

The kids got in­volved too – they’d scoop honey into jars. We’d then sell them at mar­kets. It was a real fam­ily thing.

And we kept on try­ing to grow that fam­ily.

Fi­nally, luck was on our side… By Au­gust 2017, I was preg­nant again, and this time I’d made it to 26 weeks!

Hope was swelling with the thriv­ing baby in my womb.

‘How is my lit­tle bee do­ing in there?’ asked Ryan.

‘Do­ing cart­wheels and crav­ing beet­root salad,’ I laughed.

We’d de­cided not to find out the sex, but when we’d gone for a scan, the nurse had popped the gen­der re­veal in with our scan photo in­side an en­ve­lope.

So the op­tion to find out was al­ways there.

We couldn’t wait for our lit­tle bum­ble bee to join our crazy hive.

Mind­ful of my pre­vi­ous mis­car­riages, I was ex­cited, yet fear­ful.

‘Shall we have a lis­ten to it?’

I said. We’d got a home Dop­pler, so we could hear the baby’s heart­beat. I ran the mon­i­tor over my belly. Thump, thump, thump…

‘I want to do some­thing to cel­e­brate this amaz­ing thing that’s hap­pen­ing,’ I told Ryan.

‘I’d like to do a ma­ter­nity pho­to­shoot us­ing the bees.’

‘Speak to the doc­tor first, though,’ he suggested.

At my next ap­point­ment, I men­tioned my idea. ‘I don’t re­act to bee stings,’ I as­sured the doc­tor.

And they told me a bee sting couldn’t hurt a foe­tus, so I spoke to my friend and pho­tog­ra­pher, Ken­drah Damis, who agreed to be my snap­per.

At 34 weeks preg­nant, I slowly ex­tracted a queen bee from a hive I’d res­cued from a nearby park. In my

gar­den in New Franklin, Ohio, I gen­tly held her in my hand. Soon enough, 20,000 bees fol­lowed their queen and set­tled on my bump cov­ered in just a flow­ing white dress. I felt calm, re­laxed, and Ken­drah snapped away. ‘Ouch,’ I said, sud­denly. One of the lit­tle blighters had stung my left arm and right leg. ‘Ouch,’ again.

This time on my butt – I’d ac­ci­den­tally sat on a bee!

But other than that, it was the most amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence…

Af­ter­wards, with the bees safely back in the hive, I was so pleased with the pho­tos. ‘Beau­ti­ful,’ I smiled.

But not every­one felt the same. Ken­drah shared the pho­tos on Face­book, and that smoked out some haters.

Peo­ple post­ing that I ‘could’ve gone into ana­phy­lac­tic shock and harmed my­self and the baby’.

One wrote, What the F, my skin is crawl­ing.

‘They don’t un­der­stand,’ I told Ryan, shak­ing my head.

I de­cided to for­get about it.

I was now com­ing up to 39 weeks preg­nant, with a busy day sell­ing honey at a lo­cal in­door mar­ket. I re­alised I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while.

Back home that af­ter­noon, I tried all the old tricks to get it go­ing.

I gulped down an ice cold sug­ary drink.

Noth­ing.

Nor­mally when I went to bed, the baby would do som­er­saults. Tonight there was noth­ing.

But then pains coursed through my tummy.

‘I might be in labour,’ I whis­pered to Ryan. Maybe that was why I wasn’t feel­ing the baby – things were on the move!

‘Try the Dop­pler,’ Ryan said. So we ran it over my tummy. The heart rate was slow. It didn’t feel right, so we de­cided to go to hospi­tal, just to check things over. The chil­dren came with us as we drove in ner­vous si­lence.

When we ar­rived, I was taken straight for an ul­tra­sound.

I stared at the screen, pray­ing and hop­ing.

But one look at the nurse’s face told me our per­fect world was about to come crash­ing down

‘I’m so sorry,’ she said. ‘There’s no heart­beat.’

Our baby was gone.

‘No!’ I screamed. ‘There must be some mis­take.’

But there wasn’t. Turns out that when we’d tried the Dop­pler at home, we’d been lis­ten­ing to

my heart­beat.

Me and Ryan clung to­gether, heart­bro­ken.

I’d need to go back to be in­duced, but for now, we could go home. And there, we sat on our bed, sob­bing.

‘I need to know what our baby is,’ I wept. So we got the en­ve­lope that the nurse had sealed at our 20-week scan. Open­ing it, a tear fell on to the photo.

‘Baby boy Emer­syn,’ I choked. I’d told her the name we’d cho­sen for a boy, and she’d writ­ten it down. Our son…

We had a pre­cious few more days with him, then when I was 39 weeks and one day, I was in­duced.

Emer­syn was born a per­fect 7lb 1oz, but si­lent and still.

‘Hi, beau­ti­ful,’ I sobbed. ‘You were so loved.’ We had his hand and foot­prints made – it was all we could have of our son. We had his pla­centa tested, to try to find out why he’d died.

I knew some of the haters af­ter my pho­to­shoot would say this was my fault, af­ter be­ing stung.

Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Tests showed our pre­cious boy had had a blood-clot­ting prob­lem. Doc­tors con­firmed the bee stings were noth­ing to do with it. In fact, bee stings are an an­ti­co­ag­u­lant – they stop blood clot­ting.

‘He maybe lived longer be­cause I was stung,’ I thought.

When Emer­syn was cre­mated, he wore an all-in-one with bees on and was wrapped in a blan­ket with the beau­ti­ful in­sects on, too. ‘Fly high,’ I whis­pered.

We kept his ashes on the fire­place, want­ing him to be part of our fam­ily al­ways. But my heart ached for an­other baby. Not a re­place­ment, but hope…

And it wasn’t long be­fore I fell preg­nant again. I was so anx­ious, but I took as­pirin and blood­thin­ning in­jec­tions ev­ery day.

‘Every­thing will be fine,’ Ryan kept say­ing. I tried to stay pos­i­tive. And of course, I car­ried on han­dling my bees.

As my preg­nancy moved along, I kept think­ing about how the bees rep­re­sented new life. Emer­syn hadn’t been harmed by them. And I wanted to show the world that.

‘I want to do an­other shoot with them,’ I said. Ryan nod­ded.

I called Ken­drah again. This time, I had the idea of be­ing like a queen bee my­self. With a lot of gold paint and a beaded neck­lace, I be­came Cleopa­tra for the day. ‘This will be in mem­ory and hon­our of Emer­syn,’ I said. So, on the day, I painted my­self as a gold Egyp­tian god­dess and put on a head cap. I at­tached the queen bee to it, and then the 16,000 bees flocked on to my head and chest. It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing and calm­ing . ‘Oooh!’ I cried. I’d been stung in my left eye. But it just went red and swelled a lit­tle.

I even posed with a python we’d hired around my belly and a bird on my fin­ger. I didn’t care what peo­ple wrote on­line. I knew these crea­tures were a sym­bol of hope – a trib­ute to Emer­syn.

And 11 months af­ter we lost him, his beau­ti­ful brother, Rowyn, was born, weigh­ing 7lb. ‘You’ll know all about him,’ I whis­pered. ‘Thank you for giv­ing us so much love and hope.’ He’s three months old now and is just in­cred­i­ble. Of course, we think about Emer­syn ev­ery day and miss him dread­fully.

But Rowyn has al­lowed us all to bee so happy again.

Cre­at­ing a buzz as Cleopa­tra

Hive-tas­tic!

Shed­ding away wild stereo­types What a beau­ti­ful in­sect! Ryan, me and Rowyn I’m not the only queen bee in my house­hold...

Our fam­ily trib­ute to Emer­syn, on the right

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