The Only Mother They Have

I wrote another blog last night or started one anyway but as often is the case, my plans were overcome by other events that caused me to write this one instead.  In part because the last 24 hours have been frought with adventures in bottle baby care and in part because of the text message a found on my phone earlier this evening from one of our fosters, Cindy Buckingham saying that she’d like to learn about fostering bottle babies.  Cindy will be a wonderful foster for such tiny creatures despite challenges and heartbreak that is a certain part of this task.  As I thought about how Cindy entering into the world of bottle babies would save lives, I knew that I would share the story that follows not as a cautionary tale as much as a lesson in the reality of it.  And yet it won’t discourage her and hope it doesn’t discourage others. 

I didn’t finish my initial blog because I had to rush my three tiny puppies that I am fostering to the emergency vet.  Why puppies always seem to take a turn for the worst at night after the regular vet clinics are closed I’ll never know, but this happens more often than not.  But thank goodness for our emergency vet!

The puppies are only a few weeks old.  Bottle babies are challenging for so many reasons, the least of all the regular feedings that are required around the clock makes me so sympathetic for new moms who must go sleep deprived for months.  I so cherish mother dogs who take care of all their needs…feeding and the cleaning up after is absolutely priceless.  My washer and drying can attest to that if my words don’t do so.

These babies were found a few weeks ago along with seven others but the others died in the care of someone else before they came to me.  I don’t know their story or why they were without their mother.  Nor why or how the others died.  It’s heartbreaking no matter what.

Having had the babies for a week, they were doing quite well and at their 3:30 feeding yesterday all was well. Three hours later, two of the puppies were lethargic and obviously struggling.  I rushed all to the vet and while we could not uncover any obvious illness, we did rule out Parvo.  Thank God!.  Parvo is always the worst news but for young ones, even less deadly diseases can be incredibly dangerous.  We suspected a case of worms and treated them accordingly.  I brought them all home and watched them for hours.  When a few hours later I woke in the middle of the night to find one of the babies had passed away probably not minutes earlier, I was shocked and yet not surprised at the same time.  The other puppies were still alive but not out of the woods.  I sat and watching them whining listlessly for a few hours before I’d allow myself to return to bed.  Sleeping fitfully for a few hours before returning to my watch.  What a helpless feeling that is I must admit.

Today has been a mixed bag of ups and downs, with moments where I thought they were on the upswing and moments where I was scared to death I’d lose another.  Earlier this evening, I gave fluids to the little boy who was fine last night when the others were crashing and this seemed to do the trick.  When I heard their screeching cries for food finally after a day that was often too still, I almost cried with relief.  As of an hour ago both puppies were grappling for the bottle and sucking with fervor.  I’ll permit myself a small exhale in relief.

I’ve done this enough to not allow myself to believe we are out of the woods and will watch them like a hawk (a very motherly protective hawk) through another night before I can relax.  

Unknowing of why such experiences, even these most difficult ones, spur me to realize again how lucky I am to have found my passion in life.  Despite the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the high speed race to the emergency vet, the stinky mess that is my guest bathtub, and the lingering fear that I’ll again find that I’ve lost the fight to save them each time I enter the bathroom that is the nursery…I wouldn’t trade caring for them for anything.  Even with offers of help by others (my friend Michelle has offered repeatedly to take them off my hands and help me) I cannot let them go. 

Forgive me a bit if I’m grouchier than normal (may be hard to tell the difference) as sleep deprivation does little for my sparkling personality.  But that will be over soon enough no matter the outcome.  I hope and pray soon to be able to celebrate the day they don’t need me so much.  No matter how much I will delight in that day, I will miss our 3 a.m. feeding with them cuddled in my lap loudly pulling on the bottle that holds all the nourishment I can offer them.  Till then they are my babies and I am the only mother they have.  And I wouldn’t change that for anything! 

Hopefully tomorrow they will be strong enough for a bath and I’ll take pictures of them to share with this story.  Hopefully.


No baths but did snap this picture of them cuddled up together sleeping somewhat peacefully it seems.  I hope as it was another tough night with the little girl struggling all through the night.  With two fluid drips during the night, at 5:30 she finally started responding and has been eating all day.  While the little boy did pretty well all night long, he’s strugging again today and we just returned from another trip to the emergency vet for anti-nausea medication and am hoping that will help.  I’m not sure these guys are going to make it but I’m not giving up hope yet!  I’m stubborn if nothing else.  Praying that they are too.

Categories: Fostering

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