The crazy thing I came to realize is that this was not the first time I had seen the life leave his eyes. Crushingly, it also wouldn’t be the last.
The memories are stuck in chunks with no transitions between them. I’m not sure how we got back to the animal hospital, I just have this chunk of memory of undoing my seatbelt jumping into the backseat and leaning over to the 3rd row, screaming at our dog to keep breathing, and at my husband to keep driving.
I continued to yell at him to “stand back up, don’t close your eyes, don’t give up, Rudy, keep breathing!” as his lips and tongue turned blue.
When he was rushed into the building by two vet techs, I ran behind him, for some reason thinking that I would be able to go with him.
Still I’m replaying the image of his body weakening and his chest heaving up and down with no air, and the look in his eyes that I’d seen before pleading for help I couldn’t give him.
The first time I saw that look was years ago when Rudy was attacked by my first foster dog, Vigo. I blamed myself over and over for not being able to separate them quickly enough, as my lungs and eyes burned, running through knee high snow banks in the back yard to get to them. Vigo had attached himself to Rudy’s neck and was dragging him and shaking him while I screamed and prayed and bargained with Rudy not to give up. That’s when I saw that look. Save me. Help me.
By the time I got them separated, Rudy and I were bloodied. I ran his limp body to my Jeep while continuing to plead with him until we arrived at the hospital.
Staples and stitches and drains and antibiotics and a wait that felt like an eternity later, my boy stumbled out from the back area, doped up on sedatives. He made it. Rudy was strong. After this experience I foolishly began to feel that Rudy was pretty much invincible.
Rudy was one of those dogs that I’ve seen so many times at the shelter, the kind that gets adopted because he is so, so handsome, but then returned because he is so, so crazy. For the first few weeks Rudy was mine I cried every day. As he sprinted circles in my living room, hurdled the couches, peed on the floor, pulled on my sleeves, my arms, and my curtains, jumped and bashed his giant hard head into my nose, and barely let me pet him, I cried because I loved him, and because he deserved patience that at that moment, I didn’t have.
He taught me patience like I never knew was possible. He taught me that with that and love and a LOT of training, even this crazy dog could do amazing things. He taught me that every dog is worth saving.
Rudy was foster “big brother” to nine other dogs. He easily surrendered his toys, his food, and his love to these other souls that needed me, too.
With Rudy as my constant I saved dogs, went through a divorce, moved, moved again, (and again and again), lost a job, found a job, found new love, got married, lost his doggy sister, Sami, had a baby, and kept on practicing my patience all along.
When the doctor invited us to the back area of the hospital to see him, I didn’t know how I would ever get the image of his blue tongue and lips or of my mind. He laid lifeless on the table with a tube in this throat, holding open his airway. With this bit of help, he was breathing. But we knew the damage to his body might be permanent. We knew with a partially paralyzed larynx, now that both sides had collapsed, there would be a lot for him to overcome. But Rudy was strong, pretty much invincible, as far as I could tell.
Even though he couldn’t hear me I told him I loved him and kissed his face and held the baby close enough to pet his fluffy feet, just in case.
The next 24 hours came with many tests, but the vet let us feel a glimmer of hope that Rudy would be able to come home to rest. We set up his playpen with a soft blanket and his water bowl for when he arrived. When we knew it was time to let him go, staring at that playpen in our living room, that we knew he wouldn’t occupy, made my throat and chest feel tight.
Despite his strength and our love, it wasn’t enough.
When I arrived back at the hospital he was subdued but aware. I got my chance to hug him and kiss him and tell him all of the things I wanted to tell him. Though his wheezing and labored gasps were apparent, I was able to feed him a chocolate peanut butter bar and talk to him for a few minutes before saying goodbye. As he gasped more and more, I knew our moments were short. I knew he was tired and I knew it was hard and that soon he could sleep, and then he could run and run and never have to stop to catch his breath.
He had found all the opossums in the yard, raided bunny nest, locked me out of my apartment once, locked himself in a bedroom, jumped all over our guests, peed on our grill, stole food off the counter, once even ate the majority of a bag of brown sugar, got kicked out of doggy daycare, never once came when called, jumped over fences, trampled anything I ever planted, scratched our floors, ripped apart anything stuffed, popped tennis balls, even the one the neighbor girls accidentally threw over the fence, filled our home and clothes with hair, stole the baby toys and ran around the house, destroyed all the windowsills, and never once slowed down or apologized for it.
He loved us so fiercely, snuggled, kissed, made us laugh, and was there for me when I felt I had no one.
He was my Marley and Me, full of more mischief than any other dog I’ve known; smart to a fault at times, and athletic and hyper and loving. I figured some day he would slow down, like in the movie, get gray, sleep more than play, and we would watch him grow old. I figured he would watch our kids grow and be there to cause even more mischief with them. I though I could fulfill my wish to someday make him a therapy dog. But so quickly all of those thoughts were cut short.
When it was time, he laid his head on my lap and his breathing went from labored to slow, and then he went to sleep. I buried my face in the fur of his head and over and over I apologized that I couldn’t save him. I thanked him for making me who I am, conditioning my heart for patience and love and understanding, and lighting my passion to save the unlovable and take a chance on unlikely survivors, knowing, now, that they make the very best of friends.
It started out all pink and wrinkled, or in your case, pretty yellow with jaundice. Then it was soft and flaky, adjusting to the air out in the real world. Around your tiny toes- red and peeling. And on top of your little knees it was full of folds when you lengthened out your spindly legs that, for a baby, seemed too long.
The skin you live in, that will accompany you through all of your days, after that wrinkly phase, started to fill out.
It got plump as you did, and stretched to fit around your squishy, squeezable thighs. And showed us signs of sitting in the sun too long (fair, like mama, any time is too long).
It’s gotten sticky with bandaids on your legs after shots, and on your little hand, where your IV was placed during your hospital stay.
The way it creases around your eyes, like Daddy’s, especially when you’ve just woken up.
The way it dimples in; one on your chin, and two more on your cheeks.
It’s smooth and soft when Mama rubs your back before bed, or when Daddy pats your belly to make you laugh.
On your cheeks, Daddy says, they’re his favorite, when it’s cold and wet.
And now that you’re insisting on growing and moving, it’s losing that softness around your knees and your elbows. That little bit of toughness, showing that you’re no longer brand new.
And with time it will toughen and wrinkle in a new way, in so many new ways. And Daddy and I will watch you change and grow and move in that same skin. That skin that I gave you, that I fell in love with the moment it warmed mine, when you were handed to me for the very first time, all pink and wrinkled.
Last week some coworkers and I were talking about our “dream jobs.”
These were jobs within reason though, nothing absurd or unrealistic and still within our field.
However, it did get me thinking and my absurd unrealistic dream job would be a mom blogger.
I follow so, so many of them on social media and I want their lives.
Most of them are small business owners or stay-at-home moms.
Some spend many hours of their day just getting hair and makeup done and taking professional photos of themselves and their kids.
I actually have no clue how they get paid for their blogging. But sign me up.
Alhough on March 1st this year I had to reset my password to my blog and relearn how to use the website.
After this challenge last year I though, I really liked this. Maybe I’ll blog throughout the year too!
But I didn’t. So, blog world, I’d like to say I’ll write. But, odds are, I’ll be back March 1st, 2019.
I wish I would have snuggled him a little longer in that swaddle. Stared at his little face while he wiggled his hands up toward it as if to say this thing can’t stop me!
I wish I would have made 10 more videos of the way he would stretch his arms out after I undid the Velcro. And the way he would purse his lips and move his head back and forth while stretching, before smiling at me every morning.
I wish I would have really soaked it in, while he looked like a little worm all wrapped up tight, comforted, like when he was in my belly.
I wish I would have sat in the rocker in his room a little while longer, watching his chest rise and fall and his pacifier twitch between his little lips. And watch his tiny fingers poke out of the bottom of the swaddle flaps.
Because all of the sudden this stage is over and I. Don’t. Want. To. Forget.
I held on to it as long as I could but tonight, he is sleeping with no swaddle. Like a big boy.
I snuck into his room after he was asleep. I parted the darkening curtains just a little so some light could get in. I needed to take a picture of his first night without a swaddle.
I don’t want to forget anything. And it all happened so fast.
“Does he have teeth?”
”What’s his name?”
”Is he a boy?”
“I’m a boy!”
”What does he eat?”
”He has blue eyes like mine!”
”He’s actually cuter than my brother!”
”He looks exactly the same as my brother.”
”When will he get teeth?”
”My teeth wiggle!”
”I can whistle, watch!”
And it only went downhill from there.
It reminded me of that word association game where someone says a word and then someone else has to think of something related. You have to think quickly to play this game, but the point is that the topics are all interconnected. So actually it isn’t like that at all.
It actually was more like that telephone game where someone starts a phrase, and then it goes through the group and by the end doesn’t resemble the same idea at all. Not even a hint of the original idea is left by the time you are done. Definitely more like telephone.
Today the baby met my husband’s students.
After putting the baby down for his first nap, I went back to my bedroom to get myself ready for the day.
I had literally zero plans today, which is amazing, but still wanted to wash my face, brush my teeth, etc.
Sitting on the counter next to the sink was my toothbrush, already pre-loaded with toothpaste, and a string of new floss.
I am so loved.
Today I was putting caramel flavored almond milk creamer in my coffee. This is the first time I’ve had anything resembling cream in my coffe since I cut out eating dairy. (Side note: it’s delicious.)
On the side of the small bottle it reads “Not to be used as infant formula.” What? Is that an actual warning?
All I could think of was the McDonald’s lawsuit over the hot coffee... being hot. From what Google tells me, it was an almost 3 million dollar settlement. This, however, was brought on by a woman spilling on and burning herself.
Why does my cream need to warn me not to use as infant formula? If I put two and two together, it appears that someone must have tried to use it as infant formula. I decided not to Google that.
While we’re at it, though, don’t use coffee as infant formula either. You’ve been warned.
This morning some friends came to visit. This afternoon I happened to send a picture of the baby to one of those friends.
Her response: Oh he changed his outfit!
I couldn’t help but laugh at this because I had changed outfits, too. As soon as company left, we both got back into our PJs.
This is just how I live my life. As soon as I get home, I change my clothes. I always have, as long as I can remember.
As a kid it was school clothes to play clothes.
In high school it was school clothes to work clothes, or school clothes to going-out clothes.
College was school clothes to going-out clothes.
As an adult it’s work clothes to PJs.
As soon as humanly possible, PJs.
It seems to now be an unspoken rule at our house, which my husband and I have followed as long as I can remember.
I don’t think I could ever really feel at home unless I am in my PJs.
Most of my day was spent cleaning the house.
I also had to go to pick up groceries and run to Walgreens for a couple of things.
It’s very rare that I have gone somewhere without the baby anytime since he was born. This isn’t because I worry about leaving him, but moreso that either my husband isn’t home, or if someone needs to run out it’s just easier for him to go and me to stay with the baby.
But today I went to run the quick errands, and I stopped for a special treat for Mama.
Since I have such strict dietary restrictions, I really never get to eat “junk food.” But I recently found out that I can eat the fries at Five Guys, and I’ve been dying for some since then.
So I drove out of the way 10 minutes, got myself a large fries, and ate them in the car with zero guilt. It was amazing.
The girl who took my order even complimented my hair. Win.
My first day of spring break was planned already to be a full day. A first birthday party and a wedding in the evening meant that I was going to be very busy running from place to place.
This became even more concerning to me when the baby decided that last night was the night he would need to eat every hour.
I’ve read this somewhere, but I don’t remember where, I wish I was as tired as I though I was before I had kids.