Friday, December 26, 2008

Not the Christmas post

There is so much to say about Christmas this year. There is so much to be grateful for, and so many stories to share.


I am exhausted and have miles to go before I sleep.

Really though, I had to remember this. Little Bird got a new toothbrush. I had been cleaning his teeth, all 6 of them, with a wet cloth, but I thought I needed to start getting him used to the toothbrush.

We've been using it while in the bathtub, and to say that he doesn't like the bristles in his mouth would be an understatement. I try a couple of times and then set it on the side of the tub.

Little Bird grabbed the brush and decided to use it for something else.

Let's just say that Little Bird's little friend is extra clean tonight.


Friday, December 19, 2008

We time

Little Bird has a cold. Low grade fever, snotty nose, little cough, and general patheticness. At 4:00 AM, he was awake without wanting to be. I changed him, wiped his nose, gave him some more saline drops, and nursed him back to sleep. As soon as his head landed on the crib mattress, he sat up, raised his arms, and let out a whimpering, "Maaaaamaaaaa."

How could I do anything but pick him up again?

We haven't co-slept since he was probably 3 or 4 months old. It got to where he wasn't sleeping well unless he had a booby in his mouth all night long, and I just couldn't handle that. He also liked to sleep perpendicular to me and Kevin - punching one of us in the back and kicking the other. Bird moved to the crib. We have all slept better ever since.

I miss the snuggles though, and I miss waking up right after he does to see his little face peering into mine, or better yet, have him sticking his finger in my mouth and poking at my teeth.

This morning, I lifted him back out of his crib, and we crept into the bedroom where Kevin was still asleep. I piled pillows into the bed around my side so that I could prop my arms up and hold Little Bird against my chest.

He burrowed into my shoulder, threw an arm over my chest, let out a sigh, and fell asleep.

I slept off and on, but mainly just rested. Listening to my son breathe, stroking his head, wiping his nose, and being overwhelmed with how much I love him.

I don't know when it happened, but there has been this shift in motherhood. Whereas I have always loved Little Bird and wanted to take care of him and sustain him, the first half of the year felt very much like it was something I had to do. It was my new job and my sole responsibility.

The shift though, is in my desire. Little Bird has become his own little person, and there is no one I would rather spend time with. My roots are taking over the top of my head, and I don't care. I don't want to spend the three hours away from Bird to get my hair done. Dinner out with friends? Not right now. Lunch is great, but it needs to be somewhere with a highchair because my favorite person is coming with me.

I assume there will be another shift, one in which I desire some "me" time. Right now though, I'm perfectly fine with the "we" time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Little stitches

Kevin is very understanding of my "online friends." He doesn't give me any crap about going to BlogHer. He doesn't bat an eye when I run off to the Post Office to send a package to a NMD friend. When I quote Girl eighteen times in one day, he doesn't let out a single sigh. He knows they have supported me and carried me through some of my darkest times.

Last Saturday, the doorbell rang. We were in the bedroom getting dressed. I am pretty sure I was crying. I did a lot of that last weekend.

Kevin came back upstairs with a box from ProFlowers. I have to be honest; I assumed it was from my parents, but it wasn't.

The card read, "I'm sorry for your loss," and it was from my friend Amy. My online friend, Amy. A woman who I haven't even been so lucky to sit down with in person managed to wrap her arms around me from miles and miles away and put the first stitch in my broken heart. Amazing.

This is what they look like today. Everyday this week, this is what I see when I leave the house. I put them by the front door on purpose. It used to be that the last thing I would see when I left the house was Chelsea. She would follow me to the front door and look up at me as I said, every time, "I'll be back soon. Be a sweet girl." Every time. Until the past couple of months, when she stopped getting up to follow me to the door.

Nonetheless, the last thing I saw leaving the house were these flowers. Reminding me that I'm a lucky woman to have friends like Amy.

Little stitches in a broken heart. I bet she has no idea how much she helped, but Kevin and I do. Now you do too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Complete lack of human compassion

Chelsea and I were at peace with each other when she left this past Friday. Although I miss her more than you possibly want to hear about, I know that it was time for her to go, and it was my responsibility to help her leave this life. I promised to be her guardian and caretaker, and I was for 14 years. All the way up to the very end.

There was a part of the story I didn't tell on Friday. I didn't want to mar saying goodbye to my pup anymore than had been done for me that day. The experience we had at the vet was unbelievable, and I wavered on whether to share it at all. However, if anyone is searching for this vet online, I think it is important that they hear how we were treated.

Quail Corners Animal Hospital, where I had trusted the care of my dogs for close to eight years now, will no longer be our vet. There was a girl who was supposed to be scheduling it to be done at home for us. Two days went by without her calling me back, only to find out that the vet who was supposed to do it had gone into labor. While I certainly understood that labor and birth took priority, I didn't understand why I hadn't been extended the courtesy of a phone call to give me this information. Instead I had to keep calling back, trying to find out what time I would say goodbye to my pup. I needed to find someone to watch Bird and really wanted Kevin to be off work to be with us. I needed to prepare myself mentally and emotionally.

After two days of not letting me know anything except how little she knew, I finally told her that I would just bring Chelsea in to have it done. She told me the vets who were available, and after I chose one, she asked me if I wanted morning or afternoon. I told her afternoon. She offered me 1:30, and I said that would be fine. I repeated back the time to her, and she said yes 1:30 was the time.

I called Kevin and let him know. Then I called Boo who had offered to be with me, and I asked her to watch Little Bird. I set the whole thing up for 1:30. I did not get the time wrong of the death of my dog.

When we arrived at the vet, we were told by the front desk that our appointment wasn't until 4:30. The woman at the front told us there was nothing she could do to change it.


I'm sitting there in the waiting room, bawling already. Chelsea is just standing there because she can't lay down without just falling over anymore. Kevin is standing with his mouth agape. It was all I could do to get there once. There was no way I could go home and bring her back again.

Seriously? Nothing she could do?

I told her through my tears that she didn't need to change anything; that our appointment was at 1:30, and we were there at the right time. I wasn't going to even entertain this discussion.

She just repeated herself.

I start sobbing. I can't help it. I tell her that I had been working with Rachel for three days to get this taken care of, and that I had been extremely patient with her. I told her that our appointment was at 1:30.

She went to get Rachel.

We have to believe that something else was going on in the office because Rachel approached us swinging. She came out and immediately told me we were wrong. I was wrong. Our appointment was at 4:30 and that she had confirmed it on the phone with me for 4:00. Um, okay. I'm not sure how that made any sense, but whatever.

I have to admit. I lost it. I actually yelled. In public. At that girl. I yelled at her and told her she was incompetent. I yelled at her and told her that she was completely unable to engage another adult in an intelligent conversation that resulted in effective communication. I yelled at her and told her to quit talking to me and just get me all of my dogs' records so I could get out of there and never have to see her again.

The whole time, she was yelling back at me, telling me that I was wrong. Telling me that the circumstances were out of her control. I'm not sure what circumstances kept her from inputting the correct time of my appointment into the computer, but whatever.

Kevin stepped in between us and told us both to stop. He looked at Rachel and asked her what she was going to do to fix this. She said that she couldn't do anything right then, that we could be worked in at 2:30.

I told her to get our records and she yelled over Kevin's shoulder that she would be glad to do that and then stormed out of the little office cubby.

After she was gone, another office worker came out into the waiting room and leaned over to me. She said that there was a vet who could help us then. Kevin took my arm and nodded at me to get up and go back. He knew that this was the one chance we had at my strength. It was sapped, and if we took Chelsea back home again, I would never let her go.

There were mumbled apologies at the "mix-up." I ignored them. There was no "mix-up." It was a major mistake on their part.

The thing is, even if I had gotten the time wrong, which I didn't, they should have ignored it. Obviously, I wasn't in some sort of hurry that I deceptively came in with my dog and tried to get them to put her to sleep 3 hours before my scheduled time. That's freaking absurd.

Any ounce of compassion would have caused the very first woman in the office to ignore the discrepancy between the time we arrived and the time that Rachel the genius entered in the computer. She would have quietly slipped into the back and found the vet who helped us in the end, and made everything work out without subjecting us to the drama that their incompetency created.

This isn't a rant, it is simply what happened that day. In the event that someone Googles this vet, it is the chance for them to see how they might be treated if they choose to go there.

It was hard enough to make the decision. It was hard enough to get in the car with my pup. It was hard enough to get out of the car and take her inside for the very last time. To say goodbye.

I will never understand how they could possibly treat someone in so much obvious pain as badly as they treated me.

Long goodbye

It's done. Chelsea left us today around 2:00 PM. She died with her head in my hands, and me telling her how much I loved her.

I have spent the day swinging wildly between knowing I was doing the right thing and doubting that I could ever have the wisdom to end her life.

One bite of yogurt spooned into Little Bird's mouth, and I'm smiling at Kevin, telling him that I'm relieved that my sweet pup isn't in pain anymore. By the time I'm catching what Bird spit out on the spoon, I'm sobbing that she didn't want to leave me and I miss her so much.

I'm basically a wreck.

The thing is, logically I know it was right. They gave her a little Valium before the big drugs, and she was finally able to bend her back legs and lie down again. Finally, she lay with her head in my lap again; something she hadn't done for over a year.

Only after the Valium, I wanted to scoop her up and take her home. I wanted to say, "Thanks! That was just what she needed!" and run away with her.

But it was time.

The front office at vet handled it horribly, but I need to think about how to write about it before I put it out there. I knew that it was going to be hard to do, but the incompetence of the office workers made it so much harder, I don't even know what to think tonight.

For tonight, I'm just going to stay in the place where I miss her, I love her, and I pray that I did the best thing for her. It's tenuous enough to stay in the confidence that I did right by her.

Fourteen years, my best girl. My most consistent companion through all of the biggest changes in my life.

I love you, Chels.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Giveaway at Triangle Mamas

Remember this song?

This week at Triangle Mamas, you can enter to win your own copy of the CD, Blue Ridge Reunion, and the book of watercolors of the North Carolina mountains that accompanies it.

I hope you will click over and enter to win!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Over the past year or so, I have developed a love of handmade things. Esty is a website that should be banned from my computer. I've spent entirely too much time and money there.

Those who know me in real life know that I am not creative outside of music or cooking. It's just not in me.

Or so we thought.

I now present to you, the family Christmas stockings, made by moi, because I was too damn cheap to purchase personalized stockings. Well, that, and the ones I found that I liked wouldn't allow the 11 letters in my son's name.

I do believe I am officially crafty.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not quite yet

It's almost time.

Chelsea, otherwise known as "Pupstar" here, is 14. She has kidney failure. Her back legs frequently give out on her, as does her bladder - whenever and where ever. She has sores that won't heal, and is on antibiotics for a tooth abscess.

In fact, she is on five medications at every meal and eats prescription dog food. The money spent on my dog would be embarrassing compared to what some families can spend on a child each month.

But she has been my constant companion for 14 years.

Ashley found her for me. A girl we were in school with found this tiny white puppy wandering along the side of the road. Ashley went to see it before they took it to the pound, and called me when she got there.
"Bird, you have got to come see this pup."

"I can't do that. If I come over and see the pup, you know it's coming home with us."

"Bird, you have got to come see this pup."

Chelsea came back to the apartment with us and proceeded to terrorize Ashley's cats, Tess and Todd; pee on her notes, biology; and basically win the hearts of everyone who met her. Except possibly Farrar, whose eggnog she simply wouldn't give up drinking.

Fourteen years later, Chelsea is still with me. We've moved five times. We've lived with six different people. We've had five different dogs join our family, and countless fosters come and go. We've been married and divorced and married again. She's tolerated Little Bird taking her place as the baby, but not without climbing into the Moses basket for a nap more than once.

But she is worse now. Even with the Pepcid, she is vomiting again. She isn't as excited about dinner time as she once was. I often have to lift her up the two steps in from the backyard. She lays at my feet, but doesn't stir when I get up.

It's almost time.

But it's not time.

I told her this morning, whispered in her ear, that she could go now. That I loved her and that she was a good dog. I looked into her eyes and kissed her little snoot. Of course, she's deaf, and a dog, so I don't know what good that did, but it made me feel a little better.

I'm hoping she goes in her sleep. I don't want to make that call to the vet. I will if I have too, but I just don't want to.

She is the best dog ever.

Chelsea with her Christmas elf moments before gutting it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advent blogs

It certainly didn't take long for me to fall out of the habit of posting.

Of course, this past weekend we put up a couple of Christmas trees. Only one live one this year, due to the baby on the loose. I bought a beautifully tacky silver pre-lit tree for the family room. It's only four feet tall and is safely posed upon a table, out of the reach of Mr. Kickypants.

I am distracted easily by shiny Christmas things and the laughter of my child. Writing is still important, but so is playing with the Little People Nativity set that Nana sent.

There is someone who is posting everyday though, two people, actually.

The first is Momma. She is posting an Advent devotional everyday this month. I really hope that if you are looking for something to enrich your Christmas season, that you will go over and visit her. She wrote the series for the church she is attending now, but is posting it daily on her blog.

The second is Heather. She is posting a musical Advent calendar on her blog. It was something I truly enjoyed last year and was so happy to see her doing it again. I hope you will bookmark her and start each day this season with music carefully selected for you by CGF.

Now, I've got some Christmas stockings to finish for my family. I promise pictures for my inspirational crafting goddess friend, Girl.