Yesterday was a rough day. I was tense and on edge from the moment I woke up. Writing it out and reading your comments helped enormously, but there's no sigh of relief at this point. We're still playing the waiting game (and I, for one, am tired of it).
The title of this post is a line from Tennyson's In Memoriam, which is a beautiful poem about suffering and trying to reconcile the loss of a loved one with one's faith in God (plot spoiler: It's not easy. For Tennyson or anyone.). But it came to mind yesterday when we lost the newest member of our family (and NO I DO NOT MEAN THE DEUCE--the baby and I are both fine and I DO have a good sense of perspective about that, thank you very much).
We lost our little Dixie.
I know, I know. The Urban Farm thing seemed so sweet and idyllic. A place where flowers bloom and birds sing and the sun is always shining and the garden is always ready to harvest and dogs lie down with chickens.
Except our dogs do not lie down with chickens. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I got home from work in time to have a quick lunch before heading to the hospital for monitoring. I let Cooper out in the backyard to enjoy the beautiful day while I ate. No more than thirty minutes later, I called him to come in because I needed to leave. He did not come when I called him.
He has been fascinated by the chickens, but we've mostly ignored him, hoping he would lose interest once he realized they were here to stay. We let him see them through the pen (supervised) Sunday afternoon.
But when I went outside yesterday to see why he was not responding, I found a fox in the hen house.
And by fox, I mean puggle.
And by henhouse, I mean that he had clawed his way into the pen by separating the chicken wire from the entry way where David had nailed it in place.
|Cooper was in the wire pen. The chicks had been left in the coop. But the door between the two was open.|
I leaped across the deck to the chicken coop and threw open the roof, convinced I was about to see a horror-movie style scene of blood and gore.
Instead, I saw two chickens, hanging out together in the corner, as far away from the door leading out to the pen as they could get. Wynona and Loretta were there. But Dixie was no where to be found. The pine chips near the door were moved out of the way, as though there had been a scuffle at the top of the ramp.
Cooper was out in the pen, next to the ramp, staring at the chickens, and then at me as I started crying. He tried to come over to me when I called him again (my voice edged with hysteria) but he seemed to be afraid of the ramp, and I couldn't reach him. I also couldn't lift the big lid to the pen and reach in and lift him out because (1) he's freaking heavy and (2) my belly is freaking huge.
I was looking everywhere for Dixie, but there was absolutely no sign of her. I knelt down in front of the little door to the yard, opened it, knocked the ramp out of the way, and dragged Cooper out of the pen by his collar. By this point, I was sobbing.
Dixie was gone.
|I haz chikn?|
It didn't help that Dixie was the smallest and sweetest and my favorite of our chickens.
It also didn't help that I was now late for my non-stress test.
I got Cooper in the house, Loretta and Wynona safe in their coop. I hurried around the yard, hoping against hope that somehow Dixie had escaped the pen through the hole Cooper had created and was hiding somewhere.
I knew it wasn't true, but I wanted to find her so much. I was still crying, and knew I had to pull myself together and get to my appointment, but it felt like I was the one who had let Dixie die. I had let Cooper out in the yard unsupervised. I had failed to protect a defenseless little baby bird. I had allowed her to be attacked and eaten by a big, bad wolf (evidently in one gigantic gulp). It was so horrifying. I'd already become attached to those chickens, especially to Dixie, and I still didn't want to accept the fact that my sweet, cuddly, snuggle-buddy Cooper was a vicious and bloodthirsty predator. I mean, he is a freaking PUGGLE! It's a novelty mixed-breed! He should be DOMESTICATED! He should not be a merciless KILLER of innocents!
I called David and managed to say, "The baby is okay, I'm okay" before I burst into tears and started wailing.
David thought I had been in a car accident and totaled the car. He kept asking me to repeat myself. Finally, the third time, I managed to take a deep breath and say, "COOPER. ATE. DIXIE!"
Honestly, I think David was as sad as I was.
So you can imagine the sort of mood I was in by the time I got to the hospital for my appointment.
The NST started and the Deuce was apparently napping, perhaps worn out from all of the excitement of my horror-filled afternoon? I watched the machine print out a graph that showed no accelerations and I started to feel panicky.
This was it. This was what happened to my babies at 34 weeks and 1 day. This is where everything starts to go wrong. I was preparing myself for the worst. I needed to get David there. I was starting to convince myself that they were going to admit me, there was going to be an emergency c-section, the Deuce would be in the NICU, there would be danger of brain damage and cerebral palsy and other risks associated with prematurity... and... and... (because when you start worrying, why not go WHOLE HOG, you know?).
The nurse came in and said, "Your baby is sleepy!" and I burst into tears. I said I was worried. I told her I'd eaten lunch and a cookie and I was drinking ice water and I was afraid something was wrong. I told her that 34 weeks was when we'd lost our first baby.
The nurse went to get me an apple juice and I texted David and told him that no one but me was concerned, but I needed him to get up to the hospital as soon as possible.
Then I chugged my apple juice, David texted me that he was on his way, and about fifteen minutes later, the Deuce had passed the NST with multiple accelerations and I was on my way to have my fluid level checked via ultrasound (it was normal).
I called David on my way from the testing center to my OB's office to ask him where he was. Traffic was crawling, so I told him not to bother coming to the hospital--he probably wouldn't make it there before I was heading home.
He got home shortly before I did.
I was still weepy and only somewhat convinced by my OB's reassuring hug that everything was going to be okay.
Dixie was still gone.
We were both so sad.
Cooper did not go anywhere near the chicken coop. David said he'd gotten "in big trouble." I asked if he spanked Cooper (we don't spank the dogs as a general rule). David just repeated, "He got in big trouble." I was glad I wasn't there, but honestly I'm even more glad that he is afraid to go over by the chicken coop.
I think we're going to get one more baby chick while Loretta and Wynona are still small, and try to keep our number at three this time. I also think that I am not really cut out for the realities of life and death on a farm.
Cooper wanted to snuggle as usual on my lap last night. I was horrified and angry with him, but I also knew that he did not understand why.
|Why no luv?|
|My ever-loyal and loving companion. And killer of chickens.|