6.5 months old - March 4, 2015

6.5 months old – March 4, 2015

SEVENTH MONTH (FEBRUARY 21 – MARCH 21)

WEEK 27 (PARTIAL WEEK)

Isn’t this an interesting way to start a blog post…

On February 25th, Todd started his morning by pooping in the toilet for the 41st consecutive day.  He went a lot so I figured he was done.  After I put him on the incontinent bed pad that I use for his “diaper free” time, I walked away briefly to start some laundry.  When I came back, I discovered that he’d pooped on the mat.  More?!  Yikes!!  Fortunately, he hadn’t yet rolled in it.  Phew…crisis averted!

Later that day, I gave Todd his first taste of (organic) 100% peanut butter by letting him suck a thin smear off my finger.  So far, so good re: food allergies.  Check out this article…

Study finds peanut consumption in infancy prevents peanut allergy (NIH clinical trial)

February 25, 2015

February 25, 2015

Here’s a BIG milestone!  This week Todd sat himself up for the first time!  For a few days prior, he’d gotten so close.  On February 26th, he did it for Eric, but I was in another room.  I missed the first instance, but then Todd repeated his new skill 3 more times within about 10 minutes.  He showed that he could do it with a bulky diaper on, too.

To sit up from his belly, he starts on all fours, then he gets himself into something like a “pigeon” yoga pose (with one leg drawn way up so that his foot is right under his butt), then he manages to bring the other leg under/around, and finally pushes up with his arms.

Highlights:

  • 1st sit-to-stand without help – by pulling up with the wooden rods of a chair (at Mission Ridge, 2/22)
  • took one arm out of his long sleeve shirt (2/22)
  • doing “down dog” and “pigeon” yoga poses to attempt sitting up or crawling
  • record sleep, 11.75 hrs (2/24 to 2/25)
  • using fingertip to deliberately feel the corner of a book (2/25)
  • 1st time sitting up from belly (2/26)

New (vegan) foods this week:

  • minestrone soup
  • chickpea fritter & Romesco sauce (made with pistachio, roasted red pepper, kidney beans & more)
  • lick of peanut butter
  • chocolate “shake” (made with frozen bananas, coconut milk, soy milk & cocoa powder)
  • peach oatmeal banana jarred organic baby food
  • angel hair & pasta sauce with Field Roast Italian Sausage
"Green" (brown) smoothie aftermath - February 26, 2015

“Green” (brown) smoothie aftermath – February 26, 2015

WEEK 28

Geez, Louise!  Now that Todd learned how to sit up, he will NOT stay on his back for dressing and diaper changes.  He whips over to his belly and launches himself up to sitting in literally less than 5 seconds.  I had to break out the larger (size medium) cloth diaper covers to give myself more room for error, as I fasten his diaper while attempting to restrain Todd in a sitting position.  It’s not always easy!

In the last week, I noticed that Todd’s ability to weight shift when standing has gotten to where he now purposefully adjusts his feet after he’s up, to seek better traction and balance.  Before, his feet would remain where initially planted.

He's a little boy, not a baby - February 28, 2015

He’s a little boy, not a baby – February 28, 2015

Developmental Highlights:

  • 1st time sitting up in his bed (2/27)
  • 1st time (briefly) sitting with legs extended instead of flexed (3/1)
  • 1st unsupported standing of ~10 seconds (after assist to be “placed,” 3/3)
  • sit-to-stands with close supervision but no assist, using dresser drawers, couch, and stacked couch cushions. Todd lets go with one hand, then both.
  • from standing, when he “plops” down, it’s more often straight down on his butt rather than doing the “Nestea Plunge.”
Sitting up in bed - March 3, 2015

Sitting up in bed – March 3, 2015

Other Highlights:

  • during his bath, Todd kept wanting to drink the water (3/1)
  • repeatedly flicking the nipple of his bottle with his left index finger
  • started using size medium cloth diaper covers (3/2)
  • started using #4 (Fast Flow) Philips Avent bottle nipples (3/3)
  • tapping toys together to make noises
  • moving mouth like he’s chewing gum
  • loves his daily green smoothies
Bath time - March 1, 2015

Bath time – March 1, 2015

New (vegan) foods this week:

  • dried fig (loved it!)
  • cucumber stick

WEEK 29

Scary moment!  On March 5th, I was going to brush my teeth, so I put Todd in the middle of my queen-sized bed, completely surrounded by 2 body pillows and 2 regular pillows.  He was playing with a toy when I took my eyes off him for just a minute to step into the bathroom. When I came out, I saw him frog-leaping so fast toward the corner of the bed.  He was nearly over a pillow and he would have certainly gone over the edge next, if I hadn’t launched through the air and grabbed him.

It used to be that pillows were an easy way to put up a “barrier” or to “cushion” hard surfaces while he sat.  Now– we have to be very careful because the pillows are acting as an invitation for Todd to leap-frog and scramble over them…or he does a seated lurch toward them…or he tries to use them to stand up.

This video is from Week 30 but it shows what he does…

Eric took a vacation day on Friday March 6th, so we stopped for lunch in Leavenworth, at the Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill & Beer Garden, on the way to our condo in Wenatchee.  Eric and I enjoyed the Vegetarian Wurst (made with Field Roast) and a porter.  Todd enjoyed the bun!

Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill & Beer Garden - March 6, 2015

Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill & Beer Garden – March 6, 2015

Exploring the condo grounds - March 6, 2015

Exploring the condo grounds – March 6, 2015

March 10th was the day that Todd “finally” pooped in his diaper.  It was just a little bit, and I was able to get him to the toilet to finish a lot more.  Then it happened again that evening.  So, for the record, he officially went 52 days without pooping in his diaper.  Not too shabby, eh?

March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

Developmental Highlights:

  • 1st time “butt walking” from sitting (he kind of bounced himself forward) (3/6)
  • from sitting, he started lurching forward with a lot of momentum– toward a toy or something that he wanted to use for standing himself up
  • gets in and out of a half-kneeling position frequently
  • 1st full kneeling, in crib– to reach up for his musical aquarium (3/9)
  • rapid inhales/exhales so that his lower lip moves in and out, often done when concentrating
Kneeling in crib - March 9, 2015

Kneeling in crib – March 9, 2015

Other Highlights:

  • lots of smiles and laughs daily
  • gets very excited about various things:  mouth agape and arms wave
  • shaking toys
  • does not like to stay put for diaper changes and often cries in protest
  • loves to help play the guitar with Eric
  • 1st time using the portable high chair for eating at a restaurant (Cafe Rio, 3/7)
  • visitors at home:  Eric’s parents and brothers (Jeff and Darren, 3/11)
  • 1st time meeting Uncle Darren (3/11)
Todd meets his Uncle Darren - March 11, 2015

Todd meets his Uncle Darren – March 11, 2015

New (vegan) foods this week:

  • homemade corn muffin
  • corn tortilla
  • spicy BBQ sauce with broccoli
Eating broccoli - March 9, 2015

Eating broccoli – March 9, 2015

WEEK 30 (AND PART OF 31)

On March 12th, we had a nice family gathering because Eric’s brother, Darren, was in town visiting from Wyoming.   We went out to eat at Jimmy’s Pizza & Pasta, in Stanwood, where you can get a superb vegan pizza.  Todd loved being the center of attention and he enjoyed tearing apart tomato slices!

Todd with his Grammie, Cousin Kylie, Uncle Darren, Uncle Jeff, mama & dada - March 12, 2015

Todd with his Grammie, Cousin Kylie, Uncle Darren, Uncle Jeff, mama & dada – March 12, 2015

Todd with Cousin Kylie & Grand dad - March 12, 2015

Todd with Cousin Kylie & Grand dad – March 12, 2015

Cousin love! - March 12, 2015

Cousin love! – March 12, 2015

Jimmy's Pizza & Pasta - March 12, 2015

Jimmy’s Pizza & Pasta – March 12, 2015

On March 14th one year ago, we found out that our 18 week old fetus was going to be Todd Patrick…a boy…instead of Emmy Todd…a girl.  This outfit was one of 3 that I purchased for Eric back then, to tell him the news.  Little Dude, Big Plans!  (See this “20 Week Ultrasound” post for the picture of Eric holding up this onesie one year ago.)

Little Dude, Big Plans -  March 14, 2015

Little Dude, Big Plans -
March 14, 2015

On March 16th, I decided it was time to stop writing down the amount of every bottle fed to Todd during the day and night.  It’s a not a bad idea after almost 7 months, huh?

Standing alone - March 12, 2015

Standing alone – March 12, 2015

Developmental Highlights:

  • sometimes able to sit down in control (instead of always “plopping” down)
  • more receptive to spoon feeding and helps pull spoon to mouth
  • improving ability to move food in his mouth:  “chewing,” tongue lateralization, managing particles (to swallow or bring forward and out)
  • 1st time “kissing” me and trying to “feed” me some of his dinner (3/13)
  • 1st 20-second unsupported standing and without assist for placement (3/18)
  • 1st coordinated crawl across living room (3/18)
  • 1st stand up in crib (3/19)
  • beginning “couch cruising” after standing himself up with couch (3/19)
  • able to pick up and drop green peas

Other highlights:

  • loves frog-leaping on my bed into pillows surrounding him, like a pinball machine
  • sitting at the keyboard in his booster seat to play piano
  • no more changing table…too unsafe!
  • noticeable preference for rubbing items (including bottle nipple) against his left upper “molars”
  • sucks his lips in so he looks like an old man without his dentures in
  • likes touching our faces with index finger during bottle feedings
  • says “ma ma ma” and “a ba ba” frequently
  • making clicking sounds with his mouth
  • Out to eat at Jimmy’s Pizza & Pasta with Eric’s parents, Eric’s 2 brothers, and our niece (3/12)
  • Visit to a friend’s house (Sebastian & family, 3/12)
  • appeared very scared by me folding some tissue paper (3/13)
Playing the keyboard - March 14, 2015

Playing the keyboard – March 14, 2015

New foods this week:

  • dark chocolate
  • tomato slices
  • steamed cauliflower
  • homemade tempeh bacon
  • homemade tempeh Rueben with sauerkraut
  • Gardein Fishless Filet & Crispy Tenders
  • coleslaw & cabbage leaf
  • homemade peanut butter and banana muffin
  • pears and mango jarred organic baby food
  • sweet potato jarred organic baby food
Eating Tempeh Rueben - March 16, 2015

Eating Tempeh Rueben – March 16, 2015

SEVENTH MONTH WRAP-UP

Food–>  Todd seems to be an adventurous eater and his fine motor skills are improving rapidly.  I try to feed him solids about twice per day.  In the morning, I consistently give him green smoothie and maybe a pancake/mini muffin.  In the evening, I give him bits of whatever dinner we’re having.

As of the end of this month, he’s down to the bottom of his 39th can of organic soy formula.  Every time we open a new can, I record the number!  How many cans do you think we’ll go through before he’s all done with “formula milk?”

Sleep–>  Todd continues to sleep ~10-ish hours per night, and he might wake up once in the night ~1-3x per week.  One thing that’s changed in the last week is that he’s back to being basically asleep when I put him in his crib at night.  He literally wears himself out all day and he’s ready to crash after his last bottle feeding.  I’ve been enjoying extra cuddle time rocking him in my glider chair before I put him in bed.

Snuggles before bed - March 17, 2015

Snuggles before bed – March 17, 2015

Toileting–>  After his “off day” on March 10th, Todd’s been back to doing all poops in the toilet ever since!

Well, I guess this post started and ended on the topic of poop.  I swear I didn’t plan it that way, haha!

See you next month!

February 25, 2015

Todd at 6 months old – February 25, 2015

My baby Todd will be 7 months old tomorrow, and I still can’t get over how much he’s added to my life and my marriage.  I know it sounds cliché, but my heart really does overflow with love a thousand times a day.  Every morning is Christmas morning!  My heart melts every time I open Todd’s bedroom door, peer in, and I see him grin back at me so big.  He starts each day excited!

It still feels surreal that Eric and I actually created a little person!  We both trip out frequently because there really is a baby in our house.  Our house?  We have our own little family now.  It’s still weird!

I ask Todd all the time, “Where did you come from?” but I know that he was a gift– from God, the higher power, the great source, whatever you want to call it.  I’m not religious, but I do believe in “something” even if I can’t put a label on it.  I know for sure that we have Todd because we were meant to experience this kind of love and happiness.  Todd was meant to be born!

Yes, I was honestly a very happy childless woman.  We’ve had a very happily childless marriage.  It was a choice that we made over a decade ago and it was not a decision that I ever second guessed.  I felt very secure in it, and I loved our active child-free lifestyle.

All of this means that I can’t get over how quickly I could switch to the “other side.”  How did I become that woman who now loves being a mom?

I’m going to be really honest here.  Before I had my own, the thought of having kids (or even just one kid) used to sound just too mundane to me.  It lacked excitement.  It lacked fun.  Most of all, it sounded like way too much work!  You know that saying about how being a mother is the hardest and most rewarding work there is?

Yeah– well, all I heard was the “hardest” part.  And sure, maybe some people might find that sort of thing rewarding, but I wanted something different for my life!  It wasn’t for me, it wasn’t for Eric, and it wasn’t for us as a couple.  We had our freedom, baby!  We weren’t burdened with such a big responsibility!

No one pressured us to have kids, but my sister did try to gently clue me in quite a few years ago.  She told me it was better than any activity that you could do:  Better than the best ski run!  I politely nodded and remained unswayed.

Of course, I’ve loved being an aunt.  My bond with Ashley is beyond special:  it’s the closest thing to having a daughter.  But, being an aunt was always good enough for me!

So now here I sit in a totally different place.  And what have I learned?

Number one, my life has new meaning.  Now it’s all about caring for and nurturing this new little person.  I’m Todd’s mama and I want him to have a great life.  It feels so completely natural now, that I’d want to do everything in my power to help him grow up healthy and happy.  He’ll know for sure that he is loved and respected.

Number two, if parenting is mundane, then I don’t seem to mind!  There is a beautiful simplicity to life right now.  I’m so fortunate that I can stay at home with Todd.  I needed the break from work.  I’m a homebody, and I’m enjoying the slower pace.  Surprisingly, in some ways I feel less burdened with responsibilities than before.  (Odd)

Number three, watching a baby grow and discover the world is completely entertaining!  There’s nothing boring about my days, and every day brings new explorations for Todd.  (I’ll admit that I like reading children’s books, too.)  I get to be a kid again, and that is fun!  I smile and giggle and laugh for new reasons every day.

I look back on my life “before Todd.”  My pleasure and entertainment in life came from very active recreational activities like skiing and mountain biking.  I thrived on the movement and the adrenaline that those pursuits released.

I do sometimes think about how Eric and I can no longer get up before the crack of dawn on a Saturday and go bust our butts on our bikes all day somewhere, way out in the mountains.  Part of me misses that.  But I’m finding that I don’t miss it nearly as much as I thought I would.

I feel confident that my life filled with strenuous outdoor adventures is far from over.  It’s been modified, but that feels okay!  I’m going to love sharing my “former world” with Todd when he gets a little older.  I’ll experience that rush of endorphins again…as I ski and hike and bike with Eric and Todd.

I know it’ll be sooner rather than later when Todd first experiences the thrill of sliding on snow…and that will be a thrilling day for me!  In the meantime, I’ve had plenty of fun taking my turn skiing while Eric watches Todd in the lodge.  Before we know it, we’ll all be shredding the cords and tearing up the pow…together!

Number four, I get it now!  It’s true:  It’s different when it’s your own kid.  I couldn’t get it before because I didn’t have Todd.  No amount of simply “telling me” was going to work.

An acquaintance at the Mission Ridge ski area this winter told me that him and his wife are still on the fence about having kids.  At the time, Todd was about 4 months old.  I reminded Nate that we weren’t at all on the fence (we were as far away from the fence as you could get!)…and yet now we’re so happy that we have Todd.

I still think about that brief chairlift conversation from time to time, and it’s one reason why I’ve been wanting to organize my thoughts on this topic and actually put it down “on paper.”

If I hadn’t become unexpectedly pregnant with Todd, our lives would have gone on as they had before. That would have been great!  We wouldn’t have known what we were missing, as they say.  But since we were surprised in the best possible way, I’m grateful that Todd came along exactly when he did.

I’m glad that he didn’t come sooner, and I’m glad he didn’t come later.  He came along at the perfect time.  I wouldn’t go back and change any phase of my life.  I feel like I’ve gotten to live and enjoy life “both” ways.

That’s the beauty of having a first child past age 40!  For 20+ years, Eric and I enjoyed the “unburdened” lifestyle of the childless, with all of the “pros” that go along with that.  Now we’re in the midst of our next life adventure with child (singular!)  Now we get to experience the depth of love and all the cool things that go along with having a kid.

Yes, sometimes parenting is very hard work.  Yes, I’m positive there’s lots more hard work waiting for us in the future.  It doesn’t take much to figure that out!

But, Todd is clearly more than worth all the hard work…

I get it now!

Tofu Lentil Loaf

Tofu Lentil Loaf

TOFU LENTIL LOAF

This Tofu Lentil Loaf is full of flavor and has a soft-formed consistency with a slightly crispy “crust.”  Depending on your oven, feel free to increase the baking the time for maximum crust.  The key is to let it go as long as possible before it starts to burn.

Pre-cook the lentils ahead of time for quick assembly.  I cook 2 cups dry lentils at a time, then freeze the cooked lentils in 1 cup portions.  That way, I have enough for several recipes (or other uses).  Thaw lentils before using.

I also portion several recipes’ worth of seasonings in separate jam jars.  It saves future time because the spice jars are already open and the measuring spoons are already out!

INGREDIENTS

2 T olive oil

1 C ground oats (measure after ground)
1/4 C ground raw sunflower seeds (measure after ground)

1/8 t sea salt or celery salt
1/4 t ground pepper
1/2 t thyme
1 t paprika
1 T nutritional yeast
1 T dried parsley (or use fresh chopped parsley, to taste)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 medium onion
1 large carrot

14 oz organic firm/extra firm tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid
1 C cooked lentils

2 T ketchup
2 T soy sauce/tamari
2 T tahini
2 T vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 T dijon or yellow mustard

ASSEMBLY

  1. Pour the oil in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass pan.  Set aside.
  2. Combine the oats, seeds and the dried seasonings in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Using a food processor, process the garlic, onion, and carrot.
  4. To the food processor, add the pressed tofu, cooked lentils and the wet condiments and process again until smooth.
  5. Stir the wet mix into the dry mix.
  6. Spread into the glass pan and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Todd at 5 months + 1 week old (23 weeks) - January 30, 2015

Todd at 5 months + 1 week old (23 weeks) – January 30, 2015

SIXTH MONTH
(JANUARY 21 – FEBRUARY 21)

I’ve been thinking this every month– but it seems like each month there’s more going on than the last!  Baby development fascinates and entertains me!  Let’s dive in…

WEEK 23

There’s lots new to mention this week about sleep and food!  (Two of my favorite things, you too?)

Todd grabbing at his loose bedding - January 22, 2015

Todd grabbing at his loose bedding – January 22, 2015

Sleep–

  1. Todd started out his 6th month with 2 more record-length night time sleeps (10.75 hours on January 21-22 and 11 hours on January 23-24).  In general, 10+ hour night time sleeps are now a regular occurrence and not just outliers.
  2. Now– when I put Todd in his crib for the night, he’s generally wide awake and no longer practically asleep.  He shows that he’s tired by arching back and waving his head from side to side during his before-bed feeding.  In bed, he makes little moaning/squeaking noises and then usually falls asleep without crying.
  3. Check this out!  Todd took some day time naps in his crib instead of the swing.  I tested it out on January 23rd, not out of necessity, but because I’ve been feeling increasingly nervous knowing that Todd will soon grow too big for the swing.  I didn’t know how he’d react to the crib for naps…

That morning, I dressed Todd in his usual (warm) nap clothing, I put on a lullaby music CD, I turned on his Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother, and I gave him a blanket friend to play with.  He didn’t cry.  He chatted and played for a few minutes, then went to sleep!!  Unfortunately, I had to wake him up after 1.5 hours because we had to leave the house for my doctor appointment.

In the afternoon of that same day, he took a 45 minute crib nap.  On January 24th, he crib-napped 30 minutes.  On January 25th, he crib-napped 45 minutes.  On January 26th, he crib-napped 30 minutes, but it was broken up by some crying.  But…

On January 27th, he protested his crib nap…so I put him in the swing.  And the little turkey fell asleep almost instantly and slept for 2.75 hrs…which is a very typical swing nap length.

After that, I decided that I wanted my “über-napper” back, so from that day onward it was back to swing naps.  So…we’ll face the day Todd gets too big for the swing when that day comes.  For now we won’t fix what isn’t broken!

1st Crib Nap - January 23, 2015

1st Crib Nap – January 23, 2015

Food–

I know, I know– Todd isn’t 6 months old yet!  But this week we started experimenting with solid food.  I started reading a book about Baby Led Weaning (BLW).

On January 25th, Eric made some guacamole (we use just avocado and lime, nothing else).  I was going to just put a dot on Todd’s lips for him to taste.  Well, Eric got a little excited and grabbed Todd’s spoon to feed him a bite…and another…and another.  Todd seemed excited to eat it up.  After several bites, though, something triggered his gag reflex, and out it all came.  I was taking pics so I caught him mid-gag, haha!  The Great Guacamole Feed was over!

Right before the guacamole came up! - January 25, 2015

Right before the guacamole came up! – January 25, 2015

On January 26th, I went shopping at Babies R Us.  We needed some new nipples for our Philips Avent Natural Bottles.  Avent’s been our preferred bottle ever since I tried the one I got for free from Target for starting up a baby registry.

If you can believe it, Todd was still using the #1 Newborn Flow nipples well into his 4th month and he only started using the #2 Slow Flow nipples (recommended for ages 1 mo +) well into his 5th month.  (We didn’t start the #2s sooner because the formula would run out of his mouth too fast.)

After the shopping trip, we retired the #2s and started using the new #3 Medium Flow nipples (recommended for ages 3 mo +).  I bought some Fast Flow (#4) nipples (recommended for ages 6 mo +) for future use.

Todd was ready.  After that, he started guzzling 8 ounces in a feeding, without excessive leakage.  He purposefully grabbed at his bottle with both hands, pulled it to his mouth, and, for the most part, held it on his own when reclined.

Also on January 26th, we started offering Todd finger foods.  At this point, the goal is “food play.”  He was definitely interested in all the new textures, smells and tastes.  He liked rubbing the firm fruits/veggies against his toothless gums, and he can “bite” off small pieces.  His gag reflex worked well when small pieces found their way to the back of his tongue.  Yes, I’m being very careful about choking prevention!

Sucking on an apple slice - January 26, 2015

Sucking on an apple slice – January 26, 2015

Highlights:

  • 1st 10.75 hour & 11 hour night time sleeps (1/21 to 1/22 and 1/23 to 1/24)
  • 1st crib nap (1/23)
  • 1st rollerblade using the 3-wheel stroller (Centennial Trail, 1/25)
  • 1st trial spoon-feeding solid food (guacamole, 1/25)
  • grabbing his loose bedding and pulling it over him (1/22)
  • funny tongue protruding (see video)
  • falling asleep at night without crying despite being wide awake
  • started using medium flow nipples
  • holding own bottle if reclined
  • kicking at mattress in his crib (can hear him through the wall)
  • new finger foods this week:  apple, avocado, steamed broccoli, romaine leaves, spinach leaves, raw red pepper, raw celery.
Walk at Langus Riverfront Park & Spencer Island Regional Park - January 24, 2015

Walk at Langus Riverfront Park & Spencer Island Regional Park – January 24, 2015

Rollerblading on the Centennial Trail - January 25, 2015

Rollerblading on the Centennial Trail – January 25, 2015

WEEK 24

On February 3rd, I heard some new scratching sounds coming from the baby monitor in the morning.  My suspicion was correct:  Todd had rolled himself onto his belly and was scratching at his sheets.  When I walked in, he was also fingering the monitor (sitting in the corner).  Time to move the monitor!

1st time on his belly in the crib - February 3, 2015

1st time on his belly in the crib – February 3, 2015

Highlights:

  • 1st time rolling back-to-belly in his crib (2/3)
  • I nicknamed him “thumper” because of his mattress kicking.
  • Visit from Eric’s parents and our friend, Ellen (2/4)
  • new finger foods this week:  rotini pasta noodle, pancake, banana, pizza crust, yam
  • spoon-fed pureed food:  yam, banana, green smoothie
Munchin' on a pancake - January 31, 2015

Munchin’ on a pancake – January 31, 2015

WEEK 25

We had a sad start to this week because our ~15 year old cat, Millie, died on Friday, February 6th.  You can read about her in the previous post, Missing Millie.

Millie and Todd - February 6, 2015

Millie and Todd – February 6, 2015

Todd was getting noticeably way more active!  He’s a high-energy guy, especially in the evenings.  Here’s some new things in the “motor function” department this week:

  • On his back, he started doing a “hip-wiggle-wiggle” marching thing, and one time he spun himself around in almost a complete circle while on his back.  Imagine a clock hand going around!
  • From his back, he very quickly rolls to his belly.  From there, he can now spin ~90 degrees on his belly to reach for toys.  He started doing a “pseudo-crawl” to propel forward.
  • At the end of the week, he did more rolling from belly-to-back than he’s done in previous weeks.  Now it’s more smooth and coordinated.

Food–

On February 5th, I gave Todd a sip of my green smoothie, and he wanted more, so I gave him a couple tablespoons from his own “cup” (a mini silicone pinch bowl).  That started a regular habit of giving him green smoothie most mornings.  He slurps while I pinch the sides.  He loves it, and he tries to pull the bowl into his mouth with his hands.  Our green smoothies contain kale or collard greens, banana, orange, avocado, celery, berries, tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) and pea protein powder.

Todd watches me closely from his ExerSaucer when I’m in the kitchen.  He knows when I’m preparing his “formula milk” and gets visibly excited when he’s ready for some (he bounces up and down).

Slurping up green smoothie - February 7, 2015

Slurping up green smoothie – February 7, 2015

Sleep–  AKA…Transition to Tummy Sleeping!

  • February 9…I put Todd to bed at 7:30 PM and he was wide awake.  He quickly rolled to his tummy in his crib.  “Oh, no,” I thought!  When he fell asleep that way I was shocked!  Two hours later, I heard him crying and I knew why.  I turned him back over and he slept on his back for the rest of the night.
  • February 10th…I put Todd to bed at 8 PM and he immediately rolled to his tummy.  I put him on his back again, then he fell asleep.  He woke up at 2:45 AM and he was on his tummy again.  I fed him and he returned to sleep on his back.
  • February 11th…I put Todd to bed at 7:30 PM and he was actually asleep for a change.  He woke up crying at 2:30 AM.  This time, he was on his tummy with his head in the corner.  There were some red abrasions on his head from the crib rails.  After I fed him, I put him on his back.  Within just a couple minutes, he turned onto his tummy AND got himself facing the opposite direction!  He was picking at the loose edge of his sheet where his feet normally would be.  I put him on the floor so I could fix his sheets.  Within minutes on the floor he rolled from back-to-belly and then belly-to-back.  It took until 4 AM to get us both back in our beds.
  • February 12th…I padded Todd’s crib so that he wouldn’t create more abrasions on his head.  (Previously, the rails were lined with just a thin mesh crib liner).  I did a pretty good DYI job, using some old folded bath towels.
Todd's Padded Room - February 12, 2015

Todd’s Padded Room – February 12, 2015

That evening, we went to our condo in Wenatchee and I lowered the “mattress” in the Pack ‘N Play travel bed.  Todd went right to sleep at 10:30 PM, but he woke up crying an hour later.  Sure enough, he’d wiggled himself into the corner.  I fed him and he fell asleep on his tummy.  At 3:45 AM, he wasn’t crying but it sounded like he was struggling.  Head in the corner again!  I moved him to the center and he fell asleep.

Highlights:

  • 1st tummy sleeping (2/9)
  • Visit at Eric’s parents house (2/10)
  • gets more distracted by his feet/socks (or other items) while sitting on the toilet
  • new mouth/tongue sucking thing he kept doing
  • “hip wiggle wiggle” on back (see video below)
  • pseudo crawling to propel forward
  • more rolling belly-to-back, more smoothly and coordinated
  • tries to do a sit-up when on his back
  • new finger foods this week:  pancake (made with wheat flour, cornmeal, pumpkin), Baby Mum Mum cracker
  • new spoon-fed pureed food this week:  taste of lentil/tomato soup broth, baked beans

WEEK 26 (AND PART OF 27)

It IS still ski season, although there isn’t much snow…

Todd & Eric at Mission Ridge - February 13, 2015

Todd & Eric at Mission Ridge – February 13, 2015

This week Todd settled into his tummy sleeping routine.  Now, I don’t have to “rescue” him, for the most part.  He’s often seen sleeping with knees drawn up underneath him…so cute!

Sleeping in the Pack 'n Play travel bed - February 15, 2015

Sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play travel bed – February 15, 2015

Sitting in his FIsher Price chair - February 15, 2015

Sitting in his FIsher Price chair – February 15, 2015

At our condo, the papasan chair is a favorite!  He loves being assisted to stand up against the side “wall,” then tries to let go, and falls backward.  It’s been a great chair to have because he can also sit and play in it while we fix meals and such.

More “firsts” in motor function this week:

  • Todd got up on hands-and-knees from his belly for the first time.
  • From sitting, Todd can now reach way out in front for things, and he did his first transition (in control) from sitting-to-belly when reaching for a toy.
  • Todd stood for a full 4 seconds completely balanced and without any support.  He likes to practice standing using the “rails” of his play mat.  He needs help to get “placed” but then we let go.  Then, he lets go with one hand and then the other.
  • From hands-and-knees, Todd pulled his left knee and foot way under him for the first time (February 20th).
  • Briefly presses up into a “plank,” from belly.
Hands & Knees - February 19, 2015

Hands & Knees – February 19, 2015

On February 18th, Todd had his 6 month pediatrician check-up, including receiving his 6 month vaccines.  Todd was 15 pounds, 6.5 ounces (14th percentile), 26″ long (25th percentile), and head circumference 42.5 cm (27th percentile).  Growth in all areas picked up since the last visit!

The doctor said to start feeding solids twice a day and that no food is off limits (from an allergy standpoint), if properly prepared.  (Honey is the exception but we don’t eat honey!)

Closing out the 6th month in style–> Todd has been on a roll with pooping in the toilet.  There were ZERO poopy diapers for the entire month!  As I complete this post (on February 23rd), it’s been 39 days in a row and we’re still counting.  The last poopy diaper was January 15th!  The little bit of solid food that Todd’s been eating hasn’t changed the consistency, although the color (of the digested green smoothie) is noticeably darker.

Highlights:

  • 1st time getting up on hands and knees (2/15)
  • 1st time going from sitting-to-belly (2/16)
  • 1st “crawl” from one end of the couch to the other (2/16)
  • 1st standing without any support and completely balanced (for 4-seconds, 2/16)
  • Record sleep, 11.25 hrs (2/18 to 2/19)
  • got startled when he tooted on the toilet…haha! (2/20)
  • pooping in the toilet for the whole month
  • examines fingertips of both hands and touches them together, etc
  • making sounds:  “bom,” ba” and “ma ma”
  • lots of smiles and giggles
  • wearing 6 and 9 month clothes
  • very driven/motivated to challenge himself; likes to show off
  • now prefers to be on his tummy rather than his back, because he’s more mobile that way
  • new finger foods this week:  pancake (made with wheat and oat flours, applesauce, almond butter), vegan burger patty (from Costco)
  • new spoon-fed pureed food this week:  sweet potato, peas
  • 1st time using the Fisher Price Healthy Care™ Booster Seat (2/13)
6 Months Old - February 21, 2015

6 Months Old – February 21, 2015

Millie - February 6, 2015 - 11:55 AM

Millie – February 6, 2015 – 11:55 AM

Our sweet cat, Millie, died on Friday, February 6, 2015 at ~3:15 PM.

As I’ve been working on this very long post for the past 5 days I’m continually reminded of her absence.  I look around the house and I still can’t believe she’s gone.  I sure do miss her a lot.

I’ve already looked under Eric’s bed several times, but she’s not there by the heat vent.  When I stand in the kitchen and look over to Eric’s room, I still expect to see her slipping out from under the bed.  As I play with Todd in the living room, I wait for her to walk past.

When I sit on the couch, I really miss her.  The computer sits where Millie should be.  I’m no longer contorting myself to type with the computer on my right side while Millie occupies the center of my lap.  I can’t hear the sound of her breathing, her faint snore, her quiet purr.

Millie’s food and water dish are now gone.  She’s not going to get up, have a drink, crunch on some food, then come back to me.  I remind myself that it’s “good” that now Todd won’t be able to get into the cat food…but still I miss her.

Now– when I’m on the couch and I ask Eric to get something for me, it’s not because Millie’s on me and I don’t want to disturb her.  And the other way around.  I miss seeing Millie on Eric.  I’m so glad she let him love her, too.

I look toward the front door, and I can’t see her walking around the corner.  There are no more sounds of her light tapping in the litter box.  Yes, that’s another good thing, right?  We don’t have to worry about Todd getting into that…

More “good” things–  No more rubbing her goopy left eye all over my computer.  No more itchy skin welts (mine), when she’d try to rub her face on my hands/arms and I didn’t pull back fast enough.

No more sounds of puking.  No more cleaning up cat barf on a regular basis.  No more gross discoveries of poop on the carpet (at the end).  Poor Millie.  I knew that it wasn’t her fault.

Every time I’d clean up messes part of me was looking forward to the time when we could replace the carpet.  Obviously I knew that meant after she died.  Of course, then I’d feel bad for thinking that.  Then I’d wish I could just have her forever but without the barfing.  I didn’t want her to die!

I loved Millie so much.  Writing this blog post is helping me grieve.  Even though there are several things that I won’t miss, I still want to remember all I can about her.  I’ve written it all down here because I don’t want to forget her.

“THE EARLY DAYS” – END OF 2011

Millie came into our lives in November 2011.  She was already ~12 years old.  Millie was cared for by Ellen, of New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary.  Ellen and I became friends after I started volunteering at her rescue.  I volunteered there from Fall 2008 (shortly after going vegan) to December 2013 (when I got pregnant).

We used to go out to lunch after I completed my volunteer shifts each Friday.  Toward the end of 2011, Ellen started mentioning that she really wanted to find a new home for her cat.

Millie and her littermate had been with Ellen since they were kittens, but, over the years, Ellen also had other cats and dogs.  Although Millie used to integrate with the rest of her “family,” something happened that made her afraid.  For several years, Millie basically lived a life of isolation in the house.  And it bothered Ellen more and more.

Millie at Ellen's house - November 11, 2011

Millie at Ellen’s house – November 11, 2011

One woman offered to take Millie in for a trial period, but the woman returned Millie to Ellen.  “I couldn’t love her,” she said.  (Whaaaat?)  After that, I told Ellen, “Well…maybe I should take her.”

Eric and I hadn’t planned to have another cat after our last cat, Stuart, died in Fall 2004.  But something compelled me to help.  I knew that we had the home environment that Millie needed:  a quiet house without any other animals.

On Saturday November 12, 2011, we picked up Millie at Ellen’s house.  When we first brought her home, I set her up in our spare bedroom (now Todd’s room).  I closed the other bedroom doors.  Not surprisingly, Millie was very scared and timid.  In those first days and weeks, I worked hard to gradually win over her trust.

On Day 1, Eric accidentally left his bedroom door open, and Millie took her first opportunity to race under his bed to hide.  She didn’t come out until 7:30 PM the next day.  From that point on, Eric’s room was Millie’s room and Eric’s bed was Millie’s bed.  (Underneath, that is.)

Millie got brave enough to venture into the living room on Day 3, she jumped up on the couch on Day 4, and she was a lap cat on me for two hours on Day 5.  She also trusted Eric enough to go over to him.  From then on, I looked forward to my daily “Millie Time.”  She loved it, too.

Day 5 - November 16, 2011 - 2 hour couch time with Millie

Day 5 – November 16, 2011 – 2 hour couch time with Millie

Within a month, Millie started using the scratching post and she felt comfortable enough to sometimes stay on the couch even if I got up.  She was still very nervous, though, and it didn’t take much to set her off running under the bed to her “safe zone.”  In general, she stayed under the bed if she wasn’t on my lap.

At the very beginning, I had to coax Millie out from under the bed by stretching out on the floor, saying her name, and then gradually crawling toward the living room.  Next, I was able to remain standing and just come into the bedroom and say her name.  Finally, within a month, she started to come out on her own, anticipating that it was “couch time” because we were developing a regular cuddle routine.

Millie - November 29, 2011

Millie – November 29, 2011

Millie sat with Eric while I decorated the Christmas tree - December 2, 2011

Millie sat with Eric while I decorated the Christmas tree – December 2, 2011

Elisa & Millie - December 5, 2011

Elisa & Millie – December 5, 2011

Millie - December 5, 2011

Millie – December 5, 2011

Cuddles with Eric - December 14, 2011

Cuddles with Eric – December 14, 2011

THE PRE-BABY YEARS – 2012 & 2013

Millie cuddled with me on the couch and not so much Eric.  Eric always tried to win her over, though, and he did this by coming over to her every evening when she was on me.  She let him pet her, blow bubbles on her belly, smoosh up her face and generally act silly.  The look on her face said, “not impressed,” but we both knew that she liked it.

Eric smooshing Millie's face - March 15, 2012

Eric smooshing Millie’s face – March 15, 2012

Eric & Millie - July 29, 2012

Eric & Millie – July 29, 2012

Eric & Millie - July 11, 2013

Eric & Millie – July 11, 2013

I was always glad when she did go to Eric.  That’s why I have a lot of pictures of them together.  There was a time when Eric had a better chance of getting Millie to cuddle with him if he used my couch instead of his.  Later, it didn’t matter.

Eric & Millie - May 6, 2012

Eric & Millie – May 6, 2012

Even still, once I was available, Millie always came to me.  She was my girl.  I tried to give her as much of my time as I could, while still living my life.

Before I left for work in the mornings, we’d enjoy at least 30 minutes of couch time.  After work, after dinner– I’d try to get as much time with Millie as I could before I went to bed.  There were countless times when maybe I wanted to do “this” activity or “that” chore, but I made sure that couch time with Millie was a top priority.

Except– I did feel really bad every ski season, because we’d leave her from Friday evenings until Sunday evenings pretty much every weekend. (One reason we weren’t going to get another cat after Stuart died was because of our ski season routine of leaving every weekend.)  But still, I knew that Millie’s quality of life was so much better than it was before, even factoring in our winter schedule.

At the condo for a ski weekend and missing Millie - March 8, 2013

At the condo for a ski weekend and missing Millie – March 8, 2013

Millie’s needs were so simple: food, water, safety, and couch time. On warm sunny days, she liked to sit on the sunny patches of carpet.

Enjoying the sun - April 13, 2012

Enjoying the sun – April 13, 2012

Millie was rarely seen “playing,” but a couple times I caught her in the act of batting around a plastic grocery bag that had dropped on the floor.  It was refreshing to see her not so serious!  A few other times I saw her chasing her tail.  She had zero interest in catnip or cat toys.

Millie didn’t meow much, but when she did, it was very soft and meek.  It always melted my heart and I know for sure that it was her quiet plea for some couch time.

Most often, though, she would simply stand and stare at me from the couch while I was busy in the kitchen, or else she’d stand and pause next to Eric’s bed.  The look said, “Are you ready for me yet, or should I go back under the bed and wait?”

She had several white whiskers over her left eye but just 1 white whisker over her right eye. Her left eye was runny all the time and it must have been an annoyance for her because she was constantly rubbing her face against hard surfaces like the corners of our walls, my computer, chair edges, etc..

Millie - March 29, 2013

Millie – March 29, 2013

More things about Millie:

  • When we’d do yoga, Millie would come out and circle around the mat and maybe meow quietly.
  • Millie would sometimes sit under our dining table, and she would use that location to “stage” herself.  From there, she could make a dash for the bed if she felt scared.
  • Millie’s 2nd choice for a “safe” place was under Eric’s couch.  We bought new beds in May 2013.  Before the delivery guys got here, I pulled Eric’s old mattress and box spring off the frame while Millie was out in the living room.  When the guys arrived, I knew she was going to freak out.  Sure enough, she ran into Eric’s room, panicked, and ran back out and under the couch.  There were a couple other instances when she ran under there, too.
  • Millie wasn’t a barfy cat when we first got her, but later it was a regular problem.
  • She liked to stand with her butt in our faces.
  • We had to have a blanket or a towel on us for her to sit down.
  • Sometimes she got her claw stuck in the couch and she struggled to free herself.  She’d panic and I was always afraid she would rip it out.
Millie - July 29, 2012

Millie – July 29, 2012

MILLIE’S 1ST MEDICAL ISSUE – AUGUST 2012

Millie was treated for a urinary tract infection (UTI). We knew something was wrong because she wasn’t peeing in her litter box. We thought she wasn’t peeing at all, but I later realized that she’d been peeing on the carpet.

After treatment, her health was back to baseline. We tried feeding her wet food, since the vet said cats are prone to dehydration and urinary problems. She accepted it for a while, but then she stopped eating it.

Psychologically, she was set back by the experience. Getting her into the box to take her to the vet was traumatic for all of us because she really fought being handled. Millie was never (for us, anyway) a cat that you could pick up and carry.

After the incident, Millie didn’t act differently toward me, but she definitely lost trust in Eric.  It took a long time for her to regain it.

Millie - November 16, 2013

Millie – November 16, 2013

PREGNANCY TIME – 2014

After I got pregnant with Todd, our general routine changed a little.  I had a new job and I was working longer hours (and I started working 5 days/week instead of 4).  I went to bed earlier than usual.  All this cut into our couch time.  I felt bad.

Fortunately, Millie got used to having couch time with Eric before I’d get home from work.  If I went to bed before he did, she’d have that time with him, too.  It was a good transition, in preparation for Todd.

Eric said on more than one occasion that Millie responded to him differently (better) after her medical event in March.  She opened up to him like never before.  (I detail that event below.)

As my belly grew larger, Millie had to accept her new spot on my thighs instead of my belly.  Increasingly, she’d try to sit right on my chest, but that wasn’t happening!  I got annoyed with her sometimes when she kept trying and trying to go there.  She was persistent.

We moved Millie’s litter box out of Todd’s bedroom in late April, to give her plenty of adjustment time.  We rented a Rug Doctor in late May.  There was an incident or two of peeing in my bedroom that seemed behavioral so we permanently restricted her access to that section of the house with a baby gate.  Thankfully, we didn’t notice anymore inappropriate peeing in other parts of the house.

Eric & Millie - February 13, 2014

Eric & Millie – February 13, 2014

My pregnant belly & Millie - May 15, 2014

My 27 week pregnant belly & Millie – May 15, 2014

Eric & Millie - June 3, 2014

Eric & Millie – June 3, 2014

Ashley & Millie - June 14, 2014

Ashley & Millie – June 14, 2014

MILLIE’S SECOND MEDICAL ISSUE – MARCH 2014

At about 3:30 AM on Saturday March 1st, Eric suddenly came into my room crying while holding Millie, saying there was something wrong with her. His crying told me that it was something serious. My heart sunk.

When I asked what was wrong, he said that for a while he heard her meowing under his bed. He first ignored it but then he realized that something wasn’t right. Millie wouldn’t come out on her own, but she let Eric help her. Then he noticed that her head and eyes were bobbing back and forth, she was staggering/couldn’t really walk, and her breathing was labored. When I saw this, I thought maybe she had a stroke. I thought it was the end.

We called the Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, where Millie was seen in 2012. They offer 24 hour emergency care, so we brought her right in. The result of various tests revealed dehydration and abnormal kidney function values. She was diagnosed with chronic renal failure.

Millie was treated with IV fluids and electrolytes. One overnight stay turned into two, which turned into three nights, because her levels weren’t improving very fast. When I took her home on Tuesday morning, her kidney levels were better but still not within normal limits. It wasn’t “about” the money, but the bill came to ~$2000.

The vet recommended feeding Millie a wet food formulated for cats with kidney disease (she wouldn’t eat it). We offered her a kidney support supplement (she tried it a few times but then rejected it).

Visiting Millie at the vet - March 2, 2014

Visiting Millie at the vet – March 2, 2014

Then…

In the evening of that same Tuesday (March 4th), Millie was on the couch with me when she exhibited the same neurological symptoms which prompted our initial vet hospital visit. This time I suspected a seizure.  We weren’t about to subject her to another stressful vet visit this time, so I prepared to say goodbye to her for a second time in less than 4 days.

I brought her head close to mine, held it gently but firmly, and I just kept telling her that it was okay to go. The head stabilization seemed to help re-focus her gaze, and gradually her respiration rate returned to normal. I stayed up until 11 PM just holding her, and when I went to bed she appeared somewhat normal again.

When we woke up the next morning, she still seemed okay. Inexplicably, there were no further incidents. Odd. From that point on, though, we assumed that she might not live a whole lot longer.

Millie - March 6, 2014

Millie – March 6, 2014

Eric & Millie - March 9, 2014

Eric & Millie – March 9, 2014

BABY TIME – STARTING AUGUST 2014

My sister and niece stayed with us for 2 weeks before/after Todd was born and then my parents and nephew added to the number of people in the house for a few additional days.  Naturally, Millie stayed under the bed more often than usual.  However, since they stayed so long, Millie started to warm up to them.  I’m pretty sure she enjoyed some couch time with my sister and niece.

After Todd’s birth, Eric was Millie’s only consistent source of 1:1 attention for weeks and months.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain the demands of a baby!  I was so glad that she actually got a fair bit of evening couch time with Eric, especially when I was busy with Todd’s bedtime routine (it used to take an hour).

During Todd’s daytime naps in his swing, I had to prioritize what I got done.  I didn’t stay on the couch as much as I would have liked.  But– I did feed Todd on the couch and she took advantage of that.  In the early weeks, Todd would snooze on me after he ate, so there was that time, too.

It was never good enough for Millie to sit next to me– she always had be somewhere on me.  She had to settle for my lower legs when I had Todd.  She acted a little neurotic because she would repeatedly jump up, circle around me, and sit down right where she started from.  Frequently, she’d get too close to Todd and try to walk over him.  (Of course I didn’t let her!)  There were plenty of times when I was annoyed by her behavior.

Deep inside, I felt like I was neglecting her since she wasn’t getting from me what she was used to getting.  I felt more emotionally distanced from her after Todd was born.  It’s hard to admit, but there were times when I even questioned whether I still loved her as much as I used to.

Honestly, now I realize that my detachment was possibly a coping mechanism for feeling such intense guilt.  Now I know that I never stopped loving her.

Todd was 3 days old - August 24, 2014

Todd was 3 days old – August 24, 2014

Todd was 1 month old - September 26, 2014

Todd was 1 month old – September 26, 2014

Todd was a little over 1 month old - September 30, 2014

Todd was a little over 1 month old – September 30, 2014

Todd was almost 3 months old - November 13, 2014

Todd was almost 3 months old – November 13, 2014

Todd was almost 4 months old - December 14, 2014

Todd was almost 4 months old – December 14, 2014

Todd was almost 5 months old - January 19, 2015

Todd was almost 5 months old – January 19, 2015

LEADING UP TO MILLIE’S LAST DAY

Because I’ve been so focused on Todd, I didn’t realize the full extent of Millie’s weight loss until literally the past week.  She used to weigh about 8 pounds, but at the time of her death I’d be surprised if she was half that.  Sure, I noticed even a couple months ago (or more?) that she was getting quite light to move, but it didn’t register that I could be witnessing her terminal decline.

The thing that was suspicious was that Millie started a pattern of not pooping for a couple days at a time, followed by going multiple times within a day (a combo of formed and loose poops).  We discovered poops all over the house and under the bed.

THE LAST WEEK

On the morning of Thursday, January 29, 2015, Millie had yet another poop-on-the-carpet incident.  Then, nothing for 3 days.  We thought it was the “new normal.”

But– she still hadn’t pooped by Wednesday, February 4th.  That was the day that the truth of the situation suddenly hit me.  I finally noticed just how bony she felt.  And I got that sinking feeling that we really had to make some decisions…now.

Our last cat, Stuart, died in our home just a few hours before his appointment for euthanasia.  He was failing for too long and I’ve been living with the regret of not letting him go sooner.  I didn’t want to repeat that with Millie.

“Other than” the extreme weight loss and change in bowel habits, Millie was still eating, drinking, peeing, walking around the house, and generally behaving like herself. She was spending most days all day on the couch and of course she would immediately sit on whoever sat down.

I'd just gotten off the phone with my sister - February 4, 2015

I’d just gotten off the phone with my sister – February 4, 2015

I sent a text to Ellen to inform her of what was going on, and I asked for her advice because I was having a hard time knowing if the time was right.  I didn’t want to do it too soon, but I didn’t want to do it too late.  I was struggling.   Since she has the goat rescue, she has to make tough decisions all the time.  Ellen offered to come over after work that day and her visit was exactly what I needed.  Plus, we had a nice time catching up over dinner.

I cried a lot that night before I went to sleep.  On Thursday February 5th, I cried off and on all day.  It took me several hours to summon the courage to make the dreaded phone call.  I didn’t think I could talk without crying and I still wasn’t sure what day to make the appointment for.  Meanwhile, I sat on the couch with Millie as much as I possibly could.

I sent an email inquiry to Kraft Mobile Veterinary Services and Dr Kraft called me almost immediately. He offered me an appointment the next day or the following Wednesday. I knew I needed to take the Friday 3 PM opening.

Ugh. Tomorrow? So soon? More crying.

Millie - February 5, 2015

Millie – February 5, 2015 – 6:30 PM

PREPARATIONS

Unfortunately, Eric expected a busy Friday at work, so he was unable to get away.  It was a bummer that he wouldn’t get to spend one last weekend with Millie, but he agreed that we shouldn’t wait.  Eric and Millie had some time together on Thursday night while I was putting Todd to bed.

My goal– obviously– was to be on the couch with Millie as much as possible Friday.  I knew that I could count on a long nap from Todd in the morning, but I knew that the afternoon could be unpredictable.  I was so thankful to Eric’s mom (Diane) for agreeing to come over.

Millie spent the whole day on the couch.  We had quality time during Todd’s 9-11 AM morning nap and I focused only on her.  She got up a few times to eat and drink.  I scooped some pee out of her litter box in early morning and replaced the litter, but she didn’t use it all day.  She still hadn’t pooped.

After Todd woke up, I fed him and played with him on the couch while Millie sat on my lower legs.  I took final pictures and a couple movies.

Todd & Millie - February 6, 2015 - 11:45 AM

Todd & Millie – February 6, 2015 – 11:45 AM

Millie & Todd - February 6, 2015 - Noon

Millie & Todd – February 6, 2015 – Noon

Between 12:30 AM and 2 PM I became increasingly anxious.  I hoped that Todd would accept an afternoon nap.  I hoped that Millie would stay on me when the vet came.  I hoped she wouldn’t try to run under the bed.  I hoped she wouldn’t experience fear.

My perfect (!!) baby started his nap exactly according to “plan” at 2 PM, coinciding with Diane’s arrival.  I was able to spend a full hour with Millie.  I was grateful for Diane’s company.  It was exactly what I needed because we chatted while I focused on Millie.  The casual conversation kept me calm and prevented me from spending the hour sobbing.

LETTING GO

Dr Kraft and his tech, Kerri, arrived at 3 PM.  I had a note on the door instructing them to come right in as I remained on the couch.  I doubted Millie would get up when they came in, as long as they approached slowly.  I was right.

Dr Kraft did a brief assessment and he immediately saw how bony she was.  His few words and look gave me more confidence that I was doing the right thing for Millie.

Millie had been lying on me with her head toward my head but Dr Kraft needed her facing the other way so he could access her front leg.  With the handling, she got a little scared and tried to flee, but Kerri was able to gently stabilize her while I also held her.  The shaver startled her a little, too.  After that, she seemed to calm down.  I think she was too frail to put up much fight.

Dr Kraft initially tried to inject the euthanasia drug intravenously (IV), but that didn’t work after 2 attempts and trying a smaller needle.  He said Millie was so dehydrated and her blood pressure was so low that he would have to “do it the other way”…which consisted of an intramuscular (IM) injection of a sedative (in the hind leg), followed by an intracardiac (IC) injection of the euthanasia drug.

That told me Millie’s condition was worse than I thought.

Dr Kraft said the sedative can cause some vomiting.  Millie had a tiny bit of heaving but at that point she seemed pretty unresponsive.  I couldn’t completely see her face because her head was toward my feet.  I was a little tearful during their whole visit but I think I finally cried when he injected her heart.

My sweet girl was gone.

Millie’s diaphragm relaxed and there was some final reflexive muscle twitches.  Dr Kraft checked for a heartbeat.  A couple minutes later he checked again and found a weak pulse, so he gave her a second injection just to be sure.

Even though I knew the answer, I still needed to asked Dr Kraft if he thought Millie had been close to death.  Was it good that I didn’t wait until Wednesday?  He said definitely yes, he wouldn’t have waited for the weekend.  I felt a big weight lift off me at that point.

I thanked Dr Kraft and Kerri for their kindness and they were on their way.  I’d definitely recommend them to anyone in need of a mobile vet.  Since I was feeling okay, Diane left a short while later.

REFLECTIONS

After the stress of the previous days, I initially felt relief that it was over.  I felt confident that we did the right thing.  (Though, if anything we might have waited too long.)  I was thankful for in-home euthanasia.  I was glad that things played out more or less how I’d hoped.  It’s just too bad that the IV route didn’t work.

Todd woke up from his nap at about 4 PM.  I didn’t expect him to notice her absence, but still it felt strange.  He had no idea what just happened.  His bright, naive smile upon waking immediately lifted my spirits.

An hour later– I felt a deep sadness creep back in.  Suddenly the house felt empty.  And so it goes with the grieving process…

I miss Millie.  I miss looking at her sweet face.  I miss her company, her affection, her warmth, and her complete devotion to me.

Overwhelmingly, I’m dealing with my guilt.  I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it.  I keep thinking back over the past months when maybe I could have spent more time with Millie but instead I chose to do “X, Y, or Z.”  Sounds silly, right?  She had it good.

Finally, I think about recent times when I was on the couch with her, but I was too busy typing on the computer to just pet her and enjoy her.  As I process my grief, it’s a good reminder to never take the ones we love for granted.  I should strive to “focus” more and multi-task less.  You never know when they’ll be gone.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite these pesky negative thoughts, I do know for sure that I poured my heart into Millie during the 3+ years that we had her.  Eric did, too.  She was well-loved and well-cared for.  She had a very good quality of life here with us.  So many animals don’t get a fraction of the love and attention that Millie got.  She was one lucky cat.  I feel good about that.

We can see Millie’s grave from our kitchen window.  She was buried in our yard under a piece of granite rock,  between two Russian Sage plants.

Millie's Grave

Millie’s Grave

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

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