Thursday, May 25, 2006

Endings and Beginnings

What we had on our schedule today: a visit from Aidan’s occupational therapist, Kieron’s baseball picnic in the evening, then Clare’s choir. So I knew I needed to vacuum (for the OT visit) and bake cookies for the picnic. It looked like one of those peaceful, productive, moderately eventful days. NOT.

The OT came early, while I was still finishing the cleaning. It turned out that this was her supervised visit, so I was rather relieved I’d gotten to the corners with the hose attachment but sorry I hadn’t gotten to wetmop the floor and VERY sorry that Frodo was in the mudroom so I had to let the two visitors in through our grungy garage. The session went well, though with a minor crisis when J the OT inadvertently hurt Paddy’s feelings (she was pretending to be angry and he took her seriously).

Just as they were leaving, Clare and Kieron came in to tell me to come look. They led me to the side of the house where we found an infant Douglas squirrel curled up tightly next to our piping. It didn’t look alive but it didn’t exactly look dead either. Then it took a deep heaving breath. Sigh — it was alive. Now what???

We ended up scooping it up (with gloves) and putting it into a box. It is cold at the side of the house so I figured it was hypothermic. We took it to the sunny deck and, double sigh, a few minutes later the poor thing started moving and squeaking a little. It was definitely alive.

Resigned, I ran to Google care of found baby squirrels and found that besides warmth, they needed hydration. So the next step was to go to the store to get some Pedialyte, at considerable expense. I dribbled some into its mouth in little increments.

Then we read further and found that hot water bottles were recommended. By that time it was getting cooller on the deck, so we found a soda bottle and used it as an impromptu heater until we found a regular water bottle. I kept putting in drops of Pedialyte. Clare was reading the printouts from the internet and telling me to pick it up and hold it upright at all costs while feeding it. The little thing reminded me of Paddy when he used to be bottlefed when first home from the NICU — frail, low-tone and hungry, closed eyes.

The printouts also told us that aspiration pneumonia was one of the most common threats because it was hard to feed them slowly enough to keep them from aspirating. I’m afraid that I found how difficult it was. But I didn’t feel I had any choice but to do it the trial and error way, since I knew it couldn’t survive for long without fluid.
We brought it upstairs and put it into the bathtub and blasted the heat in there until it was rather like a sauna. I really was expecting moment by moment to see it breathe its last, but instead it was reviving a bit and starting to squirm around in the box and burrow next to the cloth-covered pop bottle as if it were its mom. POOR thing.

We had read early after finding the creature that the first thing to do was to reunite it with its mother, but that if it was cold and wounded its mother would probably not return to it. We found that Brendan had actually seen the little body hours earlier but thought it was dead and not went closer to investigate, and it had a slightly bloody paw. So it seemed to us that it would be too dangerous to return it to its chilly former location with too little prospect of success. But of course, I second-guessed myself regularly during all this.

Oh, and also we read it was illegal to keep a wild animal, that the first step was to find a wildlife rehab group. So I looked online and found a contact number in Fresno (nearest big town) and left a message on the answering machine.

By now I was completely exhausted. So I lay down and took a 15 minute power nap. Then I only had about an hour and a half to make the cookies…. YIKES. I went into a frantic spin of making two batches of cookies, getting the two, no three “babies” ready, getting dressed myself, looking for directions to the feed store because we had read the best food for the baby squirrel was puppy formula. I was shouting orders and stressing. Everyone was running around looking for shoes, packing the stroller, etc.
We had to zip to get to the feed store (30 miles away) for the formula powder before it closed and then to the picnic. Just as we were leaving the Rehab volunteer called and I couldn’t find the phone to pick up… but Sean got her number. So when we got to the baseball picnic I called her and found she was at a wildlife meeting that night and could meet us there and transfer our baby.

Clare and Sean had decided to name the baby Exeter after the character in Henry V… it was either that or Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter, but they thought the baby was too dignified and courageous to get the latter name. So Exeter it was… Sean was getting attached to the little thing and carried it in the box on his lap in the car.

I took Clare to choir and was planning to ask one of the members to drive her home so we could go to Clovis and hand over the squirrel, but no one showed up for choir. Later on we found out that one of the leaders had called later because 2 members were sick, calling it off for this week.

SO back to the picnic and we had to take off. I didn’t realize until we got into the car that Kieron, Sean and even Kevin were quite disappointed because there was going to be a Dad-son baseball game and we were missing it. Kieron started crying and continued crying for the next 15 miles. Aidan had been crying through the picnic because he wanted to get his purple stroller out and push it around, plus his wound was hurting him. Now he stopped crying and said, “Kieron’s crying!!” Sean complained that he shouldn’t have come; he had only come to play in the baseball game and now he wasn’t even going to get to do that. Clare was complaining that they had cancelled choir without telling her and that she might as well have stayed home too. Throw my PMS in there and I was about to cry too, or get perfectly furious. I really tried to restrain myself. But then of course, I started thinking that I was being TOO mellow and raising spoiled brats. I really OUGHT to yell at them, but then I’ll cry and everyone will be acting completely dysfunctionally. I really can’t win in these situations. So I stared out the window, thinking: I just can’t win. Probably we’ll get to the Wildlife group too late and then I’ll just KNOW I can’t win. SIGH!

Since we were getting frustratingly slowed down by city traffic, Kevin said I should call and tell A, the lady I had talked with earlier, not to leave because we were almost there. So I did and she said she would meet us out in the parking lot. Whew!! When we got there, it was like stepping out of the dark forest into Lothlorien. She was nice and wholesome and matter of fact, and welcomed us in to where the talk was ending so we could look at the animals. She took our little Exeter and reassured us that we had done everything right. She asked us if we wanted to be trained as rescue volunteers, and made eye contact with the kids too and treated them like prospective or even preferable volunteers. In general, the whole scenario was so welcoming. The kids LOVED the owls. Aidan just laughed and laughed when they turned their heads 180 degrees, and when one flapped its wings and somehow turned its head up to the ceiling. He thought they were “kitties” with wings. He was charmed and so were all the kids. We got back into the car talking enthuasiastically about getting the training and rescuing lots of little Exeters and the like, particularly owls.
So as usual, the “worst” never happened. I suppose that the worst never happens because the worst is never as bad as I think it is going to be. Which means I shouldn’t worry about those “worsts”. If we had had to go back home with the little squirrel I probably would have been happy and thanked God we got to keep him. I should just start that way rather than making myself crazy with all the doubts and discouragement in between. Or maybe not, maybe that would be just TOO unnaturally serene. Maybe the process is part of the whole thing.
I do not know what the outcome for little Exeter will be. I know A has more expertise and won’t make the mistakes I would have and WAS making. I was not looking forward to getting up every 3 hours to warm bottles. But I miss the little creature. It gave me a pang to see his empty laundry basket in the bathtub. Kieron has been talking happily about raising owls. Sean says, “Well, the good things were that we got a drink at the store and got to see owls for about 2 seconds, but the bad things were that I didn’t get to play baseball or pass the football with Dad, I had to go to Fresno, and we had to give up Exeter.”
I wonder if we have wildlife rescue work in our future? Has God opened a door for us this way? We’ll see. Again I WISH I had a digital camera though I am afraid if I had a pic of Exeter, it would give me a sharp twinge every time I looked at it. I hope he thrives!

PS On days like this I am so glad this IS our curriculum. To think, this morning I was worried we were stuck in a learning rut! Oh, to think a year ago it would have made me feel guilty that “nothing got done today”!!!

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