Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Darlin!

****** Tissue Alert******  Tissue Alert ******  Tissue Alert*****

This morning all J had under the tree was a puzzle and she didn't show a bit of disappointment.  She was much more excited to give me the gifts she'd gotten me and couldn't wait for me to open them.   I'd made the decision last night to give Darlin to J at my parents for several reasons, the main one being I didn't want them to miss the moment.  Plus it's always helpful to have someone recording the moment.

After brunch it was time to open presents and J was super excited over the bike that Papa & Monya gave her.  I had written a card to J and left it on the tree till the very end.  She found the card and sat down on the couch to read it....

Dear J,

  I'm hoping that this year is your best Christmas ever!  I'm so proud of the young lady you're becoming and I'm so blessed to be your mom!

  I have a bit of news for you.  I have found Darlin's forever mom.  YOU!!!!!!!!!  I'm counting on you to be a great mom and I know you will be.  Merry Christmas to you, darling daughter, and to your Darlin daughter.   

I love you bunches!

She sat there for what seemed like 3 forevers reading my card.  Then she burst into tears.  She was reading what she was afraid it would say rather than what was actually written.  That I had found Darlin's home and it was someone else.  I kept asking her if she had read the whole card and she said yes.  I finally went over to her and had her slooooooowwww down and read it again.

Here is the 30 second highlight: (tissue alert!!!! ---- I cry every time I watch it) You can barely hear it but she's saying, "thank you" over and over while I'm hugging her.

Then she burst into tears again but this time they were happy tears.  My kid has always made fun of my happy tears.  Today she had her first happy tears.  :)

I asked her on the way home how it felt to be a forever mom and she said, "there just aren't words to describe how wonderful it is!"  Then she declared it the best Christmas ever!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meet Darlin

Most of you know that once upon a time J was *ahem* not nice to animals.  At all.  Thankfully, this is not the case anymore.  She has healed, matured and become pretty darn responsible.  For those of you who have been with me for a long time you will know that the story below is a monumental event for J.

During the summer we acquired a "part-time" dog.  She lives with us when we're at the lake and her family graciously allows her to have sleepovers.  Her name is Sweet Baby and we just love her.  I swear she is like 4 legged valium for everyone in this household. :)  We take her home on our way back to town each week so that she doesn't hang around the house waiting on us to come back.
Then this fall, when my parents went on vacation, they had J babysit their high maintenance bijon, Bella,  and J did beautifully.

My girl has come so far.....

So this year there is the dilemma of a meaningful Christmas present for J.  It dawned on me that since she has done so well with Sweet Baby and Bella that she is responsible enough for her very own fur baby.  I know that we have Puddin but Puddin will always be just "my" baby.  She is not interested in anyone else and only has eyes for me.  I toyed with the idea and studied on it quite a bit before making a decision to go for it.

Enter Darlin....I found her on pet finder . com and fell hook, line and sinker.  I called her foster home and inquired about her.  It turns out that Darlin was dropped off at Fulton county animal shelter by her family because she had become pregnant.  She spent a week or so there and was about to be put down when Clover Run Rescue picked her up.  They had her spayed, shots, etc.  Clover Run Rescue was having a pet adoption day at a pet store in Atlanta on December 4th.  The plan was to have Clover Run to board her until Christmas then surprise J on Christmas morning.  Y'all know what they say about plans......

J and I went to meet Darlin and she was so pitiful that I couldn't leave her and knew we had to bring her home immediately. Darlin was only 9 lbs and should be 12 or 13 lbs.  Just a little bag of bones and it hurt my heart to hold her.   So there was a quick change of plans with the help of Clover Run Rescue.  I told J that we were just going to foster Darlin until we could find her forever home with a family that would really love her and take care of her the way she was meant to be.  I had her to go back in her memory and think about all the ways that I kept her safe when she came home and the things that she wished had happened to her in foster care.  We talked about structure, feedings, kindness, etc.....  J totally got on the plan right away and it was totally cool to see her re-parent herself through Darlin.  I had no idea how quickly we would all become attached to her.... Puddin didn't even seem to mind having her around which is hard to believe.

For 2.5 days that is.....

Darlin went to therapy with us on Tuesday and Kristy fell for her too.  Then we spotted some really red, raw spots on her and knew she needed to go to the vet before we left for a trip so that the sitter didn't have to worry about it.  The vet thought she needed to start some antibiotics and get a medicated bath for the spots so we left her there thinking she would be all well when we came home.  J sobbed for over 3 hours because we had to leave her at the vet, in a strange place and she missed her terribly.  Tuesday night was a long night.

The next morning, I totally surprised J with a trip to Disney and her best friend, Kara and her mom, Susan, came with us.  Susan & I had a really hard time keeping that secret but managed by calling it Operation Super Secret Fun so that the girls didn't pick up on it.  Disney really was magical for J and Kara and they loved every minute.  I'm afraid my girl is never going to be a roller coaster kid. :)

On Friday, while we were still at Disney I received a call from the vet stating that Darlin had a 106 fever and green mucous was coming out of her nose and she was about to die.  Let the freaking out begin.  Thank goodness Susan was there or I would have totally flipped my gourd.  Actually I did flip but Susan turned me back over and I managed to make it.  The fear of what this loss would do to J on top of the other huge loss she's had this year was just more than I could take. So I found someone to get Darlin to the University of Georgia Vet Hospital.  UGA said that she had pneumonia brought on by aspirating fluid into her lungs when she was spayed.  They thought she would make it but they weren't totally sure.  I sat on the fence about coming home but we ended up staying till Sunday which was our original departure date.

I managed to hold it together and I did not tell J.  Call it dishonest or whatever, I really don't care.  I just didn't see the need to have both of us scared to death about Darlin so far away from home.  Sunday, as we were going through security, John, the vet assigned to Darlin, called to give me an update.  He said she was doing much better physically but she was very depressed.  Well, I guess I would be too if I had 9 homes in 3 weeks was living in a crate 24/7.  Like seriously...."where did my family go and why did they drop me off in hell."  J got it immediately. 

They were closed on Sunday but Monday morning I woke J bright and early to go visit Darlin. I told J the whole story when we got close to the hospital and she understood.  It's not protocol to visit at the hospital but they let us in.  Darlin perked up when she saw us.  She was obviously weak but still glad to see us.  John let us hang with her for about an hour until she fell asleep in J's lap.  After we were out of the room, J was crying again.  She hated leaving Darlin and was hurting over how pitiful Darlin looked.  Me too.  

Afterward we was able to spend some quality time with Cindy and all her awesomeness and it made both of us feel better.  Truly the bright spot in our day!  I missed seeing one of her beautiful daughter's, Sarah, but hopefully that will be rectified this Thursday.  

John called later in the day and said that he was very encouraged with how much better Darlin seemed after our visit.  I made arrangements for us to visit Darlin again on Tuesday before therapy.  

On Tuesday, Darlin showed marked signs of improvement.  She had more energy and was tickled to see us.  J & I left feeling encouraged.  J processed all of the things that had happened to Darlin with Kristy and obviously had a pretty good handle on the situation. Tuesday night they were able to move Darlin from the ICU to a regular "room".  She was tolerating oral antibiotics and her appetite had improved.  

On Wednesday, John called to tell us that we could have an appointment to actually pick Darlin up and bring her home.  J and I both did a happy dance all the way to Athens.  Darlin knew she was going home and kept going to the door as if to say, "break me out of this joint, people!"  I had written a note to John giving him the short version of J's history and explaining how Darlin & J's history mirrored each other, etc. etc.  I also told him to know that he would always be a hero in J's eyes for saving her Darlin.  John cried.  Maybe I did too a little.  

Once home it was apparent that Darlin was having nothing to do with her kennel.  I can't say that I blame her a bit.  Nervous about her still precarious health, I was up with Darlin every hour during the night.  I walked her every time and she would cough and sneeze and look like she was going to break in half since she was so frail.  

Thursday she was much better and I only got up with her every 3 hours during the night.  As of tonight, I am cautiously optimistic that Darlin is going to make it.  She seems a little perkier every day and the coughing and sneezing is diminishing slowly but surely.  

It's obvious that Darlin is very cathartic for J and is going to be a huge part of her healing.  Watching her re-parent herself through Darlin has been very cathartic for me as well.  I am so grateful that Darlin is still with us and can't wait to see J's face on Christmas morning when I tell her that I have found Darlin's forever mom and that she is it!!!!