A Mother’s Sacrifice

This Sunday morning finds us in Dogville up early as usual and watching the coming dawn with hope for some needed sunshine and warmth. It is Mother’s Day, and I am typing this and trying to keep the big dogs quiet so that Barbara can enjoy some much needed extra rest. The whelping  box is still quiet downstairs so I will not disturb the puppies until some loud squeaks and barks notify me of their impatience for company and breakfast. Yesterday was a full and fun day here. We had our first full day of visitors from family and friends and clients. Smiles and puppy hugs were enjoyed from morning until night, and sitting around the whelping box once again was an experience of joy and wonder at nature’s miracles.

I have to finally report that all the puppies except Mr. Black are finally spoken for. I was dreading this moment, as I know how disappointing the news will be to many. The last chosen family had filled out their questionnaire last March 2008, so we never got to those who had signed up last summer or fall. If we had a litter of normal size, we would have been able to satisfy most everyone, but this was not to be. If anyone wishes Barb and I to aid their search for that perfect puppy, please email us. I expect that most everyone who is disappointed will not want to speak to us for awhile, but if you can step back from your disappointment, you will realize that we made a herculean effort.  Our efforts started over two years ago with Riley, and there have been a good number of families starting back then who were disappointed that she didn’t even conceive the first two years we tried.

If anyone had told me a year ago that I would rather spend 20 dollars on a bunch of bones instead of a movie ticket somewhere, I would have been a disbeliever. However, that is what we did this past week, when I took out the stored supply of buffalo bones so that we could have some peace to catch up on some quieter matters besides dog business.

Rocky had some more adventures this weekend. First I tried to bring him again to my office to keep me company while I made calls and did paper work. While I was distracted he scoped out each room and every office plant, and before I knew it he had found a baby deer statuette that was in one of the planters.

He was so rambunctious that I just had to bring him home and my work with me..

When we returned home, Barb was trying to repair some wall damage from the barrier gates. Rocky had never seen paint or a brush before, and you can see he was very intrigued by it all.

We have a rather amusing story to tell about Rocky today. We were baffled at how he could go through the invisible fence as if it wasn’t on. There would be no reaction as he crossed that line in the yard. We finally checked the transmitter and found that the tone was ok. Then Brian was brave enough to get a shock himself and found that it was not delivering any electricity. A closer look revealed that the safety caps were still on the prongs and so no message was being given at all when he closed the lines. We thought he was a supercanine there for awhile, but it was simply a human oversight on our part.

Our son Brian and our daughter Kristen were able to come home for the weekend. They were extremely helpful to us with the bigger tasks in the yard, and of course they got their puppy fixes. Kristen’s pug, Pearl,  was also introduced to the pups and seemed right at home.

We would like to say hi to our son Michael Jr, who is now working in Italy, his wife, Emma, and their boys Ethan and Alex, as well as our daughter, Lauren, who is working in China for two weeks. Skyping and phone calls are great, but not the same as having them home.

One reward for all these many hundreds of hours of work, is seeing the smiles and inner glows that puppies automatically bring out in people. As soon as people reach the bottom of the stairs, you can see the excitement and happiness that immediately emanates from every one.

Mr Black has made some progress in his development this week that is encouraging. He is just so much smaller than his sibs it is hard to judge. Is his behavior developmental delay or just a slower growth rate? So we expect to have him here after his siblings leave while we sort out these issues.

He will join Rocky as a boarder with no certain departure date, but a visa that will always be accepted here until all the safeguards are in place for the next phase of their lives.

The rest of the week was spent in feeding and bathing and monitoring the puppies growth.

Several of the pups are now big enough to climb out of their little white box and explore.

This brings me to some more serious thoughts about this weekend. In my opinion, Mother’s Day should be at least a week or maybe even a month and surely not just a day. I would guess that 99 % of the male population on this planet does not know and/or appreciate the sacrifice that mother’s to be make in giving up their bodies for nine months. Followed by the hardest physical labor that they have ever undertaken. Then this being just a prelude to the months of sleepless nights and constant anxiety over the safety and well being of their children through the many years until adulthood. In my role of an obstetrician, I can well appreciate the sudden dangers that can waylay even the healthiest pregnant mom. As you can see from our Riley’s issues, only a difference in hours meant the difference from recovering from a severe infection and death. And that was with her already on an effective antibiotic. I am happy to report that her wound is healing well and she has her energy back. The evidence is obvious in the pictures of her today out for exercise.

My Mom always used to tell us that she almost died giving birth to me. I will leave out the medical details except to say that I arrived in this world as a vaginal breech. Feet first to face the world, a predicament that today is an automatic cesarean section. I never really appreciated her statement until I became an obstetrician and found myself delivering breeches that came too quickly to do the standard thing. And getting more gray hairs because mother nature decided once again to not play fair. So today I would like to acknowledge you, Mom, for your stellar efforts on my behalf all those years ago. My sisters and I are very blessed to still have both our parents living. Last night we spent some quality time around the whelping box with my Mom, and I think from the photos you can see she inhaled some of that magical puppy dust that makes you feel younger and happier.

I have to give a mountain of kudos to Barb on this her special day too. She has been amazing. While we have gotten on each others nerves at times these last few weeks, the fact that she didn’t hand me my head on a platter when the dogs brought all that mud through our entire home two weeks ago spoke volumes. She said it was my birthday, and it was, but the fact that she just pitched in to help clean up the mess without saying a word was just unbelievable. So I had to do something special for her morning. I went shopping, made a sign, and waited for her to wander down to check the puppies. This is what she saw..

I think she was very surprised.

Lastly I would like to speak of those unfortunate mothers giving birth in third world countries everyday. As I found out firsthand on my first mission trip three years ago, being healthy and delivering in a hospital does not guarantee a safe outcome. While our mission team congratulated ourselves on delivering a beautiful baby to this first time mom of twenty-six years..

None of us were prepared for the shock and despair at learning that she lost her life overnight to a stroke. A complication that could have easily been prevented with a few dollars worth of an IV medication that was unavailable to the poorly trained staff on call at that country hospital outpost. And we, being ignorant and seeing the world through our advantaged American eyes, had wrongly assumed that the staff in white that we turned the patient over to, was competent to handle obstetrical emergencies. That woman’s death has prompted a spiritual change in me that I hope will continue until my time on this world is done. The appalling statistics are that a women dies in childbirth in a third world country every minute of every hour of every day. They have done nothing wrong, except to be cursed to be born in a place where their efforts at birthing a child puts their very survival at risk. And oftentimes it comes down to the odds of luck rather than medical care being on your side.

Some days I am not sure who I write this blog for anymore. Sometimes it is for our clients, sometimes it is for our family, and sometimes I am just having a conversation with myself. A good way to decompress for the pressures I have to face everyday. I actually have no idea how many folks even read this, as I forgot my password for the program that could tell me that several years ago. But I do know that occasionally I bump  into someone who comments on something that I wrote on here that made them think and appreciate the world in a slightly different manner. So with that hope in mind, I will close with a prayer that everyone who can, make an effort to help our less fortunate mothers, whether here or abroad, whether covered with skin, fur, or feathers, and whether for Mother Earth or for your local community. From recent world events it seems that the old American mantra of God, Family, Country, should now include God, Family, Country, World. If you turn a small part of every day into being a participant at making a difference, rather than cruising as a spectator, you will change your life onto a simpler yet more fulfilling path. I have found this to be so.

I will leave everyone with a song that my son Brian wrote in the Dominican Republic on our last mission trip in November 2008. The audio file is too large to paste here so I will just add his lyrics. You can also click the link below the picture to download it. This is a photo from one of our teams and the “Yellow Bus” that means so much to the patients seeking care, as well as for us, the missionaries who ride on it.

“Las Matas” By Brian Bourque

Click here to download / stream the song

Holy days in the mountains of San jose de las Matas, From Far away, from Hartford to LA, come and join us.

Helping out our brothers around us, Bringing hope with a yellow school bus.

Modern days, yet dirt roads pave the way to Las Matas.

Culture decays as the workers move away to the city.

Help us out the people are hurting, The lights go out, the water ain’t working.

Have we changed a life, saved from an early death? They have changed mine, changed mine..

Patients make their way to the hospital we make in Las Matas.

Helping out our sisters around us, Bringing hope with a yellow school bus. ”

God Bless Mothers Everywhere for the sacrifices they make on behalf of all of us!