animal kingdom / DAILY FARM LIFE / MOTHERHOOD

Being brave when you’re afraid

10.19.12
being brave when you're afraid

I'm probably not writing this post from the best of places. It's been a long, hard week. Parts of it, horrible. But other parts filled with those moments when you look at your children and admire their strength and bravery in the midst of things that are just plain hard.

I've questioned how much of this story to tell here. When we first moved back to Maryland and lived on my grandmother's farm, my uncle once said to me, "Life on a farm is tough." And indeed, we've learned that lesson many times over in our little family. 

I'll start at the beginning and share briefly without digging into the details that I've had to rehash over and over this week. 

On Friday morning, my girls were in the kitchen baking muffins for breakfast. We always leave the doors to our mudroom open during nice weather. The dog has her bed out there and we like her to be able to come and go–she's a good watch dog and always investigates anything that seems "off" around our house. 

But this Friday morning, Ruby was inside, lounging in the kitchen, most likely taking advantage of the sloppy baking going on. When Mary heard something crying, she went to the kitchen door to discover a raccoon on the mudroom. She frantically came to find me and when I discovered it, I blasted through the door to yell at it and get it off our porch. 

The worst part of all, was that the raccoon was killing our kittens, just about 8 weeks old. When I ran after it, it dropped the one in its mouth. The girls, coming out behind me, didn't realize the kitten was dead and begn to pet it to comfort it. 

Throughout the course of the rest of the day, we'd find the mother cat, badly injured, and the rest of the kittens, dead….all except for one that we named Cora. Cora was loved on and spoiled for the rest of the weekend. Her mother nursed her some, napped with her occasionally, but was pretty badly hurt and not her mothering self. But Cora was scooped up by our family, loved on, spoiled. We brought her in to the kitchen where the girls set up a special corner for her, with food and water and a pillow to sleep on. It seemed like all the grief was poured out in love for Cora, even my own sadness and disgust for all that had happened. Loving on her made everything feel okay. We had Cora. 

In the wee hours Sunday morning, I woke up with a thought that kept me from sleeping for the rest of the night. Though the raccoon on the mudroom was fluffy and healthy, it suddenly occured to me that the girls had touched the dead kitten that was covered in the saliva from the raccoon. Though they washed their hands, who knows in those minutes between if they touched their mouths, rubbed their eyes? 

Then there was the mother cat. We eventually made the decision later in the weekend to put her down. But was she injured by the raccoon? For safety reasons, we had to assume that yes, she was, and for this reason, she'd now exposed Cora, the kitten we'd been loving on all weekend. 

cora

So with dread, I sent my pediatrician an email Sunday night, explaining the situation to her. She wrote me back right away–the girls, especially Mary and Elizabeth, who touched the dead kitten would have to be treated for rabies. And the rest of the family, would most likely have to be treated too, because of the interaction with Cora. 

So I called her husband, who happens to be our vet. Yes, our veterinarian and our pediatrican are married. I wonder what their conversations were that night around the dinner table. The vet confirmed what I worried would be true, the whole family needed to be treated. We needed to go to the ER. 

And worst of all, we had to face what needed to be done with Cora. 

So Monday morning, I spent hours on the phone, with doctors, vets, the health department…telling my story over and over. Hearing recommendations, some that completely contradicted another. I got texts on my phone from other family vets while in the ER with more questions, more possible scenarios, more recommendations. 

But rabies is something you can't take chances with. We all got treated. Though the chances our whole family was exposed to rabies is probably miniscule, who wants to flirt with the alternatives? 

Treatment for rabies involves shots, lots of them. The first day of treatment Dan and I had 8 shots, the girls had anywhere from four down to two, for Birdy. Mary and Elizabeth especially are mortified of shots. Even that description seems like an understatement. It was horrible. 

Yesterday we went back for round two. We'll go again, two more rounds to go. 

In the meantime, I feel wiped out. I feel drained. I can't finish the story, the Cora part because my kids don't know how the story ended yet. But I think that part, hurt me the most. You know? She was that one bright spot. 

But you know, my kids are amazing. Though they may buckle at times, and we've all had our moments, they are so strong and resilient. It's remarkable. They clench their teeth, they cry and ask if it could be some other way, but then they face the reality and handle it with bravery despite their fear. 

So, thanks friends, for listening to this long story. Keep our little family in your thoughts, prayers. 

xo.

 

being brave when you're afraid

I'm probably not writing this post from the best of places. It's been a long, hard week. Parts of it, horrible. But other parts filled with those moments when you look at your children and admire their strength and bravery in the midst of things that are just plain hard.

I've questioned how much of this story to tell here. When we first moved back to Maryland and lived on my grandmother's farm, my uncle once said to me, "Life on a farm is tough." And indeed, we've learned that lesson many times over in our little family. 

I'll start at the beginning and share briefly without digging into the details that I've had to rehash over and over this week. 

On Friday morning, my girls were in the kitchen baking muffins for breakfast. We always leave the doors to our mudroom open during nice weather. The dog has her bed out there and we like her to be able to come and go–she's a good watch dog and always investigates anything that seems "off" around our house. 

But this Friday morning, Ruby was inside, lounging in the kitchen, most likely taking advantage of the sloppy baking going on. When Mary heard something crying, she went to the kitchen door to discover a raccoon on the mudroom. She frantically came to find me and when I discovered it, I blasted through the door to yell at it and get it off our porch. 

The worst part of all, was that the raccoon was killing our kittens, just about 8 weeks old. When I ran after it, it dropped the one in its mouth. The girls, coming out behind me, didn't realize the kitten was dead and begn to pet it to comfort it. 

Throughout the course of the rest of the day, we'd find the mother cat, badly injured, and the rest of the kittens, dead….all except for one that we named Cora. Cora was loved on and spoiled for the rest of the weekend. Her mother nursed her some, napped with her occasionally, but was pretty badly hurt and not her mothering self. But Cora was scooped up by our family, loved on, spoiled. We brought her in to the kitchen where the girls set up a special corner for her, with food and water and a pillow to sleep on. It seemed like all the grief was poured out in love for Cora, even my own sadness and disgust for all that had happened. Loving on her made everything feel okay. We had Cora. 

In the wee hours Sunday morning, I woke up with a thought that kept me from sleeping for the rest of the night. Though the raccoon on the mudroom was fluffy and healthy, it suddenly occured to me that the girls had touched the dead kitten that was covered in the saliva from the raccoon. Though they washed their hands, who knows in those minutes between if they touched their mouths, rubbed their eyes? 

Then there was the mother cat. We eventually made the decision later in the weekend to put her down. But was she injured by the raccoon? For safety reasons, we had to assume that yes, she was, and for this reason, she'd now exposed Cora, the kitten we'd been loving on all weekend. 

cora

So with dread, I sent my pediatrician an email Sunday night, explaining the situation to her. She wrote me back right away–the girls, especially Mary and Elizabeth, who touched the dead kitten would have to be treated for rabies. And the rest of the family, would most likely have to be treated too, because of the interaction with Cora. 

So I called her husband, who happens to be our vet. Yes, our veterinarian and our pediatrican are married. I wonder what their conversations were that night around the dinner table. The vet confirmed what I worried would be true, the whole family needed to be treated. We needed to go to the ER. 

And worst of all, we had to face what needed to be done with Cora. 

So Monday morning, I spent hours on the phone, with doctors, vets, the health department…telling my story over and over. Hearing recommendations, some that completely contradicted another. I got texts on my phone from other family vets while in the ER with more questions, more possible scenarios, more recommendations. 

But rabies is something you can't take chances with. We all got treated. Though the chances our whole family was exposed to rabies is probably miniscule, who wants to flirt with the alternatives? 

Treatment for rabies involves shots, lots of them. The first day of treatment Dan and I had 8 shots, the girls had anywhere from four down to two, for Birdy. Mary and Elizabeth especially are mortified of shots. Even that description seems like an understatement. It was horrible. 

Yesterday we went back for round two. We'll go again, two more rounds to go. 

In the meantime, I feel wiped out. I feel drained. I can't finish the story, the Cora part because my kids don't know how the story ended yet. But I think that part, hurt me the most. You know? She was that one bright spot. 

But you know, my kids are amazing. Though they may buckle at times, and we've all had our moments, they are so strong and resilient. It's remarkable. They clench their teeth, they cry and ask if it could be some other way, but then they face the reality and handle it with bravery despite their fear. 

So, thanks friends, for listening to this long story. Keep our little family in your thoughts, prayers. 

xo.

 

54 comments on “Being brave when you’re afraid”

  1. I’m so sorry. I also grew up in the country and most of my pets met similarly terrible ends. The worst was when our dog was run over by the school bus right in front of me and my brother. And this could have happened anywhere. Death is always hard, and I’m keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  2. Molly, I had heard bits and pieces but reading it just makes me feel so bad for all you and your family went through. Those kittens were adorable when we visited this summer. You did what was needed and everyone is safe, that’s the blessing to carry you forward

  3. Oh, Molly.

    No words, of course. Just tremendous, overwhelming thoughts of strength, and courage, and compassion, heading your way.

    One step at a time, my friend.

    xo,Molly

  4. oh, molly….

    two years ago (or more?) our kids were playing with ‘barn kitties’ at my in-laws farm. after their visit the kittens were mysteriously dying off… in the middle of a conversation with my father-in-law it dawned on him that maybe rabies was involved… the incidence is sky high in some states… Pennsylvania, for instance, where they were.

    so, in the middle of a back-to-school whirlwind week, we had to spring into immediate action (it had already been 4 days or more) and go to the ER. same story…(although i think more shots) and i was with each of my three kids each time… oh, mercy. so hard… life lessons.

    silver lining: my kids are GREAT with shots and not very fearful of the ER. they are covered for other rabies incidences for quite some time (5? 10? can’t remember…) living on a farm, it will give you peace of mind, although it will stink until your series is done. i will pray for you and your kiddos..

    xoxo

  5. another reason to be grateful for days that are just ordinary, right? i am so sorry your family had to go through such heart ache!

  6. Oh, I’m so sorry! You are correct that children and mamas and papas – we are all strong and resilient, but dang, that’s a rough situation. My heart is hurting for you.

  7. Molly, my mama’s heart is full of love and prayers for you and your family. These choices we make for the nurture and care of our families, they are made with courage and uncertainty and utmost love. Well Done.

  8. Oh dear or dear! I am so sorry! How very sad πŸ™

    Just last week one of dear hens was killed by a raccoon. My 13yo daughter found her when she went out to do the morning chicken chores. We had thought their coop was perfectly secure. Not so much, as it turns out.

    My heart goes out to you and your children.

  9. Hugs to all of you. Living on a farm always has its hard times but this is one of the scariest. Thank heaven for modern medicine. Thank heaven for the strength of children.

  10. Oh I can’t even imagine. The strength of children is amazing but you know who they get that resilience from right? πŸ˜‰ Prayers and thoughts for your family as you recover from this horrible experience. Hope next week brings joy and laughter.

  11. We live in Egypt where every stray dog and cat is suspect. And there are lots of strays. We have all had the preventative series (except for my youngest who is too young) but would still face abort her set if we were exposed. Just so awful. Sorry about the kitties.

  12. Unreal Molly, just unreal. I am so sorry for you and your girls and your entire family. Such a hard and terrible lesson to learn and decision to make. Many prayers. I’ve had the vaccine (because of a job in a former life) and it really hurt. But, when I was bit by a dog that we hit, that vaccine kept me from going through all the rounds. They gave me 1 and pulled a titer and I was ok. Prayers for peace and comfort.

  13. How very difficult for all of you!! What a brave bunch! As tough as it was to deal with, you were smart to think about the rabies possibility…and deal with it. Sending warm thoughts your way!

  14. I am so sorry. So many shots? I suppose it is weight related? My eldest (now 15) had them at age 2. She had 7 shots in all, several that first week and then spaced out at intervals. After the first two she cried any time we even drove in the direction of the pediatricians’ office, which unfortunately is in our neighborhood. I made all the same calls too. Not that I think anyone else really would have risked telling me “No, you don’t need to do those shots.” and I wouldn’t have listened if they had, but dang it I wanted their opinion! The positive is, she should only ever need a booster if she is bitten.

    We don’t live on a farm, we have cats, and from our kitchen window we frequently watch racoons get into our garbage – no matter what we try. However, my story is about a bat.

    We were in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, she was in the living room playing and laughing delightedly, yelled “a butterfly”! Wha? It was a windy cold mid-September evening. I stepped into the dining room (on the same level as her bedroom) to see what was up just as she shrieked “a mouse” and the thing FLEW past my face. Yeah, fun times. It was easy to catch and obviously not well – simply dehydrated after being trapped inside the house for a few days? Unfortunately we didn’t think of rabies until after we had caught and tossed it’s brown batness out into the night. Panic time. Not likely a brown bat in a midwest metropolitan area would be rabid. Still, my 2 year old left her bed nearly every night to climb upstairs to cuddle with us. So her bedroom door was left open every night. She was too little to tell us if she’d been awoken by a flying butterfly/mouse landing on her in the night, and bat bites can be imperceptible… so rabies shots it was.

    Then I made her a brown bat costume for Halloween because being scared of the pediatrician was bad enough.

  15. Molly, I am so sorry you and your family are going through all this. Your words on habit resonated with me this morning, praying that you will see clearly soon.

  16. Thinking of you and your sweet family and praying for lightness and peace to return to your hearts and your home. You are all incredibly brave and resilient.

  17. My goodness…I am so sorry! I will most definitely keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Sending love across the miles…

  18. Hi Molly,I just wove my way through the Internet and ended up on your pinterest page. I noticed you are in Maryland, so I came to your blog. This entry broke my heart. My pet guinea pig of 6 years sudenly passed away the day you wrote this post. I can somewhat empathize with your sense of loss and wanted to send well wishes to your family. I certainly sounds like you made the right, allbeit hard, decisions. I just wanted to say hello. I’m looking forward to reading More back entries of your blog.

    Love from Ali (in Frederick, MD)

  19. Oh, Molly, I am so very sorry. I saw the photo on twitter, but I have been so far behind after our extended time away from home. I am sad for you, the girls and the kitten. Hugs, mama.

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