One of the ways I cope with the instability…and overall shitiness of my reality, is to throw myself into loving and caring for…anything. I’ve got my husband and my two boys, but that’s not exactly enough sometimes.
I have a tendency (which my amazing husband supports and lets me do with very few limitations) to….get in over my head and constantly have babies. Not human babies, (although if I were allowed to genetically, I would in a heartbeat) but in animal form. It started a few years ago, when my oldest was 15 months old. I decided we just really needed some chicks. So we did. We started with a “small” flock of 7 one day old babies and raised them in my bathroom, now dubbed the baby brooder, for a few months. We added some older chickens here and there, but nothing compared to hand raising them from babies. If you’re thinking about it, it really does make a huge difference in bond and personality. But the mess isn’t something to be taken lighlty.
In that first flock we had a few close calls, but I was always able to save a sick baby or nurture them back to health. I never lost a baby.
Fast forward to this year. This year has by far been my most challenging year. I’ve felt lost, grief, and just a lot of pain overall. Don’t even get me started on April. I really just needed something to focus on other than the pain in my life; I needed something for me. I needed to feel needed.
Filling the holes in my heart is not an easy task, but babies always help. They give me a purpose to being here other than just suffering. We started off with 4 baby chicks, followed by the plan to add 3 ducks a few weeks later. (Guys, I can’t even tell you. I’ve been low key obsessed with ducks my entire life, so this was amazing.)
Things were going great until one of our babies, who we think was sick when we got her, didn’t make it. That was a rough night for me and the first time I had lost a baby chick. I felt horrible.
As you might know, my 2 boys have a very rare genetic disorder. One of the issues they both have is growth hormone deficiency, so they don’t grow at the expected rate and are both tiny for their age.
We noticed one of our chicks, JJ, was growing at a much slower rate than her sisters were. She wasn’t developing as quickly, wasn’t growing feathers as fast, and was never as strong or had the same level of endurance as the others. We began to notice some physical deformities in her as she grew. (Do you see where I’m going here yet?) Needless to say, she was slowly but surely gaining ground in my heart as the underdog and the fighter in the flock. She was reminding me so much of my boys. Just describing her, it sounds like I was describing them. Slow growth, weakness, low endurance, not enough muscle strength to grow properly…guys, it was ridiculously ironic. The 3 of them moved outside together a few weeks ago and, while we knew JJ had some potentially special needs, they seemed to be thriving.
When we went out first thing this morning, I only saw 2 of them together. I was worried immediately because they never travel in anything less then their entire group. (Our birds are apparently very cliquey, our ducks travel together, or chicks stay together, and our older chickens stay together.)
I looked inside the coop, thankfully my husband hadn’t left for work yet and was just a few feet away from me; I knew what I would see before I even looked. It was probably heat exhaustion.
The truth is, we knew from early on she likely wouldn’t make it for very long. But guys, it hurts. It really does. My other 2 chicks (Sally and Genny Fallon) are missing a part of their group, and there’s a part of me that feels like I failed.
It always hurts to lose something, but its really about so much more than that. For me, the pain comes from the slap in the face that it feels like.
We didn’t know how long we’d have her. We did the best we could. I tried to give her the best chance.
This is all the shit I’ve heard and said about my boys. It’s about the loss of JJ, but it’s also about the loss I know I will face when it comes to my kids.
We don’t know how long they’ll be here. I don’t know how long I’ll have them. I hope I’m doing the best for them, but I’ll never know.
It hurts. It freaking sucks.
Today I lost a baby chick before she even got to really live.
I hope I don’t lose anyone else anytime soon. Feathered or not.
Today is not my favorite day.