true motherhood: or what i learned from a stray cat

We had a stray show up a few months ago on our back porch. I shooed it away. We already had a cat, and  a guinea pig and a fish and we've now added 18 rescued quail eggs into the picture that should hatch any minute. So yeah, if you walk in my house and can't figure out the smell, neither can I. Grab a bucket and some gloves.

Well, the cat kept coming back (insert song). No matter how much I yelled at it and scared it away, she kept coming back, and then coming back rounder. And I'm sorry, but if you don't have a heart for a poor stray cat with a sordid past, well you just don't have one at all. As she got larger we started letting her into the house. My husband, the tough macho, cold hearted, hunter is a total softy for pets, (hello, we are a zoo) and when she looked to pop every day would call to see if she had yet. No, she just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We really couldn't believe how she could keep staying this big and this pregnant. She looked miserable, and depressed and  we would exchange glances as she lapped up her whole milk and I would whisper as I scratched her ears, "Oh, I know sister...I know. Hang in there".

And then, it happened. I was sweeping off the back porch and in she sauntered, large...but different. I know new mommy belly a mile away. I dropped the broom and patted her sides, large, swollen, squishy...not hard. I immediately called Ty, "She popped". But where were the kittens? We searched everywhere outside and kittens. The weird part is the mom kept coming to me all day long. "Why are you not with your kittens?" I thought.  Well, what teenage mom does know what they are doing, I ask you?

And then Phoebe came out after nap time, "MOMMY!"  "what?" I asked. "Black and white kitty is in my room!" She squealed jumping up and down. I ran in there, and I asked, "Did you see where she was?"  "YES! In the CLOSET!" Ugh...I was anticipating the worst. But no, she must have carried them inside after having them because there, all clean and small were 5 kittens all mumbo jumboed atop tutus and tinkerbell wings in the dress up corner. This poor mom, she really had no clue what she was doing. I grabbed clean towels, made a bed in the spare bathroom shower and carried them in there and put in the mom. She look so relieved and immediately lay down and started to nurse them. Phoebe was ready to suffocate all of them with their love but I gave everyone a 24 hr rule, "NO GOING IN THERE and whatever you do DO NOT SHOW RODNEY THE KITTENS".

We lasted 16 hours. Somehow Rodney followed Phoebe in there and for the last 4 weeks I have had a heart attack every minute I can't hear Rodney. Because it means he is in there all "Of Mice and Men" style. Let's just say there are some tough kittens in there.

What does this all have to do with motherhood? Let me explain, the mommy cat still looked pregnant for a week. The girls kept asking, "Why does she still look like there are babies in there?"  And I explained that it takes moms a long time to grow big for a baby and it takes a long time to go back to normal. "Remember when you hit your knee?" "Yes," abby replied. "Well, did it get big and swollen for a few days?" "yes" she replied again, not getting it at all. "Well, having babies is kind of like that, it takes mommies awhile to heal and get better just like your knee" (Probably a bad analogy but it seemed to appease them, I mean, it wasn't like I said, "having a baby is like having a jack hammer beating the inside of your tummy for 12 hrs)

And the nursing, oh! She nurses and nurses and nursees and nurses and those greedy little buggers are always after her. And her food? She is eating probably 4x as much food everyday now. Hello! Milk supply for 5 babies? The second day she kept going outside and ty would pick her up and put her back in with her babies. "Ty!" I said, "let her take a break ok?"  He was worried she would get eaten by coyotes, I could see the post partum depression leaking in. She would just walk outside, and sit in the sun for an hour in some peace and quiet.  No one tells her to do that, her body just knows it needs to be away from the babies a few times a day and groom herself. She still does this, every day, sometimes several times. Basking outside, cleaning her fur, closing her eyes and sitting in silence.

And then I realized something, no one pays attention to her anymore. And yes, this happens when you have a baby. Everything is about the kittens kittens kittens. I hadn't seen anyone pet her or talk to her in weeks. Since then I've been brushing her and giving her a little extra tlc, because I get it momma. Oh do I understand.

Her body is getting closer to normal, but it's still squishy and soft and malleable. And her milk sacs are large and droopy and full of milk. The practically scrape the ground when she walks. Her nipples are ten times the normal size. Her eyes are tired, and she moves more slowly and intently. Now that the kittens are walking she's teaching them how to follow her and clean them and stop their little kitty fights. She harps at them to come and harps when the room isn't clean enough (And guess who gets to do that duty?)

She is different, she will never be the same, but she's also a better cat now. When the kitties leave we've decided to fix her and keep her as our own. I'm glad she's had a litter, I think it makes them more compassionate and lovable. I also like someone around the house who understands what it's like when your nipples expand beyond anything you could ever comprehend. tmi.

So listen moms, it's ok that your body gets big. It's ok that it gets so big you don't know if you will ever survive.  It's normal that you feel like you will be pregnant for forever. It's ok to get so desperate you want the baby out right.this.very.second. Be patient, it's normal, just wait. I promise you will always look back and wished that you would have been more patient.

It's ok to be really tired after delivering a baby. You just birthed a human being. It's ok to LISTEN TO SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD A BABY. I know you think you know it all, but Oh! what I wouldn't' give to go back and listen to my mom and other moms and actually heed their advice.

It's ok to move slower and have less energy. You just made a human being. It's ok your breasts are large and saggy, and your tummy is round and large and looks like twice risen dinner roll dough. It's ok if you are really hungry and want to eat twice as much food. You just made a human being, and are now feeding it. (After I had my first baby I ran into a mom of one of my ballet students, I told her I had just had my baby! She looked at my tummy and said, "No you did not!" Ouch)

It's ok you are tired and depressed and confused. You just made a human being and have to give it 99% of your attention. Go outside every day a few times a day, alone and just sit in the sun. Brush your hair, put on some make up and just soak in the silence, even just for a minute or two. Someday the babies will get bigger, and need you less, and your nipples will go back to normal (ha) and you can have enough energy to cook a meal and work out, in the same day. Sometimes that takes 2 years, sometimes 2 months. But remember our mommy kitty, and that it is all normal. Anything you see on the internet, tv or pinterest? NOT NORMAL, at all.

It's ok if you feel different and everything isn't about "you" anymore. The cold hard truth, is that you are and it isn't. It's better this way, trust me.  I promise you will live a richer, fuller life when you realize this is a gift.

Motherhood is enlarging (get it) and fulfilling and depressing and ever-changing and challenging and exciting and draining and captivating and it is all normal. Embrace it, and love it, and the days that you don't love, just call me and I'll make you feel like you are doing one awesome bang up job of it.

So Happy Mother's day...and enjoy this movie. I cried, (total sap)


Carrie said...

Beautiful post, you have a way with words. Very nicely written, thank you!

overtonmom said...

You are a wise woman. Your children are very lucky to have such a good Mom.

Chanell said...

Love it!!! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Yes. Exactly.

Unknown said...

Well said, you are an excellent writer!


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