Mental States

On the drive to work this morning, I told Mr. W that I had spoken to Rebecca last night. I told him I asked her “What happened to my embryos?”, and that she’d seen a whole bunch of eggs/embryos, saw embryos being discarded as they would or did lose viability, saw embryos being frozen, saw 2 women receiving embryos, one resulting in pregnancy and the other maybe not. I was about to launch into how my fertility doc lied to me, but before I could, Mr. W interrupted my story with, “The woman who got pregnant was you.”


When I’d asked Rebecca my question, I had wanted to know what happened to my three donated embryos, but that was not what I’d asked. The Universe is pretty literal, and I had asked what happened to my embryos. That’s why she was shown what happened to the bunch of eggs that were initially harvested, as well. So the two women who received an embryo or embryos. One WAS me. The other was promised anonymity, as I knew she would be, when she agreed to receive my donated embryos.

“I don’t think it’s ethical for Dr. R to not tell you,” Mr. W said. “I think he HAS to tell you [if your donated embryos result in a birth].”

A common and frequent admonishment my judge tells witnesses as they prepare to testify is, “Listen carefully to the question(s) being asked, and answer THAT question. The questions are not an invitation to go rambling off and talk about what YOU want to talk about.” The universe listened to the question, and answered THAT question. I did not listen to my own question.

Dear Riley,

I asked Rebecca today simply, “What happened to my embryos?” No explanation nor background. She said it didn’t make any sense to her, but she saw that a bunch of them were either discarded or will be discarded because they can’t be kept viable longer than an x amount of time, like 3 years. (It didn’t make sense to me, either, until I later realized what she saw was the other 8 or so fertilized eggs that were indeed discarded by the fertility lab, when the most promising one was implanted to make Allie, and the other 3 best ones were frozen.) She said embryos were frozen. She said that embryos had gone to 2 women (which is the scenario I had originally expected), and that one resulted in a pregnancy and she may have given birth already, and Rebecca was getting a big question mark on the other woman, doesn’t think the other became a pregnancy. I was thrown because, you know, what the fertility doctor emailed me last month. I didn’t tell Rebecca anything, just asked her if there was any reason the fertility doc would lie to me about this, and she said that the parents asked for anonymity.

I was so, so angry. I felt violated that the fertility doctor lied to me. I felt that as the donor of the embryos, I had a right to know since he had offered me the DOBs if I wanted them. I felt like the recipient parents violated my embryo/child, because if they’re planning on carrying on with no one in the world but them knowing where the DNA came from, the child has a right to know a medical history in case he or a medical care provider needed family history info. I felt like Allie was being violated, because the reason for the DOB was to prevent accidental sibling inbreeding, since as patients of the same clinic, we’re very likely local to each other. Who do these recipient parents think they are? Don’t they owe me at least the courtesy of truth and/or a DOB, if I wanted it, for my giving them my CHILD?

After some time spent breaking down my thoughts and disturbing feelings of selfishness, it boiled down to this:

I really, really hope that in situations like this, and in this situation specifically, that it is my vehicle, their driver. I hope that the soul born into that family is the soul that was always meant for that family, but I just provided the vehicle because they needed a little help with the human form. I need it to be their son who came into their family, and not you. Because you are my Riley. MY Riley. I couldn’t get over it if I had accidentally given you away and displaced you into the wrong family. You let your sister through instead of coming through yourself this time; I’m fine with your (your and Allie’s) choice(s), I’m not okay with my accidental giving away of your choice.

To that, Rebecca said, “It’s all okay. I read a quote from Amma today that said ‘You are the Self, not the mind.’ In other words, be…don’t think…trust God. Riley is still floating around deciding where he will end up. At least that’s my visual.”

And suddenly, I was SO relieved. I don’t know why, because it’s the same effect. You’ll be born elsewhere to someone else if you decide to come down to this plane during my lifetime here. I guess I feel better knowing you’re not the donated embryo, because by not being that embryo, that means wherever you come out, it would be YOUR choice; I didn’t accidentally give you away.

And Rebecca said, “Nope…you didn’t.”

I feel an attachment to you, maybe from past lives shared. I know you. I feel you. I did in my early pregnancy, as well. You and Allie are so different; you’re peaceful, compassionate and a caretaker. Allie is spunky, fierce and independent. You patiently watch where she experimentally does. You provide help by sacrificing what you can; she takes but turns it into a (positive) payback contribution. You’re both good, but so yin and yang. She’ll give me a good run, some sharp challenges, some rebellions. You would’ve smiled and held me and said with confidence it’s all okay, and you would’ve been right. I still see you as the big brother, 3 years older than Allie, and I guess that was the original picture but that’s changed now, partly with your help. Again, a quiet sacrifice of sorts, stepping aside to let an eager soul come through in your place. “Plans change,” you are telling me now. “It’s okay. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not a sacrifice, just another way to get to the same place.”

I had wondered if the doctor was lying to me, because I had felt a kid out there. That was why I emailed last month. Rebecca told me to trust my instincts. I’m just relieved that’s not you, whatever that says about me. Dr. R likely didn’t like having to lie to me, and the email was curt. He for whatever reason “had” to defer to the recipient parents’ wishes over mine. He probably told himself he didn’t lie that MUCH, since one recipient really didn’t result in a pregnancy. Had he said simply that my embryos were donated to another couple and that it didn’t result in a pregnancy, it wouldn’t have been a lie but an omission about the other set of parents; but he said all 3 embryos were donated to 1 couple and didn’t result in a pregnancy.

I will miss you, as I already do, in this life. Unless…”Riley will be with you in some way if it’s meant to be. Trust the universe; it knows what it’s doing.” One of the last things Rebecca told me tonight. If I don’t see you Here, I’ll see you when I get back Home. Mama loves you, baby boy. Thanks for listening to me.

I’ve had my little donated embryos on my mind, the two “A” quality ones, the one “C” quality that may not survive the freezing/thawing process. When I’d first donated them, I’d asked our clairvoyant friend Rebecca if she feels anything about them. She said she was getting nothing, but that they’d be healthy. When I’ve thought about them, they’ve felt like “my boys.” My two boys are out there somewhere, I was thinking. (Donation was final last summer.)

In mid-January I had emailed my fertility doctor, to whom I’d donated the embryos, to let him know that yes, we’d like to take him up on his previous offer of knowing the date(s) of birth if/when the embryos find their way to their new parents. I’d also included a photo of him with Allie and a professional studio pic of Allie from December, 2012, and a description about her growth and interests, in case the embryos’ new parents wanted some interesting factoids (such as don’t be alarmed if the kids don’t grow hair until well after age 1). Apparently he didn’t get that email, and we went back and forth after I’d sent a followup email this month. The backs-and-forths got offensive for a second there last week and I’d considered posting about that here to vent, but decided to wait. Basically he kind of yelled at me over email, saying that he doesn’t have a date of birth yet and that I need to email him in a year to check because now is too soon. Like I was jumping the gun. I figured he was mistaken because in a previous email in the string, he’d written that all the paperwork for the donation was finalized “months ago”, when I know it was actually 15 months ago, so he probably thought he read March of 2013 instead of the correct date of March of 2012. Besides, I wasn’t asking for a DOB immediately, just that when/if it occurs, I’d like to know. I wrote him a polite email setting him straight, and his response seemed to concede a bit in tone. He ended that email with “talk to you soon,” to which I didn’t respond because, why would I talk to him?

After the request for DOBs was (finally) communicated, I was confused and conflicted about how I feel. I think motherhood has made me feel a little more possessive and protective over my child and potential children. The detached clarity I had before I was pregnant, making me very comfortable about the donation of any unused embryos, had blurred a bit when I actually donated the embryos when Allie was a few months old, and now that Allie is my little spunky tyke, I wanted so much for her “brothers” and I had no way of ensuring that their new parents would make sure “my” baby/ies will be given proper nutrition, allowed sufficient rest, be provided with everything I try to give Allie. I couldn’t even ensure that the mother was properly educated on pregnancy and would eat/not eat, do/not do the best thing as her body built the kids’ organs, bones, brain neurons, etc. All that was hard to think about. Would these parents treat them well and not consider in their parenting that the child(ren) are genetically not their own? I really, really hoped so. And would they tell their kid(s), as they got older, the origin of their genetics, and if so, would the boy(s) look for us? Would I maybe meet them one day since they may be local to access the same fertility clinic, and would I know it? I wondered if maybe not knowing anything would be better. Not knowing if they’re out there, so I don’t wonder how they’re doing, what they’re doing. I imagined Allie one day knowing that she has full-blood brothers out there “somewhere.” How she would feel about being a big sister, sort of.

This morning, I saw that I got another email from the fertility doctor. I wasn’t expecting to hear from him again, and my hands felt slow and unsteady and clumsy as I clicked through the encrypted mail site, entered my password, and read. I was not expecting these words…

Your three (3) embryos were donated to another couple but they unfortunately did not conceive. Thank you very much for your generous gift. We all regret that the results are what they were.
Dr. R

His tone did not invite further questions, and had lost the original warmth they’d had in our initial email string (before it got offensive for me). The words on the screen blurred. A couple had hopes of conceiving children dashed again and again, and now this. The beautiful little boys I saw in my head who had Allie’s smile would never be running around out there somewhere playing in the grass. Confused by my profound sense of loss, I wrote back a curt response that did not begin to hint at the depth of what I was actually feeling.

Dr. R,
Thank you for the information. My heart goes out to the couple. I wish I could have done more. I’ll embrace them in prayer tonight, now that I know.

I did not realize how much I wanted these boys to exist until that moment. I quickly went into the restroom and cried it out. I didn’t know whether it was my loss I was feeling, or empathically the loss of the parents. This would be a couple who has tried everything to conceive naturally, to conceive through IVF, and now to conceive with someone else’s embryos. I didn’t understand. It made no sense. Those kids were supposed to be healthy. They were 2 “A” quality embryos. This is a very good, experienced fertility clinic whose doctors literally wrote the book on IVF fertility (really, you can buy this book and other doctors reference it) and their stats of success are well, well above national average. How? Could it be that the universe knew I couldn’t handle it well so it took the option/hardship away from me? Could it be that those embryos would have energetically only existed for me? I had zero problems with the fertility process or pregnancy, success with no complications the first time. How could my other top-notch embryos not make it, also? I wanted to give a family and a soul or two the opportunity and vehicle to incarnate and be together here in this life. What happened?

I may need to talk to Rebecca about this. Had they conceived, they would’ve been healthy, but she got nothing on conception itself. She’d also always said the souls waiting to cross to be our children were just waiting for me to make the decision. Could it be that once the decision was made to not have another embryo implanted, that the embryos were only dog-eared for us so they lost viability? That can’t be, or other people’s embryo donations would have failed, too. I don’t get it. I wonder what Riley’s doing right now. I realize I sound crazy.

Mr. W called me at work this afternoon to tell me that he’d gotten a reminder from our shared calendar app of an event tomorrow, “Mom’s bday,” which had sent him into a panic. He’d immediately contacted a florist, ordered a big floral bouquet and arranged to have it delivered to his parents’ house in Las Vegas in a rush order. After all that was done, he thought, Wait a minute…my mom’s birthday is in March, and it’s JUNE already. And THEN he remembered that I had told him yesterday that my mom’s birthday is tomorrow. He didn’t even think to look at the color of the calendar posting to realize it was my event, not his. So he called the florist back and requested a cancellation of the arrangement. He said the lady seemed confused as to why he’d want to cancel it. He explained to her that he’d sent it to the wrong mom. I’m sure that cleared things up really nicely for her. I joked that he was getting old.

About an hour ago, I was sitting at the computer reading trending feature articles, hands sticky with the loquats I was peeling and eating, when Mr. W appeared next to me with a rectangular cardboard shipping box in his hand. “I can’t wait any longer,” he said. I couldn’t touch the box as all my fingers were dripping with juice and loquat skin (which stains everything into a beautiful shade of brown thanks to its high iron content), so he turned the box over for me. I glanced at the barcode sticker on the side panel and said, “Well, it’s an electronic item…” He opened the box, slid out a white rectangular box from it, opened that up, and now I was staring at the face of an Apple iPad Mini.
“It’s for your birthday,” he explained gleefully.
“What is WRONG with you?” I blurted.
He laughed. “I know, you’re gonna hate it.”
“Why did you get me that?”
“Because I think you’ll like this! ‘Cuz it’s smaller than an iPad.”
“…you got me the iPod Touch and it’s WAY smaller than the iPad…” I gestured the size of the smaller item. The iPod Touch hasn’t been touched since I’d posted about it, and actually, not for a long time since before I posted about it. The size of the iPads and iPods have nothing to do with my dislike for them.
“Look, I put all these apps on here already. It’s got Allie’s app, and the webcams, and Candy Crush Saga, and it’s small enough that you can put this in your purse and read books on it…”
“I already have a Kindle in my purse about the same size.”
“But you hate the Kindle. You complain about it all the time. This way you can read any of the books that I’ve already downloaded, and look at all these apps that I have on my account that you can have!” He scrolled through pages and pages of alphabetized apps. I think they number in the hundreds, if not thousands. He’s such the Apple fanboy.
“I don’t hate the Kindle. I complain about the battery drain. But I hardly ever use it because I read on the Kindle app on my phone.” My Kindle is synced with my Kindle app on my phone, and all set up on my personal Amazon account, so when I buy something to read, it downloads both onto my Kindle and my phone. My Samsung Galaxy S3 ANDROID phone, which I love. It’s pretty much a guaranteed fight every time anything Apple/Android comes up in conversation between us. “And that’s another thing — I can’t just download apps or books or anything I want on this iPad because it’s tied in to YOUR account and YOUR credit card. I can on my Android Kindle because it’s my account.” Yeah, I really don’t want to share my recent stash of guilty pleasure reads with him and have to hear about it. I know I’m reading crap, but sometimes I just need crap. Even if I have to hide it from everyone out of embarrassment.
He offered, “You can use this app here to download any books I already have into this iPad. Anything you read, if I don’t already have it, I can probably get it for free.”
“No, you can’t. Not the stuff I read. You’ve tried looking for me before and couldn’t find it, remember?” I hoped I wouldn’t have to elaborate on my Kindle-only book genres.
“You can use this app here to watch videos and shows I have on my computer, so you don’t have to watch it on the computer.” Now that’s appealing. I’ve been streaming his downloaded TV shows onto Allie’s iPad, but it was having problems and freezing every few seconds, so I stopped watching on the iPad and went to watching on the PC. There are nights I never make it upstairs to bed, falling asleep in the living room mid-Game-of-Thrones. And it does also appeal to me that I can check up on Allie’s daily progress remotely since the baby app that Jayne and I use to log Allie’s naps and meals is an Apple-only thing. There are times I wonder at work how Allie did with a unique lunch, or how long she napped, and now I’ll be able to look and see. But I’d have to lug the iPad Mini around with me and my purse is heavy enough already. I know I wouldn’t be using it to check my emails or to communicate, since I find Apple’s virtual keyboards and layout infuriatingly unusable. He knows all these points of why I have no interest in Apple products; we’ve even discussed it recently since my parents jumped on the Apple bandwagon.
I looked at him suspiciously. “Is this one of those gifts that you really want but can’t justify buying for yourself so you say it’s for me, like when husbands buy their wives bowling balls for Christmas?”
He laughed and said no.
And he pointed again to the Candy Crush Saga game app.

I don’t understand him. He must not understand me, either. It’s a very sweet gift and he put a lot of effort into setting it up, but I really would’ve been just fine with a $17 ring that looks convincingly like a real diamond ring.

Mr. W’s birthday is coming up soon. I think I’ll get him a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Thanks to the social media site’s clever advertising, I’ve discovered online discount shopping. I’ve always prided myself on getting great deals on things, so this appeals to that side of me with shopper satisfaction, but it’s recently turned me into the dream consumer — one who brainlessly buys stuff because “it’s a great deal” and not because I need it and was going to get it anyway. These discount sites with the “limited time major discount offer” daily emails say to me, “Hey, go ahead and be an impulse buyer. We’ll rub this Discount Balm on your conscience.” It worked for awhile as I was buying dresses by the 4-pack, hats and outfits for Allie “just to try it out and why not cuz it’s so inexpensive,” but I realized it was getting out-of-hand when month after month my credit card statements have been hundreds of dollars higher than normal due to my one-time “exception” purchase of, like, 4 different things, and just this morning I thought, “Look at these great deals on Android tablets. I don’t need one. Do I want one? Hmm, not really. But I want to BUY one because look at these prices!” So now I know I have to stop. I have to stop before I start buying jewelry online. Even if they’re $17 for a convincing-looking CZ ring.

OMG, I just saw a thermoelectric generator that allows you to charge anything USB-chargeable…by the energy of heat derived from a pot of boiling water. I can charge my phone WHILE CAMPING simply by clamping the wires of the generator onto a metal pot over the fire! Does it matter that I don’t go camping? *pulling out credit card*

Allie’s pediatrician confirmed at the 18-month appointment that we can wean her at any time we want to since she’s gotten pretty much all the nutritional and other benefits she needs from breast milk at this point. She suggested we start with eliminating the morning feeding. I’d been thinking the same thing, since Allie is easily distracted in the mornings and moves on to other things. It’s the bedtimes that she points to the recliner in her room and asks for “mama, nom nom?”.

I waited until this week to cut the morning nursing, because Mr. W and I were attending a soiree last Saturday afternoon that would go into the evening, so we’d already be missing her evening nursing for the first time. I didn’t want to go more than 24 hours between nursings cold turkey as that would be…uncomfortable for me.

Allie did great Saturday night. Jayne came over Saturday afternoon and we did almost a normal goodbye routine with Allie. It was the first bedtime in Allie’s 18-month existence that I wasn’t there to go through it with her. I knew she’d be fine; she sleeps well on her own so even if she fussed before going into her crib, I knew once she went to sleep she’d be fine. And she was. Jayne said she tossed around sucking her thumb for half an hour after she was in her crib, then went to sleep. That’s pretty normal for Allie. Jayne said Allie gave her no trouble with teeth-brushing or flossing, and only asked once when she was being changed for bed, “Mama? Dada?” Jayne said that mama and dada would be home soon, and that was that. Meanwhile, Mr. W and I were at his boss’s 60th surprise birthday party thrown by the boss’s wife at their beautiful home on a hill with a spectacular view. They even had valet parking and catering for the event. I had 2 glasses of wine and a key lime pie martini. Here’s a photo Maggie’s hubby Tom took of us:

We weren’t able to take a photo with the spectacular view behind us cuz then we’d be backlit. 🙁

So anyway, now it’s Day 2 of the nurse-less mornings. Allie’s treated it the way she’s treated the elimination of post-nap nursings/bottles — like she doesn’t notice. We just give her a little snack before we leave for work, a couple ounces of cow’s whole milk and some fresh fruit or veggies. She loves her little munchies like I do; things just taste better when they’re “stolen” or “snuck” around square mealtimes. Meanwhile, I’m less comfortable. And I have to eat less crap and burn more fat to make up for not eliminating those extra milk calories.

I was sitting in the back seat of the car with Allie as usual coming home from Costco earlier, entertaining her and chatting with her, making vroom vroom sounds together imitating the motorcycles that passed by (or rather, that Mr. W, aka Speed Racer, passed), when I forgot what I said or did, but I laughed. Allie laughed with me. And then I stopped laughing, but she kept laughing. I thought, “Boy, I’m really funny.” She kept laughing. “She really has a good time with me.” She was still laughing. I noticed the laugh sounded unnatural, and then her face deadpanned and the corners of her mouth dropped, just like that. It was then that I realized, “HEY, that was a FAKE LAUGH.” I told Mr. W that my baby daughter was fake-laughing at me, and listening to me describe to him what had just happened, Allie fake-laughed again. I whipped out the cameraphone and took a video.

My .mp4 videos aren’t loading correctly on my image hosting site for whatever reason, so those of you who aren’t my social network website friends, sorry, I can’t bring you this video via the blog. 🙁 I can show it to you in person. 🙂

After shooting the aforementioned fake laugh video, which Allie was cooperative in, I turned the cameraphone around and showed her the video. She wanted to watch more videos, so I showed her what I had on the phone in reverse chronological order. The videos were all of Allie — Allie excitedly yelling “Whoa!” at the surfers on the waves at our San Diego vacation last week, Allie “driving” the Elmo car ride at Babies R Us, etc. — and then I got to the last video I shot of Dodo. This sounds morbid, but I have two video clips of him from the day before he passed away. I played the one that shows Dodo taking a slow careful walk from the bathroom area of the bedroom to our walk-in closet across the room, where he settled in his usual resting spot. “Who’s that?” I asked Allie quietly as she watched intently.
She pointed at the ambling black-and-white figure and said, “Dodo.”
“Yeah. That’s Dodo.”
Her eyes didn’t leave the video. “Dodo. Nice. Dodo.”
She remembers that I’d always told her, when she eagerly went into the closet to look for Dodo and reached out to pet him, to “Be nice to Dodo. Gentle.” And she was, mostly, except for a couple of times when her eagerness made her motions a bit more abrupt. Dodo would make a little gurgling sound and back away from her a bit. She loved him and would follow, bridging the physical and emotional space Dodo placed between them by leaning her face into Dodo’s fur. “Soft Dodo, nice Dodo. Be gentle with Dodo.”

We participated in a community garage sale today because Mr. W was eager to get rid of the bulky items since our house has very little storage space. He put out Allie’s rain forest Exersaucer, Pooh activity walker, Dodo’s three-tiered cat tree condo, Dodo’s large carrying case. Also his daily ceramic food and water bowls, and our traveling feeders that auto-dispense a gallon of water and food as needed. They all went. The lady who bought the cat tree ($5), a brand-new wool-lined cozy cat bed thingie ($2), and his cute daily food and water bowls ($.50 each) got them for a cat she was going to babysit for a week as the cat’s owners go on vacation. I thought it was very sweet she wanted to have her own cat things for a visiting cat. Personally, I’m still torn between moving on by passing Dodo’s things on to where they’d be more useful (I’ve already donated his special prescription foods and his leftover meds to the vet for other animals they are treating), and feeling guilty for so unceremoniously getting rid of his personal things as if he never existed. And a feeling of being a shitty mother inevitably and immediately follows the occasional feelings of relief when I’m running late or have a lot of things to do and realize that not having to medicate Dodo at the moment saves me 20 minutes.

I had told Mr. W last night that my sense of things, the way it would make true sense to me based on the timing and my understanding of Dodo and order, was that Dodo would pass that night. He would not wait until Monday morning’s 9:30a appointment to be put down. He would not want to spend his last days being boarded, away from us and away from a familiar environment, in a cage with veterinary care. This is why he chose Wednesday to stop eating, and Sunday to go truly downhill. Sunday, when everything’s closed and I can’t possibly board him. He also wouldn’t want to hang on until later in the week, when we were gone on vacation, to go when we’d feel helpless and far away from him, and I’d be guilt-stricken at not being by his side, forever wondering if he felt abandoned at that critical time.

Yesterday afternoon after Allie’s nap, I called my parents and told them we were going over there for the weekend visit, instead of having them come here. They were already in their cars about a mile out and they turned around to go home. I left Dodo in peace and quiet, hoping it was what he needed. I’d also long ago removed the baby gate I’d placed to keep Dodo in the restroom/vanity section of our bedroom (at the advice of the vet technician for post-enema “accidents,” but there was none and he’d gone in the litter box as soon as he got home), to allow him free reign. He chose to go back in our walk-in closet across the room, where he’d been most of his time in the past few months. When we got back from my parents’, I checked on him and he had gone to back to the litter box twice and was once again in his favorite spot in the walk-in closet, hanging out as if nothing were wrong. He turned to watch me when I walked in, and I petted him, he purred, lifted his tail in response, and I told him again it was okay for him to do what he needed to do. That I love him. In the evening at his usual medication time, he seemed to be sleeping so I left him alone. College roommie Diana’s advice was that it wasn’t worth waking him for, since if he’s comfortable enough to sleep, he’s probably all right, but that I can medicate him if he wakes up. Soon after, he was awake, so I only gave him the meds to make him comfortable. Anti-nausea med, blood pressure med so he doesn’t feel sick, acid meds so his tummy doesn’t get upset. And I gave him some water by oral syringe as well. Mr. W petted him and I petted him until he put his head down against the dresser, purring. I noticed the tip of his tongue was sticking out a little and his eyes seemed dry; he was probably pretty dehydrated. “Is your tongue out because you’re thirsty?” I asked him.
“No, I think it’s just because he’s that weak,” Mr. W said. I hoped he would have a peaceful easy transition soon. This limbo thing was so awful. He didn’t appear to be in pain, but I wondered if he were uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty. He did turn and change positions a couple times before I went to bed, so he wasn’t so weak he couldn’t adjust himself.

At 6:30 this morning, Mr. W went in the closet to check on him. He came back slightly sniffly-sounding and I asked sleepily, “Is he gone?”
“Yeah,” Mr. W told me.
“Oh, good,” I said, knowing this is exactly when, where, and how Dodo chose to go. He was silent all night, not one sound of struggle, no labored breathing at any point. And then a thought occurred to me. “How do you know?”
“Because he’s cold and stiff.” Mr. W got the towel that had lined Dodo’s carrier. “I’m going to wrap him up in this.” I didn’t watch. I was grateful for the first time ever that my nearsightedness kept me from being able to see much when I wake up in the morning. I had planned to take Dodo to the vet this morning no matter what; Mr. W placed the towel pile with my cat inside into the carrier.
Allie was already up, so Mr. W went and got her, put her in the bed next to me (a new thing we just started doing last weekend for a bit of cuddle time in the morning), and went into massive cleaning mode as Allie and I looked at photos and videos on my cell phone. By the time Allie had finished nursing and was dressed for the day, our room looked as if there were never a cat in it. Cat litter, cat food bowls, cat lounge tree, cat fur, it was all gone. I’m grateful he did all that, because I just didn’t have it in me. Not yet.

Allie looked for Dodo this morning. She went trotting into the walk-in closet as usual, saying, “Dodo?” Not finding him or any trace of him, she leaned down and looked under the dresser, the massage chair, the hanging clothes, calling, “Dodo?” We didn’t tell her anything.

I called the vet as soon as they were open and the girl who was supposed to come over later today to go over Dodo’s meds, as we’d arranged for her to come over twice a day to care for and medicate Dodo while we’re on vacation this week, answered the phone. I told her of Dodo’s passing. She told me about a cremation service that they use if I wanted that option; they would be by later today for pickups. The service, called Peaceful Paws, does individual cremations where they would return the ashes to us in a cedar box for about $150, or they can do a group cremation, and spread the ashes over the sea in San Diego. I had no idea that was an option, and such an affordable one at a little over $50. It makes a difficult transition more beautiful and peaceful, and very affordable, for pet parents.

I never saw Dodo lifeless. Mr. W wouldn’t even let me handle the carrier, even though Dodo was completely wrapped in the towel and not visible through the “windows” and “doors” of it. I asked him again, “Are you sure he’s gone? What if he’s just really really weak?”
Mr. W said firmly, “I’m sure. He’s gone. Do you want details?” There were details? No. Thanks for protecting me from those.

The three of us took Dodo to the vet for the last time. It was weird to be in an exam room with the metal examination table lifted up flush against the wall instead of down so a pet could be placed on it. The girl whom I’d spoken to on the phone took Dodo’s carrier from us to the back room. The female vet, fairly recently back from maternity leave and whom I haven’t seen for a year, but who I really, really like, came in the exam room with Dodo’s chart and gave me a big hug. She said that Dodo’s chart “painted a bleak picture.” He definitely took a drastic dip and lots of values were 4, 5 times higher than normal. His kidneys had failed and he was in renal failure. Even hospitalization may not have saved him at that point. She also believed that he chose his time to go in the way and place that he was most comfortable and felt most safe. We chatted about her new baby (she’s a beautiful glowing mom), partly because she’d taken such a strong interest in Allie a year ago and also because it was a joyous topic and talking about Dodo, she looked near tears and I had cried too much this weekend already. I donated unused renal food and will donate all the remainder of his drugs to the vet’s office to help stock their drug supply and to help out with their patients who may be getting newly diagnosed with kidney disease. It’s expensive to keep your pet healthy as best you can when you’re fighting such an intimidating disease. Plus, I found out Saturday how difficult it is to get anti-nausea meds, and I know for a fact the vet’s office doesn’t have it on hand or they would’ve supplied me with it instead of having me go on the wild goose chase I did for it. Dr. T also confirmed that a 15-year-old purebred Scottish Fold is a rare thing, indeed. “You did very well with him,” she told me.

Dodo’s going to beat us to the San Diego beaches by a couple of days. What a clever little fellow. I’ll be thinking about him a lot when we’re there in the beach house we’d rented for our vacation.

I posted this on the social network, and was so touched by the sheer number of responses and love, prayers, comforting words, cyber hugs.

“Cindy’s Dodo boy passed in the middle of the night last night, quietly, peacefully, with never a struggle or labored breathing. Even in his weakness, he managed to make it to the litter box anytime he needed to go, so for the people who told me to restrict his allowed areas & sacrifice his comfort for the sake of our carpets & pen him into the restroom area when he got kidney disease*, u were wrong. Dodo was a great soul to the end. Thank u for being a consistent loving presence thru all my major joys, heartaches, challenges & progressions the last 13 years. Mommy will see u again. Fly, my Dodo bird, fly.”

* i.e., that nanny Laura we’d tried out for 2 days

I’m not asking him to stay. That would be cruel. If he wants to go, I want him to be able to move on peacefully, easily. It hit me watching him struggle from underneath the bed to his carrier a few feet away, staggering, struggling as his back legs bent in effort to support his weight. Stumbling. He’s so weak. The appetite stimulants aren’t working because he is choosing not to eat. He’s trying to go. I force-fed him a few morsels along with his medication this morning, which caused him to lick at the gravy on the wet food, and gave me hope. But seeing how weak he is in that short walk told me everything. I will not give him any more medication designed to make him do stuff he doesn’t want to do. I will only administer the ones that make him more comfortable. Anti-nausea meds, blood pressure meds so he doesn’t get a headache. I petted him with the top of the cat carrier open for awhile, and he struggled out, gave some short yowls, went to his water bowl, sniffed but went back in the carrier. He did this twice, then the third time, he went out and struggled to the walk-in closet across the room, his usual sleeping spot. Thinking he wanted to be alone, I left him be. I had already told him it’s okay, that I love him, and he should do what he needs to do. That was when Rebecca returned my call. She asked if he’s laying on his side stretched out; he was. She said gently, “You know he has to go, right, sweetie?” I know. I just wanted to know if he wants me to do anything for him. Anything. She said just to go in the closet, lay with him a bit, tell him it’s okay and then when I feel ready, to give him some space. Cats do that, she said. Cats want to be alone at the end, and it could be that my being there is keeping him from being able to let go. So when I’ve said my goodbyes and when I have gotten what I need, I can walk away and he’ll be okay. He’s not suffering right now, altho he had in the past. I know; he’s not struggling except when he’s trying to walk and he’s weak. He’s not panting, not complaining, not heaving. He purrs when I pet him. His tail moves up in response to the strokes down his back. He’s just so weak, and doesn’t want to eat. Twice today, I’ve given him water by oral syringe, just in case he felt thirsty. But I also don’t want him to feel compelled to struggle back out and get in the litter box, which is what he’s been doing instead of having “accidents.” He’s such a good cat. It’s not really about me and getting what I want. My needs are his needs; if he needs me to say it’s okay to go and know that I love him and then leave him alone, that is what I will do. That is what I did. I went in the closet, stayed with him for a bit, petting him, stroking my face against his fur, listening to the light purr, told him it’s okay, it’s okay, mama loves you, mama loves her boy, do what you need to do, don’t suffer. Rebecca said that everything is shutting down, but he may be having a little bit of a hard time letting go, and may need help. If he’s still around like this tomorrow morning for the 9:30a appointment, the appointment may be what’s going to help him go.

What timing, Dodo. We’re at the beginning of our vacation, so I have all day to spend with him on Monday. And right now, there’s no vet available on a Sunday. He may pass peacefully at home, comfortably, if he is able to let go. I got my chance for a private, affectionate, teary goodbye with Mr. W gone for a long 2-hour massage and Allie napping, the stepkidlet out and about as usual. I told him it’s not goodbye. It’s a see-you-later. He can visit, and then I’ll see him again when I go to the Other Side; he’s just getting there first. My fuzzy boy, my furry baby.

I was quietly hurrying down the stairs earlier (quietly because the baby and the hubby and the cat are all asleep) when a mental image popped up of me tripping on the stairs and falling down, then being unable to get back up. First thought: “How do I fall quietly so I don’t wake the baby up?” Second thought: “If I were stuck here with a broken leg, how do I get hubby to wake up and help me without waking up the baby?” Third thought: “If I were seriously injured here and needed medical attention, would I REALLY avoid calling out for help cuz I don’t want to wake the baby? Would I really just resign myself to laying here quietly hoping to be discovered soon?” I was actually stuck on that last one. So I just slowed down and walked more carefully, lest I actually have to make that decision due to carelessness.

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