As soon as I had my daughter, the questions began. Seriously, the kid still had afterbirth smudges and well-meaning nurses, family members, friends, strangers started to ask if I was ready for a second child.
“Do you want another one?” Another what? Another Norco? Yes, please.
“Are you ready to get started on the next one?” Um, I’m bleeding fairly heavily from a recent (as in yesterday) major abdominal surgery. I’m not ready to do anything.
“Do you want a boy next?” Considering I’ve just met my girl, I should probably take a few minutes to decide.
“How long are you going to wait to start trying again?” Trying? We weren’t trying the first time. And do we need to try again? Did you see the baby as you came in? Pretty sure I just succeeded.
I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t even ready for the screamy little bundle of joy at my bedside and everyone around me seemed to talk about the next one. I politely assured everyone that I was entirely ok with just one child. That, in fact, one child was PLENTY. But the women around me all said the same thing—you will. One day you will want another one. You will forget all the hurt. You will miss all the snuggles. You will forget all the bad and you will want another one. I joked it away. I’d never forget the delirous, sleepless, milky, hangry nights of my daughter’s first year. When did I want another baby? NEVER!
Last week, I was out running and found a downed nest. We’d had a huge storm the night before and the nest had blown down and broken in the street. Around the nest were the bodies of four baby birds. Their little feathers had just begun to sprout(?) (I’m not good at birds) and they had reddish plumage on their chests. They were robins. Baby robins. Two of the birds were already dead and the third and fourth took in shallow breathes. I watched their little chests heave against the asphalt. I couldn’t just leave them. I decided to abandon my run and picked up the two survivors.
I cradled them gently in my palms and spoke softly to them on the walk home.
“Hold on guys it’s going to be ok. Mommy’s got you.”
To be fair, my husband hates birds. He especially hates birds sitting in a cereal bowl stuffed with toilet paper on his kitchen counter. The birds were quickly banished to outside. I placed them in clear drawer of a tupperware bin with wheels. My daughter screamed the word “birds” in their faces repeatedly and clapped to welcome them. Dexter dog barked “hello” or “you look delicious” (my “dog” is a little rusty), while I googled how to care for a baby bird.
Step 1. Don’t take them inside.
Step 2. Don’t let them around pets or small excitable children.
We were off to a good start. I shooed my “helpers” away and mashed up some dog food and blueberries. Bird 3 was struggling. He wouldn’t hold his head up or open his eyes. Bird 4 watched me closely—like a hawk, actually. (Wait, were these hawks? I consulted Google images. Nope not hawks, definitely robins. Phew.)
Neither bird ate. I looked over my shoulder at our french doors. My daughter had her face pressed to the glass and our dog lay at her feet. She slammed both chubby palms against the window panes. “Birds!”
I turned back to the birds. “Ok I’ll be back in an hour. Then you guys have to eat. Deal? Bird number 4 stared at me suspiciously. Bird 3 didn’t move.
An hour later, I went back out. Both birds were snuggled together, sleeping.
Another hour passed. This time when I check Bird 4 was awake and staring intently at Bird 3. Bird 3’s head lolled to the side. He didn’t make it. I carefully removed him from the “nest” and cleaned the drawer. Bird 4 watched as I laid down new paper. I picked up the dropper.
“You have to eat. Please.”
I dropped a bit of blueberry protein sludge onto his beak. Nothing. I closed the food and slid the drawer in for some shade and turned back to the house. This wasn’t going to work. I was going to have two dead birds in a drawer. And then I heard it. The faintest of tweets.
I turned back and looked through the side of the drawer. Bird 4 tweeted again. Then he opened his mouth. Wide.
I rushed back over with the food and filled the dropper. Bird 4 ate the entire dropper of food. He opened his mouth a second time. I fed him another dropper full.
This continued the entire afternoon. Eating and cleaning out the cage. By 6PM, Bird 4 was hopping around his little drawer and tweeting loudly.
I got back on Google. How long until robins can be on their own? As my daughter would say: “Oh no…”
Apparently, robins feed their young for almost 6 months. I can’t keep feeding this guy for six months. I don’t want this responsibility. I don’t have the time or the patience. I don’t want a commitment like this.
I went back to my steps for caring for baby birds.
Step 3. Look up the specific diet for the bird.
Turns out robins do eat blueberries but they are not cannibalistic and I’m pretty sure the assorted hydrolyzed protein in Dexter’s food is chicken. I run to check. Yes. Chicken. And rabbit! Yay! Good thing Bird 4 is part hawk. We’re going to count Step 3 as a win.
Step 4. Monitor temperature. Dude, they live outside? And it’s Lubbock. Yesterday was a typhoon and tomorrow it may be 48 degrees.
Step 5. Look for a Wildlife rescue center in your area. A what? Those exist? Why was this not STEP 1!!!!!!!
Sure enough, I Googled and found the South Plains Wildlife Rescue Center. Bird 4 made it through the night and at 8AM the next morning I took him to the center. When I left him in the cage he tweeted loudly and opened his mouth wide. I shut the door on him and headed back to my car. Eyes glistening. Mommy loves you…
After Lena was born, I’d started having chest pains and heart palpitations. Turns out I’d always had a heart murmur and it just never really affected me because I’d never been overweight. The first doctor I saw said having kids may be off the table unless I had a valve replacement. That was last March.
Turns out nothing makes you want to have another kid like someone telling you, you might not be able to have another kid.
After my first MD Anderson appointment I asked about my ability to get pregnant again. My doctor said after the chemo it shouldn’t be a problem. I asked about my risk because of the higher melanin production that takes place during pregnancy. She said if everything works like it’s supposed to I should have no more melanoma in my body when I come back. So yes. I can get pregnant, if I want to.
After we came back to Lubbock I scheduled another appointment with my new cardiologist. I wasn’t impressed with the first guy and soon after I went for a second opinion. My second doctor is a total boss. He looks like Joshua Davis from The Voice. He’s monitored me over the last 6 months and two weeks ago, after my last EKG and echo, he gave me the go ahead to get pregnant again, if I want to.
If I want to.
When I left the wildlife rehab center, I asked if I could come back and visit Bird 4. The attendant said I could though they don’t encourage it. They don’t want people to imprint on the birds too much. I didn’t tell her that I woke up 3 times during the night to feed Bird 4 or that I tucked him in with extra toilet paper and sang him to sleep. Surely that doesn’t count, right?
Guys, I think I want another baby.