There's something special about kids and their dogs. My kids grew up with a dog that we all loved very much. His name was Taz. My daughter and Taz were inseparable, best friends.
As years went on, Taz grew old and no longer had the energy to play with my daughter. Instead, he kept a watchful eye on her from the front porch. A mass developed on his chest that we later learned was bone cancer. With arthritic hips and advanced age, the best we could do was keep him comfortable.
Taz eventually lost his ability to walk. The pain medications became ineffective, even at the highest dosage. One night, Taz began screaming and howling in agony. We took him to the vet's office where the vet confirmed that the cancer had spread to his spine. Taz was suffering.
Euthanizing the family dog was difficult even though we knew we were ending his pain and suffering. It was especially difficult because my husband and I had to tell our young children that Taz was going to die. They were comforted by having the opportunity to say good-bye. They hugged him and gave him treats. Then they said good-bye one last time.
Birth and death seem like direct opposites; however, they share some similarities. Birth and death are transitions. When I had my first child, I transitioned into motherhood. My old sense of self died. Moments after my daughter was born, I delivered the placenta. I inspected it with my midwife. The placenta was, in a sense, dying at that moment of my daughter’s birth. Its job of sustaining my baby’s life while in my womb was complete. I felt a sense of gratitude as I looked at it. I didn't want to discard such a precious organ as medical waste. It deserved something better, but I didn't know what. I stored the placenta in my the deep freezer for safe keeping until I could figure out how to honor it.
When Taz died, we had a short burial ceremony in our backyard. I think by including our children in the burial ceremony, they were able to understand death better. My daughter wrote Taz a letter and placed it in the grave with him. Then I went to the freezer and pulled out my daughter's placenta that had sustained her life while I carried her in my womb. I placed her placenta in the grave next to Taz and whispered, "Job well done."
I love discovering books at our local library! One of the books I picked up when my children were little was Mister and Lady Day by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Charlotte's own Vanessa Brantley Newton. It was an unexpected look at the life of Billie Holiday. My kids were already familiar with the historical figure. In fact, one of my children dressed up as Billie Holiday during her school's celebration of Black History Month. We had only known Billie Holiday as a singer. We did not know about the special relationships she had with her dogs and how they traveled with her. It was fun to get a glimpse of this Hollywood Star and her personal life. It brought Billie Holiday to life and made her relatable.
This is the time of year when we hear the ringing of bells among the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. As I have discussed before, shopping with the kids in tow can be an adventure. I think it's that way for most parents. My mother, however, was a master at getting her kids to behave while out in public.
Every year, I am reminded of my mother's greatness when it came to getting her kids to shape up. It was a cold, December evening, and my mother needed to stop by the store on the way home. My sister and I bickered about everything: who got to sit in the front seat, who got to walk next to Mom, who got to push the cart, etc. Then we heard the ringing of bells and saw the red kettle. Curious, I asked my mother what the bells were about. Without hesitation and with a straight face, she said, "That's where you drop off kids who are misbehaving."
My eyes widened and I tightened my grip on mother's arm. My sister and I didn't make a peep. My mother had no issues from either of us and was able to complete her shopping in heavenly peace.
One of your very first parenting tasks might be selecting a doctor for your unborn child. I suggest you interview at least 2, and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. Below is a list of interview questions to ask.
What are your hours? What happens if my baby is sick after hours/weekend? Is there a 24-hour nurse's line? Is there a fee to use the 24-hour service?
Are you open on weekends?
Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
Do you have hospital privileges? If so, which hospitals?
What are your views on antibiotic use? Vaccinations? Breastfeeding beyond 1 year? Co-sleeping?
Do you have a lactation consultant on staff?
Are there separate waiting rooms for sick and well children?
Questions to ask yourself:
How did the staff treat you?
Were they receptive to doing an interview?
Did the doctor roll his/her eyes at any of your interview questions?
Were you rushed?
MINE-R-T Doula Company’s highest priority continues to be the physical and emotional safety of our clients and doulas. In response to the threats imposed by the coronavirus, many hospitals have implemented strict visitor restrictions that limit the number of support people permitted to attend births with their patients. MINE-R-T Doula Company is committed to supporting our clients and doulas as we all navigate these difficult times.
MINE-R-T Doula Company
Kali grew up in rural India. When he goes to school, he is embarrassed because he's different from the other kids. Their fathers have jobs like postman and bus driver. His father is a snake catcher. This is a good story about not fitting in. It's OK to be different!
Kali and the Rat Snake is written by Zai Whitaker and illustrated by Srividya Natarajan
Kira Kimble is a doula trainer, certified doula and doula mentor. She is the owner of MINE-R-T Doula Company in Charlotte, NC