One of the many wonderful things about saving so many animals each year is that I get to fall in love all the time, over and over again. Often, falling in love so frequently comes with it's share of heartbreak. The heartbreak of not being able to save them all. Of not always having the answers. Heartbreak is a reality we have to face, it comes with the territory. When baby Wilder arrived and, shortly after, showed signs of not being 100% healthy, I braced myself.
We were wrapping up an amazing baby season, one that had presented us with very few challenges. Then in our last group of babies, Wilder & Griffey broke the streak. Unfortunately, despite doing everything we and veterinarians possibly could, Griffey's little body was unable to overcome the health issues he was born with. His loss was a hard one. All the while, Wilder had been struggling with issues of his own, a very painful ulcer. Here was this little baby, wanting nothing more than the comfort of milk and his bottle and it was causing him such discomfort.
It took some trial and error to find just what treatment would work best for Wilder, what his body would respond to best. It also took a lot of patience, something I was struggling to find. Wilder and I spent lots of time with him curled up in my arms while I snuggled him and told him I was sorry that he wasn't feeling better. Eating was painful for him and we could not get his digestive system on track. I felt like I was failing him, I just couldn't win. Getting babies over the "hump" when they aren't feeling 100% can be frustrating and draining. It is a challenge to my personality, one that likes lists and plans, to just wait and see how he did and go with the flow of what he was responding to. I was terrified of making a mistake and making it worse. It had been a tough go those few weeks and I needed a win. This little guy and I needed to get over this hurdle. For him. For me. For Griffey. We needed a win.
Every day I grew more and more attached to this little wide eyed baby who was the best possible patient I could ever ask for. He loved his medicine and would often go back to where it was located and look up at it and cry for more. He followed my every step around the farm and still does. Always looking up at me with the sweetest little face inquiring as to whether there were a few more ounces of milk to be had. Every time I sat down he would crawl into my lap, tuck his head into my arms and snuggle, another thing he still does, every day.
It took a good solid week of his most recent treatment regimen, to finally see improvement. I was cautiously optimistic at first. I held my breath every day as I increased his milk intake. He started to gain weight and grow, he wasn't uncomfortable after eating and he was far less excited about his medicine. We were headed uphill. This past week, for the first time, he has started to truly play and frolic like a baby goat. He had tried half hearted efforts so many times before but just never felt good enough to really play. Watching him race around the farm jumping sideways, spinning in the air and dueling with his buddies, it makes my heart swell. My heart is so happy seeing this little guy live his little life without pain and discomfort. Wilder & I, we won this one and my attachment to him is a special one.
Telling me not to get so attached is a waste of breath. I fall in love. I get attached. Yes, I get heartbroken over one loss. Haunted by ones we couldn't save. I get teary eyed when babies I have raised leave for their forever homes and I feel a void on the farm when they're gone. Doing it any other way, to me, would be doing this all wrong. Protecting myself from the heartbreak and sadness that inevitably comes along with this life, would also mean protecting myself from the immense love and joy I get from a once sick baby running, jumping and frolicking without a care in the world. Nothing is worth missing that.