Before I became a mother, I had the chance to practice. Not with a relative (well, not exactly). Not with another baby. But with our cat, Martin.
How A Cat Prepared Me To Be A Mom
Martin was 8 years old, and he had some health problems. It seemed like it came out of the blue. Martin had been a healthy, happy, adorable cat. Sure, he had some personality quirks. But what cat doesn’t?
Then, for some reason, Martin started making kidney stones like it was his job. And he made serious kidney stones. He had a very hard time passing them. Such a hard time, that he almost died. He ended up having surgery to make it easier for him to pass the stones.
And he had some big complications after the surgery.
He developed kidney infections, and he had to be on high-powered antibiotics to get rid of them.
He wouldn’t eat, and he needed to have a feeding tube put in so we could feed him.
He needed lots and lots of nursing care, and it took lots and lots of time.
I learned a few things about what being a mom would mean for me.
- Patience is key. Each one of Martin’s feedings took at least 30 minutes. Luckily, he was so good for them, and would just curl up on my lap the entire time. Unless something was going wrong. Then he would get up and let me know. For these 30 minutes, I was stuck sitting on the floor in the bathroom with Martin on my lap. I could check Facebook or email on my phone, but I really couldn’t get much done. I learned some serious patience during these weeks that would really help me when I had so much trouble breastfeeding Baby Doc.
- Routines are so important. Martin and I had a serious routine going. He needed to be fed through his feeding tube 3 times a day, and we lived by this schedule. Some of his medications had to be given on an empty stomach, others had to be given with his food. Some were once a day, some were twice a day, and one was 4 times a day. Routines, schedules, and writing things down were absolutely essential to remembering what I had done, and what still needed to be done.Baby Doc and I still live by routines and schedules. We rarely schedule anything for the morning, because he needs his morning nap just 2 hours after he wakes up. I also need to be careful about how many errands I try to pack into one afternoon. If we are still out when it’s time for his afternoon nap, he will grab a quick cat nap in the car but won’t go back to sleep when we get home. (And that makes for a grouchy baby and sometimes a grouchy mom, too!)
- And you need to be adaptable. Just as I thought things were going well, Martin would have a setback and all that progress would be gone. Martin didn’t want to sit for a feeding, so we would have to try again later. Something didn’t sit well with him, and he vomited, so we skipped the rest of that feeding and tried to make it up with two smaller feedings later on. I had a doctor’s appointment (I was pregnant while we were going through all of this), and needed to adjust his schedule for the day. Whatever wrench got thrown in our plans, I just needed to roll with it and make it work.What mom doesn’t understand this? Sometimes Baby Doc will sleep later in the morning, then the schedule for our whole day needs to be adjusted. The pediatrician appointment is at 3:30, but he’s running late, so we are there until past 5:00, and past Baby Doc’s dinner time. Or maybe Baby Doc only naps for 30 minutes instead of than the hour I was expecting, which means I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped to.
- Set your priorities. While all this was going on, I was working from home, writing here, at AgriCultured, and for the Princeton Veterinary Hospital blog. Even though my writing responsibilities hadn’t changed, all of a sudden I had less time to get everything done. I had to be careful about how I spent my time so I could still get my posts written and meet my deadlines.This is something I still need plenty of practice on today. As a work-at-home mom, it’s very easy to get sidetracked by the (never-ending) piles of laundry, the dirty dishes in the sink, or sometimes just the television. I really need to focus on my priorities for the day. For me, this means physically writing down a to-do list so I know what is most important for the day. (Sometimes, that most important thing is a cup of coffee and some time to relax or some unplugged quality time with Baby Doc!)
- Cuddles are awesome. Even when Martin wasn’t feeling his best, he still wanted to cuddle with me and Farmer Doc. Anyone who has a cat knows that they like to cuddle at the most awkward times. But I treasured every one of Martin’s cuddles. We lost Martin just a few days before Baby Doc was born. I am so glad that I took the time to spend some “quality time” with Martin when he needed me.There is always one more thing to be done. More dishes to wash, more laundry to fold, a floor to clean, a blog post to write, or a social media account to manage. One of the worst things about being a WAHM is that these pesky things “to do” are always right in front of me. One of the best things about being a WAHM is that Baby Doc is also always right in front of me. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, put away the phone, and just be there to cuddle, explore, and learn with him.
The day we lost Martin was a very sad day. But just a few short days later, we welcomed Baby Doc into our lives. I will always remember Martin very fondly. And I will treasure the lessons he taught me about how to be a mom.