Tag: Unconditional Love

A Tearful Good-Bye

Our pets are more than just pets as they become a member of the family. The love and care we feel for them is so very special. They are the ones who are always loyal and by our side when we need them the most. This is how we felt about our cat Lily.

We adopted Lily in 2009 when she was six years of age and she was the sweetest cat you could ever meet. There is a saying that our animals are the ones who pick us and this rings true for us as she is the one who picked us. So when we were faced with her good-bye, it left us heart broken.

Here is our story of how we lost our beloved furbaby, Lily.

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*Warning – specific details have been expressed in this piece that can be emotionally hard to read.

The Beginning

In 2009, we went to visit a facility of adoptions to see if we can find a cat to adopt. When we got there we went into a room with all the available cats that were up for adoption. We went around to see each one of them to see who would be a fit in our family of two (at the time). When my husband arrived at Lily, Lily gave him four kisses. As soon as she did that, my husband turned to me and said, “Ok, she is ours. We are taking her today.” And that is exactly what we did that day. We adopted our new family member, Lily.

Lily came with a past of abuse, neglect and abandonment. The transition to get her comfortable with us took some time and we helped her along the way to trust us. After nine months, she was so comfortable that she slept on my husband’s lap for the very first time and she just got more loving from there.

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When we had our daughter, Nikki, in 2014, Lily became even more loving and friendly. It was amazing to see the bond that Lily created with Nikki and as time passed, the bond grow stronger between them. Nikki ended up having a tag along friend as everywhere she went Lily was close behind.

The Dramatic Change & Diagnosis

Our whole world then shifted with the sudden health changes to Lily. One day we noticed that she was struggling to do her business in the litter box and every time she tried, nothing would come out. Then when she would eat, she would throw up. We knew something was really wrong.

That same day (January 2, 2016), my husband took Lily to the animal emergency hospital to see what was wrong with her. After a five hour wait, it was discovered that Lily had a 3cm cancerous tumor in her intestines and this was causing a backup of her stool. This is why every time she ate she would throw up. Receiving this news was devastating to us as we never expected this to show up so quickly. Lily never showed signs of discomfort until now.

The vet provided us with two options. Option 1 was to do surgery which had high risks attached to it, such as not surviving the surgery and the tumor would return and spread. Option 2 was to put her down.

This was a lot for us to digest in one day so my husband brought her home for us to discuss it further. In the meantime, Lily was given two vaccines that would help with her pain and would prevent her from throwing up. After a lengthy discussion we decided to make an appointment for Lily to see her vet and get a second opinion. This was such a big decision to make that I wanted to make sure we did everything to ensure that putting her down was the right decision. We were fortunate to book an appointment right away which fell on a Monday (January 4, 2016). By this time, we could really see that Lily was getting worse. Her eyes were filled with pain, she lost another 10 ounces since Saturday and threw up even though she had a vaccine to prevent this from happening.

The Final Decision

My husband went in with Lily to see her amazing and kind vet. Once the vet reviewed the x-rays from the hospital and did a full check up on Lily. She turned to my husband and said with tears in her eyes, “There is no saving her.” Lily was getting frail, her bones were weak and she was starving herself to death. The vet further stated that if we decided not to put her down she would only survive another 3 weeks and she could just drop any day in our home. We just couldn’t do that to her. Our vet has known us since we got Lily and she told my husband that she knows that we gave her the very best life full of love and that is all Lily wanted. She further stated that cats are very good at hiding their feelings of pain so there was no way to tell until now. What was happening to Lily was in the inside and it wasn’t on the surface for us to see. With great pain, we decided the best thing for her was to put her down.

Tearful Goodbye

Since Lily was a rescued and abused cat, who had been abandoned a couple of times in her life. I told my husband it would be comforting for him to stay with her to the end. I told him that I would hate for Lily to think that we abandoned her. I wanted her to know that we never left her and loved her so much until the very end. My husband found the strength to stay with her as I knew I just couldn’t (just writing this has me in complete tears).

The vet prepared the needle that would put Lily to rest. She gave Lily the needle and to everyone’s astonishment, Lily got up and walked towards my husband. The vet has only seen this happen one other time in her 26 years as a vet. So she turned to my husband and said, “You have to tell her that it is time to go. She doesn’t want to leave you so you have to tell her that it’s ok.” As painful as it was for my loving husband, he turned to Lily and said, “Sweet Lily, it’s time for you to go. We don’t want you to suffer and it’s ok to go.” The vet said that Lily looked at peace now and she gave her the second needle while in my husband’s arms. Lily looked up at him and gave him those same four kisses that she gave him when we first adopted her. After the last lick, she peacefully went. And that was the end of her suffering and the start of her legacy.

The Grieving

It has been a difficult process and we went through the grieving cycle such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What has helped us the most, has been the amazing love and support from our family and friends. Just talking (writing) and crying about our loss has been very therapeutic to us as well.

Luckily, our daughter is really young to comprehend or feel the loss. But we did talk to her about it in the simplest terms. The day we said good-bye to Lily, we told our daughter that Lily was going bye-bye to heaven and our daughter went to Lily and said “bye-bye” and gave her kisses. As I watch her do this, all I could do was weep but I knew it was important for our daughter to say good-bye.

In honour of Lily’s memory we had the very first blanket our daughter was wrapped in from the hospital (which became Lily’s favourite blanket) and a cat sleeper transformed into a keepsake teddy bear by Plush Memories. This was a beautiful way to celebrate her life and have something to hug when we missed her. It has been a great tool in helping us grieve.

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Lily’s Legacy

Another way we coped with the grief was by creating a fundraising campaign that we called, Lily’s Legacy. Money raised by our campaign was going to help other animals like Lily who need that second chance at a forever home. We picked a local organization and I am proud to say that we raised $835 in memory of Lily. The money raised has already made a difference in the lives of our furry friends.

We didn’t want to remember the abrupt ending but we wanted this campaign to continue the memory of Lily’s life and sweetness by helping others, the way she did for us.

The Paw Print Left

The loss of a beloved furry family member is hard on everyone and Lily’s loss will be felt for a long time. But she has left a forever lasting paw print on our hearts. To this day our daughter screams with excitement when she sees a picture of Lily. When we say that Lily has gone to heaven, she still responds with “bye-bye” and blows a kiss into the air. Because of Lily, our daughter will always have a special place for animals in her heart.

Lily was such a friendly and sweet cat who always greeted our guests and I know they have all felt her loss as well. Lily has definitely left her mark with many here in this world and we are so lucky to have had her.

Thank You Lily

As I write this piece, my heart is filled with array of emotions and now as I come to the end, it is filled with so much thankfulness. I am thankful for having the opportunity to have had Lily in our lives. Thankful for the unconditional love that she provided and taught us. Thankful for her loyal nature to our family. Thankful for the pure joy that she gave us. Thankful for the love, patience and kindness she always showcased to our daughter. Thankful for trusting us to hold her paw until the very end.

We could not have asked for a better and sweet family member. To that we say, thank you Lily! Rest in peace our sweet girl and know that we will always love you.

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– Momma Braga

 

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Fatherhood: What My Husband Has Learned

For this piece, I consulted with my expert, my husband and father to my daughter, Nikki. As we chase our 14-month old around our place all day long, we manage to chit chat about what he has learned since becoming a father.

Here are the top 10 things fatherhood has enlighten my husband with:

Life Changes Completely

The moment that Nikki was born and I laid my eyes on her, my life changed completely. I knew that this new life was going to be my everything and I was going to do everything I can to protect her. The overwhelming emotions you feel when your child is born are all amazing and I am not ashamed to say that I cried as it was the best moment of my life. It was amazing how quickly I got into “daddy mode” as soon as I held Nikki in my arms. I remember being the first one to change her first diaper which was a very special moment for me and I learned from the nurses how to care for my baby girl. I wanted to make sure that I knew how to do it all.

Sleepless Nights

The sleepless nights are the tough ones especially when you are working different shifts at work; however, you do get use to them. I can’t even remember the last time I had 8 hours of continuous sleep. It is hard but when I look at my daughter’s smiling face the next day, the sleepless night melts away.

Support Your Partner

It is amazing what my wife did in bringing life into this world. I saw everything that she went through while pregnant, during birth and after birth. My appreciation for her doubled for all that she did and does. I knew I had to be there for her to help as much as I could. If it meant changing a diaper; giving our daughter a bath; feeding her; or taking her to another room in the early mornings to let my wife sleep an extra hour on a weekend, then that is what I did. My job before becoming a father is a husband and I couldn’t forget that; therefore, I tried my best to help my wife when I could.

Become a Poop Expert

I know this topic will make many laugh but I couldn’t believe how important baby poop was. Your babies poop can help tell you if there is anything wrong so I quickly learned what to watch for and monitor any differences with it. Looking back, I never thought my wife and I would have so many discussions about baby poop, but it happened.

Cherish Every Moment

Working different shifts, there would be days that I wouldn’t be able to spend any time with my daughter so it was important for me to cherish each moment with her. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would play dress up but it was worth it when I saw her eyes light up. Playing dress up is cool! The simple forms of play makes a world of a difference for her and me. These are the moments I will treasure forever!

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Unconditional Love

This one is obvious but one that I had to personally experience to know how it felt. It was that overwhelming feeling that I got when my daughter was born and has never left me since. The unconditional love keeps growing with every smile, hug, kiss and ‘dada’ that comes my way.

Trust your Instincts

As a father I needed to look deep inside and trust my instincts. At first it was hard to as I didn’t feel as confident as my wife did with knowing when to rely on instincts. But with practice and confidence I learned to trust my instinct and it was beneficial for all of us. Especially on the mommy break time, had to make sure those instincts were in full force.

You’re not the “backup parent”. You’re a father

I wanted to be very involved and hands on. Normally women take on the most active role in child rearing but as times change, men have become more involved. This is the type of parent I wanted to be. I wanted to know how to do everything and learn about my daughter. I wanted the front row seat and couldn’t sit in the back. By doing this, it has helped me become a better father and my bond with my daughter has grown stronger. As soon as I walk in the door from work, she runs to the door to greet me and it’s the best feeling in the world!

Married Life Changes

Many honest men will tell you that married life changes and it does. It no longer is about the two of you, it’s all about baby. Time with one another is hard to find and arguments are much easily sparked. But that is all normal and part of the growth needed in a relationship. It is important to communicate and allow to give one another some space if you feel frustrated. When you do find time to spend with one another it becomes more meaningful and your love will be stronger. I always heard people say that to test the strength of a relationship is to put a baby in it. Boy is that right! You have the bad, ugly but also the good. Never forget why you fell in love with each other and it all works out. Your both learning on the parent train together and I try not to forget that.

Patience goes a long way

Patience is a quick skill that you must learn as early as the day your baby is born. Patience is also needed in your relationship with your partner. We are all humans and we deal with changes and situations differently. Therefore, learning to be patient was necessary and crucial in being a husband and father. It isn’t the easiest one and I continue to work on it.

Above all, I learned how one little being changes you as a person and I feel like I am a better person with my daughter in my life. I could not see life without her and feel very blessed to have her. Fatherhood has been a journey like no other and I know I will continue to learn as my daughter grows. Looking forward to all the adventures ahead and all the stories I will be able to tell.

– Nikki’s Dada

Motherhood: What I’ve Learned

Motherhood is a beautiful, rewarding, stressful and tiring role. But the most important one that one can ever have.

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I have always wanted a family of my own and was thrilled to be blessed with a baby girl on August 1st, 2014. I knew that this would be a journey like no other I have experienced and even though I was as prepared as I could be; it still didn’t seem like I was really prepared. It has been a year and I have learned so much especially about me. Here are just a few of my top ten highlights (in no real order).

1. Sleepless Nights

Everyone knows that with baby comes many sleepless nights. But to actually go  through them, is tough! If it wasn’t tummy pains, it was teething pain or just restlessness. No matter the reason, it resulted in many sleepless nights. This has been the hardest hurdle to overcome; however, I learned that taking naps during the day with Nikki helped battle those sleepless nights when they knocked on the door. It is important to get some rest for mom as it is for baby. So no matter what, try and get some rest when you can as the housework can wait.

2. Unsolicited Advice

Many of my friends who already went on the parent train, all warned me that many people were going to offer parenting advice, even when not being asked. Oh boy! They were so right! No matter who or where I turned, advice was always given. It would be on what to feed my child, how to care for her and any other parenting advice they deemed necessary to tell me. At first, the advice was hurtful as I felt it was a stab on my parenting skills and it does get extremely annoying to deal with. It took me awhile to get over this but I have learned that it is easier to just ignore the unsolicited advice and for helpful advice, to just say thanks. People do mean well but they do forget how frustrating it is for new parents to be nagged about their parenting.

3. Trust Your Gut

I learned that you should always trust your gut when taking care of your baby as you know your baby best. I knew what each cry meant and I knew when to intervene. It is always important to trust yourself and as a mom you always want the best for your baby. “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock

4. Patience

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” – Franklin P. Adams
I learned that I did not have much patience and learned quickly that I needed it more than ever. When my patience was running thin, there are 4 things that I learned to do: 1) Gave myself a break 2) Count to ten and start again 3) Be patient with myself and 4) See the bigger picture. Any one of these would help me cope and keep my patience at ease.

5. Unconditional Love

The moment I laid eyes on my baby Nikki, I was in love. I knew deep down in my heart she was my world and I was going to be the best that I could be to protect her. It was the beginning of that unconditional love that I heard so much about. Even in the hardest days, I learned that this love would always surface and made all the trouble times worth it in the end.

6. No More Privacy

Say goodbye to doing anything on your own. You always have company which includes trips to the bathroom. The silver lining, you will always have someone to talk to.

7. Ask for Help

I learned that it’s ok to ask for help when you need it. Even though I’m still working on this, it is great to get a mommy break. No need to try to do it all yourself as you are already caring for the most precious life, your baby. At the beginning, I tried doing it all and learned quickly that it was draining me and had to ask for help. No shame in that.

8. Don’t be so hard on yourself

No parent has ever been perfect but we all try our very best for our children and that is what matters. Learning not to be hard on myself allowed me to be a better mom to Nikki as I got rid of that pressure.

9. Laugh

Laugh as much as you can and it will be a happier environment for you and baby. By laughing often, it helped relieve my stress and Nikki learned to laugh often as well, and she was one happy baby. Life is too short, so smile and laugh often.

10. Multi-Tasker

It is amazing how quickly we learn to multi-task with a baby in our arms. I mastered many tasks with one hand and I have become much more productive at home. This is a great skill learned through the first year of motherhood and am grateful for it.

But the best lesson learned was experiencing what it is like to care, love, support and sacrifice for an extension of you. For the first time in my life, I know and felt what my parents went through to raise my sister and I. I have a deeper appreciation for all that they did and for the life they gave me. Now I have the opportunity to do the same for Nikki and for this, I have become a better me.

– Momma Braga

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