Friday, May 13, 2011

My baby "squirrels"

It was a gloomy, chilly day. Drops of rain fell sadly to the ground now and again, but no real storm made it past the threat. I was making the begrudged walk to the mailbox when I spotted something on the ground that made my heart start beating hard and fast. There, in my gritty driveway, was something small, pink and curled up in fetal position. As I bent on closer inspection, my heart slowed to normal, but broke a little as a tiny, newborn creature breathed, still alive there alone in the cold.

I happened to have a container with me, so I scooped up the little guy carefully and I resumed getting the mail, but as I returned there were two more critters curled up and alive. I had mail and a container with me, so I carefully scooped them up, holding the container to my chest and wondering what to do with them.

About that time, my oldest kiddos came running outside, wondering what mommy was standing there for. I showed them the creatures and explained their plight. We decided to move them to a safer, warmer place nearby but out of the driveway in hopes mommy squirrel would come and claim them.

Hours passed. No mommy. Babies still alive. No sign of a disturbed nest. No ballistic squirrel screaming in the treetops. No dead squirrel in the road. I concluded they were either abandoned or mommy fell victim to a neighborhood hawk.

Leaving them to cruel nature seemed the most logical choice. After all, I have a teething infant with allergies, a resistant to potty training almost 3 year old, and a 5 year old with enough questions to fill a Trival Pursuit game. Not to mention a husband who prefers I leave wildlife well enough alone. There's no way I could render them the care they needed to survive. On top of that, it's illegal to harbor wildlife in my state.

But, my heartstrings were tugged and my 5 year old fully believed that we needed to do something for the critters, to at least try for them. So, in they came in a snug box with a heating pad and receiving blanket. I found a website that said baby squirrels can be rehydrated with pedialyte. I already knew how to make them evacuate. Another online search led me to a wildlife rehabilitator nearby. I called and asked if she'd be willing to take them or if we should just let nature take its course. We arranged a meeting.

So, I pile the kiddos in the car way past their bedtime and we head for the meeting place with the little squirrels nestled together. The tired-looking woman opened the back of her jeep and showed me the two baby foxes she just picked up. So precious! If foxes could be pets, I'd have one! Anyhow, she peeks into the box and announces, "You have mice!"

What?!

My heart shattered in a million pieces over mice. Mice that I kill on a regular basis in my house because they poop everywhere, make us sick and scratch all night long. Mice!

I felt bad that I made that poor woman drive all the way out to the meeting place to pick up MICE! But, my embarrassment faded just a little when she started cooing over the little guys. My embarrassment faded just a tiny bit more when I looked up pictures of both baby mice and baby squirrels on google images and discovered they're practically identical to the layman's eye other than the rather large difference in size!

I'm still ready to slam my head into the keyboard in red-faced humiliation, but at least my children got a little animal science lesson and a lesson in compassion.

But, as I typed this, I realized what puzzled me all day. Why were my heartstrings tugged so hard? Why did my heart start pounding when I saw that little pink body curled up in my driveway? As weird as this may be, upon first glance, that little mouse reminded me of my 2nd miscarriage when I passed my dead baby right there on the exam table alone in the hospital. Maybe I can't explain it any better than that. Maybe that's just totally off the wall, but for a moment, that's what I recalled, and boy, was it intense.

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