An Unplanned Pregnancy
Rafa, my 4-year-old mutt, was a little unwell. It wasn’t clear what was wrong with her. Maybe a stomach bug, I thought. Thankfully, there was no temperature and she was eating alright, so I wasn’t anticipating anything major. A visit to the doctor would be a quick examination, maybe an injection, and we would be off.
“When was she in heat last?” asked the doctor as he examined her.
“Oh, just last month,” I said, piecing together the puzzle. “You think this could be pseudo pregnancy?”
A relief; it would soon pass.
But the doctor took me to the X-ray room, where we could speak in peace, away from the other anxious and restless dogs and their owners. He gently broke the news to me: There was nothing pseudo about her pregnancy. He had felt four sacs in her abdomen. There could be more. There were definitely puppies on the way and soon.
We were already halfway through the two-month gestation.
You have seen this movie before – you know, the one in which the parents of the teenage girl have no inkling about her pregnancy until the doctor’s visit. They are stunned; they feel betrayed by the daughter whom they had raised with good values. They are ashamed thinking about what others will think about them.
Except, this is not a movie. This is my life.
Rafa was curled up at my feet, probably exhausted from the examination, determinedly refusing to make eye contact with me. I couldn’t stop staring at the pet I thought I knew. I was stunned, shocked and definitely betrayed. She had slipped past our watchful eyes and gotten busy with that scruffy stray who had been doing the rounds of our building every day, wagging his tail and greeting us like old friends. And just like in the movies, he was nowhere to be seen now, the sly fellow.
The drama continued for a few days, as our family (my parents and in-laws included) convened frequently to ponder over how the unplanned pregnancy happened, what it meant for us, how we were to care for the puppies, and who would take them. And oh, the upcoming three-generation, family-plus-pets trip – should we cancel it? We should. Shouldn’t we? Or maybe we leave her behind?
We are a family of dog lovers. My father is a natural, my husband probably married me for the dogs, our mothers have the zeal and commitment of converts, and I go weak in my knees when I see puppies. The happiest time of my life was when my parents’ dog, Joy, birthed her seven puppies at home.
It was a part of our plan – to mate her, birth her, keep one and give away the rest to loving families (that had lined up even before we had her mated). The puppies were lovely and boisterous, and it was a joyous and wonderful time. We were broken hearted as we began to give them away. Buddy, my 10-year-old lab, was the only one to remain with us.
A lot has happened since those pups arrived, and Buddy is now a mute spectator to the unfolding drama. There is a toddler in the house and a life full of responsibilities. My head reels at the thought of managing a house full of puppies. It is not something I would have taken on voluntarily, particularly puppies that, despite how lovely and adorable they are likely to be, very few people will want. What if we aren’t able to find loving families for them?
My worries have doubled (or rather, quadrupled), now, but perhaps that’s only natural when more little ones are on the way. I fret over whether we will be able to make my son understand that the puppies are not play things. How will we explain to him that despite the fact that they are born here, we will still want to give them away? Will he be heartbroken like I was over Buddy’s siblings? Will we end up keeping one to grow up with him?
An unplanned pregnancy is fraught, man or beast. But then, so was my own planned pregnancy. It is the uncertainty of it all; when confronted with an unkown, our mind fills it up with scenarios and questions. That they will surely be answered in time and we will deal with what comes, because we have to, is little comfort in those first few moments of bemused emotion. It took us a bit of time, but we got there: What was the worst that could happen, we finally asked — a dog-loving household gets a houseful of dogs? If there was anything that we could (and happily) find a way to deal with, this was definitely it.
So, after a few days of scratching our heads, we shook ourselves out of the pall that had descended. We took Rafa for her ultrasound (four pups confirmed, perhaps more); we bought her prenatal tonics, took down instructions on how to care for her now, and what to expect closer to time. We also packed up our bags and went on our holiday as planned.
No, we did not leave her behind. What kind of a babymoon would it be without the mother-to-be?