What Fostering Bottle Babies Taught Me About Motherhood

3 Day old Minnie

It is Mother’s Day, and as I grow older I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifices my mom has made for me and my dad. She gave up her career to make sure we stayed a family unit, even if she is by far one of the smartest and most ambitious women I know.

I am slowly getting to that age where my Facebook and Instagram are starting to get filled with baby pictures. Motherhood is a theme that is slowly starting to enter my life, and interestingly I have friends that can’t wait to be moms and others, like me, that are not so sure it is something they want to experience. People told me that when I reached my thirties, I would start to feel a sudden urge to have kids. Well, I am still waiting to feel that “ommgg so adorable, I want one!” feeling. So far I only have such a feeling when I see a puppy, but not towards a baby…it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps this feeling will suddenly come when I am married to a wonderful guy that I know will be my partner throughout motherhood? Maybe it is something I will never feel ready for but just do? Or maybe I will adopt? Or perhaps it just won’t happen…who knows.

Ironically, three years ago, I got a tiny taste of what motherhood feels like when I fostered my first set of bottle baby puppies. Cleo & Minnie, as I named them, arrived at the animal shelter one afternoon at just four days old. I instantly recognized that they could be a type of Cocker Spaniel mix and it pulled my heart string as I used to have a Cocker growing-up named Pouch. I had been wanting to foster bottle babies, but was scared, I mean what if they died? I would be devastated, but I don’t know what happened to me when I saw Cleo & Minnie that I decided to do it.

Cleo & Minnie napping after eating,
and tired me

Barbara Kingsolver said, “Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural law,” and I think she is right because the first night I took Cleo & Minnie home, I could barely sleep. Something felt different within me, like I had a greater sense of responsibility, and all I knew is that I did not want to fail. Their life depended on me and I made sure to do anything in my power to make sure they were ok. That first night, I was so stressed and would wake up every hour to see if they were still breathing. At any tiny cry, I was already up making their food every two hours, and cleaning their poop after every meal, just like a real baby.

I thought, “Omg, this is probably what taking care of a newborn feels like…” and I found a totally new level of respect towards mothers, especially single moms. Seriously, single moms deserve a golden statue and millions of dollars. At least I was able to take my “babies” to work and feed them, but I realized how hard it is for a single mom to get support in our society. A great coworker and friend of mine, Addie, took my puppies for a few days when I went out of town. I felt anxious leaving them behind, however, she did a great job and they doubled in size by the time I got back.

The first time my puppies opened their eyes, I cried! I was even surprised by my emotional reaction which I know is kind of silly, but I did. I felt SO HAPPY they had made it to that stage, and I wanted to be the first thing they saw. Cleo & Minnie started walking, playing, and eating on their own. They turned out to be adorable looking Daschund – Cocker Spaniel mixes. I desperately wanted to keep Minnie, like how was I going to part with something I raised?! But my mom said I couldn’t keep her. Luckily, I found both great homes and cried like a baby when I said bye. I thought, “Wow, maybe this is how my mom felt like when I went off to college? Or when I’ll get married? ”. It was a very strange feeling of happiness, relief, sadness and pride. Without them, my routine felt strange and I felt something was missing.

One year reunion! Minnie licking my ear in arms
of her new mom.

A few months later, Cleo came back to the shelter to get spayed and she peed all over my shirt from happiness! I was thrilled that she remembered me! We held a one-year reunion with Cleo & Minnie and they both were thrilled to see each other again, and me. That was a wonderful day I will never forget. Thinking back to that day and my bottle baby fostering experience makes me think of Gilda Radner’s quote: “Motherhood is the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force. It’s huge and scary- it’s an act of infinite optimism.”

Infinite optimism, I had never thought of motherhood that way, but looking back it is actually what kept me going those sleepless, stressed and overwhelming days. My mom has always told me that “giving birth is the easy part, the true work comes after…”. Yes, I couldn’t agree with her more. After being a bottle baby foster, part of me wants bottle-baby-fostering to be obligatory for all high-school students. Maybe it will help reduce teenage pregnancy? I think it would…

Being a bottle-baby foster mom was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life. It made me realize that motherhood shouldn’t be taken lightly. To be a mom to any living thing requires you to make so many selfless sacrifices and find a will power inside you that you never thought you had before because an innocent life depends on you. In a way fostering bottle-babies has made me less scared of motherhood and has made me confident that if I ever decide to be a mom, my natural instinct will kick-in and I will figure it out some how.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing human moms, dog moms, and foster moms. Thank you for all your love, patience, and time. Thank you for trying your best to be eternal optimists on many difficult days, and for not giving up on the life that depends on you! Although not said often, you are very appreciated and loved. Enjoy your day!

By Alejandra Peimbert|Sun, May 12, 2019