Women matter.

“No baby should have to grow up without its mother,” the adverts for Christian Aid Week proclaim dramatically.

Every morning this week, I’ve heard the same advert. It’s talking about women dying unnecessarily in childbirth. And this hits home to me. Maybe I’m being egotistical here, but I can’t help but put myself in the position of one of those women.

I had a long and complicated labour. I had an infection that, if I hadn’t had access to the monitoring and medicine we’re blessed to have in this country, would probably have killed me. (As it is, they caught it in time, put some miraculous antibiotics through my IV, and I was able to continue my labour, delivery and recovery.) But for a different roll of the dice 31 years ago, I would have died in childbirth. And it would have been a tragedy.

But not just for my daughter. She would have, hopefully, gone on to lead a full life. Yes, being motherless would not be the ideal way I’d want her to grow up, but her father and her grandparents would have done a fine job raising her. Her whole life would be ahead of her.

You know who it would have been really tragic for? Me. If I’d died, the worst tragedy would have been that my life was cut short. There’s a lot that I still want to do and experience. I’m not ready to go yet, and I certainly wasn’t ready to go when I was labouring to bring my daughter into this world.

Women have value in themselves. We are people in our own right, and that should be enough of a reason to want to stop us dying unnecessarily in childbirth. Not just because it’s sad for our babies. Because so many of these deaths are preventable, and no human being deserves to die a preventable death.

I don’t believe that Christian Aid are discounting the mother’s humanity. Their adverts talk about the achievements the mothers have had, the adversities they’ve overcome. So why, when it comes to getting people to put their hands in their pockets and support them, do they suddenly forget about the mother and focus on the baby?

Is it for the same reason that women find it harder to be taken seriously by doctors when we’re in pain? Or the reason that maternal mortality in the US is going up, not down – particularly for women who aren’t white? The reason that it’s so hard to get maternal health, both mental and physical, taken seriously, as long as your baby’s been born healthy?

Is the reason that we are just not the priority? We’re just the mothers of the next generation? What about our daughters? Who are they?

I don’t know, but it’s not a pretty picture. And we need to fight this mentality. Because we’re already seeing in the US what will happen if we just roll over and let it be.

We need an army of empowered, angry women to be able to do it. Not just for the sake of their children. The mothers matter too.

How much do rabbits cost?

Rabbits cost so little. Rabbits are an easy pet. Let’s get the kids a rabbit for Easter.

Sound familiar?

Last call to get the message out there: please, please, please do not buy a rabbit as an Easter gift. They are not an “easy”, “cheap” or “starter” pet.

How much do rabbits cost?

When Ned came into our lives, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. He cost £25, and we probably spent around £100 on supplies (cage, carriers, food, etc.). Considering that was to share with his brother, seems pretty cheap, right?

Hahahahaha.

No.

Let me tell you the full cost of Ned.

At his first vet visit (free at our vets as it was his baby check up), they noticed that his lungs were crackly. Antibiotics for seven days and come back in a week for another appointment. (£30 and £24.)

This continued for three weeks (£30 and £24 each time). We applied for insurance for him, and this was now a preexisting condition. So he’s not covered for this. But better get the insurance anyway, right? (£10/month.)

Oh, better get him vaccinated, too. (£80.)

He and his brother fight and we can’t have Ned neutered as he’s too ill. They won’t bond while one is still intact. We separate them, so now two rooms in our house are dedicated to rabbits. They’re both lonely, so we get them soft toys and spend all our time with them. We’ve not been on holiday since 2015.

Ned continues to decline. He has a runny nose, breathes through his mouth and his eyes weep with pus constantly. We try more and more medication, not always authorised for rabbits. (£Is anyone adding this up any more? Some of them were pricey.) We have pretty much weekly vet visits for eight months. (£24 each time, plus the cost of whatever antibiotic or anti-inflammatory he’s on this time.)

Our vet refers us to a specialist. 50 miles away. (£Petrol.) He sedates Ned for x rays and tear duct flushing. (£400.) More medication. Zithromax finally works on him. (£Adding this up is soul destroying.) We do this twice. (£Double it.) We start to see improvement! Yes!

Then Ned hits his head and gets an abscess. (£24 vet visit, £pricey antibiotics as he’s now developed a resistance to most of the most common ones for bunnies.)

He’s finally well enough that he’s hit puberty. Ruins a carpet. (£300.) After a couple more specialist consultations (£30 x 2), we feel confident enough to get him neutered, and the vet does his tear ducts again while he’s under. (£300.)

It’s been a year since his last vaccinations. Oh, and now there are two lots, one for the new and even more terrifying hemorrhaging disease! (£80 and £80, double it if you have two rabbits.)

Is anyone adding this up? I tried to once. It wasn’t pretty.

We could have stopped at any point. We could have taken him off the medication and stopped taking him to the vet and watched him slowly choke to death, because that’s what would have happened. Or we could have paid a reluctant vet to put him down.

But then we wouldn’t have Ned in our lives now. Our beautiful Ned, who plays with our toddler so happily, who binkies so high sometimes you think he’s going to take off, who sneaks into the airing cupboard any time our backs are turned, who loves nothing more than to climb up our backs and sit triumphantly on us. And that’s why I don’t add up the cost, because I’d have paid twice what I have just to have him in my life.

He’s still got extra needs – his very flat face means he has malformed tear ducts, which leak regularly. He needs his face washing by humans sometimes, and by Barbara Rabbit every single day. He is now resistant to several kinds of antibiotics.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, I’d just get a healthy rabbit. This is really rare”, then think again. We thought Ned was healthy. The super cute, flat faced mini lops are really prone to these issues. And even our “healthy” bunny Gingee racked up a few hundred pounds’ worth of vet bills in the weeks before he died, apart from his usual preventative care.

Rabbits are really not a cheap or easy pet. We think they’re worth it. 

#MakeMineChocolate: Don’t buy Easter bunnies!

Dear humans,

My name is Barbara Rabbit. As it’s Easter week and so many people across the country want to buy rabbits right now, I want to tell you about my life, so you can make an informed decision.

Where I live now, I’m very happy. But that wasn’t always the case.

In my first home, I was neglected.

I don’t think my first humans were bad people, but I don’t think they knew what I needed.

They didn’t know that I needed my claws cutting regularly, so I had to walk on my heels and had open sores on my hocks.

They didn’t know that I needed to be spayed early in life, so I had cysts in my uterus and was in constant pain.

They didn’t know that I needed regular dental check ups, so my teeth grew badly and made eating painful.

They didn’t know that I needed a friend, so I was lonely and afraid.

They didn’t know the right food to feed me, so my bones grew weak.

They didn’t know that I didn’t want to live outside, because the noises and smells scared me too much.

They didn’t know that I was only aggressive because I was unhappy and in pain and scared.

They didn’t know that if they spent more time with me, they could notice my problems and I could become their best friend.

Thankfully, they did know that one day they couldn’t care for me, and they gave me up. It took Support Adoption For Pets nearly six months to nurse me back to health. It took a further three months for my family to find me, and I moved into my forever home on 12th December 2016.

It took me a long time to trust my new humans. But they kept on coming back, respectfully keeping their distance and giving me everything I need. Now, after more than two years, sometimes I go to them for fuss.

I don’t know how long I lived in my first home. Vets estimate I am somewhere between six and ten years old. The effects of my early life have led me to be very easily scared – more than most rabbits. I panic when the window is opened. The neglect I suffered means that I have some health issues. I have arthritis and walk with a limp. I sometimes need my teeth filing down under anaesthetic. I cost my humans a lot in vet bills.

I am happy now.

I have a bedroom and so much hay and a Ned Bunny and lots of soft toys and I don’t have to feel so anxious.

Can you provide lots of space, proactive and reactive vet care, a bunny friend, good nutrition, and patience, love and care for anywhere up to twelve years?

Can you cope if your bunny doesn’t want to be cuddled or even stroked, and still stand by and love her and spend time with her and help her when she needs it?

Can you take over if the child you’re getting the bunny for gets tired of her?

If you can’t, then you don’t want a living, breathing cousin of mine. You want a toy, or perhaps a chocolate bunny. And that’s okay! They are cheaper and cleaner and have many advantages over us live rabbits. #MakeMineChocolate

Please think about what you’re doing.

With love, 
Barbara Rabbit

#makeminechocolate

…Hello, little blog.

Oh my poor little blog, it’s been a while!

Here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to lately:

  • The little human has continued to grow and be awesome. She’s 16 months now and runs everywhere, talks all the time and is a lot of fun. She loves dogs, books, food and of course her bunny siblings.
  • Ned and Barbara are doing really well. They’re very close to each other these days, but also like to spend time apart. They have their set cuddle times (usually immediately after eating) but often enjoy being on the other side of the room from each other. Barbara has a limp from her arthritis these days, but they’re both quite healthy at the moment.
  • I’m back at work, three days a week. Mixed feelings about this, of course. But it is what it is, and I still strive to do my best while I’m there.
  • Little human goes to bed early so I’m writing again. Two things right now: one fiction and one a collaboration of sorts with the lovely Barbara Rabbit. She has a Twitter account as well, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping her use it!
  • And apparently WordPress is different now and I do not like that! But I’ll get used to it.

So that’s me. I have a lot of thoughts that I want to get out there these days, and fortunately I still have this poor neglected little blog in which to do it!

But, going forward, I’m going to be much less personal here. Far fewer baby pictures etc. Just me, talking. And maybe Barbara. Because that bunny has opinions.

Coping without Gingee Bunny

Gingee

Dear Gingee,

It’s now been a few weeks since you left us. It’s still hard to believe.

We’re doing okay, though. Thanks for asking. There’s been a few sessions of crying in the shower (me), standing outside at the grave (Daddy), searching all over the house (Ned), refusing to believe it (Barbara) and just being a bit confused (the baby).

The day after you died, it snowed. It took everything I had not to go out there and start digging. I couldn’t bear the thought of you being out there, all alone and cold. You, my boy who used to cuddle up with me under a blanket when Daddy was out in the evenings.

We had a cushion printed with your picture on it, and we’ve put it by the TV, where you always used to try and climb. It’s nice to see you in the living room all the time, because that’s where I spend most of my time with the baby.

Your baby sister is getting so active lately. You’d love her, Gingee. She rolls all over the place now – she reminds me of you, so much, when you wanted to get somewhere that we’d blocked off. You were so determined and so is she.

More than the other two, you really connected with her when she was tiny, and I’m so sorry you won’t be there to play with her now she’s more interactive.

You’ve loved her since the start – I remember when you used to sit on my lap and lift your ear against my belly. Did you know she was in there? Could you hear her?

Did you know you wouldn’t be here to see her grow up?

Ned is doing really well. His eye is healthy – I think Barbara is taking care of it for you. He binkies a bit now again. I think he wants to show me that he’s alright. Barbara’s eye needs some work, and Daddy has had to start doing a lot more for her. I didn’t realise how much you did, Gingee. You were their vet as well as their brother, weren’t you?

I make sure that I spend lots of time with them and talk about you to them.

I promise that I’ll spend lots of time outside in the garden with you this spring and summer. Daddy’s already been doing that, do you know?

It’s Easter today, and we’ve told the baby that you’re the Easter Bunny now. I think you’d like that – although I know in reality you’d just want to eat all the chocolate yourself! Remember how you ate some of my Easter egg last year when I was feeling ill?

I also remember the Easter before, when you and Ned had a little truce. It felt like an Easter miracle (a more minor one, obviously!).

I have lots of questions about what happened to you. Why did you suddenly choke like that? Why couldn’t you eat after that?

Did you have some sort of tumour or growth in your throat that we didn’t know about? Were you as sick as your brother all along? Is there anything we could have done?

But honestly, my Gingee, if you had been sick, I’m glad we didn’t know. I’m glad we didn’t have to make any decisions about whether to do any invasive treatment that would have made you more frail, because I know you. You would have hated being weak and in pain.

Better one crowded hour, Gingee. You had such a crowded hour. You did so much and were so happy.

I miss you, Gingee.

Love,

Your human mummy.