It seems only yesterday that we were AI'ing at home. It was rather traumatic and I feel I can speak about it now. In march this year my dad underwent tests for a few niggly issues he was having. Late April it was confirmed he had cancer in in the beginning of march it was confirmed stage 4, rare and highly aggressive bowel and rectum cancer. My whole world stopped.
We had been planning on breeding delicia this year but early on the weather was not in our favor and in march she was empty. With all the hospital visits and work I lost track of dee's cycle and so on the 14th May we had the vet out to give her another EHV-1 vaccine and we thought we will scan also see how far she is in her cycle. Well blow me if she wasn't raging in heat with a 35mm egg (she releases at 38). We were not ready nor expecting this!
Mad panicky phone call to the stallion owner revealed he happened to have just turned up to stud to do a collection! Talk about fate. So the semen was collected and shipped overnight. It arrived at the vets bang on 9am the next morning and the vet came to ours at 11am. Now, the previous night we were instructed to inject dee with hormones to get her to ovulate soon and try and regain some control of her cycle. How did she repay me? She bloody well ovulated over night. *head desk*
Still, we summerised that as we scanned her at 11am on the 14th and now it was 11am in the 15th, we had a 12 hour window to try, and so, we inseminated and hoped for the best. Does this sound stressful to you? Now how about I explain that at the same time, my father was in hospital undergo drastic surgery to remove his rectum, bowel and part of his small intestine and to fit a permanent stoma bag? Unfortunately, dad suffered some very bad bleeding and coming round in recovery he suddenly bleed out on the bed. It was very frightening and we all rushed to hospital as they did not think he was going to make it. At 9pm he came out of surgery and was put in ITU on a ventilator but was unconscious.
At 11pm I went and gave dee a 5ml oxytocin injection as she pooled fluid last time we inseminated and then crawled into bed. The vet was out again the next day and unfortunately, dee had pooled a lot of fluid. I think she reacts to the extender used so she had to be injected 3 times a day for the next 3 days. Dad remained unconscious for 2 days before the hospital tried to bring him around. He was on a nasogatric tube to help feed (2ml of feed every hour for 4 hours...hardly a feed but still!), he had a ventilator as he couldn't breath unassisted, catheters in every possible vein including his neck and looked like a human pin cushion. He was very distressed to had to remain sedated for the next 7 days.
4 days post insemination we scan dee again, the fluid was better but still not totally clear so we decided to lavage her. This seemed to work and after the 2nd bag she was clear. Another injection and off for a run around the paddock she went.
Between then and her 16 day scan dad had a further 3 surgeries and was still bleeding. Finally after an age the hospital seemed to be regaining control, but ti would be a further 4 weeks until he was discharged. After the disappointment of our last pregnancy check when she was still open, and all the worry of dad, I wasn't hopeful and in fact thought in my heart that dee couldn't be pregnant. I hoped of course, but didn't want to get my hopes up incase it was more bad news of the family.
Then I saw this:
And thrilled she was too ;)
We were over the moon! But it wasnt without drama. My usually lovely mare to handle really objected now to the vet ultra sounding her. Can't say I blame her to be honest.
Next came her 30 day scan and just before dee was showing signs of heart again :( I was gutted and prayed that she was olding on to mini dee...
Despite almost killing the vet and we swearing that I will never scan her without stocks again, we had a heart beat
So, now skipping forward a bit dee start to change. She has become dominant, food proud and a tad hormonal
Dad was discharged from hospital but with the news that the cancer has spread. Despite everything and going through a very traumatic operation leaving him very poorly, its confirmed in two lymph nodes. Gutted by this news we were all looking forward to dee's 60 day scan, where we would (hopefully) see a bouncing baby and I knew I could relax a little.
We tired a transporter and took her to the vets this time, to minimize injury to us, the vet and the horse and make it a lot easier. Dee was a cow to begin with until we started to feed her hay then she was fine. (note food = good mare at the moment). We all stopped breathing until...
This was the best day of my life. After a long time of worry, dee's long road to recovery after she got injured last year and a lot of bad news about family we had something to focus on and look forward to. Now matter how bad my day has been, I sit and watch dee's scan video and have a little cry and remember there are some bright things to look forward to.
Today, we reached day 100 of dee's pregnancy. Although still dominant, delicia is no more hormonal then a normal alpha mare in the herd. She is thriving and seems a very happy person lately. Dad's condition seems to be worsening. Despite 4 units of platelets in hospital and plasma to reach normal blood levels again they have dropped severely and he has just been refused chemotherapy as he is no where near strong enough for it. He has only gained 2kg since discharge and is a shadow of his former self. He is undergoing tests with oncology to pin point where the issue is but there are markers flagged in his blood and bone marrow.
It is very bitter sweet at the moment, with all the good news we continue to receive about dee, we get more bad news about dad. I don't know what the future holds, but I have decided to stop worrying about things that are out of my control. I can control things such a nutrition, environment etc, but I cannot control how well baby grows or how well dad gets. Dee is doing a very good job of ensuring the baby is getting enough feed, she doesn't stop bloody eating! She looks fab, I wish I could say the same about my dad. :'(
He hasn't seen dee since her negative pregnancy scan in march, and I long to show her to him. I just hope I get the chance and I pray that he is around to see the foal born. Dee is a fabulously bred mare in foal to a wonderful stallion and I know the foal will be great, but more importantly she is my good mare, my best friend and soul mate and her mane is my pillow and her warm breath my comfort at the moment. I refuse to cry about the bitter sweetness of life, and I refuse to believe that as one life begins i'm watching another end. :(.
I don't know what the future holds, I know I cannot control it, so instead of thinking about it all I want to do is this. Raise a glass to my horse of a lifetime, my saviour and my good mare Delicia. Congratulations of being 100 days pregnant and thank you for lending me your big ears when I sit in your field and talk to you matters of my own heart.
They ask me how much it cost to get dee in foal, I reply what does it matter, you cannot put a price on the happiness its causing and the hope its allowing me to believe in. I love you delicia, and thank you for the wonderful gift you are growing.