The baby whale I posted about yesterday is dead. He was killed this morning by a group of vets and other so-called experts who deemed it too late to save him after dithering about while he starved for days. I am so sad that I can’t put words to it. I had to spend five minutes in the car park at the shopping centre this morning after hearing on the news that the deed had been done.
Maybe it really was too late, and maybe it really was inevitable. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. All I know is that he was just a baby and he spent his last few days hungry and scared and now he’s dead.
And I am projecting even more now than yesterday because today the whale is no longer desperate for its mother’s milk, but my baby is.
Yesterday Hugo had a terrible fall, landing face first on the concrete. The force pressed his top teeth upwards into his gums. There was blood oozing out around them and he cried for longer than I have ever known him to cry. We took him to the children’s hospital but they said there was nothing they could do for him and we just have to keep him on soft food and pain medication till it heals.
But he hurts so much. And what really hurts him is breastfeeding, the thing he has looked to for comfort since the day he was born.
Yesterday, he tried a few times and gave up in pain and frustration. Overnight he cried pitifully for hours, too scared to nurse but needing to be comforted. Today he won’t even try. I’m grief-stricken at the thought that this might lead to him weaning, when neither of us is ready.
I’ve been doing everything that everyone suggests in a nursing strike, and nothing is having even the slightest impact. If I lay him back, he won’t even turn his head in my direction now.
This could be the end of a very happy breastfeeding relationship, and it’s my own fault.
There have been many stories in the news recently about an abandoned whale calf that has been seen around Sydney. I’m not what I’d call an animal lover, and I’ve not typically been as deeply moved by stories about the plights of other animals as I have been about the plights of humans.
But this little whale has really got my attention, in a not-altogether-good kind of way.
The story is basically that this little guy, only a few weeks old, has been abandoned by his mother. He’s been seen around Pittwater trying to suckle boats that he has mistaken for his mummy. Every time I think of that it just reduces me to tears.
I know I am totally projecting but I just can’t stop thinking that he’s just a little baby and he’s lost and hungry and confused. It really breaks my heart to think of him there all by himself wondering why he can’t feed. He hasn’t eaten in at least five days and so far attempts to hook him up with other whale pods at sea have failed.
He’s becoming weaker and there’s been talk of putting him down. I can’t bear to think about it.
Today there may be a last ditch effort to try to take him back to sea in a special sling, in the hope that he might be able to connect with another pod of whales, but if that doesn’t work, he’s probably doomed.
All the experts say it’s not possible to formula feed him and raise him in captivity. It’s a huge and incredibly expensive exercise that will probably fail. And yet I still can’t even think about them putting him down or letting him die. I wish someone would just offer up the kajillion dollars needed to keep him alive.
I feel so deeply distressed by this that it’s a bit crazy. It almost feels like it’s one of my own babies wandering alone out there. I keep thinking about how scared Hugo would be if I disappeared and he was left on his own for days and days. That’s completely dumb, because Hugo is not a baby whale, obviously, but I can’t help it.
I hope my baby whale makes it.