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maternity leave

2014 August 27
by Rachel Turiel

You guys, I’m a great-grandmother!

martha

Martha had NINE babies on Monday night. What a shocker! The kids were skyping with their grandparents when Rose decided to show Baba and Nana her rat…her rat who um, had a strange, pink thing attached to her…and a few more wriggling on the ground. And then more, more and more, blooping out of her, wriggling and hairless. As Rose said, “Martha must have copulated back at the pet store!” My friend, Joy, noted that perhaps Martha wanted to get some good times in while the risk of becoming snake-food still loomed over her.

It all makes sense now: Martha’s exceptionally fat belly; her lethargy and tendency to hunker down in a corner of her cage even with her door flung open; her extreme mellowness, her soulful eyes of a mother.

rose and marthaJust hours before the big birth. Rose channeling some cross between Patti Smith and Fancy Nancy.

Rose is taking a small maternity leave from regular life. Her day starts and ends at Martha’s cage and includes much hovering, observing and planning (“I’m not going to name the babies, except a few I keep for myself. The rest I’ll sell to Dewa, Annslee, Neko, Chloe and Aniya for $2 each. And if one dies, I’ll just bury it in the yard.”)

I have to admit, the whole thing has been entirely enchanting. The chorus of baby rats (whose eyes aren’t even open yet!) all nursing is a sound that sends a hush over the house. Col observed, on the babies’ first night, “It seems like all of a sudden 100% of Martha’s brain is focused on her babies.” Even Dan wondered if we needed to start feeding Martha some super foods for extreme nursing.

Martha alternates between devotedly hovering over her babies, ferrying strays back into the wiggling pile, and going on wild benders in her tube, ignoring her new babes for hours. But as Rose astutely told my mom, who wondered what needed to be done for these rat newborns, “Martha’s in charge.”

Holy moly! Rat babies!

xo,

Rachel

 

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. judith ann henry permalink
    August 27, 2014

    Well congratulations Martha, Rose and family….that guitar time was critical i am sure…..
    snending St. Francis songs of joy and hoping all find welcoming homes/lives….blessings
    from our sodden trails with lots of baby quaileeeeeeeeeeeeeees :-} judith and clans

  2. Jo Hadley permalink
    August 27, 2014

    WOW!! What a super exciting and never to be forgotten surprise. I remember receiving the same surprise back in 1979 from our hamster. We missed the birth entirely and thought the cage had been overtaken by little bugs! (Really!) Unfortunately, we touched the babies and somehow that caused Cuffie to eat some of her young. Eew!

  3. August 27, 2014

    Awww! “Martha’s in charge.” So much sweetness.

  4. Judy permalink
    August 27, 2014

    The babies look about the size of homemade gnocchi – only pink. Good luck to all

  5. August 27, 2014

    What will you do with them all? :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 28, 2014

      KC,
      Rose would like to keep some, but I’m hoping if we can find good homes for them with her friends, it will be *almost* like keeping them. We can sell them back to the pet store, but no guarantee they won’t end up as snake food.

  6. Susan S permalink
    August 27, 2014

    Hey! Congratulations on the next generation! I bet there aren’t too many great grandmothers teaching classes about food preservation and yoga, but then, in Tupperware Heights makes ’em to last! :-)

  7. August 27, 2014

    LOL!

    oh, and uh…
    you DO know what Dewa wants for her Birthday, right!?!?!?
    yup…might just be another Year of the Rat for all of us!

    head bowed,
    ilg

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 28, 2014

      Oh yes, I think the birthday longings arose in Martha’s presence. So happy for Dewa to nurture Martha’s offspring. p.s. I am year of the Rat, something I’ve always been a little ambivalent about. But, feeling the power now.

  8. Maribeth Harris permalink
    August 27, 2014

    Congratulations to Martha, Rose and the whole family!! Wow, 9 babies!! How fun.

  9. Ellie permalink
    August 27, 2014

    Oh, goodness. Funniest thing I’ve heard all day. All week. Good luck to the new family! Ahem, and grandparents.

  10. Rachel permalink
    August 27, 2014

    “Martha must have copulated back at the pet store”=best line ever

  11. Heather Spencer permalink
    August 28, 2014

    Oh dear…I remember my hamster, Coca Cola had babies and apparently, if a baby isn’t healthy..mama eats the baby. I still harbor a disturbed experience from this. Yeah, it’s all a part of the experience but your story is so cool.

  12. August 31, 2014

    Oh Rachel! This is hilarious!! Our hamster, Queen La Squeekah, had babies a while after we got her from the pet store so your story is all to familiar! Enjoy the babies and watching them grow. Such fascinating creatures. I wish I lived closer to you guys, I’d come over and sketch them! Have fun!

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