Adjusting to Life with Two Dogs and a Baby + A Funny Video
Since giving birth, 3 things have brought me to tears.
1) Not having my family and Dave’s family in NYC following Atlas’ birth. That was tough. While I’m so thankful Dave and I got to experience childbirth just us 2 (wouldn’t have wanted that any other way), I would have loved family around after Atlas came home to share in our joy and help in our struggles as new parents.
2) Breastfeeding. Enough said.
3) Not being able to give Ob & Marley the attention they’re used to receiving from me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Ob & Marley still get plenty of love and attention. I was adamant that their lives not be totally disrupted by Atlas. My heart breaks when I hear about people who have children and then neglect their pets. Ob & Marley still get walked 2 or 3 times a day and they still get to run and play off leash in the park every morning. I assume they probably get more exercise than most dogs. But up until last week, they were doing all that with Dave. I was at home, recovering and feeding Atlas. FYI: Breastfeeding a newborn is like being a 24 hour grocery store.
I shed a lot of tears over missing their walks. Ob would resist leaving our apartment when she realized I was staying behind and it made me so sad.
If you don’t have pets, then you probably think I’m crazy (true story: I am). But, my dogs are my fur babies. This is why I got a bit annoyed when so many people kept telling me during my pregnancy that I would feel differently about Ob & Marley once Atlas arrived.
Well, guess what? Atlas has arrived and I’m still crazy in love with Ob & Marley. Those people were wrong. The dogs are still very much a part of our family.
But things are definitely different for all of us. Spoiler alert: When you have a newborn, life changes for everybody in the household.
During the week, I miss out on the dogs’ morning walk and play time at the park. Dave & I divide and conquer. He takes them out to play while I feed Atlas and get him ready for the day. Then, during the afternoon I take the dogs out again for a short walk while Dave is at work (usually 15-30 minutes, depending on the weather and Atlas’ mood).
In the evenings they get their usual hour walk. Sometimes I get to go and other nights I’m forced to stay in since I’m like a beer tap for Atlas.
I say, “Ob, No!” and “Marley, stop!” multiple times a day now, which I feel guilty over, but they are adjusting to living with a baby so they must learn new rules. Ob is obsessed with Atlas. Marley is obsessed with Atlas’ toys. Ob wants to be touching and/or licking Atlas at all times. Marley avoids Atlas, especially when he cries. Typical female/male responses, right?
We joke that Ob thinks she is actually Atlas’ mom because she is so protective over him.
I’ve made it a priority to carve out time each day to love on the dogs. I will sneak into the pantry once or twice a day with Marley and give him a few treats. Dave and I joke that food is Marley’s ‘love language.’ Ob just wants to be touching me (true velcro dog). The dog loves the love. She is a happy camper when I’m feeding Atlas on the couch and she can lay her head on my lap and cuddle the baby and me. Ob still sleeps right beside me at night, so before bed I always pet her and tell her what a ‘good girl she is’ (<– read in that annoying voice people talk to dogs in).
Despite what people kept telling me, I knew my love for Atlas wouldn’t diminish my bond with Ob & Marley. While there is certainly nothing in the world that can compare to your love for your child, there is also nothing that can compete with the loyalty of a dog.
Several people have asked me how Ob & Marley are liking their new baby brother. To be honest, I wasn’t too sure how the dogs would react to Atlas. Would they hate him? Would Ob lick him to death (I still worry about this a little bit)? Would Marley try to get the ‘squeaker’ out of Atlas when I wasn’t looking?
Both dogs were deeply concerned when we brought Atlas home from the hospital, which you can see video footage of here. But thankfully, they’ve warmed up to him.
I think I can speak for the dogs when I say we are all enjoying being a family of five. The other night, Atlas started crying while Dave and I were eating dinner. Naturally, we both jumped up (typical new parent response) and ran to get him. When we returned to the table, our dinner was gone. The dogs fully capitalized on the situation at hand and scored a Mexican meal. They went to bed happy. Dave & I went to bed hungry.
So, if you’ve got a pet and you love them in the weird way I love my dogs I’m here to tell you that you’ll still love them in that weird way when you have a baby. Life for all of you will change and you
may not have definitely won’t have as much time to devote to them (or anything you used to devote time to, for that matter), but like anything in life (exercise, relationships, etc), you make time for what is truly important to you…even if that means using the baby’s precious nap time to play fetch with the dog.