I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… having a baby changes your entire life. Which obviously you attempt to prepare for by reading books and using up pretty much all your mobile data by Googling like a mad woman. Eventually, by about the 8th month you end up feeling that you have a vague (naive) idea of the changes afoot.
Pregnancy gears you up for the lack of nights out and the very apparent lack of alcohol. You don’t buy clothes anymore because you get bigger by the day and all you end up doing is walking through Topshop trying to mask your jealousy at everyone else in there who appears to be a size 8 and wondering if you’ll ever be the same again, before heading to Costa and devouring a full fat coffee (decaf if you’re feeling particularly well meaning) of some description and a massive slice of cake.
Then parenthood actually happens, smacks you in the face like a sledge hammer but if you’re lucky enough to find some like-minded Mums you can seek solace in their equal measures of tiredness and ‘when will they sleep-ness’, you can drink again and eat pate and brie.
However, prior to children you may have decided that getting a four-legged friend would be a good start to solidifying your relationship and obviously having a puppy is a bit like having a baby… hahahahahaha.
For this poor, poor pooch life will never be the same and the major difference here is that they can’t use Google to prepare, there is no NCT for dogs and they remain oblivious right up until you arrive home with the new delivery…
Life before baby pretty much meant that they were your baby.
Life before baby: Leisurely afternoon naps, lazy Sunday walks followed by a relaxing pub lunch. Specially selected dog food to ensure a luscious coat and minimal fat and wheat to avoid the dreaded flatulence. New collars and baths on a regular basis. Perhaps with the odd treat of leftover gravy and chicken. Life was blissful.
And then comes the positive pregnancy test…
First you have discussions about how you think the dog will cope with a baby, as you know, it was your baby. Then all of a sudden saying that out loud starts to sound a little bit ridiculous because it’s not really the same at all, you definitely didn’t give birth to them (which would be pretty horrific) and you don’t really have a moral responsibility to ensure that they grow up into well-meaning members of society who contribute to the world and aren’t mean to people. Obviously you teach them not to chew, or bite people which I guess is kind of the same for children but really I think that’s where it ends – oh and not to turd on the carpet, so maybe a few more similarities than I first thought.
Next you will probably read somewhere that you need to play the sound of babies crying to get them to adjust to the noise in a bid to help them accustom to the onslaught of a newborn (we managed an hour of this, we couldn’t cope… let alone the dog).
Oh and because it’s at the forefront of your mind after giving birth, never mind concerns over breastfeeding and not dropping the baby, you should send a family member home with a blanket of the babies smell so the dog can be prepared.
Then 2 becomes three plus the dog and life gets a little bit shit for them for a while.
Don’t go too near the baby, get off the bed, no you can’t eat the leftover chicken and gravy because we haven’t actually cooked a proper meal in at least 3 weeks. That sort of thing. A walk around the block has to suffice and then you start finding yourself wondering whether they’re happy , the guilt sets in and it hangs around for quite a long time.
Then suddenly, the baby becomes a little less baby-like, a little sturdier, starts eating solid food, crawling/walking/talking/laughing and life for the resident pooch starts looking up again.
Hello new best buddy… the pre-baby diet will probably never return, or at least not until the actual children fly the nest and should that dog live to see that time, they will return to being the resident baby because I think empty nest does that sort of thing to the maternal brain.
However, sod the pre-baby diet… the new weaner baby diet is much more fun.
Oh look, chickens really do fly – off the side of the highchair and straight into the jaws of the slightly plumper version of your hound.
“Shall we share that rusk? Oh yes let’s…” one bite for you, one bite for me. Sharing is caring.
Anyone with a dog and small child will know only too well the struggles that you now face in a bid to get your actual child to eat the food you have spent the last 3 hours cooking in an attempt to hide veg and make it taste delicious at the same time. There is possibly nothing more infuriating than watching your dog devour meals that you painstakingly prepared when you could have just given them an Ella’s pouch which they probably would have eaten. Suddenly all that guilt that you were feeling previously about how horrible their life has become dissipates and you actually start to become a little jealous of the ‘dog’s life’. Food actually thrown at your face, cooked… heated to a lovely temperature and you had to put in zero effort. Amazing.
The dog bowl – yep that’s kind of become the watering/feeding hole for both child and dog if I’m not rapid enough to swoop it up in the morning. The main reason B now knows how to spit things out on demand is because there have been too many occasions to count when that boy has wandered in looking like a guilty hamster having gorged on the dogs biscuits for a pre-breakfast appetizer.
Treats – no longer a reward for sitting, or giving paw. Now, it’s treat time ALL the time. Because it’s a really fun game apparently.
Oh, and remember back when the dog wanted to share your bed? Yep, well that’s reversed.. because in a toddlers mind it’s really fun to get into the dogs bed. This one doesn’t go down so well for the dog but there’s a lot of love there and continuous, slightly heavy handed affection that goes with it. A bit like being in bed with a drunk husband one might say.
Toys – more toys than you can ever imagine and at this point sharing is ok.
Toddlers are also tireless in their playtime pursuits, riding up and down the corridor on a broom has some serious longevity. Luckily enough for the dog, so does throwing a ball up and down the hallway. Winning.
So really, yes there is always going to be a small period of time where the dog of the household seriously lucks out and barely makes it in range of the pile, let alone being on the bottom of it. However, that moment when all of a sudden they become buddies… makes it a little bit priceless.
So for all of you going through the ‘shit I think the dog is suicidal life is so bad right now’ stage – it will (should) get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and these four-legged family members may not really have been a true representation of what it would be like to have a baby but ours definitely brightens up my little man’s life… she’s also taught him a few things along the way which is a bonus – by that I mean a gentler touch, not the ability to lick ones private parts.