Mom Life

I’m not like a regular dog mom, I’m a cool dog mom

A long time ago in a condo not that far away, I became a mommy.

No, I don’t mean Jacob–we bought our house before we had him.  I mean Rosie.

Okay, technically, Rosie is a schnauzer, not my biological child. But she’s still my baby. And she DOES look more like my dad than my actual human baby does, so I think that counts.

The schnauzer resemblance is strong in my family

I know there are a lot of people (including my mother–just remember mom, you’re still Rosie’s favorite person, even though you forget all about her the second you see Jacob. She loves her grandma unconditionally) who get irrationally irritated when I say my dogs are my babies, but there’s a logic behind this argument.


My parents met in college and got married at 24.  They had me five years later.  

At 24, I was a hot mess. To be fair though, most of my generation was similarly messy, and of those people I know who got married around 24 years old, almost none of them are still together now.  And oh my god, if I had married my college boyfriend–let’s not even go there.  I’m gagging just thinking about it.


So by the time I got to the age where my parents’ generation was having babies, I was not exactly ready to have a baby.  But I WAS ready to love a tiny creature unconditionally, and the first time I saw Rosie, I knew it was her.  

Baby Rosie!

I think that’s the reason so many girls in their 20s get dogs.  They’re not ready to settle down and have a baby yet, but those maternal instincts are starting to kick in.

favorite family member dog

And I have to say, in a lot of ways, having a dog is GREAT training for having a baby.


Well, I’m glad you asked that!*

*I’m aware you didn’t ask that.  But you’re here now, so let’s just pretend you did.

#1 I already have baby gates.  Yes, that’s the stage we’re at right now, and yes, I forgot that I had them until we started cleaning out our basement because we’re getting it finished to create a playroom, but that just saved me about $60. Thanks past Sara and my un-potty-trained dogs!


#2 I am now fully prepared to clean up poop, vomit, pee, and any other bodily fluid that can come out of a baby or small animal.  In fact, dogs are grosser than babies when it comes to bodily emissions because I have yet to see Jacob eat something, throw it up, eat it again, then poop it out and try to eat it again.  So when Jacob was a newborn and turned to face me then spit up Exorcist-style down the side of my head, I wasn’t even that grossed out.  

And an added bonus? The dogs aren’t picky about whose puke they eat, so when Jacob pukes on the floor, I don’t even need to clean!

dog eats poop

#3 I am totally used to being woken up in the middle of the night.  My dogs, as much as I adore them, are not so good at letting me sleep.  They’re both bed hogs (Hubby argues they shouldn’t be allowed to sleep in our bed, but Rosie has been sharing my bed longer than he has, so that one is non-negotiable), and it’s truly amazing how much space two small dogs can take up in a king-sized bed.  It’s like they ate the Alice in Wonderland growth drug before they get in bed at night and turn from miniature schnauzers into sprawled out woolly mammoths.  


But between Rosie, who jumps down in the middle of the night (when I toss and turn too much, it offends her), then barks repeatedly to announce that she would like a formal invitation to rejoin us on the bed, and Sandy, who perceives every imaginary noise outside as an imminent threat to our immediate safety that must be dealt with in the loudest possible manner (although you can literally walk into our house and get all the way upstairs before she notices you most days), I was used to waking up multiple times in the night long before Jacob was born.

bark in the middle of the night

#4 I understand non-verbal communications.  I am now fluent in schnauzer, which, at least in our house, is freakily similar to baby.  Jacob may be spending too much time around the dogs because he definitely copies their growling from when they play tug-of-war with a toy and happily yells along with them when they bark at the mailman.

But I can differentiate between a bark that means Milo, the dog from across the street, is peeing on our lawn or a bark that means the deer are in our backyard again.  I can tell when they’re barking because their water bowl is empty or because Sandy is misbehaving and Rosie is telling on her (it happens).  And I can tell when the squirrel that torments Sandy by coming right up to the window and shaking his tail at her is back at it.  

Which means that interpreting different baby cries isn’t that hard.  Especially since he seems to be speaking schnauzer instead of English.  Oops.


#5 I can say no.  Dogs beg all the time, meaning that I’m going to be a pro when Jacob is a toddler and wants something that he can’t have.*

*I’m lying.  I never say no to the dogs.  I’m the worst.  I share all of my food with them.  I’m why they’re fat.  My vet totally judges me and the husband wants to kill me when we’re eating chicken and they start demanding their share, which they know I’ll give them.  Jacob will tell me he wants a pony next year and I’ll be like, “Okay honey, here you go!”

spoiled dog

#6 I know how to put someone else’s needs first.  Okay this one is true.  Whether it was learning to leap out of bed in the middle of the night when one of the dogs started puking or accidentally breaking an iPhone screen when another dog went after Rosie, becoming a dog mommy first helped me learn the kind of selfless behavior that you need to care for a tiny human.  And while I’m sure that mommy instinct kicks in just as strongly even if you’ve never felt anything like that before, I’m glad I got years to practice before Jacob came along.


And Jacob gets the benefit of growing up with two older sisters who love him even when he doesn’t fling handfuls of Cheerios onto the floor for them.

Everyone wins.

Mom Life

So your baby needs a helmet. Step one: cry. Step two: deal with it.

Ah, the dreaded baby helmet.  See my previous post for the lead up to realizing we’d need one.

life is tough

So basically, I wish we’d gone to Cranial Technologies for an evaluation the second my pediatrician pointed out his flat spot, because the earlier you helmet your baby, the less time you spend in one.  But my pediatrician advised waiting, (which seems to be her advice on a lot of things, which doesn’t mesh well with my personality.  I’m impatient. And a hypochondriac with anxiety issues who has a major addiction to Google.  I don’t wait well.) so we spent an agonizing two months flipping Jacob like a pancake while he slept and praying he wouldn’t need a helmet.


Now that he has one, however, I feel like a total moron because A) it’s not THAT bad, B) no one actually cares, and C) we could have been done already if we’d just gotten an evaluation sooner.  And the people at Cranial Technologies would have caught his torticollis and all would be well now.

But despite preaching daily to my students to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, I’m insanely obsessed with my image and what people think of me.  On a logical level, I’m fully aware that no one actually notices 95 percent of what I do.  On an anxiety level, I think every single person I saw today noticed the chipped nail polish on my right ring finger and judged me for it.  


When you have a baby, that feeling of everything being under a microscope is even worse.  Even though I felt like that about having to supplement with formula, and the reality was that zero people cared that I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding, a helmet was going to be SO much worse.  EVERYONE would see it.  What would I tell older relatives? That girl I didn’t like from second grade who was my Facebook friend was going to think I was a terrible mother.  I debated getting off social media for however long Jacob needed a helmet for.  And I’m a social media junkie.  THAT’s how serious this was.

judging facebook

So what actually happens when you might need a baby helmet?

We went to Cranial Technologies on a Monday.  They made us strip Jacob down to a diaper, put a stocking cap with a hole in it for his face over his head, and held up a fan with flashing lights to get his attention while they took pictures.  Then they brought us to a room to scare the crap out of us.


Not really.  But they definitely pitch it as worse than it is when you’re there.  And like the scared sheep–I mean parent–that you are, I’m pretty sure everyone in there says “baaaaa” (or wails it like a crying banshee as I did) and then schedules an appointment to get a helmet.  

Worth noting: the place sells helmets.  They’re not doctors.  If you even THINK you’re borderline on a helmet, go to a pediatric neurosurgeon to get real measurements and a REAL diagnosis.  If real doctors tell you you don’t need a helmet, you don’t need a helmet.  Cranial Technologies wants your money and thinks you need a helmet.  They told us that our numbers were “moderate-severe” when we were there, but on the official report, the numbers were all in the moderate category.  And if you actually GOOGLE his numbers, most of them are on the milder end.  I’m not saying the helmet doesn’t work; it’s a great product and service, and some kids totally need it, but they’re still salespeople.MjAxMy03MmMyMmY0Mjk3YzdjZDM5

And the reality is that you agree to the helmet, despite some research saying they don’t do anything, because you want to know that you did everything you possibly could for your kid. End of story.  Does it actually work or do heads start rounding out on their own once you correct torticollis and they’re sitting up more?  Who knows.  

Their insurance team then calls you two days later and in our case, tells you that insurance won’t even think about covering the helmet.  Which I already knew, because the Google Queen combed through our policy and found that “cranial remolding helmets” are only covered for post-operative craniosynostosis and are considered cosmetic and unnecessary otherwise.  Viagra?  Totally medically necessary under our policy. Preventing a baby from looking like a conehead for the rest of his life? Cosmetic. Makes total sense.


So we bit the bullet, said we’d pay the $2,500 for a helmet, and scheduled the next two appointments.  The first one was easy.  Another stocking cap (this one without a face hole cut out, so he looked like a baby bank robber) and more pictures and we were on our way home in under 15 minutes.  


The next appointment was hard because it’s when they actually fitted him with the helmet.  And I’ll admit, I cried when I saw him in it.  I joked that he looked like a Spaceball, but seeing that white orthotic helmet on him was absolutely devastating to my sense of self as a mother. What were people going to think of my son, let alone me? When I’d seen those helmets before, I assumed there was something wrong with the baby, which meant other people were going to think that.  I couldn’t handle the thought of that.

Jacob was clearly as upset as I was about his helmet.

The one small, silver lining came in the form of decorating the helmet.  I researched online (of course), decorating the helmets and discovered that some car wrapping companies will wrap the helmets.  But there were none who advertised that they did that within an hour of where we lived, so I started reaching out to local companies, then remembered that a former student’s dad owned a sign company.  I sent her a quick message asking if that was something they’d be willing/able to do, and she replied immediately that not only would they custom design Jacob’s helmet, they’d do it for free because of the difference I made when she was in high school.

Yes, I cried again.  

We settled on an aviator-style helmet (I voted for R2D2.  Hubby vetoed that. I’m still bitter.) because it would look more like a hat than a helmet, and we got it put on two days after he got the helmet.


At which point, I came clean on Facebook and Instagram and got nothing but wonderful, positive support.  And many parents shared stories about their own children’s imperfections and struggles, which was a great reminder that it’s okay to not be perfect. I, like everyone else, try to present the best possible image of my life on social media, but NO ONE is perfect.  The helmet is temporary, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Jacob is adorable in it, and I love him more and more every day, helmet or not.  

So if you’re struggling with the decision, stop.  Take a breath.  Because the helmet has one truly awesome benefit to it: you get to worry a little less.  There’s no more repositioning, or pillows, or freaking out that he’s sitting in something that might briefly touch his flat spot and make it worse.  You’ll still worry that the helmet won’t work or that they’ll recommend a second one and you’ll have to pay $5,000 total out of pocket (they recommend a second helmet to everyone.  See above.  They’re salespeople).  But once I went public, my stress level actually went way down.

Does it suck?  Yes.  Without a doubt.  But as long as it helps, it’ll be totally worth it.  And if someone stares in the grocery store, it’s their problem, not yours.  Your baby is perfect; you’re just making him or her a little more perfect so no one nicknames them Beldar. (Only my dad got that joke, but it’s okay!)


Hang in there, mamas!