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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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

Why?

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!

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#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.  

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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.

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#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!”

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#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.

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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.

How does a baby say ‘I love you’? By sneezing on your face

Jacob has a cold.  Which, according to the laws of mommydom, means that I also have a cold because the first indication that we had that he wasn’t feeling great was when he sneezed.  On my face.

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At ten months old (and CRAWLING!  YAY!!!!!!!), this is our second cold, and this one is milder than the first.  No fever, just stuffy with a very runny nose. No biggie and he can still go to daycare.  (Although I feel seriously guilty sending him to daycare, both because I know he doesn’t feel great and because wiping snot is disgusting when it’s my OWN kid. I can’t imagine having to do that to someone else’s kid!  Gross!)

sick child daycare

When he got his first cold, we panicked.  Jacob had a slight fever, so I sent hubby to CVS for infant Tylenol.  He returned 20 minutes later having spent $70 buying EVERYTHING in the baby care section.  He’s not allowed to go to CVS anymore.

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Actual picture of what $70 buys you at CVS

We took turns taking the day off of school to stay home with him and rushed him to the pediatrician twice, only to be told both times that it was a cold, that babies get colds, and that he’d be fine.  (They DID give us antibiotics for his ears the second time we went, although they said they weren’t infected, they just looked like they COULD get infected as the cold continued.  Insane first-time parents like us are probably why everyone is developing antibiotic immunities these days.  Honestly, they ought to just give parents pink, bubblegum-flavored sugar water to give babies and tell us it’s medicine so we can feel like we’re doing something to help.)

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So this time, in the absence of a fever, we didn’t worry.*

*Okay we worried.  But I sent frantic texts to my brother, who is a doctor, instead of rushing Jacob to the pediatrician.  Because instead of giving me antibiotics, he tells me I’m an idiot and to stop it, which actually probably does more good than the antibiotics.

And by now, we’re old pros.  We have an arsenal of infant Tylenol and Motrin (in case he develops a fever), a good baby thermometer, nasal mist, and a battery-powered aspirator (Sorry Nose Frida fans, that thing is gross.  That little blue piece of sponge that they call a filter is NOT enough to convince me that baby snot is not going into my mouth.  It’s disgusting.  Plus, when I’m sick too, I can’t generate enough suction for it to actually do anything other than freak Jacob out that I’m trying to suck his brains out of his nose.)

nose frida

The biggest problem when he’s sick (other than my hypochondriac fear that it’s actually RSV, will turn into pneumonia and require hospitalization) is how to keep him hydrated.

I’m prone to horrible post-nasal drip and know that drinking when I’m sick sucks.  But I do it, because I know I need to to feel better.  While I don’t know yet if Jacob has inherited my sinus problems (and I’m praying he doesn’t!), I do know that he doesn’t feel like taking his bottle and we have not yet mastered this sippy cup situation.  And I can tell him that he needs it to feel better until I’m blue in the face, but I might as well be telling the schnauzers to stop barking at the mail lady for all the good it does.  (She’s their worst enemy.  She attacks our house EVERY DAY and we do nothing to stop it.  They are outraged and do their very best to let her know that they’ll murder her if given half the chance.  Except for the days when she actually comes to the door, because then she gives them treats and they love her.  Seriously, all you’d need to do to rob our house is feed our dogs.)

dog mailman

He normally takes five six-ounce bottles a day and we’re working on trying to add in some water as well on days when he doesn’t finish those.  But when he’s sick, it’s a struggle to get three ounces in him.  And a quick Google search told me that a baby can dehydrate quickly when sick.  (I also found a result that said babies don’t want to eat as much when sick and are fine as long as they’re producing 3-4 wet diapers a day.  But we’ll ignore that because dehydration sounds scarier.  I also sent my brother a video of him playing and my brother told me he’s fine and that I’m an idiot.  We’ll ignore that too.)  

google dispute facts

So Jacob needs fluids.

I know the current advice is to only offer formula or breastmilk from a bottle and water should come only from a sippy cup, but despite our daily efforts, Jacob thinks the sippy cup is a teething toy.  He also enjoys grabbing it by the handles and flinging it off of his high chair onto the poor dogs, who hang out there hoping for Cheerios.  But drinking from it?  That’s a no go.

sippy cup

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And our parents’ generation gave us water and juice in a bottle and all of us eventually learned how to drink from cups.  So Pedialyte in a bottle it is for now.  We had some success with that, and then I used an oral syringe to get a little more in him, which he actually liked.  I guess it’s pretty hard to drink from a bottle when you can’t breathe through your nose.  Poor little guy.  But on the plus side, with me pushing fluids like a psycho, at least he’s pooping well!

Am I being ridiculous?  Absolutely.  And I’m fully aware that when eventual baby #2 gets sick, I’ll probably be like, eh, suck it up, you’re fine.  But I guess there’s a reason that first-time parents have a reputation for being nuts.  

first child third child

Time to babyproof. Too bad MC Escher designed our house!

Jacob is finally almost crawling!

I know that sounds like a dubious milestone to parents whose children are already crawling because everyone we talk to is like, “NO!  Savor this time before they’re mobile! Crawling ruins lives!”  And while I know that we’re going to face a whole new host of challenges once he’s actually crawling (especially because the dogs track disgusting yard debris everywhere that Jacob will be crawling), I cannot wait to start this next stage.

crawling baby

Partially because we’re on the late end of the milestone, which is normal with a big baby, and chubadub over here counts as a big baby, coming in in the 87th percentile for weight.  (He’s tall too.  I shouldn’t call him chubadub.)   But mostly I’m so excited because we’ve felt so behind in milestones with the torticollis, so finally getting there and (just barely) within the average time frame feels like a huge victory.

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Of course, it will also come with its challenges.  Namely, figuring out how to babyproof my house.

Houses tend to fall into one of three categories when it comes to stairs: ranch (no stairs), colonial (one staircase), or split-level (two half staircases).

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Obviously, a ranch-style house is ideal for babyproofing, because it requires zero baby gates, but you also run the risk of your child not knowing how to go up and down stairs when he or she starts school. (My husband grew up in a ranch-style house.  He still seems to have difficulty navigating stairs, especially when his mouth is full.  I grew up in a colonial-style house, so I can walk up and down stairs backwards, forwards, and Exorcist-style, all while eating spaghetti.)  A colonial is the next best because it requires only two baby gates, and baby will eventually learn to walk down stairs. A split level is less than ideal because you’ll need four baby gates, which does tend to get annoying and expensive.

exorcist steps

Then there’s our house.  

I get that the ’70s, when it was built, were a feel good, groovy time.  Yes, there was disco, but the ’70s gave us Born to Run and Star Wars.  What’s not to love about the ’70s?

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Our house. That’s what.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love our house.  It definitely needed updating, much of which we’ve done and are still doing.  We replaced the rickety wrought-iron banisters.  We painted over the hideous brown brick wall.  We put in recessed lighting and are even in the process of finishing our super scary basement.  (Seriously, it’s the basement from the first season of American Horror Story right now.  Don’t go down there.)  Our house is lovely.  And until we got close to Jacob crawling, we had no problems at all, other than the haunted basement.

scary basement

So what’s the problem now?

It’s a colonial.  We should be able to get two baby gates and call it a day.  But apparently I live in the house that MC Escher built and I basically need baby gates on the ceiling.

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Here’s the issue: we have a sunken living room and family room (they’re connected), each with its own staircase consisting of four steps each. Not terrible, but considering my grandma almost wiped out on them the other day after 90 years of successful stair walking, I think it’s safe to say that we need to gate those off for the baby.  So that’s four baby gates.  We have a normal staircase too, so that’s two more gates.  And then, because the first two bedrooms are over the sunken rooms and the other bedrooms are over the non-sunken kitchen and dining room, we have ANOTHER set of four steps upstairs.  Which means to babyproof our house, we’re going to need EIGHT baby gates.

didn't fall down

As daunting as that is, it gets worse. Three of those landings are opposite banisters, so we can’t use pressure mounted gates there, and one of the sets of four stairs is open and doesn’t have a wall at all, so we need to find a baby gate that wraps around to connect to other walls (because I don’t trust a freestanding baby gate.  I feel like he’s going to pull up to stand on that and it’s going to smush him like a bug.  The cutest little smushed bug in the world.  But still a smushed bug).

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And then there are the dogs.  

The dogs are also my babies.  Don’t @ me. They just are.  (Have I been spending too much time with my students?  For the slang-challenged out there, or anyone who doesn’t have a teenager, that means don’t call me out about that because I stand by what I said.  I think the etymology is from the Twitter.)

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The strict dog trainers out there are cringing, but our dogs have free reign of the house.  They never liked being crated as puppies, so despite not being perfectly behaved, we let them roam free.  

But, if you needed proof that the dogs are my babies, both of them seem to have inherited my anxiety.  Rosie has pretty bad separation anxiety.  She does NOT handle being away from me well at all.  She manages for the school day and all, but shutting her in a room completely freaks her out.  We’re pretty sure she’s going to claw through our bedroom door one of these days when we’re getting work done in the house and have to shut her in there for her own safety.  

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Sandy has social anxiety (she is my spirit animal) and new people freak her out.  She’s on meds for it and is much better these days (except when she sees my brother.  She freaking hates my brother.  We have no idea why, as every other dog, cat, horse, llama, bald eagle and iguana on the planet loves him.  He’s like the male Snow White. But Sandy hates his guts.), but she feeds off of Rosie’s anxiety and gets very upset when they’re shut in a room together.

Which means the baby gates are going to be particularly traumatic if we’re shutting them in an area or out of an area.  

In other words, all of our baby gates have to have doors that can stay open for the dogs when we’re not using them for the baby because I will cry if I think my other babies are unhappy.

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I’m not even going to tell you how much money I just spent on gates.  You don’t want to know.  To be honest, I don’t want to know either.  But at least all three of my babies will be safe and happy.

Now I just have to get rid of my old death trap Ikea dresser and plug up nine billion electrical sockets.  Isn’t babyproofing FUN?

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