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!

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#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.

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#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.

I’m literally Googling baby poop. What happened to my life?

I know that I’m a total stereotype for being a Jewish mama who worries about everything, but I feel like the fact that I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder gives me a bit of an excuse.  

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Either way, there is a whole spectrum of issues that I never anticipated worrying about prior to beginning the parenthood journey.

Like baby poop.

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If anyone in the NSA is monitoring my internet search history (or Facebook.  I see you Facebook app, spying on everything I do!), they’re really going to think I’m obsessed with poop because now that we’re done with the baby helmet, I think poop queries make up 85 percent of my search history.  The other 15 percent are comprised of Queen Elizabeth trivia (because I’m fact checking The Crown as we watch it), baby food recipes, the weather for possible snow days, and how little sleep you can survive on before you start creating underground fight clubs and making soap.

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In the beginning, his poop was unconcerning.  Jacob was kind enough to cry when he needed to poop, so when he stopped crying and got all happy, we knew he had a squishy tush.  This typically occurred when I was in the shower. When my husband went back to work after Jacob was born (He really is the best baby.  He made his arrival at the beginning of April, ensuring that I had the maximum amount of leave time. I was able to take off all of fourth quarter at school and then got the summer too), I’d feed Jacob and then plop him in his bouncer seat in the doorway to the master bathroom so I could see him while I showered.*

*Our master bathroom is freakishly narrow.  Apparently our house was built with Slender Man in mind.  Navigating it while pregnant was… interesting.  

On good days, he’d fall asleep and I’d actually get to put on makeup and get dressed after I showered.

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Most days, however, he’d cry a little bit when I got in the shower, then get happy and chatty.  Which I dreaded.  Because it meant he’d pooped.  And not like a tiny, cute amount of baby poop.  I’m talking like elephants would stop and point and be like, “Wow, that’s a lot of poop even for us!”  Remember the scene in Jurassic Park?  It was like that but with a baby in a diaper on top.

jurassic park poop

And the happier he got, the more poop it meant there was.  My little guy somehow managed to have poop-splosions so enormous that what came out of his diaper could fill the entire bouncer seat.  And there he’d sit, happy as a pig in–you get where I’m going–wiggling all around as the poop slopped down onto the carpet.  

We may have lied a little when we had our carpets professionally cleaned a couple months ago and told the guy that the dogs had accidents in our bedroom.  While that’s true in some spots, we definitely had baby spots in other places!

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If you told me I’d miss those days, I’d have called you a liar.

But now that we’re on solid food, which my little chunky monkey loves, the poop isn’t flowing as freely.  So I find myself Googling baby constipation remedies.  Which was kind of embarrassing when I accidentally left that on my screen at school and then projected my screen for the kids to see an assignment.*

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*I’m totally lying.  Not about doing that, but about feeling embarrassed.  That’s one of the downsides and/or perks of motherhood that I’ve discovered.  I no longer have shame.  I’m too tired to feel shame.  We’re doing baby swim classes with Jacob and while I was always the one who was like, “Why do old ladies walk around the locker room naked?  Why?  Why?” Now, I’m like, eh, I’m holding a baby while trying to get dressed.  What do I care if someone sees a boob?

naked locker room

So after massive amounts of Googling about the consistency of his poop (it’s not usually the rabbit pellets, it’s more of a poopy wedge), possible culprits and possible remedies, we tried everything.  Prunes, prune juice, tummy massages, bicycling his legs, putting him back in that bouncer seat while I shower, taking him out in the backyard (hey, it works for the dogs!), coffee, etc.  No dice.  

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Which means that the most likely problem is that he needs more water in his diet.

Cool.  We’re working on sippy cups.  I bought 17 different kinds (actual number, not hyperbole).  Which my husband keeps trying to drink from, then proclaims too difficult and throws over his shoulder into a growing heap of rejected sippy cups.

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Which brings us to our next problem: teething.  Jacob’s four front bottom teeth are all in. His four front bottom teeth, however, are all poised to come in at the same time. Literally.  You can see all four just below the gums, but they’re taking their sweet time making an actual appearance.  

And those lovely sub-dermal chompers are making it hurt for him to drink be it from a bottle, a sippy cup, a straw, a stream etc.  He seemed perfectly happy to drink pool water at his baby swim class last weekend, but I draw the line at water that has a measurable urine content in it.  Literally though, he looked like one of those whales inhaling water. Not okay!

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So short of sitting on him and squirting water into his mouth (which a. makes me think of that Shel Silverstein poem where the babysitter thinks she’s supposed to sit upon the baby and b. will probably make future water drinking rather traumatic), I’m at a loss until those teeth come in.

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Note to self: Google how to make baby teeth come in faster!

Uh oh, plagio: the flat head diagnosis

I know I’m jumping around a bit with this post, but it’s what’s happening now, and finding other blogs on this topic helped me.  So if I can pay some of that forward, it’s worth sharing.

Jacob’s pediatrician pointed out that he had developed a flat spot on the back right side of his head at his four-month checkup.  Hubby and I then descended into a shame spiral of shock and embarrassment that we missed it, panic that it was there in the first place, fear that we caused it, etc.  Seriously.  We turned into the seven dwarfs of parenting guilt.

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https://sweettmakesthree.com/mom-guilt-bingo/

“Just try to keep him off of it for a couple of months,” the pediatrician advised.  “You can keep a wedge under that side of his mattress so it’s easier for him to turn his head the other way, and do a lot more tummy time.  If that doesn’t fix it, you can always get a helmet.”

Sara the Hysterical Google Queen took over.  

So I learned ALLLLLLL about plagiocephaly (flat head on one side), brachycephaly (flat back of the head, which I didn’t think was a concern, based on the pictures I found online and then compared frantically to Jacob’s head), and every other kind of cephaly there is (I was already a microcephaly expert from the single, non-Zika-infected mosquito bite I got while pregnant.  Have I mentioned that I’m a hypochondriac?).

What did I learn?  That repositioning could help and that this probably happened because he was such a great sleeper–which he did NOT inherit from me, the worst insomniac in the world.  So because my perfect baby started sleeping through the night at two months old (don’t hate me), his little head grew crooked.  

sleeping through the night

And a lot of nasty people on the internet said it only happens to parents who didn’t hold their babies enough. Guess what?  I hold my baby all the freaking time.  And this still happened.

But I’m Super Mom!  I could fix this!  I can fix anything if I try hard enough!

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I repositioned like it was my job.  For two months I barely slept, but not because Jacob, the most perfect baby in the world, was waking me up.  No.  I barely slept because I woke up every three minutes to make sure he wasn’t sleeping on his flat spot.  I became an expert at flipping him over without waking him up.  I joked I was going to patent a baby spatula for perfectly turned babies.  

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http://quoteaddicts.com/author/kelly-ripa

I bought seven, count them, SEVEN different types of flat head pillows, ranging from $15 to $110 each (I only bought one of the expensive ones).  I sent him to daycare with one.  I put one in his stroller.  I put one on his changing table.  I put one on his floor gym.  But I only let him sleep on them for supervised naps while I stared at him the entire time to make sure he wouldn’t magically flip onto his belly (which he wasn’t doing yet) and suffocate.

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I studied that head from every angle, trying to convince myself that I was seeing improvement.  I wasn’t, but it also wasn’t getting worse.  I will say that.  The pillows do prevent it from getting worse.

And I kept Googling.  But as we got closer to his six-month checkup and his flat spot hadn’t improved, I started worrying more.  My baby was going to need a helmet.  I could feel it.  

One day, I took him for a long walk when his dad went out of town, and I took some pictures because he was so cute.  And when I looked at the pictures, one eye looked bigger than the other.  Cue the panic.  I had read, in my frantic Googling, that plagiocephaly could cause facial asymmetry. (Note: we later learned he has no facial asymmetry.  Literally, they measured digitally and there’s none at all.  I am a crazy person.  But in this case, the craziness was a good thing.)

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Once I Googled the facial asymmetry with plagiocephaly though, I started finding another word a lot, which I had mostly ignored because I didn’t think it was an issue: torticollis.

Symptoms: head tilted in one direction with chin pointed toward another.  Often causes difficulty breastfeeding on one side and difficulty looking in the direction of the head tilt. Rolling to one side only.  A flat spot.

It was like one of those scenes in a movie where the protagonist figures out who the killer is.  He hated breastfeeding on the right side, where he’d have to turn his head to the left.  He only rolled to one side.  And as I began scrolling through pictures in my phone, he was facing the same way in every one.  Jacob had torticollis.

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We took him to the pediatrician immediately, who wasn’t nearly as convinced as I was, but she did say it was time to visit the helmet place for an evaluation.

She wanted us to wait to see what the helmet people said about starting physical therapy, which I wasn’t comfortable with. Knowing that I’m my baby’s best advocate, I reached out to my network of moms and got a recommendation from a family friend to a WONDERFUL physical therapist who deals in infant torticollis.

Long story short, I think our pediatrician should have caught the torticollis (or at least mentioned it to us when she noticed the flat spot, because had I looked for that in pictures sooner, I would have spotted it. And I think dealing with the torticollis at four months would have helped the flat spot enough to potentially avoid the helmet), but it’s too late for that now.life is tough

I’ll do another post about the helmet situation (we’re in it now.  It sucks, but we’ll deal), but trust your gut, mamas!  If you think something is wrong, say something to your pediatrician.  And if they won’t hear you out, go to a specialist.  Jacob is doing AMAZING in physical therapy.  The torticollis is now gone, we’re just working on some residual muscle strength issues in his shoulder, and in another few weeks, all of that should be absolutely perfect.

And if you want to learn from my experience, make sure you’re changing the direction that your baby sleeps in frequently starting at birth and doing lots of tummy time even if your baby hates it (and they ALL hate it!).  And if you have to get a helmet, I promise, it’s not the end of the world.

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