February 2 – February 8: 33 Weeks 0 Days – 33 Weeks 6 Days.
Okay, I admit it: I secretly want to get an over-the-top professional maternity photoshoot wearing a lace maternity gown and a floral crown. I didn’t even know what a maternity sash was before accidentally finding them on Etsy, but now I can’t help wanting one of those too, to… wear around the house, I guess. I can’t really justify the cost of any of these things, but a girl can dream!
This weekend I had my San Francisco baby shower, and I’ll jump at any opportunity to make an elaborate cake. There was one particular maternity sash on Etsy that I kept ogling, so I decided to get it out of my system by making it the inspiration for my cake. Cake-decorating is one of my forms of artistic expression, and it felt great to spend several dedicated hours focused on creating something to honor the baby.
In another feat of not emptying my bank account into the baby industry’s pockets, I bought a beautiful Dutailier reclining glider chair and ottoman on Craigslist instead of getting one new (check that of the to-buy-used list I made a couple weeks ago). I probably didn’t spend any less than I would have on a new one, but I got much better quality for the price. When I tried out the glider chairs on display at Babies R’ Us, at least half of them no longer glided properly or felt like they were about to fall apart. The one I got is built solidly and is still in great condition. I listened to my daily birth prep hypnosis track by Rachel Yellin reclined in the nursery today, and it was lovely.
The big event of the week was that our dog, Foxy, got sprayed in the face by a skunk. Richard heard her yelp and immediately opened the door and called her in. She showed up at the door barely able to open her eyes, frothing at the mouth, and coughing. We were so focused on rescuing our furbaby that we didn’t put enough thought into containing the skunk odor. By the time we got her eyes rinsed with saline and her coat cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide concoction, she had dripped skunk oil through the house, shaken off in the bathroom before she was deodorized, and contaminated Richard and me so we were spreading stink around the house too. The next few days were spent deep-cleaning the house. I looked online hoping that bleach (a recommended deskunkifier) was unsafe during pregnancy so I’d get out of scrubbing the bathroom from floor to ceiling, but all I found was an article that began: “Unfortunately ladies, most products are safe to use for cleaning during pregnancy. Yes, even bleach.”
An article called, “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t Get a Dog,” was circulating Facebook recently. I’m hoping we have Foxy trained well enough that most of the issues recounted in the article wont be problems for us. Also, occurrences like the skunk-ocalypse 2015 make me believe more and more that having a dog is amazing preparation for having a kid. Here are ten way Foxy has trained Richard and me for children:
- Developing roles. Foxy forced Richard and me to work as a team to make sure she was getting all her walks, food, and other care. When we lived in the city and she needed an escort for every outdoor excursion, I, the early bird did all the morning walks, and Richard, the night owl, did all the evening walks. I’m hoping that once we introduce bottles we can develop a similar schedule with the baby.
- Choosing a “parenting style.” Richard tends slightly more to the “dogs should be allowed to act like dogs” side and I’m a little more in the “training a dog well gives it more freedom in the long run” camp. We a agree on most things, but we have oodles of practice reconciling the things we disagree on (and sometimes reconciling means accepting that we’re each going to do things differently). I think Richard and my philosophies on parenting will be flipped from how we feel about the dog. I’m more of the “let kids be who they are” philosophy and Richard believes in “give the kids enough structure to set them up for success.” Obviously somewhere in between is ideal, and I know from our experience with the dog that we’ll (eventually) reconcile our differences in opinion.
- Advocating. Foxy is allergic to poultry, of all things, which means I have to advocate for her when people try to feed her chicken and turkey. And I get a lot of backlash for it! Many people seem to think I’m an overly concerned health-nut yuppie, or that that there’s no way a dog could be allergic to meat (I don’t understand it either, but that doesn’t change reality), or that because she likes chicken it proves she’s not allergic to it. They’re not the ones who have to clean up the vomit and diarrhea for three days afterward. If my child has food allergies (or another condition that makes her sensitive to her environment), I’ll have no problem being as much of a mama bear as I need to be to make sure she doesn’t get exposed.
- Not freaking out about health stuff. We didn’t know Foxy had a poultry allergy at first, and she had some scary symptoms: bloody diarrhea, vomiting, not eating for three days, hives. After spending enough money on vet visits, we learned to discern between what we could watch and wait on, and what actually needed medical attention. I hope that I can maintain the same level-headedness when the baby has her first rash or first fever (or at least learn to do so by the fourth or fifth rash or fever).
- Dealing with poop. Before I had a dog, one of my biggest concerns about having a baby was that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the icky diapers. I’ve dealt with so much and so many different consistencies of dog poop now that I know I will have no problem with the diapers.
- Being okay with not being able to have nice things. I posted months ago about redoing my patio to create a succulent and beach pebble oasis. I was borderline neurotic about the stones being exactly the right color. My kitchen opens onto the patio, so I’ve started a little herb garden out there too. One of Foxy’s preferred places to poop? On my black Mexican beach pebbles! And, the other day I caught her eating my chives and licking my cilantro—remind me to wash those thoroughly before cooking with them. Honestly though, I have a feeling the baby/toddler/child/teenager is going to do much more damage than Foxy has ever done, but Foxy has at least begun to prepare me. Yet another reason to buy used instead of new where possible.
- Loss of freedom. Especially now that I live in the suburbs and work in the city, it takes a lot of orchestrating to make sure Foxy doesn’t get left at home for too long (and I’m definitely not installing a doggie door with the skunks around here). Scheduling around the dog has made it clearer which jobs will be sustainable when I have a baby—the job that’s a 45-minute commute either way for one hour of work isn’t going to be worth the cost of childcare.
- Learning to trust babysitters. Okay, this is a lie. I don’t trust dogsitters. I do have two sets of friends I can leave Foxy with and totally relax, but I’ve never ever left her at a doggie daycare or in a kennel. However, I recognize that this is something that I need to get over, especially if I ever want to work again after having kids.
- Maintaining our relationship. It’s easy for a dog to take over a couple’s life. For a while, all Richard and I were talking about was Foxy, Foxy, Foxy. Eventually, we instated a “no dog talk” rule that either of us could enact if we were sick of rating poop and discussing the merits of various training techniques. It was always Richard calling the rule on me, which was annoying, but it helped us find our way back to real conversations and connection. I’ve heard from many friends that a baby can completely consume your conversations as well, and I’m hoping that our experience with the dog will help us carve out some time for adult discussion (although, during the first few weeks when we’re both at home exclusively looking after the baby day and night, we may need to get some conversation starter cards…)
- Caring about a being so much that you do stupid, crazy things to protect it. Like letting the whole house get contaminated with skunk smell to make the dog more comfortable, or paying a premium to take her to a holistic vet (this sounds kooky, but it was actually totally worth it), or prying an aggressive dog’s maws off your furbaby with your bare hands (this was Richard, and it took several stitches to recover). I know with the baby it’s going to be that feeling of love and protectiveness on steroids! I can’t wait to experience it.