May 9, 2013

On my first (furry) baby...

When I went into labor at home, one of things I remember noticing was the concern and confusion it provoked in Speck the dog. She has such an expressive face and the fur above her eyes contrasts just enough that she seems to have eyebrows. So I often interpret a great deal of emotion from her appearance. She's a very sensitive, loving dog. And at this point we have spent many years together as a family. I have said countless times to Chris (and to Speck) that it was Speck that made us a family. I fell in love with her big personality/small package combo. And I've loved caring for her and negotiating pet parenting responsibilities with Chris. Since we adopted her, she's brought us so much joy. She is the first pet for which I bear significant care-giving responsibility so in many ways, she has also deepened my sense of what it means to love. And it was adorable to see how she became protective of me, especially over the course of my pregnancy.

It could have been the cooling temperatures but I prefer to believe that last fall, Speck sensed that changes were afoot. For her, there were even a few logistical ones, such as the lengths of her walks and the size of my lap once my third trimester belly really popped. Although she is a perceptive dog, she didn't seem to notice the change in my belly. As usual, Speck would request a seat in my lap by gently pawing at my leg and I'd oblige, picking her up. Although I couldn't hold her for as long as before, I still held her and joked with Chris that it was good practice for when I'd be filling my lap with two small creatures soon enough.

Since Emilia's birth I've yet to hold them simultaneously, but I have really loved witnessing their process of mutual familiarization.  Speck stayed at my parents' house while Chris and I were in the hospital and then getting settled with the baby at home. On the day she met Emilia, our house was full of extended family and crowded with props for our newborn photo shoot. Eventually everyone left and we got to be alone as a family for the first time. 

I was still so sore and swollen and overwhelmed by new mom anxieties. I anticipated that Speck would be fine with the baby but I also wanted her to keep some distance from my fragile newborn. Since we slept with Emilia in an in-bed bassinet, Speck could no longer be up with us. And because I went into labor 10 days early (and because I am a procrastinator), I hadn't begun the process of transitioning her out of the bed. For Speck this was all incredibly abrupt and upsetting. That first night, as she paced back and forth from our bedsides, requesting to be lifted onto our/her bed, I sobbed. I felt so guilty.

Now she happily goes to her bed when we retire every evening. And she drops toys at Emilia's feet, expecting fully that her newest pack member will be able to play tug or fetch. It will be so wonderful to see my furry baby playing with my baby baby, once Emilia gets older. I just love them both so much. And I love seeing increasingly how captivated Emilia is by Speck. Watching her walk around and play is one of her favorite things to do right now.

I'm so glad that the integration of my two babies has been successful! I'm leaving for a walk with both of them right now.

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