Top 3 Reasons Why I Had Dogs THEN Kids: A Response

My first response to Momma Mindy’s “Why I had Kids Not Dogs” was “Uhoh! I have two dogs and just started adding kids! I’m in trouble.”

The truth is, though, that I am really super happy that we had dogs first and then kids. Our pups have taught me so many lessons that prepared me for motherhood.  It ended up being one of the reasons that my husband and I decided we were ready!  Although seemingly insignificant, one of the most life-altering aspects of going from no-dogs to dogs is that we would never sleep in again.  We figured, well, we might as well have kids now.  But seriously, here are some fantastic reasons why getting dogs can help prepare you and your spouse for parenthood.

1. Dogs need discipline.

Figuring out how to set boundaries and train our dogs allowed Adam and I to observe one another in the role of disciplinarian and teacher long before we will need to be united in these roles for our kids.  We were able to learn together how to be the leaders that our dogs needed to feel confident and secure.

2. Dogs need a schedule.

I already mentioned that they WILL wake you in the morning to go out if you don’t wake up in time, but that’s just the beginning.  We no longer could pack up and go at any moment when we wanted to go- there were always the dogs to consider.  If we wouldn’t be home around the time they needed to eat or potty or walk, we had to make arrangements.

3. Dogs need love.

The best part of adopting our dogs was seeing the way that my husband loved on them.  Our little girl dog, Natalie (Nattie), was terribly afraid of men when she first came to our home. She would hide under the table when my husband was around, but slowly and patiently Adam taught Nattie to trust him and love him back.  Now her favorite nighttime activity (and Saturday activity) is to nap while snuggled up against Adam.

Since we just had our first little baby, I can confidently caveat that- NO, having children is not the same as having dogs.  They bring each of these bullet points to the next level of responsibility.  You CAN’T kennel your children for 8 hours a day, although I’m sure some of us wish that was an option— sometimes.  So lest any dog-loving person be scared to make the jump to rescue or purchase a pup in the future, I would encourage you and your spouse to just do it- have dogs THEN kids.  All of the work is worth the licks and lessons!

Our wonderful pups! Logan is an Australian Shepherd/Collie Mix. Natalie is a Yorkie/Shih Tzu Mix.

Our wonderful pups! Logan is an Australian Shepherd/Collie Mix. Natalie is a Yorkie/Shih Tzu Mix.


The Day I Added Mom to My Resume

However it happened to you, it was a big day in your life.  I had to say it several times out loud before it really sank in- I. Am. A. Mom. No two stories are alike, but this one is ours.

Liliana is now three months old and learning new things each day, but a few short weeks ago she was still growing inside my belly.  This is her birth story and
THIS is a final warning for anyone who doesn’t want to read detaills of how this sweet little girl got here. If you DO want to know, scroll down.

Liliana Hope, 2 months old

Liliana Hope, 2 months old

My due date was March 13th and when that day came and went, the waiting really began. My midwife had a scheduled vacation that put her out of town until March 20th, so we had an induction set for the 21st if Liliana had not arrived by then.  I really, really, really didn’t want my first birth experience to begin as an induction so I was hoping and praying that things would get going naturally. I had had NO signs of impending labor- never really had Braxton-Hicks, was only dilated about a 1 any time I had been checked at the clinic and never lost my plug. SO when I woke up around 5:30 AM on Monday morning, March 18th with contractions, I was ECSTATIC.

I went to the bathroom and kind of walked around because I didn’t know if what I was feeling was contractions, but after a few, I convinced myself that I was. I flung open the bedroom door and said, “Honey, I think I’m having contractions.”  I believe his response was, “Now?!”

Adam had put a contraction tracking app on his phone, so he whipped that out and started timing.  They were coming every 3 to 5 minutes, but they were only about 30 seconds long. It was snow storming- one of our many snow dumps this season- and we were getting into rush hour traffic time.  We checked google maps, and it said it would be about an hour to get to the hospital. I wasn’t interested in this option because sitting made the contractions hurt worse, so we decided to wait it out as long as we thought was safe. The dogs needed their morning walk anyway, and that sounded like a good distraction.  We ventured out on our last walk through the park as a family of four. It was so wonderfully peaceful- a perfect way to begin labor.

We took a snowy morning walk with the dogs during early labor, stopping to breath through the periodic contraction.

We took a snowy morning walk with the dogs during early labor, stopping to breath through the periodic contraction.

We labored at home until about 10 AM after traffic had cleared and google maps was telling us it would only take the normal 20 minutes to get to the hospital. I remember specifically doing the math that this would entail approximately four contractions seated. I remember being afraid that the hospital would check me and send us home, multiplying that to 12 seated contractions over the course of three car rides.

We arrived at the hospital, and I was only dilated to about 2 and 1/2. I thought for SURE they were going to send us home, but they admitted us!  We even were able to get into the water birthing room.  I was super relieved. Adam was helping me get through each contraction, and I think I was actually enjoying labor. It was such an exciting time.

We met our labor nurse. Her name was Mary (My mom’s name- comforting). She hooked me up to the monitors and helped us get situated using the birthing ball. My midwife was obviously still on vacation so I had no idea who would be attending the birth. I wasn’t thrilled about that part, but I knew when it came time to deliver, I probably wouldn’t care much.

Progress was pretty slow. About 3 1/2 hours later, I was only dilated to about 5.  Somewhere in there my water broke, which was a very strange feeling. The nurse saw meconium in the fluid, so a pediatric specialist was called to be on hand when Lili arrived to make sure she was a-ok.

I also tried the water birthing tub and ended up really disliking it.  It was a very deep tub with no great place to get ahold of it.  I felt like a flopping fish during contractions.  That only lasted two contractions and it was back to the birthing ball.  Adam would support under my arms during each contraction, and I would push up on him to get a really deep breath.  There was LOTS of loud noises. The birthing ball worked amazingly for Adam and I.

After the tub, still around 5 centimeters, the nurse and doc started being kind of passive agressive about my choice to not take any meds.  Both were “concerned” that I was going to get too tired to push and mentioned that I should “think about my options for pain management.” I got pretty annoyed at them and apparently so did my cervix because it popped from a 5 to a 9 in about an hour.  When the nurse said, “Ok, it’s time to push, but don’t push yet- wait for the doctor.” I was a little shocked, but I knew we’d made it.

I was NOT prepared for the pushing part.  Adam and I had gotten efficient at breathing through the contractions, and I was feeling pretty comfortable for a woman in labor.  But the pushing- oi.  I had to be on my back on the bed- first problem.  Second problem was that I had a hard time transitioning my brain from breath with the contractions and make lots of noise to don’t breath during the contraction at all and don’t make any noise.  It was tough. The doc (who ended up being an ob-gyn that I had happened to see once during my pregnancy) kept trying different things to help me focus my pushing, which really annoyed me to be frank.  The one technique that seemed to work the best was basically tug-of-war with the doc. She had one end of the towel and I had the other. When a contraction came, I focused on pulling on the towel which guided the pushing to the correct spot in my abdomen. BUT it was super exhausting. I don’t really remember much detail here, but I remember thinking when Lili was coming that she had to come “right now” something to the effect of, “Ok honey, this is your mama talking- now get out!” I pushed for around an hour and a half, and Lili arrived at 4:36 PM.

She was perfect with no complications whatsoever, 6 pounds, 12 ounces- beautiful baby girl.

The doc ended up giving me an episiotomy, resulting in a third degree separation of my bottom (still not sure if it was a combo of episiotomy and tear or just the cut) (If you want more detail about how bad 3rd degree, you’ll have to ask personally- it was no fun).

The rest of the night is really blurry to me. My body was a trooper through labor and delivery, but decided to quit right after Lili arrived. I had a postpartum hemorrhage and started shaking uncontrollably.  I got a sudden fever.  Since I hadn’t had any pain meds, I also didn’t have an I.V. The nurse gave me a bag or maybe two of saline water to rehydrate me, and that did the trick. It seems I had gotten dehydrated.

We were in recovery until about 10:30 PM because of the slight complications.  I vividly remember the wheel chair ride from Labor and Delivery up to the postpartum room. I felt like I WAS on pain meds- sort of delirious. As we went through the hallways and I held my baby girl in my arms, I felt like I was in a dream.

My “recovery meal” from labor?  Pizza. It’s what I always eat after a marathon.