Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming home (our experience)

I am sharing this as I feel many will relate and I want to offer a real look at how things can work with patience, supervision and planning.
Our four dogs waiting their turn while Jack the cat gets a piece of turkey.
Everyone looks forward to the arrival of a baby. Mixed emotions are natural whether it is a first or 4th baby...change = stress good or mixed. We have experienced this stress and having 4 dogs also brought it's own element. Our birth did not go at all as planned but the end result was fantastic.
I spent several days in the hospital before returning home. The hospital is NO PLACE for sleep. People in and out of the room, new baby to care for, pain from delivery etc.....I had a total of 4 hours in 3 days of sleep and to say I was exhausted and running on crazed hormones is no understatment.
I arrived home and we immediately were greeted by Duke our GSD.

All of our dogs are rescues and Duke is quite the special needs boy of the group with severe generalized anxiety. We put Kelsyann in her carseat on the kitchen table and put the chairs up against the table. I sat and greeted Duke. We then allowed 2 of our other dogs in to sniff the air and view the new addition. I loved this as Kelsyann was up high and secure. The dogs could smell me and see the baby who was sleeping soundly in her carseat. It all felt overwhelming. Despite our planning and my speicalty being dogs and babies...I was overwhelmed at that moment. They are so big....she is so small. I once again felt the vulnerability that I believe most new Moms experience. Dads too! This tiny new being is my responsibility and I have a chaotic home with 4 dogs, 5 cats and 3 other children. We all needed to be on the same page. It was overwhelming! Our dog Carin (11 yr old mal/shepherd mix) and Bailey (siberian husky) had sniffed and moved on but Duke was quite aroused by the noises and smells. I had the protective mama knee jerk reaction to tell him NO and ban him from the area as we changed the crying baby's diaper. Just as I felt the urge to snap at him...I quickly reminded myself of what he needed. He needed to be given something to do. "Duke go lie down." And he did. "Diaper downs" are helpful as they give the dog something to do and allow them to observe the activity and baby in motion. This is essential from the beginning to develop familiarity.

Afterwards Duke investigated the changing table. We told him it was Kelsyann and allowed him to sniff and explore. He then followed us out of the room.

Although this went well, I was surprised at the extent of his arousal towards Kelsyann. It made me uneasy and I knew I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed and not able to handle it at the moment. Coming home brings on the normal everyday taska and household duties and I was on overload. So, what did I do.....I sobbed! Yep...I totally lost it. I knew we had a long road ahead of us with our 4 rescued dogs with completely different personalities. I also knew I could not handle it on only 4 hours of sleep in 3 days so...I headed for a nap to regroup.
To be up from nap!

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