Why You Shouldn’t Get a Puppy While You’re Pregnant (And Why You Should)

We decided to get a dog long before I got pregnant with our son. Arrangements were made. We picked him up, fluffy and adorable, and carted him home. Two days later, I discovered I was pregnant.

Puppies make morning sickness so much worse

I brace my hands on my thighs and blow out a huffing breath. I glance over my shoulder at the puppy, his haunches tucked under him comically as he doodles on the grass. I start to heave. I look away. I think about how it will feel through the plastic bag, warm and soft and giving under my fingers. I heave harder.

DISGUSTING.

Puppies are gross. There’s no getting around it. There will be accidents and Smells and mystery substances, none of which mesh well with a body that wants to upchuck at the slightest provocation. And then you’re heaving over the toilet and you have a waggling, enthusiastic fluffball trying to wrestle because you are CLEARLY having fun without him.

…but on the other hand…

Babies are gross, too. And if you’re worried about how you’ll handle the diapers, the spit-up, and the Unidentified Viscous Substances, taking care of a puppy will teach you pretty quickly that it’s a lot easier than it sounds. It has to get done, and you love the little stinker. So you do it.

Puppies will disrupt your sleep

Hoping to get a few last months of solid sleep before the discomfort of third trimester and the pure chaos of a newborn? I sure was! Instead I spent several weeks hoofing it outside every night between midnight and three AM at least twice, wrapped in a bathrobe and holding a flashlight while the puppy voided himself explosively into the grass. And that was when we got lucky, and got him out of the crate before the apoocalypse hit. Then there was the separation anxiety that meant he cried unless one of us slept on the concrete floor next to his crate. And all the times we woke in the middle of the night to the sounds of Brave Pup Vs The Evil Dog Bed.

…but on the other hand…

By the time the actual kid arrived, we were really good at not sniping at each other when roused in the middle of the night. We had communication strategies in place for when we were both tired and grumpy, and systems for trading off responsibility and sharing the load. I missed the sleep, sure. But at this point I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over two years. A few months on either end doesn’t particularly move the needle.

Puppies are sheer unadulterated chaos and disruption

LORD CHAOS REIGNS

We used to snuggle in our TV corner and watch a show most nights. The dog couldn’t handle that. He’d chew on the couch, crawl under it, fight with cords, try to escape, pee. Walking him was a nightmare (and continued to be until he mellowed at about 18 months-2 years). The bill for things he destroyed (mostly my things) was not small. Any time I got into a rhythm with writing, the dog was there with a mouthful of Kleenex or a funny story about why there’s that dripping sound in the next room to pull me out of it.

…but on the other hand…

As much as a dog can increase your blood pressure, they’re also great at relieving and redirecting anxiety. And that was a huge boon for me. The truth is, we got Vonnie in large part because I had a miscarriage. We had always wanted a dog, but we were being sensible about it. And then I lost a pregnancy, and we had this sense of… why are we waiting for what we want? We don’t know what’s going to happen in life, and we can handle what comes at us, even if it’s all at once. Getting a dog was something we could have certainty about. Having him around while I was waiting to pass the first trimester mark, and then waiting for viability, and then waiting for delivery, was an immense comfort. I never stopped being afraid that my son wouldn’t make it into the world, up until, after he was whisked away from me following a difficult and worrying delivery, a doctor called over her shoulder “He’s perfect!” And for all those months of worrying and hoping, the puppy was my frenetic, adoring, cuddly companion.

Dogs and babies don’t mix well

Or at least, not without constant supervision, careful training, and a lot of savvy. The internet is full of videos of stressed-out dogs an inch away from biting, with babies mauling them and adults laughing. If you don’t know how to read your dog’s stress cues, if you don’t know your dog’s disposition toward babies and chaos thoroughly, if you make an assumption at the wrong moment–it can lead to disaster. Your dog doesn’t even need to lash out to hurt your child.

We spent a lot of time teaching Vonnie to be gentle with the baby because he liked him so much he wanted to treat him like a puppy. When the baby was only a few days old, we all nearly died of heart attacks when the dog hurtled down the hall and launched himself blind onto the bed where the baby was being changed. Luckily, Dad was there to scoop the baby up, and no one was hurt. We had much stricter procedures after that for closing the dog gates. But it was very nearly a disaster, and we’ve never forgotten that a 60lb dog can do a lot of damage, intentional or unintentional, to a fragile baby.

…but on the other hand…

They freaking LOVE each other now. Seriously. How cute. Is this.

Answer: Really cute. Now that the little man is old enough to chase and throw toys (not very far) and scratch his ears, Vonnie is completely on board.

Walking Vonnie every day also gets me out of the house and moving. And gets me twenty minutes, twice a day, without the baby, to have my own music (sorry, Caspar Babypants and Moana, but there’s more to life than you) and my own thoughts.

Getting a puppy ramped up the difficulty of balancing baby, pets, and career. But I’d do it again.

I mean, not really, I’m never doing that again, it was bananapants. But I don’t regret it. But we’re not getting another puppy. Holy shit. Are you kidding? Of course not.

But, I mean. Look at ‘im.

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