The purpose of the “vs.” in the title is to prove a bit of a point. Introducing a human baby, when you previously were simply proud parents to fur babies is sometimes a difficult and sensitive transition, and at times you might definitely feel like they are against one another.
My husband and I are proud owners to two pug fur babies (Bella and Lily). My four legged children were adorable baggage of mine when I met my husband and he lovingly claimed them the second they became a part of his life. Thankfully! I honestly had the conversation in my head early on in our relationship of, “Okay, if he doesn’t like them, that is it! We are not going to make it!” That was not the case, and I am happy to say he is still around and loves the girls very much!
For years, the pugs were my only babies (cue the obnoxious amount of social media photo posts of my girls in costumes and such…you’re welcome!). Bella is the older and the obvious diva of the two. She has a tendency to keep to herself, come to you when she needs you (for love or play on her terms), or most importantly-when you need her (she is wonderfully soothing in a time of crisis or sadness). Lily was the “baby.” She had what you think of as the baby personality. She is extra needy but sooooo sweet. So much so that her neediness (and stinky-ness) does not even matter! Next up…
First comes love, then comes marriage, then come pugs circling the baby carriage! Oh wait, that is not how that goes is it!? Well, in our household, it is! And at first it was not circling the carriage out of loving admiration for the sweet baby that was now a wonderful part of our life…rather, circling the carriage like vultures!
With that said, I am writing this post after weeks and weeks of contemplation. You see, I set out on this blogging journey as someone who wanted to be completely honest and truthful, so until now, I did not feel like this post was appropriate. However, I am happy to say at this point (6 months down the road), that I can really see a shift in the fur baby to baby relationship (and vice versa) and it is for the better. Not only has it improved, and Bella and Lily have both formed their own unique relationship with our human baby, but I have learned some things that I thought would be beneficial to share. Some of it may seem like common sense to you, but during your mama bear/raging new mommy hormone phase, sometimes things are not completely common sensical (yes I know that is not a word…hehe!).
- Precorrect: This is a term I am very familiar with because of my professional background, but simply put, you correct a negative behavior in some way before it happens. Before we brought a little human home, we anticipated a difficult transition and we wanted the fur babies to be somewhat familiar with our little guy before he came home. With a bit of research, we settled on having a familiar adult ( my parents) come to the house (and stay there with the fur babies) while we were at the hospital. Most importantly, they brought our son’s hat home that he wore after he was born so they could develop some familiarity with his scent. According to my parents, the first night, they were not interested AT ALL…the second night their interest increased. Then because we knew our baby’s first time in our home would be difficult when we got home, we had a plan for me to give the fur babies A LOT of attention so they did not feel left out when we got home (without the baby in my arms). I cannot tell you if these steps made things WAY better, but I will say that we tried to precorrect for the fur babies to feel left out or pushed to the way-side and demonstrated effort in trying to decrease those feelings.
- Continue to shower the fur babies with love and affection: When you are reading this, you are probably thinking, “DUH!” but this is truly easier said than done when a newborn is involved! When we got home with our newborn, we had that feeling of “Okay…how do we do this NOW!?!” I hope I am not the only person that feels that way, but it was definitely a crazy time! You are sent home from the hospital that just provided you with care and guidance, and now you are expected to raise a human (a decent one at that) with no manual!!! I will be honest and say we were not the best at this #2 item when we got home. We were so absorbed in our little human I feel like our fur babies may have suffered some (I mean in a completely nonviolent, non-threathening, non-harmful sort of way). Prior to our little one’s birth, my husband and I had a plan. He would be extremely attentive to the dogs when I had the baby and vice versa. This was a great plan, in theory, but when both of the parents are trying to maneuver their way through their newly minted parenthood, it does not always work that way. My advice, try to stick with our original plan. This may ensure that your fur babies do not act out as much as ours did (bring on the “accidents” in the house that NEVER happened before the baby). I can tell you something that I learned, if you are worrying about whether or not you are doing X, Y, or Z correctly and you are actively engaging in methods to try your best to do so, you are probably doing a good job as a parent! Pat yourself on the back! However, be reasonable with yourself…your human baby really is your priority…with your fur babies coming up a close second…so just try to have some balance, because this is a sensitive time.
- Do not push the issue: What I mean by this is do not push the dogs to interact if they are not ready. The fur babies and the baby will naturally form their own relationship, on their terms, when they are ready. What I noticed is this seemed to naturally begin to happen when our little guy’s personality began to develop. The dogs responded to this favorably. Also, in this development, the fur babies’ personalities will begin to manifest certain interactions with your human baby. What I mean by this is one of the pet’s relationship with the baby may look completely different from the other pet’s, and that is perfectly okay! Bella has a tendency to be very active and excited to interact with our little guy when he is playing (or spitting up…hahah!), while Lily prefers to cuddle with him and I when he is calm and/or napping in my arms.
- NEVER let your guard down: ALWAYS monitor when your fur babies and your kid(s) are interacting. You DO NOT know what could happen! It does not matter how sweet your pets and children are, if one manages to irritate the other, someone could get hurt (your child or pet). You also cannot assume that something will NEVER happen just because your pet or child has not ever done anything harmful in the past. There is always the possibility of an accident. I don’t even leave our little one alone with the pugs and their “Pac Man” like mouth makes it almost impossible to do much damage with a bite!
As I said, all of this may very well seem like common sense to you, but if not, I hope it is helpful. Also, if it does, perhaps this will give you’re a good reference when your Mommy hormones and instincts are raging! Further, if it simply reassures your feelings because of your experience with a similar interaction, this post was worth the effort! To close, I would simply like to say that for everyone (human baby, fur baby, and anyone else for that matter), love and affection is an imperative part of life, so try to provide as much as you can!
ps. Be sure to be on the look-out for our themed halloween costumes…fur babies included!