9 Ways A Dog Puppy Prepares You For A Baby

Jen wanted to bring home a puppy as soon as we moved into our new house and knowing that a baby was on the cards soon, I gave in. We added Leo into our family in October 2015 and despite a challenging 1 year since then, I realize how he has helped us prepare to be first time parents. Read on, and you will understand how.

1. Sense of responsibility- Having a baby brings different level of responsibilities. Just like raising a puppy. Leo couldn’t do anything on his own when we brought him home for the first time. Of course, he was able to sit, walk, run and sleep by himself but he needed our support to do all these. For example, taking him out to poo, giving him food or putting him in the crate. For the first time, we had this sense of ownership, responsibility and accountability towards another living being. It is completely different from taking care of your parents or your partner. They are not dependent on you to eat or sleep. We took Leo to Puppy training classes, to the Vet whenever he fell sick, to the groomers for his regular bath and spa, daily walks, protected him from other dogs whenever he felt scared, etc. Albeit at varied levels, isn’t the concept same with raising a child?

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Leo’s First Day Home

2. Sleepless nights- Babies will need to be fed frequently throughout the day (and night) and they need to be cleaned every now and then as they cannot control their urge to pee or poo. Same with puppies. Puppies have a small bladder and they cannot hold their pee for more than 2 hours. So Jen and I took turns taking Leo out to the Garden whenever he cried at night. I am a tight sleeper and I was clearly annoyed the first couple of weeks getting up every alternate hour but the very thought of a young puppy suffering because you do not want to wake up is unimaginable. Within two months of Leo’s arrival, we were getting up only once in the night to let him out. It will be longer and more strenuous with a human baby but for a first-time-dad like me, this experience with Leo was like a crash course in parenting and a good lesson that some things worth losing sleep over. Wish me luck though!

3. Coordination between Mum and Dad- With Leo, we soon realized that mixing up responsibilities would not work. We split the tasks we had at hand whether it was taking care of Leo, cooking, cleaning or grocery shopping. Jen wakes up at 6.00 am and has to be at work by 8.15 am whereas I wake up at 7.15 am and need to start at work by 9.30 am. So Jen feeds Leo at around 7.00 am, he plays for a bit and then I will take him for a walk at 7.30 am. Keeping Leo’s crate clean, keeping him on lead when out, picking up his poo and sanitizing the patio are some of my responsibilities whereas Jen takes care of his grooming, feeding, letting him out of the crate if he still cries at night etc. Also, if Jen cooks dinner, then I will keep Leo occupied and vice versa. This coordination of tasks helps us give enough attention to each area of our lives, including Leo, and helps prevent overwhelming one person. What I also found was that before Leo, Jen and I used to bicker constantly about our responsibilities but now our understanding has increased and we argue rarely with issues related to house etc. Of course, you can do this coordination without even a dog/puppy but we do see a clear difference in how we handled our relationship before and after Leo. With a human-baby, this coordination skill will go a long way and will help develop a healthy bond between the parents as well as the baby.

4. Nappy business- This was one of the toughest part for me when we brought Leo home. I retched and vomited for good 4 months every time I had to pick up after Leo. One year down the line now, I have gotten used to it and it rarely bothers me. I am quite sure this experience will help with all the nappy changing when the baby arrives.

5. Clean home?- An untidy home is part and parcel of having a baby. So, if you are a cleanliness freak like me, then prepare yourself to embrace the mess. I like to keep my house clean and things in place (not to the extent of obsessiveness, but I take pride in my house) but since the day we brought Leo home, the place we live in has turned into a war zone. It was difficult, but soon I accepted the fact that no matter what you do, you cannot keep your house looking shiny and things in their respective places. This is a phase and Leo has helped us enjoy it and prepare for it.

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Leo Performing Surgery On A Wicker Basket

6. Patience- I love my nephew to bits but I used to get very irritated and angry whenever he would put on the ‘naughty’ mask or throw a tantrum. I would feel bad later though as I know kids will always be kids. Puppies are notorious. They will poo and pee wherever they want, rip apart your sofa, bark when you are resting, pull you on the lead, run away from you during walks, jump on you, scratch you all over your arms, bite you etc etc etc. The list is endless. All this will stop once you train your puppy but like everything else, there is a learning curve which you will have to put up with. Without patience and compassion, you will not be able to handle a puppy for more than 2 months. The same qualities, that you need as parents.

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King Of The Castle

7. A new Language- Dogs cannot talk in human language but they have their subtle moves through which they will either communicate with you or will make it easier for to understand what they want. Although, I am still learning, I guess I can understand when Leo wants something, without producing any vocal sounds. Babies are not much different in the formative years until they start speaking and this capability to decipher body language signals will serve as an invaluable skill to understand your baby’s needs and addressing them.

8. Understanding yourself and your partner- Leo brought out sides of me which Jen or even my parents had not seen and I saw Jen in a completely different light, after Leo. I considered myself as incapable of being a parent since I was short-tempered, irritable, lazy and irresponsible but with Leo it was always the opposite. Jen even complemented me that I would make a good father. But whenever I handled a situation incorrectly with Leo, Jen will help me understand what I was doing wrong and how I should manage it better the next time. Likewise, seeing Jen with Leo gave me immense confidence that she knows what it takes to be a good Mother but not everyone is perfect, so if I felt she could have done something differently, I will share it with her. This practice has really strengthened our mutual understanding of each other and; knowing each others’ strengths and weakness helps us function as a unit.

9. Endless love- A dog’s love towards its dog-parents is at a different dimension compared to human love. Dogs teach you how to love someone unconditionally and without any expectations. Leo would forgive our mistakes and still come and lick our faces as if nothing happened. He would wait for hours at the door if both of us had to go out for any reason. I would ask Leo to leave me alone if I was busy with something and he will sit there waiting for me to call him back, and when I do, he will come jumping at me. I hope we will be able to love our baby (and Leo) just how Leo does us.

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A ‘Date’ With The Scan

One of the Hospital visits that Jen and I were keenly looking forward to was the Pregnancy Dating Scan visit. Jen, because she wanted some sort of confirmation of the pregnancy (she still believed that there was a 1% chance the pregnancy stick she used had errors) and I, because I just wanted to see the baby.

We reached the Hospital almost 40 minutes before the appointment time, mainly due to the enthusiasm and also because this was our first visit to the Hospital and we wanted to acquaint ourselves with the parking, Maternity ward, facilities available etc. We checked in at the Maternity department reception and were asked to wait. The waiting area was calm, well-lit and had other moms-to-be with their partners and some children.

As always, Jen starting reading through the notices and pamphlets around the ward whereas I settled in with my favorite past time- observing people (not staring or judging!). A young couple complaining to the receptionist about how long they have been waiting when others are being called in, another mom-to-be trying everything to gain her partner’s attention whilst he was busy with his phone, a seemingly teenage couple getting all excited about the scan, a middle aged lady with a calm demeanor sipping a cup of coffee; and an elderly couple, probably in their late 60’s, sitting very quietly holding each others hands. I have always been fascinated by the human-kind. We are all so fundamentally similar yet so strikingly different.

Back to the topic, there were notices around the reception room asking the visitors not to take any photos during the scan. Great, I thought! Just the previous day, a colleague of mine had advised me to take some cash with me in case I wanted photos of the scan and I jokingly mentioned that I will take photos with my phone. I ran out to find an ATM and after searching for about 15 minutes within the Hospital, found one right next to the Maternity ward!

We were called in to the scan room shortly afterwards and as we entered, the Sonographer, somewhat discourteously, pointed towards a chair and asked me to sit. I promise I will behave.

After the usual question and answer session, the Sonographer applied gel on Jen’s tummy and started the scan with the Ultrasound probe. I must say, it was not very easy to find the baby as the Sonographer kept changing the probe position. She  said that the baby was trying to move away from the probe. Cute! After about a minute or so, a fuzzy outline of the baby emerged which was nowhere near the other scan photos I had seen on various forums online. It was a baby, yes, but it was just not clear. The Sonographer said that for some people, the scan is not clear and that Jen was one of them. After trying for 10 more minutes, the Sonographer asked Jen to have something to drink and return after 20 minutes. The reason was, because of the unclear scan, the Sonographer was unable to perform the Nuchal translucency test (measuring the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck) which forms part of the ‘combined test’ conducted to check for Down’s syndrome.

Jen held my hand walking towards the Hospital cafeteria, deeply lost in her thoughts. I told her there was nothing to worry. And I knew it.

The second attempt at the scan went well, I would say. The scan was still fuzzy but this time we were able to see the baby much clearly. An alien like entity with extended arms. We saw the baby float up and down in the amniotic fluid just like how Leo jumps in air when Jen or I return from work. Does the baby know we are watching? Scientifically, no, but you never know. The Sonographer joked that the baby was dancing to Bollywood music!

It was an amazing, emotional and a ‘goose-bump’ moment. I told myself, “There it is, our baby” and glanced at Jen. She had this distinct look on her face which eventually inspired me to start this blog (read more here).

After trying further, the Sonographer gave up and said that the Nuchal translucency test could not be done as the scan was not clear enough. She advised us to book a blood test with the Hospital to screen for the risk of Down’s syndrome at approximately 14th week of the pregnancy. What she did confirm was that there was one baby and the EDD (Estimated Due Date), which will be 28-Jan-2017.

As we were wrapping up, I asked the Sonographer for a photo. She was not happy with the quality of the photos so decided to give us 2 photos for the cost of 1.

It may be not be clear, but means a lot to us!Dating Scan1Dating Scan2

Jen sat quietly in the car back home. As I was starting to comprehend what all emotions she must be going through, she looked at me and asked, “What do you think that elderly couple was doing in the Maternity ward?”

You can find more about the Pregnancy Dating scan here.

If you want to share your Dating scan experience, leave a comment. Spread the joy of Parenthood!

Review: Book: The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know by Rob Kemp

As soon as the pregnancy was confirmed, I started sifting through my local Library’s online catalogue to see if there was any book that could help me prepare for this journey, especially the 9 months. In the following couple of months, I ended up reading 3 books and although all of them were informative in their own way, I found The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know by Rob Kemp to be the most helpful.

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I remember Jen questioning my choice when I picked up this book from the Library as the title suggested to help Dads put up through the 9 months as if it was some sort of punishment; but when I started quoting some points from the book to Jen couple of days later, she got interested and borrowed it from me to read herself. Now that I have read the book (well, almost), I can say that the title is appropriate, but not in a demeaning manner. The book helps prepare the Dad not only from his perspective but also from the Mother’s and Newborn’s point of view.

The book is split into 12 easy-to-read chapters with catchy chapter titles, which are further classified according to the week the pregnancy is in. This particularly helps as the reader can jump directly into the chapter based on our actual pregnancy status (in weeks) and can get focused advice. You can view the full list of Chapters here.

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The introduction is slick and quickly jumps on to “Chapter 1: Discovering You’re About to Become a Dad, Pregnancy: Weeks 0-8”. Chapter 2 was considerably informative for me especially since Jen was a little apprehensive about miscarriage and was being extra cautious. This chapter provides tips on some common causes of miscarriages from everyday steps of life and how best to avoid them, for example, clearing up after cats and dogs (animal waste contains parasites which can cause Toxoplasmosis leading to miscarriage), doing the gardening, handling raw meat, being vigilant whilst cooking and handling dairy products or eggs at home. These are all small yet important gestures that Dads could handle to ensure sufficient support to the Moms.

The subsequent chapters will expose the reader to a myriad of Hospital appointments with earmarks on which ones the Dad should not miss and which ones are fine for the Mom to attend by herself. Further chapters talk about practical stuff like gears to buy for the baby, moving house into a larger space, finances, preparing the nursery, workplace arrangements and even Parent benefits provided by the Government. The book gets a bit serious as you get closer to the EDD (Estimated Delivery Date) and explains in brief what are the pain relief options, what to pack for the Hospital visit, how you as a Dad can help the Mom feel relaxed and calm, dealing with C-section etc.

All of the chapters include a section called ‘Expectant Dads’ Experiences’ which are funny yet informative and tactfully describe the different ways in which Dads react to the same event.

The last 2 chapters are focused on Postpartum and up to 6 months respectively, which I have saved for a later date to read. And at the end there is a Glossary, section with Useful Resources and a handy Index.

In my opinion, the Author has done a commendable job in packing information in an interesting, catalogued and progressive manner ensuring that all key points to prepare for the pregnancy as well as to embark on the journey are discussed. The whole narrative comes across as if you are talking to a good friend who has gone through pregnancy himself and at no point is offensive. There are some dry jokes thrown in here and there which some readers might object to, but hey, that’s usual guy banter. And mind you, this book is primarily aimed at Dads.

If I had to find any fault in this book, it would be that one or two chapters are a bit short where the reader is left longing for more information, for example “Chapter 3 Testing Time Pregnancy Weeks 13-16” focuses entirely on scans and tests whereas misses to explain what is going through the Mom’s mind and how the Dad can be further supportive.

Overall, this is a must-read book for all New-Dads and a good refresher/resource for Dads expecting more children.

logo_2145627_webBeing-Dad Rating: 9/10

Catch-up

As you would have figured, there is lack of consistency between the post contents and the due date ticking on the blog. As evident from the Being Dad page, I started this blog a bit late hence most of my posts currently would be a reflection of my experience retrospectively. But I promise to catch-up and get up-to-date with my posts. Till then, happy reading!

The Reaction

“We are pregnant”. These were the words that Jen spoke into my ears on a shiny sunny morning in the month of May 2016. Into my ears, not because of any romantic inclination, but because I was fast asleep and she knows what struggle it could be to get me up.  I got up confused as she handed me the Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test stick where the LCD screen was flashing – “Pregnant 🙂 4-5 Weeks”.

I had been waiting for this moment for some time and had prepared various phrases and reactions that I would express when the moment would arrive but strangely, all of those disappeared into oblivion. I realized I was confused. I hugged Jen and said that I loved her and got out of the bed to take Leo for a walk. During the walk, my mind started preparing for the series of meetings I had at work and the work issues that were awaiting my attention from the previous day. Back at home, I discussed the pregnancy with my wife a bit before both of us went on about our ways to work. I was still confused, as it all seemed normal to me, as if it had to happen. Where was the surprise element?

The day went as usual and every now and then, “We are pregnant” resonated within me, taking me into a deep thought; but I was still missing the impact. Is this how other Dad’s would have reacted? The movies show a completely different picture. Or is that, something is wrong with me? I chose to believe the latter possibility. Continue reading