Having a bébé changes everything, not least of all for a family pet that’s used to being center of l’attention. Not only do the parent or parents have to learn how to take care of le nouvel ajout, but any animals also have to adjust to new sights, sounds, smells, and routines.
Such was my experience when I came home from the hospital with Le Bébé. Le Chien, the diva of the domicile for almost five glorious years, had quite le shock when he met his new little brother.
Le Chien thrives on routine. Really thrives. Like the crazy dog he is (le sigh). As the days, and then weeks, passed, L’Husband and I tried to keep his regular dining and walking schedule (with occasionally mixed results) and to include him in as as much baby care as possible. Every diaper change or bath time was a big event for everyone – with treats!
This approach worked for a while, but after about six weeks, having a new bébé in the house all the time took its toll on the hound. He became anxious (more than usual), shadowed me (more than usual), and ratcheted up the separation anxiety and stranger danger (more than usual). In short, he was starting to flippé.
At first, the hound was nervous but curious. A few cautious sniffs and licks later, he started to warm up to the idea of a new human in la maison, but remained firmly stationed on the other end of the couch, as it were. Watching, always watching.
Le Chien’s distress coincided with le bébé’s own daily bouts of the fussies and gastrointestinal distress, both of which culminated in crying and wailing. Spoiler alert: a sensitive dog does not *love* a lot of loud crying. Cue being extra jumpy and hiding under the bed and/or crib.
To be honest, the hound’s difficult adjustment was quite stressful for me on top of recovering from pregnancy and childbirth and taking care of a newborn and trying to get some sleep (sweet, sweet sleep). It did not help me embrace la maternité or ease my postpartum anxiety, let me tell you.
But I rallied and tried to make more time for my beloved firstborn fur baby, to comfort him and give him extra belly rubs and solo walks sans stroller. I get it – the little guy needed attention and reassurance after a life change, and to process the mechanics of sibling rivalry.
Le Chien eventually came around and his curiosity and deep-seated fear of missing out got the better of him. (Le Bébé changing to a more tummy-friendly lactose-free formula and outgrowing the colicky fussing didn’t hurt, either.)
Now Le Chien is back to his old self, as sassy as ever, and not pouting under the kitchen table or vomiting in his crate in the middle of the night (le sigh encore). He’s acting out in more fun and interesting ways, like climbing on an end table and waiting to be caught or stealing baby socks and hiding them all over the house.
And he loves his bébé, helping us through every bottle, every diaper, every trip to the in the nursery, every tummy time like the great big brother he is.
How have you adjusted to new experiences and challenges this year?
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À votre santé,