I'll admit, I was a little nervous about how they would react to a new little one in our household. How would they handle those hours upon hours of screaming and fussing? Would we have to worry about aggression, never fully trusting them in her presence? Would they act out, angry and upset that our attention had been diverted away from them?
In the months before Isabel's delivery, I read article after article about mixing dogs and babies. They all say the same things - never leave baby alone with the dogs; send something, like baby's first hat or blanket, home for the dogs to sniff before bringing baby home; learn to read your dog's signs of discomfort so you can act against it. All useful advice, but I'm not sure any of it actually prepared me for what it was going to be like bringing Isabel home.
We brought her in, sleeping in her car seat. The dogs were thrilled to see us. After all, we had been gone for two days. I took some time to greet them. I had missed them too, after all! And then, Isabel squawked. It was a little noise, but it was enough to divert their attention toward the car seat. Kingsley started to bark, his loud, protective, territorial bark. Mocha whined, crawling up on the back of the couch and wiggling her butt, the exact same reaction she has to the first squeak of a new toy. She thought Isabel was a squeaker toy, brought home just for her.
It was chaos.
I'm not sure how we got Kingsley to stop barking. Some of the details of those first days home with Isabel are a little fussy in my head. But eventually he did and eventually Mocha realized that this noisy thing was not a squeaker toy, but a living thing. And, in a matter of a day, they settled into a role of mild curiosity and curious affection.
They seem to have settled in contentedly to this new life with a baby. They're learning to sleep through 2 am and 4 am nursing sessions. They're getting used to walking with a stroller. They're being taught to give her space when she's napping.
Shortly after the Husband and I decided that it was time to grow our family, I remember looking at Mocha and wondering how I could love a baby as much as I love my dogs. Almost simultaneously, I began worrying about the opposite thing. How could I love my dogs as much as I did when a little human being arrived, demanding everything I had?
Neither worry has blossomed into fruition. In bringing Isabel home, as the dogs settled into a quiet acceptance of her presence, I realized there was space for all of them in my life. Isabel is getting most of my snuggles these days, and sometimes I miss the puppy snuggles, but just having them there, sleeping beside the couch as I nurse, or sniffing beside the stroller as we walk Isabel to sleep has become a constant that I cling to just a little. Our life has been turned upside down, but Mocha and Kingsley are still exactly the same.
See the tongue? This kid is going to grow up covered in dog slobber.