Many activities have become harder now that I’m seven months pregnant. Home pedicures, for example, have become next to impossible since I can barely reach my toes. Sleeping has also become more of a challenge. As has standing. And also sitting. But the one thing that has brought on the most noticeably increasing level of difficulty is caring for my dog, Rusty.
Rusty is fairly easy, as dogs go. Still, he’s a dog. And that means he has to be walked, fed, cuddled with, picked-up after, played with, cuddled with, washed, and also cuddled with. (Rusty requires a lot of time in the cuddling department). The cuddling part is the one thing I can still do easily, though I’ve had to come up with new snuggle positions, due to my inability to lie on my back and my swiftly decreasing lap space.
Feeding Rusty is fine, although it’s becoming more difficult to bend over. My yoga teacher says this is a good opportunity to practice my squats, though I say that squats are only practical if wearing yoga pants. Squatting in jeans and work shoes is a little less than ideal. Perhaps on the days I’m wearing uncomfortable clothing I should develop a new dog feeding technique in which I throw the food to him, like dolphin trainers do with fish. If only Rusty were as smart as a dolphin.
I hear second-time moms in my prenatal yoga class talk about the challenges of caring for their toddler while being pregnant. I try to relate. “Oh, I know! It’s so hard when you’re tired and he just wants to play. He doesn’t understand that you don’t have the energy to take him to the park, throw the ball for him, or lean over and pick up his poop.”
I think I lose them at “poop.”
But it truthfully really is hard to lean over and pick up the poop. That’s when my yoga teacher recommends the squatting again. Perhaps I should spend less time at yoga. It doesn’t help that Rusty always chooses the most hard-to-reach place to relieve his bowels.
My husband, Wes, and I have a deal in which I wash the dog and he dries him. But filling the bucket with water, then lifting it to pour over the dog has become next to impossible. I end up filling it with a lot less water, which means multiplying the times I have to lift and pour. Really, there’s no winning. Perhaps he’ll need to just go dirty till the baby comes. Then we can throw them in the bath together. Is that an acceptable thing? I don’t know.
Rusty is a small dog, but he still weighs more than 20 pounds. It used to be no big deal to pick him up and carry him if he wouldn’t go where I wanted him to go. But now, I’m already carrying an extra 25 pounds around the front of my body, so adding 20 to that is no easy feat.
All that being said, there are numerous wonderful things about having a dog while pregnant. First, it’s great practice co-parenting with Wes. We’re forced to share responsibilities, negotiate schedules and take turns providing care. Just like real parents.
Rusty is a good influence in many ways. He ensures that I get outside at least once or twice a day. Sure, I can’t walk as far as I could a few months ago, but I can still go outside and enjoy the sun. He also reminds me to just lay down and take a nap every so often, and to take time out of the day to cuddle.
As cheesy as it sounds, Rusty also reminds me how nice it is to be part of a family. I spent many years as a very independent person. Now, I have Wes and Rusty to share my life with. And soon, there will be a fourth family member to love, to care for, and to love me back. Until she’s a teenager and she hates me for a while. Luckily, Rusty never went through that phase.
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About Audrey Khuner: A contradictory mix of cynicism and sentimentality, Audrey believes wedding vows are cheesy yet cries at almost every episode of This American Life. She enjoys telling Jewish jokes with her 100-year-old grandma, drinking bourbon cocktails (missing them while pregnant), and curling up with her husband (Wes) and Schnauzer-mutt (Rusty). She’s the creator of hotguysandbabyanimals.com and writer for Dogster.