It’s a dog’s life…

Today is a somber day.

After much debating, we have come to the conclusion that we have to get rid of our dog.

We love our dog. He is beautiful, smart, eager to learn, always happy to see us, always ready for a walk or a fetch session… He is full of energy but happy to sit around at home. He will roll over so that the neighbor’s kids can rub his tummy. He knows a bunch of tricks and he is so cute that everyone stops us on the street to talk to him, ask us what breed he is, etc.

But this morning, he snapped at our baby.

There are lots of sacrifices you have to make when you have a child. We didn’t think this would be one of them. We knew it could happen, of course, and there is obviously no doubt in our minds that the safety of our child has to come first. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

Our dog, Sherpa, is 3 1/2 years old. Despite all of his good traits, described above, he is also the least affectionate dog I have ever met. Except for the rare belly rub, he doesn’t like being petted. If we are sitting on the couch, he would rather be lying on the ground than on the couch with us. He would never ever come to us and put his head on our lap. He likes being around us, but not touching us. It’s not for lack of trying, and it’s not a characteristic of the breed. It’s just his temperament. We would have liked a more cuddly animal, but we accepted his quirks and lived with them.

When our baby was born, Sherpa was mostly indifferent to the situation. He adjusted easily to the reduction in his exercise time and we didn’t give more thought to the matter. Then our boy started crawling. Sherpa was stressed out for a while and would growl if the baby came too close to him, but it was easy to manage as the baby was slow, and the dog seemed to get better after a while. However, now that our son is walking, he’s much faster. The growling has become regular. And this morning, while our dog was cleaning up under the baby’s high chair, the said baby went to him and touched him. We had turned our attention the other way for just a minute, but it was enough time for the growl to turn into a bark and a snap. It scared the baby to tears. It could have been much, much worse.

We just can’t take any chances. Zak’s family will be happy to take care of Sherpa, at least for a bit if not permanently. Everyone will breath easier, including Sherpa who is quite stressed out around the baby. But it leaves us with a lot of bitterness. There are so many people out there who don’t put half as much effort as we have made in choosing and training this dog, and yet they end up with perfect family dogs. It’s just bad luck that we ended up with a dog with this temperament, but it’s hard to accept, especially since he’s so gentle with everyone that it will be hard to make people believe what happened. And when we got a dog, it was because we wanted a dog! Now we will have to wait until our child(ren) are old enough to deal with a dog and start over again with the training, etc.

I know. The dog could have died of a disease or been hit by a car and we would have been just as dog-less but without the happy ending for Sherpa, who will be spending time on the beach fetching balls. And Elliot could have been mauled, which would make us feel much, much worse. But there are days when life sucks, and this is one of them. Now we just have to hope that our cat settles down…

The end…

It hit me yesterday. I was lying on the floor with my boy climbing on my tummy and I suddenly realized that today is my last real day at home with him. I still have next week, but Zak will be home and we will be working on the transition. So it won’t be the same. It will never be the same.

This week I found myself spending more time on the floor with my baby, the computer becoming less appealing all of a sudden. I watched him play. I laughed and frolicked and rolled around with him. I chatted with him a lot. I savored the moment. I thought of all these times when I thought of something I should do with him and said “I’ll do it later. Some other day”. I had a whole year, right? Well, now the year is over. I’m going back to work.

I know I’m extremely lucky. Zak will be home taking care of our boy so I won’t have to worry about his well-being, about making it to daycare on time, etc. But it still means that it won’t be me at home. I won’t be taking my son to the aquarium on a week day, I won’t be going to play group, then for coffee with a friend on a Monday morning. I may not be there when he hits his next big milestone. I won’t be the primary caregiver anymore. And when he hurts himself, he will probably cry for Zak.

I’m glad that Zak will be able to live that. They’ll share a special bond, and there’s no reason for me to have it and not him. But I’ll still be jealous, even though I’ll try to hide it. In the last 21 months (counting the pregnancy), I have not been away from this baby for more than a few hours (probably not more than two unless he was sleeping). And on the 5th of August when I step out the door to go to work, I know there will be tears rolling down my cheeks. I will be turning a page on the most intense adventure of my life.

I’d write some more, but I have a date with a one-year-old… See you later!

It’s a miracle!

Last night, my baby slept through, from 7:30 pm to 5:50 am!

Ok, I know, they say that a newborn who sleeps 6 hours in a row is “sleeping through the night”. But that’s of little comfort to the parents. And our boy had slept through the night twice at about 3 months old, from 9 pm to 7 am or something like that. But it was so long ago I can barely remember.

Now Sunday night, he slept through to 4:30. Monday night, to 5:15. We were crossing our fingers! Tuesday night, he woke up at about 1 and I decided not to feed him at that time but only comfort him. At 3, I caved in and fed him as he kept waking up. Then this morning, he slept until 6.

And guess what? Last night was the first day of the big fireworks festival in Vancouver. They are just a few blocks away from our place and it is so loud you’d think noone could sleep through that (granted, last year I did sleep through some of them, but I was 9 months pregnant and exhausted). Well, our boy never woke up.

As I am getting ready to go back to work in just over a week, it is very good news. Now to see if he’ll do it again or if it was just a fluke! Oh, and well, if only I could sleep through the night too…

Brain Building…

I’m sure every first-time parent goes through this phase, but lately I have simply been fascinated with the way my baby is evolving. He started saying words, then yesterday for the first time he recognized a drawing in a book and identified it (well, it was a dog and he made his sound for cat, but still, that’s pretty darn close). He can now point his way through most wants and needs. He is associating objects with their function (trying to put shoes on his feet, clothes over his head, etc.).

I guess what is fascinating is how fast those changes are occurring. I won’t even comment on the fact that a year ago my boy wasn’t even born… But 4 or 5 months ago he was still a newborn with very limited control over his body. Just in the last month, he has mastered walking, has started saying words and using them properly, waves and says bye-bye, points at the food he wants (and shakes his head no to the food he doesn’t want), understands when I ask him if he wants some milk… His playing with us is becoming more complicated than peek-a-boo as he will now chase and like being chased, try to brush our teeth with the toothbrush or feed us his food, etc. And he started blowing raspberries on our tummy!

About a month ago, we took out the harmonica and played it for him. He loved it and wanted to put his mouth on it, but couldn’t make a sound as he didn’t understand how. Yesterday, he managed to blow in it to make music, and then when I put it away (against his wish) he started pointing at it while blowing air through his lips. It’s small things like that that amaze me. He is 11 months old and already making cognitive links that most animals would never be able to make. Aren’t humans amazing?

All cynics should be having kids. It’s a good remedy.

Camping Weekend

This weekend, we went camping in Golden Ears provincial park with 3 other couples that we met in prenatal classes. Therefore, we had 4 babies between the age of 10 1/2 and 11 1/2 months. I’m sure our neighbours got nervous when they saw us arrive, but it went remarkably well, with very little meltdowns or night wake-ups. We had a hard time getting our son to fall back asleep when he woke up at 11, but he napped really well both Saturday and Sunday. The babes had fun playing in the puddles on the beach, eating rocks and twigs, etc. Our boy got to practice his newly-found walking skills in the sand and on the uneven ground of the forest. To our great amazement, he didn’t even seem to mind spending time in a play pen with his friends.

We took some photos before our camera died (we have been having issues with the batteries), so eventually we should be able to post them!

Anatomy of a Friendship

From the age of 12 to 19, I had a best friend… Let’s call her Kathy. I met her in school and for a while we shared everything: our dreams, crushes on cute guys, all of our free time… Kathy had a very dominant personality, and I now realize that with her around, mine all but disappeared. I had very little opinions, likes and dislikes that weren’t hers. Fortunately, she was a good kid so following her leadership didn’t land me in trouble.

Just before I turned 19, though, I started dating my first boyfriend – let’s call him Jim. Jim was a friend of Kathy first (I met him through her), and in my very romantic ideals on friendship I didn’t want to risk losing her for a guy, so I actually asked her first if she would mind me and Jim dating. Her answer was the sign of things to come: “Go ahead, I’ll just make new friends”. Kathy wasn’t good at sharing friends. When she wanted to go out with you, she didn’t take no for an answer. So as I started spending more time with Jim, Kathy (who was still single) and I drifted apart. She got closer to her friends from University, where we had just started different programs.

When Jim and I broke up, Kathy and I grew closer again. But not long after that, we both went on a one-year trip, me in BC, her in Europe. When we came back home, she was still single but I had met Zak (although we lived a long-distance relationship for that first year). I would call Kathy, but she was always out with her other friends. I kept in touch with her, but something was obviously missing between us. Then I moved to Vancouver and although I would call her and visit with her every time I went back home, it had become very awkward.

There are friends you can call once in a while and visit irregularly but still feel close to. Kathy was not one of them. Every time I saw her, I felt uneasy asking about a life I had once shared. We didn’t call or email in between those twice yearly visits. I would come out of our meetings depressed. I knew there was no real friendship there anymore, but I found it hard to cut the cord. I guess it was the main link to my teenage years and dreams. Maybe I didn’t want to grow up just yet. Maybe it was too big of a step towards admitting that I was gone somewhere else, that I had left – maybe for good. One day, on my way to yet another disappointing meeting with Kathy, I had a good chat with my older – and sometimes wiser – brother, who explained to me that it was normal for friends to drift apart as they grew older and that I shouldn’t see it as a failure. It helped me make a decision. About two years after I moved here, I went back home and decided that my schedule was too tight to waste time having lunch with someone I didn’t really feel like seeing. I didn’t call Kathy. I haven’t seen her in the three years since.

Turns out, last summer, my son was born on Kathy’s birthday. So I thought of her a lot since then. I thought of sending her and other old friends a note to let them know I had had a baby. But upon close examination of my motives, I figured I was just looking for an occasion to brag about my oh-so-cute baby, so I didn’t.

Then last week, I saw her on MSN… We hadn’t used MSN forever and I didn’t even realize Kathy was still on my contact list. She was. And the photo she had there was that of her with a baby boy. Funny coincidence, isn’t it? He must be a bit younger than my son. Again, I feel like maybe I should drop her a note. Ask how old her boy is, how things are going. But I’m not sure if my motives are noble – maybe it’s just unhealthy curiosity doubled with a hope that my son is cuter, more advanced, better than hers? Part of me thinks that we are grown up now, and although I feel like I was right to stop seeing her (and she never contacted me either – ever), I (and therefore, you) have only one side of the story. Maybe I did something she didn’t like without realizing it – we never talked about our issues. Maybe now that we have something this big in common – motherhood – we could reconnect?

But then, we probably wouldn’t. And I would most likely be disappointed.

Maybe I’ll think about it some more…

How long is too long?

How much time would you expect the paramedics to take before they show up if you called for an ambulance?

Recently, we had an emergency in our house. Zak had a really bad headache on one side of the head and it wasn’t going away, then his face started going numb, so he called the nurse line. After talking to him for a bit, the very nice nurse told him to call 911 because he had all the symptoms of shock. So he did, then he passed me the phone as he was starting to find it hard to talk. His breathing became labored as I was on the phone with the 911 operator, who said that the ambulance was on its way and, and I quote, to “reassure him that help was coming and call back if he got worse”.

Shortly thereafter, Zak started shaking from head to toe and was breathing increasingly faster. He asked me to call a neighbor who is a doctor, and she graciously accepted to come help us out. She examined Zak and reassured us that nothing seemed wrong with him, and eventually his breathing and shaking calmed down. His head was still hurting a bit, but he didn’t look like he was going into shock anymore. With things looking better, our neighbor went home and we just wanted to go to bed. But the paramedics hadn’t arrived yet…

All in all, it took them an hour and a half. Granted, if our neighbor hadn’t come, I would have called back and maybe it would have bumped us up in the 911 priority system. Maybe. But it scared the hell out of me, because I thought that I could count on an ambulance (or a fire truck – aren’t they first respondents in BC?) to show up within minutes of a call. Did I mention we’re a 5-minute walk away from the nearest hospital? I guess in a real emergency, we’ll run to the ER instead of waiting for an ambulance…

The thing is, I told them that Zak looked like he was going into shock and he was having more and more trouble breathing. And that he passed me the phone because he was finding it too hard to talk. Shouldn’t that have warranted a relatively quick arrival? Are we on a black list of hypochondriacs? It is the first time ever we call for an ambulance, although we have called 911 before when the fire alarm was going. It did turn out to be a false alarm, but the fire department itself says to call in such cases. So we shouldn’t yet be considered trouble!

Anyway, I learned two things that night. Good neighbors are priceless, and the 911 system is not foolproof. I just hope they had bigger emergencies to take care of.