Weeks 23 & 24, Fur Babies

This post will be two week’s worth.  Not only because I’m actually in week 25 right now, but mainly because I have a lot to say about my other two children, the ones with paws.  You see, they were our first babies, and they had it made.  And then once I got pregnant, they really started to get shafted.  And with a third one on the way, well, they’re really gonna have it rough.  But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?…

Let’s start in 2009, when Nate and I started dating.  I was 20 years old and he was 28.  I was just starting court reporting school and still living at home.  And he was approaching 10 years in the Navy, having already travelled all over the world, and contemplating whether he was gonna re-up for another 10 years, or get out and do something else.  We were set up on a blind date by someone who was friends with both of our dads.  And she hassled them each saying that, “Your son,” and, “Your daughter,” need to meet.  Finally she just started calling Nate and I directly to tell us that she would leave us alone if we went on just one date.

I was resistant because I was really over dating at that point.  20-year-old guys can have that effect on you.  Nate was resistant because he thought for sure I had a boyfriend already, and also he didn’t want some, “20-year-old party girl.”  He was ready to settle down, get married, and have kids.  Which he bluntly told me when we spoke on the phone later that night.  And I was like, Dude, buy me dinner first.  Well, we ended up talking on the phone that night for four hours, and going on our first date that following weekend.  It was definitely love at first sight.  This man was a can-do, get-‘er-done, let nothing stop him kind of guy, which completely overwhelmed me, but was also very exciting.  And that’s exactly it, he was a man.  The first real man I had ever dated.  I was a little girl growing into a woman, and he held out his hand, and has lead me through life ever since.

After that first date, we spent every weekend trading off either him driving up to OC, or me driving down to SD to be together.  And then one day I showed up with my brand new Pomeranian puppy named Yoshi.  I was completely unsure of what his reaction would be.  Things were getting serious between us, and I hadn’t involved him at all in this decision.  Well, just as he was falling in love with me, he fell in love with her too.  In fact, he actually told her he loved her before he told me.  He and I were in a bit of a stand off as to who would say it first, and one night while cuddling with her on the couch, he let it slip out in a whisper.  And I was like, “What did you just say?!”  And he responded, “What?  Nothing!”  And immediately shoved Yoshi off of his lap, and shooed her away as if that would make me forget.  I actually thought it was hilarious because I knew for sure that he loved me and my little dog, but big tough man that he is, he could only admit it to a five pound fluff ball.

So then a few months later, after we had been dating for about eight months, he finally told me he loved me.  Then he told me about how he has wanted for a very long time to get a black lab, but hasn’t been able to because the military sends him away a lot.  And what did I think about moving in to take care of the dog.  Well, Nate’s never been known for his tact, but I have obviously always found that to be part of his charm.  I had only been moved in for about a month when we went to the breeder to pick out our new addition.  I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with this decision because our current apartment didn’t allow dogs, and we had already been sneaking Yoshi.  Now we were definitely going to have to move, and quick.  So while I’m starting to hyperventilate, Nate grabs my hand and tells me that he will always take care of me and our family, and everything’s going to be great.

We ended up moving just a little bit down the street, but still within walking distance to dog beach in Ocean Beach.  I was taking these pup dogs to dog beach at least three times a week.  We ended up naming our new Labrador Sasebo after Nate’s childhood family dog.  You see, Nate’s dad is a Navy man, of course, and apparently had had a really great time while on liberty in the port of Sasebo, Japan.  And then came home from that deployment, and bought little baby Nate a puppy which they named Sasebo.  I just liked the name because it was Japanese and so it matched Yoshi.  Our Sasebo grew to a whopping 90 pounds, but never grew out of that floppy labrador demeanor.  I started calling him Bobos for short, and it really just fits.

Once I got pregnant, the visits to dog beach lessened.  I was no longer as physically capable as I used to be, and couldn’t wrangle this beast of a dog when he decided to disobey.  Or on the rare occasions that another dog wanted to attack my goofy Bobos, I was useless, and this made me feel vulnerable and incapable.  Then once we had a baby, forget about it.  Nate used to run with Bobos a lot, but with a new baby, and growing responsibilities at work, those runs lessened also.  All in all, Bobos was taking these changes in stride… Until we bought the house.  But we’ll get to that in a minute.

As far as Yoshi, well, her barking escalated from a slightly annoying greeting whenever someone came to visit or when Nate came home from work, to an incessant and relentless yapping all day long at anything and everything.  She now had to compete for attention with not only me and Bobos, but adorable little baby Maverick.  And clearly it was just too much to handle.  I have tried many things over the years to combat this.  The tin can with the coins in it that you shake at her when she barks, and it’s supposed to startle her out of it.  Nope, she don’t care.  The spray bottle with 90% water and 10% vinegar that you spray at her when she barks.  Nope, she don’t care.  I even tried 90% vinegar and 10% water.  Still don’t care.  I tried all my best Cesar Millan impersonations and clearly failed.  I tried a product called the happy hoodie that the groomer puts on her to calm her.  Nope, don’t care.  Here’s a pic of it by the way, lmao.

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I have tried anything and everything that anyone has ever recommended to me to no avail.  Until finally I was able to train her to go to timeout.  I point and sternly tell her “Timeout,” and she will prance her yappy ass to the bathroom.  Sometimes I don’t even have to get up.  This, to me, is a victory.  So until I come up with some other idea, it’s as good as it’s gonna get.

Now, back to Bobos and his issues.  In 2013,  about four months after we had Maverick, we bought our little beach cottage in Ocean Beach.  We closed escrow on the house in mid December, and then two weeks later right after Christmas, Nate deployed for six months.  Bobos lost his mind and was overcome with anxiety.  Like where the hell are we, and where did dad go???  He would cry and whine here and there during the day when I was home and he was outside.  But apparently when I would leave the house with Maverick, and he was completely alone, he would howl non stop the entire time.  I received quite a few angry and threatening notes from my new neighbors telling me so.  No casseroles for me, lol.

So I took another tip from Cesar and gave Bobos a job.  I put him on the front deck where he could see me come and go, and gave him the official title of guard dog.  He would bark at anyone approaching my front gate, but the whining and crying while I was home ceased.  I also set up the baby monitor whenever I left the house to see if he was still howling, and it was cut down to very few and far between.  Success!  Or so I thought.

The next time Nate left for a few months — actually any time Nate leaves for longer than two weeks, I receive an anonymous angry note from some neighbor about something.  A couple of times it has been about Nate’s truck.  We park it on the curb in front of our house, and there’s really no more room for another car.  Now, when he’s not parked there, there’s just enough room for two small cars to park on that curb, although the butt of the second car comes very close to blocking me in my driveway.  Well, a couple of angry neighbors don’t like how much room his truck takes up in a beach town where parking is limited.  Did I mention that we park his truck on the curb in front of OUR house?  But I digress.

So Nate leaves again, and I receive another note about Bobos.  This one claimed that he howls all day AND night, which got me to thinking that these neighbors are just leaving notes on my door for any dog on the street.  Because Bobos sleeps inside with me at night.  And the night howler is, in fact, my neighbor behind me who works the night shift and leaves his dog outside all night.  Sometimes the dog barks in the middle of the night, and I open my bedroom window and tell him to cut it out.  I would never leave my neighbor an angry note about his dog that, go figure, barks at stuff.  But that’s just me.  So after that note, I made a big sign and taped it to my front fence.  Here’s a pic.

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So how else were we going to work on this.  Well, I tried a happy hoodie for Bobos which was just ridiculous.  I tried bark collars for both dogs and they kind of worked for a day or two, but not really.  For one thing, I knew I needed to exercise him more.  But remember, I’m a mom of a one-year-old, I’m working part time, I’m six months pregnant with Summerly, and my husband’s deployed.  So I tried exercising Bobos by throwing the ball down our cul-de-sac street from my front yard where I could safely watch Maverick at the same time.  But then he would see a random passerby, and bolt after them to say hi.  Well, that angered a few people too because although he’s a lover labrador, he’s a dog without a leash, and they were going to call animal control on me.  Yeesh.

So then I took another que from Cesar and decided to buy a treadmill.  The smallest one that I could find to fit in our tiny little beach house, and could be folded up and stored under our guest bed.  It was a walking, low-speed treadmill, and it was about $200 on Amazon.  So every morning while I fed Maverick his breakfast, I would set up Bobos on the treadmill, and sit and encourage him to trot for about 30 minutes.  Nate thought I was crazy, but truthfully I was pregnant and desperate.  Here’s a pic of that idea.

So Nate came home, we had Summerly, and Bobos has calmed down a little with age.  He’s almost eight now!  Well, I’m pregnant again, Nate has been gone for about a month, and I have received another note.  This time they are angry that he barks when people walk past my house.  And I’m thinking, Yeah, he’s a guard dog, duh!  Okay, fine.  We’ll work on that.  So I reprimand him when he barks at people walking by, and only allow him to bark at people who are actually walking up the stairs to the gate.  I am a woman with a husband away, who likes to leave the front door open occasionally, and two small babies who want to play in the front yard a lot, and I appreciate when my dog alerts me to someone approaching my fence.  So bring on the notes.

My dogs are my children with fur.  And even though they cause me a huge amount of stress sometimes, I will always try to meet their needs because I am their mama, and I love them dearly.  So even though they fall lower on the priority list each time we have a baby, we will never be giving up on them.  So good luck to me with my three babies, plus two fur babies, which equals a lot of angry neighbors.

Week 22, Pregnant in Public (continued)

So last post I talked about how being pregnant in public seems to give people the sense that it’s okay to approach you and either vent about their kids, or judge you for having your own.  But I also wanted to add that the better part of being pregnant in public is that people will give you a lot more slack, and let you get away with a lot of what’s usually considered socially unacceptable behaviors.  I call it the, “Pregnant card.”  Whether you are pulling it yourself, or other people are pulling it for you, the bottom line is that you can pretty much pull the pregnant card for any reason whatsoever, and people will be understanding.  Or at least they will pretend to be, because otherwise they look like jerks.  Now, I try not to abuse this, but truthfully I am so grateful for being held to a lower standard when I’m pregnant.  I really need the leeway.  And even if some of us preggies don’t admit it, we all do.

There are just so many physical changes going on with your body, that you literally just can’t keep up.  One example I can give is that when I was about five months along with my first baby, my left boob started leaking colostrum.  It was my body’s way of preparing for breastfeeding.  Just a non-stop drippy faucet nipple.  Completely random and ridiculous.  And for some reason, only the left.  Well, it’s one thing when you start leaking through your shirt in public and explain that it’s feeding time for your newborn baby.  But what the hell do you say when you are clearly still pregnant?  Well, it’s happening, and there’s no stopping it.  Pregnant card.

Another thing that happens to me right around six months along is that I get this really severe pain in my rib muscles right below my right boob.  The doctors call it costochondritis, and told me that it’s basically inflammation in my ribs and cartilage from the rapid stretching and growing of my body.  The only thing that helps for the pain, and that I’m actually allowed to take, is lidocaine numbing patches that I wear.  To make sure these patches stick to my skin during the day, I wrap gauze around my ribs on top of the patch.  So now with the patch and the gauze on, it’s kind of bulky to then wear a bra on top of all that.  And it’s really just a lot of pressure and uncomfortable with the pain.  But then I have to wear a bra so that I can stuff the breastmilk pads in there to soak up the colostrum from the leaky boob.  So the solution to one symptom causes a problem for another.  Thus, a pregnant hot mess.  Pregnant card.

But best of all is when you don’t actually have to pull the pregnant card yourself.  I was at the DMV, waiting for an eternity of course, and a man waved for my attention from across the very crowded room and offered me his seat.  I was so incredibly grateful because I had actually been feeling kind of lightheaded and dizzy.  I will never forget it.  Also I have been allowed to cut in line in the ladies room a few times in these pregnancies, and I’m telling you people, it is hugely appreciated. Chivalry is not dead yet, but let’s all keep a conscious mind to keep it going.

And one last example of the pregnant card is that no one will get in-between a pregnant woman and her food.  You can eat anything you want, any time you want, and anywhere you want.  “No food allowed,” signs do not apply to you.  And even if someone does try to enforce it, you just give them a look, (which is all you can do because your mouth is too full to speak to them,) and they think better of it and walk away.  It’s really great.  You know how they always have candy bowls in waiting rooms and no one ever takes any?  Not me.  I’m usually taking an obnoxious handful and giggling with delight.  I once showed up to work not knowing that my lips and mouth were bright blue from eating candy on the drive there.  Well, that’s easily explained with the pregnant card.  You see, a pregnant woman with a craving is like a ravenous, scavenging honey badger who will stop at nothing until her craving is sated.

So like I said before, being pregnant in public is a whole different ball game than being pregnant in the comfort of your own home.  People will judge you a lot, but they will also forgive a lot.  It’s really interesting to navigate through this new circumstance, but I find it mostly hysterical and exciting.  And all of this is just the journey 🙂

P.S.  Here are some pix of Mav’s second visit to the dentist a few days ago.  He had a great time, but Summerly wasn’t too happy even though the visit wasn’t for her.  We shall see what happens when it’s her turn in a couple weeks.  Wish us luck!

Week 21, Pregnant in Public

Being pregnant in public feels like you have a big neon sign above your head flashing all kinds of words at any given moment.  And it’s all completely out of your control.  People see you pregnant, and then they see whatever sign it is that they relate to pregnancy.  All of a sudden you are more approachable, and people want to talk to you about whatever it is they are thinking, whether their input is wanted or not.  Most people are nice, and want to know how you’re feeling and whether this is your first baby, etc.  Some people just start rambling and venting about their kids and whatever is going on in their lives.  A few will tell you, in detail, about their birth experience…TMI.  And many others will just give you varying looks of joy, fondness, hesitation, skepticism, or a mixture of many unidentified emotions.  It can be very confusing and awkward because these looks and emotions are directed at you, but really have nothing to do with you.

Now, with my first pregnancy, I was very much aware of this neon sign, and how people were reacting to me differently.  It was quite a shock to be bombarded with other people’s emotions and thoughts, when I was already dealing with my own boat load of hormones and emotions about the unknown of having a baby.  But then on the flip side, I preferred the people who just babbled their thoughts to me, rather than stay silent when the expression on their face told me that they clearly had things they wanted to say.  With my second pregnancy however, I was much more confident since I was already a mom, and I was somewhat used to the sign and awkward public interactions.  Now with my third, I am a veteran, and almost look forward to hearing all the weird crap people say.  It has become more amusing than awkward.

I will say, however, that with this third pregnancy, the public reactions are really falling more into two categories.  When Nate and I are out together with the kids and they are happy, people are amazed and proud for us for daring to have three.  When it’s just me with the kids trying to run errands, and one or both of the kids are having a meltdown, people look at me thinking, “Wow, should she really be having another kid!?”  I’m telling you, the judgement is palpable.  It actually took me a minute to figure it out because it’s new to this third pregnancy.

Here’s the thing though, when you see me pregnant in public with two unhappy toddlers, take your judgement and turn it into empathy.  Hell, I’ll even take pity at this point.  Because being pregnant means I’m already physically feeling like crap in one way or another.  And, no, it’s not pleasant when my kids are screaming at each other in Target at the top of their lungs.  And if I had any energy left, I might even feel embarrassed.  But mostly I’m just trying to stick to the task at hand, which is picking up food to cook dinner for my ungrateful children, and my amazing Hubby who’s been at work all day, all while not having a colossal freakout of my own.

So like I said, keep the judgment to yourself.  Or better yet, that’s when you should be proud of me.  Like, “Damn, she’s got a lot on her plate, look at her go!”  Because that’s how I really feel most of the time.  I feel proud and excited to be having a third.  I feel a huge sense of accomplishment every day that I keep my kids alive.  Seriously.  So don’t rain on my parade, because I’m perfectly happy with the utter chaos that you are seeing.  I am fulfilled.

And just for laughs, here’s a video of Mav when he was about a year and a half old throwing a small scale tantrum.