If you Google the possibility of having a puppy whilst being pregnant you will see hundreds (if not more) of articles suggesting that you would be irresponsible, stupid and downright crazy to even let the thought stick around for longer than it took to type “puppy”. To add, there will be a number of people, friends and family members who will look on in horror at your research, ignore your reasons and factoids, and declare that it would be a dangerous and unwise addition to your family, especially for the poor little flesh-coloured bundle you will bring home soon.
Well I’ve heard it all, listened and comforted, researched and read, and almost got a t-shirt (our brand would be “Yes, we know how big she’ll get!) but honestly despite the tears, the cost, the poo and a few sleepless nights I can say Guin has been, and continues to be, one of the healthiest choices I’ve made since becoming pregnant.
- She has given me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Those of you that have read my blog since the beginning will understand I’ve had some pretty hard bouts of depression, tough life moments, and struggle with low moods if I don’t watch myself like a hawk. I have to confess that most of my 1st trimester was spent in bed or on the sofa because I felt like ****, but most women at least understand that. Once the nausea subsided I realised that the reason I was hiding out with my duvet was not that simple; I struggled to feel motivated to get on with life, to read, to write, and create, and I was seriously worried about the fact that I was not looking after myself (and hence my unborn child) mentally or physically. I was lonely, lacking something to feel I was useful, and stressed about how we’d cope. Getting Guin has brought out every maternal instinct I currently have, she has got me excited about life again, forced me to get dressed, be clean, and start exercising (gently), and she has shown me that I am needed, even if it’s in such a small way as appearing in the morning to say hello to her.
- She has increased my capacity to love.
I think Bear worried a little that a puppy would distract from him, and that he would be “out in the cold” with all my love and attention focused on the dog. He may have also worried about this a little in relation to us having a baby too. The opposite has happened. Our little bundle of fluff has expanded our abilities and we are communicating far better, and with far more grace, than we did before. We are both focused on caring for this animal we have adopted into our family and so we come together more in order to present a united front – this suggests we will continue to come together and work well as parents too. We have time in the morning together rather than one of us wanting to stay in bed a little longer, we go to bed together, and we make sure the other is doing OK.
- I am far less worried about my weight.
Being overweight to start with (despite losing weight before I became pregnant) was always a concern for me, and so I was hugely conflicted about actually losing weight in the 1st (and 2nd so far) trimester. There is very little information or consensus about whether losing weight is bad, good or fine, during pregnancy if you are already overweight. Although I had not been dieting, nausea had not helped, and my appetite had been low, and I was simply scared about the effect I might be having on my child. I knew the risks for being overweight and did not like them, but there was really nothing I could do about it. I also knew that losing weight during pregnancy if you were “normal” or a perfect BMI was not normally a good sign. So where did I stand? After a visit to the doctor and asking ANY health professional for their opinion I knew that they weren’t worried but honestly I did not feel any better. Now I am eating normally (appetite is still low but I am eating) and I am exercising a healthy amount. If I lose weight at this point I can simply see it as getting rid of stuff my body didn’t need anyway. Guin has given me much more confidence in my own body because if I can jog gently alongside her for short distances, go for shorts walks twice a day, and feel better for it then I can trust that I’m doing OK.
- Life is spent outside as much as possible.
Once upon a time social occasions would centre around food, meals, or coffee shops. Nights out would be going to the cinema or to a meal “just the two of us”. Weekends were spent on looooong lie-ins, catching up on emails, and spending time infront of a screen or two. In the last few weeks if we have gone for a meal with people we have chosen places with a garden so we could take Guin and maybe take a walk down the canal, around a garden, or into the woodlands. If we are trying to catch up with old friends the first thought is where we could go for a long walk and talk. In the evenings we are getting much more sleep to keep to our puppy-training routine, as well as saving money by skipping the movie. Our weekends are more productive because we don’t stay in bed all day and they are broken up with long woodland/country walks because it’s good for us.
Ultimately, this dog, this pup, this addition to our family is probably unknowingly saving my life. I am looking after myself, getting regular exercise, getting back into life, socialising more with our neighbours and complete strangers, being far more productive and seriously considering where our life might lead next. The risks connected to my weight, of post-partum depression (especially with my past issues), and simply not living were far too high and something needed to change. Now I have a fighting chance against heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure of cholesterol, breathing problems, and even cancer. Who knows how I’d be coping, if I’d be coping, if I was still in bed, still feeling rubbish, and still alone the majority of the day. Wonderfully our little Bernese Mountain puppy was exactly what I needed.
Plus no-one can deny how cute she is!