Prepping Your Dog for the Arrival of a Baby

There’s a lot to do to get ready for the birth of a child. Furniture has to be purchased, clothes and toys need to be organized, and various other things in your home may have to be discarded or rearranged in order to make room for baby’s buggy, baby’s play pen, baby’s bouncer, etc. In the flurry of activity it can be easy to forget that our dogs notice all the new goings on, and might need a little support in making the leap from family life as it is now, to life when little one is born. So, what are some things we can do to make our dogs more comfortable with their changing family environment?

1 Allow your dog to sniff and familiarize themselves with new objects and furniture 

Your life will change dramatically when baby comes home for the first time, but so will your dog’s. Help him start making the transition early by familiarizing him with all your new baby gear. This is particularly important with some of our more modern baby accessories like bouncers, swings, or the like. Your dog may never have encountered some of these objects before, so it can help to introduce them to him before baby enters the picture. 

2 Think about boundaries 

Consider what things your dog does that already drive you batty. Those things will only become more stressful when you bring your child home. Now might be a good time to work on some of those naughty behaviors, or set some new boundaries that you think may be helpful when baby arrives. For example, your dog may always have been allowed on the bed, but you may feel it would be safer for baby for furniture to be off limits. If that is the case, he will not automatically assume this when you bring your baby home. It is important to communicate any new boundaries to your pup clearly and consistently in the weeks and months leading up to your baby’s homecoming to minimize risk and frustration in that busy newborn stage.

3 Observe your dogs reactions to babies and children in general 

If you do not already have small children in your life and the life of your dog, it may be helpful to introduce your dog slowly to the idea of having littles around the place. Is your dog sensitive about his paws, tail, or face being touched? It might be a good idea to work on positive associations with body handling. How does he cope with loud crying or squeals? Does he get overexcited around children and need to work on impulse control? Even if your dog is not around children regularly, you can help him build positive associations with children from a distance in public places such as parks or town centers, and general concepts like body handling and impulse control on your own time at home.

4 Set aside time specifically to play with and cuddle your dog

Just like bringing a new sibling home to your other children, pets can feel a little left out when all of your attention is suddenly devoted to baby. Get some good quality time in with your pet or service dog while you can, and consider when you might be able to work that time into your new life when your little one joins the family. That might look like handing baby over to your partner while you and Fido go out for a walk, cuddling up with your pup beside you while you snuggle or feed your baby, putting your baby in their bouncer or cot for a few minutes while you groom or play with your dog, or, in the earliest weeks, calling your dog to the bathroom with you so that you can pet them in the few seconds you have before your newborn needs you again (haha, I’m not joking. This worked well for me, and my dog started getting very excited every time I had to take a potty break).

5 For those with service dogs, practice working with baby gear before hand 

Give your canine partner the opportunity to work with some of the new things you might be using before baby arrives. For example, wear the baby carrier or pull the buggy with a sack of sugar in it while out and about with your dog. You’ll get some strange looks, but at least you won’t be doing it for the first time ever with your tiny fragile newborn. It’s a great opportunity to work out any kinks and do some additional training with your pup if it seems necessary.

6 Consider working with a professional trainer 

Sometimes, we just need a little help. If concerns arise for you that you feel are beyond your ability as a pet-owner/handler, don’t forget that you can enlist the aid of a professional. It is hard enough to juggle being a new parent and a pet owner or service dog handler without having extra worries on your plate as you make the transition. Working with a trainer may be one way to ease those concerns. It gives you a structured time to work with your dog on any undesirable behaviors, provides an excellent opportunity for bonding, and may be an important step to ensure the health and safety of your new wee family member. 

There’s a lot to do to get ready for the birth of a child, and with a canine pal already part of the family, there may be a few more things to do than usual, but with some forethought, a little bit of effort can go a long way in making for a smoother transition to life with a baby.

If this post peaked your interest, you can check out more like it in the parenting or guide dog categories of my blog. 

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 36!

We are finally getting toward the end of sharing my pregnancy journey with you. I enjoyed filming these videos so much, and am glad I will have them to look bak on in the future. In this update, I share about a doctor’s visit, virtual baby shower, and our final preparations for baby. Watch my 36 week update here.

Thanks again for joining!

The Desire to Adopt as an Adopted Child of God | Reflecting on #WorldAdoptionDay

I have an adopted sister. She was adopted by her parents too, although not my parents. She was four years old when her parents adopted her as family, and 20 when I did. It’s funny when you adopt a sister apart from your parents, because there’s no legal process, no way to make the bond official to anyone else but yourselves, but the sisterhood is still there. She witnessed me grow up from a 16 year old, hot-headed kid to a 26 year old married, possibly still somewhat hot-headed mother. I have been there as she has navigated multiple college degrees, study-abroad, the loss of a parent, and marriage. God willing, we will share decades more of this life together, and she will be no less a sister when we are in our 80’s than she is now.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve always had the desire to adopt a child. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the bond between parent and progeny is far more than biology. On this #WorldAdoptionDay, I can’t help thinking about that desire. In some ways it’s frightening to acknowledge. No matter how smooth the process, adoption always comes from a place of brokenness, and there are consequences for that. I know even from adopting an adopted sister that the trauma of loss from those early days of life can echo throughout the rest of a person’s adult years. We know from the Gospel that bringing such a child into your family is no easy task. Christ had to die on a cross to do it for us. Thus the adoptive parent must also take up their cross, and that daily, even hourly. 

And yet, the love that Christ has shown to us beckons me to love as he did, to share, as our father in heaven does, the love of a parent with one who would otherwise be orphaned. So the desire remains, and I struggle in prayer as I ask God to one day make it possible. I know that the desire for children is a good one, and we believe that God will place whatever children he has for us in our lives through whatever means he intends, whether through birth or adoption or otherwise. We know also that he will provide for those children, so as doubtful as it seems now that we, a year married with an infant in a tiny one-bedroom and a rather limited income, will ever be able to raise the funds to afford an adoption or have the sort of house we would need to pass a home study, we know that God is capable of far more than anything we would ask or think. It seems impossible that we, rebellious and rejected children, could ever be accepted into the family of a perfect and holy God, and yet through Jesus, that is exactly what we are. I believe it is possible in this case as well. Even if legal adoption is not in God’s plan for our family, I know that he will give us opportunities to lavish His love upon other unofficial family members, like my sister. For that,I am thankful, and will praise God as I continue to pray in hope. 

“Behold what manner of love the father has lavished unto us, that we should be called the sons of GOd.” (1 John 3:1)

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 26

In the interest of catching you up on the pregnancy journey and my thoughts on motherhood so far, you can watch my update from my 26th week of pregnancy here.

As always, thanks so much for joining, and if you want to hear more updates like this, feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel directly.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlogs | Weeks 22 and 24

I realized I missed posting the last several videos concerning my pregnancy journey here! Belowyou can find the links for my 22 and 24 week updates. Check back again here to hear more about my pregnancy journey, or subscribe to my youtube channel.

For week 22, click here, and for week 24, visit this link.

Thanks for following along!

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 16

Excited to share the next installment of my pregnancy journey! This week, I talk about baby’s development so far, my blind parenting tip of the week, symptoms (including one that might be TMI, so feel free to skip those few moments of the video), plus some of my thoughts at the time on parenting fears etc.

Check out my newest video here

And come back next week for more updates!

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 10

Enjoy my second update in my Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog series! A similar set up as my first video, detailing symptoms, things I was thinking about, and my prayers at the time.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 10

Be sure to check back for more updates next week!

Have any questions about life as a blind person, guide dog user, or blind parent-to-be? Feel free to comment here or on Youtube! Are you a blind parent yourself and want to help inform others about the capabilities of blind and vision impaired people? Share this video, and drop me a comment to let me know what might be good topics to discuss here and on my channel.

Until next time…

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 8

I’ve had a few false starts with publishing youtube videos, but it’s mostly because I feel a bit uncomfortable with the vulnerability of filming. Somehow it feels much less personal to publish written posts on my blog, rather than record something with audio and visuals, but I have felt for a long time that I have a responsibility at some level to share my experiences as a blind person, and now particularly as a blind parent, in order to inform others about the capabilities of blind people.

I’ve always enjoyed watching pregnancy updates on youtube, but have never seen one by a blind content creator. I thought making my own might therefore be a great way to reflect on my experiences throughout pregnancy, while also sharing about blind parenting techniques. More than anything, I hope the thing people take away from this video is the utter “ordinariness” of my experiences, despite my unusual perspective as someone with a visual impairment.

In this first video, enjoy hearing how we found out about our precious little one, plus symptoms and the equipment/products we’ve acquired so far.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog Week 8

**Keep in mind this is a pregnancy update, and naturally will contain info that might be a bit TMI for some.

For more updates, be sure to check back here or on my youtube channel next week, or find more blog posts on blind parenting here.

Reconciling the Good and the Hard, Part 2

This is the continuation of Reconciling the Good and the Hard, Part 1. For full context, I recommend giving that a read first.

My husband and I on our wedding day with black lab Prim. I am wearing a fifties style white, cap-sleeve dress with sweetheart neckline and puffy skirt. My husband is in his navy suit. Prim is wearing a burlap vest trimmed with blue ribbon, strings of pearls, and pink flowers.

I know we weren’t the only 2020 couple that got our wedding plans totally derailed by Covid restrictions. Fortunately, our August date fell at a time when we were allowed to have 20 some people in person at the ceremony. We had to let go of our hotel wedding with over a hundred guests, including all of my family and friends from America. I wouldn’t be able to wear my grandmother and mother’s wedding dress, as I had hoped. My mom wouldn’t be there to help me get ready. My brothers would not be groomsmen. My best friends from the States wouldn’t be standing with me. My Dad wouldn’t be walking me down the aisle, and the toasts and dancing I had imagined for our reception wouldn’t happen either.

But praise God we could still get married! I ordered my 27 euro white dress on Amazon. I set to making wedding vests for our flower girl and ring bearer, that is, Prim and my nephew puppy. Several of my sweet friends from church helped me put together decorations and set up the church hall for ceremony and reception. My dear friend’s mother-in-law gathered beautiful arrangements of wild flowers and greenery for the tables and window sills. Our family gifted us the money for our reception meal, and friends offered us white table cloths and silverware to dress up the dinner. 

Here again was the good and the hard. I didn’t forget everyone and everything I was missing that day. My heart ached for the presence of my loved ones far away, and for the traditions we wouldn’t get to take part in because of the lockdowns. All of that is true, and yet also true was the anticipation I felt as I waited, dressed and ready in my friend’s car, with my flowers and Grandmother’s Bible clutched in my arms. Prim was excited too, sweet in her burlap vest covered in pink hyacinths and pearls. I was breathless as my maid of honor helped me into the church and hovered with me at the door of the sanctuary. My stomach lurched at hearing the harp begin to play. It was almost time!

“Are you nervous?” my friend asked in a whisper.

“I’m so excited!” I whispered back, feeling like I might actually choke with the thrill of it all.

It took seconds for my friend and I to walk down the aisle, and then I was beside him, and all there was was joy. His hand found mine, and I held on. We smiled and laughed and sang our way through the ceremony, and walked out into the August sunshine, officially husband and wife.

God seems to have made the human heart with the capacity to enjoy blessing and endure trial at the same time, to live through hard things, and know that they can still be good, or at least, that good still exists because the God of goodness remains. I don’t understand how our wedding day could be as blessed and sweet as it was with all the hard that was attached to it, but by God’s grace it was, and I smile every time I think of the day I became my husband’s bride. 

God makes the same commitment to his church as my love and I made to one another on that August afternoon. 

“I take thee”, Jesus says to his bride, “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”, though our Lord, in his sovereign kindness need not finish, “until death do us part”. Instead, he can truly say, “And death shall never part us.” because of what Christ did at Calvary.

As my friend pointed out, the Gospel is our greatest example of the good and the simultaneous hard. Jesus, though blameless, lived a life of difficulty, “A man of sorrows acquainted with grief”. Though innocent, he died the death of the worst criminal, and suffered the wrath of his father. And yet, he rose again on the third day, and it is because of all of these things that the Christian can be declared righteous before God. The “Good News” of the Gospel is wrapped up in the most difficult experience a human has ever endured. While there may be times where blessing and trial come in tandem, as it did on our wedding day, it is ultimately this good news that gives us hope even when it seems blessing is altogether absent, so that even then we can say, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”