Saturday, January 5, 2008

Who's the Baby Now?

Lesson Number 9: Always Keep Them Guessing, or...Never Let Them See You Sweat

In the fall of 1991, we happily discovered that we would be adding a baby to our family. Our bundle of joy was due to arrive in June of 1992, and as it was my habit to plan ahead, I researched the best ways to prepare our “first baby” for the new baby. I had heard from several friends that the cherished family pet quickly becomes “just an animal” when the baby comes around, and I didn’t want that to happen. I envisioned a home where the baby is taught to socialize properly with the dog, and they would grow up together, happily frolicking in the fenced-in yard together. Frolicking, however, was years off. First I had to do a couple of things to acclimate Bijoux to a House With Baby. We had spent lots of time with Rex and “his baby”, Nicholas. That time was very valuable in Bijoux’s life experiences to that point. She was always gentle with Nick, and if he pulled her tail or tried to roughhouse with her, she would glance at us as if to say, “Yes, I’m being patient.” She truly loved Nick, and I hoped that she would react the same way when a baby actually spent 24 hours each day on “her” turf.

In the later months of my pregnancy, I let Bijoux spend time in the baby’s room as Jim and I set it up. Once I even—against all of the leading baby experts’ advice—let her lay down in the crib, snuggled up in the blankets and leaning against an unopened package of Pampers. I even sprinkled baby powder on blankets and let her smell them. I wasn’t really sure how much more to do, because I really wanted to live this dream of an integrated household.

When I went into labor with Dylan, my parents and sister came to pick Bijoux up and took her home for a couple of days. Even with all of the activity going on with Dylan’s birth, I thought about Bijoux and wondered how she would react when she “met” him.

After the three of us had been home for a couple of days, we were ready to introduce Bijoux and Dylan. It was a tense morning for Jim and me, as we tried to anticipate how the meeting would go. When Julie arrived with Bijoux, I was sitting on the floor in Dylan’s room, holding him. Jim and Julie called for Bijoux, and she trotted into the room. I spoke to her in a quiet, calm tone, “introducing” her to the baby. After all of the worry we went through, she gave his little face a quick sniff and promptly turned around to walk away. We human adults just looked at each other in amazement and disbelief as Bijoux proceeded to ignore us all, making herself comfortable on the couch.