When I began telling people that I was pregnant, people said ominous things like, “Your life will never be the same again,” and “This will change you forever.”  Others (generally parents themselves) took to more back-handedly complimentary, self-satisfied sentiments like “This will make you a better person!”  Or “You’ll find that pregnancy and parenthood are humbling experiences.”

(Wait.  Did you just call yourself a good, humble person for having had kids? I think you did. No. Really. I’m pretty sure you did.)


I think the ominous sentiments are probably inescapably, terrifyingly true. I think the smug sentiments are probably just there to warn me that some of my friends and acquaintances are smug.


Physically, I have escaped relatively unscathed.  No serious complications and so far free and clear of the more common, inconvenient, and uncomfortable but generally harmless physical complaints as well.  No nausea, no frequent headaches, no stretch marks, and no sign of the dreaded FATs, thank you very much.  Fiber, fiber, fiber.


Pregnancy is a fuckin’ breeze.


Or not exactly.  Not the part where I go considerably more insane and become an entirely different person, both in fact and in the perceptions of others.


I’ve quit enjoying music.  And the internet, for some reason.


The only straight man in my office has started treating me differently, cloyingly; he is less trustful of my opinions, less heedful of my warnings and advice.  He pushes back at me where I’m pretty sure, prior to my pregnancy, he found me intimidating and accepted that I was the expert on matters related to my job.

He is seemingly confused about whether the baby is in my uterus or in my brain.  About whether I am  expecting a child or I am the child.


It doesn’t help  that, as Tawni Freeland observed elsewhere, most maternity clothes look like oversized baby clothes themselves.  Lots of ruffles and lace and empire waists and baby-doll lines and floral patterns.  An overwhelming cutesy-feminine-preciousness that is simply not befitting of the fearsome creature I can be.


I’m the she-goat.  I AM YANG.

I AM SETH I AM KALI I AM CHAOS I AM THE COLD AND THE DARKNESS AND I AM HAVING TROUBLE REACHING MY TOES COULD YOU TIE MY SHOES FOR ME PLEASE WHENEVER I BEND OVER I FART AND ALMOST PASS OUT.


You can totally run, and you can probably totally hide, too, since I barely even fit in a restaurant booth these days. Pretty much anywhere you go, if it’s at a pace faster than “shuffle,” I won’t catch you.


I do my best not to wear shirts actually made for pregnant people unless I am entering a situation in which I think it is somehow to my advantage to be perceived, potentially exclusively, as the cute and helpless pregnant girl.  That or a disabled person.  This is not to say there is never such a situation.  But it needs to be strategic decision, not one made for me by the dearth of sane fashion options in maternity sections of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.


A friend of mine related to me that her husband had enjoyed her being pregnant because it seemed to “even out” her temperament.


In my case, my own father said to me today:  “You were mercurial, at best, to begin with; throw this in the mix and…well…It’s okay.  It will be okay.  It will be over soon.”

Thanks, Dad.

But he’s right.  My stubbornness has become inflexibility, my stoicism, iciness.  My frankness has become tactlessness, my willfulness has become belligerence, and my driving, for some reason, has gotten really, really aggressive.


I am largely free of misgivings.  About anything. My will is a juggernaut.  My resolve a bunker.  When I say “I don’t give a shit,” I am startled to realize how sincerely I mean it.  My single-mindedness is staggering, and the power and control people are granting me now fill me with a terrible, addictive euphoria I can’t quite describe.

Makes me feel, maybe, just a little, like a god.

It’s probably not good for people to just do what I say like that.  But if they don’t, I lose my shit.


Standing there in my preppy, pretty khakis and ruffled seersucker blouse, skin glowing, smelling of rose lotion and clean laundry, belly swollen with the miracle of new life, fists coming down hard on top of the washing machine, my makeshift pulpit, my eyes wide enough to look like the balls may just explode from their sockets:

“THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU OR HOW YOU FEEL OR ME BEING OUT TO GET YOU OR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!  I JUST WANT IT DONE!  DO YOU GET IT?  DONE!!!  THIS ISN’T PERSONAL AND I DON’T GIVE A SHIT HOW! MAKE IT BE DONE!!!!”


A bunker in an lacy empire waist.  A missile silo with pink siding, a window box, and a picket fence.  Venus flytrap.


Sorry baby, but your soft blond mama is a loaded gun.




It’s all so incongruous.  Me.  Pregnancy.  Me. Femininty.  Me.  Nurturing vessel.


I struggle to salvage my Self.

I knew this would happen.


Part of this is hormones, I suppose.  But part of it is an adverse or compensatory reaction to being treated–suddenly–differently.  A reaction to people, even my own father, reaching out to touch my stomach without asking.  People seem to think there is no longer any reason to be afraid.  As a result, something in me is compelled to take up wanton displays of my capacity for sheer, unapologetic force.  To show that I can marshal the peculiar attributes of this “mellowing” condition to make myself even more awesome and terrible.

To show them that “for the better” is relative.  Better at what?  Throwing the viciously crazy quotient of any given situation totally off the charts?

Pregzilla.


Everyone be cool, this is a pregnancy.

Any of you pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you.


My dad spoke to me in baby-talk not long ago.  He said “My wittle girl is having a wittle girl!”  Mere weeks later, having forgotten he said it to me, he tried to tell me my mother said it to him about me.  Maybe she did.  Maybe people go around calling me a “wittle girl” to each other now.  Maybe he just wanted an excuse to say it again.


No one in their right mind would speak to unpregnant Me in baby talk. They would have to have a death wish.  No one should ever speak to any woman in baby talk unless she is actually a baby.


Later he said, “How’s it goin’, Mommy?”

That one I couldn’t let go.


“NO! GodDAMNIT! You don’t do that! Grown men don’t get to call me Mommy!”


This startled him.  My dear old dad is as sweet and lovable and generous and kind and well-intentioned as they come.  But I have grown up a tomboy, his only son, and I was not about to let him infantilize and hyper-feminize me.

My mother frowned at this.  He is approaching 70.  I am his daughter.  I have a daughterly obligation to allow him, in his dotage, to reduce me to an infant.  I am obligated to humor a cooing, high-pitched sentimentality that casts me as the lynch pin of a million-times recycled and fairly sexist Hallmark moment.

Well fuck that.

Mom can frown all she wants.

She knows better.  I’m her daughter.


An unexpected boon to my new-found dispassionate and largely unbending relationship style:  Like a lot of humans, the dog has become incredibly obedient.

Some archetypal energies, I’m tempted to believe, are universal.  Even across species.


I wonder if the birth of my child will cause setbacks in her training.  That is, I mean, if my temperament ever evens out.  If I am ever sane-ish again, I wonder if she will stop respecting me.

I think about her constantly.  Worry about whether or not she’s feeling fulfilled in her essential doggy-ness.  I bawl inconsolably at ASPCA commercials.  The little puppies with crusty eyes and no one who cares enough to wipe the boogers away.

You could show me a thousand videos of human children with distended bellies covered in flies, and I would not react with such abject sorrow and soul-clutching existential despair as I do to one 3-second shot of a dog with matted fur shaking in fear.


My fixation on dogs has been clear and curious.  It is basically harmless, so I’ve felt no need to stifle it.

It’s not unusual, I guess, for pregnant women to develop these kinds of fixations.  I was prone to fixation anyway, so it only stands to reason that this tendency, too, would be amplified.

It’s just that now my fixations are even less interesting to other people than the ones I used to get.


My husband appears slightly concerned that I love the dog more than I love him lately, and I very well might.

I suspect it is some primordial urge driving me towards the most vulnerable, needy thing in my home, commanding me to provide for it, instruct it, protect it, stroke its head, value it above all else.

At all costs, if need be.


Do not fuck with my dog.  Do not say mean things about my dog.  Praise my dog and her incredible good looks constantly.  As far as I’m concerned, compared to my dog, your dog and everyone you know sucks, including all your children, Mozart, and baby Jesus.  So just watch it.



It will be interesting to see what happens when my attention and concern are forcibly split between an infant human and my irrationally beloved Sydney dog.

I expect to feel a great deal of guilt and anxiety, no matter what.


The only other question that remains is whether I should continue trying to fight it or stop kidding myself and just let go.  Just go Full Lunatic right from the outset.  Revel in it.  Roll around in it.  Maybe if I let go, stopped fighting, I would become less, not more, crazy.

But, probably, I would just be different crazy.  Crazy like all those other parents I know, running around bragging about the humbling power of parenthood without even the slightest sense of irony.


I already have plans for a Christmas card that involve, potentially, putting clothing on my dog.

Maybe I’ll get one of those strollers for twins.  Buy matching bonnets, cut ear holes in one of them.


Change?  Yes.

Amelioration?


Let’s just say some small shred enough of Me remains to  have some very, very serious doubts.



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BECKY PALAPALA is the author of many unpublished poems, diatribes, and terse letters, which she holds captive in a homely tote bag in her bedroom. The poems that escaped can be found in online publication at Strix Varia, Paper Darts, and in other nooks and crannies of the internet. In 2008-2009, she served as a poetry editor for Ivory Tower. After an iliadic battle with higher education, Becky graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in the spring of 2010. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and dog on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, where she pines for her rivertown home and attempts to befriend the rabbit that lives in her yard.

49 responses to “Battle Hymn of the Chimera Mother II: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”

  1. Eber says:

    Brilliantly written as always. Hard to believe that gestation has made you even funnier. I look forward to the Momzilla series. When your humbleness finally kicks in.

    I wonder if Sarah McLachlan realizes the Pavlovian devastation that song is now burdened with?

    Cheers and best wishes to you in the final reel.

    (Mr Palapala: when the word “transition” is declared during labor – this is your cue to go eat. And start the recorder. Trust me here.)

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Thanks, Eber.

      Those commercials are inhumane. I don’t know where that woman gets off. Sitting there stroking her Golden Retriever while she grinds a million tiny knives into our hearts.

      She’s sick.

  2. Gloria says:

    Even pregnant, I’d pick you on my team for a bar fight.

    Interesting about your dog.

    And, really? A breeze? Other than the Supersonic Crazies, you haven’t had any adverse side effects? No heartburn? No cankles? NOTHING?!! I realize the friendly thing to do would be to show happiness for you about this.

    How long do you have left, anyway? I know you’ve told me this before, but I’m head injured and prone to asking the same question over and over. Well, anyway, go get ’em tiger.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, sure.

      I’ve had heartburn. But I get reflux even when I’m not pregnant. And I’ve had cankles and aches and pains and even an occasional migraine. I find plenty of things to bitch about.

      I’m not saying I’m totally unaware that I’m pregnant. I mean, I can’t forget.

      But I get the feeling that–at least physically–I’m having a considerably easier time of it than most women.

      I’ve got about 6 weeks left. She’s in launch position and all. Just waiting for someone to say go.

  3. New Orleans Lady says:

    Holy shit, Becky! I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. Just the image of you in “preppy, pretty khakis and ruffled seersucker blouse” is too much. I love you for this honesty and really, I understand it.

    I won’t bore you with any advice or wit of my own but know that when the time comes, I will help you through or with anything you may need.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Happy to make you laugh!

      Yeah. There’s nothing about this situation, except maybe people’s willingness to do whatever I say, that really fits comfortably with my personality or self-image.

      It’s fun to have an excuse to act like a total psychopath, but I don’t usually need one, and I’m glad it’s temporary.

  4. amanda says:

    heh. fuck yeah.

  5. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    “My will is a juggernaut. My resolve a bunker.”

    On two separate occasions, I served as ensign to this same kind of pregnant woman. I witnessed too the demo derby-style aggressive driving. It’s awe-inspiring.

    I’m not sure why we haven’t elected a pregnant woman as president yet, to serve in nine month terms. Probably because of the unequivocal dominance that would ensue (“This debt ceiling bullshit ends tonight, motherfuckers!”)

    The straight guy in the office sounds deeply, deeply afraid.

    And once again, only the canines understand.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Yeah. The driving is weird. For the last 10-12 years or so, I’ve actually been an extremely defensive driver after having gotten a few tickets and being involved in a number of accidents in rapid succession (only one where I was driving and that wasn’t my fault).

      However. I’ve noticed a lot of aspects of my personality reverting to, essentially, a teenaged state. When I was a teenager I drove like this. Hence the tickets.

      So I suspect it’s hormonal.

      Hmm. Giving a whole new meaning to “pregnancy terms.” Interesting idea, but you’re right. It would be a dictatorship. Pregnancy is contraindicated in a democracy, I’m sad to say. But if you want the trains to run on time…you know who to call. Pregnant lady. Or Mussolini. Same same.

    • Mary Richert says:

      I’ve spent too much time on Facebook and Google+. I want TNB to have a “like” button of some kind for this comment.

  6. Mary Richert says:

    I NEED you to send out Christmas cards with your baby and your dog dressed in matching outfits. Please.

  7. “I AM SETH I AM KALI I AM CHAOS I AM THE COLD AND THE DARKNESS AND I AM HAVING TROUBLE REACHING MY TOES COULD YOU TIE MY SHOES FOR ME PLEASE WHENEVER I BEND OVER I FART AND ALMOST PASS OUT.”

    This had me laughing so hard I nearly choked on my green tea. I bought shoes I could slide my feet into without bending over (glorified slippers, really) for the last two months of my pregnancy. Not being able to bend over drove me crazy!

    Oh, my friend. I have wanted to send you a private message, to ask you how you’re holding up, but I remember being pregnant, the way it consumes every minute of every day. I didn’t want to add to that phenomenon. It’s hard to think of anything else when your body has become so foreign and obtrusive. And if you do manage to focus your brain elsewhere, there’s everybody else in the world to remind you that you’re pregnant. And they all want to talk about it.

    And, as you mention, when they talk about it, they sometimes want to share scary stories and ominous warnings. So ridiculous. I think it’s a total dick move to do this. Completely thoughtless, at best. “Your life will never be the same again,” was one I also heard a lot, and still pisses me off to this day. Because, really… DUH. No shit. And how is being creepy and foreboding going to help a pregnant person in any way? (“Oh, really? Having a baby is going to change my life? Gosh. I never thought about that. Well, then never mind! I guess I’m going to have to magically undo this pregnancy!”)

    David and I made a pact (after looking back on the first year of our son’s life) to never, ever say anything negative to a pregnant person or to new parents. Because number one: everyone is different. And number two: how is scaring somebody already dealing with a major life change going to help them? Serves no positive purpose. The only things I will tell a soon-to-be/new parent is that I am here for them if they ever need to talk, and that it gets easier as the babies get older, because I needed to hear that myself during my son’s first year.

    The Sarah McLachlan sad animal commercials make me weep. Absolutely ruin me. I have to leave the room.

    I love your little sweetie pie punkin face Sydney dog, and if I ever get to meet her, I’m going to hug her and smoosh her soft little ears with love and kisses. But despite having had one myself, I’m still scared of babies, so I’ll probably just wave and smile at your daughter. (:

    Give ’em hell, Becky!

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I’ve been wearing the same flip-flops for about a month. They’re going to be dead by the time this is over.

      I tried to switch it up and wear a different pair the other day, but those ones no longer fit. I thought they were the same size, but maybe not. Or maybe I’ve just stretched the other pair out. Gross.

      And DUH no shit is right. God, I hate small talk. It’s all full of those empty, unhelpful kinds of auto-sentiments. And there’s so much MORE small talk when your very body is suddenly an acceptable conversation piece.

      I love you so hard for loving my dog so much, Tawni. I mean, I loved you before, too, but I LOVE WHEN PEOPLE LOVE MY DOG.

      You’re the best.

      Of course, ironically, the fact that you are not obtrusively pestering me about my pregnancy all the time makes you one of the few people I wouldn’t mind talking to about it. That and the fact that you love my dog. You should come over some time. We could sit and watch my dog look out the window together.

    • Gloria says:

      Oh, Tawni – I’ve written and deleted emails and started and stopped Google Talk chats with Becky about a dozen times in the last two weeks. Showing that kind of restraint is so hard for me… But, yeah. The best way to support a pregnant woman in the last few weeks is to ignore the elephant in the room… (Get it? See what I did there?) 😀

      • Gloria says:

        And now I regret typing that. See? I’m totally that girl, despite how hard I try…

      • Becky Palapala says:

        HAHA THAT’S A FAT JOKE. 😀

        It’s okay. Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago if I was to “the beached whale” stage yet. Bless her, she meant nothing by it, and the truth was that indeed I was at that stage, but damn.

        Honestly, though, I’m not sure what’s worse. Observations acknowledging my size, or patronizing denials that I look any different at all. Like, I’ve gained 45 pounds and developed jowels and tits. People notice that shit. Do not insult me by acting like I’m gullible enough to believe you don’t notice it. I’m fat and pregnant, not retarded.

        • Oh, Becky. I can’t believe you let her live. (Must have been a good friend?) I know you you don’t need my permission for anything, but if you’d like, please feel free to inform anyone who uses the term “beached whale” around you again that your friend Tawni would like to cordially invite them to eat a dick. No RSVP necessary.

          You are making another human with your body. Even the easiest pregnancy is still a rapidly-growing parasite squirming around in your belly, displacing organs, stomping your bladder, and kicking ribs. You get to look however the fuck you want to right now, and nobody aside from an approved, well-intentioned, funny friend (like our G-Hole above) who wants to keep their head attached should be remarking upon your appearance in any way.

          SHUT IT, PEOPLE. She’s creating one of our future Presidents over here! Show some respect!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          She’s an extended family member, but fairly close to me in terms of our interpersonal relationship; her tendency to be well-intentioned-but-oblivious and to say things that are accidentally rude or don’t make sense is kind of legendary. If it were someone else, I might hold them responsible, but I really don’t think it even ocurred to her that it was insulting. Just the way she is.

          I think she meant to ask if I was feeling like a beached whale, not suggest that I was looking like one.

          She’ll understand soon enough. She’s about 3 months along now…

  8. Cheryl says:

    Hilarious! I guess now we know how fertility goddesses got to be so powerful in ancient times. People didn’t really think babies happened by female magic, they were just terrified of angering the pregnant women!

    Oh my God… maternity clothes. There are at least SOME options now. I managed to make it all 9 months without donning a single thing that was sailor-themed or had ruffles. That was my line in the sand. I WILL NOT wear ruffles, dammit. Or pink. In fact, let’s just say pastels in general are not a good idea.

    Alas, the empire waists are almost inescapable. But having never actually had breasts (to speak of) until I got pregnant, it was neat to have a place to put them other than on top of my infinitely expanding belly. Convenient!

    If this is you 6 weeks from giving birth, I wish I could be there for the labor! The entire labor and delivery floor of the hospital won’t know what hit them (:

    • Becky Palapala says:

      And the washing machine incident was a full two months ago. I’ve been carrying on like this for some time.

      The psychotic pregnant lady cliche is so rampant, I sort of hate that I’m playing to it. While it may be true that not every pregnant woman is like this, this shit is for real. It’s like I’m possessed.

      I’m powerless to control it, and, what’s more, I barely care. It’s really pretty incredible. I mean, the extent to which a few extra drops of one chemical can totally rearrange a brain.

      As for the clothes, I’m lucky to have started out small enough that I could continue to buy non-pregnant lady clothes in incrementally bigger sizes throughout. I feel for bigger girls who don’t have that option. Especially since, in addition to looking like shit and only being useful for 4 months, maternity clothes cost a fucking fortune. Man, pregnancy is really a bum deal if you think about it.

  9. Brad Listi says:

    Best thing I heard about parenthood, before my daughter was born, came from Greg Olear.

    He said: “It’s like pre-9/11 and post-9/11.”

    That about sums it up.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I can see it.

      But I have a way of taking major paradigm shifts and life upheavals in stride. It’s the minor daily annoyances I can’t cope with.

      Like, Pre-9/11? I can’t be wistful about it because I just don’t really remember it. I tend to forget my “past lives” like they never happened to me. They happened to someone else. They happened in the abstract. Maybe the baby will come and I won’t even notice and it will just be like my life had always been that way.

      My husband had to fight with me for 5 minutes last weekend to convince me I’d had more than one cell number in my life. Apparently I have. I guess it was like 7 years ago.

  10. Brad Listi says:

    I’m sorta the same way. But even so, there’s no denying that the stakes have been raised. Irrevocably. And in a way that pretty much dwarfs all prior instances of a similar nature.

    It’s different once the baby shows up. And not necessarily in a bad way, either. Just…it’s DIFFERENT.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I bet it’s not. I bet it’s a lot like having a puppy. But the infant can’t run away or eat the furniture. At least not for a couple of years.

      I mean, keeping in mind how heavily invested I get in a puppy. When we first brought Syd home, I used to watch her sleep.

      Some people find the comparison grotesque, but I don’t know. Depends on one’s capacity for and tendency towards metaphorical thinking. And if course, how well they treat their dogs.

      • I don’t find the comparison grotesque at all. I often notice that having a (young) child is very much like having a puppy.

        When someone knocks on the door, my son gets really excited and tries to get to them. When they open the door, he tries to escape the house. If I leave the backyard gate open, I have to catch him before he runs away. He instinctively chases balls, bugs, and birds. If there is a puddle of water or mud, he has to jump in it. I have to give him unplanned baths because he stinks from rolling around in gross stuff. He puts odd things in his mouth that I have to fish out before he swallows them. He destroys all of his toys. He loves to go on walks. He had to be house trained (potty trained), forcing me to clean up carpet accidents until he figured it out. He gets food all over his face when he eats. He likes to snuggle in my lap while we watch television. I’ve had to tell him to get off the couch because he’s jumping on it. He went though a face-licking phase. He follows me around the house constantly. He leaps around when he’s happy. Etc.

        I’ve even caught myself making the same mouth-clicking noises at him that I’ve used while training horses and dogs. (My husband gives me shit when I do it, but there are reasons I’m absentmindedly making that connection.) And much like dogs, kids are also a constant reminder of the beauty of being present in a moment. Both very zen, genuine, impulsive little creatures.

        I think I’ve already shared the ‘Scrubs’ quote with you, about how becoming a parent is “like having a dog that slowly learns to talk.” It’s true. (:

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I totally cluck at Syd.

          When I take her through the park on her walks, I have her on a 30 ft. leash, so she’s sometimes quite a ways from me and runs ahead or lags behind. If I come to the end of it and she’s behind me, not moving, that’s just what comes out of my mouth when I tug on the lead.

          And much like dogs, kids are also a constant reminder of the beauty of being present in a moment. Both very zen, genuine, impulsive little creatures.

          If this is true, I’m going to like having a kid. I’m about 90% sure this what I like so much about my dog.

        • Brad Listi says:

          It’s kind of an apt comparison. But only kind of.

          Having a kid is (obviously) much more involved than having a puppy.

          And I think you’ll find that your obsession with Syd will lessen considerably in the coming year. (I use the word “obsession” lightly — you know what I mean.) The dog is like a dress rehearsal for the kid. I know that’s a cheap thing to say, but it’s at least somewhat true.

          We did it with Walter. And I mean, we used to be obsessed with that dog. We’re both HUGE dog people. We would sit there and watch him sleep. All that stuff.

          The past year? He’s lucky if he gets fed. I say that half-jokingly.

          We feel bad about it, how much we’ve fallen off in our doggie devotion. “The poor bastard,” we say. “He used to be the center of our lives.”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          The ideal situation is making sure you have a dog that you take just about anywhere you’d take a kid. Do just about anything with the thing you’d want to do with a kid. I am lucky to have an overwhelming majority of dog-lovers for friends. Parties and other social events are like combination human/doggie daycares. Packs of dogs and children roaming around.

          Syd’s a puppy still and will have impulse control problems for a while yet, but I took up her training with that end goal, specifically, in mind. I need an animal I can take anywhere, around anybody or anything and not have to worry.

          That way she gets to be with us as much as humanly possible. In order to make that happen, we’ve been willing to work our asses off for her. We’ll keep taking her to classes if it kills us. For her quality of life as much as our own.

          Superdog.

          That’s the plan.

          As Pregzilla wills, so it shall be done.

          Or else.

        • Brad Listi says:

          Heh. Well, I have no doubt that you’ll continue to, like, feed her and stuff.

          But she’s going to have to accept a greatly reduced role, no matter what. It’s just inevitable.

          Poor Walter…you should see him. He just sort of wanders our apartment, dazed, stepping over toys, wondering what the fuck happened.

          Here’s an example of what changes for the dog: like, right now you pet the dog all the time, right? You’re, like, making out with the dog. Sharing food with the dog. Spooning with the dog. Or something to that effect. (I realize, Becky, that you’re probably not making out with your dog.)

          Well, then your infant daughter arrives at home, and she’s swaddled and pink and all, like, fragile and shit (especially for the first few weeks). And suddenly you’re, like, using hand sanitizer all the time and screening all visitors for influenza and head colds and so on, and then your dog comes up to you, wagging its tail, with a toy in its mouth, and you smile and…pet the dog with your foot. Your foot that usually has a shoe on it.

          Walter went from, like, being cradled in our arms on a daily basis to getting a shoe in the face if he was lucky. Especially those first eight weeks or whatever.

          I mean, if the baby was napping or something, sure, we’d pet him, and then wash our hands. But in the fluidity of parenthood, the grind of the day-to-day, such undertakings aren’t always (usually?) possible, and so you just do the best you can. This has an impact on an animal. They notice that shit. Or at least, Walter notices that shit.

          He’s sort of a moron, brain-wise, but he has a really high emotional intelligence. French bulldogs are known for this. They’re all heart. No brains.

          It’s sad-funny.

          Your life right now is normal, save the various hormonal and physical differences. You can still go out and see a movie, for instance, with only minor logistical planning. You can have a dinner out with friends without having to time it perfectly. Taking the dog along is easy.

          Evan is almost a year old now. I honestly have no idea where the past year went. I feel like I got sucked into a giant cosmic tube. Life speeds up considerably once that fetus exits your uterus. Everything gets reconfigured. (And again: not necessarily in a bad way.)

          It’s just…

          **

          I think your plan is a wise one — train the dog well and make sure it can come along for the ride whenever possible. Oddly (and this might sound reductive) the same holds true for kids. We like to go out to eat, and we usually take Evan with us. She’s learned how to sit at the table in her high chair and behave herself, for the most part.

          I think some parents take a kid out and have one bad experience and then think to themselves: never again. Likewise with a dog. This is a mistake.

          I brought Merlin (R.I.P.) everywhere with me (like…everywhere). I bring Walter as many places as possible, but it isn’t the same. Different breed. Different circumstances. A herding dog is a pain in the ass in some ways, particularly during puppyhood, but training them is easy. They live for it. And as soon as they mature a bit, especially once they hit, say, four to five years old, it’s lights out. You can speak to them in complete sentences. They’ll hold a stay for three hours.

          Walter is well-trained, too, but it’s a different deal. He can’t handle heat, for example. He gets tired very easily. Lies down. Can’t be left in even a semi-warm car. His short face prevents him from being able to cool himself.

          Plus, taking a dog along is just one more thing. When you’ve got a kid to worry about, and a stroller, and a diaper bag, and so on, it can be easy to say: let’s just leave the goddamn dog home. He can watch Animal Planet.

          And so on.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Well, of course I can’t see the future.

          And I didn’t mean to imply that having a dog I could take to a dog-friendly patio restaurant was going to solve all issues related to dog/baby juggling. Or that the dog was going to be totally unaffected.

          However.

          I am nothing if not convinced that I am different from everyone else. In believing it as earnestly as I do, I have to think I cause it to become true to some extent.

          When I’m determined, I’m determined.

          I watched my friends deal with twin newborns, a toddler, and a Weimaraner.

          People deal with having two newborns or one newborn and one 1 year-old all the time. It might be kind of like that. Like, it can be done. I don’t HAVE to pet the dog with my feet. They make baby carriers.

          I’m optimistic. Stop trying to condemn Sydney to Walter’s fate. You’re harshing my mellow, Bro.

          Besides. We’re dirty midwestern folksy folk. We don’t really wash our hands, so that will free up a lot of our time.

          I’m going to start teaching Syd to pull a wagon soon. Her shoulders are really built for some reason, and she’s freakishly strong for her size. Come next summer, her bones and joints will be all set to pull some weight, the kid will be sitting up but not too heavy…it’s going to be awesome.

          I’ll take them in parades. We’ll be minor celebrities in our neighborhood.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          This. This is what I want to do.

          http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2010/04/dog-wagon.html

        • “I feel like I got sucked into a giant cosmic tube. Life speeds up considerably once that fetus exits your uterus. Everything gets reconfigured.”

          Perfectly said, Brad. I have noticed this phenomenon too. Five years have gone by in five minutes. I don’t know if it’s because we obsessively mark their growth from month to month with pictures and percentiles, or just the sleep deprivation blurring away the days, but I am both acutely aware of and oblivious to the rapid passing of time since becoming a parent. I look at pictures of my son as an infant, and I can’t believe he was ever so small. (I also wistfully miss chewing on his chubby little baby legs. I’d get kicked in the face if I tried that now.)

          Because I just mentioned sleep deprivation, I feel the need to be positive and say that it gets much better as they get older. My baby didn’t sleep through the night until his ninth month. Someone ominously said to exhausted new mother me, “You’ll never get a good night of sleep again,” complete with bitter laugh and rueful head shake, and it made me want to eat a gun. Haunting words when you’re tired and hormonal to the point of hopelessness/depression. Plus, they were full of shit. Now that my kid is older, I have the opportunity to get eight hours a night, no problem. Thus spake Pollyanna.

          I also want to officially state here, before someone sends the social workers to my house to take away my kid, that I don’t really think that having a young child is just like having a dog. I actually do take parenting very seriously. I was only making comparisons between the two in an attempt to be amusing. And I promise that I take my son out of the dog crate for exercise very frequently throughout the day.

        • Holy crap. I just watched the video of the adorable German Shorthaired Pointer boy pulling the kid through the neighborhood, Becky. You HAVE to do that with Syd and your daughter. Please. Get Palani started building the jogging stroller-sled now. (:

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I showed him the video and he made me read the construction story to him while he cooked dinner (what a guy!).

          It would be AWESOME if the dog would walk the kid and vice versa.

          If all I had to do was sort of supervise.

          How much fun would that be????

      • Amanda says:

        Tell that to my couch. The kid is only 8 months, and loves to chomp on the damn thing. Also, if you call crawling at lightning speed “running away,” she’s already done that one as well. So they may not progress as quickly as dogs, but aren’t too far behind.

        Kids and pets are so similar. I keep finding myself also making the same noises to the kid that I do to the cats when they are doing something they aren’t supposed to. The loud “Tsk, tsk” doesn’t phase her…yet. The cats just look at her with feline awe, like they can’t believe the cahones on this kid.

      • Matt says:

        The parents of a girl I was dating around the turn of the century used to raise and breed huskies in the same household they were raising their kids in. There’s a hysterical photograph of my then-girlfriend’s older brother as a toddler blissfully dozing away in a pile with the huskie puppies while the mother looks on.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Every child should have a pile of puppies for a bed.

          That might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard of. *sniff*

  11. AnnMarie says:

    Oh man… I’m crazy about my own Sydney dog.

    “Do not fuck with my dog. Do not say mean things about my dog. Praise my dog and her incredible good looks constantly. As far as I’m concerned, compared to my dog, your dog and everyone you know sucks, including all your children, Mozart, and baby Jesus. So just watch it.”

    I’m like that at the best of times. I can never, ever get pregnant or I will be (even more) insufferable to others.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      You have a dog called Sydney? I love dog people.

      I’ve always loved all my dogs, but I really never saw this total consuming obsession coming when we got her.

      We decided to hurry up and adopt a dog when I found out I was pregnant so we’d have a solid 6 months or so of training and bonding before the baby came and not have to wait another two years or more to get a furry friend.

      So Sydney has never known anything but this fawning dotage and I, in turn, have never known her when I wasn’t pregnant; I hope she and I are able to cope with splitting the attention.

      She’s only a little over 8 months old, so I’m hoping she’s still adaptable enough to take it in stride.

  12. AnnMarie says:

    My dog is indeed called Sydney and she’s also just a little over 8 months old. Weird.

    I’m sure your Sydney will not have to wait long to receive double the fawning dotage–babies and animals have ways of communicating we adults will never understand. And for their part, dogs seem to be way more adaptable than humans.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Syd has been excellent with kids right from the get-go, even when she still had zero manners with adults.

      She tolerates things from kids that she would never tolerate from a grown human or another dog. Definitely something really cool in the doggy/kid dynamic.

      Is your Sydney an Australian Shepherd and/or Blue Heeler by any chance?

  13. Art Edwards says:

    If it weren’t for women, all dogs would walk around with eye boogers. I don’t even notice our dog’s eye boogers until my wife wipes them out. I figure the dog will take care of them.

    Fascinating. I laughed out loud at “WHENEVER I BEND OVER I FART AND ALMOST PASS OUT.”

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, these are extreme eye boogers. The heart-wrenching eye boogers of neglect.

      Eye boogers fit for accompaniment by Sarah McLachlan.

      Serious eye boogers.

  14. Erika Rae says:

    I do feel like I’m watching a social experiment with your pregnancy, Becky Palapala. Your relationship with your parents is awesome. Cracks me the hell up.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      You know, it never occurred to me that my relationship with them was unique or odd in any way, but looking a this piece, I think it must be.

      I always just thought THEY were odd.

      Apparently they made me odd along the way.

      Another thing to yell at them about.

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