I am still finding my feet with my blog, mainly because I’m wanting to share my thoughts about soulful connections between dogs and people and within that I get all bottle-necked by a sense of vulnerability.
That’s ironic given that one of my aims is to help other people feel more confident talking about the depth of relationship they have with dogs they’ve loved!
So today I am jumping right into the deep end of soulfulness and telling the whole world that I had my dog at my baby’s birth. (So if the idea of that makes you feel squeamish and you’re not in the mood for a human birth story with a canine slant, don’t read on, you won’t like it! Scroll down to the story “Listening” instead which is about about dogs helping children to read! I understand that there are cultural sensitivities around this issue and at the same time as wanting to support others like me, I also don’t wish to offend anyone.)
A few weeks ago I happened upon a blog about helping prepare your dog for the arrival of your baby. I left a comment about my experience which I think may go against the tide of information out there on this subject. So aware of being a lone wolf howl in the wilderness, here goes …
For various reasons, (including naively thinking everyone ‘aimed’ for a home birth!) I decided to have an ‘active home birth’. I won’t go into all that rigmarole, suffice it to say I found a wise home birth midwife.
At our first meeting I told her I wanted my dog with me at the birth and that I needed a midwife who would welcome him there(!) No, really I did! WELCOME him there, I mean not just OK put up with a dog at the birth – EW! – but welcome him! (I realised that he was better off not there at all if he was made to feel unwelcome so this was really very important.)
Since she had attended thousands of home births, nothing but nothing could remotely unsettle this wonderful midwife so without hesitation she said she loved dogs and that would be very fine.
It’s only really looking back on this that I can see how blessed we were.
Why did I want Bubba at the birth? Because first of all, he was, and still is, a magnificently GOOD dog, an absolute treasure of a dog, an extremely sweet-natured Malamute.
He was also a dog who was used to being an only dog and the focus of much attention. So I felt it would be disastrous to ‘exclude’ him from the baby even from the get-go – that simply the act of being excluded would create anxiety for him which would cause all kinds of problems.
Moreover, I felt that him being present during the labor and birth would not only allow him to feel included as usual but might instantly stimulate a ‘pack mentality’ towards the baby of “this baby/squirming, wailing, tiny human is part of my pack”. I mused that being a primal Malamute he may have primal intuition and remember his ancestors days keeping babies warm in igloos.
My biggest concern was that I would become distressed during labor and that Bubba might naturally become distressed in that atmosphere. Well, I most certainly DID become distressed during labor but Bubba slept through practically the whole thing – hours and hours of it – as if he’d been at zillions of births!
There was the midwife reading her novel and The Dog snoring and twitching his paws, both occasionally looking up with a somewhat bored expression. Although this is funny, they were also together creating a very calming energy for me.
After my homoeopath was called out at midnight to give me a remedy and the baby was born with her arm up the side of her head, waving, the midwife took hold of her shoulders, I sat up dazed and saw – Bubba gently sniff the brand new baby’s head once for a moment, more like the tiniest of nose kisses, voluntarily and graciously move away and lie down.
It was a beautiful, wondrous act to witness. (And how grateful I am to the midwife for allowing that moment since many would have unthinkingly and understandably from her point of view, pushed a dog away.) I am very proud that my daughter was touched first by a wise midwife, second by a dog and third by me!
I have written perhaps too much but there we are. I wanted to express an alternative way of being for dogs and babies. If you have a good dog, a dog you really feel is a wise, loving and kind dog, be confident about giving them the credit they deserve, trust your instincts and trust your dog.
I will write again about babies and dogs – especially the gift a baby has by having a dog in their life – but in the meantime wanted to say for now that there has not been a single unloving moment between Bubba and my daughter, years later.