Weird confession time: I’m convinced that Andy can tell that I’m pregnant.
I’ve been thinking this for the past couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to sound like a nut. Then I Googled it, and I discovered that though I may be a nut in many other ways, I’m not the first to think that my dog somehow knows about my pregnancy. See here. And here. And here.
It’s not that I really think that Andy understands, exactly, that he’s going to be a big brother in five months or so. But I think he can tell something is different. Something is up.
He’s always been my little shadow. But lately he’s become even more clingy. He’s always loved Saleh, but lately he mostly prefers to be near me. He always wants to be sitting in my lap or laying next to me when I’m sitting on the couch. And when I am actually laying down on the couch, he always wants to be laying on my tummy. Not next to me, not on my legs…right on my tummy. And when we are in bed, his preferred sleeping place in bed is right next to my tummy. He won’t sleep next to Saleh. It’s either between Saleh and me or next to me on the other side.
The clinginess is especially evident when we are home alone. But even when someone else is here, he always has his eye on me. He loves visitors, and when we have them, he’ll go through a few minutes of excitedly jumping on their legs to introduce himself, and then he’s content to curl up on the floor or somewhere else near me, where he can see what I’m doing.
If Saleh and I go out, whenever we get home, usually Saleh is the first to open the door. When he does, Andy will dart past him, down the stairs, in search of me. Once he finds me, he will hop back up the stairs ahead of me, leading me to the apartment. A few nights ago, I was out with my sister-in-law and Saleh got home without me. Saleh said that Andy ran right past him, down every stair, from the third floor all the way to the ground floor, in search of me. He finally came back upstairs after he established that I was not there.
All of this makes me convinced that Andy knows something’s up, and it freaks me out a little bit.
Being pregnant means I’m scared of about a million different things. And one thing that really worries me is how I’ll relate to my pups, especially Andy, once the baby is born. There are stories all over the Internet about parents who really loved their animals until their first baby came along…like this. And although I really can’t imagine my feelings for Andy changing all that much, I do worry that he won’t understand why he doesn’t get quite as much attention, quite as many snuggles, quite as much of our time.
I’ve always felt quite maternal toward both my dogs, although they each get a little more mothering depending on the situation. For example, Parker is terrified of loud noises. So you can bet that on the Fourth of July, he gets lots of extra snuggles and hugs, because he spends most of the day shaking. He is also just a generally affectionate pup who will nose his way under your arm in order to get a hug. The rest of the time, Andy tends to get a little more attention just because he’s so much smaller. (Parker weighs around 80 pounds. Andy is around 12 pounds.)
Andy probably gets more of my maternal attention just because when I got him, he was so much more tiny than Parker was. When I took Andy home at six weeks old, he could literally fit in the palm of my hand, whereas when I brought Parker home at six weeks old, he was already the size of a runt lion cub. So Andy was more like a human baby in that he needed a lot more watching, a lot more care…because he was too tiny to really take care of himself in any way. Parker was always a sweetheart, but he has always been a bit more rough-and-tumble than Andy, just by virtue of his size.
A few months after Andy and Parker’s third birthdays (they were both born in May), I officially converted to Islam. I believe that Andy and Parker were the only thing that saved me from joining the “haram police.” Converts easily get sucked into their ranks, and to be honest, I really understand why. When you adopt a new religion as your own, there’s nothing quite like pointing out others’ perceived transgressions to make you feel like you belong to the group. Because I often interacted with other women who converted to Islam, I got told on a pretty regular basis that it was haram to have my dogs in my house. No amount of informing them that a number of Islamic scholars have written fatwas that challenge the impermissibility of owning dogs in Islam (heck, even Dr. Ingrid Mattson, the former president of the Islamic Society of North America, has come out in support of Muslims who own dogs…she’s a dog owner herself) would entice them to back off. According to them, I was either supposed to banish them to the outdoors (implausible, since I lived in a second-floor apartment at the time, and thus, no yard…not to mention that if I even tried that, they would both be sitting outside the door, wondering why they weren’t inside with me, and the thought of that just broke my heart) or get rid of them altogether (impossible, since I love them. Could you give away your children? Even now, I have nightmares of being forced to take Andy and Parker to a pound and being driven away from them). My adoration for my animals is what ensured that I never had any urge to scold other Muslim women about how they dressed or about eating cupcakes on their birthdays. Because of Andy and Parker, I learned to let others take their own journeys, as I had to take mine.
So, thinking about all this, what happens when the lovely, adorable little creatures that have functioned as the vent for my maternal instincts for the past five and a half years are joined by another lovely, adorable little creature for which those maternal instincts are actually intended? I can’t imagine that I will love Andy and Parker any less. I can’t wait to introduce Simsim to Parker when I am back to my parents’ house (not to mention that I can’t wait until we are able to have Parker here with us), and I can’t imagine that I won’t want to simultaneously snuggle with Andy and Simsim.
That doesn’t stop me from worrying, though. I want our little family to grow smoothly, seamlessly. Although I know Andy will be aware of it when our new little person joins the family, I don’t want him to be at all aware of any change in my feelings toward him, if that should happen.
But to be honest, I can’t imagine that it will. The thought of it happening is heartbreaking to me. And I can’t believe that love is forced out because more love comes in. I don’t think it works that way. Sure, my bond with my child will be vastly different than the bond I have with my animals. But I can’t imagine that one could break the other. If a bond is real, it sticks. No matter what.
I’m not a perfect wife to Saleh, I’ve never been a perfect mom to Andy and Parker, and I know that I certainly won’t be a perfect mom to Simsim. All I can do is try to make sure that all of the members of my growing family, human or canine, all of the ones I hold so close to my heart, always know that I love them so much it hurts. If I can achieve that one goal, I will consider myself successful.
Love isn’t all you need. But it certainly holds it all together.