Monday, June 17, 2013

Caring for Animals and Baby

It is my strong belief that having animals in one's life is a good preparation for having children.  Before I had a child, I refrained from telling people this, because I had the impression that my opinion about what might prepare someone for children was not appreciated unless I was in the "Mommy Club".  But now that I am an official member, I am going to say it.

"Caring for the animals in my life has helped prepare me for taking care of our daughter."

Nay-sayers eat your heart out.

Please don't take this too literally.

This does not mean that I have stayed up late taking care of my horse...

(Oh wait, yes I have, like the time I drove to the barn in the dark to see if he was eating.  And how many times have I researched his care late into the night or laid awake worrying about my horse's health or a recent affliction?  Or the countless hours spent studying his eating habits and diet and supplements...)

Well then, it doesn't mean that I have had to provide around-the-clock care...

(Oh wait, yes I have, like the time my cat was severely ill and I fed him night and day with an eyedropper.  Or the many times that I nursed his battle wounds from playing too rough with other felines.  And then there was his asthma (yes, I had a respiratory-compromised cat, too).  I had to give him daily inhaler treatments, not to mention teach him to accept an inhaler!  He was a special cat.)

Listen, I can think of countless parallels between caring for my animals and caring for my baby, but one that I did not anticipate is quite literal.

At the moment, I have a hardkeeping baby.

For those who may not be familiar with the term, "hardkeeper" refers to a horse who has trouble maintaining or gaining weight.  Harley has always fallen into this category, although not right now.  He looks absolutely smashing.  His vacation has allowed him to pack on some extra pounds and round out nicely.  That was a great unforeseen benefit.

First post-baby visit!  What a gorgeous pony.  :)
Sweet Pea was born a little early, so she lost a little more weight than is typical and is taking a little longer to gain it back.  She is otherwise fine and wonderful, healthy as a little horse (and eating like one), and feisty as anything that small could possibly be.  Her pediatrician is very much on top of things and we are working diligently to get her extra food in addition to nursing.  So this means that I am not only a 24/7 "breastaurant", but also a dairy-cow facility via Robo-Baby (a breast pump).  This is all very new and not like anything that I have done before, but the sentiments are very, very similar to caring for my horse (My cat at 20+ pounds was not a hardkeeper, by the way.).  I feel the same sense of urgency, which is compounded by the fact that our baby is a growing, developing human and Harley has always been a mature, adult horse since I have cared for him.  We will get there, but right now we are in the thick of it and to say that it is a full-time job is a gross-understatement.

All cliches aside, it is absolutely true that this little face makes it all worthwhile.

Too cute for words, but it doesn't stop me from trying.

I write this question completely tongue-in-cheek, but is there any chance that SmartPak could start a SmartBaby line?  How cute would those supplement wells be?


  1. Oh my word she is perfect!!!! Harley is too, by the way! I'm in this baby mood-My niece, Claire, was just born yesterday night and I just saw her for the first time less than an hour ago.
    I'm only an aunt/sister, but I'm very hand's on with them, so yes,I agree, SmartPak should make a baby line. And yep, animals totally help!!

  2. I love all of the correlations. Your daughter is beautiful.

  3. What a beautiful baby. Has me even more excited about welcoming my first Grandbaby in Sept.

    1. How exciting!

      Sweet Pea was also my parents' first Grandbaby.

  4. She's is beautiful! Babies are a lot of work but it's all worthwhile. Give her a kiss for me.

    Harley is looking great too. I'll bet he was happy to see you.

  5. Oh she is so cute!!! I think she is saying 'pony' in the last picture :)

    You look great btw!!

  6. Congrats! Definitely a correlation between animals and kids. Love is love, and caring is caring :)

  7. Congrats she is beautiful! Human or animal love is love :)

  8. So cute!!!!

    Are you breast feeding? Or doing a combination breast feeding/formula? I know it's so tough to get enough food in them, especially when they're done and don't want to eat anymore! I know sometimes trying different formulas you can find a brand they will take better than others.

  9. I totally understand! While my girls were forced out early due to the fact that they were twins - we've had our share of issues - one has severe acid-reflux the other has had multiple ear infections. To say the least, finding time for me, much less my horses, has taken me almost this whole 9 months to get back into the swing. But, it's getting done. And I love my girls (and my 4yo son :) ) - they're totally worth it!

  10. Now that is one cute little face .....and Harley is looking fabulous.

  11. Congratulations! I completely agree, caring for animals, especially horses prepares you for life in general. It's the responsibility and dedication that you build. Plus the self-confidence where no matter how hard it gets you say, "I can do it!"

  12. You are absolutely right to say that caring for an animal (or 3) does in fact prepare you for parenthood. Don't ever let anyone tell you other wise. Especially when you are one of those people who gives your animals the full care they deserve. (not everyone does)

    Sweet Pea is adorable, I mean just so cute I just want to cuddle her up. May I also add that you look fabulous in your post baby shot with Harley!

  13. I remember, when I was pregnant with my first, having some old biddy sneer at me and say, "You know you can't treat your baby like a horse, right?" I just rolled my eyes, because she had no clue. Horses and children have a lot in common.

    I BF both my kids, and they were never out of the 20% range in weight. BF babies tend to be leaner and gain weight more slowly than FF, but some peds don't recognize that. Don't beat yourself up about it, stress is the enemy of BF! She looks beautiful and healthy, and so does Harley!

  14. While I completely agree that my animals have made me a better mother, none of my animals prepared me for the constant care and attention my little boy needs. The 20-60 minutes I carve out for my horses every day feels like a vacation!

  15. Thank you!!!! I can't tell you how often people tsk, tsk, me when I say that caring for my animals is a lot like caring for children. As you said, most people discount the job I do since I am not a "real" mom. Thanks for pointing out that being the caretaker for any life is a serious responsibility. :0)

    Harley does look quite handsome, and you look pretty good yourself. I am glad Baby is healthy and doing well. I look forward to hearing more about your growing family!

  16. Congratulations! Your little girl is lovely. And I surely do remember the intensity of those early days. My son was not premature, but small, and it took him awhile to learn to nurse, and I had the same pumping and concerns. It is, indeed, a busy time, but so special. Many good wishes to you and your family.

  17. I nominated you for an award today. :0)

  18. I completely agree! Hope you and your wee one are well!

    I nominated you for a blog award! Come on over and check it out! :-)

  19. I'm convinced that caring for and loving animals teaches us to be better humans---you become intuitive when caring for beloved pets be they a horse, dog, cat or birdies! Sweet Pea is a petite beauty!


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