Many people give up pets during pregnancy. I didn't get through my pregnancy despite my dogs, but because of them.

I had a difficult complicated pregnancy but my dogs helped me pull throughPhoto by Bhargavi Naveen
Blog Animal welfare Friday, January 27, 2017 - 16:31

By Sanjana Madappa

Working animal welfare, one of the most common reasons I hear for giving up a pet is “I'm pregnant”. When I have tried to counsel these families, the argument that I have never experienced pregnancy and don't have children is thrown back in my face.

So, last April, my ever-supportive husband and I decided to see what the fuss was about.

We were ecstatic about our pregnancy but little did we know how difficult the next few months would be.

For the first six months, I was glued to my toilet. I had developed a condition which caused me to have severe morning sickness – not limited to the morning alone. I was puking everything I consumed, even water. At one point, I was hospitalized because I was throwing up blood.

I was constantly on medication to keep food down. There were times when I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the pregnancy. After had a few weeks of respite, other health issues started cropping up from a car accident I had been in four years ago.

My pregnancy became a high risk one for pre-term delivery. There was even a chance that my baby would be stillborn. So, for the last two months of my pregnancy, I was practically on house arrest.

I cannot even begin to describe all the thoughts which raced through my head in during those days. I was angry, resentful and close to sinking into depression.

But one thing I can tell you is this: not once did I think, “Hmm, my dogs have got to go.” Because I didn’t get through my pregnancy despite them, I got through because of them.

The days I spent crying, I had the comforting weight of Diego’s head on my lap, reassuring me things would be okay. The nights I spent on the bathroom floor, Leo kept me company, gently pawing me now and then to see if I was okay. When I could finally fall asleep, I had Cujo resting at my feet.

I lost a very special little girl along the way, Leela, who kept me smiling with her silly antics till the end. She seemed subdued and stopped eating one day. I took her to the vet. We were still at the vet's when her heart gave up. It took a lot of strength to get past losing her, but my other dogs helped.

The dogs kept me going. They kept me motivated because I knew couldn’t afford to stay in bed feeling sorry for myself when I had these kids depending on me.

My son Ayan was born four weeks premature and I can’t think of anything that could have prepared me as well for motherhood as my furry kids. And I never had to teach them how to behave when Ayan came home.

They never jump on me when I am holding him. They used to jump on the bed, but they never do when he’s there. They know, just like they knew when I was tired or cranky or in need of some reassurance.

I was told by family, friends and even my doctor to get rid of my dogs and that my baby came first. To all those people I can just say this:

I could never, in good conscience, give away an animal that loves me and trusts me with the same innocence and purity that my baby does. I couldn't abandon a family member to bring in another. I will not betray a life that depends on me as much as my son. 

To all those people I will always say, NOT WITHOUT MY DOGS.

(As told to Geetika Mantri)

(All photos by Bhargavi Naveen)

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