Compare and Contrast

Lately I find myself comparing two major life decisions: getting a puppy versus having a baby.

Now before you go and get your panties in a bundle over the 'b' word, I'll go ahead and clarify: no, I'm not pregnant. And---as a side note---I think it's awful how any major 'exciting news' for a semi-newlywed-sans-child is automatically assumed to mean 'I'm knocked up!'. I admit that I assume the same thing about fellow non-parents-who-might-be-getting-pregnant-soon folks, and for that I do apologize. I guess it comes with the territory but it really sucks when you're like, "Guess what?" and someone is all, "You're pregnant?", and you're all, "Um, no--sorry to disappoint. I was just excited about asparagus being on sale this week. Nevermind." Perhaps I'm paranoid, no?

So anyway, where were we? Oh yes, puppies and infants [avoiding the 'b' word successfully here]. Because I'm a psycho Type A control freak, I feel most in control of my life when I plan the hell out of it. For instance, I cannot relate to those couples who say, "Whatever happens happens, we'll just float long life without a list/spreadsheet/care in the world and see where life takes us." No, no, no, my friends. I need many lists and timelines and pretty color-coded excel sheets or I might become certifiably insane [might be there already, huh?]. Deciding to have a kid is no different: I need a timeline, a game plan, and a check list. Which is exactly what I called upon when deciding to get a new puppy. Do you see a theme here?

So when Nate and I discuss having children, I find myself comparing this decision with The Great Henry Debate of 2005. You see, throughout college I always said I would buy myself a puppy as soon as I graduated and had a real job/place of my own. I don't think Nate ever took my threat seriously until I began researching the crap out of dog breeds. And oh yes, there were lists involved.

Initially, Nate was not fond of me getting a puppy because he thought it would be too much responsibility, it would hold us down from traveling, it would cost a lot, and his biggest [secret] fear was that I'd want to spend more time with the puppy than I would with him. We talked it to death and eventually I got my baby puppy. And guess who Henry has wrapped around his furry little paw more than anyone else in this house? Yep, hesitant little Nate is now utterly obsessed with Hankster. [I told you so, what?] :)

Looking back I think the fear of the unknown was a huge part of Nate's tentativeness. I mean, when you decide to get a puppy your entire world changes and neither one of us really KNEW what that would be like.

Well guess what? Neither one of us really KNOWS what it will be like to have a kid but if we're honest, we know it will completely change our lives. We are in that weird limbo stage where one day we think we are ready for a baby and the next we feel perfectly content with having free time and being child-free. Is anyone else in this same stage right now? I understand that these things cannot always be controlled and it's not something we can just snap our fingers and out pops a baby, and of course that thought frightens me. I have read way too many infertility blogs to think that making babies is easy. Because I'm neurotic I worry that when we are ready it might not happen for a long time after and my 28th birthday that is sneaking up in a matter of weeks just makes me feel like my eggs are shriveling up. Completely dramatic, I know. And heavy and depressing so let's move onto more about puppies instead [and no, I don't want one of those right now either. At least not today].

We were going over our potential baby timeline the other night and I had an epiphany: we were nervous about getting a puppy for the same reasons and look how that turned out. We survived, didn't we? Sure it was hard at times and I can't say that I want to go through that again any time soon, but oh--the memories.

Hold on, new mothers. Are you breathing fire yet? Don't hurl stones at your computer screens or curse my name in vain. I am fully aware that comparing a newborn child to a canine family addition isn't the most accurate. I realize that one decision is a little more important than the other considering it's a precious human life and all. But humor me for just one second as you read my list, okay? It's all in good fun I promise. A little sarcasm never hurt anyone:)

Compare: ways that getting a new puppy and having a baby are similar

1. Both demand your attention, and thus a huge amount of your life will begin to center around this addition. You'll need constant reminders to keep your marriage/relationship a priority or else the new object of your affection will suck it dry.

2. If you are ill/tired/cranky, too bad! You still have to care for this little bundle of joy. In fact, they will both wake you up in the middle of the night just for the heck of it to test your breaking point. Hope you don't like to sleep very much, right?

3. You must remember to feed them, and pay for their food. Yes, you'll need to be responsible like that and at least pretend to be an adult [gulp].

4. Both of them make horrendous messes/can be stanky. You'll have to dispose of it without gagging. But I will say this: a nasty pile of dog crap ain't got nothing on a fully loaded diaper. More on this below...

5. Neither are temporary, so once the novelty wears off you better settle in for the long haul. If you get bored easily remember these additions can't get pushed to the back of a closet like yesterday's hottest blouse.

6. Both are so freaking cute it makes your innards quiver. It also forces people like me to take entirely too many pictures on any given day.

7. Both can be the best thing since sliced bread. And I love me some carbs.

Contrast: ways that getting a new puppy and having a baby are a wee bit different.

1. You can leave a puppy alone for at LEAST 4-5 hours at a time, depending on bladder size. I do not suggest leaving an infant alone for this long unless you have a strong desire to do jailtime. I think I'll pass on that one, okay?

2. A puppy might wimper a little bit at night but I'm pretty sure a newborn's bloodcurdling scream is way worse. And rubbing a baby's belly probably won't get him to stop crying, but I could be wrong on this.

3. Babies poop their pants, puppies poop outside [or perhaps inside but really---it's not like it's held up against their body for any period of time, so the baby still wins this bullet point. Poop needs to exit the system and not adhere itself to the host, which is why babies get the short end of the stick, IMO].

4. Puppies love to play fetch and are generally interactive and fun. From what I've seen with newborns, they aren't excatly 'entertaining' unless you count staring at their freaking adorable cheeks for hours on end to be your idea of endless fun.

5. It seems like babies need way more crap than puppies. I mean, have you seen some of these baby registries? I'm pretty sure I got some food, a toy, and a collar with a leash when we brought Henry home. But with a baby you might need a regular U-haul van to cart around all of their paraphernalia. Geesh, talk about high maintenance.

6. Babies grow into teenagers which seems like a real pain in the butt. Those teenagers will eventually go to college and since we will be paying off our own tuitions for many years, the thought of adding more to our tab is quite frightening. Puppy obedience school is pretty cheap in comparison, I suppose.

7. This trumps all the rest: you birth a human child. I'm told it isn't exactly fun to pop a living creature out of your nether regions and in fact, I bet you it hurts a lot. Call me a wimp but I think I'd take a room full of chewed-up furniture over pushing a 8 pounder from my girlie parts. Yep, not quite ready yet.

So there you have it, my essay comparing and contrasting two subjects that are both similar and different. Of course, since I've only aquired one of these objects [Hi Henry!] I suppose I'm just guessing at a lot of my points. Feel free to let me know any comparisons I've missed. I'm sure there are many:)


  1. Coming from a 20 weeks prego girl who struggled with infertility to get here (I'm 27), I can still totally relate to you! Even though we were obviously trying, I don't think anyone ever feels like they are truly ready for the baby commitment. We are thrilled to pieces to be expecting our little boy, but of course there are times I wonder if I'll ever get to go on a long mid-afternoon run again, or do a pub crawl, and wait, aren't I still a little girl myself?! But at least you already took the dog plunge. To me, a pet is a scarier proposition than a baby!! Good luck :)

  2. Just wait til physiological time-bomb all women have starts ticking away. "You only have 'X' number of years til your ability to reproduce is wipe in half." As thirty-somethings, it's topic of weekly discussion. The mere fact that you've raised a pup is a big accomplishment. You've committed yourself to love and care for another. Cheers to you!

  3. A-MEN! To EVERYTHING you said. And so, when having the great baby debate... we got another puppy.

  4. I’m likely an anomaly, but when I was pregnant, I was a bit concerned because I didn’t even really like kids. Maybe it’s just that I was never exactly exposed to kids .. fear of the unknown, as you mentioned. But I was reminded and comforted by the fact that I felt the same way before getting our puppy. “Uggh, what am I going to do with a DOG?” I remember thinking. (I swear, I’m not a negative person!) Long story to say that it didn’t take long before I fell completely in love with our pup. And our little girl is now three months old, and I think she’s pretty cool too. You’re not alone in comparing the two!

  5. Julia, I have a book to recommend. It's called "start your family" by Steve and Candace Watters. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but tons of people say it's a great read. I think you'll like it with your type A/spreadsheet brain! :)

  6. We are totally in the same boat, especially since we're in the house-buying process. Everyone's like...ok you checked the box on that step kids. Some days I'm ok. And the next day I think... I need more sleep.

  7. Oh Julia, I couldn't have written it better myself. We have not had the experience to raise a puppy yet so that will come first for us. However, I know when I am 28, I will be thinking the same thing. (Us type-A people need to stick together, you know!?) Somedays, I feel like I am totally ready to start thinking about pregnancy. But then, I watched Oprah last week about motherhood. Dooce (do you read that blog) was on there and the moms have some choice words to say about motherhood. Never-the-less, you know that you want to be a mother and if and when you feel ready, I say go for it. And...I think a dog and baby are very similar :)

  8. I'm with you 100%. Marsh and I aren't even married yet and we already get the baby questions. But I will be turning 28 as well(scary!) on April 21st, so I'm also with you on the barren concern. Marsh and I have the exact same conversation as you and Nate. We talk about getting a second pup more than about when we'll start trying to reproduce, and the thought of having a baby terrifies me! I know I'm 28, but I still feel somewhere around 20. Is that normal? Anyway, I can completely relate. Totally wish you were in Charlotte so we could go makes lists together while drinking coffee. Oh, and it's 76 degrees here, so I bet you wish you were in Charlotte, too!!

  9. I've always considered pet ownership to be "practice" for parenthood, so I fully agree with all of your observations. We're in the same state of limbo right now, so don't feel like you're alone!

  10. And my list of reasons to love you continues to lengthen. :)

  11. There is one important thing you forgot - You can't buy puppies adorable outfits from babyGAP! This fact alone should make you want to jump Nate's bones immediately!! You've already done the puppy thing so you should try the baby thing. You will be glad you did :) If you feel ready don't over-analyze it because then it will never happen. Everything else will just fall into place. Trust me, babies and birthing do not come with spreadsheets!
    Also, speaking about infertility blogs, you MUST read this one...

  12. Love your comparisons and thoughts on this Julia. I agree with you 100%. I am so sick of being asked if I am knocked up... eventually I'm just going to start saying yes and watch them get excited and then reveal that I am indeed not pregnant. That would be fun. Is that mean? haha.

  13. Despite the troubles we have had over the past year staying pregnant, I can tell you that I am still not really ready to have a baby and I have NO idea what will happen when he's here. I'm sure that I will change a bit, but I hope not too much.

    We have no plans to change what we would do that much, we'll just take someone else a long with us now. That's what my parents and Jake's parents did, so why do it different? We turned out okay. :)

    I think that if you survived Henry, you will be just fine with a baby. And if you want to double check if you are really ready, you can borrow Ryan for a bit. :)

  14. I think you and your husband would be great parents, and I think you would love the joy a child can bring, and now for the truth...
    Sometimes is hard, tyring, smelly, crazy, pull your hair out loud, but it's still way better than anything I could have ever imagined. I guess when they are your kids you dont have to think about doing the dirty work, you just do it. Same way with the dogs, you just do what you have to do because you love them like crazy.

  15. Julia I have never commented on your blog, but I do read it all the time! I'm completely in agreement with you on this one. I'm also a type A, list maker and will be 29 this year, all my friends have had babies in the last year and I'm constantly feeling like it should be the next step, but then I worry and think I'm not ready to have a baby, etc. I constantly wonder how our lives would be different with a baby, I'm 100% in agreement with you on this one!

  16. I only have experience in the dog arena...but if you are planning on having a baby in the next 5 years do not get another dog. You may have gotten lucky with Henry. We got a 2nd dog who is insane and now I feel like I can't have a baby until the dogs are much older, or gone altogether. Plus I watched my nephews birth and I'm a bit scarred. Although I wasn't the one with the epidural either...

  17. haha, i love this post. i'm totally in the dog camp, but i don't want kids so that's easy for me to say!

  18. Considering we're expecting a wee one here in about 5 months, I can only hope that having a dog has helped prepare us even a LITTLE bit! I am still incredibly scared and nervous (especially for the part where I have to push it out), but at the same time, if the love we have for our dog is any indication for the love we'll have for this baby we'll all be just fine :)

  19. OK, Julia. I don't think I've ever commented on your blog before, but I must step in here. Not only can I relate to the ambivalence about having babies (I think I was about 35 weeks pregnant with Ethan when I thought, "wait, do I really want to do this? What about ___...." fill in any number of things that you perceive you cannot do once you've crossed the magic invisible line of parenthood. Well, too late!) I've also been on both sides of the infertility fence. You know how we struggled to conceive our first without any obvious reason behind the difficulty. Then, along came *surprise* Lila:) So, what can I tell you about the leap into parenthood? 1) Babies are way way way more expensive than (even well dressed and well coiffed) dogs
    2) Putting your baby in a pair of those teeny tiny jeans from BabyGap will trump Henry's leg warmers on the cuteness scale
    3) There may not be a flip of a switch to tell you when it is time. You sometimes just have to relax and let things happen
    5) The love you will feel for your child will overwhelm and consume you; this is a reward in and of itself that will wipe away any doubts you ever had about having a baby

    love ya and good luck:)

  20. thank you for all of you thoughts ladies. you guys rock.


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