Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.
When I think of firsts, I immediately start feeling sorry for myself. My first pregnancy was lost at 3 months. I spent the night in terrible pain, running back and forth to the bathroom, hemorrhaging blood, and worrying about flushing the dead fetus down the toilet instead of packaging it into a zip lock bag for the lab. After all was said and done, I did catch and bag up the fetus and thought it was a pretty fascinating beginning of what might have been the most loved baby in the world. That night has become the definitively loneliest night I’ve ever had in my entire life. I had one or two subsequent lost pregnancies, both which were simply lost or cleared out by D&C.
My first and only attempt at adoption lasted for about 9 months to a year of official paperwork and home studies by social workers. That ended in a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer just a month before a 1-month old Guatemalan infant was to be assigned to us, so it was never in the books for me to have children.
The first time I took my dogs to New York to visit my in-laws, I discovered that dogs are unwelcome, even polite and trained ones (which they are). If you have children, your life and your children have validity with the rest of the world and you get to have lots of happy firsts. If you’re childless and just have dogs, you’re a joke. You’re welcome to visit the family, but your dogs are unwelcome and must stay outside in the bitter cold or be kenneled.
I used to read, in the fertility clinic notebook, letters by women who felt jealous and bitter when other people talked about their children. I remember thinking “how petty for someone not to just be happy for other people’s children. Why feel jealous over something that has nothing to do with you?”
Then I had children shoved down my throat. Children’s parties invitations, celebrations of more children, pictures of children, and family gathering where everyone sits around and watches and talks about the children. Even the children would have nothing to do with me as though to make the point that my presence was irrelevant because I had no children to contribute. I just had dogs, who were unwelcome.
When I got my second dog, he was tiny, maybe half the length of my hand. He was shivering and afraid and very sickly (turns out he had erlichiosis, a tick-borne illness, which nearly killed him). I put him on my stomach or very gently curled up with him every night, keeping a crate on my bed stand right next to him so he didn’t fall off the bed. I lightly put the blanket over him, and stroked him to let him know he was safe. That’s the first time I was ever able to express the pent-up nurturing of being a mother to a helpless being.
So the firsts of being the mother of a puppy isn’t the same, and it’s a story few people give a shit about hearing. But there it is. My children’s firsts weren’t talking or crawling or smiling or saying “dada”, they were walking on the leash, peeing and pooping outside, and learning how to rip apart cardboard boxes instead of my shoes :p