What happens when a very spoiled Chihuahua must cede the number one position in the family to a new baby? Writer, new mom, and old soul, Grace Wilson, tells the story of Presley meeting Pearl.
- story and photos by Grace Birch
And that evening, after I sobered up a bit, we rode to Prairieville and met the tiniest, fluffiest, sweetest puppy that ever existed and we named him Presley Birch.
So before Pearl, there was Presley. Looking back on the past decade of my Instagrams, a predicable timeline quickly emerges:
A tale as old as time.
(Or as old as social media, anyways.)
It all begs the question, when did I have time to walk around and take pictures of murals? Also, have I fed the cats today?
When I was 22, a co-worker had a baby and was lamenting how different they were from pets. “You can’t just open the door to let him go outside and play. You have to pick him up then place him outside. Same when he cries to come in...”
As I watched Presley piddle in the flowerbed one morning, I briefly fantasized about putting my future child in the patch of dirt next to him instead of changing diapers.
Turns out, it doesn’t quite work like that.
Keeping a dog alive for a year does give you an unfounded confidence that somehow this qualifies you to try your new skills on a tiny human.
I was terrified when I found out I was pregnant. You spend your whole adult life paralyzed at the thought of a positive pregnancy test... and then you see one and your eyeballs almost pop out of your head. The brief panic of “what do I do?!” gives way to the realization that your partner is hugging you and he’s really excited and so are you and everything is going to be fine.
In fact, everything is perfect.
But wait! How is this thing going to get out of my body?!
You spend nine months wondering and worrying. But as a very wise woman once told me, “All babies must come out.”
At one point, I asked my doctor if Presley (one of the tiniest, fluffiest, sweetest dogs he’d ever meet, I assured him) could perhaps be allowed in the hospital with me. Just to sit beside the birthing pool for encouragement....?
“That could be a tough one,” he said stone-faced.
Which was not a hard no, I pointed out to anyone who would listen.
I was telling this to potential maternity ward visitors, hoping someone would mercifully sneak Presley in, but it turns out people don’t really listen to mothers. They are really just hanging out to get a sniff of a new baby.
So we had a new baby. A human baby. And I wondered and worried how she would get on with our fur baby.
I read somewhere you should take something of the baby’s... a blanket, a toy, not like a toe or anything... and you let the dog sniff it before they officially meet.
We rolled up to the Palm House and I flew so quickly through the back door that Presley was still running down the center hall to meet me. I’m not sure who’s tail was wagging faster, mine or his.
There we were on the floor together rolling around when I heard my husband clear his throat with a baby blanket in hand. Presley wasn’t quite sure why we were offering him a blanket in the heat of June.
Pearl was perched on the dining table in her car seat. Daddy slowly lowered it down and just like everyone else who met Pearl, Presley gave her a sniff and instantly wanted to be her best friend. I melted into the background and became chopped liver.
Luckily, Presley loves chopped liver.
The next few days and weeks were a blur of fur and feedings. The whole family would literally dog-pile in the bed and we wasted summer days away napping and snacking.
The dog had never been happier.
Presley also had a new form of transportation: a baby carriage.
It turns out that people don’t really take you too seriously when you’re strolling around a small animal and a baby in a carriage.
Once I was simply trying to get to the French Quarter Post Office before it closed, and I simply couldn’t. People were frozen in their tracks in front of me pointing, staring, cooing, Instagramming... one woman at least tried to give me a dollar to take a picture. I explained we weren’t a performance art piece - just a little basket of adorables trying to run an errand. Nothing to see here.
Turns out, they are quite the sight.
Presley and Pearl have survived two Easters together now. The cats are just “ca-cas” still, but Presley is a little person with his own name in her small world.
My fears of sibling rivalry diminish daily. There’s less and less tail-pulling and more and more food sharing. We can’t wait to witness years more of adventures.
I’d love to hear your fur baby (and real baby) stories. Bonus points if you send me puppy and baby pics. Spam me at firstname.lastname@example.org.