Photo: Rachel Jones-Pittier

Riding in the car that day you sat, as always, on my lap (which really meant taking up half the front seat). Daddy drove, and our meticulously packed duffel bag sat in the backseat. As we prepared to drop you off at Nana’s, it dawned on me – this might be the last time with just the three of us in the car together. Everything was about to change. And you, my sweet pup, would no longer be an “only child.”

Let’s be honest, you had it pretty good those first six years – doggy daycare, long scenic walks, a bed and toys at the office; you joined us for friends’ game nights, al fresco dinners and vacations. Some saw you just as a pet, we saw you as a family member. And we were about to add another family member – but human.

Four days after that tense drive (an eternity to you), we came home, but we weren’t alone. We brought a tiny, pungent, noisy… thing. It was hard to get a good look at it through the blanket, and you couldn’t understand why we guarded it so closely from your wet nose and eager tongue. Our nickname for the thing, “Baby Sissy,” only piqued your curiosity.

As much as we all hoped things at home would go back to normal, nighttime was anything but. Throughout the night we were interrupted by Baby Sissy’s sharp, demanding cries. I’m sure we wondered the same thing – how could a noise so loud come from something so small?? The days of snuggling up together for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep were gone.

Daytime was just as hectic. For awhile, I was not a good walk partner. A few times, Nana had to remind us to feed you. Your space was taken over by new toys and gear that you couldn’t play with. And your usual stroll around the yard for the perfect spot was cut short as we stood in the doorway with a crying… lump.

Friends had warned me that in the anxiety and sleep deprivation of those early weeks, we might take stress out on you. But it was actually the opposite – you were a reprieve. Though we loved your Baby Sissy immensely, there was so much about her that was new and unknown; but you were familiar. When I felt at my lowest, you were there to remind me it would be ok. When it seemed all Baby Sissy could do was take – my body, love, time and sleep – there you were to give. Uncomplicated, enthusiastic and overflowing with affection.

Those moments also reminded me that you’d make a great “Big Sissy.” It wasn’t overnight, but a wonderful thing happened in the time since we brought home the lump – a tiny human emerged.

Now you know Baby Sissy as the little person who drops tasty food scraps for you, squeals with delight when you enter a room and gives you whole-body hugs. We’re confident that for most of your days together, Baby Sissy will multiply the affection and love you receive – not take it away.

I know the first few months were hard on you, pup. Believe me, they were hard on us, too. But if there’s one thing I hope to communicate to you, it’s that you haven’t lost our love or your place in our family. You’ll always be my first baby.