Both of my little ones have had to recover from surgery. Baby Sadie had surgery for Gastroschisis during her first week of life and our puppy Wally was neutered this past week. I want to pass on a few things I learned that helped them cope while they were under the weather.

Me holding Sadie in the NICU

Since Sadie was premature, she was very easily overstimulated after surgery. It didn’t help that in the NICU there were a lot of monitors beeping all the time and nurses who would come in and out of the room. To help her sleep through the monitors and other hospital noises, I would keep the room as dark as possible, play soft music, hold her hand, and later on, hold her in my arms. I also practiced kangaroo care, where you hold the baby skin-to-skin, as often as possible. This helped us become very close and Sadie was always her most stable during this time. To help her get through nurse check-ins, I would make sure the nurse didn’t turn on the bright lights right away, I’d hold Sadie’s hand, talk softly to her, and if the nurse would let me, I would help perform the tasks necessary to check her vitals.

We also had someone from our family (whether it was me, my husband, or one of our parents who were in town) with Sadie at all times. Literally 24/7. I know not every family is fortunate enough to do this (whether it’s due to jobs, distance from the hospital, or the inability to have family come for long stretches of time) but I really believe it helped Sadie have the best care and develop strong bonds with her family. As a caveat, since I slept at the hospital every night and my husband was working in an office during the day, we rarely saw each other. This was very tough so it was important for us to plan time together both inside and outside the hospital. Typically, we’d eat dinner at home (while one of the grandparents stayed with Sadie) and then we would return to the hospital together for Sadie’s night-time routine. Having a baby in the hospital is already tough so making time to talk through everything with your spouse (or significant other) is crucial so you can support each other through that hardship.

Before Wally got neutered, one of our neighbors was nice enough to give us the plastic cone her male dog used after he was neutered. Once Wally had the procedure and came home, I saw firsthand why it is called the “cone of shame.”


Poor Wally ran into every wall, table, door, person – you name it. He could never get comfortable and couldn’t figure out how to pick up his toys. He was a little drama king. His dislike of the cone was so exaggerated even Sadie would giggle at him as he bumped around the apartment. Then, on his second day with the cone, he was running in the dog park, tripped, and the cone cracked. Our family went out later that day so Wally was left in his crate. When we returned home, we found he had chewed all the way up the crack and freed himself from the cone.

Wally in the ProCone

Wally still needed to heal and he loves to lick down there (lovely, right?) so we needed a new solution. I went to the pet store and at first I wanted to get a pillow collar but a sales rep told me that wouldn’t prevent him from reaching his stitches. They tried selling me a plastic cone but I just couldn’t subject Wally to that again. Then, I saw the ProCone. It is still a cone that attaches to the collar but the material is soft and durable, not plastic. It is a little expensive, but it is worth it! Wally is so much more comfortable and he can see and sleep better. Plus, most importantly, he still can’t reach his wound. I recommend getting the ProCone (or borrowing it from a friend) to help your puppy recover from a neuter or spay surgery and not feel miserable.


Due to the way baby Sadie got her start in life, her eating has always been a concern for me. For some background, Sadie was born with Gastroschisis, a defect where the intestines are outside of the abdominal wall. Once her intestines were surgically placed back inside of her and started functioning, we had to teach Sadie how to eat. There was a point where it was a big deal for her to take 3 ml of breast milk in a day (30 ml is 1 oz).

Fast forward to today, Sadie is 8 months old and taking 4 bottles of about 5-8 oz of milk for an average of 20-22 oz total plus 4-6 tablespoons of food every day. Today is the first day where she will be completely on formula – woohoo mommy freedom! I pumped breast milk for her up until 8 months in hopes that it would help her catch up on the growth chart. Now that she’s also eating (a lot of) food and taking formula well, I’m cutting off the teet. I will say I’m a little nervous because pumping breast milk is an amazing way to burn calories and I’ve essentially been eating for two for 16 months now. Time to start working out again!


For any other preemie moms out there who have babies on the smaller side, try not to stress too much about the total recommended ounces of milk per day. Once Sadie was discharged from the NICU, I would get so worried reading baby books and baby sites that said 4 month olds should be taking 24-32 ounces. There were times where getting Sadie to take 23 ounces in a day was a struggle. We would both be miserable during mealtimes because at some point around 4 ounces she’d spit the bottle out, I’d keep running the nipple by her mouth and she just wouldn’t take it. Even increasing the frequency of feedings just made her take less and less milk. Then, I met with a nurse practitioner and she said something that really helped me. She said “Well it’s like the chicken and the egg. You increase the feedings and she will take less each feeding or you decrease the feedings and she will take more. Either way she’ll take what she needs.” Since then, I have tried to let go of the recommended total ounces per day and have kept track of Sadie’s typical total ounces per day instead. Meals are much happier and although I still worry, I feel a lot better about her eating. If your baby is taking less than the recommended amount, track their intake to make sure it’s consistent and try to weigh them every week to ensure they are still gaining weight.


Even though I’ve given up the struggle to get Sadie to the recommended amount of milk, I still try to ensure she takes as much as she can. Sadie is a very easily distracted eater on the bottle. To help her be her most successful, I give her the bottle in a quiet room with low light. This way she can focus on eating and doesn’t have any distractions. That includes keeping our puppy, Wally, outside of the room.


As we considered whether to get a dog, we really looked out for food aggression. Especially because we have a baby – once Sadie is mobile, the dog’s food is probably something she will want to explore, or maybe even sample. Wally did not have any food aggression. We could even take away his bowl while he’s eating and all he would do is look confused.


When Wally first came to us, he would chow down all of the food in his bowl the minute it was set down. We think this was a result of him being used to not knowing when his next meal would be. Once he realized the meals would be coming consistently, he started to graze on his food throughout the day. I think this is preferable because it’s a lot easier on a dog’s digestive system and shows they are comfortable in your home.


To note: We only fill up the bowl twice a day for breakfast and dinner. Once it’s empty, we do not fill it again until the next meal. This is also called amount limited feeding.


There are a lot of baby contraptions out there and lots of advice on which to choose. I mainly use the exersaucer doorway jumper, the bright starts walk-a-bout, and the baby bjorn carrier one for baby Sadie. These help keep both her and my puppy, Wally, entertained and help me get things done around the house. Here is how I typically use these devices.

IMG_8411When I need to cook or clean in the kitchen, I like to place Sadie in the jumper in our pantry doorway. She loves bouncing around in the seat and she can see what I’m doing. Wally enjoys laying down in front of her so he can watch and be with everyone. At first, Wally was very curious about how the jumper brought Sadie to his height and would pace around her; for the first week or so, I’d always sit right in front of her, talk to them both, pet him, and let him see it was okay.


Sadie loves her walk-a-bout because she can stand in it and it has lots of fun toys to motivate her forward. I sometimes use the time
Sadie is in her walker to throw toys for Wally because it’s entertaining for both him and Sadie (she loves to watch!). Other times I vacuum or dust while playing some music and dancing around – which they both also find very entertaining.

IMG_8426Everyday, Sadie and I take Wally to the dog park in our apartment complex. (awesome, right?) To make it easier for me to manage him and play with him, I put Sadie in the baby bjorn. I face her out so she can see everything and I talk about what Wally is doing. She loves watching him fetch and play with other dogs. Wally has also learned that the baby bjorn means we’re going to the dog park so he gets very excited when I put it on!

My Backstory

I grew up in Atlanta, went to college at Miami University in Ohio, and then lived in Chicago for 2 1/2 years. While there, I worked in market research and consulting for healthcare companies and became a certified yoga teacher. Also during this time, I got engaged, got pregnant, got married, and had a beautiful baby girl, Sadie. When Sadie turned 4 months old, my husband and I moved back to Atlanta. Right now my full-time job is staying at home to take care of Sadie and our new puppy, Wally.

I am not an expert on babies or puppies. My experience with babies comes from helping take care of my brother (who is 10 years my junior) and babysitting neighborhood children. I have experience taking care of dogs through the dogs my family had growing up and volunteer work at animal shelters. Despite my lack of expertise, I want to share my experience of having a baby and a puppy to potentially help other moms in similar situations who have as many questions as I do.

Special Occasions and Visitors

This past weekend we christened baby Sadie and were happy to have friends and familiy witness the occasion. To prepare, I changed Sadie’s schedule two weeks before the event to a schedule that mimicked what we would do that day (in terms of eating, naps, and awake time). This held true for my puppy Wally as well (in terms of when he was taken out and on walks).
Between long days and seeing lots of people, special occasions can be overwhelming for babies and puppies. To help tone it down for Sadie, I tried to have her visit with only one or two people at a time and reserved certain moments like bath time just for us so she had some time to decompress. Since we weren’t always home, I let go of the “naps are always in bed” rule and let her sleep in someone’s arms or her car seat so she could get the sleep she needed.

Wally was very excited to meet so many people. It was hard for him to see everyone rushing to give the baby attention while he was left alone. Luckily, my sister-in-law loved petting him. If you notice your dog acting up because they feel left out when visitors come, make sure your dog gets some positive attention as well.

It was also important to keep reiterating our house rules so people knew not to let Wally lick. I wasn’t perfect at that but highly recommend letting guests know the rules right when they arrive. This way your dog doesn’t have the chance to misbehave and believe they can get away with breaking the rules around certain guests for the rest of the visit.

Finally, when you’re playing host and taking care of a baby and a puppy, remember to delegate. Typically, family and friends will be willing to help out. Playing to their strengths will help you get everything done on time and keep everyone happy.


It’s great to find ways to entertain both baby Sadie and my puppy, Wally. Walking is an awesome way to knock out 30 minutes to an hour with both of my little ones and get some good exercise!

Sadie loves going for walks because she’s old enough to face out in her stroller and look around. I talk to her throughout the walk about everything we pass and we say hello to any neighbors we see (to help prevent stranger anxiety). I usually take her right after a feeding so she’s happy and gets the time to sit and digest. IMG_8248

Wally gets a lot of his energy out on walks. He prefers to “stop and sniff” which is really awkward with the stroller so I’m working on my version of the “heel” command. Whenever he stops, I pull on the leash to bring him up to my heel and say “heel.” Teaching the full “heel” command would be near impossible with the stroller, but to help reduce him pulling me forward I’m looking into a no-pull front harness as recommended by Follow The Leader.

At first it seemed like a lot to manage, but after consistently walking with the baby and the puppy we fell into a good rhythm together. If your dog still seems to need a little faster pace after a week or so of walking everyday, it might be better to get some of their energy out in another way beforehand or just walk the baby and the dog separately, if possible.