When Aditya Raheja and Sanjana Madappa learned they were going to have a baby, they were, like all first-time parents, ecstatic. And like any other couple, they immediately announced the great news to their family and friends.
But while their friends and relatives were happy, they immediately started with unsolicited advice. The biggest point of contention? The couple’s many dogs.
Sanjana works with an animal rescue organization called CUPA in the couple’s home city of Bengaluru, India. As a result, she’s taken in five dogs and fostered many others. The couple loves each one of them, but other people had other ideas.
“I was told by my family, friends, and even my doctor to get rid of my dogs, that my baby came first.” Sanjana wrote. They were concerned for the safety of the baby, or that the dogs would demand too much attention.
But Sanjana, who has worked with animals for years, and has seen many dogs given up because of a new baby, was firm in her response. Her dogs were staying.
“I was told the same things that all those people who have given up pets tell me,” she wrote. “To all those people I can just say this. I couldn’t ever in good conscience give away an animal that loves me and trusts me with the same innocence and purity that my baby does. I couldn’t abandon a family member to bring in another. I will not betray a life that depends on me as much as my son does. To all those people I will always say, NOT WITHOUT MY DOGS.”
And to show her dedication to her family, both human and canine, she and Aditya posed for a fantastic maternity shoot starring all five dog siblings.
But Aditya and Sanjana would have none of that.
To show their dedication to the furry members of their family, they arranged this adorable photo shoot starring everyone.
Sanjana works for an animal rescue organization in Bengaluru, where she sees many pets given up when someone gets pregnant.
“Being in animal welfare, one of the most common reasons I hear for giving up a pet is ‘I’m pregnant,’” she wrote.
“When I have tried to counsel these families, I get it thrown back in my face that since I don’t have children and haven’t experienced a pregnancy, I don’t get to have an opinion.
“So last year in April, my ever supportive husband and I decided to see what the fuss was about.”
And it wasn’t an easy journey for the couple.
“I had an unreasonably difficult pregnancy. For the first six months, I was glued to my toilet, even hospitalized because I was throwing up blood,” she wrote.
“The morning sickness really took a toll on me and I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the pregnancy.
“I had a few weeks of respite before issues from a car accident four years ago started cropping up.”
“My pregnancy became a high-risk one for pre-term delivery and I was restricted to the confines of my home.
“I cannot even begin to describe all the thoughts that went through my head but what I can tell you is this: not once did I think, ‘Hmmm, my dogs have got to go.’”
So naturally the maternity shoot, which took place in Sanjana’s last week of pregnancy, including all the dogs.
The pooches even got their own signs expressing their anticipation for their new human sibling.
In fact, Sanjana says, she owes a lot to her dogs.
“My dogs are the reason I got through my pregnancy with my sanity intact,” she wrote.
“The days I spent crying, I had the comforting weight of Diego’s head on my lap reassuring me things would be OK.”
“The nights I spent on the bathroom floor, Leo kept me company, gently pawing me now and then to see if I was OK.
“I lost a very special little girl along the way, Leela, who kept me smiling with her silly antics till the end.
“When I could finally fall asleep, I had Cujo resting at my feet.”
Having the dogs also kept her going, even when she felt she was at her lowest.
“I couldn’t afford to stay in bed feeling sorry for myself when I had these kids depending on me,” she wrote.
“Taking care of my dogs ensured I never felt the need to blame my pregnancy, the baby, or my husband for the state I was in,” she wrote.
As any dog owner knows, dogs are pretty amazing for helping you get through hard times.
After all, they’re just so full of love and support, which is exactly what Aditya and Sanjana needed.
In addition, giving up a family member just seemed wrong. “I don’t know how people can bring a child into the world while letting go of another at the same time,” Sanjana wrote.
A week after the shoot, Sanjana and Aditya welcomed a healthy baby boy, Ayan, into the world, and he’s having a great time with his five furry siblings.
And Sanjana is even more grateful for her dogs.
“I can’t think of anything that could have prepared me as well for motherhood as my furry kids,” she wrote.
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