From the monthly archives:

October 2009

Betting on gender

by Milton on Thu, Oct 29th, 2009

in Studies and rumors,Week 13

When Esther first got pregnant this time, I had this dream about a baby boy named Oscar.  I woke up pretty convinced that the baby in Esther’s belly was a boy.  The next night I had a dream about this magically swimming baby that we adopted from Japan, and her name was Japanese for Waterlily.  I watched this 3 month old swimming laps in a festive Japanese swim meet for babies and I had my first pang of, “that’s my kid!” parental pride that I’ve ever experienced.  Still, despite the dream, the first dream seemed to be stronger in truthiness, and I stuck to the prediction that the baby was a boy.

Now, the whole reason I decided to predict the gender and stick with it with utter conviction is because I’m totally not a believer in the “I had a feeling it was going to be a boy” intuition.  Okay, I believe the intuition exists, I just don’t think it’s any more accurate than randomness.  So, I thought it would be fun to play the opposite role and be totally certain it was a boy. Plus, it seems like a fatherly thing to do.  Am I overthinking this? Yes. But it’s just how my brain works.

Anyway, I also love gender prediction rituals, superstitions, and the like.  The Chinese gender prediction chart claims it will be a boy.  Our acupuncturist says it’s a boy.  That little ring on a string thing says it’s a boy. And now Esther herself has the intuition that it’s a boy.

So, of course, I’m officially changing my prediction to girl.  And sticking to it.

And now we’ve got a bet going.

If the baby turns out to be a boy, I have to buy Esther a pizza.  If the baby turns out to be a girl, she buys me a pizza.  We love pizza.

I hope I win!


Science questions from toddlers

by Milton on Wed, Oct 28th, 2009

in Research,Week 13

I hope our kid has lots of questions about science, and can eventually submit a question to this great column idea on Boing Boing, Science Questions from Toddlers.

So far, only two questions have been answered:

  1. Do cockroaches have a penis?
  2. Do turtles have eyelashes?

Admit it, you want to know the answers.

Reminds me of some of my science questions when I was a kid:

  1. Can seeds REALLY grow in your stomach? I was skeptical.
  2. Is a drop of water the smallest that water can get?
  3. Are babies born out of your belly button?
  4. Do people live inside billboards? (there was a sign near our house for the county jail or something, which I was sure was the actual jail itself, and somehow people could be in jail inside a sign… it was weird)

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Back to My Yoga Practice

by Esther on Wed, Oct 28th, 2009

in Week 13

I feel a whole lot better suddenly.  It’s as if someone flipped off the switch to my nausea button and logged off my 12 hours a night sleep account.  This is good.

I was able this morning to go to a yoga class for the first time in 3 weeks.  I only felt a little bit dizzy and a little bit pukey for a little bit of time.  Mostly, I delighted in stretching all my stagnating muscles out.  I am impressed that this body is still holding some limber qualities after 2 months of barely working out.  I suppose that those 8 years of yogafication don’t really leave after 3 months of babification.  Thank goodness.  Keep up the good work, body!

One thing that I am noticing when I do make it to yoga class is a sense of baby awareness that is far more abstract when, say, I’m at work.  I feel accountable in my practice to keep as much oxygen and blood flowing to my uterus as possible, which requires all of these tweaks to my posturing, thus ushering in a maintained hour-long baby awareness.  There is no longer a set intention that resides outside my body.  I admit that I’m not praying for peace, praying for my family, or praying to the sun.  I am, rather, singing this physical baby making song and trying to sing in the tune of an aware woman.

Odd to notice that even after three weeks without practice, my balance seems to have improved.  Don’t get me wrong, my balance was never good to begin with.  I still fell out of half moon during my practice today.  But, usually, after 3 weeks of absolute neglect, I can barely hold half moon without shaking and quaking.  Today was different.  I was steady, strong, grounded.  This could be due to my recent long-term sobriety and vast hydration.  Or it could be something more profound, which is what my emotional, hormone-driven, yoga-high  mind is currently preferring.  I’m not sure what this sense of the profound can be named.  I guess I’m not that sage.


Regarding things nobody tells you

by Milton on Wed, Oct 28th, 2009

in Studies and rumors,Week 13

I’ve been reading a lot of pregnancy blogs as well as new parenting blogs (20 in my RSS folder at the moment), and the phrase, “they never tell you X” keeps coming up.  I’m terrified of whatever it is that will fit into the “they never told me X” category for me, because I’m reading so much and they are telling me so much that it’ll be interesting to see what exactly it is that slips through the cracks.  I can’t even imagine.  And I guess that’s the point. Yikes!


Letter #1

by Milton on Wed, Oct 28th, 2009

in Letters to baby,Week 13

Dear baby,

I guess you’re a fetus still, and you’ll become a baby when you graduate from the womb. Still, fetus is pretty cool. I was a fetus once. I don’t remember much about it, probably because my neurons weren’t connected yet and whatever memories were sitting in my blobby little head got rolled over by the crazy mob of neurons that developed every corner of my cranium in the first couple years of being a baby.

You’ll get there.

Right now you’re developing teeth, I hear, and your eyes are closing (now that they have lids) and won’t open again until you see that crazy light-at-the-beginning-of-the-tunnel in the room of your first graduation. I’m learning about eyes all over again in my book. Rods, cones, the fact that your subconscious starts seeing things before your frontal-lobe does, the fact that the way to determine “where” the things you’re seeing grows separately from the part that determines “what” you’re seeing. Reading these books is fun, it passes the time. But mostly I just want to know what you’re doing right now.

I have this weird desire to write you songs on my guitar. It might be my first “Dad-impulse”. No, that’s not true, I did also try to talk to you once, through Esther’s belly. But then I remembered you can’t really hear yet, but you can feel sounds, so I said really low mumbly words. Hope you felt it.

We are also tossing around a lot of baby names. You know, it’s difficult because we don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl. So I tend to like the unisex names right now, cause they just work. I thought of one today that I haven’t told Esther yet. We’ll see. Names don’t last very long here. We might have to change your name every year. Maybe we’ll give you 18 names, one that you peel off every year, and then you can choose your own. Would you sue us if we did that?

I should simplify these letters to you. It’s not like I’m writing to your 10-year old self yet. It’s maybe a little rude to use words that you won’t understand for a while. But I am not a big fan of baby talk. In fact, I plan on talking to you like a regular person from the get-go. That’s my plan. Who knows if there’s some weird drug they give you at the hospital that makes you revert to a baby-talking parent whenever you’re around babies. I mean, words are words, right? And you’re not going to understand anything anyway, so why give it a high-pitched tone with lots of fluffy vowels?

Anyway, Esther’s home, I’m gonna sign off for now. Keep cookin’ in there!



Maurice Sendak on scary things

by Milton on Sun, Oct 25th, 2009

in Parenthood,Week 13

Something to chew on: “‘Wild Things’ is scary, but so is life

81-year-old Sendak is my king is because of what he said during a recent Newsweek interview that was intended to promote the film but no doubt wound up offending parents all over the country. It went like this:

Reporter: “What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?”

Sendak: “I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.”

Reporter: “Because kids can handle it?”

Sendak: “If they can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.”

Sendak: “This concentration on kids being scared, as though we as adults can’t be scared. Of course we’re scared. I’m scared of watching a TV show about vampires. I can’t fall asleep. It never stops. We’re grown-ups; we know better, but we’re afraid.”

Reporter: “Why is that important in art?”

Sendak: “Because it’s truth. You don’t want to do something that’s all terrifying. I saw the most horrendous movies that were unfit for child’s eyes. So what? I managed to survive.”

Remember, this guy is 81 years old. I miss the way people used to be. A couple of generations ago, parents didn’t worry about whether kids were happy all the time or comfortable 24/7 or wrapped in protective coating. Of course, they didn’t want their children hurt. But it’s hard to imagine they would have spent much time and effort trying to keep kids from being scared.

Quite the contrary, they used to tell them scary stories at bedtime or on camping trips — usually the kind intended to frighten little ones into behaving correctly. “And then one day, all the kids who didn’t listen to their mommies and daddies just disappeared. …”

I get it. We really, really, really like our children. In fact, we love our children and we think they’re the most precious little darlings ever created, and so naturally we want to protect them. And we should protect them from some things — predators, disease, abuse, etc. But we shouldn’t protect them from all things. And we certainly can’t protect them from life. And part of life is getting scared now and then. In time, we learn to separate reality from fantasy.

And yet, while one infamous set of parents could face criminal charges for pretending their son was in a balloon, other parents think nothing of keeping their kids in a bubble.

Esther sent me the link to this article yesterday and I think we’re in agreement that Sendak is on to something here.


Going public

by Milton on Sun, Oct 25th, 2009

in Week 13

On Oct 24, at the stroke of midnight, Esther entered the second trimester of her pregnancy.  That also happened to be the night of her birthday party, so we took the opportunity to tell people that night (if they hadn’t figured it out by themselves).

I’m glad it’s public now.  It’s difficult to be so excited about something that you can’t share with the people you usually like to share things you’re excited about with.  Now we can!


Before our first visit with Dr. Atwood last week, we had made a list of questions that we wanted to ask.

I ended up asking them from memory, since I felt awkward reading from a list, but the answers I did get were pretty good.

  1. Midwives – no, no midwives at the Swedish we’re at.  So, we’ll be interviewing a couple that we’ve been recommended.
  2. Induction rate – I didn’t ask for the explicit number, but she reassured us that they don’t induce if they can at all avoid it.  That’s a good starting point… I’d still like to know the exact induction rate though.
  3. Epidural rate – Usually only upon request, unless you’re doing a Cesarean.
  4. Non-office hour deliveries – She told us that there’s always a doctor on staff, and that they do not pressure to move deliveries along due to time of day or week.  She volunteered this information without me asking first, so I’m going to trust her on that one.
  5. Breech deliveries – They don’t do breech deliveries, even Frank breech.  Which is unfortunate.  If it comes to that, we will prepare for that possibility when it comes.  She did say that they do all kinds of tricks to get the baby to turn, and that they have some success with that.  So that’s good.
  6. Late deliveries – They don’t pressure to induce until 42 weeks.  That seems reasonable to me.
  7. Big babies – Seems like they will occasionally pressure to do C-sections when the labor doesn’t seem to be progressing, and when size of the baby’s head could be an issue.
  8. Water-breaking – They worry about labor not progressing after water breaking when the mother has tested positive for Group B Strep (about 1/3 of women).  If she has tested negative, they’re more likely to allow a labor to progress at its own pace.
  9. Fetal monitoring – They allow intermittent monitoring to allow the mother to move around.  That’s the right answer.
  10. Movement during labor, alternate positions – Every birthing room has its own tub and shower and all positions are allowed to be explored.  This is great news, and one of the main reasons I’m feeling like this doctor and hospital might work for us.

All in all, good answers.  Dr. Atwood was kind, was able to listen, answered questions confidently and without getting annoyed at us, and overall gave us a good impression.

Esther’s job this week is to schedule appointments with a few different midwives in the area just so we can have something to compare with. Stay tuned!


The description from Baby Center about what Nuchal translucency screening is:

This prenatal test (also called the NT or nuchal fold scan) can help your healthcare practitioner assess your baby’s risk of having Down syndrome (DS) and some other chromosomal abnormalities as well as major congenital heart problems.

The NT test uses ultrasound to measure the clear (translucent) space in the tissue at the back of your developing baby’s neck. Babies with abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid at the back of their neck during the first trimester, causing this clear space to be larger than average.

The NT scan must be done when you’re between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant. (The last day you can have it done is the day you turn 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant.) It’s usually offered along with a blood test in what’s known as first-trimester combined screening.

Like other screening tests, an NT scan won’t give you a diagnosis. But it can assess your baby’s risk for certain problems and help you decide whether you want to have chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis to find out whether your baby is actually affected.

The NT scan has been performed in the United States since 1995, mostly at large medical centers. Ultrasound technicians (sonographers) and doctors need special training and high-resolution ultrasound equipment to perform it correctly. They must be certified by the Fetal Medicine Foundation in London, the organization that sets the international standards and provides the software that enables a doctor to evaluate your baby’s risk.

I sense that this test is the beginning of many ways that we’ve introduced new ways to worry about pregnancy. The desire to know everything comes from the fear that something scary will happen with the pregnancy.  But, strangely, because of the nature of these results, knowing more in many cases only causes you to worry more.  Not only that, but doing these tests costs money and also increase the chance of miscarriage.

Another statistic, mentioned in last week’s This American Life, which focused on America’s health care system, is that up to 33% of our medical procedures are not needed.  Because we feel like the insurance companies charge us too much, we in turn try to run up our hospital bills with costs to justify the big spending, which in turn makes us a country that spends a lot on health care but isn’t any healthier.

I suspect that the infinite number of blood tests, screenings, etc are a big part of that 33% of things that don’t need to happen.  Less is more.  By avoiding these tests, I will be saving money (our health insurance has a $3,000 deductible and only covers bills 80% after that, so costs are very real to us), we will be avoiding procedures that increase the risk of problems, and in the meantime we won’t have to worry about ambiguous results and statistics and false reasons to worry.

What do others think about this?


Becoming more real

by Milton on Thu, Oct 15th, 2009

in Parenthood,Week 11

It’s weird trying to balance all the practical aspects of preparing for a new baby with the totally 180 degree opposite reaction of the emotional aspect of becoming a father. I probably tend to over-prepare on the practical side rather than investigate the emotional side.

Reading this lovely blog, Dear Baby, from beginning to end has reminded me that I need to also spend some time really thinking about this new life that will be joining us soon. A real live person, built from my wife and my own genetic histories, going all the way back to the first walking amoeba.

I want to write this baby songs, give it a comfortable and beautiful place to grow up, happy examples of how to live, protection from the elements at first, and then help taking them on him/herself eventually. I want to feel the feeling of its own weight push against Esther’s belly. I want to know all about this baby that’s in there doubling in size every week.

I guess since yesterday’s ultrasound I feel like this is all becoming more and more real.  Real is good.  Being a parent is gonna be so great.