From the category archives:

Week 35

How extreme are we?

by Milton on Fri, Apr 9th, 2010

in Week 35

I think this blog has been properly named, even though at the time it was intended to be sort of humorously self-deprecatory.  I mean, we started interviewing doctors and buying all the books right away, and a home birth was far from our thoughts, but here we are.

And today we started looking into the whole world of what they call “elimination communication,” which we’ve run into a few times before but as I joked in our birthing class last week, we thought it might be too extreme for us.  But then we looked into it a bit more, read a bit from about it from another great new parent who’s trying it out, and it’s starting to seem a little more reasonable on this slippery slope into complete hippydom.  It is, in the extreme, an attempt to be diaper-free, and instead pay such close attention to your baby that you know when he/she needs to go and you hold him/her over a toilet.  In its less-extreme forms, you can still use a diaper, but still try to get the communication going about when he/she needs to go. Of course, in the pre-diaper world, it was the only way to be.

Once you get on this train of trying to get back to the core of what parenting is… from natural births to breast-feeding to attachment parenting to elimination communication… it just never seems to end.  There’s a luxury implied in some of these methods… who has time to pay this much attention to an infant, clearly only the rich and bored.  But these things don’t have to be polarizing philosophies.  They’re all presented (if not by the media and by strongly opinionated bloggers) as a spectrum of possibilities.  Adapt what you can, discard what proves to be impossible.  The same goes for everything else in life.  It’s not about choosing your loyalties and author/doctor heroes, but rather finding the resonant bits of methods that have been used and tested and finding out what kind of parent I want to be.

But yeah, from zero to baby.  Esther’s due date is coming right up in 29 days, and our list of things that we need to do before then is getting perilously small.  Then it’s the fast track for toddlerhood, adolescence, teen years, and adulthood for our little Axelrod.  While we run around trying to catch falling chickens and put out forest fires.  That’s my expectation, at least, I could be wrong.

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I love how Baby Center tells me what I should be afraid about.

Here are the seven deadly fears:

  1. Will I be able to provide for my family?
  2. Will I be able to “perform” during Esther’s labor?
  3. Am I really the baby daddy?
  4. Does this mean that my life is over?
  5. Will Esther and Axelrod be okay?
  6. Will Esther love Axelrod more than me?
  7. Should I be afraid of hospitals in general?

I guess the point of listing all of these fears is to help people who are afraid feel like they’re “normal”.  But I can’t help but feel that they also serve to reinforce stereotypes that are about weakness, insecurity, and irrationality and offering them as ways to be.  Even if you weren’t necessarily afraid of these things before reading the list, someone might read the list and think, yeah, maybe I SHOULD be worried about the paternity of my baby.

It could be simply because, as I ease into a new role, I’m hyper aware of the pressures that attempt to mold me, inform me of my new role, give subtle clues, social cues, etc to help me along the way.  But where are the articles from Baby Center that talk about the strong stereotypes, the new fathers that feel secure in their ability to provide, have no squeamishness of blood and tears, know they’re the father, that life is not over, that everyone will be okay, that there will be more than enough love to go around, and that are either avoiding hospitals or are confident in their abilities?  Why does everything have to be about fears?

Even though Baby Center is by far the most popular, and in many ways the most informative, website for expecting new parents, it’s articles like this that make me realize that they sort of suck.

[Seven fears expectant fathers face]

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