From the category archives:

Studies and rumors

No need. Except for castor oil and Pitocin, we’ve tried it. A lot of it.

I sort of think all of these methods are about as effective as the hiccup cures.

If we keep trying random things, though, one of them is bound to “work”, right?



by Milton on Sun, May 2nd, 2010

in Studies and rumors,Week 39

6 days til the due date!  What does this mean though?

Only 5% of babies are born on their due date.  Which leads one to the assumption that due dates are silly.  But, then again, 80% of babies are born within 2 weeks of their due date, so a 5% change on any given day is probably the highest percentage any day will get.  Then I heard on the Internet that 7 out of 10 (70%) babies are born AFTER their due date. Which is most likely a lie, because that doesn’t make sense.  Maybe 70% of babies born within 2 weeks of their due date are born after their due date?

The more I look into these statistics, the more I realize that people are just throwing numbers around.  Most likely, all of these numbers need to be qualified with “of all full-term babies”, which of course skews the numbers to be late since by definition it leaves out a good percentage of the early one.  And given that the US has the highest percentage of pre-term babies, I also highly doubt that these are entirely US numbers, or even from the last 3 decades.

Maybe we should raise Axelrod to be a statistician, because I’m 90% certain that 80% of people could really use a little help with 100% of these numbers.

Our doula is busy today with another client, and the midwife we’ve been working with is not on call for the next two days, so we’re hoping the numbers skew us for a Wednesday baby.  A Cinqo de Mayo baby.  He does seem to like it when Esther eats tacos… Anyone want to make a bet?


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]


Today was the momentous occasion we’ve been looking towards for some months:  The 20 Week Ultrasound!

This means that we are OFFICIALLY at the half-way point.  I also officially have a baby bump and officially know the sex of my baby (though I won’t be sharing that quite yet!).

Things are looking pretty sweet.  I have a great heart rate, have gained the perfect amount of weight and have a uterus that has grown right where it should have grown.

As far as our baby is concerned, (s)he is doing very well.  Good heart rate, good skull shape, no signs of the dreaded  spina bifida, no sign of a cleft palate, skull in good condition. 10 fingers, 10 toes…

Speaking of toes, the baby has my husband’s feet.  My big toe is considerably longer than my second toe, while my husband’s second toe is longer than his first.  While we both have long toes, Milton sports tingers, which simply means that his toes are freakishly long.  We can see in the ultrasound that our baby also has tingers.  I am also convinced that the baby has my husband’s leg proportions, which means another family runner.  This is all good stuff.

I did have a moment of nervousness after the ultrasound tech left the room and returned with (dum dum dum) The Doctor.  It was obvious from the start that The Doctor was summoned into the room to give us Potential Bad News.  First, he confirmed my age, “You’ll be having the baby when you’re 34 and a half,” he says, and suddenly I am filled with fear.  My brain immediately starts telling me that this will be my only child, that the risks are too great as I approach my dreaded (and absolutely youthful) 35th birthday.  The Doctor goes on to tell me that the baby’s heart is showing a sign of Echogenic Intracardiac Foci, as told by bright spots on the heart.  This increases my chances of having a baby with Downs Syndrome by 2.  Broken down, this means that while my age and history indicated a 1 in 350 chance of having a baby with an extra chromosome when I woke up this morning, appearance of EIF ups my chances to 1 in 200, or .5%.  SPECIFICALLY, babies with the EIF marker have a 1 in 188 chance of T-21 (Downs).

Of course, there is no indication of a chromosomal problem as far as the bone structure of the baby’s face is concerned.  The ridge of the baby’s nose and cheekbones appears to be strong and “normal”.  AND, further investigation (thanks to an immediate iPhone google search) indicates that a full 30% of Asians have EIF.  Further race investigation indicates 11% of caucasians and 6% of black babies show symptoms of EIF.  Thus,  I don’t think that there is anything to worry about… and if there is, it’s out of my control to do anything but love whatever baby we have.  I do find it odd that it’s required for a doctor to put extra fear in you, but not required for them to say, “But, hey, your baby is Asian, so there was a 30% chance the baby would have EIF anyhow.”  I mean, really?   I would hate to be a doctor who gets called into examination rooms to only deliver red flag news.  I was thinking the whole time about how awesome the job of the ultrasound technician was… and later I thought about how the stony-faced-bearer-of-bad-news doctor ‘s job was NOT awesome.  Also, WAY TO MAKE A GIRL FEEL OLD, doctor.  34 and a half. Geez louise.

All that EIF business aside, it was AMAZING to see our baby moving around in there!  S(he) is far more active than I even imagined!  Lots of times there is whole moving around that I can’t even feel.  I didn’t realize that!  The baby flips and flops into all sorts of different positions without my even knowing, all of the time!  I need to really be punched and kicked to know that something is going on in there… which means that I’m being punched and kicked all the time, too, because I feel it plenty!   So great!!


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!


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!


Couvade syndrome

by Milton on Wed, Sep 30th, 2009

in Psychological,Studies and rumors,Week 09

According to Wikipedia, Couvade syndrome, or sympathetic pregnancy, is a somewhat mysterious condition where a pregnant woman’s partner begins to exhibit some of the symptoms of pregnancy.  Labor pains, weight gain, food cravings, and sometimes even post-partum depression.  Now, I think this is a great idea.  Funny, at least.

Now, most of the articles I’ve read about it make it seem like a pretty unflattering condition.  In some cultures the fathers are considered to be possessed by demons.  In others, that they are simply starved for attention and trying to get some of the same sympathy that the pregnant woman gets.  Seems sort of selfish when you think about it that way.

I am trying to rebrand Couvade syndrome into something a little more interesting.  A sort of intentional empathetic bond with my wife.  And, while she starts to show her pregnancy, I can also become more proud of my little gut.  Rather than steal the attention, I can nod my head and say, yes, I can not only imagine how that feels, but also share in a tiny shadow of the feeling.

Okay, maybe that won’t really work as intended.  The symptoms of pregnancy will always be stronger in the actual pregnant person, therefore why not just let her enjoy the special treatment 100%?  I’ll consider it.  But in the meantime, this stigmatized little French syndrome seems like an interesting thing to learn more about.


Sunlight and shyness

by Milton on Fri, Sep 25th, 2009

in Books,Studies and rumors,Week 08

I’m reading a fascinating book called What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.  It’s satisfying all of my obsessive need to know as much as possible about what’s happening, how we can make the baby healthier, happier, etc.

On page 82, I just ran across mention of a very strange study indeed:

One recent study, for instance, suggests that a child’s shyness is determined, in part, by maternal hormone fluctuations during gestation.  Researchers who interviewed several thousand preschoolers in both the United States and New Zealand noted a significant relationship between the incidence of extreme shyness or inhibition (children who seem particularly fearful, anxious, or withdrawn in the presence of a stranger) and the amount of daylight their mothers were exposed to at midpregnancy. Thus, in the United States, only 12% of children born in October-November-December were rated as highly inhibited, compared to nearly 18% of those born in April-May-June. In New Zealand, where daylight hours are reversed, children showed the opposite pattern, with more shy children born in October-November-December than in April-May-June. Because the production of certain hormones, like melatonin, is known to fluctuate with the amount of daylight in each season, the researchers propose that such substances may subtly alter brain development during a critical period at midgestation, when massive numbers of neurons are migrating to form the basic architecture of the cerebral cortex. (It is also possible that other seasonal differences, like changes in women’s diets, physical activity, or exposure to colds and flu, mediate this relationship.)

Is this when science starts telling us that astrology is true?  That would be pretty funny.