What is that one fixation you have as a parent that you hope sets your child (your product) apart in a good way?
I’ve noticed that in my conversations and dealings with fellow parents of toddlers, we all seem to have some unique element regarding how we raise our kids, and therefore, have a certain expectation of how they will perform on their own.
For example, some parents are proud of the fact their child is advanced physically, being able to walk, run, and spin themselves dizzy before other toddlers of the same age can.
There are others who have been faithful to teach their child sign language since infancy, meaning that their toddler today has a more impressive vocabulary than the average Brayden or Avery out there.
I recently realized what my wife and I care most about when it comes to our 22 month-old son. Actually, two things: that he doesn’t have a snotty nose and that he’s not a brat.
The phrase “snot-nosed brat” is a familiar term in our society, with good reason.
Part of it is caused by parents making empty, theatrical threats of discipline, then not following through with them on their child. That’s one of my parenting pet peeves.
Our son Jack knows that if we say we are going to do something, then we are good on our word. We want to set a good example of integrity in our communication with him.
Time out means time out. No story before bedtime tonight means no story before bedtime tonight. “No applesauce until you finish your rice and beans” means… ah, well, you know the rest.
While it’s extremely important to my wife and me that our son has good manners and is well behaved, we also care a great bit about his hygiene, as we ourselves are pretty obsessed with being clean.
I guarantee you that you will never see Jack with a runny nose, as long as he is in our presence. His parental clean-up crew is there to swoop in with a wet Kleenex at any given moment.
At least, that’s what I would like to guarantee you.
As parents, we all inevitably focus on certain strengths in our child that outweigh perceived weaknesses; whether those perceived weaknesses are in our own minds or in American society’s collective expectations.
So while Jack may never be the most athletically, intellectually, or socially advanced, we definitely aim for him to have the driest nose and the most respectful attitude.
I chose not to go public about Jack being tongue tied, maybe in a subconscious attempt to avoid being overwhelmed with polarizing schools of advice before my wife and I had time to assess the situation ourselves and learn what would truly be best for him. We realized after just the first couple of days after Jack was born that he wasn’t able to feed like other babies. He could never get a good latch nor could he take more than a few sips of milk before crying and making a gurgling sound. Actually, I never knew that being tongue tied was a real thing. I just thought it was a phrase people used to describe momentarily not being able to successfully speak. In case you haven’t already clicked on the Wikipedia link in the first sentence or already know this, some babies are born with that “skin bridge” attached too closely for them to stick out their tongues very far.
In Jack’s case, it meant extreme difficulty in feeding. For more extreme cases, a tongue tied baby may grow up to become a child or adult with a speech impediment. So last Thursday, we drove back to Vanderbilt in Nashville and had Jack’s tongue clipped. I consider it a 2nd circumcision of sorts. In fact, I was offered the chance to watch the procedure, so I did. It was everything you would imagine. Just a few quick cuts. I highly recommend it if your infant or child is tongue tied.
Since Thursday, the silver coating the doctor sprayed on the lacerations has been slowly peeling off. So in a few more days, he should be out of pain and be able to begin learning to feed normally, with a tongue that can reach past his lips. So if you have a tongue tied baby, and you’re asking for my opinion, just get it clipped. It’s no big deal and it sure beats having to wonder how much easier feeding could have been and whether your child will have difficulty speaking.
Parenting is one of the few institutions where brainwashing is not only allowed, and a given, but it’s also sort of the whole point. Like a duo-dictatorship, two people (the parents) have so much influence over another human being (the child) on so many levels. Freedom of religion? Nope. Freedom of speech? Not so much. The rules that matter are enforced by the parents and accordingly, the child learns his or her moral code and adopts his human culture largely from how the parents choose to raise him or her.
Will I be a strict parent? “Strict” has such a negative connotation these days. It evokes thoughts of having rules for the sake of having rules, yielding a teenage kid that is either so nerdy that he thinks getting to stay up until 11:00 at night to watch Battlestar Gallactica is an idea of a good time, or he’s so rebellious he gets a DUI and a huge tattoo by the time he graduates high school. So I’d rather not use the word “strict”, but instead “consistent and practical”. Like my parents were to me.
I have always been very close to my parents; I knew I could talk to them about anything and they would listen, without being judgmental or condescending, yet still guiding me in the right direction. They gave me a little responsibility at a time, and when I proved I could handle it, they gave me more. I never had a curfew, nor did I need one. But had I responded differently to the responsibility I was given, I know for a fact the rules would have been stricter, as they would have needed to be.
I think it’s funny when I hear parents of young kids say, “Well my Brayden won’t eat what I cook him. He only eats chicken nuggets and pizza, and he only drinks Coke from his sippy cup.” I smile and laugh with them, shaking my head like I know how it is, when really I’m thinking, “It’s not up to your kid! It’s up to YOU! YOU’RE the parent!”
Just like I’ve heard other parents say, “I’m not going to force any religious beliefs on my kids. They need to figure out what they believe on their own.” (Which is always a clear indication that parent has no solid religious beliefs, otherwise they would pass them on to their children.) It will not be the case for my kid. He will know who Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Peter and the Apostle Paul are. He will know the importance and relevance of John 3:16. Just like my dad read to me from my kid’s Bible every night, so will I do for my son.
And when he grows up, I will have influenced who he is. Yet still, he will have his own personality and make his own decisions. Truly though, that’s how it was for all of us. Even if one or both of our parents were out of the picture, they still influenced us- negatively or positively. So I am choosing to make a conscious, solid, positive influence in his life. And I will be very deliberate in doing so.
Here’s what The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:
Baby’s energy is surging, thanks to the formation of white fat deposits beneath the skin. (Have those kicks and jabs to the ribs tipped you off yet?) Baby is also settling into sleep and waking cycles, though — as you’ve also probably noticed — they don’t necessarily coincide with your own. Also this month, all five senses are finally functional, and the brain and nervous system are going through major developments.
In my first “dad from day one” post on April 13th (dad from day one: She’s Having a Baby), I told the almost spooky story of how my Mexican grandma dreamed she was having a granddaughter two weeks before we went public with the news that my wife was pregnant. Since then, we have been asked on a near daily basis if we think it’s a boy or a girl.
I have found it easier this whole time just to assume my grandma’s dream is right. And in the past couple weeks since my wife has began “showing”, it’s become pretty obvious she’s “holding the baby high”, which is typical for a girl in the womb.
I would never go see a psychic myself. But… what happens when someone else goes to a psychic and their fortune is about you instead?
That’s exactly what happened. Today, one of my wife’s coworkers went to a psychic as a sort of “joke birthday gift” to herself. The fortune told: “One of your coworkers is pregnant with a girl.”
So it’s settled. My grandma and a psychic have both had a vision about this baby girl.
Our kid is the size of a sweet potato.
Only one way to know for sure- wait until next Thursday (June 17th). That’s when we’re officially finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl- given that our baby isn’t crossing its legs during the procedure.
In a week’s time, I will have posted “dad from day one: The Gender of Our Baby”.
Here’s what The Bump says about our baby this week:
“Your fetus has become amazingly mobile (at least compared to you), passing the hours yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking and swallowing. And, baby’s finally big enough that you’ll be able to feel those movements soon.”
For the past several weeks, my wife has been toying with the idea of “going natural” for the birth. In other words, no pain medication. And I’ve been impressed just by her willingness, because I know if it were up to the men of the world to continue the human population by giving birth instead of women, the human population would have died off thousands of years ago.
I had been seeing The Business of Being Born keep popping up on my Netflix as a recommended title that I would enjoy. Then recently, a writer friend (http://www.meetmissjones.com/) also told me I should see it after she read about our disappointment with our first two appointments at a standard hospital. (Of course, we ended up switching to midwives and are so happy, though I had no idea what a midwife really even was when we first met with them.)
So last night we watched the documentary, The Business of Being Born, directed by Ricki Lake and produced by Abby Epstein (yes, they are both Jewish). I went into it thinking it would be a tiring movie telling how much money is made off of strollers, cribs, daycare, etc.
Instead, it is a one-sided film about the importance of the long-lost tradition of natural births. And we loved it!
I took notes:
-Induced labor increases the chances of C-Section by 50%
-In Japan and Europe, 70% of births are delivered by a midwife. In the US, only 8%
-The US has the 2nd worst newborn death rate in the developed world
-The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries
-Since 1996 the C-Section rate in the US has risen 46%; In 2005, it was one out of every 3 American births
While there are obviously certain situations where a C-Section is absolutely necessary (like the baby being “breach”), it is a major surgery that has become the new norm.
Interestingly, in the movie, a group of young doctors are asked how many live births they have witnessed. Basically, none of them had.
And to me, that’s scary. That it’s easier, less time consuming, and more profitable to induce labor and perform a C-Section that it is to let the baby born naturally.
In the documentary they explain how the peak times for American babies being born is at 4pm and 10pm, the times at the end of the work shifts so that doctors can go home.
For me, the desire to have a natural birth all comes down to observing the downward spiral of having a baby in a hospital, with a doctor, the American way:
The mother is given Pitocin, to induce labor. Which causes longer, more intense contractions and cuts off oxygen to the baby, putting both the mother and the baby at risk, as well as potentially causing birth defects (even ADHD or Autism in the child later on, though not enough evidence can back this yet, but I won’t be surprised when it can).
So inducing labor increases the chances of having a C-Section by 50%, which puts both mother and child at greater risk. And the epidural slows down the birthing process- which in addition to the Pitocin, is another drug that may also affect the health of the baby.
Until last night, I had never witnessed a live human birth. But now I’ve seen at least four or five. All of them natural.
It’s pretty interesting to watch. I didn’t think it was gross, and I’m not artistic enough off a person to go on and on about how beautiful it was. It just seemed natural and normal. Like watching someone poop. But a baby came out instead.
The Business of Being Born does contain a large amount of nudity, as most of the mothers are nude while giving birth. But we were so intrigued by watching the births, that it didn’t register, “hey, this is porn”. It was just a woman giving birth. The documentary is not rated, because if it was, it may have to be rated NC-17. But to that I say, What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get?
One of the major reasons I now support natural birth (and denounce induced labor by a doctor, with certain exceptions) is the fact that in a hospital, the mother lays down flat on a bed. Common sense tells us that gravity will naturally help pull the baby out. Plus the fact that by having the mother lay down flat, it gives the baby less room to come out.
I also learned that when a baby is born naturally, “a love cocktail of hormones” is released by the mother, causing a unique bond to occur between the mother and the child.
This is where we’re headed. This is what we will attempt. A natural birth overseen by midwives. Yet just down the hall from an M.D. in case something goes wrong.