There are many surprising things about having a baby: how an outfit that was just right could be crazy tight two minutes later, how a face can change so much in a day, how it is no longer a huge issue to have pee, poop, spit or milk on various parts of my body/clothes, and generally how in the hell we made this thing from scratch.
What is not surprising is how clueless we are. See, babies don’t make sense. They’re like really bad telenovelas, bringing you higher highs than you’ve ever had just before slamming you with lower lows. From “It’s a miracle, my husband’s sister’s boyfriend woke up from his coma with two working arms!!!” to “Too bad he used those two working arms to murder 200 of my closest friends.”
My husband and I respond to the lows as I think any parent would (any human, really): we see a problem and we want to fix it. The obvious first step is finding out what the problem is. For us, easy, the problem is a sobbing baby. For the baby… well, that’s the question. The pediatrician told us that we should start to be able to distinguish his cries, so that we can understand what he’s trying to “tell” (read: scream at) us, but we have not yet mastered that particular skill.
Here is the list we run down when Mix starts fussing (a word that I never used before having a child and now use on an almost hourly basis):
This is my go-to answer, especially since it’s a problem I can solve with a boob, a chair, and a smile. Of course, it takes the kid about an hour to eat, so it requires a bit of prep on my end, but I’m getting good at doing things one-handed. I think I may have deciphered his hungry cry. It sounds like he’s being chased by a cheetah, Bigfoot, and Paula Abdul.
My husband doesn’t love this answer, especially when he’s alone, but I’ve been pumping so that he can solve this problem just as well as (and a lot faster than) I can.
An easy fix for both of us. We’re still using mostly disposable diapers right now, because he’s too little for the cloths we bought, so it’s extra easy. I’m ready for the eye rolls when we switch entirely to cloth, but it’ll still be pretty easy. And this kid is usually freaking adorable when he’s naked/being changed, so that’s an added bonus.
This is not a great answer, because we haven’t mastered getting him to sleep, but it makes us feel better to have an answer – any answer.
He’s got crap in his throat/nose
This is one of my husband’s favorites. We’re getting the hang of the bulb syringe for the nose problems (this comes into play when he’s boobing-it and can’t breathe through his nose), but there’s not much we can do for the zombie baby with stuff in his throat. All we can do is gently pat his back and tell him to swallow that crap down. He doesn’t listen very well.
He needs to poop, but can’t
This one was THE ANSWER for the first few weeks, but I don’t think it’s viable anymore, since this kid is a poop champion. My husband disagrees.
One of my faves. If he’s eating a lot and fussing a lot, it MUST be a growth spurt, right? Of course, if he was growing each time I suggested this answer, he would be a giant baby by now. I stand by it, though.
Aside from me sneaking my hand/lips to his forehead every now and then, this isn’t an answer either my husband or I have put forward since we thought he had diarrhea (he didn’t). We’ve been very lucky in this area.
Babies are, of course, terribly confusing, and most of the time, there is no ‘answer’. But for lost-in-the-weeds parents, it’s helpful to pretend there’s some sort of magic cure just waiting to be found. A baby cry cure. Get on it, science.
And another one. This time after my routine early morning pee…
The kid came out a normal infant. It hated the carrier, which we realized (after the crying and screaming, not before) was made of wire. We tried to put a blanket between the baby and the wire, but we almost squashed its head somehow.
We worked it out in some magical dream way and got the kid into the car. At some point, I turned to look at the backseat, and the kid looked like it was about 4 years old. Neither husband nor I freaked out like we should have, but I felt sad. Also, happy. On one hand, I didn’t get the early years. On the other hand, I might be able to get some sleep.
Since the kid was old enough, we let it pick its own name, but first, we realized we hadn’t checked the sex. I asked the kid if s/he knew how to tell what s/he was, and s/he didn’t. I said (using my finger for a visual): “if you have a little dangly thing, you’re a boy, if you don’t, you’re a girl.” Excellent mothering skills, I know.
“What do you think I am?” s/he asked. It wasn’t the most obvious thing in the world, but both the husband and I told her we thought she was a girl.
“Girl,” she agreed, after looking under her skirt. Apparently, we had put a skirt on her.
Then, for the name. She wasn’t interested in any of the names we had picked out (figures) and ended up choosing the name of an old friend of mine who isn’t really a friend anymore.
The next time I looked back, she was a teenager and I was officially sad. She looked exactly like the friend who isn’t a friend. “You’re sure you want to be called that?” I asked. She nodded. I told her I was going to use a nickname that sounded like a boy’s name, because hus and I like that king of thing (our list is full of them – Charlie, Archie, Elliot, Billie). She made a face. Teenagers.
Is this a thing? Do the dreams come faster and weirder as the kid grows larger? I mean, they’re a better side effect than the back pain, the constant alien movement, and the peelets (the reason pantliners are now on my shopping list), but they’re weirding me out.
… gender, that is. See what I did there?
Ever since the hus and I decided not to find out whether we’re having a girl or boy, I’ve been thrown into the world of ‘those who know’. Everyone has a different method for figuring out what sex Ziggy will be. I personally think it’s going to be a boy. Not because I have some motherly instinct or sixth sense or voodoo, it’s just what I think. I could very well be wrong. SOMEONE has to be, because everyone’s methods for figuring it out have a different conclusion.
Here are the various methods I’ve encountered so far. Feel free to leave yours at the door:
1. The position of the bump – If it’s making you spread your legs to bend over, it’s a boy. If it’s all up in your boobs, it’s a girl.
- ZIGGY SAYS: BOY
2. All Baby vs. Pancake – Walking around with a bowling ball in your stomach? Boy. Spreading out and getting puffy? Girl.
- ZIGGY SAYS: BOY (though It’s more of a very large watermelon now)
3. Racing Heart – This is the one the doctors spread around. Apparently, girls have faster hearts. My midwife says it’s because we work harder. While I hate gender stereotypes, at this very pregnant point in my life, I tend to agree with her.
- ZIGGY SAYS: BOY
4. The surface of the bump – This comes from my Hong Kongese sister-in-law. If the belly button end of the bump is flat, it’s a girl. If it’s pointy, it’s a boy. Insert penis joke here.
- ZIGGY SAYS: GIRL
5. And since we’re over in Asia, there’s the Chinese Gender Predictor, which uses your date of conception/due date and birthday to calculate what you’re having.
- ZIGGY SAYS: GIRL
6. The necklace trick – Dangle a necklace with a pendant over your belly. Girls make the necklace move in a circle. Boys make it go back and forth. I have no necklaces, so I just tried this with my iPhone headphones three times. It was a boy the first time and a girl the second and third.
- ZIGGY SAYS: INCONCLUSIVE
Obviously, the only way we’ll know for sure is by looking at Ziggy’s crotch when s/he pops out. Even ultrasounds get it wrong sometimes.
I definitely see pros and cons to both. Boys are easier to deal with after puberty, but you have to make the great circumcision decision. Girls, I hear, are often less dirty, but they get periods, date boys, and have to battle society to feel good about themselves. Husband wants a girl, but he didn’t grow up as one. It’s not the most awesome thing in the world.
We’ll be happy with what we get, obviously. But it’s fun to imagine what it will be. Hair is going to be an issue for the poor kid, and s/he is definitely going to need glasses. But I think we’re good on nose, unless my father’s sneaks it’s way in there. I hope it gets his metabolism and my olivey skin. It could have blonde hair and will definitely have hazel eyes. It could be tall and have horrible feet (thanks again, dad). It could be musical or artistic or athletic or brilliant or it could be a very normal, average person. It will definitely be a sack of potatoes for at least a few months. And we’ll love it at every stage, boy or girl, righty or lefty, bad or good, whatever and whoever it is.
S/he is kicking me right now, I’m assuming because I went all sappy. Hey – another method!
7. Ask the fetus – Ask it to kick if it’s a girl, wait 5 seconds. Ask it to kick if it’s a boy, wait 5 seconds. Here it is, folks. Straight from the bump’s mouth or skin or… now it’s getting weird.
- ZIGGY SAYS: GIRL
So, if it turns out to be a boy we’ll know our child is a big, fat liar.
My husband and I were COMPLETELY decided – we were going to find out the sex of the baby. Why wait? Ignorance is never bliss.
And then I started talking to people. Friends, mothers, cousins, and I kept hearing ‘wait’ or ‘we waited’ or ‘if you can wait, do it.’
I’m starting to see their point. My husband isn’t.
There seem to be a few reasons why people fall on the ‘wait’ side:
- the excitement in the delivery room (“It’s a ____!” not so exciting if you’ve been there, done that)
- the surprise
- the motivation/distraction during delivery
- the lack of prejudgement/expectations that gender can bring (this one hits my feminist heart right in the plumbing)
- the baby comes out as a whole new person that you get to meet
- you get fewer baby clothes and more from your registry
- I’ve heard tell of a ‘second wave’ of presents after the baby is born (have I mentioned how cheap I am?)
And for not waiting:
- you still get the surprise, it’s just earlier
- you can plan
- you have more of a bond with the kid pre-birth (not sure I buy this one – it’s GROWING INSIDE OF ME, I’m going to bond with it)
- more baby clothes
- knowledge is power
- Anticlimactic birth (this is a plus in my book – I hate attention, so if people get bored with my pregnancy early, it’s a bonus)
- my husband wants to
We’ve still got time to decide. Rex or any people who stumble on this post, I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have. Right now, hubs is feeling like I ‘win’ on everything, and I’d like that not to be the case. I’m trying to give him this one, but the more I hear, the more I’m leaning toward wanting to wait.
Maybe we’ll just flip a coin…
Just because I am fulfilling my biological role (pushing out a kid) does not mean that I’m going to fulfill my Gender Role once the baby is born. This is obvious to everyone who knows me, but I figured I should let you all know (and by ‘you all’, I mean the dog who accidentally clicked over. Hey, Rex.)
A recent study from the Center for Advanced Studies in Madrid found that when men do more housework, a couple has less sex. Many articles have spun this as “women don’t like men who do girly stuff.” (for example)
In the press release, they talk about “the importance of socialized gender roles.” I should point out, this study only surveyed heterosexual couples. I would assume these stats go out the window when gender is neutralized. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I was gay.
Who knows why these couples are having less sex? I think:
1. Women are more willing to be coaxed into sex when they’re tired
2. Women are less willing to be the coaxer when the man is tired
3. Men are less willing to do anything when they are tired
Or maybe the couples that answered the study happened to have less sex in general.
Obviously, the reason this study is getting so much press is because it plays into the traditional gender roles that people are so anxious to keep going. My hubs and I have never fit those roles. He gets annoyed with mess before I do, I pay the bills. It’s not like we made a conscious effort to fight the norm, it’s just who we are. And that’s not going to change just because I did my womanly duty and endured 9 months of crazy followed by who-knows-how-long of torture. Though I do plan on holding that over his head when I’m really not wanting to change a dirty diaper.
The 30 Rock finale (spoilers if you haven’t watched it yet, Rex) addressed this in a great way (as it did most things, except for in a few of the later seasons, which were pretty bad). Liz and her man try to fit the norms and Liz stays home while her man goes off to work. By the end, they realize that they each happen to want the opposite. Of course, they couldn’t let the scene end without Liz saying something like “I’m the man.” No, you just LIKE TO WORK, Liz!
I should note that the study did not find any correlation between women working more/making more money and sex, so that’s interesting. Also of note: the articles I read didn’t really mention this.
I don’t think anyone should be expected to do something just because of their gender, and if that turns you off, Rex, I’m sorry. I hope we can still be friends. I just see so many mommy bloggers fall into the coded language: “Daddy helped out around the house today!” or “So grateful that my husband did the grocery shopping this week.” I know it’s easy to do that, and I want to state it for the Momifesta record: I Will Not.