Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't tell me what to do

So here I am, a few weeks before BabyX arrives, and feeling pretty good that we have all the stuff we *need* to get us through the first few weeks.

Especially since my brand new 64GB iPod Touch is on its way!! That's the essential stuff, right? I actually bought it to use as our baby webcam receiver, plus the App Store has some great programs for tracking feeding/sleeping/poo etc. Yes, we apparently need to track diaper changes. I'm so glad we got dogs first to get me over some of the ick factor, though I suspect babies are FAR worse.

One of the other things I've been doing since I've been spending a lot of time with my feet up to combat the hideous swelling, is reading various baby care/parenting books. Or at least skimming them until I get so frustrated I'm ready to throttle the authors.

Apparently it is VERY difficult to write a baby book without having a sanctimonious tone about how YOUR WAY is best, or without a lot of YOU SHOULD DO THIS OR YOUR BABY WILL BE MESSED UP FOREVER statements. Even better is the infighting where one author disses the others right in the book. It's like watching those icky political commercials around election time.

So most people who know me well are aware that I HATE being told what to do, or given unsolicited advice. I'm independent, I like to research and figure things out for myself. Unless I ask you for help. Then, for the love of god, please help me :)

This doesn't help when I'm reading these books. I got about a chapter into Dr Sears' Baby Book before I was ready to shove him, his saintly wife Martha and their 8 perfect children off the top of a very tall building. (Mostly just him, though, for his self-righteous writing style.) His clear disdain for working mothers, and his fanatical devotion to breastfeeding AT ALL COST drove me nuts (among other things).

Prior to that What to Expect When You're Expecting got the Wrath of An. Because they advised me that every now and then, I should enjoy a bagel as a treat. And if I go on vacation, I might be able to have dessert. Once. Oh, and I should stop going to rock concerts because we don't know if the music is too loud for the unborn child, for which I am just a vessel.

I had high hopes for Baby 411, written by the same folks who wrote Baby Bargains, which helped me navigate the mountains of BabyStuff that we needed (or didn't need) to buy. But alas, the doctor they chose for that book is also another judgmental one. Slightly less fanatical than Dr Sears, but the kind of guy to criticize all the others out there. And a little snotty about his medical degree, I must say, when sniping about the baby care books written by (quel horreur!) people without an M.D. Because apparently, having an M.D. makes you an expert at getting babies to sleep and how best to discipline a child. I didn't realize they taught those things in med school. I wonder where they get the kids to practice on.

I'm really glad that I'm not 18 and bewildered about the path ahead because the conflicting advice in these books would make your head spin. From pacifiers to feeding to diapering to "sleep training", everyone has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions...

So I'm done reading. I've got books as reference, for questions like "what is this weird rash?" or "do I need to call the doctor", but other than that, we're going to figure out our own path as we go along. But the minute I hear "you should do..." my brain shuts off. Unless of course, the preceding statement from me was "hey, what do you think?"

On the bright side, I've found a couple of good places for advice. The (mostly quiet) Facebook group I started for Caltech alumni parents, and just reaching out to those folks individually. Can I just take a moment to proclaim my love for Facebook? <3

The other one, more for parenting advice than baby care, is Ask Moxie. I love that it's not at all judgmental and you learn as much from the posts as from all of the various people around the world who leave comments about *what works for them*. Not WHAT YOU SHOULD DO.

Mostly about pregnancy but has a little bit about newborn care - The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy is AWESOME. That guy has learned how to write in a non-judgmental way, so clearly it can be done. They have these 'Decision Guides' on all sorts of things like feeding, delivery options, etc that clearly lay out the pros and cons, without the sidebar of THIS IS THE BEST CHOICE. Some people might argue that it leaves too much up to the reader to decide, but hello? this is your own life and your own kid so you SHOULD be the one weighing the info and deciding. I love this book and will give this Dr a big hug if I ever meet him.

BabyX almost-38-week update: According to this week's ultrasound she weighs a little over 7 lbs. I'm hoping she's not going to get much bigger... You can't see much on the ultrasound with everything all squished in there. She gets the hiccups very often - at least once a day, poor thing.

And we saw her practice breathing. Apparently babies practice moving their diaphragm around so they can breathe when they're not underwater anymore. How crazy is that? So hopefully she's healthy and strong. I'm still a bit in denial that we're going to have an ACTUAL BABY in less than a month. Yikes.


  1. Agree with all of this! But then, that's why you ended up at Caltech right, being someone to think for yourself and make decisions.

    Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  2. The practice breathing rocks! I thought that was so neat to see, both on the ultrasound and through my stomach. :)

    You have to figure that anyone who writes a whole book about their opinions must be pretty damned sure that they're the best ones out there, or they wouldn't bother...I STILL hate reading WTE, with its "Tsk tsk, did you do THIS silly thing, you foolish little rube? Well, you probably haven't screwed up TOO badly yet, but let us set you straight," followed by "Your problem COULD be this, or maybe the total opposite. Hard to tell!" I should just throw that book away and find something else to remind me about all the trivial details.

    Gear-wise, I'm kind of craving a Kindle now--if you sit around breastfeeding (not that I would ask you if you plan to! ;) ), it gets pretty damn boring and one hand is always under the baby, so reading regular books is a bit of a pain. During the daytime I can sit in front of the TV, but when I'm trying to get her to nap, our family room is too bright. My next best idea is audio books on the mp3 player...

  3. Good for you for realizing reading all those books can be a waste of time and information overload :) I agree the Mayo book was the best. And keep off of researching the internet too -- I learned that the hard way. In the end, there's no right way, and you just have to try different things and figure out what works for BabyX and for you guys.

    I think the difference between us and previous generations is that they had a lot more family around to help (and dispense unsolicited advice), so that took the place of reading books :P Good luck with the last few weeks!! Hugs!

  4. Having raised 2 boys of my own to productive (well, most of the time they are productive) adulthood and observed many other babies closely, I can tell you that you do not have to track poo unless it is a problem for your baby. Most of them don't hold back in the pooping arena.

    Change them when they need it, feed 'em when they cry, cuddle them whenever you can, wash 'em regularly.

    Let the apps take care of themselves, you take care of Baby X and yourself.

    Don't complicate your life with extra stuff. It will be complicated enough without apps.

    Love ya,
    Auntie S.

  5. LauraC - thank you :) I still can't believe you did this all for 2 at the same time!!

    Rachel - you could actually see her doing it on the outside of your belly? *that* is crazy. Mmm, the Kindle would be awesome too. but the good version is very pricy.

    LL - I'll try calling you back. I'm awful about phone calls.

    AuntieS- since I am a hopeless geek, this will be more fun with a shiny new gadget to play with. :)

  6. I SO agree with you on the baby raising commentary. Might I recommend a book called "Momfidence?" The author's views are a bit on the conservative side, but her basic premise is to parent by trusting your gut & to disregard the vast majority of the "advice" that is out there.

    Good luck with these final days of pregnancy. We're thinking about you & can't wait to hear when BabyX makes her entrance!


  7. Good for you for coming to the realization that for the most part, the books are crazy making. :) You are smart, this isn't all that hard, you can figure it out. If you DO have a problem, you have books/friends/family to call upon. Easy enough.

    Oh, and the tracking? Seriously? I can't imagine why you'd really need to do that. Unless you find it interesting for your own enjoyment! Now that I have a dog after having 2 kids, I can say that dogs are way grosser. So you'll be all set. :)


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