Eleven days after our last post on July 10th, your correspondent became a 1st-time father. It has been a life (and diaper) changing experience. Fatherhood interrupted TQC’s bi-weekly schedule. Thank you for your patience.
Leading up to the birth of my son, I was told I would be sleeping less. I do. Laughing more. I do. Be thinking of him constantly. I am. And enjoying every moment of fatherhood. I am. Indeed, I miss that lil guy even when just a few feet and a sheetrock wall separate us.
Being a new parent piqued my interest in babies. Before we continue this post, please enjoy ten interesting facts about the smallest humans on earth. They have unique personality traits, but all share one thing in common: they love unconditionally.
Interesting Facts About Babies
• Adults have 206 bones, but babies are born with ~300 bones! The reason: a greater number of smaller bones make the baby more limber, allowing for an easier passage through the birth canal. As a baby matures, bones fuse over soft spots (ever feel one on a baby’s head, it is called a fontanelle) and form larger, more developed bones.
• Although babies are born with ~50% more bones than they will ultimately end up with, they enter this world without patellas, commonly referred as a kneecaps. The reason: The patella is sharp and has a pronounced shape. The absence of the patella helps keep the legs flexible. Again, this aids in the birthing process. Babies’ kneecaps form at ~6 months of age.
• Ever wonder how babies can drink from a bottle for long stretches without stopping to breathe? A commonly accepted myth – even by some pediatricians - is that babies can swallow and breathe simultaneously! This is not true. Click here to learn more.
• According to pampers.com, a newborn’s eyes “may appear gray or blue due to a lack of pigment. Once exposed to light, the eye color will most likely start to change to blue, green, hazel, or brown over a period of six months to one year.”
• I concede, the first time I heard my son cry, I did not know what to do. And of course, I felt terrible. A saving grace was that when he cried, he shed no tears. How could this be? The answer is that babies do not produce tears when they are initially born; their tear ducts are not fully functional. In fact, no matter how much a baby cries, it takes ~a month for them to shed a tear.
• According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average weight of a full-term baby is 7 lbs., 6 ounces for a boy and 7 lbs., 2 ounces for a girl. In the United States, ~80% of all babies are born between 5 lbs., 11 ounces (~10th percentile) and 8 lbs., 6 ounces (~90th percentile). Babies > the 90% are considered “large”, babies < the 10th percentile are confided “small”. “Large” and “small” babies are more susceptible to various complications but can be, and often are, perfectly healthy. Many factors affect a baby’s weight including but not limited to gender, diet, genetics, and ethnicity.
• Normally, newborns lose ~10% of their birth weight – mostly fluids – before regaining the lost baggage a week or so later.
• According to guesstimates by the United Nations (UN), ~140m babies are born each year. In 2019, the last year figures are available, ~3,745,000 were born in the United States, or just > 10,200 babies per day.
• The first color babies see is red. The reason is because red has the longest wavelength. The last colors babies see are blue and purple.
• According to pbcexpo.com.au in their first year of life, “babies deprive their parents of approximately 44 days of sleep.” (I’m sure all the parents reading this blog can attest to that!)
Women are primarily responsible for bringing us into this world: moms endure stress, physical trauma, often get sick during pregnancy, put careers on hold and generally sacrifice so much to usher babies into this ecosphere.
While it is true that on average men do more housework than they have in the past, for the most part, women continue to retain the lionesses' share of the domestic and child-rearing responsibilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “on an average day where men and women have a child under the age of 6, women spend an average of 1.1 hours of physical care such as giving them a bath or feeding the child compared to 26 minutes for men.”
Contrary to what we hear in the media about a pivot towards gender parity, married women currently spend more time on childcare today than they did in generations past. And as opposed to generations past, many women now hold demanding corporate jobs too.
There are certainly situations where fathers shoulder more of the domestic burden. And in single parent homes or nontraditional families where there are two moms or two dads, responsibilities are divvied up differently. We do not want to discount those situations. They are real and becoming more common. But for the traditional family, empirical data clearly shows that it is still mothers who do a disproportionate amount of the heavy lifting inside the home, and shoulder an increasing amount of the burden outside the home as well.
Despite making an undue number of personal sacrifices, what I have forgone in exchange for the joys of fatherhood pales in comparison to what my wife (and many other moms) endured to bring our son into the world and what she will forgo in the future to ensure he is safe, happy, and healthy.
To be certain, I do not make a habit of getting cross at people and raising my voice, especially not at my wife. That said, after witnessing her give birth while I paced back in forth in clusters of disorganized semicircles in the delivery room, feeling anxious, helpless, and reminding myself “this is not about you,” the next time my wife and I have a trivial spat, I must remind myself of the sacrifice she, and all moms make, to give life.
To that end, I would like to thank my wife for all she has done to make fatherhood a reality for me and what I know she will do with a kind, open and selfless heart going forward for our family. Additionally, I want to recognize the time and space she has afforded me so I can research multiple topics to write this blog. Without her continued sacrifice and support, I would not be able to continue this passion of mine. Dez, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.