Books and Authors

Reading with an 8-Month-Old

Before my son was born and in those hellish 3 months after he was born, I read to him. But it was like reading to a brick wall because all he cared about was eating, sleeping, and crying if he wasn’t having enough time doing the former two. Experts (I have no idea who these “experts” are) say that children should be read to as early and as often as possible, and I like reading, so I followed that advice. I literally read everything out loud to him, including parts of adult books I was reading. He didn’t even blink at some of the bloody scenes. Did I scar him for life? I’m not sure, but I guess it’s better to be scarred from a book than a movie.

Now that he’s 8 months old, the reading might be paying off. He’s actually somewhat interested in books. However, they have to be board books. If it’s any other kind of book, the first thing he tries to do is tear the pages out and eat them. Even lift-the-flap books are a bad choice because the second I look away, his gooey hands return to the flaps and try to rip them off. The next thing I know, the flap would be in his mouth and reduced to a pasty mush.

Most of the board books my son has are about farm animals and the noises they make. I don’t really understand why it’s so popular for kids to read about farm animals when they most likely will never live on a farm or visit one for any extended period of time. The most exposure they will get to farm animals is probably petting zoos at the state fair.

His favorite book of all time is My First Touch, Feel, and Play! which describes a bunch of anthropomorphic animals and their playtime, and parts of the book have different textures, so he can feel something besides paper as he attempts to destroy the book by pulling the flaps off (yes, this book has flaps). He seems to enjoy the textures, because he will run his hands over the book and stare at it, simultaneously coating the pages in drool.

I never thought reading could get more fun. I still don’t exactly understand how they learn by ripping books apart and chewing on the pages, but… whatever it takes, right? 🙂

Entertainment and Current Events

Falling Birth Rates

Apparently, according to this article, U.S. women are having fewer babies. I find that hard to believe because it seems like every time I turn around, I find out someone is pregnant or I’m hearing about someone’s new baby, grand-baby, or god-baby. Maybe the “fewer babies” trend is mostly in the more “blue” states like New York and California, because here in North Carolina, I’m just not seeing evidence of it.

I do think the decline in birth rate could be caused by how hard it is to establish oneself in the world as a 20- or 30-something, especially given the Great Recession in 2009 from which we’re still recovering. People my age have student loan debt, which is hard to pay off when you’re also making an inflated rent payment because you can’t buy a house because the housing market is insane. Because women are working on their careers, they are having babies later, in their 30s, and they have fewer babies because their window of fertility is smaller. There’s talk about freezing eggs, but that process is expensive and probably risky.

Some people also have the mentality that it is irresponsible to have children when there is not enough food to go around or when the world is as polluted as it is. I think those issues are more a problem with the distribution of food because I remember hearing somewhere that the world produces way more than enough food for its population. Food is poorly distributed around the world because of government or environmental factors, but there is certainly enough of it.

Another factor could be that life is easier without kids. People in this day and age want a carefree, Instagram-able life, where they can do what they please whenever they please. People also want to buy classy cars and go on expensive trips and pour all their energy into their pets rather than add another child to the world. And I’m not gonna lie: Life is indeed easier without kids. But is it better? That’s a question that you can’t really answer unless you have kids, and most people who have kids would say that their life is enhanced by them.

But as life-enhancing as they are, kids cost a lot of money, and you can’t plan for many of the expenses associated with them. How to avoid these expenses? Don’t have kids, which is now much easier because of the more widespread use and availability of contraceptives. The pill and other forms of artificial birth control like the patch and IUDs have become incredibly effective (98%) over the years (of course, only when used properly). Honestly, I don’t believe abortion is much of a contributor to low birth rates.

Is human life in the United States in danger of dying out because of the low birth rate? I think it’s too soon to tell.

Journal

Joyful, Odd Course of Events

The reason I’ve been MIA lately is because my son was born on January 5, which was two weeks before his due date. I’m actually glad he arrived early because he weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces at birth and was 21.5 inches long. Had he waited till his due date, he most likely would have been 9 pounds or more… and I don’t think my body could’ve handled it. I’m not sharing his name here for privacy reasons, but everyone says it’s a nice manly name. 🙂

They say labor pain is the worst pain ever. Now that I have actually given birth, I am allowed to have an opinion on that, but I don’t know if I agree. It was a pretty awful pain, but it is an “organized” pain, if that makes sense. The simple fact that the pain had a purpose made it easier to get through. The weirdest part about it was sleeping between contractions and actually having dreams.

They also say that a child is a source of joy. My child was born with a disease of the intestine that was not foreseen before birth, so we were in and out of the hospital for all of January until today. To make a very long story short, the baby needs to have a colostomy bag until he is 6 months old, at which point he’ll have surgery to fix his large intestine. After that, he will be like any other kid. All of this did not diminish my joy in the knowledge that my son is actually here, that he exists, and that he is a charming little soul. But hospital stays are depressing even without the postpartum hormones, so I can’t say that the entire experience was joyful.

So that was the past month in a nutshell. What an odd course of events. If I were to imagine in 2009 what my life would look like in 2019, I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it like this (in a good way).