In Forty Weeks of Keeping Your Head Down Bill Bounds has written an entertaining first person look at the baby process. This genre, pioneered by Grant Eppler in What to Expect When She’s Expecting, gives the reader a very personal view of what happens on the long road of pregnancy. While Bounds’ experiences are personal, his experience is common to us all, complete with OB/GYN visits, scary moments, and the eventual joy of a birth scene. Other new dads can read the book front to back, or pick up and scan the chapters for approaching or familiar territory.
Forty Weeks of Keeping Your Head Down is organized in short chapters, with titles that are sometimes very clear on content, and some which are completely enigmatic. For example, “A Word on the Name” is clearly going to be on baby names, while “Yep, it’s Fifteen” is anyone’s guess.
As the back cover copy says, the story is of an “average Joe,” who is not a doctor or psychologist. Bounds is not attempting to provide expert advice, just the perspective of one man on the journey of the everyman new father. Still, good advice abounds, including things not to say at the OB/GYN visit and how to prepare for the eventual trip to the hospital when “it’s time.”
Forty Weeks makes a nice addition to the growing library of dads’ books which place dad squarely in the middle of pregnancy, childbirth and the immediacy of care for a new baby. His family and we are lucky that he chose to chronicle his experiences. It is a good gift for the new dad, or choice for the soon-to-be father needing guideposts during early pregnancy and beyond.
I still thought it was “paper or plastic?” but John Badalament has set me straight in his new book,
The Modern Dad’s Dilemma: How to stay connected with your kids in a rapidly changing world.
The dilemma for many, if not all, modern dads, as Badalament sees it, is how to be a great dad and still fulfill the requirements of jobs that require us to be “on” or at least “on-line” seven days a week.
In The Modern Dads Dilemma, John Badalament uses a series of real people and their real stories to illustrate the challenges of being a connected dad. Every dad will find pieces of themselves in these varied portraits, and in some, you’ll be very glad you’re not walking in their shoes. In others, you’ll wonder if that might be you in a few short years when your little boy or girl becomes your big teenager.
Beyond the portraits however, is the real strength of Badalament’s book. Anyone who has read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People will be very familiar with the types of tools Badalament suggests for dads to stay present and connected with their kids. I have to admit that my first reaction was to bristle at bringing management techniques to parenting. But when I talked to John, he told me of the many dads who ask for these tools for fear of losing the moment to the constantly vibrating Blackberry or phone. Modern dads need a literal “to-do” list to keep them up-to-date with what is happening at home because it’s hard to shift back to homelife after being absorbed in work for 10 to 12 hours per day.
In the book, John also asks dads to go back and try to understand their own childhoods and relationships with their fathers. This exercise can help them choose which things to bring into their own fathering experience.
I particularly liked the section in Modern Dads Dilemma on creating “dad rituals,” especially because I think it lends itself very well to the ways dads parent. Dads can be very ritualistic (Sunday morning walk to the bakery, Saturday afternoon trip to the hardware store, early evening game of “Horse” before dinner) without feeling that they are in a rut. Dads also seem to be more easily able to take kids on errands without becoming overly focused on the task at hand. We seem to be more willing to be distracted by the interests of kids. Call it dad ADD, but especially on weekends, dads are often able to veer off course to try some new experience with their kids. In GreatDad.com, we often advise dads to just do the stuff that come naturally and include the kids in that. You’ll find yourself a better and more involved parent if you don’t try to force fit experiences because of what you think kids should be doing.
The Modern Dad’s Dilemma should be read by any dad, or mom, who is trying to find ways to achieve that ever-difficult notion of “living in the moment.” Parenting is one pursuit where “tomorrow” and “some day” really have very little value in our own self-rationalizations. All you have is today, and hopefully, John’s book will help some of us focus on our kids just a bit more and make our time with them that much more valuable.
Baby Body Signs Quiz
1. All U.S. babies at birth get an Apgar test. What does Apgar stand for?
A. The name of the doctor — Virginia Apgar — who developed it.
B. The American Pediatric Gross Assessment Record.
C. Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration
D. All of the above
2. How much more accurate is a newborn’s sense of smell than sense of taste?
A. 100 times
B. 1,000 times
C. 10,000 times
D. 100,000 times
3. A Russian company is making money by turning babies’ hair into:
4. Which of the following is a common sign of jaundice in an infant:
A. Yellow eyes
B. Yellow nails
C. Yellow poop
D. All the above
5. Baby girls snore more than baby boys.
6. If a baby’s eyes tear up while drinking from a bottle or breast, it can be a sign of:
A. Sour milk
B. Readiness to be weaned
C. Cry-baby syndrome
D. Crocodile tear syndrome
7. It was once thought that cutting a baby’s umbilical cord too short would lead to:
A. An extreme case of separation anxiety
B. An inability to contemplate one’s navel
C. A short penis
D. A long life
8. An infant who develops teeth during the first few weeks may,
A. Have an over-active thyroid
B. Go through early puberty
C. Have difficulty nursing or bottle-feeding
D. All of the above
9. Babies should occasionally have their picture taken without the “red-eye reduction” camera feature because:
A. They’ll be less likely to become camera shy
B. It’s easier on babies’ eyes
C. It can reveal a serious eye problem
D. It extends the camera’s battery life
10. A very smooth tongue in a baby is often a sign that the baby:
A. Is teething
B. Has a vitamin deficiency
C. Is ready for solid foods
D. Will grow up to be a smooth talker
11. King Louis XIII of France had his first bath when he was:
A. 7 days old
B. 7 weeks old
C. 7 months old
D. 7 years old
12. Hair products that contain estrogen should not be used on a baby because they can cause:
B. Premature puberty
C. Hair to fall out
D. All the above
13. All babies are born bowlegged:
14. If your baby girl has Epstein’s pearls,
A. It’s a sign she’ll marry a rich man
B. It’s a sign she has infected earlobes
C. She has white bumps on the roof of her mouth
D. She should give them back to Mrs. Epstein
15. Babies with freckles:
A. Are usually born with them
B. Usually have red hair
C. Have been exposed to too much sun
D. All of the above
16. In a test of more than 200 noise-producing toys, how many had an unacceptable noise level and could increase the risk of hearing damage?
A. None of them
B. A few of them
C. Nearly all of them
D. All of them
17. Which of the following was a common American folk remedy for earaches?
A. Put cockroach juice in the ear
B. Use eardrops made from goose manure
C. Rub the ear with rabbit urine
D. All of the above
18. According to a recent study, men in the U.K. change their babies’ diapers:
A. Faster than women
B. Slower than women
C. About the same speed
D. They don’t change their babies diapers
1. D. All of the above
2. C. 10,000 times
3. B. Diamonds
4. A. Yellow eyes
5. B. False
6. D. Crocodile tear syndrome
7. C. A short penis
8. D. All of the above
9. C. It can reveal a serious eye problem
10. B. Has a vitamin deficiency
11. D. 7 years old
12. B. Premature puberty
13. A. True
14. C. She has white bumps on the roof of her mouth
15. C. Have been exposed to too much sun
16. C. Nearly all of them
17. D. All of the above
18. A. Faster than women
Quiz By Joan Liebmann-Smith, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Nardi Egan,
Authors of Baby Body Signs which contains a myriad of medical information that can help parents and other caregivers prevent and detect various disorders in their babies. It’s also chock full of fascinating historical and other tidbits about babies and their health. The answers to the following questions can all be found in the pages of Baby Body Signs, as well as in medical textbooks, journals, and history books.
Second Chance – Kip Moore tells a true story that is one part a compelling story of a family’s never-wavering support of a sick child and one part warning on the dangers of food-borne E. coli bacteria. Large parts of the book are about spirituality and may provide comfort for those in similar situations.
Make Room For Daddy- We usually only review books written by dads, but here is a serious book on on the evolution of men in the childbirth process. The author, Judith Walzer Leavitt, traces how the role of men in the delivery room has evolved from the 1940′s to the present day when the words, “We are pregnant,” are often said by both soon-to-be parents. This extensively research book has some new insights on subtle factors that led to this change like the advent of private rooms in the 1960s where fathers for the first time could be present for the delivery. She also notes how the new presence of dads in the delivery room helped changed some “cruel” practices in maternity wards.
By her own admission, Ms. Walzer Leavitt’s own opinions on the importance of fathers in the process changed substantially while researching this book, and it should be read by anyone still doubting how important this change in men’s roles was during the second half of the 20th Century.