What does it mean to be a father? Impressions after 1 year and a few days later

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What does it mean to be a father? That was the question I was asking myself one year ago. After having celebrated our son’s first birthday, I think I have some answers:

  • It is different from what books say (think about the difference between a blurry static picture and a Dolby surround 3D Full HD movie on a giant screen, especially the dolby surround part, only louder).
  • It is different from what you thought it would be like, in almost every aspect.
  • Your sanity is directly correlated with your partner’s patience and dedication (I happen to be a very lucky guy in this aspect).
  • Hormones kick in, that is, no matter how many children you loved and hugged before, kissing, hugging and smelling your child is radically different, and the only way to understand this is to have your own child.
  • You’ll never experience such contradictory feelings within such short timeframes, that is, you’ll want to shout at him, only to discover that you’ll laugh and hug and kiss him almost at the same time.
  • If you believed that you were a patient person, the whole universe will collaborate with your child to devise some ingenious plans to test you in ways you have never imagined.
  • You’ll wonder when the last time was you prayed to anything so much, so sincerely and so forcefully so that your child will go finally to sleep.
  • The dullest and the most ordinary parts of your home will be the subject of your risk analysis for a long time (“hey, get that thing out of your mouth, and no, don’t you ever think about hitting your head or eyes on that sharp corner, and… oh, don’t pull… that… thing… oh god!”).
  • Going to work will be much more difficult because you will not want to leave him, especially when he’s smiling at you.
  • People will think you are crazy because you’ll swear that the strange sounds he makes actually correspond to words. (“Hey, but he just said mama! and hallo! didn’t he, I heard it, come on!”).
  • There will be radical changes in your photo collection (and a lot of blurry photographs, don’t you every try to force a baby to stand still).
  • If you thought ads were disruptive while watching a movie, you’ll be delighted by the interruptions caused by a waking baby in the most dramatic moments.
  • You’ll try to learn the secrets of being a Ninja, so that you can move around without making any noise, especially when he is finally asleep.
  • You’ll learn that you can’t argue with a crying baby. He will always win. The one who shouts louder always wins.
  • You’ll need a village to raise the baby. A pair of nice and helpful grandparents will be a good starting point.
  • You are going to fail. You are going to forget what you learned. You will start over. Whatever is valid for others will be somehow invalid or different for your case. You will fall and stand up again. Just like your child does.
  • You will be constantly asking yourself “am I good enough?”. You’ll probably be able to get the correct answer only after about 20 years.

But I think the most important thing I have learned so far is this:

  • You’ll never be the same and no matter how much you might complain sometimes, you’ll never ever want to go back to the point in your life where you don’t have him.

So, thank you son, for the true richness you brought us and a very happy birthday to you!

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What do babies think?

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“Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.

What do babies think?

What do babies think?

Computerized System to Prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome): BabyBeat

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I’ve just read an interesting and exciting news from ScienceDaily:

A new system using video and computer software to monitor a baby that could be used to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as for telemedicine applications, has been developed by two students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

The new system called “BabyBeat” was developed by students in the BGU Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. It uses computer algorithms to convert video footage to pulses that represent a baby’s heartbeat and skin tone. In the event that the system detects an abnormal heartbeat, an alarm sounds to awaken the baby, change its breathing pattern and alert the parents.

SIDS is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age one in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. No one knows what causes SIDS, but researchers have theorized that a dramatic drop in heart rate occurs just before death. Thousands of babies die from this phenomenon each year in the United States.

Tomer Apel and Anava Finesilver developed the program as part of their final research project. While still early in the development process, the software program will work with a basic video camera and home computer, which minimizes cost.

Prenatal Information Evening @ University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA): A few lessons for mothers and fathers – Part 1

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Two days ago we attended the first part of “Prenatale Infoavond” (Prenatal Information Evening) session organized by UZA (University Hospital of Antwerp). This is an informational evening session to prepare expectant mothers, and freely available to them (and their relatives); all we had to do was to register ourselves by signing the application form a few weeks before the event. I was curious about this event because I know that UZA has certificate of ‘Baby and Mother-friendly Hospital‘, a program initiated by “UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternities,whether free-standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support.” (Recent research indicates that there is strong evidence showing this initiative led to higher level of breastfeeding.)

I must admit that I did not expect such a smooth and information-rich organization. We were greeted by nurses and midwives, on the tables before the auditorium entrance there were very high quality booklets and brochures related to birth, small bottles of oils and creams for mothers and babies. Organizers were also kind enough to provide us with an abundant amount of tea, coffee, orange juice, water, etc.

Prenatale Infoavond @ UZA

Prenatale Infoavond @ UZA

The evening consisted of two presentations with a fifteen-minute pause in between. In the first session a senior nurse gave a presentation during which she talked about the labor process before birth and the birth itself. In addition to her slides she showed samples of instruments that may be used during birth such an electrode that can be attached to the baby’s head to record its brainwaves, a vacuum pump that sticks to the baby’s head and guides the baby, etc. There were more than one of each instrument and everybody had the chance to examine them by themselves. Meanwhile the nurse continued to give information about the labor process, what kind of hormones are involved, how the bonding between the mother and child (as well as father and child) is established (the child is directly and nakedly placed on the chest of the mother) and what the mothers should be expecting at the preparation and labor room.


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