Posts Tagged hatching

Six Weeks

The Little Bird is fussy lately. I’m told that’s to be expected. Largely by my wife who is devouring books on what to expect during the first few months of a baby’s life, and I have absolutely no reason to doubt her. Six weeks is when a newborn’s fussiness typically peaks, and it has done just that since Friday. Even if we’d planned to attend Capclave, the sleepless night she gave us on Friday put us in no condition to wake up at 8am and drive to Maryland. It was for the best that we’d decided to not go several hours earlier so we weren’t saddling her with ruining those plans. It would have unfairly added to the stress of the evening.

Today she is six weeks old. Halfway to three months. One of the books my wife read calls three months “hatching.” It’s when a newborn, a wiggly thing with limited control over their own limbs and limited stimulus-response actions, becomes a baby. It’s when then might recognize mommy and daddy’s faces, mimic facial expressions, even smile or laugh. It’s when parents can really engage their children, distract them, interact with them meaningfully for the first time. After she told me about hatching, I held an idea in my head I called the “fourth trimester.” It wasn’t until I hit Google a little later that I discovered this is a common term for these first three months.

Here’s the thing with humans. We’re born premature. All of us. You, me, your children, your parents, people you interact with every day. Even if we make it to 40 weeks or beyond, we’re all born shockingly premature. Oh, certainly, predators throughout the animal kingdom take advantage of being born a little early then developing more outside the womb. It’s one of the four main birth survival strategies: (1) have so many kids that some will reach adulthood just through sheer odds (2) have kids born capable of running from predators within an hour of birth (3) taking care of helpless newborns or (4) be a marsupial.

Marsupials, man. Ever see a newborn Joey? Even if you haven’t, I wouldn’t recommend clicking this link for a video.

We humans have taken strategy three there and run with it. Sprint with it, even. We’re born shocking premature, and helpless even for an apex predator. If one wants to look at the period between birth and hatching as a fourth trimester, we’re all three month premature. Compared to the level of development seen in newborn chimpanzees, our closest relatives? Some research suggests we’re born, comparatively, nearly a year premature. Why? From that io9 link:

One longstanding theory among evolutionary biologists says human babies are so completely dependant after birth, as a consequence of our bipedal architecture. Our upright stance limits the width of the birth canal, and thus the size of the baby’s head that can pass through it. But now, new research has thrown this idea into question by suggesting that there’s a more important limiting factor involved — namely, the mother’s metabolic rate. According to this idea, a fetus can only grow so large and consume so much energy before it needs to make a hasty exit.

Mom can’t take it anymore, and that’s perfectly reasonable. There are a lot of metabolic requirements to gestation, and humans just reach the end of what they can sustain and give birth. In the end, maybe we’re more like those marsupials than I ever thought. We don’t have pouches, but the only newborns in the animal kingdom more helpless than a little baby human is that tiny pink joey climbing towards the pouch. Hell, we’ve even invented a wide variety of pouches over the millennia, from papooses to modern Baby Bjorns carriers.

I come up with weird theories when I’m spit balling a blog post. “Humans are pouchless marsupials” was not my intended thesis going into this, I swear.

We’re holding on, as best we can. Some nights are rougher than others, and I really have to say my wife has been just awesome as all hell through this. Baby, I know you look in here occasionally, I love the hell out of you for everything you’ve managed to do these last 6 weeks…and 46 weeks…and, really, everything since I’ve met you and probably most things before, too.

Alright, enough baby talk and sentimentality for this week. Later in the week, look for some talk of Flashathon (NEXT WEEKEND!), a new Writer Reviews, and hopefully a new Ace Double review I’ve been not writing for a few weeks.

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