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By Jessica T

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About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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The naivete of experienced parents

Uploaded: Oct 13, 2013
Despite my previous post about my dependable maternal instincts, my husband and I had a lot to learn about newborns at the hospital. One of my daughter's friends gave me a great book about twins which I read cover to cover several times, but if you've had a newborn before, you figure it's like riding a bike. It will all come back, right? We didn't take any childbirth or infant preparation classes, having taken the full slate 10 years ago.

But - we didn't have any experience with babies born at 37 weeks. We had a few worrisome incidents in the hospital when the nurse came in and took the twins' temperature and revealed they were cold because they'd been in their grandparents arms without a cap in a draft for too long. This was quickly remedied by putting the babies against me, skin on skin, covered in hats and warm blankets for a half hour until their body temperatures rose.

When we arrived home from the hospital (after the world's slowest, most surreal ride home - I remember only one other such trip ten years ago with my daughter), we settled back into our northern California routine, putting on sweatshirts to tend to things around our concrete home. A few hours later, I realized the twins were cold and sluggish. At this juncture, their newborn clothes hung off their bodies, exposing shoulders and limbs (remember how they lost weight at the hospital?) My husband and I hurriedly took their axillary temperatures as we'd been instructed at the hospital - they were down. We had family bring preemie clothes and piled the twins on my belly under blankets until we raised their temperatures an hour later.

The next morning, the twins were cold again. We panicked, calling a pediatrician friend and canceling all visits from family before hurrying out of the house to head back to the hospital. I fought tears in the car, sure that the twins would be readmitted to the hospital where at last they would discover something dire which was inhibiting my babies' ability to maintain their body temperature over several hours.

We saw a lovely Indian doctor who took their temperatures and looked them over and declared them "normal," even "healthy."

"Out of curiosity, how high are you keeping your thermostat for these little ones?"

"Umm...65 or so?" (We run an energy efficient home!)

"Oh no!" She explained that we should be keeping the thermostat at a minimum of 75 degrees regardless of the season until the twins were big enough to regulate their body temperature. We hung our heads in shame and incompetence and drove home relieved, feeling farcically stupid.

Our families sweated it out for the next several weeks. I spent the time blissfully topless, relishing my warm little babies.

Do you have your own anecdotes about your silly naivete as a parent? Was there any "common sense" you had to re-learn on account of your infants?

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Betty Friedan, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Things to consider:

1. Relevance of doctor's race? My old Jewish gran used to talk about the Indian doctor as if it was super exciting but she was born in 1906. Maybe not include that.

2. TMI. Don't need to know that you were blissfully topless. And probably your 10 year old daughter would prefer not to have that in the Internet. Just saying.

3. Kudos for at least mentioning your husband as a parenting partner.

4. Editor how many of these adorable mommy and me blogs do we need? Wouldn't Jessica's husband be a more interesting blog since he is (1) a writer (2) a male primary caregiver. Makes more sense.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Thanks for your perspective - I like the idea of including some daddy bloggers (but my husband is going to stick to novels for the time being). I hope my point of view is unique as a working mother. Readers - I tend to err on the side of sharing more information (not less). I think more detail makes for more interesting reading (and as an avid reader, my daughter surely agrees). If my style isn't your cup of tea, no hard feelings! Please check out some of the other talented bloggers on the site.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Betty Friedan , a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm

It might be if you blogged about being a working mother instead of about what you are writing about which shows no trace of that. Some working mother topics might include:

Choosing the right day care provider;
Fighting over who cleans the toilet -- worth it ?
Getting to 50/50 kids and housework ;
Do women get less important work due to taking maternity leave (research says yes);
Should I talk about my kids at work (research says no)
Why do I work when so many women around here don't
Do I really have time to volunteer and work and raise kids and should I feel guilty
Is my husband more sexy when he cleans the house (research says yes)
Is lean in a good book?
Should rich women want credit for being working mothers when poor women do it because they have to;
What does it mean that I choose to work when I don't have to? Should I feel guilty? Should I let others make me feel like a bad mom ?

I would be very excited to see a blog in the "how does she do it all" genre. I agree that would be a unique contribution. Please go for it.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Hi Jessica,
Thanks for the important reminder that no matter how many times we do this parenting thing, we will still find ways to mess up. Thankfully, babies (even 37 weekers) are made just resilient enough!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CherylBac, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 13, 2013 at 11:08 pm

CherylBac is a registered user.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Babies definitely seem so small and vulnerable during that first ride home from the hospital!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 7:46 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Thanks for your great suggestions on future blog posts. (And read on! I have more on the topics you are interested in coming.) For now, I'm on maternity leave, so I'm capturing my current experiences. But I'll definitely share more about balancing work and family soon...

And Lean In is a wonderful book for all women - I'd recommend it to everyone: women with/without children, women who work inside/outside the home, and men with women in their lives. There's already been a ton of coverage on it, but perhaps I have some fresh (and personal) observations that may work for a blog post.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by I'm with Betty, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I'd rather read insipid posts about dealing with newborns than another word about Lean In. Please. Just. Don't. Tell us how aromatic their diapers are instead.

Too bad -- with so many serious issues facing the city -- the Almanac is choosing to channel Babycenter.com content.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

The Almanac has other bloggers covering civic issues. Check them out!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Old School, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

Jessica,

You actually needed a doctor to tell you to turn up your thermostat when your newborn babies were cold! That shows why our health care costs are rising -- a paucity of commonsense in the general population.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joinpa, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

Sometimes I love reading comments, but I get really frustrated with the rude and often condescending tones of these comments (like Old School above)

Really would you talk to a friend that way? Lighten up! It's a story. Are you perfect?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by working mom 2, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Thanks Jessica, It's a nice human interest blog which is a welcome refrain from reading about debt ceilings and the inability of congress to do their job.

My mother taught me if you can't something nice, (or constructive), don't say it at all. If you're not interested, don't read it, or comment. No need to tell the world that it's not your cup of tea.

I liked it, even though I no longer have newborns. Brings back memories of freaking out of the scale and nursing. is he getting enough milk, how do i tell (turns out he wasn't! the body doesn't always produce what nature needs).

Now I'm struggling with the demands of the job to travel, and my desire to be there for the kids most of the time.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

I love the dialogue - I'm glad my posts are resonating with some (and even stirring the pot with others). And I'm not going to take the blame on rising health care costs, though I AM embarrassed that we needed a doctor to tell us to raise the thermostat.

Working Mom 2 - I hear you on the toll that work-related travel can have on your family and psyche (though I've been pretty lucky on that front thus far in my career). I hope you are at least getting to travel to interesting destinations and have some downtime when you return home to reconnect meaningfully with those you love.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by I'm with Betty, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I can attribute many problems with our current culture to too many people raised with "if you can't say anything nice..." platitudes.

Too many people are too afraid to speak up and to speak out. To put it bluntly, that's how evil takes hold. Can't say anything nice about Hitler or Mussolini? Then, shut up! Yep, we know how well that works out.

I consider it my responsibility to instill in my kids the realization that they cannot be afraid to say what needs to be said. In public, to their friends, to teachers. And I agree with Old School that people need to exhibit a little more common sense in their every day choices rather than depending on others to think for them.

Jessica, since you have newborns, you may be suffering from an affliction I call diaper brain. But maybe, as that dissipates, you'll find some worthwhile topics, and this blog won't deteriorate into yet another of those "working" mom vs SAHM bashing sessions.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Gramma, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Yikes - My time is full of people I actually know to talk with so I don't do blogs but I was curious since I'm an active caregiver for our grandbabies and a nurse because there're always new things to learn about babies that are not "common" sense. However... the obnoxious comments you've received will send me back to civil folks to talk with. Since I don't think you are either Hitler or Mussolini, I hope those who spend their time judging you find something better to do or can learn to communicate the way people do in person. Good luck with babes and blogs and write what you please. Others can go to.... another place to post rudeness.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by JuliaGD, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:23 am

Hi Jessica,
I just discovered your blog today and really enjoyed reading it. Sure there are plenty of blogs around and maybe many sound similar, but I happen to notice yours and I loved it. So I decided to comment here even though I did read all other post and despite my general reluctance to comment about other comments.
I think there is nothing wrong with not realizing that a thermostat was set too low. After all, you didn't have your first daughter while living in California where heating your house to above 70F is considered almost a crime against nature. And while people who never in their life overlooked something obvious might theoretically exist, I've never met one in my whole life (and I've known many very smart people, including Nobel prize winners...) In any case, I think it's commendable to be able to admit your mistake and share this story with a smile.
I have two sons, with much longer age gap between them. I also thought I knew all there was to know about babies this time around. Turned out, there were still things that I didn't even think about ever before. Plus, a lot of things that were considered wrong when I had my first kid, now are accepted and even recommended (like co-sleeping or feeding on-demand).

Also, while you were gracious about your responses to Betty, I don't have to be. Her comment is condescending, stupid and, above everything, irrelevant. Also, at her age (based on her probably fictional grandma being born in 1906) I would expect better punctuation and grammar in general if not better manners. Though what am I expecting from a person who thinks that after almost two decades together people might fight over who cleans the toilet? I mean, really. This stuff is settled in the first few weeks of living together. And questions she asks about working moms are so naive that probably even Cosmo (or other silly teenage magazine) wouldn't bother writing about it.

P.S. maybe it was not your intention while telling the race of a doctor, but according to my experience, people from India or Malaysia, especially first generation immigrants, are used to higher temperatures in their homes. I would expect them to keep 75-78F (lowest!) thermostat settings to feel comfortable.
P.P.S. Yay for topless mom. Instant boob access was probably well appreciated by twins. I had to go around in nursing/sport bra most of the summer to avoid sweating buckets. I don't think your daughter would ever mind you saying this on internet. It's not like you were dancing in front of your house naked :P


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Julia,

Thanks for your kind words. I hope you'll keep reading this blog. My family lived in India for 7 months in 2011 and had some remarkable experiences with doctors and India's health care system. This is why I think I mentioned the nationality of that sage doctor at Stanford who zeroed in on why our twins body temperatures were so low at home those first days.

Jessica


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