Thirty Days of Blogging.

Day 30. National Blog Posting Month.

I did it!!!  I wrote a post every day during the month of November.

[Extra points to anyone who can tell me where the “Grr Argh!” reference is from.]

But seriously folks, as today is the last day of the November,  I am going to reflect on this month of posting.  When I first read about the National Blog Posting Month, I immediately thought it was a great challenge and one I should embark on. I mean, what else have I got to do these days, you know, besides nursing my infant every 3 hours and changing a diaper almost as often? My brain needs the exercise, almost as much as my body needs the running. 

As I got started, the magnitude of what I was doing hit me, around day 4 or day 5.  Could I really find something to write about day in and day out?  Well, as it turns out, I can!  And even more surprising to me was that you fine folks were actually reading! It is such an honor to have your attention for a few minutes every day.

One of the goals I had this month was to increase the number of followers of my little blog.  At the beginning of the month, I had 86 followers.  Today, as I write this, I have 109 followers.  Astounding!  Thank you!!!!  When I read other blogs and see that some folks have hundreds of followers, I wonder how they got there.  Well, I kind of figured it out – you have to write often, you have to write about stuff that people are interested in and it doesn’t hurt to be a little funny and be willing to poke fun at yourself.

I also learned a few things while writing this month:

  • I can write every day, if I set my mind to it.
  • I need to get some decent sleep if I want to lose the baby weight
  • The best time to have that morning cup of coffee is around 9:30am, when cortisol levels start to fall.
  • There will always be parents who won’t vaccinate their children, but I will continue to educate those parents (in my medical practice especially) and if I can instill change in just one family, then I will have done my job well.
  • I’m going to continue to fill my house with music – the memories that are made are there for a lifetime.
  • I am so very blessed to have three beautiful, healthy children.
  • It’s okay to have a noisy household, especially during naps; in fact, it might actually improve neurodevelopment.
  • I am spending way too much money during this maternity leave (see “Costco” post).
  • I love running.

 

And with that, I bid November and the National Blog Posting Month, adieu.

 

 

Keep It Loud!

Day 10.

An interesting article came across my Twitter feed yesterday.  I follow ScienceNews and yesterday, this article popped up:  “Too little noise is bad for newborns.”

Before I had kids, a friend of mine had twins.  I remember she emailed me from the local Starbucks when the twins were a few weeks old.  I couldn’t believe she was out and about already, nevermind at a coffee shop!  She said something to the effect that her kids were adapting to her lifestyle, not the other way around.  I wondered about the noise and whether they could sleep.  She said the noise actually helped them sleep better!

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to infants and children.  My husband, on the other hand, did. At the age of 12 he was changing his nephew’s diapers.  He remembers his mother always saying how it should be quiet when the baby’s sleep.  When we had our firstborn, she spent the first few weeks of her life swaddled in a bassinet while we watched The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and struggled to stay awake during her feeds. [My husband was such a trooper, staying with me at nighttime for those first few weeks.]

I digress.  My point being that in order to stay relatively sane, we made a point to keep up our normal lifestyle, including the noise factor, in our household.  There was no “Shhh–ssshing” when she napped.  Instinctively we believed that our kids should learn to sleep with some normal amount of household noise.  We were lucky in the sense that our kids were pretty adaptable.  We could take them with us anywhere, really.  We slept over at friend’s places and brought the kids with us.  They were portable.  But more importantly, we never needed their environment to be super quiet for them to sleep.

Which is precisely why the article I mentioned above peaked my interest.

NICUs are loud – there are numerous machines beeping, whirring, all working to keep those little people alive, and lets not forget all the talking going on between the nurses, doctors, and parents.  A few years ago, an American Academy of Pediatrics analysis suggested that all this noise actually exceeds acceptable levels (45 dBA).  In response to this, many NICUs started moving away from open wards to private rooms for these little lives. Private rooms led to quieter rooms.  This should be better for them, right?

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, studied the effects of noise, and lack thereof, on 136 preterm infants. The preterm infants (< 30 weeks gestational age) were assigned to either a ward room or private room.  The primary outcome was developmental performance at 2 years of age. What they found was surprising.  By the time they left the hospital, babies who stayed in private rooms had less mature brains than those who stayed in an open ward. And two years later, babies who had stayed in private rooms performed worse on language tests. ScienceNews summed it up better than I can:

The researchers believe that the noise abatement effort made things too quiet for these babies. As distressing data from Romanian orphanages highlights, babies need stimulation to thrive. Children who grew up essentially staring at white walls with little contact from caregivers develop serious brain and behavioral problems, heartbreaking results from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project show. Hearing language early in life, even before birth, might be a crucial step in learning to talk later. And babies tucked away in private rooms might be missing out on some good stimulation.

The study took place at the urban St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The parents of these 136 babies visited their babies for an average of 19 hours a week, which means that many of these babies spent a lot of time alone. Babies in private rooms might do just as well as — or better than —babies in open wards if parents were around more to talk, sing and snuggle.

Obviously more studies need to be done to figure out how best to nurture and care for these early arrivals, but it did reinforce for me one simple thing – the noisier the house, the better.

So tell me, parents, how noisy are you around your infants?