Baby Data

08Jul07

Babies are like automated weather sensors: they generate an awful lot of data. Measurements, percentiles, numbers of diapers, length of feedings.

  • I know the circumference of Evan’s head (12.2inches), the length of his body (20.2 inches), his weight at four days old (6 pounds, 12 ounces).
  • I also know that Evan feeds 8 to 10 times each day for an average of 284 minutes (or 4.7 hours) each day, not including burpings and other preparations for feeding. If we include those additional minutes, Evan and I spend 6-8 hours each day at the business of feeding.
  • Over the span of 8 days, Evan ate for a total of 2271 minutes (37.85 hours) over 77 feedings.
  • Evan’s longest feeding was 53 minutes! Thankfully this is not typical. In fact, Evan’s feedings average 29.5 minutes.
  • He had 59 wet diapers and 59 dirty diapers over 8 days.
  • Brian and I get between 5 and 7 hours of sleep each night, in chunks of about 2 hours at a time.

All of this data tracking (we track feedings and diapers for the pediatrician) comes quite easily to me. From the time I was 20 until the time I was 24, I tracked the details of my own life even more meticulously than I now track my baby’s data. I had charts and, at times, spreadsheets filled with numbers: calories consumed, calories expended, number of minutes walked, number of steps taken, time spent on the elliptical, calculations of calories times minutes for each different activity I partook in, letters denoting whether I did situps, pushups, or leg lifts. Biweekly weight measurements and weekly body fat measurements. Looking back it all seems so crazy, but at the time it felt like my way of staying in control of everything. If I gained weight one week, I had in front of me a whole array of data to point to the reason so that I could adjust my eating and activity accordingly for the next week. Plus, I reasoned, tracking everything kept me more accountable.

Of course the truth is that it wasn’t until I threw away all of the charts and taught myself to stop endlessly tracking things in my internal memory stores that I finally felt in control. And relaxed. And that’s when I finally lost ten pounds, too, and started liking my own body for the first time.

But I have to admit, there is something very satisfying about detailing all the numbers of my baby’s life. I really like seeing our days splayed out in front of me to be scrutinized by the numbers. I like having the cold hard facts, being able to make concrete comparisons, knowing how much of my life as a new mom I have spent with a baby on my breast.

I’m eager to stop tracking all this info, of course, because it means that baby’s life is growing more stable, that he’s getting the food he needs, and that we can just relax and let Evan be our guide as to what’s normal, when to eat, etc. But in the meantime, if there be numbers, I will crunch.

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