Friday, March 23, 2012

The Crying Game

I am reading a book to help introduce me to and prepare me for the rigors of being a new dad. 

Perhaps in an effort to meet guys on a meat-and-potatoes-level, many of the baby books aimed at fathers I've perused (notice I didn't say "read") address very practical concerns.

This book is no different and spends two pages going over breast and bottle feeding. Two pages explaining burping. One page on changing a diaper. One page on how entertain a newborn. Two pages on bathing your baby and one page on dressing your baby. 

The authors cover a lot of ground quickly. So, it was jarring then to see that the section on "coping with crying" was ten pages, far and away the longest section in the book. 
The book on explaining to your young child
how babies are made.

Here, I'll offer the admission that uncontrollable, unexplained crying has been a  fear of mine since we learned Mrs. Blackwell was "with child," as they say in old movies, or when you're trying to make pregnancy sound fancy.

As I've continued to read more and more about crying and, it turns out, I have good reason to be terrified. 

Firstly, it's loud. Really, really loud. According to my book, a baby's cry can be as loud as a leaf blower or a chainsaw.

But, even if you're a lawn maintenance professional or a logger, you don't get off the hook. No sir. The sound of a baby's cry triggers a "biological alarm" that raises your blood pressure, increases your circulation and elevates oxygen to your brain. So you can't ignore it.

The evolutionary kicker is that the human ear is "most sensitive to sounds at 3khz, the exact central frequency of a baby's cries," the book states while describing the different types of baby cries.

(My favorite description was for the colic cry: "A burst of urgent high-pitched screaming that can go on for hours. Each wail can last four or five seconds, taking the baby's breath away. A lengthy pause follows while the baby catches her wind, then it starts all over again.")

Dear. God.

Successful horror movies have been made around less-frightening scenarios.

Mother Nature's loudmouth.
For a basis of comparison, I looked up a completely arbitrary list of the loudest noises on Earth, on an unaccredited web site called "List Verse." (Sure, the article's author didn't give their name but, for some reason, I trust them). Credible or not, this list included space shuttle launches, dragster racing, bomb and artillery fire, and rock concert speakers (go figure, the Blue Whale was on there too). So, the baby is in pretty elite company. 

The good news for Mrs. Blackwell and I is that this won't go on forever. I may go gray, then bald, then fat then permanently frazzled. She might get bags under her eyes big enough to hold bananas but, the crying will end.

What's particularly amazing to me is that each and every parent I talk to says the early months of adjusting to a baby were incredibly difficult. They say this and then without fail they all say it was "great."

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