duncan @ five minutes

duncan @ five minutes

This past August 1, treatment 2009 at 10:45am, try my son, Duncan Huxley Cameron was born.

Not only is he quite a bit bigger now than he is in that photo, his ability to melt me with a look, has increased.

We are raising him as rationally as possible. Obviously, he’ll make his own decisions about how to interact with his world, but we’ll tell the truth as we see it and let it go. There’s plenty of woo out there for him to encounter and deal with on his own, so we don’t need to burden him with more at home. It’s going to be intersting as, even before he was born, people I consider rational were saying really weird and irrational things.

It makes sense, I suppose. There’s so much about having a child that is completely out of ones control that, like the rest of life, we tend to look for patterns to apply to random things. Here in the west, where we have an abundance of food and nutrition, once you’re out of the first trimester of pregnancy, if you’re not behaving like an idiot, your kid is probably going to come out just fine.

But… because that stuff is out of our control, people start making up rules to follow. Sure, some of ’em might make sense and actually keep you healthy, but, again… as long as you’re not being an idiot, that kid is going to come out and, most likely, come out fine.

Childbirth as an Extreme Sport
Extreme Sports came about because of great medicine and the boredom of practice. Back in “ye oldene tymes” no one, except for inventors, had the time or inclination to go hang gliding because a) broken bones meant death or worse, suffering and disfigurement for the rest of one’s life and 2) life already had enough fucking terror, what with everyone dying because of disease and war.

Here in the future, if you survive a hang gliding crash and break your legs and crack your spine, the worst part is your drunken friends driving you to the hospital in the back of the 4-Runner. After that, it’s 6 weeks off of work, Fentanyl Patches and 150,000 hits on YouTube. As far as skill goes, it’s a matter of being able to buy the gear. The wealthier you are, the more three day weekends you can spend hang-gliding and the better gear you can buy. You can’t buy the skill that comes spending 4 hours a day doing boring tennis drills for your entire youth.

So, like extreme sports, unless there is a rare complication, the sheer terror of having a child is gone. Western Infant mortality rates are extremely low and mothers dying in childbirth is almost non-existent so, to shake things up, we make it exciting by having a kid at home or with people beating drums or standing up in the shower or in a hot tub with your family there or in a dumpster behind chuck e. cheese. If something goes wrong, you’re a quick ambulance drive away from the hospital and all is well.

(A side note… We had our son at Cedars Sinai here in L.A. Our hippie friends told us that it’s a bad place to have a child because they have such a high record of emergency births. We aksed (yes, aksed) the doctor about it and she said the emergencies were mainly home deliveries gone haywire and since Cedars has the best Natal Intensive Care Unit, the botched home births are rushed to Cedars.)

“Pitocin is Evil!!!”
Because we wanted to feel like we were “doing something”, the bride and I went to a Lamaze class. I made it through the three hours without having an episode. I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s the extreme sports thing, but we encountered quite a bit of anti-science bias associated with having a baby. The point of the Lamaze method is to have the baby “naturally”. Since we’re living in the future and having the baby at a hospital “natural” really just means “without an epidural”. This is fine, if that’s how you roll, but there was no reason for it. The instructor hinted, quite strongly, that it’s better for the baby if it’s “natural”, but wouldn’t come out and say as much (because it’s not true). She made the claim that medical students today aren’t shown “natural” child births. When I questioned her about this; pressing her for a source for her claim, she said she learned the med student facts from “articles”. The larger subtext was that women who chose to receive epidurals were less woman than those who went without because they weren’t completely experiencing the delivery. Not only that, it is, somehow, better for the child if it’s “natural”.

Yep, after a full term of pregnancy what’s really going to have an affect on junior is that final few hours.

We were told “don’t let them give her any drugs!!!” a couple of times. One of the drugs that the bride was given was Pitocin, a drug that induces labor.

Back in the “good old days” one of the many ways a woman could die in childbirth was bleeding to death after being ripped open by a too large baby.

Duncan was full term and ready to come out, but the bride’s body wasn’t ready to let him go. Instead of waiting another two weeks and getting a Caesarian, or worse, a drip of Pitocin induced labor and we were on our way. (Before you say “body knows best”, aks yourself if cancer is the body knowing best?)

When you google Pitocin, the very first result is an anti-science web page, childbirth.org. It’s so sad. It looks official, but it’s just some anti-science people picking and choosing their facts and scaring people.

We were told that Pitocin keeps the mother from producing milk. Once the bride had the epidural she was able to calm down, as she didn’t realize how freaked out she was. It was only a matter of minutes after the Pitocin kicked in until she began pushing. Duncan was born within the hour. The bride was breast-feeding almost immediately. So much for the horror stories.

(I know, personal experience is one of the worst ways to come to an understanding of how the world works. I’m just saying that our experience with Pitocin and the epidoodle was aces! )

The bride is a genius. She made the point that people now use bleeding edge science to get pregnant; in vitro pregnancies are so common now, and that is, rightfully, considered a beautiful and excellent thing. BUT, using science for the delivery cheapens the experience. If someone is of the mind that “nature knows best” then why take the shortcut around nature and go in vitro? Hmm?!?!

Genius, I tell you. Genius.

Infants as Unemployment Insurance
Since the turn of the century (I love saying that!) I was fortunate enough to have a nice career doing voice overs for radio and television. I began the century writing front end code at an online games web site. I also helped a friend develop a web service, Tightcircle.com, which he later patented and sold to an “unnamed company in Mountain View, California”. My main income was voice overs and I would, occasionally supplement it by doing web work.

About two years ago, the voice overs began slowing down. Thanks to strikes and technology, fewer people were needed to do voice overs. Finally, the work seems to have dried up almost completely. I had been averaging a couple of gigs a month. At this point, I haven’t had a VO gig since early 2008.

Once we discovered the bride was with child, I began looking for web work in earnest. Thanks to technology, I found myself a bit behind the curve as far as front-end coding goes. I’ve been on all the tech job boards for years so I started scouring those and other resources and by January of this year started sending out at least 2 resumes a day and doing tutorials online on the stuff I’d missed.

Our plan had been that by the time the bride finished her latest editing gig, I would either have some foot back in showbiz or a web coding gig. Unfortunately, that wasn’t happening and it began getting hairy.

I kept hearing “babies bring luck” and it only pissed me off more. What is the method? How does it work? Gravity? Hmm. The week before Duncan was born, I received two job offers. Some poor soul on MyFaceSpaceBook wrote “babies bring luck!!!” and I kinda/sort jumped down her throat. See… by saying that not only are you simply being an idiot, unaware of confirmation bias, you are discounting the work I did to get those jobs. If a baby is born every minute, wouldn’t there be more “luck” in the world? I can’t even begin to start deconstructing this…. The week before he was born, I had to put a new radiator in my car. Lucky? As Linus Van Pelt often said: Aaargh!

Pisces Virgo Rising is a very good siiiiignnnnnn
Racism is just lazy. Instead of investigating cultural differences, racism just lays down blanket statements about large groups of people. The only criteria is how they were born. Not who they are. People are different through their cultures, but it’s more about geography than biology. But, even then, I realllly hate it. It makes me so sad when I hear someone describe themselves based on their race. “I’m Italian, I can’t help being jealous!” Well, you were raised to think that. It has nothing to do with you being Italian, except everyone you know who is Italian has told you that you can’t help but be jealous. There are lots of Italians who aren’t. I bet there are Italians at swingers clubs.

The worst manifestation of racism is astrology. Because of the date and time of your birth, you are endowed with personality traits that are inescapable.

I think this is so maddening to me because I’m a Taurus.

duncan and the bride at just around one minute

duncan y bride @ one minute

But seriously… This country was created so we can be free. We are free to try to do whatever we want and be whoever we want. We are free to choose our own identity and make our own lives and yet people voluntarily yoke themselves with zodiac signs, shrug and say “I can’t help that I’m clumsy, I’m a gemini”.

Obviously, you are absolutely free to do this in this free country. You’re totally free to hamstring yourself or create excuses based on your deep misunderstanding of the gravitational effects of the planets. Please don’t do it to my son. Please don’t tell him how he is before he can walk. Please don’t make up your mind how he is before he can walk. Let him find out who he is and how he is. It’s going to take a long time and, this is important: it will change. Duncan may start out shy and become an extrovert, but let’s not keep him one way by telling him it’s preordained. It may be. But it’s not because of the moon and jupiter. As William Shakespeare wrote: “I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.” (Edmund has a great deconstruction of astrology in King Lear.)

There are so many real mysteries and phenomenon, both explained and unexplained, associated with infants. When does he begin recognizing us? Is he thinking abstractly? How does language happen? The nature/nurture question. All of those things. They are fascinating, vexing and beautiful. Why throw crap in there like ass-trology, babies bringing luck and anti-science? I loved him before he was born. Isn’t that enough?