Saturday, April 23, 2016

Big Fat Baby Heads

According to impeccable sources on the social media, baby horses are born with squishy hooves out of deference to their mothers. I did not know that. I knew fawns are not born with a full rack of antlers and baby rhinoceroses pop out with just a starter nubbin for a horn. This is only polite. Any other arrangement would work only if the baby deer or rhinoceros were both carnivorous and cannibalistic, which they are not. If you're going to be a regulation mammal with a future, it pays to be nice to your mom.

In many cases it seems that mom is not necessarily nice to you, but a lot of times it's the tough love that's going to see you through. Wildebeest mamas make a point of dropping kids in the middle of the herd and the little guys had best be up and moving in a hurry, but that's good. Wildebeests that are born on the margins become lion snacks. (Gnuggets.) Giraffe mamas do not lie down to give birth; their kids plummet from above and their mamas squint down at the slick heap of spots and bones and say "Don't make me come down there." But it works. The kids have to stand up tall and take some responsibility, because that's where the milk is.

Anyway, it turns out the little horses' hooves are all soft and weird and look like asparagus spears. As soon as they hit air they harden up. Humans make allowances too. Those giant human baby heads are made of movable plates that can deform quite a bit during the birth process, such that some children's skulls come out looking like zucchini, and settle out into a socially acceptable shape later on their own time. I, myself, was less than six pounds at birth with a head the size of a tennis ball, including the fuzz, and for that reason my mommy loved me very much, although it's possible I didn't need to be that considerate, since she assured me she was completely knocked out for the event. At any rate, human babies make quite a few adjustments out of pure thoughtfulness and that is why the human birth process is such a snap.

Pardon me? No, I haven't given birth myself, why do you ask? I wasn't interested in being pregnant because I thought it would ruin my line.

That line being: "We decided not to have children because the genetic counselor said there was too great a risk they would turn out something like us."

I did have the opportunity, but I determined I was not mature enough for parenthood, and have spent the rest of my life proving it. There is, I'm sure you have noticed, quite a range of attitudes women take toward fetuses, and mine is "when I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." Yeah, I would have been that kind of mommy.

Thanks to you, I'm over halfway to my fundraising goal for the Portland Audubon Birdathon! If you'd like to help, please visit my pledge page. Yay!

26 comments:

  1. I decided when I was a wee thing of eighteen or so that I never wanted to have kids. I had opportunities over the years, but I never budged from my initial opinion. It just didn't seem that people with kids looked like they were having a good time. They always looked worried and didn't seem to take very good care of themselves. It was all about their progeny. Personally, I'd rather be the center of my universe. Yes, that undoubtedly makes me "selfish", but I see nothing wrong with that. I have zero maternal instinct, unless you are sporting feathers. Perhaps I prefer having parrots because when they misbehave, I can put them back in their cages. Try that with kids, and you get a visit from a social worker.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I ever gave it a thought. Getting married, either. These days kids have cages too, but they're as big as a house. No leaving the house!

      Delete
  2. Another accommodation evolution has made in the human case is that human babies are born at an earlier stage of development than other mammal babies are -- that is, by the standards of most animals, they're premature. This means that the skull is less large at birth than it would otherwise be, but also that the brain is less developed, so human babies are more dependent for longer than other species' babies are. This in turn increased the selective pressure in favor of intelligence (since it takes more intelligence to take care of a human baby well enough that it will survive). Over evolutionary time the rise in intelligence, increase in brain size, earlier birth, and pressure for higher intelligence have been a mutually reinforcing trend. It may even be a major part of why human intelligence developed to its present level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know I don't have the intelligence to take care of a human baby as long as one has to. I'd be doing fine, and then at some point I'd leave it in the laundry basket and forget all about it.

      Delete
  3. I'll admit it's hard to imagine the benefits when you're birthing them, changing their diapers, cleaning up vomit ... but the perks are there from day one if you're a willing parent. Not everyone is, not everyone should be, and that's okay too. The trick is to know thyself - and be true to it if possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the big trick in almost everything.

      Delete
  4. Dogs are about the highest-level species that I'm allowed to parent. And that's just fine by me -- I know that with human babies, sooner or later, I'd get frustrated and lock 'em in the basement...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there's always the Velcro-to-the-wall option.

      Delete
  5. "We decided not to have children because the genetic counselor said there was too great a risk they would turn out something like us."
    I did have the opportunity, but I determined I was not mature enough for parenthood, and have spent the rest of my life proving it.
    LOL I have to tell this to one of my friends. When people ask her (and I am shocked they do!) why she does not have any children, she says she did not want to. They always want to know WHY and then try to convince her how wonderful it is. The responses you give are so great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there is a story there in ..."and I am shocked they do!"...and you should write it.

      Delete
  6. jI've always thought a velcro wall is a good option...

    ReplyDelete
  7. My babies were considerate enough to keep themselves small before birth, even the biggest was under 7 pounds; so while they didn't pop out quite as easily as peas from a pod, the process wasn't all that hard and didn't take too long either. I remember feeling sorry for a friend who was tiny herself and married a lumberjack-sized man and her three babies were all around 9 1/2 pounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, they probably don't make heads quite squishy enough. And then will it snap back? My own head is still very small, and kind of flat in the back. I think I was stuck on my back and just left there.

      Delete
    2. Your head is probably more German in origin, mine is the same and so are my kids and siblings. It's one reason why Germans were called 'square heads'. The roundest heads are usually English in origin and are bigger at birth. You'll see them sometimes on toddlers and babies, heads that look almost too big for the tiny body beneath.

      Delete
    3. REALLY? German heads? I never heard of such a thing! And my ancestry is English. And Norwegian. The Norwegians have a difficult birth because of the little horned helmets.

      Delete
  8. I think I got the best deal. Two babies by adoption and six more kids by marriage.

    The beginnings of things are always good, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoa! You're doing some good work there! They turned out good too, right?

      Delete
  9. Have just spent three weeks livingly closely with a darling five-year-old who is so fucking helpless that I want to smack her. "I need to wash my hands." So wash your hands. "I can't reach the sink. I'm too little." OK, I'll get you a step stool for your birthday. In the meantime, I'll boost you up and hold you, turn on the water, and hand you the soap. "It's too cold. I want the other soap." The water will get warmer. Soap is soap. Wash. I have things to do. "I don't like this soap. It's too slippery. The water is too hot." Rinse your hands and finish. "This soap makes my hands smell funny. I need a towel." God you're helpless. Dry your hands on your shirt. I have crap to do!!

    I do not think I have a nurturing, maternal instinct.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, but your kids would have been nice and self-sufficient and a credit to their mama. Or dead, either way.

      Delete
  10. I have never given birth either. Although I did oversee the birth of a notion once.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the afterbirth of a notion that'll get you in trouble sometimes.

      Delete
  11. I had no idea the hooves of newborn horses looked like that! Freaky.

    Childbirth doesn't look or sound like a considerate process for either participant, and yet humans show no sign of slowing down their baby-birthing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's such a lag time. And those hooves? All the asparagus bits fall off in a matter of minutes!

      Delete
  12. I spat my Picton Bay Sauvignon blanc at Gnuggets.
    I'm also one of the don't want 'em brigade. But I can now,many years later, see another human evolutionary trend....it used to be "Don't you have any children yet?" Then "How come you don't have any kids?" By now the children have become kids and the question is tinged with envy.Today, visibly well past child-rearing, they say"How many grand-babies have you got?"
    At which point I drain the Picton Bay and clobber someone...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weird thing. I almost never heard anyone ask me why I didn't have kids, if I was going to have kids, all those things. I felt no pressure from society or family or friends. Maybe they kind of knew it was for the best.

      Delete