Stillbirth

The death of a baby is a traumatic experience and one that hospital staff may find it difficult to deal with. They are geared up to deal with the joy of birth and not the tragedy of death. At the same time, doctors and nurses may be consumed with the aftermath of the delivery or in trying to save a baby’s life. They have little time for the mother and father, leaving both in a state of uncertainty:

“The delivery was awful and he was rushed off to the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] the moment he was born. I remember they were all fussing around, giving me stitches and cleaning me up, but nobody mentioned the baby. I just assumed he was dead; at first I couldn’t believe it. I felt numb, and then I started crying. Nobody said anything to me and my husband went off to find someone who would tell him what was going on. Then they came to take me back to my room and I said, in tears, ‘I’m not going, I’m not going to the ward to see those mothers and babies.’ ‘Why not?’ they asked. ‘Because my baby’s dead!’ I bawled. At that there was a flurry, and someone came to say he wasn’t dead at all! He was in intensive care but they were sure he’d be all right, and I could go back and look at him later. It was, in fact, touch and go, but they didn’t say so at the time.”

If a woman is kept uninformed and uninvolved, the consequences can be quite tragic:

“It was obvious that something was wrong as soon as he was born. He was taken to the NICU immediately. There was some confusion over what different doctors said about whether he would live or not and that was hard, because I didn’t know whether there was hope. Meanwhile I was in the regular maternity ward with mothers and babies. I wasn’t with him when they disconnected the life-support system and let him die-there was no point in doing anything. If I had been more involved and helped by them, I think I would have chosen to be with him and to have held him when he died.”

There are probably many women who would have very similar feelings and reactions. Until very recently parents were not encouraged even to see their baby, who was whisked away as soon as it was confirmed that the baby was dead. Today, hospital staffs are increasingly aware that many parents want to see their baby, accept its death and have time to grieve. This applies even if the baby is born with a congenital abnormality. The imaginings of someone who has given birth to a baby with physical abnormalities are likely to be much worse than the reality; again, seeing, being with and holding the child can help parents accept the situation:

“They said the baby was deformed and [so] I didn’t want to see her. But my husband did, and he said, really it’s all right, she’s quite beautiful, you can look. They had wrapped her up so that her face and arms and tiny feet showed. She was very beautiful, and her face had a peaceful expression that made me immediately feel much better about her death.”

A mother whose baby has died can ask not to go to the postnatal ward, but to be given a room of her own or perhaps go to the general gynecological ward. Hormones can be given to suppress the milk supply, though this is less typical now because the drugs can have side effects. The mother may continue to produce milk for some days, to her great distress. The mother whose baby has died will have all the usual hormonal and emotional changes following a birth, but no baby; she is in a kind of emotional limbo, neither a mother nor not a mother.

If the baby has died because of some lack of intervention or action by medical staff, parents usually take out their anger on the hospital. This can make the situation worse immediately after the baby has died: “They should have figured out he was in distress. I can’t forgive them.” Anger is a normal part of the grieving process; being able to blame someone can help the situation seem more bearable for the parents in the short term. Most stillbirth or neonatal deaths, however, could not have been prevented, and blaming the hospital will not bring back a baby who has died.

How the hospital staff deals with a tragedy can make an enormous difference to the experience. If you have worries, it can help to talk to your team in advance about what you would like to happen in the event of the baby’s death, even if this sounds as if you are being unnecessarily morbid:

“I told them that if the baby was dead I didn’t want them to whisk her away. I would like to see and hold the baby right then and deal with my emotions then and there. They brushed this aside and said of course nothing will go wrong. In fact, my baby was born perfectly healthy. But I felt it was important for me to say what I wanted in case the unthinkable happened, so we knew where we stood and I wouldn’t be faced with half-truths or well-meaning attempts to protect me from reality.”

Women-and men-who have experienced a baby’s death are often told by doctors, hospital staff, relatives and friends to “forget about this experience-you’ll have another baby soon.” This is very distressing for the parents, who need to acknowledge the death and mourn the loss of their baby before going on to another pregnancy. Some hospitals will help the parents by encouraging them to see and hold the baby, perhaps taking a photograph they can keep, and discussing what sort of funeral arrangements should be made. Hospitals usually arrange for a cremation or burial free of charge, but some parents find they hastily go along with such arrangements and later are distressed because they did not attend a ceremony and because the baby is buried with others or in an unmarked grave.

You will also need to register the baby’s birth or death. You can ask that the baby’s name be recorded so that he or she can be acknowledged as your child, a real individual, and not just “a baby.” If you feel the hospital is not paying attention to your wishes, be firm and ask for what you want. Taking action in this positive way may help you feel a lot better about the experience when you look back on it and help you in the natural process of grieving. (See Further Reading, starting on page 165, for helpful books.)

Siblings, Kids ‘r Kids

I was eight months pregnant with my first baby and sitting in the front seat of our car when my 7-year-old stepson called over my shoulder and asked the heartbreaking question. “What if my brother or sister and me fight all the time?” As a stickler for rules, I wanted to tell him that fighting wouldn’t be tolerated in our family and that everyone must get along! Thankfully, I paused a second, and in that small amount of time, my own childhood and relationship with my brother flooded my memory.

Sibling to be Our relationship was anything but perfect. I am sure some would have considered us downright rotten. In one second the sounds of fighting and name-calling rang through my ears, as did the shrill voice of my mother yelling, calling us by the wrong names in her frustration. I heard doors slam, felt kicks and punches land on arms and legs and saw my brother sitting proudly in the recliner clutching every phone cord in the house. When all else failed, I would call my mom at work to tattle. My brother had a clever way of preventing any further trouble: he unplugged all of the phones in the house. A smile spread over my face as my son awaited a reassuring answer. He was still an only child and the worry in his face of getting this relationship right was apparent. I told him brothers and sisters fight all the time and that it is part of growing up. I assured him he and his younger sibling would get into loads of trouble together, would be sent to their rooms left and right and would probably drive me crazy in the process. I watched as the look of concern turned to one of disbelief. I could tell he was shocked at my admission that fighting was a natural part of sibling relationships and that the idea didn’t upset me.

I further eased his mind by walking him down my own memory lane. I even taught him some of my old tricks to getting out of trouble – a choice I will probably regret in the future!

By the time my husband finished his errand and returned to the car, my son’s face was bright as can be. The stories spilled out of him as he recounted tales of my childhood sibling rivalry. He was thrilled to tell Daddy how I used to tattle on Uncle Jimmy and call him names when Grandma wasn’t looking. He also told Daddy that he and his brother or sister are going to fight, but that he was going to try his best not to.

My husband just looked over at me questioningly. I could tell he had no idea how this subject came to be. I just smiled back at him, letting him know that it was all right. He doesn’t need to start thinking about the sibling rivalry that will turn us gray – not just yet, anyway. With baby still on the way, I think we have a few years before we have to talk about it again.

Preparing for the Birth of Your Baby

As you enter the last three months of pregnancy, you may find yourself thinking more and more about the upcoming birth. Your large size and your baby’s movements are constant reminders that you will become a mother soon.

You may find yourself wanting to slow down a bit, preferring quiet evenings at home, slow walks, midday rests with your feet up, and a generally slower pace to your life. The twenty-four hour a day job of making a baby becomes tiring toward the end of pregnancy. When you add to that a job, child care, a social life, and the fact that you might be sleeping more lightly than usual, it is not surprising that you may want to simplify your life and take it easier from now until after your baby is born.

As you slow down and contemplate the upcoming birth and baby, you may be surprised to learn that your body has not slowed down at all. It is working at full speed, preparing for the birth. The baby is growing very rapidly, from about two to three pounds at the end of the twenty-eighth week to about six and a half to nine pounds at the end of the fortieth week. Many changes take place in your body to support such rapid growth. In this chapter we will examine these changes and the birth process itself. We will describe the newborn baby, what she looks like, what she can do, and her immediate care. In addition, we will discuss the first few weeks after birth-the immediate care of the mother and the emotional adjustments to new parenthood.

The Third Trimester

All your baby’s systems were formed in the first trimester. The organs and skeleton took shape and your baby took on a tiny but complete human form. During the second trimester, your baby began to move noticeably, gained the ability to see and hear, and began reacting to outside stimuli-that is, sounds outside your body, light and dark, and your eating and activity patterns. Your baby began turning somersaults, sucked his thumb, hiccupped perceptibly, and generally made you aware of his presence. The third trimester [the last three months od pregnancy] might be best thought of as a time when the final touches are put on your baby in his journey toward life outside your body.

Nutritional Requirements

As your baby grows in size her nutritional requirements increase. For example, she requires about one third more protein in these last months of pregnancy because every cell in the human body has protein as a primary ingredient and with each passing day she has more cells. In addition, because the bones are growing and becoming strong, the need for calcium, which is important to bone strength, increase by about two thirds during the last three months of pregnancy. The baby’s absorption of iron also dramatically increases.

As you can see, with these increased nutritional requirements, it is very desirable that you eat well o supply your baby’s nutritional needs as well as your own. It’s a good idea to reassess your nutritional intake during this last trimester, to see if you are getting the recommended foods in each of the food groups.

Pair of Twins

When I found out I was expecting twins, family and friends were overjoyed. This was my first pregnancy, so I was fearful of the responsibilities of being a new parent, let alone raising two at once!

Pair of Twins The gifts started pouring in. We received matching cribs, matching blankets, matching clothes, and even a dual breast pump. The babies were referred to as “Baby A” and “Baby B.” The day they were born, it was difficult for folks to tell them apart. I, on the other hand, felt differently. These two baby girls had distinct features, different preemie health issues, different feeding preferences, different sleeping habits, and noticeably different dispositions.

My girls are fraternal twins. They look nothing alike, and they have opposite personality traits. At the age of 9, they have really come into their own as individuals. Despite the efforts of our social circle to lump them together as “the twins,” their cute, matching outfits did not influence the development of their unique personalities and interests.

We did not give them “twinny” names with alliteration or rhyme. Zoe & Skylar have grown into two very different little girls. Zoe is very much left-brained and logical, with minimal sense of humor. She is a math genius and computer whiz. Skylar is my right-brain dominant child who consumes her time with arts and crafts, and has an artistic perspective of everyday objects. She is brilliant with jokes, and sees things in her surroundings that most people would not notice.

Zoe is a “fashion plate” at school, adopting the latest clothing trends. Skylar has a very unique sense of style, not succumbing to the mainstream fashion influences. Zoe is a typical kid, craving junk food at every juncture. I could leave Skylar alone in a grocery store, and she would choose balanced meals. Zoe will be mischievous and cunning, and Skylar will serve as the “tattle-tale” to ensure that justice is served. Zoe hides her feelings and will rarely cry, even when hurt. Skylar cries and laughs openly and faithfully pours out her daily emotions in her diary.

There are some strategies for ensuring that twins’ individual needs are met to nurture them as two separate developing human beings:

(1) Do not put them in the same classroom at school. Most public schools have a policy against twins being placed in the same class. If not, it is wise to request this separation to encourage different social circles and individual academic achievement.

(2) Spend one-on-one time with each twin. Take notice of different learning styles and preferences for reinforcing and rewarding good behavior.

(3) When age-appropriate, allow for each twin to choose personal expressions: clothes, extra-curricular activities, room décor, etc. (4) Allow for unique birthday celebrations: choice of cake, different friends invited, party activity planning by both children.

Common sense approaches to raising siblings apply to raising multiples, yet are even more important to employ. All children are distinctive souls with their own purpose and destiny. All devoted parents recognize this in their children. Twins and multiples just need extra attention to their discrete needs.

Newborn Cognitive Development

Although they may seem unknowing and unreceptive babies are actually active learners. It was once believed that until a child was able to talk they were unable to form complex ideas and thoughts; however scientists have found that this is not true. From the first week of a child’s life they are taking in their surroundings and learning from them. The first twelve months may be the most active period of cognitive development in a child’s life. There are so many different things that changes and advancements that are going on in the first year. Here are some of the milestones in the babies first year of cognitive development the process by which babies develop the abilities to learn and remember.
Newborns, babies 0 to 3 months can see clearly within 13 inches and can focus on and follow moving objects. Newborns can see every color and distinguish hue and brightness; they can also hear and distinguish the pitch and volume of sound. They can taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavors. Newborns respond to stimuli such as touching and strong odors. If you notice that your newborn begins sucking at the sight of your nipple or at the feeling of your chest on its face then your newborn has learned to anticipate events such as breastfeeding.

Newborn Cognitive Development Babies 3 to 6 months old can recognize different people by sight or voice and react to and mimic the facial expressions of others. They can also respond to familiar sounds like the sound of the car starting or water running. By six months of age many infants will begin reaching for objects quickly without jerkiness and may be able to feed themselves a cracker or similar food. At this age most infants begin babbling with active vocalization that starts to sound increasingly speech-like syllables. Babies 6 to 9 months can figure out the difference between animate and inanimate objects and they can understand that inanimate objects must be moved by someone or another external force. During the seventh month of age, many children begin to learn the implications of familiar acts. As they approach the eighth month of age many will be able to recall a past event or action of their own.

Infants from 9 to 12 months of age start to understand that objects exist even when they cannot see them. They are learning to follow simple instructions and can anticipate a reward when they do the right thing and expect discipline when they do the wrong thing. A baby’s movements become more controlled and deliberate, by 10 months most babies can stand although they may need some support. By nine months of age, most infants have begun vocalizing to toys, people, and animals in sentence-like syllables. You may notice your child beginning to listen carefully to the conversations of other people and hear them imitate sounds they hear in these conversations. The first word-like sounds made by babies are usually of the consonant sounds p, b, m, t, and d.

The development that happens during the first year is very important and delightful to witness as your child conquers each new milestone to becoming a full grown human being. Keep in mind that all children are different and the age that your child starts to develop each new skill will vary with each child, and it is rare that there is a major problem if your child should experience a delay in development of a certain milestone.

New Baby Names

Choosing a baby name will be one of the most important things you decide for your baby. It will be with them all of their life. Its one of the first challenges you will face in parenthood. W.H. Auden said “proper names are poetry in the raw”.

New Baby Names `Many people think that popular names are the best choice for a child. Some people want a unique name for their baby so that they will feel confident and special. Americans today have some pretty amusing ways of naming their children. They are named for prized possessions. In 2000, birth certificates revealed that there were 298 Armanis, 269 Chanels, 49 Canons, 6 Timberlands, 5 Jaguars and 353 girls named Lexus in the United States! So if the US is naming their children after cars, ever wonder how people in other countries or throughout history have chosen names for their children?

In Elizabethan England they named their children at the baptism, a few days after the birth. Like many other newborns of the time, they were named after one of your godparents. The names that were considered acceptable during this time were considerably smaller than what we are used to today. Elizabeth, Anne, Joan, Margaret, Alice, Mary, and Agnes accounted for approximately sixty-five percent of all girls’ names. John, Thomas, William, Richard, and Robert accounted for approximately sixty percent of male names. Naming baby in old England was fairly simple but pretty boring.

The Chinese wouldn’t dare name a child before it is born. They give the child a fake or “milk” name that is something very unpleasant like “mud face” or “excrement,” this is believed to trick evil spirits and make them stay away from the child. After the child is born, when the baby is about a month old they throw a baby naming party called a red egg and ginger party. The egg represents fertility and is dyed red for good luck, there is a huge feast where the baby’s hair is shaved and gifts are given.

Muslim parents name their child on his or her birthday or at an “Aqeeqah.” Held on the seventh day after baby’s birth, a sacrifice of a goat or sheep is given at the ceremony (two for a boy, one for a girl). The infant’s head is then shaved and covered with saffron. It is important to Muslims to give their child a good name, determined by its meanings, which should be beautiful.

In many regions of Africa, naming ceremonies are extensive and elaborate, with special prayers recited by an appointed religious teacher. Usually, animals are sacrificed during these proceedings. Africans mostly choose names that denote the time (”Abena”-born on Thursday), something that represents the times (”Iniko”-born during troubled times), a physical characteristic (”Hassain”-handsome), or the child’s position within the family (”Delu”-the only girl).

In the state of Maharashtra, India you will walk in on a beautiful image of a baby in the cradle, decorated with flower garlands and surrounded by women singing hymns and gently rocking the cradle. The mother or a grandmother then enters the room with a lit silver lamp and a small gold jewel for the child. Afterwards, the baby is blessed with rice and a small dot of vermilion is placed on her forehead. Blessings are said again, and the ceremony ends with the mother whispering the gods’ names and then whispering the child’s name in her ear. Finally, the name is announced to the guests.

Hopefully, these naming traditions have inspired you to begin your own naming traditions. The closest thing that Americans have today as a naming tradition is the mailing of the birth certificate. Think of a fun way to celebrate the naming of your child and start planning.

Natural vs Medicated Childbirth

Before leaving the subject of birth and going on to the newborn, we should discuss an important choice; the choice between natural childbirth and medicated childbirth. Your preparation and decision-making and the course of your labor will differ depending on what you prefer.

Having read the previous discussion of labor, you now have some sense of the physical and emotional events of normal spontaneous labor. It is concern about a tear or labor pain that influences many women to choose to use pain-relieving medication in labor.

The Use of Pain Medications or Anesthesia in Childbirth

Pain medication in childbirth has been used for centuries. Alcohol. Opium, and other drugs have been used, though how extensively is not known.

When using pain medications, you make a trade-off in return for relief of pain and tension and possible speeding up of labor, you accept the side effects on labor progress, your mental and physical well-being, or on your baby. You should balance the advantages and disadvantages as they apply in your situation before using or not using a particular medication.

What are the kinds of medications available, how do they work, and what are their risks and benefits? This section provides an overview that will assist you in discussing the subject with your doctor and making a decision on your preferences.

First of all, the choice of natural and medicated childbirth only exists as long as the labor remains normal. Some interventions are painful or stressful and increase the need for pain medications. If, however, you or your baby requires intervention [such as induction of labor, use of forceps, or cesarean section] for medical reasons, you will need pain medication.

Medication for Early Labor

Because the medications that provide the greatest pain relief also tend to interfere with early labor progress, they cannot be used too early, unless you want to stop labor. There are medications available if a very prolonged and exhausting pre-labor or early labor has caused excessive anxiety and worry. Sedatives or barbiturates [sleeping pills or medication] may help you rest. These are given in pill form or by injection, They may temporarily halt your labor while relaxing you or allowing you some sleep. These drugs reach your baby, who cannot easily excrete them, so it is important not to receive large doses. Because babies born with such drugs still in their bodies may have problems breathing or sucking, your doctor will probably only use small doses and will try to be sure that they have worn off before birth.

Tranquilizers are also used in long pre-labors to reduce muscle tension and anxiety. Some also help if you have severe nausea or vomiting. Depending on the drug chosen, you may feel dizzy and confused, your mouth could feel dry, and your blood pressure altered. These drugs also cross the placenta to the baby and may have effects on fetal heart rate, and newborn muscle tone, suckling and attentiveness.

Morphine, a narcotic, may be used in an attempt to stop a long, non-progressing labor. While it may cause you nausea, dizziness, and confusion, it may also do just what you need-put you to sleep and stop your labor temporarily. Narcotics can linger in the baby and can have some effects on behavior and breathing after birth. The greater the amount of the drug given the greater the effect on the baby.

Natural Child Birth or Not

In the last decade, doctors have seen considerable changes in the way childbirth is handled. More and more, mothers are able to choose their position during labor and delivery, and their wishes during the birth are given much higher profile. Hospitals may now offer birthing stools, water pools and other “natural childbirth” props. Birthing rooms in hospitals are more common. Home births may be marginally more common and accepted than they were a decade ago.

However, despite this progress, many women are still concerned that there is too much medical intervention in the process of childbirth. This is especially true for older mothers, who are considered to be at higher risk and are much more likely to receive medical intervention.

Home births are still very rare-planned home deliveries account for less than 1% of the total-and few doctors are happy about a first-time mother over 35 giving birth at home. Of course, the ultimate decision is yours, and you still have the option of a home birth if you want one, perhaps with the help of an independent midwife.

A first-time mother over 40 is likely to be offered an elective Cesarean, and this is especially true if she has had fertility problems. A high proportion of IVF babies are born by Cesarean section; first, because doctors do not want to put the baby at any risk, and second, because the whole pregnancy has become so medicalized that many mothers who could not conceive naturally doubt their ability to give birth naturally too.

This impression is backed up by a study of 195 women having their first baby over 35, compared with another 196 women in the same situation who had a history of infertility. The study showed that the women with no history of infertility were four times more likely to have a preterm delivery (less than 37 weeks), five times more likely to undergo a Cesarean section and significantly increased rates of vaginal-assisted delivery, chronic hypertension and fibroids compared with women having their first baby between the ages of 20 and 25. Those who had suffered from infertility had twice as many elective Cesareans as those in the other group, but otherwise there was no difference in outcome.

Unfortunately, in medical litigation cases, inaction can be seen to be negligent while intervention is not. So even if in a particular labor mother and baby’s chances would be best served by doing nothing, doctors may feel they have to intervene to protect themselves. When a mother is older and her baby is considered a precious baby, intervention is much more likely.

However, mothers who opt for a natural, and in particular, a home birth, do so largely because they believe it is safer:

“I had my third child at home at the age of 35. I believe that home birth is safer if there are no special risk factors, and the labor was far quicker and in every way better than the previous two. I believe that probably more babies die as a result of infections picked up in a hospital and mismanaged, extended and messed around-with labor in the hospital than would die at home in the rare event that something goes wrong. However, I do accept that at 35 with a first baby I would not have had the confidence to have a home birth, and if I had no children or had a history of infertility I would probably feel different too.”

Marianne, pregnant with her first baby at 39 after two years of infertility treatment, disagreed. “This might be my only baby. I’ll do whatever the doctors suggest. I’d like a natural birth, of course, but if things go wrong, if they suggest a Cesarean, I’ll go along with it.”

One childbirth-education teacher says that in her experience, older mothers generally feel positive about their labors. “I think they are more realistic than the younger mothers. They want a baby rather than a wonderful natural-childbirth experience.”

However, older mothers may have to stand their ground if they are under pressure to allow intervention in the childbirth process. And, like all mothers, they will have to make a choice. This means finding out what the options are and understanding what labor, both normal and with complications, involves.

Daddy’s Home

All of the moms I know, work-at-office or work-at-home, suffer from the same lack of status. At the end of the day, no matter how present or absent Mom has been, it’s Daddy’s homecoming that gets the fireworks.

Daddys Home I figure it’s a timeless dilemma, dating back way past the ‘Father Knows Best’ era, when Kitten and Bud would jump for joy as Mother, freshly coiffed and smiling, handed Father his martini. Maybe back to cave days, when Girl and Boy would grunt for joy as Woman stoked the fire and Man dragged home the mastodon. So it’s a little ingrained, by now.

That doesn’t make it right, though. The cost to replace a full-time, home-bound mom is hovering around $140K now. And to replace an office-working mom would cost over $100K, plus her salary. The bottom line is, moms aren’t exactly cheap. So why do we still get treated like what’s scraped off the bottom of a shoe?

I love that my kids love their dad. I love him, too. I love watching them run up to him, jumping and antic with hugs. I love the easy way he scoops them up and they swing, the way my son’s eyes close in satisfaction and my daughter’s little body folds against him, tight. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, when Daddy comes home.

In our house, all of this homecoming drama is compounded by Daddy’s travel. Our Daddy can be gone for a week or more each month, off to far away places with weird names, funny money, and strange foods. We get phone calls and emails and computer calls, but none of that can satisfy the true Daddy jones of his most adoring fans. Every morning and every night we have the same discussion: how many more weeks, days, hours, minutes?

So I can’t really begrudge our Daddy his moments of glory. I have to admit he earns them. Even if he earns them in exotic locales and pricey hotel rooms, he earns them alone. And that’s what I don’t have to be.

Sure, I’d like, every once in a while, to be the celebrated one. I’d love to have some jumping and spinning upon my arrival now and then. I could scoop them up, too, and I’m pretty cushy in a hug-probably softer than him by far. I go out now and then and do some cool stuff… well, okay, maybe I don’t do any cool stuff, but I go out. I mean, I’m actually gone sometimes, just like him. I deserve a little fanfare.

I deserve it, but don’t expect it. My kids take me for granted, just like the kids of every other mom. Dad is the different one, the one left out, the one alone. But moms and kids are so connected, they’re more like one entity; after all, they were one entity for a while. So in a way, celebrating mom is too much like patting themselves on the back-which, of course, we wouldn’t want them to do. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself the next time I hear, “Daddy’s home!” right after I hear, “Mom! What took you so long?”

Baby Traits

Remember Christmas when you were a kid? My mother puts the presents out about a month early so I would have to see the gifts everyday and wait in impatient anticipation for the day when I could find out what was inside. To me being pregnant is like having to see that packaged gift everyday for nine months and have to wait to see what was inside. As with the Christmas gifts the waiting made them that much more fun but still you want to know what your baby will look like. Will he have daddy’s curly black hair or mommy’s straight blonde hair? Will have aunt May’s musical talent or will she have Uncle Jon’s athletic abilities? It’s all in the genes. Here are a few ways that your genes effect what your gift will look and act like.
Baby Traits

Hair & Eye Color

Since lighter colored eyes like blue, green or gray are recessive genes your baby is more likely to have lighter eyes if both parents have light colored eyes. However it is possible for two brown eyed parents to have a child with blue eyes if at least two of the grandparents have blue eyes. Hair is similar, the lighter shades of hair are recessive genes so darker hair is dominant and if both parents have dark hair their baby will most likely have dark hair as well.

Height

Your child’s height is not only influenced by genes (about 70%) but also by health, nutrition and other outside factors.(about 30%). Also whether the child is male or female plays a part since boys usually grow taller than girls. A fun way to try and determine the height that your child will grow to be add the parents’ heights together, divide by two, then add three inches for a boy or subtract three inches for a girl. Keep in mind that even though this is a pretty effective way to estimate how tall your baby will be, the height of your child can be up to five inches above or below your calculations.

Personality and Talents

Scientists have not yet been able to prove that there are specific genes that determine whether your child will be musically inclined or a mathematical, however they agree that there is a link between these things and hereditary. In one study scientists found that a person with perfect musical pitch was four times more likely to report a family member with perfect pitch and many research studies have shown that the more closely related two people are the similar their IQ’s are. Scientists consider geniuses to have a rare combination of superior genes which may require little formal schooling, like Leonardo de Vinci and William Shakespeare.

Dominant Traits

Big eyes
Prominent noses
Dimples
Cleft chins
Thick lips
Long lashes
Curly hair is dominant over straight unless one of the parents is of Asian descent. (Asians have a unique straight hair gene that tends to dominate all the others.)
Even the most impatient mother knows that half the fun in raising children is the exciting twists and turns your child will make. Finding out at age 4 that your daughter has an amazing singing talent or blonde hair turning darker as your child ages are changes that make parenting a fun and unpredictable journey.