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The Story About the Baby, Volume 33.

Our baby daughter Cordelia has almost completed her eighth month of life. Her time is mostly spent muttering random syllables and trying to move straight forward. When she's on her stomach, she knows she wants to do this, but she has no idea how. She looks like she's trying to will herself forward with concentration alone. She tries to drag herself forward with her hands. She flops her legs. She gets incredibly pissed.

We've tried moving her into a crawling position and hoping she gets the hint, but she just flops over. It does absolutely no good, but hey. At least we're parenting.

"We Wuv Our Widdle Baby Scabby-Face"

While little Cordelia seems, in some ways, to be advanced and promising, in other ways she is showing herself to be a terrible underachiever. Teething, for example. She showed the clear signs of teething (excessive drooling, chapped face, chewing on everything, unbelievable bitchiness) months ago. But her teeth have remained cute little bumps, safely under her pink, moist gumskin.

This worries me greatly, because my wife's genetic line has a predisposition for ... how do I put this delicately? ... nightmare teeth. My wife entertained me on our first date by telling me her orthodontic history. Let's just say that her mouth was to healthy dental formation what Afghanistan is to responsible government. And Mariann is only one example in her family.

So any sign of tooth trouble in our baby makes me worry.

But lately, Cordelia has shown signs of new, intense teething symptoms. In particular, she is exceeding at drool formation, and the constant moisture gas left her face chapped. Insanely chapped. I would go so far as to say "Scabby". No matter how dry we try to keep Cordelia's face and how carefully my wife applies soothing chin salves, our adorable baby's face grows ickier and sorer and crustier with every passing day.

My wife and I have come to rely on the adoration strangers direct towards our offspring to keep our sanity afloat. I shudder to think of how we will cope if people stop saying "Oh, how cute!" and start saying "Oh, dear God! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"

And yet, if I try to encourage the teeth to come out faster, say with a pair of needlenose pliers, I'm the jerk!

Let's Be Optimistic and Hope It's a Boy

Strangers who coo over our little one almost always assume that she is a boy. We don't put her in little frilly lace dresses or tether a Barbie to her, so she looks androgynous as, well, any other baby.

I don't bother to correct them. Why, I figure, should I make them feel bad? Though, and I admit this is cynical of me, I suspect they're calling her a boy because they think, deep down, that if you call a girl a boy, it's a compliment, but calling a boy a girl is an insult.

Still, having a girl is a great deal. Statistics indicate that you only have to pay a girl baby 70% much as a boy baby for doing the same jobs.

There Is No Limit To the Ways We Sell Out

When we started out, we used cloth diapers. It seemed like the right thing to do. Now we have switched entirely to disposables, because they make the baby whine less.

I'm not sure whether this means we're destroying the Earth or not. Since no Ecowarriors from the future have traveled back in time from a ravaged planet to kick my ass, I think we're OK so far. Of course, that may just mean they haven't invented time travel in the future yet. What a bunch of losers.

Actually, that's a good point. Right now, I am pretty much safe from the retaliatory actions of the people in the future, so I can do what I want to them. Ha! They can kiss my ass!

So disposables are OK.

Also, Cordelia shall never again have access to sweet, sweet mother's milk. Mariann (the wife) wanted to breast feed for at least six months. She lasted seven. Now Cordelia is on her own. She will no longer be able to eat "the perfect food for babies." Now she has to eat the perfect food for humans: food.

The process of stopping breast-feeding is a terrifying one. Backed up milk make the breasts really huge, really hard, and really uncomfortable. For a few weeks, it was like being married to someone who had just gotten breast implants.

But now they're back to normal. Soft, and daddy-friendly. Now I have to provide foreplay again.

Alleged Good Reasons To Have a Baby

I still occasionally hear people talk about having babies for the "right" reasons. I still maintain, however, that There Are No Bad Reasons To Have A Baby.

OK. I have to take that back, a little. There are exactly three bad reasons to have a baby:

i. To render it down to create a new, exciting alternative fuel source.
ii. To wrap it as duct tape and use it as a doorstop.
iii. Ballast.

As long as you aren't doing one of these things, though, there are no bad reasons to have a baby.

Wait, how can this be? Does this make sense? Sure. You see, for there to be "Bad" reasons to have a baby, that implies that there are "Good" reasons to have a baby. Bad is a relative term, after all. For something to be bad means there must be something better.

So, an exercise. Think, in your head, of a "Good" reason to have a baby. Something someone could say without fear of disapproval or, in rare cases, a Geneva Convention violation.

Got a reason? Good. I can pretty much guarantee that your "Good" reason falls into at least one of two categories: Selfish, or Delusional. For example,

Selfish
i. I wanted someone to love.
ii. My life was too boring, and I needed something to take up time.
iii. I didn't want to be alone when I was old.
iv. I wanted a source of organs for emergency transplant.

These are all perfectly reasonable, understandable reasons to have a baby. But they're all pretty darn self-involved, and therefore not good. On the other hand, there are reasons that are...

Delusional
i. I love kids, and I love babies.
ii. I wanted to create someone who could feel a lifetime of happiness and joy.
iii. I wanted to make the world a better place by adding another human to suck its resources. My child would make the world better since it will be imprinted with my incredibly sensitive and valuable moral system.

These are all worthwhile sentiments, all lovely and nebulous, and all will evaporate into the wind the first time the kid is screaming at three in the morning and you want to hit it with a rock. But it could be worse. At least these reasons aren't both...

Selfish and Delusional
i. Having a child will strengthen our marriage.
ii. Having a child will keep him/her from leaving me.
iii. Having a child will make me happier.

Nothing makes wanting to hit your kid with a rock a bittersweet experience like having the kid because you thought it would make things better.

"So what you're saying is nobody should ever have kids? Nice try, Extinction Boy."

Do not misunderstand. I believe that kids can add fulfillment and richness in one's life, somewhere in my weird, distant, science-fiction future. But that eventual long-term gain has nothing to do with the reasons why we have them in the first place. It's like if I throw a rock to try to kill some hippie, and I miss and kill Hitler instead. Good result, having nothing to do with my original intentions.

I'm sure, in the long run, it's worth it. But when you're deciding to have one, that's pretty nebulous. As I am fond of saying, I have no real idea what a lifetime of knowing and loving one's child is like. But I have a really fucking good idea of what it's like to go a night without sleep.


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