Friday, March 07, 2014

Lil' Data

This is a different kind of post about Casper’s first three months. Less lovey-dovey. More facts and figures. Less cuddly, but easier to hold.

Since shortly after his birth I’ve been tracking Casper’s eating and excreting via the Baby Connect App for iOS. In the hospital we were asked to record this information on a piece of paper (like cavemen!) which the nurses would check periodically. We could not abide such prosaic data collection. Luckily I had researched baby tracking apps before my water broke (‘natch). When we were discharged we were asked to continue to record this information for a week primarily because Casper had lost almost 10% of his body weight since birth. And then… I kept tracking him. I have a hard time stopping data collection once it has begun. 

Data is often useful and fun!  (Yes, I said, "fun." #coolkid). I use Casper's data to gauge things like which boob he ate from last, just how bad the coming poop is likely to be and to extrapolate how much sleep I might get tonight. I've managed to extract a few fun facts that are great for shock value over brunch and which will most certainly be hurled at 13 year old Casper during one of our coming parent/son battles. Watch this space.

So.... On to the data! 

But first! Data caveats: I stopped my excel import on Feb 17 since I had to cut off at some point or keep reimporting forever -- this gave me exactly 3 months of data. I have not, however, stopped using the app (who could stop?) so the graphs from the app itself represent more data (most pictures were taken on the morning of Feb 24 when Casper was 14 weeks and 2 days old). I’ve also used the app data for some figures when adding up the numbers in the app proved easier than parsing the csv export.

So yes, data is fun. And I find all that follows to be fun but... data is also scary, especially in aggregate.

New parents, avert your eyes! I’m about to reveal the total number of diapers changed in just over 14 weeks of Casper’s life.

Total Diapers Changed: 785. (roughly 8 per day).
The fact that I see this number and think “huh, not too bad.” is evidence of the kind of crazy thinking inspired by postpartum hormones.

As you can see Casper has recently decided that pooping is super uncool. Sadly, every few days he's forced to debase himself (and the entire family) with a huge poo. This leads to much groaning by mom and dad. For each diaper Baby Connect gives you the option of recording quantity, color, "open air accident" and diaper leakage. We rarely used these features until February when we needed them for passive aggressive data collection purposes. ("Young man, this disgusting mess is going on your permanent record!").
Total poopy diapers awful enough for mom or dad to manually apply a “large” label: 22 (18 of which resulted in diaper leaks.)
I would have very much liked to include a mommy/daddy diaper off here but sadly my husband is much less of a data nerd than I. When he changes diapers (which he does a lot of including all of the 5am diaper changes) I’m left to do most of the recording on my own. Thus the “caretaker” log is riddled with data errors. Alas. Perhaps this is for the best lest we start comparing our diapering score and end up divorced. For what it’s worth all of the nursing has been done by me.

(click through for full size image)

Total time nursing: 224 hours 45min otherwise known as 9.36 DAYS of my life!

This stat shocked me much more than the diapers. To think that I have sat on the couch or the bed, boob in baby’s maw for almost a week and a half is amazing. Thank god for my iPhone. I have no idea what moms did while nursing before the invention of the smart phone. I know that the “right” answer here is “just gazed lovingly down at their baby.” But I suspect the REAL answer is “watched TV and tried not to die of boredom."

The app also makes it easy to remember which boob was offered to baby last so we consistently alternate to try for evenness, the baby could still show a preference for one boob over the other by eating longer on the favorite boob. Casper, however, shows no favorite loving both righty and lefty equally.

Longest amount of nursing in one day: 11/18 -- 338min (5 hours 38 mins).

I’m tempted to call this log user error -- certainly Casper could not have nursed as frequently as recorded here, especially since the data shows that he basically nursed from 8am until 6 pm with almost no pauses. And yet.... the more I stare at the excel the more I'm convinced that there is no error and my baby was just super into eating. For all his effort he likely didn't get much reward. My milk almost for sure had not come in yet so much of this was just time Casper was spending telling my body to hurry up and FEED ME!!!!!. A more average day in the first few weeks of Casper’s life involved 3 hours on the boob.
We never bothered to record Casper’s sleep. Considering how worried I was before he was born about never sleeping again this is, in retrospect, a bit strange. Perhaps I was too afraid to stare this data in the face. You can, however, use the data I have to extrapolate night time sleep blocks since upon waking Casper is always immediately changed then fed and (thank you to the baby gods) goes right back to sleep. This is how I know that we are regularly getting 7 hours sleep stretches in the past few weeks. This is also reflected in our eating intervals which show consistent growth over time. This data is especially encouraging when you consider that during the day Casper still eats every 90-120 minutes so almost all of the interval growth is due to extended nighttime sleeping.
One wonders what might influence the up and down nature of a baby's eating. Sure, doctors claim this is mostly due to "growth spurts" but shouldn't other possibilities be considered? Like, for example, is Casper influenced but the full moon (is he, in fact, a werewolf?!?!?) ?
Guess not.

After this exercise in data analysis I'm sure all readers are wondering exactly what the point of all this is. I’ll admit to a slight case of paranoia that someone might challenge me on my parenting skills and I’ll respond with data to back up the case. Look! I am, in fact, a good mom who totally feeds her child (this is never going to happen, and if it did a punch in the face would be a more valid response than, “But look at this excel graph I have!”). Mostly my data obsession is nonsensical. 
When my brother laughed out loud as I recorded information on my son's poops I could offer no clear reason to explain exactly why I am doing this (blog fodder?). Data collection has become religious. Data is comforting. It makes tangible what might otherwise be amorphous. The recording of facts its own sacrament. Like church, data offers comfort, direction, sometimes misdirection and often, indifference. Despite how important collecting data on Casper has felt I know that so much of what I have gathered here does not matter. And yet, I can't stop. The weight of existing data that isn’t being recorded often feels needlessly heavy. It implies importance for things that might actually be inconsequential.

Of course, nothing feels inconsequential when you have a baby. I know that Casper's every new discovery has already been discovered by every human baby to proceed him and yet a celebration still seems in order. This data shows what it's like to have a newborn. He poops. He eats. He pees. He sleeps. Nothing new. And yet his mom is mesmerized

1 comment:

amy said...

Seeing how now that I don't record diapers any longer, I sometimes have a panic of "but when did he poop? Days? Weeks?" because I'm no longer the primary diaper changer. So I think the data is reasonable. And I liked the sleep app stuff for daytime sleep more than nighttime sleep, just to see if he had a nap pattern, because I was really bad at remembering stuff like that .