Ep. 79: Is Your Baby More Likely to Be a Boy or Girl?

January 6, 2020

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Laura reveals a recent revelation that just may change her life, and Shanna reports on her 11-month-old baby’s walking skills. Also, in the segment “Today I Learned,” Shanna talks about some old-timey parenting advice that is just bananas, and Laura shares some surprising statistics about the likelihood of having a boy or a girl. Finally, they reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s baby is 11 months and four weeks old, and Laura’s baby is 11 months old.


Show Notes:

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Episode Transcript


Laura Birek: Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. This week we have our weekly check-ins. We have our special segment, Today I Learned, where we get some really questionable parenting advice from the past and we close the show with our BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.


Laura Birek: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the show. This is episode 79. Hello, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Hi.

Laura Birek: Hi. So do you want to just jump right in? Tell me how old your baby is and what you guys have been up to this week?

Shanna Micko: Yes, she is 11 months and four weeks.

Laura Birek: It’s one of those weird weeks: the little bonus weeks.

Shanna Micko: Yes, which means her first birthday is just around the corner, but I can’t report on that quite yet.

Laura Birek: So close.

Shanna Micko: What she’s been up to this week is walking like crazy. It has just taken off.

Laura Birek: Really?

Shanna Micko: She’s really interested in walking and working on her balance. Preferring walking over crawling now and I think it’s because she’s gotten really good at standing up from the floor just from nothing. She doesn’t have to pull up on anything anymore. She just kind of puts her butt up in the air and then lifts her upper body up and suddenly she’s in a standing position and then she can toddle around.

Laura Birek: Yeah, she doesn’t have to use some other surface to get up in the standing position.

Shanna Micko: She just loves that. She’s practicing that like crazy and so I’m trying to baby proof a little bit more. I got some clear corner covers for a bunch of the corners in my living room, which I love. They would be a BFP, but I’m mentioning them now and I can link them in the show notes. They’re really great. So I’ve done that because as I mentioned before, our yes space is just kind of the whole living room now. So she gets free reign of that while I’m working. So lots of exposed corners that I needed to cover because…

Laura Birek: How many come in a pack? Is it like you get a good number for a lot of the corners?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, I think you get like 20 or something like that.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: I covered a lot of corners, because she’s not a great at it yet. She can take a lot of steps, but she still loses her balance and tips over a lot and stuff.

Laura Birek: That seems like a danger zone right when they’re figuring it out.

Shanna Micko: Let’s see what else. Well, her first birthday party is coming up and as I mentioned, I have endeavored to make her a cake from scratch.

Laura Birek: That’s right. The rainbow cake.

Shanna Micko: That’s the idea: rainbow cake. I have been working with Elle to make a practice cake. Elle is interested in baking I think mostly, because she absolutely loves sugar and just wants to eat everything every step of the way. But I’m just like, that’s okay. Give me that mama daughter time. So I practiced making the cake and it turned out okay. I learned some things and I will be making it again for her first birthday party and hopefully it turns out okay and I can share pictures.

Laura Birek: That’s okay. So I need a few details. You are doing the thing where you make like a little sheet cake, but in all the different colors. Is that how it works?

Shanna Micko: That’s the idea and it’s not a sheet cake. It’s eight inch round, and you dye a certain amount of batter in every color of the rainbow. Instead of red I use pink and instead of green I use teal, because I like more of the jewel tones as opposed to primary colors. So there’s six layers. One for every color: pink, orange, yellow, teal, blue and purple. Hopefully, when you cut into it you’ll see a little rainbow cake inside.

Laura Birek: That’s so awesome.

Shanna Micko: I’m so excited about this. I cannot tell you how thrilled colorful shit makes me. It’s just bananas. Just the thought of how colorful this vision of mine is, I’m almost like buzzing on the edge of my seat. I’m so excited. I’m such a nerd.

Laura Birek: Give me those rainbows.

Shanna Micko: Yes, as we talked about before, like Lisa Frank, bright colors. I love that shit. Anyway, so that’s going well and then the last little thing is so cute. She’s old enough now that we can do sister bubble bath, put the two girls in one bathtub with tons of bubbles and it’s just so fun and so cute. I just love it. Have a sibling just so you can have sibling bubble baths.

Laura Birek: Does it mean the main reason to have another kid?

Shanna Micko: Yes, that’s it.

Laura Birek: Does Elle scoop the bubbles up and put them on CeCe’s head?

Shanna Micko: Yes, she puts them all over her face and makes a big, big beard and CeCe cracks up laughing. She thinks it’s so hilarious and just a lot of shenanigans like for sure.

Laura Birek: It’s so sweet.

Shanna Micko: So sweet. But yeah, this is my last few days with my baby before she’s officially one year old and it’s a weird feeling moving out of this first year of her life is like, whoa.

Laura Birek: Are they officially toddlers? I know they’re no longer infants, but I guess baby isn’t really a technical term.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, she still feels like a baby for sure. I think they technically become toddlers when they start walking.

Laura Birek: That makes sense.

Shanna Micko: So I officially have a toddler now.

Laura Birek: You do. Oh my gosh, my guy’s still a little ways away from that.

Shanna Micko: Okay. So that’s us. What about you guys? How old is your baby? What’s going on?

Laura Birek: He’s 11 months, so I got to take my little 11 month photo with him, which was very cute. The fun thing is that now I have 12 photos, because I have the one week and then the 11 months. So it can make like a nice grid. I put them all together and it’s like, whoa. I’ve been doing pretty good about putting him on the same quilt. There was that quilt I made out of the craft we did at my baby shower where everyone decorated a little quilt square and I put them together and so you can really see him getting bigger. I’ll post that to Instagram, because it’s super interesting to look at just scanning across and seeing the rapid growth of a baby and he’s seeming like such a big boy. It’s funny talking about walking, because I was convinced he was going to be an early walker based on all of his other motor skilled development. He was an early sitter. He had crazy head control basically when he was a newborn. I have a picture of him like three days old holding his head up.

Shanna Micko: What?

Laura Birek: Yeah, I do. He’s on I think my mom’s chest and he has his head like all the way up. It’s crazy.

Shanna Micko: Wow.

Laura Birek: So all those things, I was like, oh man, he’s going to be one of those early walkers. But it hasn’t really panned out that way and I’m okay with it. Honestly, the more I think about it, I’m like, why do I want an early walker? It’s just going to wreak havoc on my life. But also I think, because he’s become so good at crawling, he can crawl so fast. He has no incentive to walk. I see him every once in a while let go and try to balance standing and then he’s like, what am I doing? I can get all the way over there in three seconds flat. Why am I doing this? So that’s where we’re sort of at with the motor development, but I’m totally fine with it. It’s not like he’s not ever going to walk. It’s just going to make my life harder when he does. He can stay a little baby a little longer as far as I’m concerned. But yeah, it’s just pretty smooth sailing over here as far as the baby front goes. But I had a revelation this week, a personal insight that I wanted to share.

Shanna Micko: What’s that?

Laura Birek: I’ve started having a babysitter come like once a week, occasionally twice a week. I need to set up a more regular schedule, but I’m waiting for my garage conversion to be done. It’s getting converted into an office. It’s really close to being done and once that’s done, I could actually set up a regular schedule and have office time. But until that’s done, what I’ve been doing basically I think he was probably three or four months old, I started accepting just a little tiny bits of gigs here and there and I’ve talked about this on the podcast how crazy it is to have to work when he’s napping or after his bedtime. It’s exhausting. He doesn’t let me get any work done when he’s awake. None whatsoever. I can’t even answer an email on my computer. 

I can’t sit at my computer when he’s awake. He’s just like, mommy, mommy, mommy. So I have to do it when he’s asleep or someone else is taking care of him and the problem is I don’t have my own office space. So even with the babysitter, I have to hide in the bedroom, because if I even just like go out to get a glass of water and he sees me, he goes from being totally fine with the babysitter who he likes a lot to crying and reaching for me.

Shanna Micko: Oh, no.

Laura Birek: So that’s the background. I was hiding from my baby in my bedroom trying to work with my laptop on my lap and I was feeling super, super stressed, because I had agreed to do this site bill. It was like not a full site bill, but I agreed to do some work on a website and had a tight deadline and I had other people emailing, asking when I was going to be available to do more work and we had the podcast to edit and the podcast to record and I was just getting so anxious and like, how can I get all this done? Not to mention the massive to-do list I have of housework: the folding laundry, doing dishes, sweeping the damn floor, because the baby’s crawling all over it. All that stuff. I was just really ramping myself up with my sort of anxiety and I’m a person who I hate missing deadlines for people. I’m an obliger. If someone else is giving me a deadline, I feel horrible if I have to miss it. So that was adding to it. Here’s the revelation I finally had as I was hiding in the bedroom. All this time I’ve been thinking of myself as a stay at home mom and I haven’t been able to figure out why it’s been so stressful for me and I suddenly realize I’m not a stay at home mom. I’m a work at home mom and there’s a big difference. I realize that I’ve been completely diminishing the work I’ve been doing, because it’s not full-time and it’s sporadic. 

Also, I think because it’s the podcast and the podcast is a lot of work. We put it out every week, we edit it every week. We have sponsors now that we have to interface with and do all this stuff. Honestly, if I could just work on the podcast full-time, that’s what I would love.

Shanna Micko: Wouldn’t that be amazing? Oh my gosh.

Laura Birek: So listeners, tell all your friends about it so we can do that, but unfortunately I can’t. I was thinking like, oh, the podcast is just this little side project of ours, even though it’s a really big deal and we’re doing really well with it and it really should be a main focus of ours. Then it’s like, well, that special part-time gig I picked up, it’s three week deadline. So it’s not really a real job and I’ve been completely not giving myself credit for the work I’ve been doing at all. No wonder I’m in a constant state of anxiety, because I’m expecting myself to behave like a stay at home mom, which is also incredibly hard work. But on top of it, in all my free time, I’m working for other people or working for the podcast and it’s like, of course, I’m losing my mind. Honestly just reframing it, giving myself the permission to say like, no, my work is important and that’s why the dishes get piled up and that’s why the floor doesn’t get swept, because it’s not just some like little side projects I’m doing. It’s a real thing. I’m really working. It’s not just for fun or whatever.

Shanna Micko: So the revelation is giving you some leeway to be kinder with yourself for letting household things go or how is it affecting your mental state?

Laura Birek: Yeah, I think it’s such a minor shift in the reframing. 

But knowing that instead of just staying at home with the baby, which a lot of people are asking, “Are you home with the baby?” I’m like, “Yeah, but I’m also doing this and this and this.” I’m in a weird place where there’s not a lot of definition for it. So for me, defining it in my mind as I’m a work at home mom means that it’s giving me permission to understand why other things are sliding and also asking for more help. I was feeling bad trying to get this babysitter to come regularly. I was like, it’s expensive and I don’t know what I thought I was going to do. It’s so funny because Corey was like, “You should go get a massage while the babysitter’s there,” and I’m like, “Are you fucking crazy?” I have every minute of that babysitter’s time scheduled out in a massive to-do list. I haven’t been to Pilates in months and I’d like to. He’s like, “You should go to the Pilates while the babysitters there.” It’s like, “No, that is a waste.” It’s not a waste of time, but I don’t have time for that.

Shanna Micko: Right.

Laura Birek: If I was a stay at home mom, I would have time for that I guess or I could do the other stuff like go grocery shopping. That’s also on my list. Anyway, I’m trying to give myself more permission to ask for help, to respect what I’m doing, to respect that the work I’m doing is real work and just try to get on track a little bit more with not feeling overwhelmed by everything, like recognizing I can’t behave like a stay at home mom when I’m a work at home mom. Not that stay at home mom isn’t work, but you know what I mean. I’m doing both. I can’t be both right now. You are, so you know what I’m talking about.

Shanna Micko: It’s my life. 

It was my life for a long time with Elle too and I remember in the beginning when I first started taking work, it was part-time and I did kind of just think I can take care of a baby and work part-time and then it started getting hard and I also was like, maybe I need a babysitter, but I don’t want to spend money on a babysitter, because I’m making money working. I was going crazy. I went to a co-working place with childcare and all those little things started helping, but it was hard to justify, especially because I wasn’t working full-time and I didn’t have that steady income. I think it’s a lot harder to accept when you are working part-time, but you’re still doing it, you’re still working, you’re still at home with the baby. That’s what you are. So I understand why you’ve had a hard time coming around to that, but I’m glad you did and that you’re giving yourself some permission to ask for help and being easier on yourself. Now that’s awesome.

Laura Birek: Thanks, Shanna. I think also this was a problem before I had a baby. No one understood what the hell I did. When you’re a freelancer, trying to explain what you do is hard. People are like, well, “You work for yourself? You sleep in and take off in the middle of the day?” It’s like, “Well, sometimes yeah.” But before I had the baby, I was working pretty much the same hours as you work in when you go to an office and sometimes more and you have clients that if you don’t answer their emails in the morning, they’re not going to be okay with being like, I slept until noon. It’s a real job. Then adding on I’m home with the baby and trying to explain my weird cobbled together work, it’s hard to explain to people. So I think I’ve definitely gotten that outside message from people being like, “Well, you’re home with the baby,” and it’s just too hard to explain. I remember trying to explain to my step-dad the podcast and he was like, “How long do you spend on the podcast a week?” I’m like, “We record every week. I edit every week. Shanna writes the copy. It’s not a small thing.” It’s hard for people to understand. 

They’re starting to understand now that we’re getting listener numbers that we can announce on Facebook and stuff and they’re like, “Oh, okay. You have actual listeners.” So thank you listeners for validating us.

Shanna Micko: Thank you.

Laura Birek: Oh my goodness. Anyway, so the point is, whew, I am trying to reset.

Shanna Micko: The point is, you’re busy as shit lady.

Laura Birek: I’m busy as shit, man.

Shanna Micko: How come in our last week’s episode neither of us characterized 2019 as busy? That really should have been my number one thing. I am just busy, busy, busy.

Laura Birek: I just feel like there’s this cult of busy in the US, so I try not to overemphasize how busy I am because it’s almost a point of pride sometimes to be like, I’m so busy. I’m so busy. I don’t aim to be busy. I don’t want to be busy. I want to be centered and organized. Busy to me means you have a million balls in the air you’re juggling and you can’t quite keep up with everything.

Shanna Micko: Sounds like my life.

Laura Birek: So I aim to not be busy. I aim to be productive.

Shanna Micko: There you go. That’s a good reframing.

Laura Birek: But I am fucking busy. Anyway, shall we take some cleansing, deep breaths and move on to our special segment?

Shanna Micko: I think so.

Laura Birek: Okay.


Shanna Micko: We are back and this week we have our special segment, Today I Learned, where we share things that we have recently learned about parenting, motherhood, babies, pregnancy, et cetera. Laura, what do you got for us?

Laura Birek: I have an article from Scientific American. It’s actually from November, 2004, but it still holds up I believe. I don’t think the sciences changed on this and the title of it is, is a Pregnant Woman’s Chance of Giving Birth to a Boy 50%? So I was thinking about this because when I started Mommy & Me when my baby was like three months old, there was a group of, I want to say 13 or 14 of us and there were two girls in the entire group. I don’t remember the total number, but I remember there were two girls and we were all like, “What? This is weird. 

Why are there so many boys?”

Shanna Micko: Yeah, right.

Laura Birek: So I started looking it up and it turns out, is a pregnant woman’s chance of giving birth to a boy 50%? The answer is nope.

Shanna Micko: What?

Laura Birek: That for every a hundred girls born in most industrialized countries, there are 105 boys.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: So this is known as the secondary sex ratio. There’s the primary sex ratio and the secondary sex ratio. The primary ratio is the number of boys compared to girls at conception and then the secondary sex ratio or how many are actually born and I guess boy fetuses are more susceptible to problems. We all know girls are stronger than boys, right? This is as a boy mama. But come on, girl power. But it’s apparently true that I guess the male fetus is more susceptible to problems in the wombs. So more boys are conceived and then because prenatal care has gotten better, there’s more boys being born now because it used to be like there would be losses, because the boys were weaker, basically more susceptible to illness and whatnot. But now, there’s prenatal care that’s better. That’s what they’re guessing at least.

Shanna Micko: You’re saying the ratio is different a long time ago before prenatal care and stuff.

Laura Birek: The goal of evolution is 50/50 probably or maybe a little more boys than girls. But because we’re getting better prenatal care, it’s getting skewed because the boys who might not have been strong enough to make it without good prenatal care make it now. So there’s so many more boys and so what’s also interesting is that there’s like environmental factors that can also affect it. They’re still trying to figure out exactly why more boys are being born than girls. But here’s something that might interest you, “Hopeful mothers taking Clomid for infertility, bore babies with a SSR of only 48.5%.” So that means that there’re more girls born to Clomid moms.

Shanna Micko: Interesting.

Laura Birek: Which is much different than the 50.1%. So like it’s a pretty big skew.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, because my Clomid baby was a girl.

Laura Birek: It was.

Shanna Micko: This does raise my question. When I went through IVF, I actually was lucky enough to produce a lot of eggs and have a lot of embryos created and I sent them off for genetic testing and I got the list back. 

Maybe I’ve talked about this before, but 80% of those embryos were male. Only 20% were female.

Laura Birek: I find that fascinating.

Shanna Micko: It just so happened that I ended up getting a female one transferred and had the girl. But yeah, I was always just like, what is that? So I wonder if there is also any stats on fertility drugs or if that has anything to do with maybe creating boys.

Laura Birek: There’s also something that happens I guess as you get older, you’re more likely to have girls, which is interesting. Again, hold it up. Should I do a quick Googling to see if there’s an IVF and sex correlation?

Shanna Micko: Well, yeah.

Laura Birek: Oh, here you go. Okay. This is from 2010 on BBC, “IVF increases the chance of having a boy. Women using IVF to get pregnant should be aware that they will be more likely to have a boy than a girl says experts.” Let’s see, “Australian researchers found the odds of a boy went up from 51 in a hundred when conceived naturally, which is what we’re talking about to 56 in a hundred.”

Shanna Micko: Wow. That’s big.

Laura Birek: That’s a big difference. Although yours is like way skewed.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: But yeah, I don’t know. I feel like I’ve just seen so many more boys and I have no idea why. Although I feel like if the chances of you having a girl go up as you get older in LA so many people are geriatric pregnancies. It should be the opposite.

Shanna Micko: Oh, God. I just love that term

Laura Birek: I know. I say it because it’s funny, but anyway, so the fact that I had a boy was statistically probable, I guess on average.

Shanna Micko: Very.

Laura Birek: I think it’s interesting.

Shanna Micko: I do too.

Laura Birek: I actually have just one more real quick to attack onto this since we’re talking about boys versus girls, or I should say XX versus XY generally, because we don’t really know their genders till they’re older. But I found the study that I found kind of interesting and surprising, which was studying the gender differences in emotional expressivity and self-regulation during early infancy. Basically, they took 81 6 month olds and their moms and videotaped them in their face to face interactions and to see if there were any differences between the genders in infant and maternal emotional expressivity and regulation. It’s an actual scientific paper. We’ll post it on our website so maybe people who have more science background can read into it better.

Shanna Micko: So it’s researching whether boys or girls are more expressive as babies?

Laura Birek: Yeah, whether they have more expression in their face with their mothers. They found that mother son dyads had higher synchrony scores than mother daughter dyads. It’s kind of interesting that the mother, son face expressions I guess were more in sync is from what I can tell.

Shanna Micko: To me that sounds like maybe the baby boys are mimicking the mother’s expressions more.

Laura Birek: That’s what it sounds like to me too, but I think that’s interesting and then also though they said, “However, it took baby boys longer in repairing interactive errors,” which I don’t know exactly what that means. So they’re more expressive, but have a harder time fixing any problems. I don’t know what kind of problems you would have.

Shanna Micko: I have no idea.

Laura Birek: It’s kind of fascinating though. I love this idea. I just think it’s so cute to think of a study. I want to watch the videos of the moms and the babies making faces at each other basically.

Shanna Micko: What does that entail? Oh my gosh.

Laura Birek: But they say they did something with a still face and then reunion play, which I love. I’m guessing reunion play is when the mom leaves the room and then comes back, which is one of my favorite things to see on my baby’s face is when I come into the room first thing in the morning. It’s so sweet. I can say my baby’s very expressive.

Shanna Micko: He really is.

Laura Birek: He’s also a ham. He looks in the mirror and just starts like mugging making funny faces and it’s so funny.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, that’s so cute.

Laura Birek: You’re more likely to have a boy I guess and they’ll be super expressive I guess.

Shanna Micko: There’s all you need to know about the genders.

Laura Birek: All you need to know. Anyway, so Shanna, what did you learn recently?

Shanna Micko: I recently came across an article. It’s on goodhousekeeping.com about the weirdest parenting advice that parents have received in the past 100 years. I have learned some interesting things that parents did or were told to do throughout the decades. So I thought maybe I’d share a few of them with you.

Laura Birek: Yes.

Shanna Micko: In the 1910s, moms were told not to breastfeed babies when the moms were in a bad mood because it would cause a colicky baby. So don’t breastfeed when you’re angry or upset, which I’m like, whoops.

Laura Birek: When would you breastfeed then?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, exactly.

Laura Birek: Especially in those first few months, oh my God.

Shanna Micko: Right? When you’re doing it around the clock in the middle of the night, I just feel like every baby would be colicky. So that’s so wacko. Okay. Here’s another one. This I’ve kind of heard before. In the 1910s, left-handed babies were discouraged and right-handed babies were encouraged and to the point where they would use devices on the left hand to keep them from using it so that the right hand would be more dominant and that’s just so sad.

Laura Birek: Poor babies. That is so sad. You know the word sinister means left.

Shanna Micko: What?

Laura Birek: Like the Latin base. Yeah, the word sinister is either giving the impression that something harmful or evil is happening or will happen, or of on or toward the left hand side.

Shanna Micko: Poor lefties. I’m not a leftie. I’m a rightie.

Laura Birek: I’m a rightie too. I’ve always been jealous of lefties. It always seems so cool and artsy to be left-handed.

Shanna Micko: Oh, totally. I worked hard as a kid to at least be ambidextrous. I really wanted to write with my left hand.

Laura Birek: Here’s an interesting thing too that apparently sinister is the opposite of dexter. So everything is like swayed towards right handedness because if you have dexterity, that’s really saying that you’re on the right side of things. I’m over this left-handed bias. That’s sad.

Shanna Micko: Is your baby showing any preference yet? I know they say it doesn’t really click until like two years old or something, but have you noticed?

Laura Birek: That’s what they say. When he was like six months old, I was like, he’s going to be a left. He’s always picking up his spoon with his left hand and now he almost exclusively uses his right hand. So I think he’s going to be a rightie, but who knows? We’ll see.

Shanna Micko: Same with my three-year-old.

Laura Birek: What about you? He just always reaches with his right hand for toys or the food. We are on finger foods, so he’s always grabbing palms full of food and shoving them in his mouth with his right hand. So yeah, I guess he’s dexterous.

Shanna Micko: Yes, he’s dexterous. Here’s another fun one from the 1910s. The baby’s very first bath should be with some kind of fatty thing, like lard or oil instead of water.

Laura Birek: That’s not so crazy actually now that I think about it, because you probably have all that… What was it called? Not vernix. Vernix was the hair, right?

Shanna Micko: No, vernix was the…

Laura Birek: The cheesy substance. So it is vernix.

Shanna Micko: The white stuff.

Laura Birek: They didn’t have water wipes available at the time. 

They had cloths and water, but I bet an oil would probably get that grease off better.

Shanna Micko: That’s true.

Laura Birek: I think they might be on to something there. You know what? I bet if they used like lard or oil or something, it’s essentially like putting Vaseline on a baby.

Shanna Micko: They also mentioned Vaseline would be a good thing to bathe your baby in.

Laura Birek: Can you imagine a tub full of Vaseline?

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, I feel like my baby would love that. She’s always trying to go for the tub of olive oil and dip her hand right in there if I get one.

Laura Birek: They get it on everything. I have modal shirts or rayon or something, those drapey nice shirts. Well, we were using Vaseline for a while on my baby’s face, because it was getting a little chapped and so then he would face plant on my boobs and all my shirts had these Vaseline stains. I discovered that just by super pretreating it with some liquid laundry detergent and then washing it on a pretty warm or hot cycle, actually gets it out, which hot tip for you.

Shanna Micko: That’s a good tip.

Laura Birek: I thought I was going to have to throw out a bunch of my shirts, so, yay.

Shanna Micko: That’s good to know.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: Moving on. I’m not reading every single one of these, by the way. Picking and choosing. But the 1910s were wild. So there’s quite a few attempts. I’m going to just read this little quote here. First of all, there’s an image of a small baby inside of a large man’s shoe just sitting up looking around. It says, “If you lived in this era, experts would probably encourage you to put a baby in an oversized shoe before they would allow you to cuddle your little one. That’s because they believed handling your baby as little as possible was a good thing.” So snuggling, cuddling, all that stuff, I think was supposed to spoil your baby. So it’s just like, go sit them up in a shoe or whatever is available.

Laura Birek: It’s a shoe.

Shanna Micko: I guess they didn’t have MamaRoos back then, so they’re like, daddy shoe was big enough.

Laura Birek: They didn’t have snoos. Poor babies.

Shanna Micko: I know. So sad.

Laura Birek: Oh, no.

Shanna Micko: In the 1920s, an expert warned parents about giving their babies names that were too soft. So you couldn’t give your baby a soft name.

Laura Birek: What is an example of a soft name? Do you know?

Shanna Micko: Okay. Here’s a quote from the expert himself George R. Stewart Jr. with the University of California. He says, “Do not try for too much softness. Names like Lenola, Molly simply lack back bone.” I kind of feel like Laura might lack backbone.

Laura Birek: Do I lack backbone? Oh my God. Well, what about the Unsinkable Molly Brown? She was unsinkable.

Shanna Micko: That’s right. This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Laura Birek: This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. This is sort of like numerology too. It creates some sort of path for your baby if you name your baby… I don’t even want to name soft names. What’s wrong with this? I don’t like this person. Let’s move on.

Shanna Micko: I don’t like this person either. In the 1930s, a government issued a pamphlet encouraged parents to start potty training their children the moment they’re born.

Laura Birek: Okay. Did it work?

Shanna Micko: Well, do we still do that?

Laura Birek: We don’t. Actually, that’s not true. There are people who do that elimination communication.

Shanna Micko: True.

Laura Birek: So maybe they’re onto something we’re not. I know that diapers are so wasteful and I can see the benefit of not having to use them as long, but they are also pretty convenient in a way.

Shanna Micko: They are. They’re so convenient. I do feel like an asshole for using so many diapers.

Laura Birek: Yeah, I know. Me too.

Shanna Micko: Get on that elimination communication. Just wedge that into our busy schedule. Let’s see. Okay, here we go. In the 1940s, thumb sucking was obviously very frowned upon and so they came out with a product to dissuade babies from sucking their thumb and the brush on nail treatment contained acetone, nail polish and capsicum.

Laura Birek: Capsicum is a spice, right?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, that hot pepper spice.

Laura Birek: Oh, poor babies. I’m a terrible nail biter. I’ve always bitten my nails. I’m now sort of at peace with the fact that I’m think I’m just always going to be a nail biter and if that’s my bad habit, it’s the thing I do. Fine. Could be worse, right? But I’ve tried everything and in college I tried the bitter nail polish you put on and oh my God, that stuff was so disgusting and it didn’t stop me from really biting my nails. Obviously, I didn’t want to put it in my mouth, but I couldn’t keep doing it because if you wiped your lips with your finger after you ate, you’d get it on your lips. I was single at the time and I remember thinking I can’t have this bitter stuff on my lips. What if a cute boy wants to kiss me?

Shanna Micko: Just at any moment he could just appear.

Laura Birek: You never know.

Shanna Micko: It’s true.

Laura Birek: You could be studying. So that never happened to me, but I was worried so I stopped using it. So all poor babies.

Shanna Micko: I know. Some poor little babies.

Laura Birek: This is basically a list of how we’ve traumatized babies in the past.

Shanna Micko: It really is. We should put a trigger warning on this. In the 1950s, I love this one, experts believed that baby proofing was a sign of lazy parenting and that a child can learn what not to touch with the help of their mother yelling at them to put stuff down.

Laura Birek: It’s probably true in a way. If you yell enough at your baby, they will probably learn not to pick things up, but I don’t want to yell at my baby.

Shanna Micko: It’s exhausting too.

Laura Birek: Oh my God.

Shanna Micko: I’m just going to be the lazy mom that baby proofs and anchors my shelves and puts bumpers on corners, because I don’t have time to run around and tell her not to do stuff.

Laura Birek: But also, it’s good that she can explore without constantly having to be redirected.

Shanna Micko: I think that’s the more modern parenting idea nowadays.

Laura Birek: Oh, Shanna, do you want to take a little bit of a break from all these traumatizing things, take a little breather and then come back and you can tell me what some more modern ones are?

Shanna Micko: Yes, let’s do it.


Laura Birek: We are back and Shanna has a few more questionable parenting tips from the past that she’s going to share with us.

Shanna Micko: All I’m doing is trying to make y’all feel better about your own parenting moves now. We wonder if we let our baby cry a little too long, we’re fine. Look at what they did to these poor babies in the past.

Laura Birek: At least you didn’t put her in a shoe.

Shanna Micko: Yes, exactly. So speaking of crying, in the 1950s, this is quoted from goodhousekeeping.com, one handout from the time period told new mothers that a ‘lusty cry’ was great exercise for one’s baby.

Laura Birek: Exercise, so it was a good cry?

Shanna Micko: It was good for them.

Laura Birek: I just don’t know. That doesn’t sound appropriate.

Shanna Micko: Yes, are you thinking like a sexual cry?

Laura Birek: Well, I just don’t like the word lusty in any context around my baby.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: I know.

Shanna Micko: Maybe it was used differently back then, but I do feel like my baby has lusty cries, but just like passionate loud.

Laura Birek: She sure does.

Shanna Micko: So she’s getting a lot of exercise. I will say the doctor commented on her ab strength at her last checkup, so maybe all her crying. Not that I let her cry on and on. But when she does cry, it’s very lusty.

Laura Birek: It’s inevitable for the babies to cry. This is something I’ve come to realize. I think before I had a kid, I’m like, I’m never going to let them cry. I’m going to comfort them and unless you’re a like really, really, really attentive parent, every once in a while, they’re just going to cry. You’re home alone. It’s time to make them dinner. 

You have to put them down somewhere safe that they don’t want to be, so you can just warm up their dinner and they’re crying at you. There’s I guess I could hold him, but you don’t want to hold a baby while you’re at the stove. The point is they’re going to cry.

Shanna Micko: You got to pick and choose your battles and they’re going to cry.

Laura Birek: So they’ll get their exercise. That’s some good advice. Get them their exercise.

Shanna Micko: All right. Here’s another one from the fifties. This is an advice for new mothers, “Mothers who reported feeling sad after their babies were born were not directed to seek professional help. Rather, they were told to strip furniture.” This is from a 1958 issue of Mother & Baby. So stripping the varnish off of your wooden furniture. Give yourself a little project. Specifically stripping furniture, I guess is supposed to ease the baby blues.

Laura Birek: It sounds like they wanted you to get a contact high.

Shanna Micko: That’s what I was thinking.

Laura Birek: Not the worst advice I guess.

Shanna Micko: Yes, it’s probably some female editors’ secret way of helping moms in need back then.

Laura Birek: Weird as hell.

Shanna Micko: Just strip some furniture. Aka, get high on the varnish.

Laura Birek: Go in the garage and have some varnish.

Shanna Micko: Have some varnish.

Laura Birek: Sounds great. Sounds really healthy.

Shanna Micko: I’ve just got two more quick ones. We’re moving on to the sixties, “In 1962, Dr. Walter Sackit recommended giving black coffee to babies starting at six month of age.”

Laura Birek: Just what you need a baby that stays up more.

Shanna Micko: I know.

Laura Birek: What was his reasoning? Is it a say?

Shanna Micko: I had to look up like, what is this all about? Apparently, he encouraged introducing black coffee and tea to babies at a young age, because he said babies get caffeine through soda and stuff. Most babies are drinking soda, so better to give them something caffeine ridden that doesn’t have the sugar and stuff.

Laura Birek: So much soda. I love how it’s like, maybe don’t give caffeine at all wasn’t the option.

Shanna Micko: Or don’t give soda. It’s just like, instead of soda, give coffee.

Laura Birek: Amazing.

Shanna Micko: That’s so amazing. I can only imagine CeCe hopped up on coffee.

Laura Birek: Jesus Christ.

Shanna Micko: This last one, of course, I’m sure we’re all at least somewhat familiar with this. In 1966, experts said the expectant mothers could safely smoke up to half a pack of cigarettes a day while pregnant.

Laura Birek: Whoa. That’s not recommended anymore.

Shanna Micko: No, not at all.

Laura Birek: That’s a lot of cigarettes.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: When was that? From the sixties?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, sixties: 1960 to 1966.

Laura Birek: Wow. In the sixties, they were still… I know my history of this from Mad Men as one does. Did you watch Mad Men?

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. I love that show.

Laura Birek: Is it the first season? One of those seasons it’s all about how they decide to stop advertising for cigarette companies, right? It was a big deal.

Shanna Micko: Tobacco companies.

Laura Birek: So I feel like there was evidence in the sixties that it was bad for you and causing cancer and all that stuff, but it was really suppressed by the cigarette companies. They really, really didn’t want you to know. So that sounds like some tobacco company propaganda to me.

Shanna Micko: Definitely. I also remember from that show, January Jones’ character, I’m pretty sure she was smoking and drinking wine through her pregnancy.

Laura Birek: For sure. That and on the Crown. 

I was watching the Crown and I was watching like Queen Elizabeth just having her scotch while she was pregnant.

Shanna Micko: How has humanity survived?

Laura Birek: I know.

Shanna Micko: Anyway, so that’s it.

Laura Birek: Actually, before we go, I’m curious because I am an eighties baby. Was there any from the eighties that are scandalous?

Shanna Micko: Okay. Yes, here’s one. In the eighties, there were two additional things that pregnant women were supposed to avoid: computers and video games. My goodness.

Laura Birek: You know what? Back then, computer screens I think they had a little bit of radioactive material in them if I recall. Those projector ones. Let me look that up. Let me just make sure.

Shanna Micko: Maybe there’s something to this.

Laura Birek: Let’s see. Here it is, “Since the advent of modern flat panel screens, the vast majority of computer monitors have few if any radiation safety concerns. 

However, older technology used with vintage monitors does have a potential for emitting certain types of harmful radiation,” but the manufacturers said they were safe. But back in the day before 2000, most computer monitors were CRT based monitors. Radiation types, there are x-rays and ultraviolet light apparently. Here we are, “Traditional CRT monitors used high voltages that generate x-rays. The voltages used in black and white monitors is much lower than those founding color models.” They said that it wasn’t enough to cause problems, but now I can see like if you were pregnant and you were sitting in front of those monitors all day, maybe you shouldn’t.

Shanna Micko: That makes sense.

Laura Birek: It seems so outdated to us, but you remember those giant computer monitors?

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. Definitely. But we’re clear at that now, right?

Laura Birek: We are, but I spent in front of a lot of them for many hours as a kid. Cathode ray tubes sounds like some space age shit. But yeah, I think nowadays we can safely say that pregnant people can sit in front of the computer and the TV.

Shanna Micko: I think so.

Laura Birek: Well, that was fun and terrifying.

Shanna Micko: It’s fun and terrifying. We should all feel better about ourselves now. Should we move on to our weekly BFPs and BFNs?

Laura Birek: I think we should.


Laura Birek: So we close every show with our big fat positives or big fat negatives of the week. Shanna, do you have a BFP or a BFN for us?

Shanna Micko: BFN.

Laura Birek: Okay. Bracing myself. What is it?

Shanna Micko: This happened with my first daughter too and it’s so frustrating at a certain point, and this actually happened months ago probably, but I’m just now aggravated enough to talk about it. The diaper pail just does not contain the smell anymore.

Laura Birek: Oh, really?

Shanna Micko: It’s like the poops just get more substantial.

Laura Birek: The poops are big and stinky.

Shanna Micko: They’re big and stinky.

Laura Birek: Let’s not talk around it. Those poops stink.

Shanna Micko: They do. Sometimes there’s several a day and my mom’s like, “Could you go to the bathroom and roll the poo into the toilet and flush it down and then put it in there?” I’m like, “Yeah, I remember doing that a few times when Elle was a baby and that’s so tricky.” It’s like I’ve got the baby and then I walk and you hope the poo actually goes in the toilet and I’m lazy. So I just wrap it up and stick it in the diaper pail and these things purport to contain the smell and I’ve had a couple different ones. My first time around I used Ubbi, U-B-B-I.

Laura Birek: That’s the one we have.

Shanna Micko: This Munchkin one. The smell’s horrific and so now I have to wrap up the diaper, I walk all the way across the house, out the back door and put it straight in the dumpster. It’s just an extra thing I have to do.

Laura Birek: We have problems with the Ubbi a little bit only if it gets extra full and only if you don’t fully close it. If we remember to open it and close it really fast, the smell doesn’t emanate. Oh, God. I can tell the minute I walk in the room if Corey’s forgotten to close the top of the diaper pail. You’re just like, “Oh, God.” Then we’re trying to empty it more often, but for me it’s a little bit harder to get out to the trash bin. I’ve thought about the stairs.

Shanna Micko: Stairs and everything.

Laura Birek: I have to go upstairs and out locked gate and then maneuver through this construction area and it’s just not something I can do. So we just have to empty the pail more I think. You’ve tried the Ubbi and you’ve tried this Munchkin one, so I’m going to guess they all are flawed in a way.

Shanna Micko: They’re really good at containing newborns. Not like containing newborn babies, but the poops of newborns.

Laura Birek: You didn’t place your newborn baby in the diaper bag.

Shanna Micko: Oh, baby, you stink. Get in there. They’re a lot better at containing the smell of a newborn poop. But once they start eating solids, it’s pretty rough and sometimes we pull the trash bins out front so the garbage collector can get them and so instead of walking all the way to the sidewalk and put the diaper in there, I just sometimes open the front door and just drop the rolled up poop diaper by the mailbox and I’m just like, oh my God, my mailman probably hates me and thinks I’m a monster, but then you’re just like, I don’t care.

Laura Birek: You got to get out of the house, but you have other shit to do.

Shanna Micko: Yes, because then I’d have to go get my shoes and blah, blah, blah. 

So it is what it is and that’s our solution for now. There you have it. What about you? What do you got this week?

Laura Birek: I have a BFP.

Shanna Micko: Cool.

Laura Birek: Mine is freeze dried raspberries.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yum. I’ve tried raspberries. Tell me about this.

Laura Birek: My baby loves, loves, loves all kinds of berries, but especially raspberries. My mom, I told her this was going to be my BFP and she was like, “You got to make sure you give me credit.” I’m like, “I’m going to give you credit. I found a good snack for him.” She always wants credit. I’m like, “You found a great snack for him and I want,” so I have to give full credit to my mother. She went to Trader Joe’s and she came back with these freeze dried raspberries and they have no additives or anything. You know how freeze dried things are. They’re crumbly and melt in your mouth kind of. So at first I was like, “Oh, no. You can’t give dried fruit to babies, because dried fruit is supposedly one of the biggest choking hazards.” She was like, “No, no, no. It’s freeze dried. It’s different,” and it totally is. You know how raspberries are like a bunch of little pods basically, so you can break them up into smaller bits and they are delicious. I tried them. They’re really tart, but then I kept eating more and more of them. My baby loves them, but the best part of it is it’s a snack you can just keep in the diaper bag at all times.

Shanna Micko: That’s so good.

Laura Birek: It’s a fantastic emergency snack, because it keeps forever basically. They’re probably not forever, forever, but essentially, it’s better that it’s not perishable so you can just throw them in the diaper bag and they also make freeze dried strawberries. They’re good. They’re like sliced. I find that I have to break those in smaller pieces, because some of them can be a little chewy. But so I put my freeze dried raspberries or my freeze dried strawberries in the diaper bag and just call it a day. It’s awesome.

Shanna Micko: I love that idea. We are definitely going to go get those.

Laura Birek: They’re fun. He has fun, especially when they break up into teeny little pieces, because if his hand’s a little damp, they kind of stick to him and so he has a fun time picking them up without picking them up.

Shanna Micko: Do they make a mess? Does he need a bib when he eats them?

Laura Birek: They’re kind of dusty. It doesn’t make a mess, but I don’t think you necessarily need a bib. But you’ll get a little bit of red dust here and there.

Shanna Micko: Oh, okay.

Laura Birek: You know what I mean? So you kind of brush it off. Once you get them in your mouth or you get them a little wet, then they just kind of turn back into raspberries. There’s a chance for some stainage there, but it’s so much better than a pouch. A pouch squeezes out and you get it everywhere. It’s not like that. It’s very contained.

Shanna Micko: Cool.

Laura Birek: I’m sure they make them somewhere other than Trader Joe’s, but that’s where we found ours. I will say she also got the freeze-dried blueberries, but they’re too crunchy for the babies. You can’t break them apart the way you can with the raspberries and the strawberries.

Shanna Micko: Got you.

Laura Birek: I would not recommend the blueberries. So that’s my BFP I think. That means we’re at the end of the show.

Shanna Micko: We are.

Laura Birek: Wow.

Shanna Micko: Hooray.

Laura Birek: Hooray.

Shanna Micko: If you want to let us know what your weekly BFP or BFN is, please reach out. Laura, where can everyone reach us?

Laura Birek: We are on all the social media’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook BFP Podcast. We also have a Facebook community group. It’s a closed group, but search for Big Fat Positive community. Request to join and I will add you right away. It’s awesome. We have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com and you can email us, [email protected].

Shanna Micko: If you love our show, please consider rating and reviewing us on whatever platform you listen. It’s very helpful for us and we are so appreciative and spread the word. If you know someone who’s pregnant or a new parent, let them know about our podcast. Big Fat Positive is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll see you next week.

Shanna Micko: Bye.