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8 Ways Your Science Degree Is Making You a Better Parent

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SARAH GILBERT
Sarah Gilbert

This is a shout-out to all the STEM ladies out there. Are you a woman with a degree in science, technology, engineering or math?

We all have one thing in common. That's right, a firm understanding of the scientific method. And some people might believe that if you are going to spend your life barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, you have no use for the scientific method. But I'm here to scientifically prove them wrong.

My ability to conduct experiments came in handy on my first day home from the hospital with my newborn. I was instructed by the nurse to fill out a chart that tracked my child's food intake and waste output. And I was excited, because data gathering. I had no idea how to put a diaper on, but I had no problem writing down the exact moment when the diaper came off and its precise contents.

"Do you want me to weigh it?" I asked.

"That won't be necessary," said the nurse, already a little concerned about me because I had to asked her to demonstrate diapering my child in the first place. I had never put a diaper on a baby.

So dutifully, from the moment I got home, I wrote down, using a mechanical pencil of course, each time my child nursed and for how long. I also made a note each time she urinated or defecated. That's right, I used the technical terms. There was no pee or poo talk. No wet or dirty diapers. Scientific documentation requires the proper taxonomy.

Except there was a problem. My daughter never seemed to pee. (I panicked and started referring to it as pee.) Every time I opened the baby's diaper, it seemed dry! I knew she was eating because the same nurse who showed me how to change the baby's diaper also showed me how to listen for that little smacking noise the newborns make when they are drinking. But she was losing weight. And if she was holding in all her pee, shouldn't she be gaining weight?

I set my child down on the changing table and peeled the diaper back from her belly. I pressed my fingers into the material on the inside of the diaper and then rubbed my fingers together. It didn't feel wet. Moist, maybe, but not wet. How could this be? I put a dry diaper on the baby and set her in a bouncy chair. And then I grabbed another dry diaper and went to the sink in the bathroom.

I held the diaper under the faucet. It got really heavy, but it still felt dry. Was this magic? What did they make these things out of? Duck feathers? Deodorant? I quickly retrieved a few more supposedly dry diapers from the trash. I held a diaper from the box in one hand and a wet diaper in the other. Every wet diaper was heavier than the dry diaper. Tada! The results were in. I updated the spreadsheet.

2:13 p.m. Urine.

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Since then, I've found other uses for the sciences in my day-to-day parenting activities.

Physics: Knowing that my house will return to complete disorder immediately after I clean it, because entropy.

Biology: Knowing everything my baby ate by the contents of her diaper, because scat identification.

Neuro-psychology: Knowing that my toddler freaking out over sandwich crusts is just a phase, because frontal lobe development.

Math: Knowing how to double the recipe in my head, even if it asks for 2/3 of a cup of something, because common denominators.

Computer Science: Knowing how to redesign the side bar of my mommy blog, because source code.

Engineering: Knowing how to install a car seat and feel confident about it, because tensile strength.

Chemistry: Knowing that an unstirred cocktail will get me drunk faster, because viscosity.

Statistics: Knowing that the chance of having a baby brother is 50/50 no matter what my mother-in-law thinks, because mutually exclusive events.

Astronomy: Knowing that the woman judging me by my yogurt-spattered shirt isn't the only thing in the universe, because cosmology.