Life of a Data-Driven Dad

By Sean Warren

On a Wednesday in early July, my life changed forever – my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. But we’re not here for the warm/fuzzy parts – let’s talk about the key performance indicators (KPIs – aka metrics) surrounding pregnancy, labor, and my awesome little man. Throughout the process, I was very curious of “the numbers”. Being around data all day, I understand the impact the numbers can have and how you should make data-driven decisions.

All through the pregnancy, I questioned “What’s normal? Are we on pace? What’s the expected due date?” Questions I’m sure we ask every day in our professional roles. Every appointment brought fear of bad news, but alas “everything seems fine, you’re doing great” was generally how they ended. That elusive expected due date was the first KPI to fly out the window. Arthur (our stubborn boy) required coaxing, after overstaying his welcome by almost 2-weeks. For those who don’t have children, imagine an important project at work that you’ve been making progress on for a whole year, and it’s finally due. But instead of presenting it right away, you have to wait 2 whole weeks! Everything is on hold, you planned your vacation around this projects’ completion, but the project drags on. So that delay kicked off our KPI tracking – we are 14-days past the anticipated due date.

The tests all showed the baby was healthy, but the ultrasound showed he weighed a hefty 9 pounds – it was time to force him out before he got any bigger. I got the call I’d been prepared over a month for, and headed to the hospital. The anticipation was exciting, but the wait was excruciating. After 6 hours they finally started the process. I had to remind myself that we had waited about 10 months for this, so a few more hours is no big deal. I was acutely aware of every monitor, alarm, and screen in the hospital room. I again had questions – “What’s this mean? Is that number you or the baby? I can’t tell if this is good or bad! Something is definitely wrong!”

Dashboards and charts are great, but only if your users can understand the chart to take action when needed.  I felt helpless – nothing I can do, but wait it out. 16 hours of labor later, I wasn’t nearly as patient, and my wife, well let’s just say she was done with the idea of being pregnant long before this point (she did say the pushing was the easy part though). Arthur was born in the mid-afternoon, roughly 24 hours after we arrived at the hospital. Obviously, all the waiting and preparation was instantly worth it!

The nurse quickly placed Arthur onto my wife – he was awesome – and as he peed for the first time, the next important metric was realized. No, not how many times we’ve dodged a mess, rather how many wet diapers per day. Up to this point I had somehow gone through life never having changed a diaper, which created a little anxiety when I was thrust into the spotlight later that day. Probably the most well-known and highly asked for metrics of a newborn include the baby’s weight and length. I also discovered head circumference is actually a thing. Arthur was born weighing 8 lbs. 10.5 oz., measuring 21.25 in. long, and with a disproportionately large 13 cm. head, which I’ve been reassured he’ll grow into. These are our baseline KPIs that anticipated steady growth, but we had some setbacks and also discovered some flaws in how the data was collected.

When we left the hospital, we began to track data on a whole host of items. It was important that Arthur was getting enough to eat, so we began to track his feedings and diaper changes. For a period of time we were tracking his sleep patterns – that quickly became too much for these new parents to maintain. At doctor’s visits we consistently collect weight, length, head size, and vaccinations as well.

I’ve been using a free app to track these metrics, but as with even the most robust enterprise-class software solutions, the data visualizations and report customization options were lacking. I was experiencing a problem that I help solve for our clients every day, so naturally, I created a dashboard. It’s a fun and cute dashboard, but I could really see trends and correlations between the metrics that I wasn’t noticing before. Check out the dashboard below and feel free to scroll through the pictures or hoover over a chart to see more details.

You may notice in the dashboard that some mid-August trends changed. Arthur seemed to have an issue with lactose, so we changed his formula and really upped the nursing schedule. The dashboard shows the results of those changes.

I’d love to hear what metrics you track with your children – please leave a comment to continue the discussion!

P.S. My wonderful wife has read and approved the content of this post.

Sean Warren

Sean Warren is a Product Analyst at iDashboards, focusing on strategic partnerships, customer engagement and product marketing. In addition to a recent child, Sean and his wife have two Siberian Huskies – Nymeria and Hodor.

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