Friday, December 25, 2009

Letter to Ezra at Christmas

Dear Ezra,

The time from your birth to now has flown by. You are 11 weeks old today. As I start this letter, you are sleeping next to me on the couch. I marvel at how small you are and yet how big you’ve become in such a short amount of time. You were six pounds, nine ounces at birth and you are now close to 12 pounds. Your fingers are still so small that I sometimes worry I will break a bone. It would seem these first 11 weeks have been a lesson in love, of falling in love, and nothing more.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

with love,
Amanda, Garry, Ezra and Piper


Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Come, First Serve

The Postilius household’s first “sibling” rivalry has begun.  Grace, our oldest [cat], has recognized Ezra, our youngest [person], as a potential threat.  A threat who has better stuff than her.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Nightmare Before Christmas

Our little hometown has become very festive for the holidays.  Everyone has decked their lawns with boughs of Christmas lights and inflatable Santas.  Well most everyone.  We believe “sometimes less is more” and expanded this to “sometimes nothing is everything”.   When Ezra is older he may want us to decorate the outside of our house for the holidays, but I suspect Piper would prefer we didn’t. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Bottle

Ezra drinking from a bottle; frozen cubes of breast milk

Since Amanda will be returning to work soon, we did a test run to see if Ezra was going to have any issues using a bottle.  He initially made a disgusted face, then realized his mom's milk came out of this plastic boob.  He happily drained it and then cried for more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Work and Play

Ezra went to his first playgroup.  He was 4 months younger than the second youngest kid.  Little play was had on his part.

He also visited Garry at work.  Little work was had on his part.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Struggling to Keep the Baby Shiny and New

I knew that becoming parents meant a sacrifice to cleanliness. New parents are always ranting about finding time for basic household chores and personal hygiene. I was prepared for both of these.  Resolving to live a life of dirty, stacked dishes, dust bunnies, and dressing from the clothes lying at the foot of the bed is, embarrassingly enough, not a huge life change. Leaving the house without showering is also something I have been comfortable with long before Ezra was born. What I was not prepared for and have found surprising is how difficult it has been trying to keep Ezra shiny, clean, and retaining his “new baby” smell.

The first major stink occurred at the most unfortunate time. We were at his first official (now with a baby) pediatrician appointment. She was already grumpy that she was seeing Ezra for the first time and he was already 10 days old. We were not in a rush to take our healthy baby to her office during a flu outbreak and had received postnatal check-ups from our midwife.  Ezra was already receiving plenty of good care, yet her disapproving tone was making us feel like bad parents. This feeling was amplified when we undressed him, in front of the doctor, and discovered what had been making Amanda and I repeat “what is that smell?” the previous night.

To avoid embarrassing Ezra with the details, I will just say Ezra had a really messy afternoon the day before. Though I bathed him (twice!) since the incident - including the morning of the doctor’s appointment - I failed to notice that a little something had made its way from his diaper into his armpit. Amanda, noticing it before the doctor, quickly and aggressively removed it with a wipe cloth.

That seems like something that could happen to any new parent,  but we are not just any new parents so we decided to top that incident by dying his face purple.

This one was actually slightly more intentional. Amanda had contracted a yeast infection (thrush) in her nipple and treated it with gentian violet. Gentian violet is an effective, yet messy, way of dealing with thrush. Oddly enough, this is not the first time someone in our household has accidentally dyed their face purple. The first time involved [this person] scrubbing purple hair dye off her face with lava soap which is like a bar of sudsy sandpaper. Learning from our own life experiences, we let the purple fade on its own this time.

We then decided that purple lips alone were not punk enough, and decided to add a scar to Ezra’s cheek. We do not know who was to blame for this: Garry (the zipper on his jacket) or Ezra (he has crazy sharp fingernails). 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birth Stories

An Exclusive Postilius Interview

photo by Stefanie Boucher

Amanda agreed to sit down with Postilius to talk about the birth of her first child, Ezra.   Amanda, dressed in jeans and tee shirt, had already arrived at the coffee shop we planned to meet.  She causally held Ezra on her lap while sipping one of the first cups of coffee she has had now that she is no longer pregnant.    

Postilius: Hello, and congratulations on Ezra’s birth.  He really is a beautiful baby! 

Amanda: Thank you.  I am glad to be here.  I love your [our?] site. 

P: Before we get into too many details

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Are You Looking At

I have been surprised by Ezra's attention span.  He will spend quite a long time staring at an object.  Below are photos from a few of his favorite things to focus on.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Natural Parent

Several people have asked, now that Ezra is a few weeks old, how I have made the initial adjustment into parenthood.  Prior to his birth, I was unsure what it would be like living and caring for a new baby. The last infant I had lived with was my sister. I was four when she was born so I was obviously not her primary caretaker (or secondary, tertiary, or even “there is no one else to call” backup caretaker).  So to say my experience with an infant was limited is an exaggeration.  It was non-existent.  I was unsure how to pick him up, hold him, comfort him, dress him, change his diaper, feed him, burp him, bathe him – pretty much everything before he was born, but the first time I did any of these things was as easy and natural as if it were the millionth time.  Everything about caring for him has seemed very intuitive.

The one adjustment that I have yet to make is that I keep forgetting that Ezra is not a dog. 

To be clear, I know he is not literally a dog, but the amount of experience I lacked with infant care I made up with in experience with dogs.  So, I cannot help but speak to him as if he were a dog which sounds worse than it should; I really like and respect dogs.  I foresaw this being a possible problem at a baby shower with our families.  Several children were attending and Amanda and I organized an egg race.  My three-year old cousin froze, mid-race, with her egg.  I tried to coax her to the finish line, yelling “Come, Maddie, Come!”  I’m so used to calling Piper this way that I didn’t notice what I was saying until I was taken aside by several guests who pointed out that she is not a dog. 

But actually, several recent research projects have compared toddlers to dogs and have found that they are much more similar than people want to admit.  You can read about them here and here.

Since Ezra has been born I have had several slip-ups especially the first week.  I often give him an encouraging “Good job, pu. . .” and stop myself before finishing with pup.  I mentioned a few times our need to take him to the vet then remembering that his doctor prefers to be called a pediatrician.  I have accidentally called him Piper several times and Cadet (my sister’s dog) a few times.  I speak to him in short clear phrases.  Sit. Speak. Stay.  He has not yet advanced to roll-over.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dan Savage Visit

Catherine Johnson-Roehr, Dan Savage, Debby Herbenick and me

Sex advice columnist, Dan Savage, stopped by my work for a quick tour (seen above with our own sex advice columnist Debby Herbenick).  I am mentioned in his blog entry.  Not by name.  I am one of the curators and vulva-worshippers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Measure of a Man

As a male parent of a son I believe it is my responsibility to instruct Ezra on how to be a Man. Ezra and I decided it was best to take a scholarly approach to these lessons. So, every night before going to sleep* I read aloud from Michael Chabon’s collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs.

Of course if I believed it was important for Ezra to grow into the much admired alpha male of American action movies, I would not have chosen Chabon’s book. Manhood is a collection of Chabon’s thoughts and experiences as someone who has lived all three roles in the holy trinity of the domestic male: father, son and spouse. Chabon writes a bit too much about his emotions, thinks a little too much about the meaning of minor incidents in his life, and is a little too active a participant in raising his children to be mistaken as “muy macho”. Not to mention, he loves to cook, enjoys being a stay at home father, and carries a purse. Though in his defense, baseball does come up several times throughout his book.

Manhood was admittedly a biased selection towards my own personal views on what it means to be a man. I hope to teach Ezra that being a man is not much, if any, different than being a good, happy person. I hope Ezra will play with dolls and trucks. I hope he likes art, poetry, and science. I hope he has as many close female friends as male ones. I hope he knows that sometimes the best person to learn traditionally male activities (like fishing, landscaping, playing catch, or playing guitar) is from a woman (in this case my sister). I hope he will not see much difference in what boys and girls can and should do. Finally, I hope he knows being a man does not mean you cannot wear leg warmers or purple jumpsuits (my favorite outfits for Ezra).

The one unknown variable in deciding what type of man Ezra will be is, of course, Ezra himself. Amanda and I can provide role models, support, and guidance, but he must determine what type of person he is and wants to become. Ezra is not yet capable of telling me his own personal definition of being a man or where he fits into that definition. He is capable of communicating on a more primal level, and I do wonder what it meant when he urinated on our copy of Manhood during a diaper change. The book was sitting two feet away so it did take some effort. I had to wonder: was he disagreeing with Chabon’s and my views on our gender? Demonstrating his own manliness? Or, did he just really need to go?

*this “sleep” is mostly hypothetical.

A dramatic recreation of the event

Sleep Lately?

"Is he sleeping through the night?" "Getting much sleep lately [ha, ha, ha]?" "Are you using a sleep schedule?  Spending the first three months getting him on a sleep schedule will really pay off in the long run." People love to talk to new parents about their lack of sleep.  I think it helps remind them why they are glad to not be living with an infant. 

Amanda and I find these questions difficult to answer because we do not have the goal everyone wants to hear you have reached.  "He slept through the night!"  Of course we will be relieved when he starts sleeping in longer stretches.  Four hours of continuous sleep would be amazing!  But, we do not expect him to sleep through the night for months.  Breastfed babies need to eat more frequently than babies fed formula so eight hours of sleep is not realistic (and would be horrible for retaining a milk supply).  Instead we sleep when we can, and minimize how much of a disturbance late night feedings are by his sleeping in our bed.

The one thing I wasn't expecting, and was a pleasant surprise when it was happening, was how little sleep we needed the first couple of weeks.  We would take 15 minute naps and feel as though we had slept 8 hours.  Oxytocin, adreneline - hormones can be a great thing, though most adolescents may disagree.  Unfortunately for him, Piper did not get this hormone boost and has found the last few weeks exhausting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Out of the House

We took Ezra on his first walk Tuesday. We just committed to the short walk we take Piper on every morning. What normally is a ten minute walk took us 2-1/2 hours including the time it took to get ready, and how (not) quickly the still recovering Amanda was able to walk. Piper was super excited for Ezra to join us and enjoyed the walk regardless of how slow it was.
Friday, we decided to follow the success of the walk with Ezra's first trip in the car. We needed a few groceries so planned to go to the store, a 15 minute car ride. We started getting Ezra, the car seat, and ourselves ready around 1 pm. By 4:00 pm we felt defeated and exhausted, and decided to never leave the house again. After a one hour nap we were rejuvenated. We finally made it to the grocery around 8:30 pm.

Birth Stories

The Legend of Ezra Oak

Ezra Oak was born in a church on a brisk, October evening. The same church he was conceived nine months earlier. The same church his parents moved into three years before that, and the same church that has sat atop a hill of a small town for a hundred years.

Birth Stories

The following entry was written by Amy Beck. Amy is a certified birth doula with DONA and joined Amanda and I for Ezra's birth. We strongly recommend people having a doula at their birth, and if you live in our hometown - we recommend Amy!
Dear Ezra Oak,

Welcome to the world! What a joy it’s been to witness the journey your parents have taken in preparation for your birth. Your parents took childbirth education classes at Bloomington Area Birth Services, and I met them here while I was assisting in class. Mommy and Daddy talked with me about being their doula, and I was so excited to be involved in their plans for your arrival. We met a couple times to talk about preparing for labor, birth and the postpartum period. Mommy and Daddy were both very excited for your arrival;

Monday, October 12, 2009

Birth Announcement

Ezra Oak 
 was born at home
on October 9th.
He weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces,
and measured 19 inches in length.

An Extended Blogcation

A combination of preparing for the birth and the baby, Amanda's third trimester induced tiredness, and discovering the television show Lost on Hulu, required Postilius to take a brief hiatus. We are now back - with a baby! A few short, backdated entries have been added among entries you may have already read (possibly months ago - again sorry for the lack of activity), and new postings are in progress.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Final Update: The final weeks of pregnancy

Week 32
: A chance of showers
The baby's first shower took place this week. We had a wonderful time with our family and a few friends.

This shower quickly develops into a downpour (of generosity!) with three more showers to follow in the next few weeks.

See more photos at our photo album.

Week 33: Yoga for two

One of the baby's favorite in utero activites is yoga. Amanda ends each session by lying on the floor in corpse pose and meditates. The baby does not understand this as a calm time as this is when it becomes most active. I hope this does not foreshadow things to come.

Week 34: Rainy days are coming to an end, I hope
This is likely to be the last time pregnant Amanda is able to wear her rain coat. The zipper became quite stressed as it was forced over her belly.

Week 35: Green, misty morning hike

Week 36: More hiking
Went hiking and wading through McCormick's Creek. Amanda swam in one of the creek's underground spring fed, wading pools. Everyone was relieved the frigid temperature did not cause shock-induced premature labor.

Week 36, part 2: The incredible shrinking baby

Beginning week 34 we precisely tracked the growth of Amanda's belly using the scientific and accurate method of Garry tracing Amanda on our blackboard. Oddly, we noticed that between week 35 and week 36 Amanda's belly seemed to slightly shrink rather than grow. We doubted there could be error in the flawless method of measurement we had developed, and we were right. Our midwife's measurements also indicated a slight shrinkage most likely from the baby shifting positions.

Week 37: Definitely growing again

Week 38: The final week
Five days before the birth.
Two days before the birth.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Mysteries of the Sex

I did an informal survey at my most recent prenatal yoga class. Whereas most statistics suggest that 50-60% of expectant parents learn the sex of their baby, Garry and I have long suspected that a much larger percentage of parents do and that these statistics are dated. I’ve just met so few folks who don’t learn the sex of their child. My survey of twelve women in yoga class (one is me) reveals that 8/10 know the sex of the baby; two mothers were too early into their pregnancy to find out the sex. This is close to our birthing class where I am the only mother of 7 (14%) that does not know the baby’s sex. Of course these are small, non-independent samples (myself and one other woman from the birthing class overlap with yoga), but suggestive that 50-60% is highly inaccurate.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Looks and Desires

Garry’s mom, Sandy, recently asked a question that completely caught me off guard. She inquired whether I had wondered about what the baby would look like – it’s hair color, eye color, complexion. I suppose Sandy’s question took me by surprise because honestly I haven’t thought that much about the baby’s physical attributes.

Parent’s expressing their desires for their children’s looks is something I hadn’t noticed before Sandy’s comments, but now I hear them all the time. For example, at our most recent birthing class, the instructor’s assistant, who brings her 5-month old daughter to class, was talking with another student in the class about how she hoped her daughter would be tall, but feared she would not. [An aside: I found her fear interesting in itself as this woman is fairly tall, taller than I, and she stated her husband was over 6 feet tall. It seems likely her daughter’s adult height will be above average, and if not she was unclear what perceived disadvantage she saw in her daughter’s putatively decreased stature.] Desire for specific genitalia seems to be the most common and most often stated parental wish. I have noticed that several expectant parents when sharing the sex of their unborn, state that’s the sex that they had hoped to have. Are the others disappointed?

I do not believe or mean to imply that I am less superficial than other parents, but while I have been preparing a great deal for the birth, thinking about the changes to my relationship and my life with Garry, trying to develop at least the beginnings of a parenting philosophy, and preparing for having a baby in my life, I have not had much time to think about how the baby will look. I guess I don’t care so much because we have no way of knowing. I do have desires, of course, and I hope that we have a child who is thoughtful, empathetic and happy and we will do all we can to teach it to think, to ponder ideas, to consider their emotions and the emotions of others.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weeks 30-31: Getting to know you

Amanda commented several weeks ago that many parents, with their offspring still in utero, talk about their baby's personality, behavior, likes and dislikes. At the time, Amanda felt we did not know much about our baby.

Since then we have developed a temporary personality for the baby until it is able to articulate its own. This personality is based upon the limited amount of stimuli it has been exposed to (it has only been able to hear outside the womb since week 23) and its reaction to that stimuli.

The baby is energized by spicy foods. It is fascinated by the life of Teddy Roosevelt. It likes poems and songs about animals. It is not frightened by the roar of a lion. It thinks Neko Case is part of our car pool. It enjoys yoga. It finds the sound of fans soothing. It thinks fathers mostly talk about NPR, how the house needs cleaned and painted, and the lawn needs mowed. It thinks mothers mostly talk about how one must keep themselves in a head down position.

Stats for week 30: 10-3/4" and 3 lbs.
Stats for week 31: 11-1/4" and 3-1/2 lbs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is It Bigger Than a Bread Box?

We, or more accurately our baby, has a pediatrician. We had a consultation with a local baby doctor the other day. This is in and of itself not too interesting, but it does touch on another issue Garry and I have been talking about recently. The question of infant size or more accurately our complete unawareness of how small babies really are. I’m not quite imagining a toddler springing from my womb, but when I think about parenting and raising our child I tend to visualize the toddler years. This probably comes from previous experience. I’ve been around very few babies and am much more familiar with toddlers. Garry’s mom purchased a high chair for us, we put it together, and I still can’t believe how small it is. At the consultation with our baby’s future pediatrician there were two newly born babies (one a homebirth baby!) and they were tiny, tinier than I would have imagined. Of course I don’t want our baby to be too big as it will be coming out the birth canal hopefully, but I told Garry he’d have to hold it until it was bigger because I’m worried about dropping it. I expect I'm going to have a steep learning curve the first couple days.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


David and Kim, Amanda's brother and his wife, are hosting a baby shower for our unborn on Sunday, August 23. Amanda and I based our invitation on children's books. Here are my illustrations.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Birthing class

Amanda and I began taking a birthing class a few weeks ago, and the class has somehow become the most challenging part of the pregnancy so far. The class itself, offered through Bloomington Area Birth Services, is wonderful, and I would not hesitate recommending it to any expectant parent in our area. The instructor is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The other students are friendly and interesting. Even the provided snacks are better than average. The class itself is not the problem. The class is doing a great job of helping us prepare for the birth and the new baby. Unfortunately, this is causing near panic attacks in at least one of us each class.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Week 29: The belly battle

The baby still has a couple of years before entering toddlerhood, yet in utero it has already, unintentionally, begun to annoy one of the cats. Though not yet capable of pulling tails or chasing Stella around the house, the baby is occupying what was once prime real estate in our household. Stella’s favorite place to sit is on our stomachs, and she is not happy with Amanda’s expanded belly. She paws it, thinks about climbing it, sighs in disgust, and reluctantly sits on Amanda's legs. (Note her grumpy face.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week 28: Like a moth to a flame

The pregnancy is now in its 3rd trimester, the time to literally grow the baby. This week alone the baby’s length increased ½” and it gained a ½ lb. As a point of reference to how rapid this amount of growth is, the baby needed 8 weeks to reach its first ½” mark, and did not weigh ½ lb. until week 20.

Also, the baby is now opening its eyelids. As its retinas continue forming the baby begins to detect changes in light in the “outside world”. Studies have shown that when a flashlight is pressed against the pregnant woman’s belly, babies move toward or away from the light. I hypothesize this can help us determine whether the baby has tendencies toward good or evil. So far our experiments have not yielded any results.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Love and Marriage

People always say becoming a parent changes you. I did not believe them – I rarely believe anyone about anything – but I am beginning to see evidence that they might be right.

As you may have read in a previous Week in Review, Amanda and I travelled to Buffalo to attend a wedding. We had a great time, and we are very happy for Jen and Martin. But in general, I am not a wedding or marriage person. It is not that I am opposed to either. Amanda and I are married, and I have been honored to be a part of several weddings as a ring bearer, giving away a bride, and even officiating one ceremony. I think if people want to marry they should (and should be allowed), but I don’t think it makes their relationship stronger or more important than it was the week before the wedding.

Being private, secular, and somewhat introverted people, we have always had difficulty understanding the appeal of weddings – public, usually religious, gregarious events. Therefore, Amanda and I have spent the majority of our 15 year relationship “living in sin.” Last year we decided to legally marry. We eloped – to the elopement extreme (we did not dress up, did not invite anyone, and went back to work after having a celebratory brunch). We wrote really nice vows and exchanged them with each other at the city clerk’s office. It was a special way of reminding each other why we wanted to be together, but neither of us thought it was a defining or altering moment in our relationship. We still feel a little ambiguous about being “married.” We never refer to each other as husband or wife, we do not wear rings, and we do not consider the date we married our anniversary (which is good because Amanda never remembers it*).

Since I feel this way it is not surprising that I have never related to couples at their wedding. Until this time, sort of. I am embarrassed to admit that the couples I related to were the bride’s and groom’s parents (who are my parents’ age). I spent the reception dreaming about what I will say when I give the toast at my son’s wedding or what song I will dance to at my daughter’s wedding. I then became frightened by this sentimental, crazy person I was becoming. I sheepishly admitted these thoughts to Amanda, and she confessed to having the same experience. I felt as if I saw a glimpse of the new parent-me person I have yet to meet. I hope I witnessed him in a moment of weakness and by the time the kid is an adult he is no longer fantasizing about their wedding. A study was recently conducted that claimed men become 2% more politically liberal after having a daughter. I must be having a son.

This experience did help me gain a new perspective, and Amanda and I apologize to our parents for not understanding why they want those “special moments.”

*this topic came up recently when we pulled out our marriage license to make a copy for insurance purposes. We realized that the date of our “wedding” was the same as the first day of the pregnancy – exactly one year later. Maybe the date has more significance than we are allowing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week 27: Second trimester graduation day

The baby’s higher brain functions are becoming more sophisticated. This allows the baby to mark the milestone of leaving the second trimester with reflection, contemplation, and looking toward to the future. “What do I want to do with my life?,” the baby asks itself, and answers “I think someday I would like to eat without involving my naval.” So it begins preparing for nursing using thumb sucking to strengthen its cheek and jaw muscles.

Stats: 9 ½” and 2 lbs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week 26: Let’s dance

The baby continues to become more aware of its surroundings and respond to changes in its environment. Its eyes are now fully formed. Its skin is sensitive to touch. Its pulse quickens as it reacts to sounds, and it can even move in rhythm to music. This is more than its father can do.

The baby is, of course, still growing now measuring approximately 9 ¼” long (head to rump) and weighing almost 2 lbs. It is large enough that you can hear its heartbeat if you place your ear against Amanda’s abdomen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week in Review: July 6-12

We went to Buffalo . . .
to attend our friends' [this is Jen and Martin] wedding. . .
eat delicious food. . .
and see good friends [this is Jared and Briana].

We also went to Niagara Falls. . .took the Maid of the Mist boat tour. . . wore unflattering ponchos. . .

and illegally fed cherries to a cute, park squirrel.