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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Ins & Outs of the Belly Button

We are debating when Amanda's belly button will switch from an innie to an outie. My guess is around August 1st. Amanda is guessing never - instead it will become a flatie. Leave your best guess in the comments section. The closest to the correct date wins a prize!

Labels and Names

The astute Postilius reader may have noticed something different in the most recent pregnancy Update. I, for the first time, referred to the Update’s subject as “the baby”.

I recently wrote of people’s discomfort with my use of the word it, and I am sure my unwillingness to call my offspring “my baby” during the early pregnancy has been equally off-putting. I would like to emphasize that my hesitation was not from lack of excitement about the pregnancy or an indifference towards the little person still in its manufacturing stage. I just felt it was premature to call it a baby. It seems silly when pregnancy books state, “your baby is a few cells”. Clearly, it is not yet physically a baby. Its like calling a 4 year old a man rather than a boy. Initially, I used the correct names (embryo and fetus). As the weeks progressed I began to use “baby” more in conversation, but I could not bring myself to do so in the Update section. Since the Updates are about development, it seemed incorrect to call the baby something it had not yet reached developmentally. When fetus began to sound too cold and sterile I switched to using pet names (like lovingly referring to it as a parasitic, cave-dwelling, amphibian monkey). For the last few weeks the pet names have begun to feel forced, and “baby” has felt more natural. So, I decided that, though it is still on its way to technically becoming a baby, it is now close enough to call it one.

I also have to admit that part of my early reluctance to call the fetus “baby” stemmed from nervousness about the pregnancy. Maybe it’s like how you shouldn’t name a cow if you plan to eat it. I didn’t want to call it a baby until I knew it was healthy. Also, calling it a baby was admitting I was going to soon be a parent, and there was something in Amanda that was eventually going to emerge and change our life.

Having overcome these issues I am now calling it “baby” full-time. I have reached this point just in time to move-on to our next problem. Eventually, we will need to abandon “the baby” for an actual name - though we do have a pet turtle we have called Turtle for the past two years.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I thought coming up with a name in less than 9 months would be impossible. Deciding how another living being will be addressed for the next 80 years is intimidating. We are now six months into the pregnancy, and I am surprised to find that we have settled on two names (a boy one and a girl one). We are going to keep the first and middle names a secret for now, though I do see the irony in keeping certain things about the baby a mystery in a public blog. Though less exciting than first names, we are willing to share the kid’s last name. We have always planned to use Milius-Posto. We know many people hate hyphenated names, and maybe our kid will be among them. If that is the case they can change it when they are an adult. Until then we get to pick.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week 25: Food appreciation week

If the baby wishes to be a connoisseur of good food (there are 2 trained chefs in its family) this week of development is essential. First, the nerves around the mouth and in the lips are becoming more sensitive. This will help the baby find the nipple for its first meals. Second, the buds for its future permanent teeth are forming in the gums. Third, the nostrils are beginning to open. Seventy to seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from smell. Finally, its hands can now form a fist it can wave in faux outrage at a disappointing meal. Until then, the baby is using its newly discovered fist to punch Amanda in the ribs

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What’s wrong with “It”?

Amanda and I have been writing and talking about the baby for several months now, but have still been unable to solve a linguistic problem. We don’t know what to call it. It. People, as they continually point out, are not comfortable with the pronoun “it” directed at another person – even an undercooked one.

I initially dismissed people’s aversion to “it”. “It” is the gender-neutral pronoun. We do not know or plan to find out the sex until birth so by default it is “it”. However, as the pregnancy progresses I am beginning to understand people’s difficulty, and have been guilty of accidently using “he” or “she” depending upon my mood. Using “it” was especially difficult for a short period of time around the 20th week. Amanda and I both separately decided we were 100% sure that we knew the baby’s sex, and we were in agreement that it was a girl. I came to my conclusion during the ultrasound. Not because of seeing any genitalia – I could really only make out its head and hands without the technician telling me what we were looking at. I knew it was ridiculous, but I saw it moving around in the ultrasound and knew it was a girl. Since then both Amanda’s and my confidence have wavered, and she has returned to “it”. I am relieved by this return to ambiguity because I do not want a definitive answer yet.

One of the reasons Amanda and I are strong advocates of the use of “it” is that revealing the baby’s sex immediately encourages people to begin making inferences about the baby’s personality, likes and dislikes, and behavior based on one bit of information. At the very least we would like for people to be able to meet the baby before making assumptions. Maybe at that point, there will be so much more to learn about it. How big or small are its feet? What color is its hair? How loud and quiet can it get? I hope these little details will help our baby to be seen as more than simply a he or she, but as a new person.

Week in Review: June 29-July 5

Two separate neighbors approached us this week to ask if Amanda was pregnant. One congratulated us with homemade ice cream and cake.

Parenting Artifacts

Much like anthropologist Jane Goodall immersed herself into the world of the gorillas, Amanda and I are becoming a part of parent culture. Along the way, like all social scientists, we are discovering the many strange and unique tools specific to this exotic culture. Here is a sample of one of our preliminary findings.

The Hooter Hider
This is basically an apron a mother can wear in public when breastfeeding. I am unsure why a culture that is so outspoken that “breast is best” produces an item that implies women should feel embarrassed by the actual act of breastfeeding. I am also unsure why they allowed a group of 11 year-old boys to name the product.

Vegetarian Family

Garry's mom, Sandy, bought the baby
these tomato and broccoli veggie toys by Under the Nile.

Amanda and I recently attended a small workshop on raising a vegetarian child. Since the class was focused primarily on the nutritional needs of toddlers, Amanda thought taking the class was a little premature. I argued that it would be easier to attend a class now rather than after the baby is born, but, honestly, I am unsure why I was so excited about this class. I do not feel anxious or ill prepared to raise a healthy herbivore. I’ve been vegetarian for fifteen years. I think I was mostly excited that “raising a vegetarian child” is a topic that is as relevant to fathers as mothers. Amanda is, understandably, reading up on breastfeeding and researching local lactation groups. She is preparing to feed the infant. As the breastless parent my role in feeding is minimal until solid foods return us to equal parenting status.

I also thought this class would be a good opportunity to start meeting other parents who share our values (or, at least one). I have not identified with that many parenting books, and we are mostly friends with people who do not have children. So, I am on the search for role models, and it was helpful listening to the other parents discuss the problems they have had with their children and the solutions they have tried. I learned that a toddler usually must try a food 10-15 times before it will begin to like the taste of it, toddlers are incredibly selective of what foods they like and dislike (for example, one woman’s child will only eat beans from a local burrito shop), and everyone loves tofu fingers.

One of the issues brought up for discussion was how everyone dealt with opposition from family members who did not believe you could raise a healthy child meat-free. Everyone else had this issue – a couple of the women from the child’s father. Amanda and I realized how fortunate we are to have a family that has been supportive of our parenting decisions so far. We are definitely making many choices - co-sleeping, vegetarianism, living in a one room house, homebirth – that some people may question. I believe and hope our family realizes that all of our decisions come from much thought and research, and that they trust our judgment and respect our decisions. I also hope that they feel comfortable expressing their questions and concerns when they do have them.