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.