At some point in October I turned forty, a milestone I commemorated with all the pomp and circumstance of numbers flipping on a clock — that is to say, I had an uneventful birthday that consisted of mostly work. (We did go to an Irish pub for a delayed celebratory brunch that Saturday.)
I snapped a contemplative self-portrait on Metro, then realized later that I had taken exactly the same photo of myself ten years ago when I turned thirty. At the time I was on the cusp of several life changes: about to get married, get a new job, and move into a new apartment. Ten years later we’re still happily married and have our new son, plus much else to be grateful for.
More transitions are coming, and I often struggle to keep up with work and child and house and life in general. In all things I must remember to find sustenance in the grace of Him who has brought me this far — sometimes easy to forget in this domestic whirlwind.
At the grand old age of three and a half months, Ezra is now able to smile and laugh, roll onto his side, recognize faces, vocalize, deliberately grasp things, feel textures, follow movement with his eyes, hold his head up unaided for minutes at a time, and even occasionally sleep through the night.
It’s been wondrous to watch his rapid physical and cognitive development, especially the changes in his personality as his sensory awareness opens up and he goes wide-eyed (or open-mouthed) at new things he can see and hear and touch and feel and taste.
And it truly is heartwarming to see our kid smile and laugh just at the sight of me. (Or maybe it should be puzzling because he seems to find something about me really amusing.)
Meanwhile we’re learning to speak Baby while transitioning him to grownup human languages. He really does have specific sounds for his various simple needs: hunger, diaper, fatigue, frustration. I speak to him in English and Tagalog, of course, but I’m injecting a few other languages: singing German and Irish songs as lullabies, and blessing his sneezes in French.
At about 13 lbs and 2 ft he’s slightly-low-average weight but also extremely tall for his age, with most of that height in his legs. As he approaches the size thresholds for his bassinet and car seat I’m already picturing a six foot teenager around our house in the 2030s.
There are still sleepless nights, especially as he transitions from bassinet to crib, goes through sleep disturbances affected by his increased sensory awareness, and suffers his first colds and allergies, but the truly hardest days of newborn life are behind us. Still, further challenges lie ahead: crawling, teething, solid foods, walking, potty training, college.
I think fatherhood most profoundly sank in for me a few weeks ago when I picked him up from daycare and said, “Hi, I’m Ezra’s father.” With those words came a rush of thoughts and emotions: from impressions of the sacramental importance of parenthood as theological ministry, to various realizations about my own parents, to “Hey I should learn to say ‘I am your father’ in a Darth Vader voice by the time he’s old enough to watch Star Wars.”
More recent wildlife encounters around home and the neighborhood: an egret by the marsh, a deer in the woods, a yellow imperial moth out on the front railing, and a giant cicada on the bedroom window screen.
Another non-action use I have for the GoPro Session is static church service videos at First Baptist DC, shot from a mini tripod on the sanctuary balcony railing. I found audio pickup to be poor for sermons and readings, but acceptable for music, so here’s the church choir singing Sir John Stainer’s arrangement of John 3:16, “God So Loved the World,” with soloist Alex McKeithen singing the prelude.
Not very visible at this distance and lens angle but I’m at the far end of the front men’s pew, singing baritone.
Effective immediately the appellation “Project Wallaby” is retired as the project pushes to live status. Say hello and welcome to our newborn son, Ezra K. Ordoveza! Ezra was born at noon on June 9th, 2016, after twenty-five hours of labor. At birth Ezra weighed 7 lbs 7.5 oz and measured 21.5 inches in length.
It’s all true, what they say: everything changes. I got to cut the cord, and later delighted in meeting his wide, alert eyes as he was poked and prodded in the pediatric warmer. Deep in my being I felt that ancient rush of wonder and love for this tiny being that my wife and I had brought into the world, the sudden and forceful conviction seizing our hearts that we promised with our souls to make our new son grow up safe and happy. Later still I felt swelling pride for my wife at her partnership in tireless work through sleepless nights of crying and feeding and diaper changes. All of it really makes for a new and adventurous chapter in our lives, and I cannot but pause every now and then to think to myself, “Wow, we are doing the baby thing.”
It’s only been a few days since our son was born and it’s already been all worth it, worth it to see him smile. (That’s before we realize that he can’t actually smile yet at this stage and that the face he’s making actually means he’s straining to poop in his diaper again.)
The floor is now open to your baby questions.
Why’d you take so long to post about it?
Well, it turns out newborn care is kind of time-consuming.
What’s with the name?
I really wanted our kid’s name to include his mother’s family name, so with long, hard-to-spell-and-pronounce middle and last names, I figured it would be good to give him a nice and simple first name — but one of spiritual significance in our faith tradition. We made a list, and the Old Testament scribe Ezra somehow came to the top. It’s a good, short name, easy to spell and pronounce, but just uncommon enough to be memorable without being over-strange. Also, the four letters in the name come right out of my last name. Another fun thing about this name is his initials: E.K.O. (Although since he was born I’ve taken to just calling him “Ez.”)
Wasn’t Ezra opposed to interracial marriages?
In that sense there might be some irony in us naming our biracial kid after Ezra, but a closer reading of the specific text in question shows that the issue is less about race than it is about sin. From my New Testament perspective, where marriage stands as an expression of the covenant between God and church, the priest Ezra’s strictures against intermarriage are understood as being about sanctity of spiritual life in God and Christ, not about keeping to outdated standards of racial purity. (Update: a friend clarified the Jewish perspective that the rules on intermarriage were for preserving the line of the Levitical priesthood from marriage with non-believers, not about avoidance of interracial marriage.)
There has been a lot of wary sniffing, and some really alarmed staring when the baby goes on a long crying jag, but after the initial shock the cats seem mostly indifferent, which is a relief.
Did you do the Lion King thing?
No, good heavens, the way Rafiki was holding Simba just would not be a good way to hold a human baby; his head would flop all over the place. After we got home I did whisper to Ezra, “My son, everything the light touches is our kingdom,” but it was kinda late and the lights were still switched off. NAAAAANTS INGONYAAAAAMA
So I got an Apple Watch. I was originally pretty sure I could do without one and was waiting for the next version to be introduced before buying, but a coworker was selling his like-new watch for cheap, so I decided to give it a try.
I went into this with my eyes wide open after scathing reviews like Matt Haughey’s, but gladly the watch has been far better than I expected. (The watchOS v2 upgrade may have improved things since that review.) I have the aluminum “Sport” model, the cheapest one with a simple silicone wristband, but even the base model is an impressive device.
The Apple Watch excels as a quick-glance display for mobile notifications, a casual fitness tracker, and of course as a time keeper. Mostly it functions as a dummy terminal for information from the phone, so the phone does the actual heavy data lifting before sending it over bluetooth to the watch. (Recent upgrades may change that, however, with watchOS v2 working more independently of the phone.) You can’t browse the web or watch a movie on it, but you can check your calendar and see a weather forecast, or say “Hey Siri” to have it start a timer or add a reminder.
The result is that I find myself grabbing my phone much less frequently since I can get the info by glancing at my watch. It’s also given me more situational awareness at work as I’m far less likely to miss emails and meetings. The 3-circle fitness tracker works as an interesting visual motivator to spur the user to activity. I’ve even installed the ESV Bible app, which lets me read the entire ESV bible on my wrist (though most of the text comes from the phone app via bluetooth). One feature I haven’t used much is the heartbeat-sender because really, no one wants to feel my heart beat — but seeing my own pulse has been occasionally useful. The watch is still rather slow to load some screens, to a point that seems unreasonable even accounting for bluetooth and processor lag, so the annoyance factor can ramp up on certain apps.
I was mostly expecting the Apple Watch to be a novelty purchase with some rough edges but it’s actually proven to be a fairly useful and life-improving wrist computer. Hopefully v2 is much faster.