Monday, July 21, 2014


Picking a name for a kid is hard work. When my cousin's wife delivered their first child, they were not able to leave the hospital until they had decided on a name. I called him to check in to make this discovery and asked what name they were thinking about.


But Jared was worried that, as his father- and the first time as a father, he was strapping a name to his son for the rest of his life. Would he be an Alex as he grew up? As a father, this was his first decision and it would effect the rest of his life. No pressure. When his son grew to be a man, would he hate his name?

It's not like we're naming him Sue, here- I said. We're talking about Alex. Alexander the Great! Alexander Graham Bell! Alex is a good name. A strong name. Alex is your friend and your confidant.  Alex is an excellent choice to name your first born. You raise him with love, you'll raise him to know that his name was a gift from his parents.

Alex went home in his father's arms a few hours later.

Husband and I don't talk about names until we know what we are having. We knew our first born would be named after my mom. The second one was a little trickier. But, before we start talking about names- mentally, we both pull out the Rolodex of names we know and dog ear the ones we want to put on the "please consider" list. As we get closer to discovering the gender, our mental lists (which are never discussed) get shorter and evolve. Names that are on both lists get moved to the top, names that I turn my nose up at get tossed. Names that Husband doesn't care for are put in the "maybe" pile.

"Maybe" meaning I need to go back and look at them again to see if they are something worth putting back in the hat. Most of the time, they aren't.

So, I started flipping through my mental Rolodex over the past few days and am always partial to family names. Family names that are old and lovely. Family names of family members that I adore, love, and cherish.

There was no greater generation than my grandfather's. He was the youngest of seven- four of which were sisters: Francis Talulah (Talu), Mary Agnes (Mae), Helen Cecilia (Helen), Benjamin Elizabeth (Bennie). Mentally, I am tapped out of girl names- so this is where I felt I should start.

Francis Talulah is not Husband's style. Helen Cecilia is pretty wonderful- but we don't need two children with an eighties music themed name. We've already used Bennie. And Aunt Mae was really special to me.

Aunt Mae was a woman I remember from my childhood as someone who was both strong and wonderful. She raised her large family after her husband died at a young age. All of her children went on to become successful people, marry, and have children of their own. Aunt Mae is someone worthy of having a child named after.


Mae made it on my mental list.

Elizabeth is a family name and a friend's name. We both really like the name Elizabeth. And Beth is short for Elizabeth. Never met a Beth I wasn't head over heels about. Beths are fun people. Beths are trustworthy. Beths are lifelong friends. Beths are keepers.

Mentally, Mae Beth made it to the top of the list. Mae Beth rolls off the tongue well, sounds a little traditional without being too much of a blue-haired [old person] name, like Petunia. Or Mortimer.

Mae Beth. I think I can slowly get Husband on board with Mae Beth if Baby is a girl. Rolling the name around in my head, I start thinking about what it could possibly get shortened to or evolve into. For instance, we often call Bennie-- Bennie B.

Mae Beth... I guess that might be shortened to Mae B.... or maybe not.

Back to the Rolodex.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's for dinner

When Mommy is pregnant and Daddy is on call?

Bennie had copious amounts of raspberries and Cheerios, with 1/4 of a chicken quesadilla (from the freezer section at Costco).

LMC had raspberries and a waffle- and a lot of complaints about her 1/4 of a chicken quesadilla. Oh, and a cookie. To boost her low sugar...

Wife had a bowl of Cheerios and no cookie. Because I had already consumer three in the course of the day.

This is awfully similar to what we just had for breakfast- except Bennie had a waffle, too. And no one had a quesadilla.

Let's not talk about the cookies.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

To 36 more

Husband just left to pick up some libations for this evening. Mom requested that I make homemade peach ice cream. Brother requested my grandfather's pound cake. SIL is picking up BBQ. It is the twelfth of July.

Today is Brother's birthday.

Last night, 12 of his best friends- 16 of us in total- joined Brother and SIL for a feast of lobster and steak. The crowd was loud and jovial, each raising a glass to each other in the name of my brother. My hero. As the glasses clinked, the alcohol flowed- the conversation lightened and the laughs grew louder. Questions were passed back and forth from table to table about dreams and best birthdays. A lot of husbands said they'd have sex. A lot of wives said they'd rather go shopping with someone else's credit card. People walked by and stopped to congratulate Brother on another birthday.

The laughs rippled through the club and I watched the waitstaff watch us from behind the corners. I saw those that were older than us peer in our corner-- and they were all doing the most wonderful thing- smiling. I saw them make that unnoticeable head nod with a blink on their eyes as they smiled a grateful and happy smile for this man, my brother.

We have been graced by the Good Lord to have him on this earth for almost two years since his stroke. As I watched his friends and those strangers, I think we were all sharing that same thought- Thank You, God. Thank You for another turn around the sun.

When the food was served, Susan said we need to raise a glass.

A clink of her glass and I stand, because who am I to ever miss an opportunity to speak? Besides- I was the only one not drinking, being both pregnant and the designated driver.

"I want to take a quick moment and thank everyone for coming. Thank you SIL for organizing and thank the Sweet Lord for my amazing brother. Let's raise our glass to him. Now, let's bow our heads--"
Thank you Lord for letting us come together as family and friends. And we know that it is because of you that friends are the family we choose. We ask that you Bless us, Oh Lord, in these Thy Gifts which we are about to receive, from Thy Bounty- through Christ- Our Lord. Amen.
It was one of those moments that I did not care how tired I was, or that the whatever-the-heck-virgin drink I ordered was so sugary that I got the shakes. I was here, with him. His mood was light; his happiness evident.

It's been hard moving home. Making headway into the city, reconnecting with people I once knew and turning strangers into friends. The house has been a project. Husband's work is hard. These are all such little things compared to having him in my life. A year ago, I was overwhelmed at the prospect of moving home, overwhelmed at leaving the city I had fallen so deeply in love with. As I sat last night, I knew that why we had moved home was so very right. For him. For his wife. For his son and his daughter.

For this birthday we are celebrating and all the other birthdays we will be lucky enough to have together.

As we sang Happy Birthday in what was supposed to be Italian- but we think it was more gibberish- a friend who has known him since high school gleefully threw her hands in the air, almost tipped over her wine and said, "To 36 more!"

I think we all knew what she meant. To 36 more.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Last week, Bennie fell in the pool. Honest to God- she fell in the pool. I was right there beside her talking to two other friends by the pool and there was a little splash that amounted to an 18 month old in the pool. My heart still jumped in my throat and my eyes expanded past the size of saucers. Nothing will put any kind of fear in you like seeing a baby go head first into the pool without an intention behind it. 

Before I could get down to her and do all those maternal things that one must do- she found the surface, was on her back and breathing. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I scooped her up and showered her with kisses as she started crying. She was safe, she was completely and totally safe- but it was one of those moments where I knew it did not matter how much money it cost, these classes we had been taking were worth every single penny. 

We are about to start our fifth week of ISR -- Infant Self Rescue -- on Monday for Bennie. ISR is something you cannot go into trepidatiously, but it is vital for any baby that is ever around a pool. 

Our children are always around a pool. Even if we did not have one in our backyard, my parents have a pool. My inlaws buy a redneck Rivera every summer and throw it out around September when it finally gets too cold. We go to the lake. We go to the beach. We have water babies. 

ISR teaches children as young as six months how to survive if they fall in the water. A child Bennie's age, 18 months, actually learns how to swim. Ok, no- she is not swimming free style or perfecting her breast stroke. She is, however, holding her breath without a cue* and kicking her little feet under water before coming back up to the surface, flipping on her back and taking a breath before doing it again.

* (some classes teach parents to blow in their face before taking the baby under water- nothing wrong with that- but if she falls in, there won't be anyone there to cue her to hold her breath)

I have spoken to another swim "professional" and it was clear to me that she did not care for ISR and I asked her about it.

"I don't like the technique behind ISR; it teaches fear of the water." 

While I disagreed with her statement that it teaches fear of water, shouldn't all kids have a healthy fear of something that is dangerous? Lots of things are fun- but almost all those things can also be dangerous. When we lived in DC- I taught LMC about cars and that she should have a healthy fear of them. Husband thought I was a little overzealous and told her all about snakes... so she could have a healthy fear of snakes. 

LMC's biggest fear now? Bugs. Oh, and dogs. And trying new foods. That scary dragon monster with three heads on My Little Pony. She might even be afraid of potatoes for all I know. 

Bennie has no fear of the water. Just this morning, I was in the water and she was on the edge. She looked at me, took a breath and stepped off the edge- landing on the bottom of the shallow end. It'll take your breath away to watch a baby do that. You'll want to grab her, hold her, protect her, and -- probably-- shake her, so she knows not to do it again. After landing at the bottom, she quickly kicked her way to the air that waited for her on the surface. Her nose crested first, as she spread her arms and legs to make a starfish. 

She breathed, giggled, rolled onto her stomach and kicked over to me, ready for more. 

As a wife of a Pediatric ICU doctor, I feel like sometimes we are stricter about some things than other families who don't see what Husband sees. We still cut LMC's grapes in half lengthwise. The Heimlich maneuver is something we have both perfected. We are hyper diligent about kindness to animals. There are no plastic bags in the house that can be caught by the wind of a fan. We are over-the-top about carseats, not necessarily buying the most expensive- but they are definitely the tightest. We have more CO2 detectors than I should admit to. 

ISR was something that Husband was passionate about long before we had children. Now it is something we are investing both substantial time and money in for our youngest. It is not a guarantee to prevent drowning, but it gives Bennie a fighting chance to survive if the unthinkable happens. The water is a fun place to be- my happiest memories are on the lake, by the pool, or in the ocean. I want my children to be the same way and it not be a place of dread- or a place of fear. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life Changes

My whole life- I have been a planner. While Brother was the one that would call me on a Tuesday with plans to leave for the lake Tuesday afternoon, I like to set a plan. Make an agenda. Get it together. At the very least, pack a bag.

And often I have learned, if you want to make God laugh- make a plan. And often I have said, I make God laugh a lot.

We made a commitment to ourselves and made a plan for LMC. We made a plan to bring her into this world.

Years later, we made a plan . We talked, thought, prayed, and planned. Like clockwork, our plan came to be. Bennie.

And we made another plan. Two children meant "man-on-man" defense. Two children is almost the national average. We would be a perfectly average family. Pregnancy is hard on any body- especially mine. Rolling into the operating room that early December morning, I remember the thought tumbling through my head before the fear set in, "This will be the last time I do this. I will no longer have to be afraid of a c-section after today." It helped push the fear away.

A tug, a pull, and then Bennie cried her first cries.

I looked at Husband and, without thinking, said, "I could do this again."

Over the last 18 months, our family has gone through changes-  both good and bad, but I never realized that it never felt complete. It is starting to slowly evolve into that completion we all crave for.

Husband has always said, "If you aren't preventing- you're trying."

We stopped making plans. We threw caution to the wind. We were Catholic about it. There were no apps, no schedules, no plans. Just God's plan and his love for our love.

I went to bed the night before last unusually early. Over the past week, I have been crazy-tired. In hindsight, this should have been the least of all flags. The nose bleed. The heartburn. The lack of wanting wine at night. All those little things the body does to let you know before it let's you know did not even cross my mind when it came to being pregnant.

I chalked the tired up to the summer heat.
I chalked the heartburn up to a heavy dinner.
I chalked the nose bleed up to... life.
I chalked the lack of wanting wine to maturity.

I chalked nothing up to pregnancy.

If you want to make God laugh- make a plan.
If you aren't preventing- you're trying.

Yesterday morning, I shot straight up in bed- the pieces finally falling into place. A test.


I laughed and was excited about the change we were about to embark on together. As it was a little after 6 in the morning and Husband was on call, I send him a text:

I figured he might need a minute, hence the text. Ten seconds later- my phone rings. We laughed. We are excited. Life changes. Change is good.

After emailing my doctor, and admitting that I have not been paying much attention to cycles and dates- she schedules an ultrasound. Fortunately, they had a cancellation yesterday- otherwise it would have been about two weeks.

Not only am I pregnant- I am eight weeks pregnant. I have almost completed my first trimester. We saw the little raspberry's heart, beating strong. We saw the little fins. LMC saw the tail and asked if it was a puppy.

Since we have had LMC, the common question we get has always been, "Oh, so you're going to try for a boy next?"

No. We're going to try to complete our family. Whatever God gives us will be a blessing. Happy and healthy- that's what we want.

After Bennie, the question became, "Two girls- you didn't get the boy? So- you're going to try again?"

No. We'll see what the Big Plan is. Ten fingers, ten toes- happy and healthy.  That's all we want.

If we have a son- if we have a daughter- we do not care. We want this baby to be nothing but ours to have, to hold, to raise and to love.

And to not be a puppy.