what's in a name?

My sister and I have talked names for hours on end. Without even being pregnant or anything- we just love to talk about names.

Did you know there's a word for that?

Nomatophilia: an unusual affection for, or obsession with names

When we've searched for names for our children, we wanted to find names that held meaning, sounded nice, could be shortened to a nickname, and that they wouldn't be sharing with too many other people their age. Call me a snob, but I've pretty much ruled out any name that's appeared in the top 100 for the few years before their births. Even if I liked it.

Here's why:

I was once in a Spanish class in high school that had 20 students. Of those 20, there were 3 Erins (myself included) and 1 Aaron. That's 1/5 of the class who shared a name. I didn't really like it. Additionally, my middle name is Marie. My parents chose it after a close friend of theirs, but still... it really seemed like everyone's middle name was Marie. I didn't really like that, either. I also couldn't shorten my common name to be called something different.

When I moved out west, I hardly met any women named Erin. Plenty of men named Aaron, and a whole civilization of people who can't spell my name for the life of them. I guess it's a regional or cultural thing. There are just lots of women named Erin in New England. So being away from home my name is a little more... exotic. No?

I like the idea of passing down family names, but none of our female family names met the other requirements. I really love what we chose instead: Puritan virtue names.

Now, when I googled this earlier I got some pretty wacky stuff. Like this. We're not that crazy. We didn't want names that weren't names at all, or anything that stimulated a gag reflex. You know, out of kindness for our children and the entire human race.

As I've done more family history research lately, I am thrilled by all of the virtue names I'm seeing! My family has lived in New England for nearly 400 years now- have I mentioned how much I love being a New Englander? The pride runs deep. 400 years deep, in fact. In any case, it's been pretty awesome to find all of these Puritans living all over New England for centuries, and to see names like Patience, Thankful, Silence, Mercy, and Prudence all over my family tree. 

I can't pinpoint it exactly, but there's something about it that I love. Maybe it's because, in a less direct way, I am passing down my heritage.

For our girls we chose lighter, prettier sounding names, which could then be shortened (to something a little less direct in meaning) if they reach adolescence and decide they need to be cool or something. 

Verity is another word for "truth," stemming from the Latin "veritas," it's more of a poetic word now. Most people have never heard it before, and most people tell me they think it's so pretty and ask how I came up up with it. We shorten it to Vera, which is a Slavic name meaning "faith." 

Her middle name is Moriah, after the mount on which Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac, and on which Solomon's temple is also thought to have been built. And it's pretty, right? I love it.

Liberty is more common, I think in particular after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 this name became more popular. Its meaning is more obvious. We often call her Libby (no, I'm still not set on a spelling for this... HELP!?!), or Libs. 

Her middle name is Madison, after the 4th president of the United States and "Father of the Constitution." I let the popularity ranking slide on this one because it's her middle name. And Husband was pretty thrilled that I consented to naming at least one of our children after a founding father. (If it were up to him, all boys who join our family would be called as follows: Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Washington.. etc.) This one I could run with.

It just happened to work out that the syllables match in each of their names. We didn't plan it. Not to downplay the importance of syllables, because... just say the whole name together and it should come out of your mouth like a song! Am I right?

This is where I hear my sister laughing and saying, "We think about these things way too much!"

And she may be right. I may be a hopeless nomatophile for the rest of my life. But I'm kind of okay with that.

It will sort of pose a problem though, should we ever have a third little girl. Do we keep up the pattern? Is that fun and meaningful? Or just plain cheesy and annoying? I mean, we all know a family whose names all match in some way... does everyone roll their eyes at that? Or is it fun to be part of?

I dunno.. I'm on the fence. While I would never use virtue names from my ancestors (Prudence?! Oh heck no!), there are a few others that I think are positively adorable for little girls: Amity, Felicity, Melody. We'll see.

What about you? How did you choose the names for your children? And what do you think of sibling names following a pattern? Cute or obnoxious?


our life in text messages

It's been a while since I've written one of these posts. They're 100% spontaneous, so whenever they happen, they get posted. I guess it's been a while since we were silly over texts... and definitely time we fixed that!

Since our recent move, the girls have been sharing a room for the first time, and we haven't really figured it out yet. One evening after about 1.5 hours of bedtime craziness, Husband went in to rock Libby a while. He ended up with both kids zonked out on him, and the following conversation was what ensued.

That "lol" was legit- something sadistic in me was so entertained by his suffering.
Rule #1 of parenting small children: Never go in to rock a child without emptying your bladder beforehand. Thoroughly.

Because even though I visited the loo before going in to relieve Husband of 50 lbs of kid on him... I got stuck in there with the littlest (who didn't want to transfer) for another 20 minutes and MAN.. I didn't do the job thoroughly enough and had no iphone handy to text for help.

These things.. you know, they are what life with small children is made of! 

Sleep and bodily functions. Totally normal stuff to publicize on your family blog.

Also... there was no scissor holding. Empty threats... psssshhh!

I win.

Sort of... 


have you heard of ICAN?

I asked a friend of mine last week what prompted her to change the way she looked at the choices she had surrounding the birth of her children. As a young mom with two cesareans under her belt, she surprised me with her goal of having natural, vaginal births for future babies. I was so excited, and so impressed!

She responded that a friend of hers, upon learning that she'd had c-sections, simply asked her the following question:

"Have you heard of ICAN?"

To which she responded that she hadn't.. but continued to listen. And began to learn a whole lot of things.

ICAN stands for International Cesarean Awareness Network (here's how they describe themselves on their homepage).
I attended my first ICAN meeting last Friday, at the home of our chapter leader (and my fellow Bradley Method teacher) Robyn. Having never had a c-section myself, I'm sure people were wondering what I was doing there or why I even cared- but all of that became clear when I explained my job as a natural childbirth educator and my passion for helping women have safe, smooth, and joyful birthing experiences.

What I found in this group of 10ish mothers sharing their stories was a sense of community and loving sisterhood that I had never discovered anywhere else. The support and encouragement they gave each other brought me to tears. From the heartbreak and trauma of their unwanted (and in most cases, avoidable) cesareans to the joy and triumph of healthy vaginal births afterward- to the uplifting words and advice they had for moms attempting their first VBACs, these women were phenomenal. Women supporting women. It is such an incredible, powerful thing!

Most of these moms explained that they simply didn't get the education they needed initially to prevent their first cesarean. If they had a repeat afterward, most of them believed they had no other choice, or didn't realize the affect their choice of care provider had on the outcome of their birth. Some tried, but were lacking the information and support they needed. If they had a 3rd cesarean, most felt they really had no other option. Realizing the danger of multiple cesarean surgeries and seeing how their family size could be limited as a result, these moms went on to have anywhere from 1-5 successful VBACs. 

There are, of course, some cases in which an emergency c-section is just what society believes it to be: a life-saving procedure that was used as a last resort, or when there was no other option available (such as with placental abruption or placenta previa, for example). The current c-section rate in US hospitals averages 33%, meaning that 1 in 3 babies is born via a major abdominal surgery which carries risks for both mothers and babies.

But if c-sections save lives, then why work to prevent them?

Good question. 

It goes without saying that we're all grateful for modern medicine and the ability to perform life-saving procedures when needed. That should be pretty obvious. The c-sections that ICAN and other natural birthing organizations are working to spread awareness of, are those that could have been avoided- those that might not have been necessary if women knew more about their options.

I feel like it's at least once a month I see another friend on social media give birth to her first child via cesarean section. It makes my heart break to know of the difficulty she's likely to face with recovery and with every pregnancy and birth that follows. An overwhelming number of these moms have emergency c-sections for reasons such as cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), failure to progress/failed induction, or fetal distress. These are the ones that likely could have been prevented. This is what we work to raise awareness of. 

This is why I teach the Bradley Method. Because while many women give birth vaginally with the help of an epidural, many women don't- and end up in surgery instead. While many women are able to establish a solid milk supply after having an epidural, many women don't- and end up feeding formula instead. I could go on and on with this...

Being a birth educator, people tend to offer their birth and breastfeeding stories to me very freely. I kinda like it- it's interesting! But in a good 9 out of 10 cases, there is at least one thing about that mom's birth and/or postpartum recovery that could have been easier had she decided to refuse that induction, or skip out on that epidural. And what's sad for me is that most moms don't want to hear it. And I'm left standing there speechless, feeling like a bottomless pit of information with a heart 5 sizes too big-- unable to say anything out of fear of offending someone or severing a friendship.

This is why I teach the Bradley Method. It's why I love what I do. I realize that there are few that want it, but for those that do, their lives are changed. 

And so that's my question for everyone out there: 

Have you heard?  Do you know the choices available to you? Are you respected and supported in your choices? Do you know what questions to ask?

There are people to help you and support you. Beginning with me, or with any other birth worker or educator out there- and extending to support groups like ICAN, dedicated to supporting women in their struggles and empowering them through their choices. Together we can make things better!