When I was single, I would imagine my future children; children whose names I had long ago picked out (Gabriel and Virginia) while daydreaming during classes in college. What I didn’t factor in was that my future husband might have an opinion. Or, more accurately, that he might disagree with my choices.

Why, oh, why, must our significant others feel like they should have a say in the name of our children? Don’t they know that most women have names picked out long before they even date, much less get married? It goes hand-in-hand with planning our weddings.

I first learned that my husband, Chris, would not be easily swayed to my way of thinking when I was pregnant with my oldest. We had decided not to find out the sex of the baby until it was born so coming up with a name became doubly hard. When I told Chris that I loved the name Gabriel for a boy, he rejected it outright. He did not like it. The name Virginia? Well, he wasn’t sold on it. He needed to look and think and decide on his own.

Gasp! I panicked! I needed to convince him that the names I picked were perfect for our unborn baby. I had nine months. I could do it.

It was then that I developed a system for us to pick out names. Here are my six easy steps on how to name your baby:

1. Decide on the middle name first!

If your spouse wants you to name your child Ambrosius and you hate the idea, then encourage him to make Ambrosius the middle name. Win-win. You don’t have to call your child that unless he gets in trouble, and your husband gets the name he wants.

We picked out the middle names first because I wanted Sophia as a middle name for a girl. It was my grandmother’s middle name and her grandmother’s first name. My husband knew he wanted his name as the middle name for a boy. It helped us as we looked at first names to find the best name combinations.

2. Buy a baby name book!

There are plenty of baby name websites out there, but it is hard to sort through all the possible names. And, honestly, can you trust a website that suggests a name like Ocean?

3. Go through the book separately.

Make sure you buy the book and read it before your partner is fully aware. It is easier to do a blitz attack this way.

My husband and I agreed that if either of us absolutely hated a name, it was out of consideration (and that is how Gabriel got eliminated). I crossed off names I hated, starred the ones I loved, and put question marks on others. Then, my husband went through and did the same. In the end, we had a list of about 30 names for girls and 15 for boys.

4. Slowly narrow down the list!

Nothing says you must have a name at your 20-week-ultrasound. There is plenty of time to figure out the names. We would put aside the names and revisit them. As we did so, we found there were some names we didn’t like as much as before.

5. Rank order the names

Make sure you put that name you want more than anything on top then be ready for the gut-wrenching discovery that your spouse doesn’t want that name as much as you do. At this point, Virginia Sophia was still on the girls’ name list. It was at the top of mine. It was in the middle of his. I knew then that I had to put on the hard sell. After all, Virginia Sophia was the name of my dearly departed grandmother. Surely he would change his mind. Right?

6. Decide in the birthing room!

I know there are some who choose the name before they have their baby. We didn’t do that. We wanted to meet our baby first and see what name fit best. Besides, we still were undecided on a name. At this point, we had the names narrowed to 3 girls’ and 3 boys’ names.

After my c-section was done, my husband brought over our beautiful baby girl for me to see. Vulnerable, having just given birth, I looked at my husband and asked if Chris knew what he wanted to name her, making sure to bat my eyes at him. He gazed at me then said, “Let’s name her Virginia.” I wanted to shout out and do a happy dance, but didn’t want him to change his mind (besides, I couldn’t move from the waist down due to my spinal). So, in the end, we named our oldest Virginia Sophia.

Your partner will be putty in your hands after giving birth to your child so the birthing room is the best place to finalize the name. Well, most of the time.

This post was originally featured on Denise’s blog, Jayhawk Mommy.  Photo via.

Today’s topic is baby wearing. Because babies are in fashion all year round. They have to be. If they aren’t, they become one more thing to haul around and take up space in your grocery cart. Ultimately preventing you from buying x amount of gallons of ice cream—which you’ll need to wallow in the fact that you just ripped your pants because they aren’t maternity, and you still are.

So, the only other alternatives to baby wearing are:

Prop the baby in the front seat of the cart, holding them with one hand while using the other hand to try and steer a cart that only turns left.

Put the car seat carrier in the cart and kiss any room for your ice cream goodbye. In fact, kiss anything that isn’t a few apples and a bag of baby carrots goodbye, because carriers today are large enough to safely transport a baby elephant.

Wear your baby. Unless it’s an elephant.

I’ve spent the last several months test driving the Unison Newborn Carrier by Infantino to see how it worked. Despite the challenges of toting around a baby the size of a sumo wrestler, I found it easy to use and extremely comfortable. Here’s what I loved most about it:

It’s made with the same stretchy, snuggly material as a Moby or Ergobaby. So, you can snug your baby like you have your very own marsupial pouch, but without the goo inside. Or a joey. Because nothing would be more upsetting to an over-exhausted parent than having a baby kangaroo jump out of their baby carrier.

It’s structured with buckles. It was nice to be able to quickly get the carrier on and off without having to perform an interpretive dance of the ever-frustrated parent.

It has adjustable panels on the side that create a narrow seat for a newborn. As baby grows, the panels expand making more room for your baby and his joey. Panel adjusting is important for two reasons:

1. If you have an itty bitty five-pound baby, she can be tight and snug against your body.

2. If your baby was like mine and was a newborn around 30 weeks gestation, the panels stretch out. This means you can keep him close enough for snuggles, but far enough away that you both don’t generate enough body heat to start a fire.

There’s no strategy involved. You just slide baby’s legs right into the leg holes. You don’t have to spend forty minutes awkwardly moving baby leg around, playing “Is this a leg hole or just a space between a snap and a strap?”

It’s lightweight. Which makes it less bulky. Which is good. Because my baby has the bulk of many carriers. Millions.

It’s comfortable. It’s serious business when you have a baby carrier that straps on like a Nascar harness. The harness straps are for support and comfort. In addition, there’s also a band that wraps around your waist for stability, comfortable, and confidence boosting—while hiding your post-baby muffin fat.

It’s washable. Really, what parent doesn’t love that?

My super-sized son is maxing out the length and weight limit now. So, our time with Newborn Carrier is coming to an end. Now that my little guy can support his head, he’s able to face forward and is just as comfortable as before. But, soon, he won’t fit into it at all. Then, the Unison Newborn Carrier will be left to join me at the grocery store so that I can tote around a couple gallons of ice cream.

Photo via. Disclosure: All products used above were sent from Infantino. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts—as ridiculous as they are—are my own.

So Mr. Who and I went on a romantic weekend vacation for our 4th wedding anniversary.  We stayed at a beautiful cabin in Amish country that came equipped with a hot tub, Direct TV, and the owners’ (who lived right next door) two Chihuahuas that liked to sleep on our porch. It was tranquil, quiet, smelled a little of animal poop, but very relaxing nonetheless.

We decided to bring movies with us and shared some lovely moments watching chick flicks: Evil Dead, Dark Skies, and Silent Hill Revelation. Saturday evening, just when we thought things couldn’t possibly get more romantic, we came across American Ninja Warrior on TV.  If you have never seen this, it’s like American Gladiators but without the greased up biceps, sparring, and Hulk Hogan.

The goal was for each person to work their way through – and finish – a gauntlet filled with strength and endurance challenges.  These challenges included things like: running up a wall, spider walking 30 feet up a small enclosed glass tunnel, and doing that lift to the next hole thing with the metal bar that Oliver Queen does on “Arrow”.  You know, things everyone should be able to do in a moment’s notice.

So while that’s impressive and all, Burly Twin A could probably do all of that and more.  At 3 years old, he is already (to my HORROR) jumping off the top of the sliding board to the ground, climbing trees, and instead of sitting  on the two person glider, Twin A uses the handles as foot pedals.  At preschool, he climbs the rock wall boulder thing they have and goes to the very top to stand and observe his minion toddler friends.  (I’m working on getting him to say: “I’m king of the world!”)

So after watching him in action, I think I would definitely pay to see a bunch of 3-5 year olds running through these challenges.  There’s really no training involved; kids figure a lot of things out on their own, and usually NOT the way you want them to do it.  You could also incorporate chores into it. Make them run across the yard to pick up sticks, water the plants, pick weeds, and sing: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” at the top of their lungs.  To make the challenge even harder, they have to do them using their indoor voices and are not allowed to ask “why?” for 10 minutes.

To make it easier, American Toddler Warrior wouldn’t even have to be physically challenging.

A more realistic set of challenges would probably go like this:

1. Put your socks on correctly.

2. Go find your shoes.

2a. Not your juice, your shoes.
2b. Get your finger out of your nose and go get your shoes!

3.  Now go find your blankie.

3a. Hey, what are you doing? It’s not time to watch Yo Gabba Gabba!  It’s time to be a NINJA!

4. Put your toys away.

4a. Do not hit your brother.
4b. Tell him you’re sorry.
4c. No, you can’t tell him you’re sorry, then hit him again!

5. Now eat your lunch.

5a. No, you cannot have an oatmeal pie until you eat your lunch.
5b. Come on, just eat the sandwich. Why are you crying?
5c. Ok, here’s the oatmeal pie already. Now eat your lunch.
5d. What do you mean you’re FULL?

Twin A would probably win the above challenges, though, he does those things pretty well.  He would be so excited to be named a Ninja, no prize money would be necessary.  He would probably settle for five Oreos and someone to find the missing head from his Captain America figure.

It’s headless because he bit it off with his bare teeth. ROAR!

This post was originally featured on Carrie’s blog. Photo via

Women talk about the joys of becoming a new mother. The moment you hold your child for the first time. The tears, the joy, the overwhelming amount of love that oozes from every pore of your body, every part of your being. You see this in movies, on TV shows, in books. Friends, family members, strangers inform you of this joy of joys.

So, when you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and awaiting the arrival of your precious baby, all you can think about is that moment of bonding. When the doctor/nurse takes that bloody and shat on 8 pounds of pure joy that was made with love between you and your hubs/partner/lover and places him/her gingerly upon your bosom. The moment that your 8 pounds of pure joy suckles on said bosom for the first time.

Every time you think of this moment, you are overcome with emotion. Your eyeballs leak gobs of tears. You start to sob from the joy of it. You cannot help yourself. This is a moment you are anxiously, patiently waiting for. The absolute best moment of your life. You are so sure of it.

Then it comes. The moment you have been anxiously, patiently waiting for. You pop that 8 pounds of pure joy out of your vagina. Well, you don’t pop her out exactly. It’s more like a ripping, tearing, pulling and stretching of your vagina to China and back so that the circumference of a small dinner plate with shoulders can get past your lady bits.

The doctor/nurse/whoever (you don’t really care if it’s the homeless man down on Main Street because you are just so glad the worst pain known to man is finally over) hands your bundle of joy over to you. The moment of truth is upon you. The moment you have been waiting months for. You make eye contact. Well, kinda. 30 second old babies really can’t focus, but you, umm, make eye contact and, and, wait for it…nothing.

Because all those movies, TV shows, books, family members and friends? Not one of them told you that you could possibly suffer from something called Postpartum Depression.

The Lamaze class that you forced your poor husband/life partner/other to attend so that you can learn stuff to help you during your labor and delivery? Stuff that completely goes out the door because all you can think of is getting this human out of you so that you can have your life back. They didn’t even warn you. Not. One. Word. Ever.

I hold my newborn as if the guy at the market just handed me a bag of potatoes. Actually, I was more excited about the potatoes because they were on sale. I look at my baby. I look at my husband.

He can see the look on my face, the blankness behind my eyes and because he fears that I could possibly drop his baby on the cold, hard, tile floor — the same floor that shares the afterbirth and whatever else that just spewed from my body — he takes her from me. And bonds with her. Okay, so she doesn’t suckle because that would be weird and a total waste of time. But they bond.

And so it goes. What are some other signs? I’ve broken it down for you:

The “midnight” feeding that ended poorly for the unsuspecting nurse whose only crime is being on-duty during this crazed new mother’s stay. That and wheeling the new “breast-fed” baby into said crazed mother’s room while she’s TRYINGTOGETSOMESLEEPDAMMIT!

The intense panic you feel when your visiting mother goes home after staying with you for a few days. “Please don’t go, mommy. Please please please don’t leave me. I promise I will make up for all the broken curfews, D’s on my report cards and sneaking out at midnight. I promise. What’s that you say? You didn’t know about the sneaking out at midnight part? Oh.”

The night you swear that your sweet little angel is going to turn her head on her shoulders because you are pretty sure you gave birth to the devil herself. Or Regan.

The times you spend on the phone with your new child’s pediatrician while you soak on a sitz-bath all but licking the wounds of your poor, sore arse that was ripped to smithereens so your baby could have life. Those times you spend crying to him. Begging what in God’s name are you to do with a baby? You have some experience, but you were twelve and was only paid a dollar an hour.

The times you don’t want to hold her. After you nurse your baby, you hand her over to your husband, visiting friend or the homeless man down on Main Street (this last one is just a joke…don’t do that.)

This. This is the look of the day, err, summer. I wasn’t kidding. I have about 23 more photos just like this to prove it. And that smile? I had to paste it on.

The same faded, stretched out elastic waist-banded “bike” shorts and breast milk stained t-shirt is your “go to” outfit for three months. Okay, so it’s really your everyday outfit but no one tells you about your fashion faux pas for fear of losing a limb.

I thought I was normal. I did. Didn’t every new mother have maniacal thoughts and act like a complete lunatic?

I make fun of my experience, because I decided long ago that humor is how I would deal with things that aren’t so pleasant. But it really is anything but funny.

Here’s the thing: Postpartum Depression is real. It’s actual. It is not satisfactual. It happens to more women than you think. If you are suffering from this, you are not alone.

The most important thing to remember is that Postpartum Depression is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. So, get on your high-horse or soap box or whatever works for you and scream to anyone who is listening and get the help you need. You will be happy you did. And so will your baby. And your husband. And your mother. And your neighbor. And…get my point?

This post was originally featured on Maureen’s blog. Momfeld. Photo via

When I imagined becoming a mom, I knew it wouldn’t be all cuddles and kisses. I knew it would come with lots of diaper changes, messes, dreaded potty-training, and temper tantrums. 

When I was pregnant, I heard over and over from friends and family we wouldn’t sleep again for at least for 18 years once the baby arrived. We also learned that my personal hygiene would get neglected (it did) and that we would become obsessed with our new baby’s bowel movements. Magazine articles and blog posts only reiterated what those close to us said. However, there were a few things that these well-meaning people forgot to mention. You know, things no one told me about having kids.

1. Do You Want a Moment of Privacy?

Forget it. Children have an innate sense of when you want time to yourself or a moment with your spouse. They don’t understand why anyone would want to be alone. They feel like it is their job to keep you company, especially when you need to use the bathroom. I suggest a lock. Seriously.

2. Personal space? What’s that?

Babies and toddlers have no clue what personal space is. They have no misgivings about getting right up in your face. Not only will their face be right on top of yours, but every part of their body will be, too. For some reason, my three-year-old loves sticking her butt up in the air. Inevitably, it ends up closer to my face than I ever wanted. Never mind the fact that my youngest doesn’t understand that sitting on my face might cause me to suffocate.

3. What are you eating? I want that!

My girls are master moochers. If I want to eat something I love and not have them share it, I have to hide in a locked bathroom (see #1) or wait until they are in bed for the night. Since the latter usually happens after 9 p.m., I don’t get to eat what I want very often. It has gotten so bad that I’ve been known to put off eating lunch until my girls are napping so that I can eat my lunch without little hands and fingers grabbing at it.

4. Your stuff is now their stuff.

At least, that is what they believe. We used to keep some things, like coasters, puzzle books, and pens, in our end table drawers. No more. My girls thought everything in a drawer was one of their toys. I’ve had to be creative in hiding those items. By the time they were tall enough to touch the top of tables, I had to hide everything I kept on there, too. Any kitschy stuff has been hidden until they are much older. I’m thinking at least 21.

5. You lose your mind…

Yeah, I originally forgot #5 until a reader pointed it out. Focus is a thing of the past. I blame my kids.

6. There will be bodily harm.

Be prepared to be harmed physically by your adorable bundles of joy! I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been head-butted by a child, whacked in the teeth, and stepped on. I’m a bit amazed that bruises haven’t yet appeared on my face. My husband has seriously considered buying a cup for protection. (I’m thinking that might be the perfect Christmas gift this year.)

 7. Your boobs will never be the same!

I’m not talking about the sag that happens after having a baby. (Although that does happen too.) My girls have stepped on my “girls” (who saw that coming) multiple times, randomly grabbed them, pulled them to help them get up, and rubbed them for comfort, long after breastfeeding came to an end. If I had a dollar for every time I told youngest, “Hands off my boobs!”, I would be able to afford a whole new wardrobe for my post-baby body.

This post was originally featured on Denise’s blog, Jayhawk Mommy

Babies—they’re just like us!

Only smaller…and cuter…and louder…and poopier. Right?

Wrong.

Well, I mean, they are technically little humans, unless you’re dealing with a Rosemary’s Baby or Renesmee situation. (In which case, you should really, um, talk to someone about that.) But babies are so different than adults, they might as well be from another planet.

Of course, they’re our little aliens, and in our sleep-deprived parenting daze, we think that all of their little baby quirks and oddities are wondrous and amazing and perfect. And they are. Well, most of them. Personally, I would be just fine without quite that much poop.

Here are 9 things that made me do a double-take in my early days of parenthood.

Your newborn sounds like a baby dinosaur. On TV, it’s all generic waaaahs. In real life, newborns emit that cry—plus blood-curdling, someone-may-be-stabbing-me-or-I-may-just-want-to-be-picked-up screams—as well as these bizarre Jurassic Park sounds. Seriously, fast-forward to the part of the movie where the baby velociraptor is hatching and listen closely. That’s it!

His poop smells better than that other kid’s poop. Poop smells awful, yes, but there are gradations of awful. And the poop of that other kid in your mommy-and-me class? That stuff could be weaponized and used in chemical warfare. Your kid’s poop smells like roses in comparison. Poop-scented roses, but roses, nonetheless. I’m sure this is some sort of evolutionary tactic to keep us from abandoning our young, and you know what? It works. It’s all about perspective, people.

He’s the biggest—and littlest—narcissist you’ve ever met. He’s cute, and he knows it. He’s also the center of your little universe, and if you forget that, you’ll be reminded by whimpers, whines and wails. So, you’ll rock him till you lose feeling in your limbs, and if he falls asleep in a ridiculously uncomfortable position (for you), you’ll stay that way. He. Doesn’t. Care. Got it?

He has a huge head. No, seriously, that noggin is ginormous. And is it just me, or does it just get bigger and bigger in those first few months—like, disproportionately so? If you’re ever worried that you’re not doing a good job as a parent, look at that thing and remember what you had to push it through.

An inordinate amount of spit-up, drool, poop and pee comes out of that little body. The amount going in really doesn’t seem to come anywhere close to the amount coming out, and yet…he’s thriving, healthy and growing. Grab a burp cloth and a stack of wipes, and get used to it.

He knows the millisecond that your head hits the pillow. For two full years, I seriously wondered if there was some sort of alarm that was trick-wired from my pillow to my little guy’s crib. I mean, the cries would sometimes start the exact millisecond my head hit the pillow. Literally, the exact second. Were we just so in tune as mommy and baby that he knew I was about to lay down without him? Was he holding a grudge from earlier when I had the audacity to put him in the bouncy seat while I took a three-days-overdue shower?  Who knows. But it’s always freaked me out a little bit.

He smiles at you—like, really smiles. All the books say that babies aren’t able to smile at you until they’re between six and eight weeks old. I think that’s crap. (And I know you will, too.) That goofy face you made at him? That time you cooed and cuddled and kissed his adorable little cheeks? He smiled! A real, genuine, beautiful, gummy smile! And it was not gas, dammit!

Every day, he will do something to make you wonder why you didn’t have kids sooner. And every day, he will also do something to make you remember why you were incredibly smart to wait as long as you did.

He is the perfect everything. Really, you’re not just being a ridiculously proud mama. He is perfect. He is developing just right. He is hitting those milestones in his own time. Also? You are parenting him just fine. So stop worrying and go get some sleep.

This post was originally featured on Dawn’s blog, Momsanity. Photo via