Wednesday, June 17, 2015

what's in a name?

Naming children is fun. And hard. And stressful. And fun. I love baby naming sites ( being my favorite, if you wanted to know.) I love all of the options and the combinations and the meanings. I love imagining saying names over and over calling out to my present and future children, listening to all the names and seeing which ones sound like they belong in a family unit.

It also takes me a LONG time to settle on a name. For months before Leonie was born, people were asking if we were sharing her name, and though we had decided to keep it a secret until her birth, I was still being quite honest in my response of “we are still working on it.” People who choose their baby’s names before the twenty week ultrasound shock and astound me. I need all forty weeks to hem and haw and research and debate and think about this most important of decisions! NO WAY am I going to waste four and a half months of intense deliberation by being rational and decisive.

But seriously, I love names. Ever since Bronwyn was born, I’ve kept a running list of names on my phone so that I wouldn’t feel so rushed in thinking of all the perfect names for all of the subsequent children. How to choose, OH HOW TO CHOOSE!?!?!

In accordance with my severe love of names, I’ve also compiled a rather meaty list of Zambian names. These are both the never before heard of in America names or the maybe I could pull that off if I were a celebrity names.

Social conventions in Zambia allow for a slightly broader category of naming possibilities than one would find in mainstream America. Pretty much anything goes. No matter how random a kid's name seems, I have never heard a child mocked because of his English name – and it would appear that the sky really is the limit. I know there are some crazy names floating around this country too, but I don’t actually know any of these people, so somehow I don't think that counts .

To demonstrate the prevalence of the “less than typical” English names in Zambia, I thought I’d compile a list of people WHO I ACTUALLY KNOW just so you can see how common the “uncommon” names are. You will have to admit that some of these are simply masterful in their creative design.

Not all of them have obvious meanings and intentions:

This is Friday. He is a twin, but his brother's name is neither Thursday nor Saturday, so...


I think the "well" names are the Zam equivalent of the American Haiden, Caden, Aiden, Jaden trend. Hey, why not?

We honestly picked our girls' names more based on sound than meaning so I do understand this group fairly well.

Furthermore, Exploit is rather a generous young man, and Jester is not at all a clown which stills the fear that names are definite predictors of character or personality.

There’s also a whole host of beautiful names whose meanings are more obvious and also AMAZING:

naming this sweet girl Beauty remains one of the greatest honors of my life


(We all know Prominent is going to be an alpha child.)


(Fidelis and Given are legit my favs, and if Jeremy ever joins me in that... watch out for two more babies.)


We could have a child named Confidence Colvin. Are you kidding  me? That's amazing.

… Don’t forget the less than common Biblical names…Of course we have plenty of Johns and Mathews and Daniels, but I dare you to find (without google) the Biblical reference for each of these:

This is Precious. (I mean, isn't she though? Totally presh.) She is also the younger sister to Queen.

Just imagine hollering at little Deodatus to come in for dinner. YES. 

Sadly, I've noticed that all the Hoseas I know are girls which tells me that the parents haven't exactly read the book.  

Oh well, I appreciate the honorable mention. 

Sometimes our friends find naming inspiration from "special"places: this is me and little "Bethany" I kind of melted when I first met her:

mini me = too cute
We’ve mainstreamed names like Faith, Joy and Hope, why not names like these? For baby number two, I lobbied hard for a more Zambia-esque name and  eventually succumbed to the perceived social pressure (and my husband's pretty adamant veto) to not roam too far out in left field.

There’s still something in me that says, a few bold people long ago named their children Faith Hope and Joy and made those beautiful words into beautiful names. I’m still trying to convince Jeremy that we too can change the course of baby naming history and that in 200 years when (fill in the blank name) hits the top 100 on the social security administration lists, somebody will write us a thank you note for introducing some of these Zamtastic names to society. Maybe with the next babe I'll convince the hubs. Until then, I'll continue to grow my lists.

And you? Any less than common favorites?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Leonie Michaela's birth story

I’m sitting happily on the couch with the gentle doobie doobie doo of the bouncer seat singing next to me, occasionally glancing down at a tiny, chubby, perfect, little body, and my heart swells.

Leonie (lee-OH-nee) Michaela (mi-KAY-luh) Colvin joined us on the outside Sunday, May 24th at 5:55 am. This is her story.

The story begins quite a bit before Leonie’s actual birth. On Wednesday May 13th, I had woken for my standard 2:30 am pee and noticed quite a bit of bleeding. I wasn’t sure whether this was in the realm of normal, but decided to go back to bed anyway. As I got myself situated again, I felt a small gush and my eyes opened wide. Ummm. Did my water just break? My frantic google search about third trimester bleeding and water breaking did nothing but confuse and agitate me so I went ahead and woke Jeremy and we decided to call on it. Given my description of quantities and colors and all such things, the midwife didn’t seem to be too concerned but told me to call again in the morning. Jeremy and I caught a few more winks and called later in the morning at which point we talked to a different midwife who did want to check things out, so we made arrangements with a friend to go in with me to the hospital so Jeremy could stay with Bronwyn.

The hospital visit confirmed that my water was still in tact, which I was thankful for, but it also revealed that I was 4 cm dilated! Really? A free 4 cm? Didn’t I almost die getting that far with Bronwyn? Merry Christmas to me! The midwife snapped off her gloves, squeezed my knee and said, we’ll see you back here this weekend.

Well hallelujah.

We canceled our plans to travel to Boston for a wedding and to visit friends. Sad, but realistic considering our circumstances – and we commenced the waiting.

Oh the waiting.

Dear practitioners of obstetrics, gynecology and midwifery. Feel free to never tell a woman that she will deliver “that weekend” for if you do, she will most certainly NOT deliver “that weekend.”

The weekend came and went. We had missed the wedding, were still pregnant and I officially entered the land of the screw its. I lost all willpower to be functionally productive and pacified my annoyingly fidgety mind with ice-cream and back to back episodes of Fixer Upper. I overanalyzed every Braxton Hicks contraction and fought with my rational side about relinquishing control.

Through much prayer, by the following weekend, I had begun to accept that I might be 4 cm for the rest of eternity and repented of my impatience in the matter. I started reading more scripture about fearing not and started singing Bronwyn’s songs about trusting and obeying and peace like a river.

trying to relish those last few days
I spent a lot of time processing the roots of my unrest. It wasn’t that I was “done” being pregnant. And it wasn’t that I “couldn’t wait” to meet my baby girl. I finally realized that all the emotions were wrapped up in the anticipation that I was about to be hit by a mac truck – and I was growing weary of bracing myself for the blow. Bronwyn’s birth had taken me to my limits – utilizing every last bit of energy, resolve and faith to bring her into the world. I was afraid that I would be asked to do that again, and that I wouldn’t be able to… or, more likely, that I really, really wouldn’t want to.  

More reading, more praying, more singing, and finally, Sunday morning, May 24th rolled around. I woke for my 2:30 pee (of course,) waddling to the bathroom – tired, achy and without expectation. As I sat, I noticed I felt more achy than usual. The dull cramps that had hurt-but-not-hurt, and that had gotten me to 4 cm without any further action seemed to be a notch stronger than what I was used to. I didn’t come back to bed right away and so Jeremy popped in to check on me.

I told him that I didn’t feel right, that these contractions were starting at the back, wrapping around to the front and were of a different beast all together. We waited a few minutes and I knew – THE REAL DEAL.

Show time, go time, brace yourself for the mac-truck-blow time. Dear Lord, be merciful, I asked. There was no point in trying to sleep. I started vomiting. (This is what my body does, bless it.) Mom woke up and checked on us too and we all got into our groove. My job was to focus while the other two tiptoed around the house taking turns getting things together, holding my barf bucket and pushing the “start” button on the contraction timer app.

I had resolved to not pay attention to clocks or timers but to let my body do its thing at its pace. I tried laboring on the bed, hated it, and after a while found my sweet spot in the glider. Jeremy coached me famously, transferring encouragement without smothering me and I felt steady enough in the contraction rhythm to focus entirely on the mental game. Instead of fighting the pain and asking for it to stop, I gave thanks and prayed into it. I could feel the baby moving and talked to her about sliding down and coming out. During a few particularly powerful contractions, I felt the actual stretch of dilation and tried to stay composed and breathe into it instead of against it. The words “holy crap” may have escaped my lips a few times. But unlike my first labor experience, this time around, I welcomed it. I had finally learned that labor is not something that happens to you, its something that you do, and I was ready to do it right.

I didn't deviate from THIS for pretty much the entire labor
I could tell after two hours of this that mom was getting pretty anxious. She sensed I was progressing quickly and communicated her thoughts to Jeremy who I heard say something about the hospital and 5 am. I had no idea what time it was and I loved that. I felt that I should pee and decided to make the epic journey to the bathroom in between contractions that were now coming 2-3 minutes apart. Good Lord why is the bathroom always a mile away. I hurried down the hall, sat, a contraction started, I relaxed all the muscles and GUSH – my water broke. Jeremy wasted no time, calling the midwife and letting her know we were coming NOW as we both knew that things were about to get crazy.

At 5:05 am we got out of the house and into the car and commenced the worst possible 15 minute car ride of all time. The pain of transition and the pot holes of Ithaca are not compatible and I commanded Jeremy with my “I am literally  dying, therefore do what I say or I guarantee you’ll die too” voice to go faster, slow down, not touch the break, break quickly, run the red light, wait at the green light and for the love of God just get me there. Only twice did he disobey and he now reminds me that twice I told him I hated him. Sorry bud. You did good.

My calm, serene, inward focus had completely died and gone to wherever they bury placentas and I was border line in panic mode over the fact that I was feeling pressure reaaaaaallly low and was not convinced that this child was going to hang out with me much longer. We pulled up to the front door of the maternity wing and Jeremy opened the door and I just sat there. I felt like I was having one never ending contraction and there was no good time to move any part of my lower half. “Let’s get it over with” was Jeremy’s sage advice and I threw myself out of the car and into the wheel chair. During pregnancy, I had had visions of walking into the hospital during this labor, taking my time and stopping only when I needed to breathe through a contraction.

Yeah no. The serenity ship set sail somewhere between Hudson and Buffalo street and I needed to either poo my pants or deliver a child post haste. As the sliding doors parted, Jeremy pushed me over the initial bump and we hellishly made it across the snow catching rumble strips because the hospital clearly has no compassion for women in late stages of labor. We rolled up to the maternity ward, got ourselves buzzed in, went to the front desk and listened to the spiel about ID and insurance while I huffed and puffed maniacally. Jeremy had just brought me, letting mom park and schlep the bags which meant we had none of the things this woman wanted from us but thankfully a L&D nurse rescued me and took me to a room. They parked the chair, I winced as I stood, the angels in scrubs stripped me and I hurled myself onto the bed announcing that I needed to push NOW.

Kate, the midwife who had delivered Bronwyn as well, donned her gown and didn’t even bother to check me. She knew. I have a very readable face and it was saying all that needed to be said. For the next few minutes, my body took over. It felt good to give up and in and bleat out a long stream of honest pain sounds until I felt the ring of fire and knew that it would be minutes, not hours. I said little, announcing an understated "ouch" and requesting that Kate not cut me. I felt with my hand her slimy little head and in disbelief found the courage to push the rest of the way. Sweet relief when her head came out, I was anxious to finish the rest of her body but suddenly I was hearing “stop, stop pushing” and I heard the words “nuchal chord.” I wasn’t at a good enough angle to see what was going on at the time but I know now that the cord was around her neck twice and Kate couldn’t slip it off without cutting it first. Clamp, clamp, cut, ok you can keep pushing and with one more burst of force, I pushed her shoulders and body out and with a sigh of relief welcomed my slippery baby onto my chest.

I spoke words of congratulations to her only briefly until the nurses picked her up and took her. She had not cried and the seconds were passing and no noise was coming out of her yet. Come on baby, cry for mommy, I said to her across the room. Come on baby, let me hear you. I pleaded with her, and a solid minute passed during which time I heard several others plead with her as well. We all sighed and said thank you, when finally she let out that precious cry and we could return to our celebration of new life.

Our family snuggled, euphoric and somewhat in disbelief over what had just happened. It was over. Three and a half hours from its beginning, the mac truck had committed its hit and run, but I didn’t feel like it had run me over, backed up to hit me again running me over repeatedly like it had the first time around. 

I actually said to Jeremy, “I’m not sure I earned my push present.” He laughed at me and reminded me that even though I knew it could have been worse, that does not discount that any and all childbirth requires superhuman strength, and so yes, I could still consider this one an accomplishment.

I would spend the next 48 hours staring at my little miracle and thanking God for both her life and her merciful arrival.

my first born suddenly looks like a giant to me.
As we are settling into our new normal as a family of four, we are excited for the next chapter in this wonderful story. Thank you for joining us Leonie Michaela!