Exploiting My Baby* *Because It's Exploiting Me

baby names

Nathaniel James

Favorite Posts, General StuffTeresa Strasser305 Comments

With my son. Just wanted to type that. He was known as Frank Breech, but after a C-Section and a few days of toiling over his official name, Frank "Buster" Breech became Nathaniel James.

He was born 7.7 pounds, and when he came out, he looked purple like a bunch of grapes held up at a Sunday farmer's market. I don't know who it was - a doctor, a nurse, the anesthesiologist, someone announced, "He's a chunky monkey" and I've never been more excited to hear the first fat joke about my son. I knew no one would be joking if he didn't have all of his fingers and toes and appear to be in good working order. You don't start rhyming and referencing Ben n' Jerry's flavors when things are going awry. Even someone with a spinal block, restraints and a nasty case of Hebrew panic knows this on some visceral level. Especially, maybe.

To say I've never been more relieved is such an understatement it's kind of a shame; I should probably not be allowed to write until I can actually pass a reasonable stool. Maybe normal movement of one's colon is critical to self-expression not involving lame cliches and semi-obvious declarations. Please, humor me until the Colace and prune juice kick in.

So, after he was pronounced a chunky monkey, and the doctor said, "He was definitely breech ... and definitely a boy ..." (guess he presented with a big rump and typically swollen baby balls) I started bawling right there on the table, tears pooling around my oxygen mask, trying not to choke on snot and shock and the weird mucus that collects when you're on your back and pregnant. Until the second they brought him over to me and let me kiss his goopy, red face, I was convinced that setting up a crib, and buying a rug for his nursery and occasionally imagining he would be okay would all have cursed him, and that I would never, ever be lucky enough to get a real live healthy baby.

No matter how many tests told me otherwise and how often I saw his heartbeat, even moments before they removed him and I could hear his heart thudding steady and strong on the fetal heart monitor, I was sure this was all a big mistake and that something would be wrong and everyone had missed it.

All that being said  - and I promise to say more once I'm back in business - this C-Section was gnarly. I know some people find them easy, I am not one of those people.

The recovery was and is more difficult than I imagined, the surgery was terrifying and maybe this is just me, but I think I even caught a 24-hour bout of PTSD.

And I'm glad no one really gave me the nuts and bolts of the C, because it would have freaked my shit out. So I feel funny saying too much if anyone has one of these on the horizon, because you will be fine. Again, more to come, but I'm just so grateful to those of you who have followed this blog and sent your well wishes that I wanted to let you know that baby, mom and dad are doing great. Dad has changed every diaper and burped every burp because though I'm up to breast feeding the little guy, I can't do much else with breaking doctor's orders to avoid BLT: bending, lifting and twisting.

I'm yammering.

Sometimes it's kind of nice to find yourself living a cliche, deliriously happy and deliriously tired mom. That's me. Mom. I'm someone's mom. He is my son.

For someone who wasn't baby crazy, who didn't really get babies at all, I do all the disgusting things like smell his head and take pictures of him incessantly and become convinced that I'm not biased at all, but that my baby actually is extra adorable with fantastic hair.

It's my first day out of the hospital and like I said, I'm feeling pretty wrecked. Haven't even had a chance to check out my new slice but I have run my fingers over it and I will tell you, they need a little extra room to remove the frank breech types. Seems about five inches or so. I'm okay with it, I just don't want to look. And I still appear almost as pregnant as when I went in there. And my legs are swollen. On and on. Hard to wrap up this post which as far as prose goes is kind of a disaster. Time for a feeding, and yes, time for the boy to exploit me, as I have been doing him for the last six months.

Again, thanks for all of your kind words and well wishes and more than that, all of your very specific advice and recollections from everything to car seats to nipple pads to latching to morning sickness.

I read every single thing you wrote, and I often took your counsel and many times I dragged my husband over to read what you posted, because I was touched or consoled, because your experience was just like mine, and that made me feel less lonely. And I know that the sensations I'm having now, the baby "high" and the rubbing his velvety arms and the crying cause I can't poop or sleep and the sad sack thoughts when I catch my bloated reflection and the surreal smacking myself over being his mom, and him not being in my stomach anymore, but instead sitting there in his bouncy seat, I know this has all been said and done and felt. Maybe by you. Instead of that taking away from its value,  today, somehow it seems to add to it. Instead of scoffing at the human experience, I'm just giving in.

There aren't that many main courses on the menu in this life, when it comes to the big experiences.

So, despite wanting to be terminally unique, at some point you order the chicken or the steak. Maybe the surf and turf. Because there are only so many dinners available at the cosmic table. The real comfort, and the big bombshell, isn't how I felt too good to have what the rest of you were having, but not good enough. And here I am with my baby, like a billion and a half mothers before me, and we all want to hear that our children are chunky monkeys, and that we are not, and that's where I find magic where I least expected it, right in the hackiness. There aren't many offerings for dessert, either, and that's the sweetest part, that we're all telling the same stories and scooping our cold spoon into one infinite pint.

My Top Five Names: A Baby Name Expert HATES One of Them ... Do You?

General StuffTeresa Strasser131 Comments

One minute, you think naming your son Shane is going to give him a chaps-wearing leg up in life by bestowing him with all the quiet coolness of a 1950’s movie cowboy. The next, you’re sure naming him Shane will make him the poopy-pants, wheezy outcast who sits out gym class because he forgot his inhaler.

It’s a big job, naming a human being.

I ran my current short list of baby names by a name expert, Pamela Redmond Satran (developer of addictive site Nameberry.com and coauthor of the new book, “Beyond Ava & Aiden.”) As far as I can tell, she is the baby name maven. And man, she despises one of my beloved names.

I’ve also included some of your comments and suggestions, which I must say I have loved receiving, especially after discussing the topic with Adam Carolla and Bald Bryan on a recent podcast. Thank you so much for your feedback. Me and Baby No Name adore hearing from you.

Here’s what I got so far:


When I think "Jim," I think Him.

Me: You know the trouble with this one: the nickname Jim. Jims seem like nice guys, I just don’t want one. I am told by many who have written to me that Jim is an old school nickname, and that James can remain James. Can this be true? Also, how common is James? And have girls overtaken the name James? Those greedy little girl parents are taking everything.

The Name Expert: For me, James is really good.  And doesn't have to be Jim (though I actually like Jim).  I have a Joe who has never, ever been called Joey, at least by anyone who lived to tell about it.  There are lots of Jameses - but not in your neighborhood.  Unless they're girls.  I really don't think the girls are taking it over, though, not en masse outside the hipster ghetto.

What you say: I counted 18 pro-James comments.

Jaime says: “My best friend is named Jim, and has 99% of the time successfully avoided being called Jim.”

Michela says: “If you like James, what about Jay? There is literally no nicknaming possible!”

Catherine says: “The Jim fear shows the generational gap. I don’t know any Jims younger than 40, every other James I’ve ever met has gone by “James” or “Jamie” so I think you should put James back on the table. I think Jim and Jimmy came from families back in the day when everyone was named after an older family member, so you’d end up with seven men named James and you had to differentiate.

To sum up, my vote: JAMES”

James says: “I was always fascinated by strangers that no sooner did I introduce myself as James, they jump right into calling me Jimbo. Really? Jimbo is where you started? Know a lot of Jimbos do you? But I didn’t get annoyed by it too much because it was often a good way to weed out the douche bags.

I just had a son on Saturday but opted for Jack. I am the third James in the family (and the only one actually called James) but the name will end on three. I wish you all the luck in choosing your son’s name.”


Mickey Goldmill. Definitely a Jew.

Me: One word: Rocky. You know, "Cut me, Mick.” Burgess Meredith, who played Rocky's grizzled old trainer, was iconic as Mickey. I also love Denis Leary’s sponsor/cousin, Mickey, from “Rescue Me.” Mickey loans you money. Mickey will drive your sister home when she's drunk and not even consider feeling her up. Mickey plays pool but won't shark you. However, does it sound too much like Nicky? And does one have to start with the name Michael to get to Mickey?

The Name Expert: You want to know what I really think?  You can't name a kid Mickey.  Yes, there's the mouse, Mickey Rourke, and I dunno, do you really want a son who's the movie sidekick, too good for his own good?  Plus, what if he wants to be a bond trader (you're a writer, this could be a good thing), except they won't let him into business school because he's got such an infantile name?  I repeat: You can't name a kid Mickey.

You say: Mickey was suggested by one person. Oddly enough, Micah was the king of the “M” names from you guys, which also included favorites Max, Miles, Milo and Mitchell.


Me: This is the only really quirky name on my short list. I like juxtaposing ethnicities, an in-your-face Irish first name with a crazy Polish last name. And the book “Finnegan's Wake” took, like, 17 years to write, and I like the idea of someone slaving over a book most people can neither read nor understand. And I love the nickname Finn. Is this getting too Aiden/Jaden/Caden? Is Finn trying too hard? Are girls co-opting this one, too?

Finn McCool. Definitely not a Jew.

The Name Expert: I actually think Finn is really the better name.  Finn McCool is the greatest hero of Irish mythology.  Why does everyone think they have to pick Finnegan or Finnian or Finlay and then call their kid Finn?  It's not like Jim.  That rant over: Yes, it is getting too common.  It is very easy to like, and that's its problem.  Ah, alternatives to Finnegan: You mean Irish surname'y names?  Are you Irish?  Do you have any in your family?  I do kind of like the Maguire/O'Brien thing, but I think the name's got to be real to pull it off.  Here's an Irish name that's totally undiscovered: Piran.  Patron saint of miners.

You say: Finn was suggested, as were Finbar, Felix and Fred. As far as unusual names go, you guys were not at a loss. Some of my favorites include: Hoagy, Balthazar, Cabot, Miller, Lazare, Kyd, Spider, Stosh, Zeno, Jaspar and Taytum.

You sent some great Irish-sounding names, too, including Declan, Gavin, Ian, Liam, Colm, Caleb (very popular), Logan, Dylan, Lachlan, Rowan, Rylan and Seamus.


Shane: the name expert hates you. sorry.

Me: My husband has all but closed the swinging saloon door on this one, but I still like it because Shanes are always hot. And the Polish cowboy thing still calls to me. The Mr. thinks it's too cute and maybe too precious and trying too hard. He has started giving me the stink eye every time I mention it.

The Name Expert: Absolutely no.  You're birthing him, not dating him.

You say: Lots of love for the name Shane, but some disdain, too.

Dignan says: “Teresa, I love you, and I hate to crap on your waffle, but my parents named me Shane and I hated it. I remember being two years old and hating my name. I’ve never stopped hating it. Also, I’m sad to report that not all boys named Shane are attractive.”

Shanesmommy says:My husband hates trendy names and also loved Shane because it was different without being trendy or as TACS says, “F’ed Out”.”


Me: This is racing toward the top for me. Eddie and Ed are cute nicknames. Edward was my grandfather. Sure, he was manic-depressive, but he always had a freezer full of rocky road ice cream and he once made me feel like a genius for getting the word "mauve" in a game of Boggle when I was eight.

Is Edward too boring? Will there be too many Edwards in his world? Sometimes my husband test drives this one by saying “Edward” very sternly to my belly. It feels right.

The Name Expert: This is what we wanted to name our second son (now 16).  We were going to call him Ned.  We loved it, and I still do.  But our older kids, aged 10 and 4, said it was a nerd name and they would hate him if we called him Ned, so we didn't do it.  And now he thanks us.  But I still have regrets and think the “Twilight” Edward has substantially increased the hotness factor.  I love this name and definitely think it's the best on your list.

You Say: Several of you wrote in to suggest Edward. Other “E” names you sent my way include Eamon, Eli, Elijah (very popular), Elliot, Enzo, Eric, Ethan, Evan, Ewan and Ezra.

The little guy is already sucking my blood, right?

My grandpa, Edward