Do you want to know?

When my first sister came along, we knew long before her birth that she was unfortunately not going to be a boy. But when it came time for the second, my parents elected not to find out her sex before birth (which caused a good nine months of resentment between me and the already-arrived sister). They said that knowing Claire’s sex beforehand had taken too much of the anticipation out of birth; it had reduced the ensuing phone calls from an excited, “It’s a girl!” to a much more humdrum, “She’s here.”

When Lisa got pregnant for the first time, I don’t remember what our reasoning was for finding out the sex. But I do remember that we had decided very early on–certainly before she got pregnant, probably before we got married–that we were going to find out. And I very, very clearly remember what it was about our experience that made us do the same thing again with her second pregnancy.

As soon as we knew we were having a boy, he had a personality. He wasn’t a foetus, he was a person. He was someone whose arrival we were planning. He was someone we could have in mind when we were buying toys and furniture for his room. He was someone with a name. And Lisa and I could stop arguing over possible girl names.

We had much the same experience with Lisa’s second pregnancy, even though we were less sure on the sex–the sonographer was reasonably certain she was a girl, but always she seemed to have her legs crossed come exam time. (So not just a girl, but a lady.)

I think we made the right decision, and if we were ever to end up pregnant again, it’s a choice we’d be happy to repeat. But on the other hand, one of my best friends in all the world chose not to find out the sex for either of her pregnancies–and having talked to her about her reasons, that was definitely the right choice for her, too.

So a questions. Did the parents amongst you find out? Do those who aren’t parents have an expectation of what choice they’ll make if it ever presents itself?


The great movie dilemma

For the most part, being a parent is awesome. It’s not that there aren’t aspects of pre-parenthood life that you lose; it’s that, after you lose them, very few of them feel like much of a loss. Who cares about getting to sleep anytime you want, if in exchange you get one of these awesome things called children?

One thing Lisa and I do miss, though, is the movies. Since we live a two-hour drive from our nearest relative (and a ten-hour drive from our second-nearest relative), we don’t enjoy the access to free babysitting that many of our other friends and siblings with toddlers of their own do. Things like going out to a restaurant can still be done if you have to bring the kids along, albeit they’re often not a terribly relaxing experience. But going off to see Slumdog Millionaire? Not so much.

So we were pretty excited last month when we found a play place that takes kids for four hours on Friday nights at a pretty good rate. (Though really, Boy is so cute, don’t you think they should be paying us to leave him with them?) Suddenly we had visions of going out to eat by ourselves once a week, followed by two hours at the cinema.


The first week, we saw I Love You Beth Cooper. Good times. But every Friday since then, we log onto to look at show times, and our hearts sink.

We’d be interested in seeing The Hangover, but it’s now late enough in its run that our cinema is only showing it once every three hours, and there aren’t any showings that fall within our four hour window. 500 Days of Summer also looks worth the while, but for some reason isn’t playing locally.

Beyond that, the only things that look remotely interesting are the kids’ movies–Up or Ice Age or Aliens in the Attic. And honestly, what’s the point of going to see those without Boy? But beyond that there’s just a sea of exceptionally generic-looking romantic comedies, or exceptionally generic-looking slasher flicks, or Harry Potter, or the new Adam Sandler movie (um, yeah), or Bruno. Only Public Enemies looks even halfway decent, but any time we talk about it there’s simply a complete lack of enthusiasm between us to see it.

This wouldn’t even be that big a deal, except that this play place only takes children over the age of two. So Every Friday Could Be Our Last Friday.

What we’ve been doing instead is going out to eat, then coming home and watching either a DVD or something on the computer. Last week we watched The Other Boleyn Girl (wherein, at least, we didn’t have to shell out $20 for the disappointment). Before that we watched Glee (hilarious). I think tonight we’re watching the second episode of Dollhouse.


How I spent the fourth of July

Boy and Delia holding hands at the playgroundYesterday Lisa woke me up about 5.30 in the morning because she was having continuous cramping in her back and pelvis. This was rather troubling since she was still one day short of 32 weeks into her pregnancy–in other words, she’s just barely seven months along.

She called the doctor, who told her to head to the hospital. Unfortunately the hospital is actually a 45-minute drive from us, as getting the same OB/GYN as Lisa had when she was pregnant with Boy necessitates Girl being born at the same hospital, way back in Maryland.

We finally arrived, and after Lisa was eventually and admitted and taken back into the bowels of L&D, Boy and I headed down to the cafeteria, where I watched him systematically demolish an entire glazed doughnut. After we headed back upstairs, though, I discovered that Boy was not allowed back to see Lisa, which meant neither was I. So Boy was stuck in the waiting room, and Lisa was stuck on her own, lying in a hospital bed with a thousand monitors stuck to her.

Once the time reached a civil hour I called Darcy, who had agreed (just the day before!) to take Boy when Lisa and I have to head to the hospital for the Final Event, and she came and picked Boy up. So Boy got to spend the morning at the Takoma Park Independence Day parade and macking on Darcy’s daughter Delia, and I got to head back and sit with Lisa.

They had determined that Girl was fine, and that Lisa wasn’t in labour. Her cramps weren’t contractions, as they weren’t showing up on the contraction monitor. (Occasional contractions were showing up, which is obviously perfectly normal for a seven-month pregnant whalewoman and demonstrated that the machine was hooked up correctly, and it wasn’t just that Lisa’s uterus was contracting without the monitor picking up the contractions.) Over time they subsided, and eventually Lisa was released simply with instructions to take everything as easy as possible for the duration of her pregnancy.

Best guess is that her muscles–especially those in her back (she’s had periodic back problems ever since she gave birth to Boy)–simply aren’t as strong as they were before her first pregnancy, and the pain she was feeling was the stretching of the circle ligaments running from her lower back to her pelvis. The strain they’re under is exacerbated by the fact that she’s carrying Girl extraordinarily low–before we left, the nurse put her hand on Lisa’s stomach and, surprised at how low Girl was, said, “Yeah, I don’t think this one’s planning on a full forty-week stay.” (For the record, Boy not only lasted into his 42nd week, but ultimately refused to leave without being induced.)

So we left the hospital and went out to lunch with Darcy and Andy, then headed back home, where all three of us spent the rest of 4 July soundly asleep.


Lady baby

We’re having a girl.

I should stress that at Lisa’s sonogram yesterday, the baby was apparently in a very poor position–high up, curled up in a ball (or, I suppose, a foetal position) and facing Lisa’s spine–so the sonographer wasn’t dead certain about this, but she said that there’s about an eighty to eighty-five per cent certainty of the baby’s sex.

Of our two finalist names–Abigail and Catherine–we seem to have pretty much settled firmly on Abigail. Bearing in mind that she’s due the last week of August and her middle name will be Elizabeth (after Lisa, whose real name, for anyone who doesn’t know, is Elizabeth), we’ve been toying with naming her Sarah. If my sister Sarah thought that Boy’s birth displaced her as the one who gets all the attention in the family, we’ll see how she feels once there’s another Sarah Elizabeth Racey, possibly with the same birthday as her, younger and cuter by eighteen years.

Poor Abby (should that be Abbi, with a heart dotting the i?), of course, will be growing up in a house with three other people, every single one of whom is an oldest child. So she’ll hopefully find it a touch difficult to develop the melodramatics we usually associate with a youngest child, since everyone else’s reaction is likely to be, “Yeah, well, get over it.” She’s also likely to be stuck with a whole lot of infant clothing decorated with trains and dinosaurs and footballs, but don’t worry–we’ll make sure she has a pink bow stuck on top of her head, too.


Cooking continues

Matilda of ScotlandHere’s an update for anyone who’s been thinking, Hmm, you know, I remember how Ian had decided to learn how to cook a while back, and that the initial results were positive. I wonder how that’s going.

At the moment the answer to that query is, “Well.” In a development (mostly) unrelated to Lisa’s first trimester, over the past six weeks I’ve pretty much become the sole dinner chef in our household. Meals so far remain pretty simple–my two staples at the moment are Hamburger Helper and pasta dressed up in one of a variety of ways.

The only meat I’ve used so far is beef–the two meats we had in the house when Lisa did all the cooking were beef and chicken, and for whatever reason raw chicken rather squicks me out. But there are some recipes I’m looking to try out in our cookbooks that call for pork or sausage.

Indeed, tonight I’m breaking out the cookbook for the first time; I write this with a beef-rice caserole in the oven.

And I’ve got to be honest–I really, really like it. The half an hour or so in the kitchen is one of the highlights of my day; I take the laptop in with me, turn on the music and enjoy myself.



Harold GodwinsonOf course, we do also have to allow for the possibility that the new housedaemon might not be a boy. We’ll call these names “Plan B”:

Abigail Elizabeth
Caroline Elizabeth
Catherine Elizabeth
Charlotte Elizabeth
Emily Elizabeth
Megan Elizabeth
Rachel Elizabeth
Rebecca Elizabeth
Victoria Elizabeth

Expect many fewer famous namesakes in this list than in the boy name list, since history and the arts would seem to have far fewer great women than great men.

Abigail: Hebrew, joy of the father. Abigail Adams, wife and correspondent of one of America’s most under-rated Presidents, John Adams. Eighth most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Caroline: Latin, beautiful woman. Caroline of Brunswick, George IV’s Queen. 99th most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Catherine: Greek, pure. Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. 143rd most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Charlotte: French-German, free. Charlotte Bronte, nineteenth century English author (from, incidentally, West Yorkshire). 102nd most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Emily: Latin, to strive or to excel. Emily Bronte, another nineteenth century West Yorkshire author; Emily Dickinson, nineteenth century American poet. Most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Megan: Welsh, pearl. Megan Lloyd George, first female Member of Parliament elected in Wales. 78th most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Rachel: Hebrew, ewe. Biblical wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Sixtieth most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Rebecca: Hebrew, snare. Rebecca the Jewess of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe; Rebecca de Winter of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca; Rebecca Cunningham, owner of Higher for Hire in TaleSpin. 105th most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

Victoria: Latin, conqueror. Queen Victoria, longest reigning Sovereign in British history and first Sovereign of the dominions of Canada and Australia and the Empire of India. 29th most popular American baby girl’s name in 2007.

My favourite is Victoria, because I think Victoria Elizabeth is wonderfully patriotic. But Lisa’s not crazy about the name, so I think our top choices right now are Abigail or Catherine.

So we look forward to hearing from you.



William Hartnell, William Shatner, Nicholas Courtney, James Doohan & Sir Matt BusbyIn light of a recent announcement, it’s time to return this blog’s ever-popular Name That Baby feature. Today we’re going to look at possible boy names.

We have five possibilities:

Andrew Alfred
James Alfred
Matthew Alfred
Nicholas Alfred
William Alfred

Andrew–Greek, meaning manly. Saint Andrew, Biblical Apostle and the younger brother of Saint Peter (too bad he’s not the younger brother of Saint Paul) & patron saint of Scotland; Andrew Jackson, one of the most over-rated of American Presidents; Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist; Andy Warhol, seminal twentieth-century American artist; Lord Lloyd-Webber, composer of Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera.

James–English from Hebrew, meaning supplanter. James I & VI, King who unified the Crowns of England and Scotland & commissioned the King James Bible; James Cook, English explorer; James Watt, Scottish inventor; J.G. Ballard, twentieth-century British author.

Matthew–Greek, gift of God. Saint Matthew, Biblical Apostle and Gospel author; Matt Brady, pioneering photographer of American Civil War battlesites; Sir Matt Busby, European Cup-winning Manchester United manager; Matt Smith, upcoming Doctor Who.

Nicholas–Greek, victory of the people. Saint Nicholas, fourth century Bishop of Myra who is the patron of Russia, Greece, children & sailors; Nicholas Copernicus, Polish astronomer who championed the idea of heliocentrism (that the Earth orbits the Sun, not vice versa); title character of the Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby.

William–Germanic, resolute protector. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy who led the Norman Conquest of England; William Shakespeare, English playwright; Pitt the Elder, Prime Minister who led Britain to victory in the Seven Years War, making Great Britain the pre-eminent power in the world for 150 years; Willie Mays, often considered the greatest all-around Major League baseball player of all time.

What we really need to do is head up to Barnes and Noble and have a look-see what Don’t Name Your Baby has to see about all of these. I’m going to hazzard that I could probably guess already what its objection to William would be.

We’d originally settled on Nicholas, until my mother said that she always thinks Nicholas sounds like knickerless. I’m not particularly inclined to change a name just because a relative or friend express dislike for it, but I am inclined to change it when that friend or relative manages to make me associate the name with girls wearing no underpants every time I hear it.

Now I think the two frontrunners are Matthew and William.


Oh Lord, another one

Canute III of Denmark/Harthacanute of EnglandSo. Something of an announcement to make. Around about 30 August, we’re expecting a younger sibling for Boy.

Lisa’s twelve weeks along right now. Yesterday we had the second of three expected sonograms. Back when we had Boy, she got only two sonograms, but now they’ve added an extra one, to screen for Down syndrome.

So far, just like in her prior first trimester, pregnancy has not been a fun time for Lisa, involving constant queasiness and lots of sleeping. Hopefully it’ll pick up a bit in the coming weeks.

Diane’s regular twittering about life with two children has not been painting a picture of a restful, joy-filled life.

As I attempt to milk this for as many posts as possible, expect posts in the coming days about the names we have under consideration for either sex.


I’m pregnant. Wait, I mean–

I had a reminder last night that, like in the title of this post, the single most important word you can forget to include in a sentence is not.

I was rereading Masks and Shadows; specifically, I was rereading the section towards the end of the story (which would make it about halfway through a final draft) where the main character gets sat down and has what’s going on explained to him. This is the segment that’s probably most crucial to the story’s success with the reader, since they have to accept this explanation for the plot to have any validity for them. It’s also one of the easiest segments in which to lose the reader, since it involves explaining all the bizarre stuff that’s been happening to the hero for the last forty thousand words and how it all hangs together two thousand years of secret history in the world that the story takes place in. It involves a number of new names and concepts and needs to be both logical and easy to follow. It also, quite definitely, needs to be correct.

It therefore is not the place to forget the word not. For instance, I would very much rather not that the sentence that was supposed to read Heccaea was the last corner of the civilized world not under Phairian rule had not actually read Heccaea was the last corner of the civilized world under Phairian rule.

I also notice that for some reason, Anastasius’s name changes to Athanasius for three paragraphs at one point.


PS My sister-in-law is having an emergency induction today because of chronicly high blood pressure. It’s only about ten days till her due date, though, so both she and the little critter should turn out fine.

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The colony of the Bulge

Let me just start off with the blanket disclaimer that of course you are the exception to this.

I think it would be a really great idea for someone to found a home, off in the woods somewhere, for pregnant women and their husbands, so that the only people we have to interact with for nine months are other pregnant couples and nurses.

That way, we could avoid both the people who have already had children, and those who have never been pregnant. Those who have already had children are the most cloyingly arrogant people I have ever met in my life, utterly incapable of having it occur to them that Lisa’s pregnancy experience could be in any way unique or different from their own–they simply “know just how you feel, dear,” without even bother to ask about how she might be feeling. This is part of their insistence that everything Lisa feels has to be a product of her pregnancy–if she’s in a grumpy mood, it must be because of mood swings; it can’t possibly be because she’s having to put up with a real jerk at work.

And those who have never been pregnant simply have no concept how it is, but they’re convinced that they do, because they have inaccurate television depictions to go off of, or ridiculous stereotypes (like the absolutely bizarre belief that pregnant women eat insatiably, as opposed to the truth that for most of the pregnancy they eat, on a good day, perhaps fifteen calories a day).

I’m not saying that everyone is like this by any means, but when the next housedaemon comes along, Camp Gestation is looking more and more attractive.


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