Hi, my name is…

As tempting as it is to answer that sentence with Slim Shady, I have an even stronger urge to set my child up for success as best I can. Which means taking a bit more of a thoughtful approach to picking out a potential name.

This has actually been a much more difficult task than I previously anticipated. And made even difficult by the fact that we don’t yet know if we’re having a girl or a boy.

For what it’s worth, our thought process is as follows (in terms of picking criteria):

1) Look through lists of popular names and pick out ones that “sound good”. I’ve put a list of websites for popular names at the bottom of this post.
2) Come up with additional names that have family or sentimental meaning.
3) Avoid names of exes or those of people we strongly disliked in our lives.
4) Avoid names that easily lend themselves to annoying nicknames.
5) Finally, find that nice balance between a name that is unique but not weird.

With that, here is my top 10 for each gender. I just sent this list to my wife, so am waiting to see which of my names are on the approved list and which get cut.

Girl
Abigail (an old, classic name – I love the nickname Aby; meaning is “father’s joy”)
Mara (unique – connotations of down to earth, hardworking, but classy; gaelic word for “sea” (my wife is from Vancouver and loves the ocean))
Sinead (not a big fan but we are considering based on a story with personal meaning from my wife)
Ariana (Italian origin meaning “very holy”)
Brianna (Celtic name meaning “strong”)
Cora (Greek name meaning “filled heart”)
Dannica (Slavic name meaning morning star)
Evelyn (another old, classic name – I love the nickname Evy)
Kamila (Arabic / Slavic name meaning “perfect”)
Matilda (German origin meaning “strength in battle”)

Boy
Emmett (sounds down to earth, hardworking and honest – true to my Calgary roots; meaning is “powerful”)
Owen (names of one of my favourite public figures – connotations of hardworking, ambitious; meaning is “young warrior”)
Quinn (name of a spy character in Homeland TV show – sounds intelligent, clever, and ambitious; meaning “counsel, wisdom”)
Anders (after famous researcher; name means “strong, manly”)
Carter (Irish/Scottish/English origin, means “transports good by cart”)
Everett (derived from old English Eoforheard – brave as a wild boar)
Leo (meaning “lion”, which is our little one’s zodiac sign; also a homage to my late uncle “Leos”)
Paxton (I like the sound of Paxton; old English/Latin origin meaning “peace town”)
Erik (Old Norse or German meaning eternal ruler or honorable king)
Joseph (after my grandfather)

For the names where we both agree (not a long list), we are using the “coffee shop” test to determine if it’s a real keeper. The coffee shop test is when my wife and I go to a local coffee shop and use the potential name as our name. Then, when the barista calls the name out, we can see how it sounds to hear it said in public, and watch how people reach to the name. How does the name feel? This one little game has been invaluable to us in narrowing down the list – lots of names sound great between the two of us, but sound ridiculous when said aloud in public.

As promised at the start of the post, here is the list of websites I found helpful in generating good names:

https://www.babble.com/pregnancy/1000-most-popular-boy-names/

https://www.babycenter.com/baby-names

http://www.parentscanada.com/baby-name-finder/top-100-baby-names.aspx

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It’s the final countdown

Heading in to the final week before the official due date, August 1st.

For those curious about the relevance of the attached picture, it is a picture of the Swedish rock band “Europe”, best known for the mega-hit “The Final Countdown” in 1986 (right around the time I was born). Glorious – have a listen below before reading on.

Chances that I will be in the hospital in the next 7 days supporting my wife are 50%+.

Here’s a quick checklist I made of things to prepare as best I can for the imminent arrival of Junior (note that we already have a crib, diapers, wipes, change table, breast pump, and baby monitor – the list below are “last minute items” not staples)

  1. Hospital bag – things I will want to have handy as I look to spend a few hours to a few days in the hospital. This includes a good book, some snacks and a phone charger. My wife has a separate and much larger hospital bag ready.
  2. Food – I assume the first week will be crazy. We wanted to stock up the fridge, freezer and pantry so that grocery shopping is optional for at least 2 weeks.
  3. Numbers – of doulas, my wife’s parents, our doctor. I wanted to make sure I had the latest.
  4. Work – I want to make sure everyone I work with knows that I will be out for at least a week. I may be hard to reach over that time period, so if they need something from me, now is the time.
  5. Guest room / arrangements – we’re expecting family to join us after the baby is born. Given they are out of town, they’ll be staying at our place. We wanted to make sure the guest room / bathroom is setup.
  6. E-mail to friends and work – I figure the last thing I’ll want to do is come up with a clever e-mail when I’m in between feedings and changings on the first few days. I’ve drafted an e-mail so that it’s ready to add in a photo and hit send.

I can’t think of anything else I need at the moment. If I find that I missed something important or helpful during the birth process (which will become painfully obvious, I’m sure) I will update this post.

 

 

 

Banking sleep

I can’t remember the last time in my life I felt this well rested. As I wait for the arrival of junior, I’m taking the advice of basically everyone I have ever talked to about parenting and banking as much sleep as I can.

I’m in this weird grey zone, where I don’t have an infant to take care of, but I’m not exactly free to enjoy my weekends either. Aside from the feeling of guilt about going out while my wife stays at home because she is too tired / uncomfortable to go out, I also don’t really want to go have a big night knowing that I could be massively hung over for the birth of my child. I think the best thing I can do is bank sleep.

With that as preamble, I thought I’d provide the best tips I’ve read on getting the best sleep possible. I recognize some of these will be impossible once Junior arrives. But at least I know what they are and can try to incorporate as many of these as humanly possible.

This is a long list. I think of it as more is better – I’m not likely going to get all of these right, but the more I do the better my sleep will be.

  1. Sleep in a dark room. Pitch black is best, to the extent possible. If you don’t have blackout blinds they are well worth the investment.
  2. Sleep mask. If there is any light left in the room, or if your significant other has a habit of opening the door and letting in light, this will help.
  3. Avoid TV or phone screens for at least an hour before going to bed.
  4. Read fiction. The more nonsensical the better. Basically as far away from non-fiction as possible, to put the rational brain to sleep.
  5. White noise machine or fan. Anything that drowns out the noise around you.
  6. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.

If you’ve never focused on the quality of your sleep before, I strongly encourage you to try it for a week. Make an experiment out of it. I’m continually shocked at how focusing on improving the 8 hours a day you sleep makes you more awake and productive for those 16 hours a day that you’re not sleeping.

So it begins

Heading home from work in an uber a few minutes to 10pm. Sadly a 12+ hour workday isn’t unusual, and the 20 minute ride home is typically my first taste of freedom all day.

My life over the past decade has been mostly a blur of work, with a short “break” for a one year MBA. I can’t say I totally regret the way I spent my 20s – it has given me options to take care of myself, and now my family. But I am quite mindful of all the events, festivals and simple time with friends I’ve missed out on because I was in the office.

My little guy or girl could be here anytime now. While the due date is August 1st, the healthy, normal window is plus or minus two weeks of that. So it could be tomorrow. Or tonight! Crazy. It still doesn’t feel real.

One of the interesting and totally unexpected side effects of expecting a child is the way it encourages you to reflect on your own life. Part of it is a realization that your youth is now, without a question, 100% over.

But another big part of it is that you start to talk to your child (I keep saying child because we don’t know if it’s a girl or boy). And you start to think about what wishes and dreams you have for them.

I keep saying (in my head, to my unborn child) “forget money – do whatever makes you happy” and “travel and adventure more while you still can.” And that process is forcing me to reflect on my life. And ask some real tough questions. If I am saying that to my child… is it not fair to assume that my parents wish the same for me?

I’ve heard that one of the side effects of being a father is that it makes you a better person – more empathetic, supportive, etc. I’m learning that it might also make you a better person by forcing you to reflect more on your life, and where you need to make changes to better align with your values.