We Are Both Right

Baby Names Up for Grabs!

baby names

It's easy to tell which baby names we like -- just look at our kids! But about the names that weren't used?

Who doesn’t love talking about baby names? Well OK, maybe that guy who sits in the cubicle next to you is sick of hearing your analysis of Mae vs. Maeve — but pretty much everyone else revels in the choosing of a baby name, right? We know we do.    

Endless days were spent pouring over baby name books, delving into the charts of popular names over the last three decades, and bouncing ideas off best friends. But now that we’ve stockpiled enough names for the next generation of Duggars, we figured it would be fun to share some of our “leftovers” and revel once more in the perfectly poetic, yet unused, monikers that we painstakingly deliberated over — for hours — and hours.    

Maybe it was the most awesome first and middle name combination that came together in a moment of inspiration — except that with your last name, the initials spelled MOO. Or it could have been that your Emily Kate turned out to be a Nathaniel instead. Whatever the case, we surely all have more names than we have babies, so it’s time for our first annual “Baby Name Swap” at We Are Both Right.    

If you’re in the market for a name, feel free to grab anything you see and call it your own. Have a few names to pass along instead? Go right ahead in the comment section below, or on Twitter and Facebook.    

We’ll get it started by sharing our top three, up-for-grabs baby names:    


Ryan Nolan: My husband is a big sports fan, baseball in particular, so when we were trying to come up with names for our first child, this was one of the candidates if it was a boy, a play off of pitching great Nolan Ryan. We wound up having a son but name wise, we went in another direction with a moniker I had loved since I read it in a short story in middle school (the character was just wonderful). (Incidentally, our son’s first and middle is actually the same as another famed baseball player.)    

Katie Casey: Another pulled from the annals of baseball history, this was a brief contender with our third child. Katie Casey was in the original lyrics to Jack Norworth’s 1908 song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” While I thought the backstory was really cool, we ended up ruling it out because I wasn’t crazy about how the two names sounded together.    

Eleanor Joy: One more potential girl name for our third. Eleanor was one of those names that had always been on our “maybe” list, and with our last pregnancy we decided it was ready to be called up to the big show. The middle name, Joy was my choice, although my husband T. was not as crazy about it as I was. Our third was a surprise baby, and while ultimately we were thrilled, in the beginning were a bit overwhelmed. For me, Joy represented the emotional journey we had been on and where we ultimately wound up.    


Talia Rose: This was our favorite name for years, and part of its appeal for me is how it came up so randomly, years before we even thought about having a baby. My husband and I were on a supermarket check-out line early on in our marriage and out of the blue, he says: “How about the name Talia if we ever have a daughter?” “Sure” was my response.  And so it stayed in the rotation during both of my pregnancies. The first time it went unused because we had a son. But when we found out our daughter was on the way, we nixed the name after a few family members wondered aloud if we were going to come up with an alternative before she was born. Oh well, I still love it.  

Peter Gavin: This was our #1 choice for a boy the second time around and I will still use this name, IF (BIG IF) another little boy happens his way into our life someday. So for now I’m willing to share. Peter is one of those classic, yet underused names that I am attracted to, and yet it was the middle name that I was completely infatuated with. Gavin blends the first two letters of my father-in-law’s name with the first three letters of my father’s name, making it the perfect way to honor them both at the same time. I would have reversed the order, except that our last name didn’t really match up well with Gavin.   

Emily Rebecca: My sister and I made a pact, before either of us was pregnant, that whoever had a daughter first had dibs on the name Emily. We each have a daughter, neither named Emily. But I still like the name. And if there’s the one name that you’ve been holding onto since you were a little girl yourself — the one you picked for all your baby dolls and future children — then you’ll get my obsession with Rebecca. That was the name of my “Baby” when we had to do our family project in school, where they scare you straight about how hard it is to be a parent. Usually the names that were your favorite 20+ years ago are out of style by the time you need to use them, but I thought this one still held classic status – or maybe that’s just me.  


See, wasn’t that fun? We can’t wait to hear yours! Share your best names in the comments below, and join us for more baby name talk on Facebook and Twitter.

Natalie Portman, Welcome to the World of Mommy Haters

Natalie Portman is learning the lessons of motherhood early. No matter what you say, what choices you make, or how you conduct your very own life, there will always be someone to tell you how very wrong you are (hence our open invitation to Natalie to stop by We Are Both Right any time she wants). Because now we know that even an Academy Award acceptance speech is fair game for criticism if you’ve got a baby in your belly.

So she said that motherhood is the “most important role” in her life. And? Kind of sweet and appropriately gushy, if you ask us. The woman is at the crux of perfection in all aspects of her life, having just won a pinnacle award for her professional work, glowing with impending motherhood, surrounded by family and the love of her life.

If she wants to amp up her focus on one particular aspect of this wonderful life, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s throwing the rest of it out the window. But somehow this has set off a five-alarm fire in the feminist community, and now we’re talking (once again) about the civil war among women.

What’s your take on her comment about motherhood? Did it make your scream, or cry?

Leaving the Birthday Selection to Baby (or Anyone But Me)


There will be no purposeful choosing of birthdays in Amanda's house. ©biewoef/stock.xchng

When I was pregnant, I planned for everything. Everything. With my first, my son C., I was working in a high-rise, 42 floors up, two trains and a decent car ride away from home. I was pretty convinced I was going to go into labor when I was anyplace but the comfort of my house, so I made sure I was ready in the form of a litany of items I carried in my briefcase: photocopied pages of instructions of what to do if you go into labor and you are by yourself or not near proper medical attention (read: stuck in an elevator); bottles of water; even clean towels.

Still, for all my fretting and worrying (needless of course, I was home on leave when my contractions started for reals), the element of surprise when it comes to baby’s arrival is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy (gender too).

I mean, labor can happen at any time. And once those launch codes have been initiated, that’s it. Get thee to a hospital, birthing center, your bathtub — whatever makes you happy. Doesn’t matter what you have going on — Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, big sale at Target, Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s — baby is coming. It’s time to stop, drop and roll. (You can go back for the shake later, it’s usually around for a little while after St. Patrick’s Day.)

When we were expecting our third child, son S., my husband T. and I were in a bit of a panic. S. was due May 8. From about April 15 until about May 15 every member of our family had multiple things to do. Between the four of us, there were countless baseball, softball and lacrosse games and practices, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, T. was going away for work — it just didn’t stop.

There was one day — April 30 — where the calendar was free and clear. So while we wished and hoped that S. would grace us with his presence that day, even if I had been given the choice to have him be born then, I would have heartily refused. (In case you were wondering, he actually showed up on his due date, and yes, T. was away but got back in time.)

The thought of choosing my baby’s birthday — through a scheduled c-section or labor induction — gives me the shakes. Because to me, the day a baby joins the rest of us here on earth should not be chosen by a mere mortal. It’s not a religious issue though, rather, more of a spiritual one, in the sense that I believe the birthday should just be left up to natural forces. There are too many things that I don’t understand — astrological, metaphysical, extramundane — that are at play here. Who am I to go near them?

The reality is though, sometimes, for medical reasons, a doctor must intervene. And while in an emergency situation, the date is chosen for you, as long as everything is relatively OK, choosing the baby’s birthday is often left up to the parents in the form of scheduling a c-section or an induction.

To which I say, oh no way.

Now my babies have all come naturally. But to to protect myself from the far too awesome task of having to choose my baby’s birthday, in the event of a scheduled c-section or induction, I always had a plan in place where the baby’s birthday would still be left up to a power other than me or my husband. It requires the cooperation of many, and everything must go right in order for it to be carried out successfully until the end, but it’s doable.

I think.

It’s actually pretty simple (snort):

  1. Go for any pre-procedure testing before I have to pick a date.
  2. Designate a friend I trust who I’m close with, but don’t speak to every day  as my point person. It’s important that this person isn’t in contact with members of my family either. (In my head it’s always been my dear friend for more than 25 years who lives five states away, Tracy.) Unfriend her on Facebook.
  3. Make it clear to all the medical professionals involved in my care that I do not want to know when I’m coming in for the procedure. Change my contact number to Tracy’s number (in case they call to remind me of my forthcoming appointment).
  4. Have Tracy get the list of suitable dates from the doctor. Make sure all are included in the selection process. Even if I have 416,000 things to do on one of those days, it is still eligible.
  5. Have Tracy choose a date at random and notify the doctor’s office of what it is. I don’t care how she does it (pulls slips of paper out of a hat, throws darts at a calendar), as long as the process is completely arbitrary. No choosing a date on purpose. (This is why having a point person you trust implicitly is so important.) She is to tell no one except the doctor’s office what the date is.
  6. Avoid Tracy — no contact at all — until the big moment arrives and she calls — 12 hours before I’m due at the hospital. I’m officially in labor.

Easy peasy, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Would you choose your baby’s birthday? How would you do it?

Even though Suzanne chose her son’s birthday, I think his birth story totally makes my point.

The Best Day Ever: Choosing Baby’s Birthday

Photo by Hilde Vanstraelen / www.biewoef.be

Are you someone who stayed engaged for two years just to get married at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000? Did you know you met your soul mate because when adding up the month and day of your birthdays, they each equaled 28? Is your puppy’s birthday the same as your mom’s — on purpose?

Nodding your head? Then I’m going to venture a guess that you would also plan the date of your baby’s birthday. Or even that you were busy on the 17th trying to conceive a baby with the best chance of being born on 11/11/11.

You can admit it. I won’t judge you. Because numbers intrigue me too — to the point where I kept the phone company rep waiting for a solid five minutes while I deliberated the merits of each combination of seven-digits she offered. (Bet there’s a note on my record never to offer up that choice again.)

So I understand if that’s where you are coming from. I mean it’s your baby’s BIRTH-day. There’s no two year contract that gets you out of that number. And maybe you’re trying to take control for a good reason — like not wanting your baby to be born on your ex’s birthday. Totally reasonable. Or maybe everyone in your family was born on the 13th. You wouldn’t want to break that lucky cycle, right?

There are plenty of reasons why someone might be compelled to handpick a baby’s birthday given the choice (and provided the date was somewhere within the appropriate timeframe to deliver a full-term baby). Aside from having a preference for the actual date, it might be more about the timing itself. Say your partner is being deployed in your 40th week and your c-section needs to be scheduled anyway. Why not pick a date that works for you both?

I didn’t have any good reasons to request a specific birthdate when I was due to deliver for the first time, but that didn’t stop me from swelling with excitement when my obstetrician said: “We’re looking at some time between the 14th and 17th to induce you, so are there any days in particular that would be better for you?”

All of sudden being induced (for valid medical reasons) didn’t seem so dreadful. We settled on the 15th (for no particular reason other than I had scheduled my maternity leave to begin on the 14th and could use a day to get things ready).

And so my son was born on the 15th. How boring you might say. How predictable, especially because our family and friends knew his gender, name, and birthdate — all before it happened.

Except that the date we picked had nothing to do with how he made his entrance into the world.

Because as all new parents learn rather quickly, you really aren’t in control of much of anything when you have a baby. My son didn’t arrive on the 15th because a doctor decided to induce me. He arrived one week early because he decided it was time to make the trip. On the 14th, exactly twelve hours before I was scheduled to be induced, I went into labor, ending with his arrival in the midnight hour on the 15th. (Coincidentally, my daughter beat her scheduled birthday by five days — she really wanted to show us who was boss!)

Still, I like their birthdays even though they didn’t go along with my expectations (or the doctor’s plans). But I would have liked the 14th or the 16th, or any other day, in any month, or year, for that matter.

Do you like the idea of selecting your child’s birthdate — or is it something better left to pure randomness?

Amanda doesn’t like to spoil a surprise, so not only won’t she find out her child’s gender during pregnancy, she absolutely will not have any part of picking a baby’s birthday. But there’s quite an elaborate plan in place in case that had to happen for some reason.

Wanna Race? Bet My Stroller Can Take Your Pram

© Peg Perego

Traveling light with baby. As far as oxymorons go, that might rank right up there with a little pregnant.

And as silly and impossible as it may sound, I was determined to live by that standard when I was pregnant with my first child. I didn’t want to be weighted down by all the baby accoutrements that seemed to be par for the course.

Travel system strollers included. Not to mention prams, the old-fashioned carriages that look like bassinets with handlebars, which I would have put at the top of my “don’t do” list except that they weren’t yet in vogue when I began my journey into motherhood in 2002.

Maybe in the 1950s, when women rarely drove cars, prams made sense for a walk into town to see the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. But nowadays, when the routine is more about loading and unloading a car, or shlepping baby and stroller on and off the subway, the added bulk would be about as welcome as twenty extra pounds around my midsection.

Lightweight and nimble is more my style. And so when M. and I went to register, we waltzed right past the bulky travel systems, with their dually wheels, and took the city-sized strollers for a spin instead.

Optimal turning radius. One-handed lift. Durable wheels. Good shock absorption.

You would have thought we were shopping for a lawn mower, but once we settled on a navy and yellow Peg Perego Pliko, we were so proud of ourselves for not giving in to the hype of the full-size baby stroller.

Heck, our stroller didn’t even have a tray. Look at us, bucking the trend. We didn’t even buy an infant car seat, opting to use the convertible model that was safe for babies from 5 to 30 lbs.

Oh, the cool, minimalist parents that we thought we were. (In hindsight, our resistance actually paid off, since our son was 20 lbs. at six months and would have outgrown the infant car seat at that point. We did end up buying one for our daughter a few years later. Just not the stroller to go with it.)

The way I saw it, our lightweight stroller granted us access to lands otherwise off limits to parents of infants. Like the clearance aisle in Home Goods. Tableside seating in restaurants. The dollar bin section in Target.

To the envy of moms with dually wheels spinning in opposing directions, we were cutting turns around clothes racks. Daddy was popping wheelies in the supermarket. And when we got back out to the car, I would literally collapse and lift our stroller with one hand and throw it in the trunk (with room to spare for the mega box of diapers).

Sure, I still traveled with a 35-pound diaper bag on my shoulder, and enough bottles to take us across the desert, but I was never faster than when I was zipping along with baby in his lightweight stroller.

I know some moms who made an Olympic sport out of buying new strollers every year or so. I’ve even seen garages half-filled with a variety of strollers for different purposes — jogging, a walk to the park, shopping, etc. But aside from the $19 umbrella stroller we took on the plane with us once, we have always stuck with our one and only all-purpose stroller.

Eight years later, and a little frayed around the edges, it’s still our go-to stroller. It’s been with us as we’ve traipsed through pumpkin fields, navigated around city potholes, and gone in circles at Disney World.

Now maybe I’ve asked Amanda to carry a coat or two of ours on her super-sized stroller, but other than that we seem to have found our perfect fit.

There’s a Reason Pregnant Bellies Don’t Fit at the Bar

no drinking during pregnancy

Yucel Tellici/stock.xchng

“Green apple or chocolate martini?” It was a few minutes after we had arrived at a holiday party at Amanda’s house in the December of 2001. Exactly one week before, I found out for the first time that I was pregnant and couldn’t wait to share the news with friends from college.

“Thanks, but I can’t drink tonight,” I stammered, as T. mixed a drink for my husband.

In the space of a second, I could see the look on Amanda’s face change from one of puzzlement to suspicion. “Why not?”

“Because I’m pregnant,” I said in a whisper. And the girlish squealing ensued.

It was strange for me to actually say those words. Of course, the “I’m pregnant” part was all brand new, and it was going to take me some time to get used to it. But even though I had stumbled on the “I can’t drink” line, the truth was that I had been practicing that one a little longer.

Three months earlier (albeit halfway across the country where Amanda wouldn’t have picked up on it), the drinking ban had been put into place. As soon as my husband and I made the conscious decision to start trying to having a baby, I had made a personal decision to cut out any and all alcoholic drinks.

It was an even exchange — prenatal vitamins in place of a glass of wine with dinner. Not as tasty, that’s for sure. But it put me at ease in other ways.

I wanted to assure that my baby had every chance of being as healthy as possible. I knew I was lucky enough to be carrying a child, and certainly didn’t want to tempt fate by drinking during pregnancy. So sipping a glass of wine every now and then just wasn’t a chance I was willing to take.

Besides, the warnings are hard to ignore. That’s why it surprised me when a co-worker at the time freely confessed to drinking beer on a regular basis during both of her previous pregnancies. The children seemed fine, but I kept wondering why she was so comfortable flying in the face of science.

That was her decision, and I had mine to make — no drinking during pregnancy, or during preconception for that matter. If I had breastfed, I probably wouldn’t have indulged during that time either — even though it’s possible to squeeze in a drink between baby’s feedings with enough time for the alcohol to leave your system.

Looking back, it wasn’t a hard resolution to keep. I substituted fruit juice mixed with seltzer in the summer when I was craving something different. But for the most part, I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

A few years later, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I intended to keep to the same promise. I passed on alcoholic drinks for the most part during the entire pre-conception period (which stretched over eighteen months) — except once a month when I needed something to soothe my nerves in the hours after yet another negative home pregnancy test.

And then there was the time when I sat face to face with the bottles of wine on the table at my brother’s engagement party — that was the closest I got to straying, feeling compelled to swish a mouthful and spit in the style of a wine tasting.

An alcoholic drink during pregnancy can be tempting, yes. But is it worth it? You tell me.

Amanda may have had a sip or two of wine during her pregnancies, but I’ve also heard of OBs telling their patients that it’s OK to have some red wine after an amnio — so I’m thinking she wasn’t crossing the line at all. (And I thought I was the only one feeling self-conscious about all my unpopular opinions!)

Drinking While Pregnant? Cheers! (To a Point.)

Sometimes, when I sit down to write for this site, and I review the topics that Suzanne and I have so carefully chosen and debated, I sigh. Because I look at the position I’ve taken. Give more thought to the opinion that I hold. And while I certainly stand by what I believe 100 percent of the time, I understand that my way of thinking on certain issues is not the popular view.

Like drinking during pregnancy.

(I promise, I am a very responsible person, despite what you may read.)

But before we dive into this, let’s be clear from the outset. When I say “drinking during pregnancy” I don’t mean shots of tequila or a slate of mixed drinks that would test the skills of the bartenders at Coyote Ugly. For me, it means a glass of wine with a meal every once in a while.

© theswedish/stock.xchng

© theswedish/stock.xchng

Research shows that an occasional drink — one or two a week — while pregnant will not harm the developing fetus, nor cause any long-term effects to the child once born. Yet still, particularly here in the U.S., women are told or at the very least peer pressured into believing that even a single glass of wine or beer is a bad idea and somehow you are a bad mother and an alcoholic if you can’t manage to abstain for nine months (longer if you jump on the wagon during preconception). And yet in Europe, they regularly drink alcohol during pregnancy, to nary a raised eyebrow.

(Did you know that French women won’t eat salads when they are pregnant? French OBs generally warn preggos to avoid raw vegetables. So if you are horrified by the sight of a pregnant woman at your neighborhood bar, imagine how a Frenchwoman feels when she sees a pregnant woman belly up to the salad bar.)

I went to a baby shower a few years ago (before I was pregnant with S.) and the mommy-to-be poured herself a decent-sized glass of wine. No one said anything to her but I saw a good amount of raised eyebrows, particularly from the older guests.

My friend and I never discussed it afterward, but I always wondered if anyone made any remarks about it that I wasn’t aware of. And it got me thinking about my own feelings about drinking during pregnancy. Up until that point, I hadn’t. (Well, not consciously anyway. I might have partaken in more than my fair share of “fun” with friends one night and then found out a week or so later that I was pregnant with my first, C. Oops.) But why hadn’t I? To be honest, it wasn’t because I personally didn’t want to — I hadn’t really given it much thought in either direction. But I think a part of me knew that along with enjoying that glass of wine, I’d be not enjoying other things — hard stares and helpful advice.

In any event, not too long after that shower, I became pregnant with our third. And on occasion, I craved red wine. And on occasion, I had some. I talked to my OB about it, and his opinion was that having a little wine was more than fine and could actually be a good thing, serving as a way to help me relax. Moderation, was the key, he told me. Knowing when to stop.

And of course, there are some women who won’t know how to stop. But chances are they aren’t debating drinking during while they are pregnant, they are actually doing it. For the 90-odd percent of us who are responsible, who understand what the word moderation means, I think we need to stop judging.

Being pregnant is a glorious, wonderful time. I never loved my body as much as I do when I’m pregnant. But it’s also hard, especially when everyone has an opinion. When all is said and done, take the approach that makes you feel the most comfortable.

Did you drink while you were pregnant? What? How much? Suzanne didn’t, but I know she doesn’t judge me.

Wishing I Had Gone Through Labor Naturally

© ecahal/stock.xchng

© ecahal/stock.xchng

One of the things I was most looking forward to about the birth of my third child (besides meeting the new little person of course) was having a natural childbirth. I had nothing against an epidural — I had one both times with success with my two older children — but I just thought this time around, it might be an interesting experience to go it alone.

I like a good challenge and while my body tends to fail me anytime I try something physical, there was something about natural childbirth that really appealed to me. I knew a few people that had given birth naturally (including my mom) and I felt like if I put my mind to it, natural childbirth would be something that would leave me feeling empowered and strong.

As I continued on in my pregnancy, the more I thought about natural birth, the more excited I got. Was I scared? Sure, but  I was confident. And as I researched and even attended a refresher childbirth class, I knew I was making a good decision for me and little “Boris” (we didn’t know what we were having so we used the name Boris as a loose abbreviation of “Brother or Sister?”) who was blissfully living in my belly.

While I was glad that the baby wouldn’t be passed any medications or potentially have to deal with any side effects, from a selfish standpoint, I was looking forward to being able to move around during labor and change my position as I dealt with contractions, rather than just staying in bed feeling like I had no control over what was happening. The hospital where I was slated to give birth had showers, rocking chairs and exercise balls in every L&D suite to encourage laboring women to get up and move and I intended to take full advantage of it all.

That’s not to say I don’t think epidurals don’t serve a purpose. They do — as I mentioned earlier, I had two of them already. And as it turns out, I ended up needing a third as well.

Sweet Boris held out all the way until his due date to be born. And a grand entrance he made indeed. That morning I work up at 4:30 a.m., did laundry, mopped the kitchen floors and cleaned the bathrooms (hmm, nesting anyone?). Around 8:15 a.m. I realized I had passed a great deal of blood, so off the hospital I went, accompanied by my neighbor, two of her kids and my 6-year-old daughter (it’s quite the tale). Anyway, long story short, because the OB was concerned about the amount of blood I had passed, even without an epidural, I was not allowed to get up out of the bed for the remainder of labor and delivery. No shower. No exercise ball. No rocking chair. I could roll from side to side in the bed, but that was about it.

I was disappointed and I had a decision to make. I could continue on naturally or get an epidural. Worried that the natural pain management would be harder during the various phases of labor while I was confined to a bed, I opted for the epidural.

Even now, it’s a decision I often question. Because I ended up having a difficult childbirth, and I’m not sure if the epidural made a bad situation better or, was the reason why things went as wrong as they did.

After the shot, every part of my lower body went numb, except for one place on my right thigh where ALL the pain radiated to. It was intolerable. And it started as soon as the epidural kicked in. Were they related? I don’t know, but as I doctor I know is fond of saying, “I don’t like coincidences.”

At the same time, my son weighed 10 pounds, six ounces at birth, so certainly his size played a role in it all. I had trouble pushing him out — his largeness for sure had something to do with it — but because I was both numb and in agonizing pain, I couldn’t feel what I needed to feel to properly push. The doctor used suction and his sheer strength to “yank” (as my husband likes to tell me) the baby out because I was basically useless.

As a result of S.’s dramatic entrance to the world, he wound up with broken clavicle and I had extensive muscle damage in my pelvic area. He was ultimately fine, I needed surgery to repair everything, but am now fine.

And that’s the bottom line. Nearly two years later, I have a happy, healthy toddler. Does he know or care that I had an epidural while he was being born? Nope. Can you tell by looking at him that his labor and delivery was not all that his mother had dreamed? Absolutely not.

And that’s all that matters. Until I get pregnant with my fourth and have to decide all over again.



Suzanne on the other hand, has no problem at all opting for pain management in labor. Read her take here.

It Was Natural Childbirth — Until I Got an Epidural

©Oriol Martinez/stock.xchng

Two rounds of childbirth. Two epidurals. I don’t know it any other way. Guess that makes me a wimp — or lucky — depending upon how you look at it.

I promise not to go all birth story on you, but suffice it say that I had my share of labor pains both times around and didn’t hunt down an anesthesiologist at the onset of Braxton-Hicks contractions. But I readily accepted the offer when the time was right.

My motivation? A birth story someone else had shared with me when I was just a few weeks along in my first pregnancy. It wasn’t a veteran mom trying to scare me about the rite of passage that is labor, telling me that the phrase “ring of fire” will soon have new meaning to me.

But it was a story from another expectant friend of a very new mom, who had given birth just days before, that made me think twice about setting a birth plan in stone. She recounted that in the minutes following an all-natural labor and birth, she held her new baby for what she thought would be her last living moments.

She was convinced that she had expended every last breath and ounce of energy her body possessed — well almost every, since she made it through to tell the story. Not at all melodramatic if you ask me, since she literally couldn’t move her arms and legs, never mind enjoy the astonishing reward for which she had worked so hard. And all because she was dead-set against medical pain management.

Suffice it to say, I left my options open over the next nine months. When the time came for me to face the music, and I could no longer control my breathing (or my legs for that matter), I agreed to the epidural. It masked enough of the painful contractions that I was able to regain my focus and follow the directions of the nurses and doctors on hand.

Luckily, that magical potion delivered by an equally mystical doctor was the perfect balance between feeling and not feeling. I was still able to push on cue, and readily delivered my son within minutes of the first push.

The second time was slightly easier because the baby was smaller, and well, because it was the second time. That was the closest I got to natural childbirth, waiting until about 7 centimeters dilated to get the epidural.

If any natural childbirth proponents out there want to get all riled up, let me tell you that the only reason I had the epidural during my daughter’s delivery was because the L&D nurse convinced me to take it. She said, in these words exactly: “Do you remember how much it hurt last time? Do yourself the favor and take the epidural while you still can.”

I whimpered and wavered, and whimpered some more. OK, send the hubby out for a minute and bring that magician back in.

It takes a special kind of resolve to see natural childbirth through to the end. Mind over matter. An ability to convince yourself that you are in control. Oh, and a high threshold for pain — that helps too.

Basically, natural childbirth isn’t for wimps. And even though I get my cavities filled without Novocain and can ward off a headache with breathing techniques, I was no match for the ultimate test of strength that is childbirth.

For me, it was an out of body experience the first time around that made the rerun of Seinfeld playing across the room an incomprehensible distraction. I had hit the wall and told my OB with absolute certainty: “It’s not going to happen. I can’t do this.” Seconds later, I found myself melting in the arms of the anesthesiologist — never thinking that a injection in my back would be the least of my pain.

Count me (and my babies) among the lucky ones who didn’t have any complications with medical pain management options like the epidural. Given the chance, I would probably do it the same way all over again.

Amanda opted for the epidural twice too, but resolved to have a natural childbirth the third time around — until things didn’t go quite as planned.

Mommy Makeover Surgery? You Deserve It!

Thirteen months after I gave birth to our youngest child, my son S., I had surgery. Weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds, six ounces, his vaginal birth was traumatic for both of us — he winding up with a broken clavicle and me with extensive muscle damage in my pelvic area.

Thankfully, over a year later, his long-ago, quickly healed fracture is nothing more than a notch on my mommy guilt scale (and by nothing I mean everything), S. feeling no ill-effects of his dramatic entrance into the world. I on the other hand, was not so lucky.

I had definite physical (and the start of some emotional) issues stemming from the injury, ones that I wasn’t comfortable talking about for months after. When I finally did discuss them with my doctor, my husband, mom and eventually, the most amazing, empathetic surgeon I could have asked for, I felt heaps better. And now, months removed from the procedure and hospital stay, physical therapy complete, I finally feel whole and good again, like myself.

Now granted, my surgery was medically and according to the doctor, in many ways psychologically necessary. I couldn’t have carried on the way things were. But it’s that psychological part that got me thinking. When we give birth, our bodies change. And the more kids we have, the more they morph. I’ve been a size 12 jeans (give or take) for the past 15 years. But I can promise you that my hips and thighs and waist are not the same hips thighs and waist that I had before my kiddies took up temporary residence in my midsection. And as someone who nursed three kids for nearly three years of my life, well let’s just say things are dramatically different in that department too.

Now none of that bothers me. Medical complications aside, I’m pretty happy with my body. Yes, I need to lose some weight and I do my fair share of sighing during bathing suit season, but I actually like what having kids did to my profile. I like that I look like a mom. Sure, I won’t be walking a catwalk anytime soon, but it’s likely I wouldn’t have anyway.

Some women though, aren’t too pleased with the changes that bearing children brings forth. Aren’t too crazy about the the lumpy stomach or the wider waist or broader hips or even the chest that now resides directly above their stomach. Vain? Maybe. But honest. And if there is a way to change it back (I hate to use the word fix, because honestly, I don’t think anything is broken), why not?

© Raven3k/stock.xchng

© Raven3k/stock.xchng

I used to hear the words plastic surgery and think about Joan Rivers. Celebrities and old rich women who were trying to hold on to their youth. But I don’t think that is the case anymore. More and more you hear about moms — regular moms, not just celebs — going in for “Mommy Makeover Surgeries” where they get tummy tucks, breast lifts and liposuction. And if you have the means or inclination, I see nothing wrong with it.

As a pregnant woman you and your body spend nine months caring and nurturing a life inside of you. And if you nurse your baby, that’s more time dedicated to the needs of someone else. When all is said and done, if you want to spend some time taking care of yourself, why not?