Category Archives: Parenthood

Readiness Report: What’s in a name?

Over the years, Laura and I have discussed the topic of baby names several times. Since early in our relationship, Laura had favored the names “Olivia” and “Luke.” However, a few years ago it seemed that everyone was naming their baby girl “Olivia,” and the name lost some of its appeal to us. Shortly after we found out Laura was pregnant, I asked her if she was still considering “Luke” as a boy’s name. Truth be told, that name had also lost its appeal for me. I was relieved when Laura replied that it was no longer a contender.

We then had a couple of long conversations about new alternatives for naming the baby. As is fairly common, we agreed that the name (or, at the very least, part of it) should have some ethnic/cultural significance to both the Johnson and Sperry families. Laura’s mother is Colombian, and her paternal grandmother’s family is Scandinavian. Most of my ancestors hailed from Finland. Unfortunately, our combined family trees did not yield any one name with which we could honor both clans. Simply glancing at the range of family surnames (Garzon, Peña, Sperry, Carlson, and Johnson, Komula, Niemi, Mikkola) reveals that there’s not bound to be a lot of common ground. Thus, the task before us was daunting. Learning that the baby is a boy should have simplified matters, but we still had no real starting point. Yet it remained of primary importance to us both that we instill our son with a sense of his varied lineage.

Whatever we chose, Laura decided early on that we wouldn’t tell anyone until after the baby was born. She didn’t want our selection to be criticized or second-guessed by friends and family, as often occurs. By keeping the name a secret, Laura hoped to eliminate any opportunity for debate until it was too late – once the child is born and officially named by his parents, who would dare quibble with us?

The logic sounded reasonable, at first, but it turns out that there are a lot of people who really want to know what our son’s name will be. They have tried, through straightforward questioning and downright trickery to get us to reveal the name. “I want to monogram his gift,” they said. Or a simple, “so, what’s the baby’s name?” interjected into an entirely unrelated conversation. It was as though our friends and family had turned into starving dogs, and Laura and I had the last soup bone left on the planet. Well, in these final days, our collective resolve has weakened. We’ve decided that there is no harm in revealing the name now, but no one — be they blood or not — will convince us to change the name we so painstakingly selected.

The time between four home pregnancy tests returning positive results and the ultrasound was filled with baby conversations. At first, Laura wasn’t absolutely convinced that there was a person growing inside her, but that didn’t stop us from talking about it. A day or two before the ultrasound, we were having dinner at The San Francisco Oven and we returned to the subject of names. We both threw out a few suggestions, but nothing stuck. The difficulty of finding the perfect combination of first and middle names that would resonate with our respective families was proving all but impossible to overcome. We mulled over middle names starting with our fathers and my mother (Laura’s mother has no middle name), then going back to grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Laura has spent significant time researching her genealogy over the last few years, so she had a lot of names to choose from, whereas my knowledge of my own family tree only goes back a few generations.

After a good deal of discussion and a fair amount of frustration, we started over with yet another interesting strategy. We’d heard of some couples combining their first names to form an entirely unique name — an acquaintance named “Jonobie” (whose name is a combination of “Jon” and “Obie,” both of which I’m probably spelling incorrectly [EDIT: See comments for correct spelling.]) comes to mind. Also, Laura had a friend in grade school named “Rhonda” whose parents were Ron and Linda. Alas, “Laura” and “Kris” don’t easily combine to form anything. Once again, we traversed our family trees to see if some combination would create something that we liked. Unfortunately, nothing was working. “Zorandra” and “Wilhold” (i.e., Zoraida/Sandra, Wilhart/Harold) and the dozen or so other namemorphs we came up with sounded like monikers from a bad science fiction movie or, even worse, a Dungeons & Dragons gaming manual.

We realized with great frustration that naming our firstborn would require us to stretch the limits, consider a new paradigm, perhaps even think outside the box. Eventually, we posed this key question: aside from ethnic heritage, what is an important cultural influence common to both families from which we could draw much-needed inspiration? And for the answer we needed to look no further than the two women who had given each of us life. In the end, it was our own mothers’ true musical passion that finally provided us with the perfect name combination for our son. An uncommon name? Yes. Unusual? Certainly. But — without doubt — we have chosen a name worthy and befitting the shared grandson of Sandra Johnson and Zoraida Sperry.

We look forward to welcoming you, Diamond Neil Johnson.

Readiness Report: Electronic, Ultrasonic.

Here are two images from Tuesday evening’s ultrasound. Click on each to view a larger version in the photo album.

Coming Soon...

The Turtle

At one point, there were two ultrasound technicians in the room and one prompted the other to do things like “bring your focus down” and “cut out the harmonics.” I was tempted to suggest that they lock in the auxiliary, but didn’t want to tell them how to do their jobs.

Stay tuned…

Readiness Report: Plus or Minus 22oz.

Laura had an ultrasound last night because the stand-in OB she saw last week was concerned about the results of her glucose test ((The glucose test is used to detect gestational diabetes, which occurs in approximately 2-3 percent of pregnant women and can lead to macrosomia, also known as LGA. The upshot is one big baby.)) (despite the fact that her regular OB wasn’t). The idea of the ultrasound was to get an approximation of my young apprentice’s weight.

After about 45 minutes of … sounding, we were given an approximate weight of 9lbs., 4oz., plus or minus twenty-two ounces. In other words, he could be anywhere between seven and a half and ten and a half pounds.

We also saw proof positive of our son’s… sonness. It was what the technicians apparently call “the turtle,” and we have two very nice pictures of said turtle that I neglected to scan last night. Poor kid. Not even born yet and dad puts his business up on the Internet for everyone to see.

Laura has an appointment with her OB today (as I write this, in fact), and we may find out whether or not they would like to induce labor. She is currently at least 2cm ((Possibly 3cm or more, if what I saw on the ultrasound was correct.)) dilated and the baby is in the proper position for emergence, so they may decide to give things a little boost.

That’d be the best excuse to leave work early. Ever.

Readiness Report

Though my young apprentice is not yet entirely ready to emerge from his growth chamber, the time draws nigh. As is appropriate, certain preparations have begun.

  • The room in which the young one will be housed has been made ready. A border — upon which is imprinted a pattern of stars, moons and suns to symbolize the entirety of the galaxy he will one day rule — has been applied to the walls, along with other, similarly-themed accoutrements. Likewise, the crib in which he will rest and dream of future glory has been assembled and appointed with such regalia as befits his station.
  • The bassinet in which he will sleep during his early infancy has also been assembled and adorned with appropriately elegant and majestic trappings. I can take no credit for this.
  • Tomorrow morning I will journey to the Willoughby Fire Department and consult with a “child safety seat expert” to ensure that the car seat is properly installed in the MVoD.
  • A yellow folder has been readied; within are hospital admission documents.
  • Also at the ready is a small overnight bag, prepared by Laura.
  • I am creating a playlist on KJToonz entitled “Push ’em out, shove ’em out, waaaaaay out!” comprised of music that Laura finds soothing and relaxing.
  • Dilation has begun.

He is coming. It is only a matter of time.


Laura and I attended the first of four (or possibly five) two-hour childbirth classes (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”) we’re taking this month. We learned about stations (-4 = “floating”, +4 = “at the perineum”) and TACOS. There were a total of six couples in attendance, including Mike and Tami. Tami is also having a boy and is due the day after Laura; they both have the same doctor of lady parts. Mike and I have worked together for several years, though the coordinatation of pregnancies was entirely accidental.

Despite lacking a coherent plot, I managed to crank out just over 1,900 words today, most of that after the childbirth class. The Director is indeed up to something nefarious, and it involves removing people’s brains.

Oh yeah, I went there.

Or, if you prefer: for the love of Kelly Ripa’s immaculate part.

As an expectant father with what some have described as an “irreverent sense of humor,” I found Monday’s Penny Arcade ridiculously funny. Now, before you go clicking on that link all willy-nilly, let me first warn you that this particular installment of Penny Arcade might be regarded by some as tasteless and offensive. I don’t want to reveal too much for fear of ruining the joke for those who do opt to read it, but I will say this: it involves the placenta. If the mere mention of that word makes you cringe then for the love of Regis Philbin’s bushy eyebrows do not click that link.

[EDIT: It occurs to me that there is more than one way to interpret “Kelly Ripa’s immaculate part.” I would like to clarify that I am referring to the part in her hair.


The Nest Beneath

I should be a lot sorer than I am, considering I spent a few hours scuttling around like a retarded crab in the crawlspace on Saturday. Laura is in full-blown “nesting” mode, which is apparently normal for women who have little people growing inside them. Part of this nesting involves organizing linen closets, rearranging bedroom furniture and switching offices, and another part involves me crouching over like Quasimodo’s handsome cousin, moving crates and boxes back and forth in our crawlspace.

I’m going to estimate the vertical clearance in the crawlspace at about 3′ 6″, give or take a couple inches. My personal preferred vertical clearance is anything over 6′ 1″. This disparity between actual and preferred led to me colliding with beams and ducts, as well as breaking a lightbulb with my ass. I will say that it was worth it, for a couple of reasons.

First, the crawlspace is now divided into several distinct zones. The northeast corner (farthest from the door) has been declared Long-Term Storage, containing items (and collections of items) that we are not likely to access in the course of a given year, such as “Extra Juice Glasses,” “Photography Books” and “Laura’s Precious Memories (Fragile).”

Several large boxes of “Kris’ Crap” (or “Junk” or “Stuff”) now occupy the middle of the east wall. These contain comic books, collectible card games, Star Wars action figures and assorted role-playing paraphernalia. Under no circumstances should any of these boxes be opened by individuals not wearing a pocket protector.

In the center of the crawlspace, near the concrete block support column, is Laura’s craft stuff: several rolling storage crates filled with assorted paraphernalia that is suited to making either charming knick knacks or bondage gear, depending upon one’s particular proclivities.

Near the entrance, in the southwestern corner of the crawlspace, now resides the seasonal/holiday decoration. Autumn/Hallowe’en decorations have been hauled out into the light, while Winter/Christmas and Spring/Easter decorations silently wait within easy reach.

Now we can walk the living room, dining room and kitchen floors with a certain satisfaction, knowing that there is a well-organized world beneath our feet, and not just a smelly pile of dead hobos who learned the hard way that photo albums do not provide the nourishment necessary to sustain human life.

Oh, and it’s been a while since I waxed poetic about waste removal. I just want to say that we should really do something nice for our sanitation engineers, who make unsightly piles of refuse disappear with little to no restriction on what constitutes “trash.”

Silly hobos.

Ultrasound 2: Sonic Boogaloo

Finding out we were pregnant (four and a half months pregnant, no less) was a pretty big surprise for Laura and I, and we decided that we’d had about all the surprises we could handle for a while. So we decided that when we went for the second ultrasound today, we wanted to find out the baby’s sex, if possible.

The doctor doing the ultrasound took his sweet old time getting around to that area as he took various skull measurements, showed us the face, arms and hands, legs and feet and examined the heart, spine and umbilical cord. He was like Johnny Shutterbug, too, snapping off a picture every few seconds. Here’s a fine example:

Baby Johnson

That’s definitely a head smack in the center, and if you look closely you might be able to make out the shape of an arm just to the right. The little tyke was squirming around a bit, and at one point appeared to wave at us. Though we didn’t get a picture of the wave, it’s on the video, which I’ll be digitizing in the near future.

Finally, it was time to determine just what sort of equipment this kid was packing downstairs. I didn’t see anything but a whole lot of leg at first, and I was afraid that the kid wasn’t going to allow the big reveal.

Then the doctor asked, “Do you want to know the baby’s sex?”

He barely had time to finish his question before Laura and I both blurted, “Yes.” Then he showed us this picture.

That's a what, now?

Riiiight. I had no idea what we were looking at, so I had to trust that the doctor knew what he was talking about. After it was all over, the doctor handed me the picture and I asked him to explain it to me. He did a very nice job, but the untrained eye may not be able to determine exactly what it is seeing. For further clarification, I’ve enhanced the image a bit…

The Package!

The orange shaded area is the thigh bone, or “femur.” It’s the longest bone in the human body. Three weeks ago, that bone was roughly 29 millimeters in length, which — combined with the 40mm skull measurement — put Baby Johnson’s age at about 18-19 weeks. Based on that, we were given a due date of 27 January 2006. The doctor didn’t change the due date today, but did say that he suspected it was probably off by about a week, suggesting that we’re in week 22, not week 21.

Anyway, the femur isn’t the important part of this image. The white arrow directly above the femur, however, is pointing at the junk, or “package.” The doctor typed three little letters on the screen and I grinned like a clown. Just like that, it’s a boy.

Boot to the hand!

I’m pretty sure the kid kicked my hand last night. What did I do to deserve that kind of treatment?

Ultrasound scheduled for Friday morning. With any luck, we’ll find out what kind of equipment s/he’s packing. In the past few days I’ve been feeling what I call “The Father’s Imperative.” A little part of me really hopes it’s a boy, which is not to say that I will be disappointed or resentful if it’s a girl. If it’s an alien… well, then I’m going to be all kinds of pissed. No extraterrestrial comes to Earth, poses as me and secretly impregnates my wife without so much as a “by your leave!” Not on my watch, buster. If it’s an alien, nothing less than intergalactic war will soothe my wrath.

A boy would be nice, though. Or a girl. Yeah. A boy or a girl.

No aliens.