beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

How to Name a Baby Mulligan

There’s a part of me that fears that no one will come to my parties ever again.

Then there’s the part of me that keeps making up new baby shower games.

The second part says to the first part, “Screw you, sucka!  I don’t care if you make new friends.  I just wanna laugh at others’ pain.”

I usually listen to the second part because she’s more fun.  She also gets me in trouble a lot.  To which I say, “Eh.”

My sister-in-law, Kim, is ready to pop with Baby #3.  That’s 3 babies in less than 3 years.  (My brother is reading this and saying “BOOYAH!” right now.  So I’m preemptively rolling my eyes at him.  Take that, Jeff.)

And what better way to celebrate a new baby than to make 15 women play my awkward baby shower games?  Yep!  I sure know how to make a girl feel special.  Kim’s so lucky.

For Kim’s baby shower game, I drew my inspiration from all those nights I changed babies’ diapers, gasped in horror at the color or odor or quantity or texture, and said, “What is this?”

And then said, “Are you OK, baby?”

And then thought, “I should probably call my mom or the doctor or someone who can explain this.”

And then thought, “Nah.  He seems fine.  I just want to sleep.  Oh, dear God in Heaven, please let me sleep.”  Which is the way most of my nightly kid adventures end.

You can see how that’s a lot to fit into one game, though.

I thought long and hard, and here’s what I decided.

The game preparation went like this:

  1. Steal my kids’ stuffed animals when they’re not looking.
  2. Mash up different foods.
  3. Spread the foods in diapers.
  4. Wrap the stuffed animals in messy diapers.  Or make my mom do it.  Because she’s a good sport.  And also because she’s crazy, and she offered.

Result: A pile of very smelly stuffed animals.

Hey.  Since nothing says, “Welcome to my house!” like the smell of clams and peanut butter, I was right on target.

Next steps:

  1. Blindfold unsuspecting shower guests.
  2. Make them change a “baby” and identify the food in the diaper using smell, touch or taste.
  3. Time them so they feel pressured to hurry.
  4. Hope they don’t ralph all over, because even though the game is gross, I don’t want to be remembered for “that party.”
  5. Laugh and laugh.

Step #5 was a rousing success, actually.  Due in large part to the fact that Kim’s friends know how to get their game on.  For which I’m sincerely grateful.

Here’s Miss Kim, changing her Tiger Baby:

And here’s her Tiger Baby all changed:

And here’s the thing I noticed… that poor tiger is missing one of his bottom legs because Kim wrapped it right into the diaper.

And then she pulled his tail out the leg hole.

Which bothers me a little because Kim is having a boy.

And, um, boys have tails.

Dear Nephew,

There’s nothing I can say that will make this better for you.

But I thought you should know, you’re in my prayers.


Auntie Beth

I write “dear nephew” because I don’t know this dear, sweet baby’s name.  His mama doesn’t know his name.  His daddy doesn’t know his name.

The baby boy is nameless.  And he’s gonna fall out any second.

When I was having babies, I had the ideal and perfect names picked out for every single one.  I did such a good job naming my children that people should hire me to name theirs.

Now go back and read those last two sentences with heavy sarcasm.

Truth be told, when I was having my first baby, I had the ideal and perfect name picked out for her.  Gabrielle.  Spelled the girl way, pronounced the angelic way — “Gabriel.”  Nickname: Abby.  I couldn’t go with Gabby, because, given me as her mother, I had to plan for verbosity.  What if she spent the rest of her life with people saying, “Well, that name is apropos.  A Gabby who talks a lot?  Cliche.” How embarrassing.  And, of all the things in the world, I wanted to protect my Abby girl from embarrassment.

Of course, now Abby’s 12 and hates her name.  She’s convinced that “Gabrielle” pronounced “Gabriel” is another dreadful way I intentionally and maliciously embarrass her.

So that was a naming success right there.

By the time I got to Kids #4 and 5 — my twins, Cai and Cael — I was short on time and out of ideas.  The only thing I knew for sure was that I did not, under any circumstances, want my twins to have matchy names.

I mean, these are independent beings with their own personalities.  Saddling a twin with a matchy name forever?  No way!

Cai.  Cael.  Yeah, those are so not matchy.

So there’s another black mark in the baby-naming success book.

Baby-naming mulligans.  That’s what we need.  We need a full year, post-baby-naming, to decide whether we like ’em.  (The names.  Not the kids.)  If, in that year, it dawns on us that we screwed up the naming in an epic way, we get a naming do-over.  No penalty.

Can I get an amen?  Anyone?

So now, Jeff and Kim, you’re up to bat.  You have somewhere between 7 hours and 21 days to settle on the perfect name for your baby boy.  A name that will follow him for the rest of his life.  A name that should be masculine, unique, and meaningful.  A name like a firm handshake.

A name you won’t have to question for, oh, the next 60 years.

You might want to go ahead and name him Mulligan and get it out of the way.

Or Beth.  Beth’s a good name for a boy.

No pressure, though.

Just like there’s no pressure to diaper him correctly in the middle of the night.

And there’s no pressure to get him into the right schools and start saving for his college education.

Just like the rest of parenting.  No pressure at all.

All of which is to say,

Congratulations!  And I love you.  And I can’t wait to meet him.  Can’t wait, can’t wait.


Don’t miss a post. Subscribe here

29 responses to “How to Name a Baby Mulligan”

  1. We named our #1 son (William) after his paternal great grandfather, and really like the tradition of using family names. With baby #2 we were told on no less than two separate ultrasounds that it was a girl, so we had a name all picked out: Clara (for my grandmother) Ellen (middle name of both my mom and me). So it came as a great surprise when the baby was born and proved to be very much a boy! The nurses all knew we were expecting a girl so they didn’t really pressure us to pick a new name, but I think it was important for us to choose as soon as possible to make it more “real” and not call the baby “Clara” anymore. I was lying on the OR table after a c-section, frustrated, tired, and a little grumpy from throwing up several times. My husband and I struggled to remember what names we had considered before we “knew” we were having a girl, and whether or not he had ever talked to his brother about using his name (Anton). We decided to it was better to ask forgiveness rather than permission, and went with Anton, but had to consider several middle names before deciding, rather randomly, on Charles. As it turns out I have several relatives a few generations back named Charles, so everyone was happy.

    I do look at this baby and wonder if he is really an “Anton.” It’s such a formal name for a little blob of baby chub who giggles and laughs. But his uncle goes by “Tony” which I don’t particularly want to use either. So I’m calling him Ants and Baby Bug and he will probably hate me for the “ants in your pants” teasing he will no doubt receive. But that’s just one more mark against the Mean Mommy.

    • Laura, your girl-turned-boy story is AWESOME. You should put that one on your blog.

      I have an acquaintance who went through the very same thing. When the daddy called everyone to announce his baby’s birth, he said, “I’m just calling to let you know that mom and baby are well. And we’ve named her Joseph.” I still giggle.


  2. “I just want to sleep. Oh, dear God in Heaven, please let me sleep.” — can’t even count how many times I’ve prayed that same prayer.

    It was common practice here in Japan to NOT name a baby until about a month after he/she was born. That way the family could get to know the baby’s temperament and personality and give it a fitting name. I don’t know how common that practice is anymore but I know some families who have waited for more than a week to name their babe.

    I love The Old Marine’s comments… I can see where you get your sense of humor from Beth!

    • Love the Japanese naming practice. That would’ve saved me a lot of aggravation, I tell you.

      And on the place from whence my sense of humor comes…. oh dear, again. I’m afraid you nailed it, Miss Holly. It’s all true.


  3. First of all, Baby Name Mulligan is what middle names are for: I grew up as “Bill”, but changed to my middle name, Webb, in my early 20s. I think, with some exceptions, kids can learn to deal with the names–it gives them something to work toward or fight against. Look what we did to our daughter: people either spell it ‘Lee’ or pronounce it ‘Lay’ or (go figure…!) ‘Leah’ (her name is Leigh, for those of you who don’t know).

    Granted, there are exceptions: I’ve had students named Opaline and Shenequa; I’ve had a student named Odlanyer, which is his father’s name backwards; I’ve had a boy named Ambrose who rushed to school early on the first day to beg me to read out his name in roll call by his initials, “A.J.”, and not by his first name (I complied).

    Beyond that, let ’em suffer a little. They’ll find something to complain about anyway. And when they say, ‘You’ve ruined my life!’ you can reply, ‘Then I’m just doing my job.’

    • Ha! I can’t decide if Odlanyer is my new favorite name, or if I want to shake Ambrose’s hand for being so proactive. Now that’s one motivated kid! I probably should’ve considered that while naming, too.


  4. Also, what I’ve been meaning to ask you (Beth) for months: how did you guys come up with Cai&Cael? Did you know up front you were have boys? And how do you pronounce their names exactly? (lots of questions 🙂 )
    I feel for Abby, my sister Annelies has exactly the same feelings towards her name! She also thinks our parents have wronged her majestically, naming her older sister Carina&Jadine. I like her name (she was named after our dad&mom, Jan&Liesbeth), so I don’t see the problem really, but she hates it…

    ps: tell Kim I hope she’ll have a great delivery (yes, there’s such a thing, stop laughing!) and good luck on the deciding on the name for the little boy! When is she due exactly? (I’m guessing she’ll be somewhere around 38 weeks pregnant, because you said ’21 days’ and I think that in the US 41 weeks is the max, isn’t it?)
    pps: so jealous of the baby shower! Sounds like so much fun 🙂 Baby showers are becoming a bit more common over here, but I’ve never had one… 🙁

    • Cai rhymes with pie. Cael rhymes with pail… or pale, like he is. The “C” is the hard “K” sound. K-eye. K-ale. (Cai was very sad when he realized Cael has his own vegetable.)

      Yes. We knew they were boys. I kept having every ultrasound technician make sure, because after we found out there were 2 of them in there, I couldn’t take any more surprises. At least 3 technicians verified two peepers.

      Cai means “rejoice” in Welsh. Cael is Gaelic for Caleb, which means “faithful.” I cannot, cannot BELIEVE how much my boys’ personalities match their name meanings. It’s creepy. And cool. And really creepy.

      Annelies has a gorgeous name. Tell her I said so.

      I’ll let Kim know about your well-wishing, and thanks! She’s a rockstar, and she’ll be amazing again with this birth. If we can get her into labor in the first place. 😉


  5. You always make me laugh! My youngest was 4 weeks early and we didn’t name her until she was 4 days old. That felt like a lot of pressure to name her before we left the hospital and everyone kept asking us if we had decided yet.
    Adam is really good at figuring out how names could potentially be made fun of in school. Even names that seemed really benign in the teasing sense. I’m not sure what that says about him.
    I had a patient once though who didn’t like what she named her daughter and called her something completely different and I believe she told me that you can change it on their birth certificate up to one year later without too much hassle and she was planning on doing that.

    • That’s an amazing story! Over here, we have to ‘register’ a baby within 3 days after birth, so there’s not much room to hesitate… And changing the name after you’ve registered the baby costs a lot of money, so that’s no common practice either. How many days (weeks?) do you get in the US to register your baby? And is it mandatory that this is done by someone who has witnessed the birth? (it is over here) I’m intrigued! 🙂

      • Carina, this is a really difficult question to answer in the US (and so I figure that I am the right person to answer it (even though I have no formal training (or even solid “information” for that matter (see Beth’s earlier post re: Cocky vs. Confident (sorry for all the parentheses (I play this game sometimes of trying to embed as many as possible while keeping the ending syntax correct)))))).

        The reason this is so difficult to answer is that there are competing laws, statutes and policies at various levels: federal, state, local and institution (the hospital). Specifically, each state has different rules for for submitting birth records (I’ve seen 5 days in several places though).

        From the hospital’s perspective, it is much easier logistically to have these records before the newborn leaves, so there is commonly a lot of pressure to fill them out on the premises. These records are usually presented simultaneously with other required paperwork (insurance releases, discharge forms, etc.) This has lead to a common perception in America that “you can’t leave the hospital without naming your baby.”

        I can’t refute that statement absolutely. However, one must balance the above against the possibility of false imprisonment accusations and the insurance company’s reluctance to pay for extended hospital time for decision-making purposes. I have to think that in most states, if parents adamantly refused to fill out the birth records in the hospital, and accepted responsibility to submit them in time, no one would forcibly prevent them from leaving with the baby.

        How’s that for more ‘non-information’ than you ever wanted? =)

        • Thanks Jeff!!! (I’m a big fan of exclamation marks, as well as parentheses 🙂 ) I’m also a firm believer of my very own self-invented motto ‘there’s no such thing as too much non-information’! (just ask Beth) So I’m loving your answer! As always, it probably raises more questions than it answers, but hey, that’s all part of the game, right? 😉
          So here it comes: where do the 5 days come from? Is that the amount of days you usually stay in the hospital after having a baby? And if you fill in the forms for the baby’s birth records, does the hospital then take care of all the administrative work that follows? Over here, it sometimes is possible to register&name your baby in the hospital (if the baby was born in that hospital), because there’s a small municipal office in some hospitals. Usually though, the father of the baby (who is the one doing the registering most of the times) goes to the city hall/municipal office in the town the baby was born in (if the baby is born at home, this is the only option of course) and fill out the forms over there. Most civil servants (who are the people who do all the paperwork and ‘make things official’ will try to make a little ceremony/festivity out of it, since it’s such a special occasion. This is all hearsay on my part though, because the baby’s mother hardly ever gets to be present, because of the three-day-rule. 🙁
          I laughed so hard at your comment about ‘balancing the above against the possibility of false imprisonment accusations and the insurance company’s reluctance to pay for extended hospital time for decision-making purposes’, so funny, and so true over here as well. Well, I don’t know about imprisonment, but there are huge fines and lots of insurance hassle if you delay the whole decision making process! So you might want to go with the Old Marine and get it over with… 😉 You could also go with a Dutch name, but then again that might cause some heavy duty teasing and having to spell their name all of the time in their future, so on second thought, don’t do that!
          On a final note, I have to admit that I can’t get the ‘if parents adamantly refused to fill out the birth records in the hospital, and accepted responsibility to submit them in time, no one would forcibly prevent them from leaving with the baby’ out of my head. That scene right there sounds like a scene from an Adam Sandler movie to me! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear if you guys tried it 😉

  6. I’ve got the *perfect* name for the boy. Perfect. “A name that [is] masculine, unique, and meaningful. A name like a firm handshake.” Let’s just say that the *perfect* name is sponsored by the Roman Numeral Two.

    • I’m trying to understand this one… and failing miserably! There’s a name that starts with II ? Please explain! Anybody? (I feel like such a foreigner right now… oh wait, I am! does that make it any better? 😉 )

      • Dear Carina: Yeah – okay… that *was* pretty cryptic. Being Dutch has nothing to do with your inability to solve this puzzle… it’s an inside joke. Decoded the message says, “The Old Marine – as the new baby’s paternal grandfather – is suggesting again (for the 500th time) that the “perfect” name for the boy would be his own… followed by the roman numeral II, as in William Bandersnatch Mulligan II.” Hope that helps. Next comment will be more illustrative and less literary – I promise.

        • Dear Old Marine, thank you so much for filling me in and letting me in on your family’s inside joke(s), I feel special! 🙂 I completely agree with you and think they should absolutely name the new little boy after his paternal grandfather, but then again, I’m a sucker for the whole traditional ‘naming after grandparents thing’. Maybe his second name? Otherwise things might get complicated with your other ‘grandson-who-was-named-after-you… See what happens when you let me into your family too much? I stick my nose into things it shouldn’t be stuck into 😉 Anyway, if you need me to fly to Oregon to negotiate on the baby’s name, let me know!
          ps: I sure hope you were joking about your future comments being less literary, because I’d hate that! Just keep ’em coming I say! I love to learn And isn’t it wonderful to connect&teach like this? 🙂
          pps: I actually knew about the whole ‘Roman Numeral following a name’ thing (it’s just with boys, right?), because Tom Cruise also has that! (I can hear Beth laughing now, but it’s true, Hollywood teaches us stuff too 😉 ) Over here, we just say ‘junior’ and ‘senior’, as my brother’s name is Jan junior, after my dad (and my granddad actually).

          • Okay, just one more: can’t help wondering whether you really know someone who goes by the name ‘Bandersnatch’… Do you? Or is this just another reference I don’t get because of my European-ism, being Europeanish, a Europeanite, ehm, well that 😉

          • Hehehe. This is the funniest, Carina.

            I saw my Old Marine’s note, and thought, “Oh dear. There he goes again.” Which is what I always think, ’cause he’s my parent. And is the same thing my daughter thinks about everything I say, too.

            And then I thought, “Father mine, please don’t say snatch.” Which is close to what my daughter thinks every time I say, “Abby, go get your thongs on.” 🙂

            So, to answer your question, I know no one by the name of Bandersnatch. Not that I’m opposed to befriending said person. I’d just have to keep from having fits of the giggles all the time.

            And, as always, I’ve said too much.


          • By the way, before I forget again…. @Old Marine: you remembered I’m Dutch, that’s so awesome! Like! I’m flattered, thank you 🙂
            ps: I’m also very happy that I’ve finally managed to put the Dutch flag ‘on’ my Facebook profile picture, being proud of my Dutch-ness and all, but apparently it didn’t need to be emphasized as much as I thought it did 😉

  7. HIGHLARIOUS! I asked my friend who is a historical fiction auther and the Queen of Research to send me some links with Kim’s criteria. She sent me four links in a matter of four seconds. So Kim now has lists from the Research Expert.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.