What’s in a Name?

Coke CanMost expectant parents will agree with me when I say one of the toughest decisions they make is naming their child or let me put that another way—agreeing on a name.  This is because men and women have different ideas of what a good name is.

About four-years ago Esther and I started thinking of baby names and we quickly agreed on a girl’s name—Sierra.  The boy’s name wasn’t so easy.  My preferences ran towards traditional names or what friends called Biblical Names like Michael, David or Thomas.  Esther preferred names like Adrien, Colby or Noah (Okay Noah is a biblical name).

Agreeing on a name was like Congress trying to agree on immigration reform or debt reduction. Neither liked what the other was offering and neither was giving in. We agreed on one thing if genetics holds, our child was going to be stubborn.

I’d suggest Cornelius whenever a friend or family member suggested a name that didn’t work for me (see yesterday’s post).  The name came to me when Esther and I rode a bike tour of the Hudson Valley.  Leaving Cornelius Vanderbilt’s estate I said did you know Native American Tribes believed if you name your child after someone prosperous, the child will be prosperous? So if we have a boy we should name him Cornelius.

Coke Names 2

It wasn’t true but I trotted it out for years.  Esther would suggest names like Rene, Joaquin, or something similar guaranteeing my unborn son a wedgie-filled future, I’d counter with Cornelius (I have your back son). Cornelius took a beating on a trip to Puerto Rico when family members couldn’t pronounce it, but watching them try was worth the price of the plane ticket.

After much discussion we agreed on naming rules;

First – No Roman Numerals.  I didn’t want Frank Jr much less Frank II.  I always thought Roman Numerals sounded pompous, the only way I’d use one was if we strung them together, like the Super Bowl, (ex Frank XLVII).

Second – We wanted to introduce a new name to the family tree.  Meaning Jose (my dad), Hector, (her dad), Bob (my brother), Bobby (her brother), Jonathon (nephew), Robert (nephew), Lucas (nephew), Justin (nephew) and Chico (dog) were all off the table.

Sorry Chico
Sorry Chico

Third – We preferred a name that worked in English and Spanish.  Esther is Puerto Rican and I’m Spanish and Puerto Rican.  My last name Priegue pronounced PREEG in English and PRIE-EH-GEH in Spanish sounds ambiguous. A name emphasizing our ethnicity might help—if we could agree on one.

Fourth – No names of cities, states or countries meaning Asia, Austin, Montgomery, or Tyler were not being considered.  This came after someone suggested Brooklyn.  “How about Staten Island, it covers his first and middle name (technically Brooklyn is a borough but you get my point).


Waiting for a doctor’s appointment Esther suggested a compromise.  We each pick 12 names and see how many matched.  It was the best idea we had.  Here are our lists, as you can see Esther didn’t stop at 12.

Esther’s List                          My List

1-Andre                                 1-Daniel

2-Adrien                               2-Michael

3-Colby                                 3-David

4-Cole                                   4-Joseph

5-Daniel                                5-Matthew

6-Evan                                  6-Maxwell

7-Julian                                7-Christian

8-Matteo                              8-Gabriel

9–Matthew                         9-Thomas

10-Noah                               10-Alexander

11-Rene                                 11-Christopher

12-Tobey                               12-Benjamin







We matched four Christian, Daniel, Gabriel and Matthew but it didn’t stop there.  With new names constantly being thrown into the mix. I took to social media.  With tongue firmly in cheek, I posted on Facebook (twice) asking for friends and families for suggestions.

A college classmate suggested as runners we should name the baby “Miles.”  Miles became the first alternate.  My favorite was Otto, easy to spell, and a middle name for Cornelius.  My cousin Cecilia advised picking a name we’d feel comfortable shouting 50,000 times by the time he’s 18.

By Labor Day Weekend, only Christian and Daniel remained. They would be the baby’s first and middle names—we just didn’t know in what order.  We agreed on waiting until the baby is born. Picking the final name and spelling is another story for another blog post.

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Esther’s Pregnancy – Nine Months in a Few Paragraphs

Since returning from the break I’ve thought about the best way to cover the five months between posts.  If you’ve met me, you know I’m chatty.  I’ve been called a lot of things, but I’m sticking with chatty.  I figured it would be best to hit the highlights so I could get this blog going before Cristian goes off to college.

Another sonogram of Baby Priegue
Another sonogram of BabyPriegue

High-Risk Pregnancy-Because of her age (42 on the baby’s due date) and medical history (two miscarriages) Esther’s OB/GYN was a high-risk specialist.   This meant doctor’s appointments every other week and lots of sonograms.  In addition to maintaining a strict diet and regular weigh-ins, she was restricted from cycling, running and Zumba.  The doctor, an avid Republican, loved a lively political debate. More than once Esther asked me to steer the conversation towards politics so she could avoid a lecture for gaining an extra pound or two from the last weigh-in.

It Was an Active Pregnancy-Despite the restrictions Esther qualified for this year’s New York City Marathon. Instead of running she walked the nine qualifiers, finishing 11 races overall, including two half marathons and a ten-miler (yes I sound like a proud husband). Walking the More Half Marathon with her taught me it’s harder to walk a half than run one.  Most memorable was Cristian’s end-zone dance at the end of a 5K race at Met Life Stadium.  It scared the hell out of the paramedics giving us a story we still tell.

Esther finishing a 5K race.
Esther finishing a 5K race.

The Baby Shower-Like its cousin the bridal shower, baby showers are a great way of filling your home with tons of free stuff—but it’s not really free—it comes at a cost.  I had to be there.  In olden times, women went to baby showers while the men stayed home.  The father’s involvement was limited to loading and unloading the car afterwards.  It was a good system that worked fine. I’ve always been a believer of “If it ain’t broke.”  Over the past few years baby showers went coed.  Men are now required to attend, not just the expectant fathers but the husbands and partners of the female guests.  Why would a guy want to go to Hooters for beer and wings when he can play games like Baby Bingo?

Esther and I during her Baby Shower
Esther and I during her Baby Shower
My practice doll from class.
My practice doll from class.

Parenting Classes- Esther signed us up for a series of parenting classes.  It was a good idea—or maybe it was a hint.  The classes covered feeding, bathing changing diapers, and Basic Parenting 101—perfect for a baby spaz like me.  I didn’t go to the breast feeding class because she felt it would make the other women uncomfortable. I told her I’d leave the camera home.

Oh That Weight Gain-Not hers—mine. It’s common for expectant fathers to gain weight during their wife’s pregnancy—I just didn’t think it would happen to me.  Is this foreshadowing?  We both gained weight (25 pounds for me) the difference is Esther produced a son, I produced a belly.

Esther and I showing our bellies after last June's Queens 10K
Esther and I showing our bellies after last June’s Queens 10K

Hormones Hormones Hormones-Every father has more than a few war stories about their wife’s hormones going berserk. These hormones hijack your sweet lady giving her more personalities than Sybil.  They are no joke, if you’re lucky it only feels like getting a prostate exam from a doctor with fat sausage fingers. Why are you putting your head in the oven Frank?  Don’t worry they pass when the baby is born.  Suck it up and focus on the big picture.

When in Doubt Laugh-It’s my motto for life and it helped me when things got stressful.  Pregnancy is a unique experience, and those experiences have given me enough material for a 20-minute set at any Comedy Club or a maybe a blog.  I survived Lamaze Classes, unsolicited advice, and baby name suggestions (tomorrow’s post) with a joke or two.  Sure it cost me a few looks and maybe a lecture (see the previous paragraph on hormones) but it helped.

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Your Father is Going to be Very Happy

Esther and her nephew Justin.
Esther and her nephew Justin.

In my post before the break I wrote about finding out about Esther’s pregnancy but it still wasn’t real—I said it was but it wasn’t yet.  We’d been here before.  Esther had gotten pregnant twice and miscarried both times.

We tried IVF—three cycles worth.  Early morning blood tests, late-night hormone shots, and a 60-year old woman handing me a cup and pointing me to a room full of adult movies and magazines.  Is that Lindsey Lohan?  Okay I had the easy part, but IVF didn’t work for us either.

Since Esther was 41, and had two miscarriages, we were a high-risk pregnancy.  We were referred to a specialist.  After discussing our family histories Esther was sent for a Chromosome 21 test.

Me and an old picture of my niece Katie.
Me and an old picture of my niece Katie.

The fetus was tested for potential birth defects such as Alzheimer Disease, Cytogenetically Normal Acute Leukemia and Nonsyndromic deafness.   All we could do was cross our fingers and pray.

While we waited I joked that one family was going to be disappointed.  Esther’s family was dying for a girl, her brother has two sons and her sister has another. My brother has two daughters. My family wanted me to produce the elusive male child and keep the family name alive—but no pressure.

A few weeks later Esther called crying.  The test results were back.  Bracing for the worst, she said,

Esther and Chico at Shea Stadium for Bark at the Park Night.
Esther and Chico at Shea Stadium for Bark at the Park Night.

“The test results were negative.”

Choked up I asked, “Does that mean?”

“The baby is healthy” she answered crying tears of joy.

Wow!  It just got real.  She asked me, “Do you want to know the sex of the baby?  I didn’t ask because I wasn’t sure if you wanted to know.”

I wanted to be surprised, but knowing Esther wanted to know, said, “Sure, call her up and let me know.”

Twenty minutes later, Esther called back saying, “Your father is going to be very happy.”

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By The Way Did You Know You Were Pregnant?

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room with Esther, I’m having flashbacks to a Sonossnowy Saturday afternoon in January when our lives changed.

I was prepping for the first race of a half marathon doubleheader weekend when Esther asked me to drive her to work. She usually drives herself to work on race days.  This morning, she asked for a ride because she wasn’t feeling well that morning.

A few hours later, she called sounding horrible asking me to pick her up from work early and taking her to an urgent care center. If you know Esther then you know how rare this is, she’s never sick and doesn’t leave work early.

At Urgent Care her pulse and blood pressure were taken and blood was drawn. Waiting for the doctor we talked about her skipping the next day’s Fred Lebow Classic. Imagine our surprise when the doctor said, “By the way, did you know you were pregnant?”

More sonosWe were surprised but not elated. We’ve been here before. Twice.

I remember how happy I was when Esther called me into the bathroom showing me a blue stick and the disappointment a few days later when the baby didn’t have a heartbeat.   We were referred to Northshore LIJ’s Center for Human Reproduction for IVF after a second miscarriage.

Three rounds of IVF treatments, thousands of dollars spent and multiple hormone injections only provided more disappointment. The first two rounds didn’t take and the final round produced embryos testing positive for Down Syndrome.  I wondered if we were meant to be parents.

So we were cautiously optimistic when we visited the OB/GYN for more blood tests and wait and see.  It wasn’t until we heard a baby’s heartbeat that we realized this might be real.

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Hi I’m Frank Priegue , I live in Queens with my wife Esther and our dog Chico.  I run, I write, I blog. I’ve blogged on and off for a few years my blog du jour, North Queens Runner is currently in on hiatus—I haven’t been posting.

pio pioEsther and I met in 2008, we married in 2010.  I married my best friend.  We have a good life sharing mutual interests, marathon running, cycling, travel, books and movies but one thing eluded us—a child.  That’s about to change.


Although we share many interests, we aren’t clones.  Esther is highly organized, meticulous; loves making lists (think OCD). She loves bed skirts, frilly curtains, and beds laden with large numbers of pillows—I think we are up to 10. She was raised to believe sarcasm is a bad thing.  Think Felix Unger.  If you don’t know who Felix Unger is check out the Odd Couple on Hulu, or read this.

I’m less organized and messy—Oscar Madison.  A bed should have two pillows max, maybe four if it’s a California King, and come from a long line of bed skirt less people.  My family is extremely sarcastic, many having no concept of what a filter is.

Esther and I in Central Park the day after finishing the 2010 New York City Marathon
Esther and I in Central Park the day after finishing the 2010 New York City Marathon

Being a dad at 50 scares me a little.  Most of my friends and family became parents in their 20’s and 30’s.  I’m waiting for the day when I’m asked, “How old is your grandson?”  I’ve had flashbacks of a recent party where I was mistaken for Esther’s father.  Its ok, she doesn’t call me Daddy.

Esther and I with New York Mets' broadcaster Howie Rose. My salt and pepper hair is now dyed brown.
Esther and I with New York Mets’ broadcaster Howie Rose. My salt and pepper hair is now dyed brown.

This blog is seen through the eyes of a sarcastic 50-year old first-time dad.  I’ve been by Esther’s side through doctor’s appointments, sonograms, baby showers and Lamaze classes and my mind has been racing throughout.  Time to blog.

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