We kept our baby’s name a secret because we wanted something just for us

I sat across from my husband, Dan, noisily adjusting my 20-weeks-pregnant body on the vinyl cushion of the booth as the waiter disappeared with our order. We always ordered the same thing at this restaurant: pulled pork nachos topped with housemade barbecue sauce, heaps of cheese, and plenty of fresh-sliced jalapenos. (I clearly was not suffering from pregnancy-related heartburn.)

As soon as the waiter walked away, my eyes lit up, and I asked, “Can we open it now?” We had our 20-week anatomy scan earlier that day, and the technician sent us off with a sealed envelope containing the sex of our baby. Before Dan could finish saying “yes”, I tore open the envelope, lifted the corner of the card and began to squeal with delight at the first sight of pink.

“We’re having a girl!” I exclaimed. And then the realization washed over me: our sweet girl already had a name. I looked at Dan, lowered my voice and whispered, “We’re having a Selah.”

We had chosen Selah’s name long before I got pregnant. We would talk about possible baby names just for fun, until it stopped being fun because we couldn’t agree. I prefer more classic names and my husband likes... well, I’m still not sure what he likes. But I remember when I brought up Selah as a possibility for a little girl, he gave his enthusiastic approval right away, and the deal was done.

We had also decided in advance to keep our baby’s name a secret. This was partially for the classic reason: we didn’t want to invite criticism. We were certain about our name choice, and we didn’t want to see anyone’s nose wrinkle at this out-of-the-ordinary moniker and cause us to second guess ourselves.

But the other big reason we wanted to keep her name to ourselves was because we wanted to preserve some of the sacredness of this pregnancy just for us.

So much about pregnancy felt public: Everyone could see my growing belly, which invited commentary (not always in a bad way) from family and friends and strangers in the checkout line at Target. We also chose to do a pregnancy announcement on social media to hundreds of online friends. And of course, there were the constant doctor’s appointments. They weren’t exactly public, but they were—ahem— intimate.

In many ways, our very personal event was made public as we chose to invite other people into the story. But by keeping Selah’s name private until she was born, we were able to hold on to a small piece of joy that was only for us to savor. It was a hidden treasure that kept us connected, a shared secret we could whisper about and feel tethered by as we anticipated how our whole world was about to change.

When I was five months pregnant, my husband and I traveled to Colorado to meet up with my college friends and their families for a long weekend of hiking, exploring and cooking meals together in a rented cabin. On our second morning there, I woke up to a surprise baby shower: pink streamers were strung across the antler chandelier, gifts lined the kitchen table, and each place was set with pink plates and baby bottles filled with juice.

As we celebrated together, raising our bottles and toasting to the baby girl I was carrying, I desperately wanted to tell my friends her name. It’s not that I felt I owed them, but more that I wanted to speak her name aloud to the people I cared about, to ground our celebration in this baby who was real and growing and had a name.

I asked my husband what he thought about sharing, and he said that he would prefer not to. He loved having our little secret just between us and said that it was something special for him to enjoy as a dad.

Much of the pregnancy felt real and concrete to me—I was the one growing our baby within my body, feeling the kicks and attending the appointments. Calling our little girl by name was one of the concrete ways he was able to connect to and feel included in the pregnancy, and he was hesitant to give that same sort of access to other people. But he also told me that he would respect whatever I decided to do—to tell or not to tell.

I knew he meant it sincerely when he said I could choose, and ultimately, I did not tell my friends that day. (Instead, one friend’s 4-year-old lovingly named her “Baby Elsa”—this was clearly during the Frozen craze—which was amusingly not far off from our choice. Among these friends, we called Selah “Baby Elsa” until she was born.)

I don’t think the way my husband and I chose to handle the baby name-sharing question is the only way or even the best way. Just as there are a million ways to be a good parent, there are a million ways to experience and share joy in pregnancy.

But in our case, I wonder if there was some virtue I needed to recover in holding back. I literally write about my life on the internet, and to some extent, keeping certain things sacred feels a bit like a lost art.

There was plenty of time for the rest of the world to use her name in all kinds of ways: in frustration, in joy, in disappointment. But for these precious few months, her name was whispered only by her dad and me, only in love.

As we waited on the birth of our little girl, the anticipation built into a crescendo that finally ended with her in my arms as Dan and I breathed out, just for her to hear: Selah.

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With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


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My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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