Asena (just a few hours old) wearing a bonnet my great, great grandmother crocheted for me
PHOTO CREDIT: Taylre Pearson Photography

There’s a new, tiny human being laying on my lap in a fuzzy, pink, zip-up sack as I type this. She has ten itsy-bitsy spidery fingers, ten tiny toes and sweet, milky breath. When I look at her, my heart feels fluffy and light – like cotton candy. In fact, life itself feels all fluffy and light since she made her debut despite all the diaper changing. I guess you could say she makes me melt and that’s why I’m so excited to introduce you to this little girl my family waited so long to meet.

Her name is Asena (uh-SEE-nuh) and we welcomed her into this world on Groundhog Day. She’s my little moonack, although Spennie calls her Sea for short. Seeing how Reila has a bazillion nicknames from the family (Squish, Rei, Littler Princess and Chicky-Chaw to name a few) we’ll just have to wait and see what sticks. Big sister Rei calls her Bay some days and Bee others but has only said the full, double-syllable word Baby a handful of times. Hopefully, she doesn’t think “baby” is her little sister’s name (she currently calls my father-in-law “dad” instead of Pops because she heard my husband, sister-in-law and I call him that.)

Asena getting a kiss from her big sister Reila
Photo Credit: My wonderful husband, Spencer

Back at the end of 2017, I told Reila she was going to be a big sister but unfortunately, the pregnancy was ectopic and required an emergency surgery removal. Little did we know Asena would be born a year TO THE DAY later. We were truly blessed with a complication-free pregnancy and a beautiful, happy, healthy baby girl.

Reila, who is now 18 months old, came to every midwife visit with my husband and I where she got to listen to Asena’s heartbeat. During the gender-revealing ultrasound, Rei sat with her Aunt Tate although I’m not sure she knew what she was watching move around on the screens (the ultrasound place we went to with this pregnancy was – no joke – set up like a freaking in-home movie theater.)

For Christmas, my Nana sent Rei a baby doll which she immediately started hugging and kissing. This doll was the first present she opened but she loved it so much, she got mad when we suggested she open the rest of her presents!

Asena (11 days old) & Reila ( a week shy of 18 months)

When the third trimester came around, our little Rei of sunshine started hugging, kissing and poking my belly. She laughed whenever she caught Asena wriggling around and now that her little sister is here with us, Rei hasn’t left her side. I watch her stare at Asena for hours on end, lovingly taking the simplicity of the newborn stage in as the new little nugget smiles and coos in her sleep. If I put Asena in her baby swing – Reila’s old baby swing which she fondly seems to remember – Reila is at the foot of it, wanting to rock it herself. She sits next to me on the couch and puts her arms out, asking to hold her baby sister in her lap. And perhaps sweetest of all the moments is how she can’t go five minutes without kissing her sister on the cheek, nose or forehead.

Watching the two of them together makes me so inexplicably happy, my heart might actually explode. I love my girls so much and being a mom has been, hands down, the most rewarding experience of my life despite not expecting to feel that way at all. One of the best parts has been sharing these feelings and experiences with their Aunt Tate, who literally packed up her life to move back to Kansas City to be closer to little Reila. Little did she know there would soon be another little lady stealing her heart!

It was a unanimous decision requiring very little discussion from Spence and me to ask Taylre (Tate) to be our children’s godmother. (She said yes!) Without Tate, there would be no proof I was ever pregnant. I am so grateful for her documenting Spence and I’s parenthood journey as well as sweet baby Rei’s transition to toddlerdom – and someday, adulthood. Tate also captured the beautiful pictures of Asena you see featured in this post moments after her birth. You can check out her full photography page here.

Not to get too sappy on y’all, but Tate taught me the meaning and importance of sisterhood. She probably doesn’t realize it but she’s always inspiring me to be a better person than I was yesterday. So in honor of her amazing Aunt Tate and the huge impact she will forever have on all of our lives, we decided our newborn would share the middle name Marie.

Since Reila and I have such unique names, I wanted my next daughter to share the experience as well. I mean, it wouldn’t be cool if one of them could find trinkets in the gift shop with their name on it and the rest of us couldn’t. Situations like that have pushed me towards being creative my whole life – not to mention all the fun associations and explanations I’ve been forced to come up with so I can make people care enough to learn how to say my name after I introduce myself. It’s like DeLorean without the “duh.” Or Lothlórien without the “loth.” Or quite literally Laurie with an N at the end.

You get the picture.

Two-day-old Asena with her “wolf,” Mr.
Scriffie – a gift from her Pops the day she was born.

Despite the challenges, I love having a weird name. It’s been a great tool for meeting people and making strong first impressions. If I hit you with a memory device you enjoy or that makes you laugh, you’ll always remember my name, making me unforgettable. Again, I wanted my girls to enjoy being the only person in their friend circle with a certain name so a different – but not ridiculous – name was a priority. Luckily, the first time Spence and I lay awake in bed openly discussing potential names for the new little lady, Asena popped up. And just like that, it was chosen.

But where did it come from?

Funny you should ask. A handful of friends most likely chuckled when Spence shared the big news on his Facebag. Can’t say for sure, though, since I abstain from social media. Anyway, here’s how the story goes:

Once upon a time, Spence and I along with a dozen or so other friends embarked on an epic Dungeons & Dragons campaign, meaning we had to create characters from scratch. I wanted a character capable of casting the ritual spells Animal Friendship and Speak with Animals, then decided she should have a special relationship with wolves which led me to read about she-wolves and lupine names. And that’s when Spence found it: Asena.

As legend has it, a tribe in Central Asia was massacred by their enemies. Everyone was killed except for a little boy, who was taken in by a female wolf named Asena. When he grew up, they mated and Asena gave birth to 10 sons who later established the Ashina clan ruling Turkic nomadic empires such as the Götürk. In this sense, Asena carries the strength of a she-wolf or wolf mother, making it the perfect name for my D&D character. And though I didn’t know it at the time when we were battling monsters and guards and questioning the motives of other characters in our party from the dungeon-esque basement of our favorite bar (RIP Blue Fugue), it turns out to be the perfect name for our daughter, as well.

Family members already struggle with Asena’s name. Some are hesitant to say it aloud, even after hearing us say it. But Spence and I haven’t come up with a mnemonic device or association for it yet. I think it’s best Asena conceives those herself. Then again, if her Great Grandpa Rose accidentally calls her “Arsenic” again, we just might have to come up with something.

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