Last weekend I spent a wonderful few days visiting friends (including the intrepid toddler Tai, who led me to relive childhood memories at OMSI) in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
When I arrived Friday shortly after 9, I took Finn for a walk in the dark.
As he sniffed at scents left by critters and other dogs, I listened to the chorus of frogs croaking in the creek leading to Lake Cushman. Reminded of Peeper’s namesakes, I touched my belly.
About six months ago, Eric and I heard a similar cacophony of frogs while on a walk at the Sandy River Delta, a 1,400-acre park where dogs can run off leash, sprint in the sand and roll in mud pits. I had recently taken a third pregnancy test—better safe than sorry, especially when you’re peeing on sticks from the Dollar Store—and we were giddy but grappling with the knowledge we’d soon become parents.
One of the first orders of business, of course, was what to call the bun in the oven. “Blastocyst” and “embryo” just don’t have a nice ring to them. “Baby” is serviceable but somewhat impersonal. For a while we used “Appleseed,” the size of the wee one at five weeks.
As we were talking at Sandy River, a tiny frog hopped across the path in front of us. And it made sense: We’d call the baby Peeper.
In my family, we call little frogs peepers, after the sound they make. Ryan lore recounts the time my older sister and brother, then barely older than toddlers, crossed the highway where we lived in South Dakota in search of the bulgy-eyed creatures. My parents were terrified when they learned, of course, but it makes me smile to think of children’s obliviousness. “What? We were just catching some peepers.”
I love that our little one’s nickname carries family history, even if no one else outside the Ryan clan knows what a peeper is. Better yet, it is a history that entails innocence, mischief and adventure.
I feel even closer to our Peeper whenever I hear frogs singing to each other. Out in the dark in the Olympic Peninsula, with my belly growing bigger and Peeper’s arrival growing closer, I couldn’t wait to meet our little frog.