Monday, June 28, 2010

What's In A Name?

As you can imagine, pregnancy is a time of great joy and anticipation for most families. Is it a boy? A girl? Will she have his eyes? Will he have her hair? Couples pick out color schemes for the perfect nursery, buy clothes and cloth diapers and probably even a toy or two. Can you remember that time? Can you remember all the things you wanted to give your baby?

When your baby dies, you get to give them one thing--a name. I will never forget the conversation I had with my dear friend, Carol, when we were talking about this very thing. Carol found out that her daughter was not alive a few hours before she was born. Between the time they found out and the time she was born, Carol admitted to her husband that she didn't want to "use up" the name they had picked out. It was her absolute favorite name and, in that void between being a mom, not really knowing what it is to be a mom and hold your baby, and the knowledge that her baby was not alive...well, she was understandably confused about using the name. But her husband stood firm and told her that this baby was the same baby they had named when she was alive, and that was who she was*. There was no doubt about it, the baby who was born was fully their daughter--their beautiful and perfect baby girl. Her name is Charlotte.

Sophie got her name in a different way--see, I have always wanted a little girl named Kathryn. Not sure why, but every time I got to name a girl, we never ended up on Kathryn. Chris wasn't into the "K" names for a while (they are/were so popular!) and the middle names we had picked out didn't seem to fit. But when I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I said to Chris, "If this is a girl, we will name her Kathryn." There was no doubt about it. But, of course, that isn't how things went. As things got worse that weekend, the last thing on our mind was what to name her--we were thinking more how to save her. And then it happened--all that emergency stuff I don't really like to talk about. It was during all that that I have this one memory--a memory so strong that when I close my eyes and think about it, I can remember the room, where everyone was, who was there, what it smelled like...but I was lying on the table and in front of me there was a little white baby. She was in profile, like you might see in an ultrasound picture, but she wasn't fuzzy or anything--she was perfectly clear. And very white, surrounded by a blackness that blocked out everything but her brightness. I won't say I was talking to her, but we were definitely communicating. As I'm writing this, I realize how crazy it sounds and how strange it all must seem to someone who didn't experience it first hand. So I'll skip it all and tell you that after our "communication" she floated away and under her profile, in the same bright light, were the words, Sophia Anne.

When I awoke some time later, I knew she was gone. My husband was there, holding my hand and I looked at him and said, "We are going to name her Sophia Anne." He just nodded (as if you would ever argue with a woman who has been unconscious!)

Months went by and I could not shake the guilt I felt for not naming her Kathryn. I mean, after all, what made her any less worthy of the name? If she had lived, that would have been her why could I not bring myself to use it in death? Carol, similarly, feels some sadness at not being able to really use the name Charlotte--I mean, she never gets to yell across a playground, "Come on Charlotte, let's get home for dinner." or "Charlotte! Clean your room!" So in her mind, she also didn't get to use it the way she wanted (no duh!) Friends of mine who are devout say that I didn't name Sophie, God did, in that "vision" I had. Maybe. Like I said, I know what I experienced and I know how crazy it all sounds...but maybe.

So what does it come down to? Basically that neither Carol or I got what we wanted (obviously) and we both wrestle with this. But we both had these baby girls and we both got to give them one thing--a name. Charlotte Amelia and Sophia Anne. Beautiful names for two beautiful girls.

Imagine my surprise today when Erin came home from her first day at Theater Camp and said she had two new best friends--Charlotte and Sophia. So I ask you--what's in a name?

* Carol, forgive me if I'm paraphrasing in a way that isn't exactly true to your story.

No comments:

Post a Comment