Frequently throughout this pregnancy we've been asked, "So do you have names picked out?"
I know some people keep quiet about their name selections.
I know some people can't quite decide, and wait until they see their babies face to face.
That's not us.
For much of this pregnancy my answer has been "3 and a half years ago we picked out names. Yeah, we know." And then we share-
If the baby is a girl- Caroline Grace- after my paternal grandmother and her mother (common middle name with me)
If the baby is a boy- Stephen Charles- after Kev's father, and his maternal grandfather (who died rather recently and was very dear to him. Charles is also a family name on my side.)
The girl name actually came to me in seminary. The first paper I ever wrote in seminary I was asked to write a letter to someone uncertain about Christian faith explaining to them why I am a Christian. I chose to write to my as of yet unborn child (this was nine years ago!) an explanation of why I would present her for baptism. The paper began "Dear Caroline Grace..."
I don't remember how the boy name came together or when, but it was a long long time ago.
I did waver on the girl name at some point in the last four years though, when my dear, dear friend Fran died. I trace my urgent need to conceive to the time I found out she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Something came over me then... how many people that are dear to me will die and never meet our child? It broke my heart that I wouldn't ever bring a bundle of joy up the many steps to Fran's porch where surely she, and likely Hank and Alan, would be waiting. Fran's hands would be clasped together at her chest in anxious excitement, and she would have swept that baby out of my arms and loved on him or her for hours. She would have loved that baby forever. As I've shared before, the last thing she ever said to me was "I love you and that's never going to change. Do you hear me? That is NEVER going to change." So I know she is loving this baby that she has never met.
Wow. I miss her.
Anyhow, when you are loved so unconditionally by one, so fiercely... and when you realize that your quest for a baby had some link to that person, it is hard to NOT choose to name your child after said person. But even though the two women named Frances whom I have known have been among the two most wonderful people I know, I just can't bring myself to like the name and bestow it to child. Especially when we're already blessing/burdening a child with a huge mouthful of a last name. And attaching Frances to that last name... it just doesn't work. And nick names for it aren't any better. So eventually, I went back to the family name and let it go. But I resolved myself to make sure my child knows about Fran, and, more importantly, knows about the unconditional love that Fran embodied for me.
I knew that it was time to post about names because we were at an open house on Saturday night that was FULL of little kids. We arrived pretty late (think I'll be writing about the reason for that on the other blog) and by the time we got there the wee ones had found the bowl of chocolates that the hostess had intentionally put up high thinking this would ensure parental control of chocolate intake. Well, not sure how they got to it, but they did, and they were gleefully stuffing their pockets with as many chocolate nuggets as possible (wrapped of course). I'm sure they were also stuffing their mouths. They were pretty wired. Anyhow, as I was in the kitchen/food area most of the night the kids kept circling by on their chocolate quests and I took the opportunity to meet them one by one. One five year old blonde girl tried to tell me her name and I just couldn't get it. She said something to which I replied, "Kayla?" Her friend (a five year old Sarah) said "NO!" And again, "Kayli?" Her friend said "NO!" She tried again and before I could slaughter it her friend, Sarah, said "Her name is CAR-O-LINE." The little girl smiled. I beamed and said "If I have a little girl her name will be Caroline Grace!" One of the moms in the kitchen said, "Wait a minute, I think HER name is Caroline Grace." She ran off... A little while later Caroline's mom came and told me that her daughter had told her I was having a girl baby and her name was Caroline Grace. I explained that I didn't know the gender of the baby, but that there was a 50/50 chance I'd have a Caroline Grace. The others in the kitchen, five year old Sarah was still there, asked for the boy's name, and when Sarah heard it she said "THAT'S MY DADDY'S NAME! HE'S A STEVE!" She was beside herself, her friend or her dad... we hit the jackpot, in Sarah's eyes, with our name choices.
But I did realize from this whole exchange that not only are we ensuring the literacy of our yet unborn child by assigning a VERY long name to him or her, but we're also demanding a lot from speech... Caroline isn't easy to say... and I'm not sure our last name is much easier. Stephen could be hard at certain points in speech development too.
Praying that the verbal skills of the parents rub off on the offspring...