Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What's in a Name?

Happy New Year, family and friends!

As you all know, we're now just over 20 weeks pregnant with a baby girl and I've been teasing all of you about spilling the beans and announcing her name for weeks. Well, here's the post you've all been waiting for! And don't cheat and skip to the end, my impatient friends. If I'm taking the time to write it, you need to take the time to read it!

Allow me to rewind a bit…

After my two boys were born and years went on without another baby, life started to change. My first marriage ended, five more years went by before Jimmi and I got engaged and then the whole cancer debacle entered our lives. I was convinced I would never have another baby again.

Enter the miracle of modern science and Lyndsay, the woman who has sacrificed her own body to give our baby a womb to grow.

At first we were expecting three babies. Triplets. All girls! Names flashed through my mind like bulbs on the old camera I had when I was a kid in the 1980s. I had always had a problem finding names I liked for my boys but the possibilities for girls were endless! And now we had THREE girls to name! We started out calling the little pumpkins Baby A, Baby B and Baby C. If you remember, Baby A was in a sac by herself but Baby B and Baby C began as one embryo that randomly split to become identical twins who were sharing a sac. 

As far as I was concerned, at least one of my babies had a middle name immediately upon conception. You see, from the moment I found out I was pregnant with Dylan, 13 years ago, I had chosen a middle name for him. Well, it would have been his middle name if he had turned out to be a girl. Which, clearly, he did not. A few years later my hope of using this super special middle name was, once again, sparked. But, alas, Justin couldn't have pulled it off either.

The name was Eileen.

For those of you who don't know, Eileen is my mom. My mom is, and has always been, my best friend. While my dad has both children and grandchildren named after him, my mom has never been given the honor. Of course, being that my mom is Jewish, it's technically against tradition to name a child after a living family member but, since I was baptized Catholic, I think I'm given a pass in this case.

But we still had three first names and two middle names left to choose!

There were some definite criteria any name had to pass to even be considered. First, it had to be easily pronounced and sound exactly as it's spelled. Trust me, growing up with a name like Suzanne is nothing short of daily torture. You'd think it would be simple, right? Suzanne. Su sounds like Sue and zanne sounds like Anne with a z in front of it. Nope, not so much. I am called "Susan" literally every day of my life. When I correct the mispronouncing fools I'm always given dirty looks and questioned with, "What's the difference?" Well, you ignorant asses, it's a totally different name! Is Lauren the same as Laureen? Is Kara the same as Karen? No! The spelling is different and the pronunciation is different! Places like doctor's offices have become battle grounds for me. Each time a new nurse enters the waiting room and calls for, "Susan?" I have to resist the urge to jump up and beat her face down into the file to read my name as it's written and not as her lazy brain wants to decipher it. 

Another no-no for names is the alternate spelling craze. Don't get me wrong, here. I actually think it's cute when people change up a "y" for an "i" or "ley" for "leigh" but, after my rant in the last paragraph, you'll understand why I feel the need to keep things simple. Easily said and easily spelled will illicit less anger on my part.  

I also wanted to make sure we didn't name our babies anything too common or anything too weird or trendy. I remember growing up with at least three Jennifers in my class from first through sixth grade. I didn't want my kids to have to be known by their last initial. Then there are the names that aren't actually names but people have somehow made them into names. I wanted to keep those out of our thoughts as well.

So now we needed to choose three first names that fit the criteria and one of them needed to flow with my pre-selected middle name, Eileen. I don't know what it was about Baby A but for some reason, right from the beginning, I felt I needed her to have my mom's name no matter what her first name would be.

Options started to flow, mainly on my part, during dinner conversations with Jimmi. Being that both of us are musical, I really liked the idea of a name that expresses our love for the art. Choices like Melody and Harmony briefly passed my lips but disappeared into the air. Then I started thinking along a different line and my openness to some more unusual choices began to grow. Jimmi has always been a huge fan of The Beatles. Personally, I could take them or leave them, but some Beatles-influenced names were real possibilities for me. "How about Lennon?" I asked and Jimmi didn't seem as turned off by the suggestion as I'd assumed he'd be. I got more creative and further away from my own rules, "McCartney?" Jimmi wrinkled his nose at the sound of it but I thought it was pretty cute. The Beatles' catalogue played through my head and names came out, one after another, "Lucy?" "Prudence?" "Penny?" "Elenor?" Only Lucy peaked our interests enough to be added it to the list, along with Lennon.

As days went on I continued brainstorming. The same few names kept coming back to me and I decided to mention them to Jimmi. "I've always loved the name Lily," I said. "Suzanne actually means Lily or Rose, so she'd technically be named after me. I like Lily and Rose together, too. My biggest problem is that Lily is so common now. Seems like it's everyone's daughter's name." How could we make it different without changing the spelling to something crazy like Lileigh? "How about Lilyrose?" I asked. "Her first name could combine Lily and Rose in one and then her middle name could be Marie, like my middle name. Lilyrose Marie." Jimmi was in full agreement with that choice and it was instantly bumped to the top of the list. "I was also thinking of Isabella," I suggested to Jimmi, fully aware that the name isn't too far off from Lily in its popularity of use these days. "Her middle name could be Christine, after your mom." Again we had a winner and I only had one more option for Jimmi, which was my favorite, and my selection for Baby A. "Scarlett Eileen," I announced proudly. Jimmi's face didn't light up the way I'd hoped. In fact, it seemed to scrunch up into a wince at the thought of his baby being called Scarlett. "What?" I asked sadly. "You don't like it?" He shrugged and shook his head, "Not really." I put my hands on my hips and insisted, "There are three babies! We'll use the names you like for the twins and Baby A can have the unique name because she's off on her own. She doesn't follow the crowd!" Jimmi smiled and nodded, "Ok, that's fine. As long as we can use Lilyrose and Isabella for the twins, Baby A can be Scarlett." And it was settled! Scarlett Eileen, Lilyrose Marie and Isabella Christine were officially named.

Until we lost the twins.

Since Baby B and Baby C were gone, common sense would dictate that our remaining Baby A would still be called Scarlett Eileen, right?

Wrong.

"I really don't like the name Scarlett," Jimmi told me after the shock of losing the twins started to calm down. "I agreed because I liked the other two names but, now that there's only one, I'm not so sure." I felt like all three of my babies had perished at that moment. In my mind, even though we were only 9 weeks pregnant, Baby A was Scarlett. How could we change her name? "I really like Lilyrose," Jimmi said. "Can we just use that name for her?" I shook my head, horrified by the suggestion, "We can't do that!" Jimmi clearly didn't understand my reaction. "That was Baby B's name! They weren't just interchangeable to me. Each baby had her own name. If we're not using Scarlett we need to pick a completely different name."

And we started all over again.

All the former suggestions were dusted off and presented again with little to no excitement. Not one new or old choice was able to give us the same warm feeling as the three names we'd fallen in love with for the triplets who will never be. "I keep going back to Lennon," I said to Jimmi one night. "It's different, it's cute, it's musical, you're a huge fan of The Beatles. We could call her Lenni for short." Again I thought back to my name criteria and Lennon, along with the middle name Lenni, was basically a laugh in the face of all of them. Oh well. It's a sweet name and there won't be many other little girls walking around with it. So, that was it. We settled on Lennon Eileen for Baby A's name.

But something about it just didn't sit right with me and, after a few days, I brought up my issues to Jimmi. "I'm not sure I like the name Lennon anymore." My husband looked at me with desperation in his eyes, clearly not ready to start another name debate. I explained myself, "First of all, it's not very feminine. I think I want something that's REALLY girly and not gender ambiguous. Also, if people don't understand the reference to John Lennon, they might think it's Lenin. L-E-N-I-N, like the communist leader." I could see Jimmi's thoughts in his head and "my wife is nuts" was spinning around  up there, more than any other. "And," I went on to finalize my reasoning, "I think her name should start with an A. We've been calling her Baby A for so long that it would just make sense to give her an A name, don't you think?" Jimmi couldn't say much. As any man knows, once his wife has something in her mind it's nearly impossible to change it. "Ok, I understand," he said.

And we started all over again.

Days went by and I would shoot Jimmi name texts as I'd think of new choices:
"Aubrey?" 
"No."
"Ava?"
"No."
And then I came up with what I thought was the winner:
"Aurora?"
"Maybe."

"Maybe" was better than "no"! We sat on that name for a few days and it started really growing on me. Until Jimmi nixed it with, "I really don't like that one."

I threw myself into Googling and researching and questioning FaceBook friends, looking for the perfect A name for Baby A. I decided to go back to the original list of musical names I'd seen so many months ago because I remembered one I'd initially skipped right over. For some reason, now, it intrigued me.

Aria.

I loosely knew the meaning of the term as a word, not a name. I knew it came from opera and I believed it was a song with a beautiful melody. I looked it up to get an actual definition: 

A long, accompanied song for a solo voice, typically one in an opera. 

I couldn't believe the symbolism I read from just that line. It's been a long journey, accompanied by doctors and Lyndsay, in order for us to complete our family. Baby A, who started out with Baby B and Baby C as a trio, was now continuing on, alone, to make her solo performance in a few months. This baby is, by definition, our Aria. I texted Jimmi, "How about Aria?" He responded quickly, "That's kind of cool. I think I like it!" But after I explained the meaning behind the name the discussions ended and Baby A took on a new identity. 

And, let me tell you, I was really excited we'd found such a simple name with such an obvious pronunciation. That is, until we told a select few people who instantly massacred it upon speaking it from their lips. So, before I have to go ballistic on all of my friends, here is your friendly lesson in how to pronounce our daughter's name:

Aria. Ah-ree-yah. It seems like the first A sound is the real problem here. Just try to remember it sounds like, "Ahhh, that's a refreshing glass of water!" If you're pronouncing it like the word "area" you're wrong. If you're using the same A sound as the one in "apple" you're wrong. It's such a beautiful and melodic name, but one mistake in the vowel sound can screw it up so quickly! Ok, everyone, give it a try. Ah-ree-yah. Ah-ree-yah. Aria. Aria Eileen. Aria Eileen Kane. 

My baby has a name!





1 comment:

  1. JUST LOVELY!!! and I am certain she'll be as beautiful as her name xoxo

    ReplyDelete