First, I would like to say that in being a part of this community, I know how lucky I am that I was able to carry my children. So many mothers do not have that as an option. I appreciate and respect all of those fierce, warrior mommas that create their families, regardless of however it happens.
When my girls are older, I might tell them—ever so briefly—their birth story. Forty-eight hours of painful memories, full of regret, are so infinitely small when juxtaposed to the rest of their lives that I will honor it, but not dwell on it. Instead, I will probably tell them over and over about how I chose their names, what I knew about them before I met them and how I was right—and that I will always be right.
I will begin by telling them:
- I was expecting you around Thanksgiving.
- My mother’s favorite holiday was Christmas. Subsequently, it became my favorite holiday. (Despite the fact that the girls will probably be really confused when they find out Christmas is connected to the birth of some kid in the Middle East over 2000 years ago, at least the year we are in will make more sense to them.)
- Their grandmother, the one that helped take care of them when they were babies, had one request: names that are easy to pronounce.
- I was a teacher for nine years, and anyone that has ever taught knows that coming up with a name that doesn’t make you cringe or have small PTSD flashbacks can be difficult. I am also acutely aware of how names can be manipulated by children and I didn’t want to set them up for being teased.
- I didn’t want them to have three other people in their class with the same name. I wanted them to be just a little bit removed from popularity.
- I knew there were two, and it was easy for me to come up with male names. I liked Daniel and Jake. My father affectionately refers to himself as “Jake the Snake” and it is a name that I have always been drawn to—so that was it. It was settled.
However, my girls had other plans.
My husband, fearing his extremely hormonal wife, said that he would be fine with whatever I came up with, but we agreed he had veto power.
At first, I wanted to include some Cantonese aspect to their names to honor their Chinese heritage. Perhaps a middle name? I could only find Mandarin names. I asked my husband and his mother for suggestions. They said, “don’t worry about it.” My husband pointed out that their last name is Chinese. He would later encourage me that we should give the girls my maiden name as their middle name so that they could carry a part of my heritage also.
I liked the name Ruby. It was short, sweet, classic. Easy to pronounce. I had taught a student named Ruby whom I remembered as nice and that she made me smile, not cringe. I picked this name for Twin B, my little girl that never turned her head toward the ultrasound—she was shy, repeatedly kicked by her sister in utero (and would have her hair pulled repeatedly on the outside), dropping down into position at 30 weeks and staying there. Later on in the pregnancy, I would worry about her more because I wouldn’t feel as much movement. She would reassure me by kicking me back when I poked my belly where she was. She would be my precious gem and my dad joked that she could be my blues singer.
Choosing the other name became more of a problem.
Immediately, I couldn’t choose any other gem or precious stone name. I had known an Amethyst—that name was out. Diamond and Sapphire weren’t going to work.
My other little girl—Twin A, as she was usually called because she was determined to be first—posed a bit of a challenge. I have multiple ultrasound pictures of her. It was almost as if she knew she was having her picture taken and smiled for the camera. I also envisioned her smiling as she moved from breech to transverse to “close enough” for her to come out easily. I never worried about her in utero because she was constantly moving.
I took to the name Zara. My husband balked at it but would have gone along with it. Despite its history in middle eastern cultures, he kept saying, “…but it is the name of a clothing company, are you sure you want that name?” And I would respond,”But it is a beautiful name and it feels like it would fit her.” I could always sense my husband’s uneasiness with Zara and then, within the week, that clothing company made a serious error in judgment. They manufactured a toddler outfit that resembled the uniform of concentration camp prisoners.
Okay universe, we won’t call her Zara.
I flipped through a few books and came across Holly. Hmmm—Ruby, red, and Holly, green. Holiday season, Christmas.
I knew someone awesome named Holly! Although I had never met her…
When I first joined Twitter and the infertility community there, I became friends with a sassy, funny woman named Holly.
I had no idea what I was doing on Twitter and inadvertently sent her a tweet with no message. She responded with, “You rang?” and I figured out how to send a tweet explaining that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. When I joined, I was in flux—struggling with personal matters, as I tend to do. Holly offered her email address and cheered me on—she was someone that made me feel more comfortable on Twitter when I really felt like I didn’t belong there. That initial interaction would be something that would stay with me. One of those moments that she would never think of again and I would remember forever. We never really know when we are making a difference in someone else’s life.
So it was settled. My sassy, charming, always-on-the-move little girl would be named Holly.
Throughout the first year, my girls held true to their names and personalities.
Holly started out as my more vocal child, screaming and crying most nights as she struggled with colic. Always on the move, she would bounce herself out of her bouncy chair at 3 months, crawl at 7 months (seemingly overnight), start climbing EVERYTHING at 10 months, and take her first steps at 11 months. Holly smiles in pictures, charms people in person, and wins over hearts quickly.
Ruby is my beautiful soul that smiles and laughs a lot, but rarely for the camera. She practiced crawling for weeks, wobbling back and forth on her hands and knees—she is tentative. She is my singer—we can hum back and forth mimicking each other’s tunes until I stop and say, “Now say ‘momma.'” Met with silence, I know she will want to practice for a while on her own before she is ready to share with me.
I am thankful that one was born first while the other is taller. That one will practice something in order to show the other one how it is done. That they are unique, wonderful, lovely, curious, and adventurous individuals that will be bound together by sisterhood, complemented and contrasted by their names.
They are my lovely daughters that I *know* with every fiber of my being, and yet strangers to me with their own unique, emerging, developing personalities. I look forward to getting to know them more each day.