Friday, February 20, 2015

Lydia Joanne

The blocks that I made for Lydie's nursery.  They now sit on my dresser.

When I was pregnant with Ben, Justin's favorite girl's name was Emma.  I think it's beautiful, but far too popular.  Always in the top 3, and I didn't want my kid to share her name with others in her class.  I nixed it.  My girl's name was Sydney.  Justin was never on board with it; we already have a dog named Ozzie and he thought naming our entire family after Australia was a little bit much.  I never had to convince him, considering Ben was in fact a boy.  We came to the conclusion of Benjamin pretty quickly and without much debate.  I threw it out there after our 20 week scan showed our baby boy on the way.  Justin asked why I didn't mention the possibility of Benjamin earlier and the truth was, I had dated a Ben (and he was a REALLY bad kisser).  But I had read somewhere that other associations you may have with that name quickly fade when you name your child that name.  And I had always liked the name Benjamin.  Classic.  Strong.  We threw the name around for a while, tried it out, liked it, and by 24 weeks, I was ordering an Etsy print with the name Benjamin on it.  Which we kept hidden, just like his name, until our boy was here, safe and sound.

I like middle names that have meaning, and Benjamin's was easy: his middle name is my family's last name.  I chose to keep my last name, while adding on my husband's when we got married.   And while I didn't care too much if my husband and I shared a last name, I cared about sharing a last name with my children.   But my name is a mouthful,  and while I made that choice, I didn't want to give my children two last names.  Too much for them, I figured, and what happens when my son gets married and her wife wants both names?  Then she is supposed to have three last names?  When does it end?

But Benjamin's middle name felt just right.

It has been important to us not to share our baby's names until they arrived.  We wanted that surprise that came with the birth.  We wanted not to announce "Benjamin is here!" But "our little boy is here and he is named Benjamin."   The gender we had shared, the names we kept as a surprise.

We were careful to not even reveal to others the names we were considering.  Quite frankly, we didn't want others' opinions. People have a way of doing that, telling you they don't like the name, or they knew someone by the name and he was such an an ass! in way they don't do when you say, "This is my son Benjamin."

Justin had started to come around to Sydney by the time I was pregnant with Lydie, but I was over it.

We had two boys' names we both liked, and because I was so sure we were having a boy, I thought we'd just choose between those two.  The middle name seemed tough.  Do we use my family name again?  Or do our kids need their own unique middle names?

Of course, we all know that it was not actually a little brother, but a little sister on the way. 

And we couldn't seem to agree on our baby girl's name, the way we had so quickly agreed on Benjamin.  We threw names around, we tested them out.  We argued about it.  My new favorite, Justin nixed.  His new favorite was okay.

Okay was not good enough for my daughter.

Our daughter remained "the baby" and I wondered how we'd ever agree.

I knew I wanted to use Joanne or Joanna or Johanna.  My mom is Johanna (Yo-han-ah) by birth but gets called Joanne.  And I am named after her.  My sister and brother both have two middle names.  The story goes that I was supposed to have two as well, but the hospital messed up the paperwork and didn't leave a space between the Jo and the Anne, and so instead, my birth certificate reads "Heather JoAnne."  I've always been grateful for that botch-up.

I actually always wanted to use Joanna as a first name, and call her "Jo" or "Joey," but Justin wasn't on board with that one either.

So the middle name it was.  A way to name our girl after her Oma, but kind of after her mama too.

We pored over baby name books at night in bed together, laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the suggestions.   Delisa?   Floy?  Hortencia?

"Margaret?" Justin would throw out.
 "I don't like it," I would reply.
 "But we could call her "Maggie."" Justin would argue.
 "But I don't like Margaret!" I would retaliate.  "A nickname is great, but I still have to like the name!"

And somewhere in there, I stumbled on Lydia.
I kept coming back to Lydia.

There was a book I had on my bookshelves of my middle school classroom, entitled Lyddie. 
That book kept popping into my mind.  Lydia.  Lydie.

A strong, passionate girl as the protagonist.  Go Lyddie.
There was a natural nickname, but I liked both names.  Loved both names, actually.

Classic.  Strong.
Uncommon, without being weird.  
I've never known anyone named Lydia or Lydie. 
It was ranked #96 in the 2013, according to the Social Security website (I always thought Benjamin was a bit too common, being #14).
And yet no one would question how to spell it or mispronounce it.

Justin told me he wasn't sure.
I cried.
I loved thinking of my little girl, Lydie.

We argued.

He came around.
And a few weeks before the worst day of our lives, we agreed: Lydia Joanne.  Lydie.
I loved it.

Benjamin and Lydia.
My Benji Boy and my Lydie Girl.

Lydie Jo.

JKW, HJJW, BJW, and now LJW.  We like the J's.

It's hard to admit this, but the morning I found out that my baby's heart had stopped beating, I actually asked Justin, "Do we still name her Lydia?"

Lydia was meant to be a name for a living child.   For whispering, "I love you, Lydie Girl" in the middle of the night after feeding her.   It was a name meant to be seen on the walls of daycare and to cheer for at soccer games. "Lydie!" was to be yelled up the stairs when our teenager needed to get a move-on.   "Lydia Joanne," was meant to be read at college graduation, as her dad and I smiled with tears in our eyes.  Lydia J. was meant to be on resumes, helping our girl find her dream job.  Lydia was meant to be repeated in wedding vows.

I had never, not once, thought about how the name "Lydia Joanne" would look in her obituary.

I never imagined she wouldn't add to the "Lydia" name count, because she'd never be administered a birth certificate, let alone a Social Security number.

That dreadful morning, it took me about 30 seconds to realize that Lydie was still her name, whether or not she was born alive.  30 seconds to realize there could never, ever be another Lydie.  She was Lydie.  Lydie was her.

That morning, I texted two of my best friends, "We lost the baby."

Now? I'd never phrase it that way.  I say, "Lydie died."
We were waiting until her birth to announce her name.  For the most part, we still referred to her as "the baby" ourselves.  We were waiting for her to be born to morph from "the baby" to "Lydie."

Instead, our announcement went something like this: "Our baby is dead.  And her name is Lydie."

Or maybe it was, "Lydie is here.  And she is dead."

Whatever it was, it was the very, very opposite of what we imagined all those times we brainstormed names.

Sometimes I feel so sad that we found the perfect, most beautiful name in the world for our daughter that had to die.   Sometimes how much I love her name makes me sad.

I no longer think of her as "the baby."  And sometimes I get annoyed when other people call her my baby.  Because I think that the phrase "lost the baby" minimizes my loss.  My daughter died.  I lost not just my baby, but my toddler, my preschooler, my elementary school kid, my teenager, my 20-something, my 30-something, my middle-aged woman.  I lost my Lydie.


  1. Lydia is a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. It's so hard having a name you love but will never get to say to a living child. We had a moment where we were like 'do we actually call her the name we planned all along? Or give her some other name we can think of on the spot?' and we concluded pretty quickly that no other, subsequent baby could be Nancy to us. It was her name to have.

    Also, Niamh has my maiden name (Ellen) as her middle name! My way of sneaking it in there

  2. This is Cara by the way, I accidentally clicked anon!

  3. Thanks for sharing the story of Lydia's name. I remember talking through options, but was always anxious to hear what you and Justin decided. It's such a beautiful name. Heartbreaking that it'll never get announced at her soccer game or graduation...but her name will be spoken often by those who will always love her.

  4. Ugh. Mourning the name. Totally, totally get it.

    Jeff and I agonized over a boy's name. I truly felt like we were NEVER going to pick one that we could both agree on. Jeff wanted him to be named Neil SO BADLY. And I sort of hated it. It just didn't sound right to me. But I couldn't come up with anything I truly liked...

    But then, I don't know. As we started doing his room in baby Star Wars things, it's totally totally lame, but I really started liking the name Luke. And not just because of Star Wars. It sounded right to me. Luke Watanabe. It was simple, yet strong sounding. Jeff was seriously in disbelief that I'd ever be OK with naming our child after his boyhood hero, but the fact that I'm the one that brought it to the table? How could he say no?

    So yeah. The fact that it's the boy name we'll never get to write on resumes or school forms? It fucking sucks. I hate it. I hate that his name died with him, because it took SO MUCH from us to come to an agreement on it. He was named Luke out of so much care and love...I hate thinking that his name was wasted (?) because he isn't living? I fucking hate myself for ever even thinking that. But I can't say I haven't.

    So I know exactly what you mean. But it was his name to have. It always was.

  5. I've had this conversation countless times with other BLM friends. We all had the same issue. For me, Andrew was my #1 name. For all the others I know, it was the name they loved more than any other. (Can you believe my mom told me AFTER Andrew died that she didn't like his name BUT now she does... because that would be TERRIBLE to tell your daughter that you hate your dead grandson's name, BAH).

    You reserved that perfect name for all those things you listed-- soccer games, graduation, writing it a thousand times in beautiful handwriting and seeing it up in neon lights. And now just on a box of ashes or whatever. It's really, really hard. A reality that's just so unfair. Not that another girl you name will have an insignificant name that you dislike, but it wasn't your first choice.

    I'm so sorry Lydie won't be whispered during mid-night feeds or any other wonderful times. I hate it with you.


Blog Design by Franchesca Cox