Alright, so part two of my comments about Baby Dust. The first part, I think, was something that might annoy people generally. I decided to separate this partially because it may just be my own opinion. I’m curious to see what other babylost parents think. Also, the post was going kinda long, and I try to keep these things under 1000 words.

Anyway. One of the main characters (let’s call her MC) goes to a baby shower, which is still very difficult for her ten years after her last miscarriage. But the expecting mother is her husband’s niece, one of her favorite relatives. Although she’s not on the best of terms with her sister-in-law, MC goes to the shower because she’s so very fond of her niece. During the shower, another woman asks the niece about naming the baby. After some joking, the girl states that she will name the baby “Angelica” – which is what the MC named her miscarried daughter some ten years earlier. MC becomes furious. She yells, “How dare you?” at her niece, which causes the girl to burst into tears. Niece blubbers out that she feels the baby “wants to be named that,” which only makes MC angrier. Another woman (NOT the niece) states that MC never really got to use the name, and MC is so hurt that she rushes out the door (and that’s the only part of the scene  when I feel sorry for MC, because, yes, that’s a low blow).

Character psychology is very interesting and important to me. Characters need to act like real people; otherwise, why should we care? People in stories need to do things because it makes sense, not for the purpose of the story, even if the reader doesn’t agree with the action. Not only do I not agree with the way MC handled that situation, I don’t understand it. I even tried putting myself in her place and imagining what I would do.

My best friend has two daughters whom I adore. They are like nieces to me. They’re still young, teen and pre-teen. If, ten years from now, one of these girls was pregnant and came to me and said they wanted to name their daughter Lauren, I admit that I wouldn’t quite know how to react. I know what I would not do, even now when my grief is so raw: I would not yell at them, I would not make them feel bad, I would not be hurtful. They are good girls who mean well, and I love them. And though I would feel confused and strange at first, I think that, in the end, I would be touched that they would want to use Lauren’s name. I imagine it would hurt some, but I also would know that they were not doing it to hurt me.

Maybe what bothers me most is that MC never apologizes to her niece. Not for causing a scene at the shower but for hurting niece’s feelings. MC states several times that she cares for niece – if that was true, why did she shout at her and make her feel terrible and then not apologize for it? At worst, the girl made a mistake in judgment, but she did consider MC’s feelings; she says that she and her husband talked the name and its history over together before agreeing on it. Later, she is the one to apologize and offer to use a different name. MC accepts that and passively reconciles with the niece.

I get it. I understand why MC was upset and why she lashed out against her niece. But I also think she should have apologized. Niece was only about ten when MC had her miscarriages; she couldn’t be expected to know the depth of MC’s pain or everything the loss entailed. All she knew was that she was supposed to have a cousin named Angelica, and she grew up with an attachment to the name.

So, yeah, that scene bothered me. And again, maybe it’s just me. I’m willing to accept that. But this leads me to another topic that’s always been a little fascinating for me: baby names. Or, rather, the naming of things. I’m not going to question the actual names chosen, even if I do disagree with them. That’s not my decision anyway. People can be so protective of the names they choose for their children. And I’m not sure I understand why.

Often, people give two reasons for keeping names secret: 1. to prevent other people from disapproving of it , and 2. to prevent other people from stealing it.

With the first case, if you think people are going to disapprove of the name before you’ve even told anyone, you might want to rethink your choices. If even you think it’s controversial, imagine what other people will think.

With the second case, I admit that I don’t understand this reasoning. I don’t understand this obsession with finding a uniquely individual name that nobody else will ever use. Naming a child shouldn’t be about finding the most unique name; it should be about choosing a name that you like and fits your child. Because, let’s face it: Lauryn really isn’t that much different from Lauren. When I meet people named Sarah, I don’t think, “Wow, her name is so different from mine!” Instead, I think, “Oh, she’s got the same name as me, just with an extra letter.”

Maybe it’s just because I’m a stickler for classic naming standards. And also basic spelling and pronunciation. But I really don’t understand why names have to be kept secret. When we named Lauren, I would have gladly told anyone. I wanted people to know her name, even before she was born. I didn’t worry about anyone “stealing” it. My daughter would still be her own, original person – even if she happened to meet someone who had the same name. That wouldn’t change who she is.

I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, but I’ve met more women who play “hide the name” than I have those who are willing to tell it. And I’m curious as to why. So, I’m going to do what I always do when I don’t understand something: I’m going to ask questions.

So. Here’s a question for you – anyone, whoever feels like answering. What’s your opinion on keeping baby names secret? Did you do it? Would you do it? Why? Does it make a difference? Does it really upset you to learn about another child with the same name?

Also: if you’re a babyloss parent, would it upset you if a friend or relative used your baby’s name, now or in the future?

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