We Have to Meet Her First
“Since we know the baby is a girl, are you finally ready to discuss names?” I tease David one night shortly after our 20-week ultrasound.
Up until this point he has been hesitant to spend too much time thinking of baby names, reasoning it won’t truly matter until we find out the gender. The idea is practical and stoic—just like him.
“Yeah,” he says. “It will be fun to come up with a list.”
“Come up with a list and then narrow it down to her name,” I interject.
“No, I mean come up with a list,” he clarifies. “We have to meet her before we choose. How else will we know what she looks like?”
I blink at him, stunned. His thought goes against everything in my Type-A brain.
“What if we pick a name, tell all of our friends and family, and then it’s not who she is?”
“But we’re her parents,” I rationalize. “We just pick a name and that’s who she is. We’re in control here!”
He smiles. “I won’t sign off on a final choice until we see her.”
I can tell he will die on this hill, so I surrender.
Adding to the List
I catch David deep in thought at the dining room table and lower my pregnant body into the chair across from him.
“Up to anything interesting?”
“I’ve been researching family names and looking up their meanings,” he says while typing something on his laptop.
We sit in silence for a moment.
“What about Elenora?” I offer.
David’s eyes light up. “Oh, that’s really pretty. Where is it from?”
“It’s my great grandmother’s name; the one who immigrated here from Italy. She went by Nora, but we could call the baby Ellie.”
“Elenora,” David repeats. “Let’s add it to the list.”
After a complicated and overwhelming 21 hours of labor, the doctor places our firstborn on my chest. I lay with my eyes closed and revel in the feel of her weight on my body. I am certain I know her name.
“She has your lips,” David whispers to me. “She’s beautiful.”
With a shaky inhale, I summon just enough strength to lift my head and look at her for the first time. I am taken aback by what I see, by who she is.
“She doesn’t look like a Harper,” I manage to say.
David laughs and leans in closer to us. “You know what my favorite name has been from the start,” he says.
I look back at our daughter. “Elenora,” I say. “Hi, Ellie.”
I Get to Use Poppy
The small room in the radiology unit is filled to the brim. David and I insist on being alone in the delivery room, but we love including grandparents in the 20-week ultrasound. We all stare at the flat screen mounted on the wall—our breath collectively held in anticipation of what the ultrasound tech will say.
This pregnancy I am fully on board with David’s idea to wait until we meet the baby to select a first name. However, weeks earlier we agreed on middle names. Lorenz if it’s a boy—David’s middle name and a nod to three generations of Kruckenberg men. Poppy if it’s a girl—a tribute to one of my mentors and a meaningful symbol in my life.
The ultrasound tech swoops her wand over my belly, finding the correct part of our second child’s anatomy. My mom and I immediately see it—the three little lines. We gasp in delight just as the tech makes her announcement.
“It’s a girl!”
The room erupts in excitement and I turn my head towards David, meeting his eyes right away.
“I get to use Poppy,” I mouth to him through the chorus of cheers.
“You get to use Poppy,” he smiles back.
After a quick and uneventful birth, I am cleaned up and reclining comfortably in a quiet room, basking in the glow of our hospital’s golden hour policy. David and I stare at our second daughter with both wonder and concentration, trying to figure out her name.
We had named Ellie within moments. She was so unequivocally Ellie, the name fit immediately. With this little one, we needed to use the process of elimination.
“Well, she definitely isn’t Emilia,” I start.
“No, definitely not,” David agrees. “I loved the idea of Ellie and Emmie, but she is completely her own person. She needs a unique name.”
We stare at her a minute longer.
“Kathryn?” David suggests.
I make a face and shake my head. “I know that was one of my favorite names, but it doesn’t fit her.”
“Ok,” David concedes. “That brings us to the last two names.”
“Yes,” I nod in response. “So, does she look more like Lauren Poppy or Poppy Joyce?” Poppy, her agreed-upon middle name, had made a last-minute appearance on our list of potential first names.
“I’m learning more towards Poppy,” I conclude.
“Are you kidding me?” David asks. “Look at that face. Can you honestly imagine that face walking up to someone and saying ‘Hi, I’m Poppy’? Because I can’t!”
I look intently at our daughter. Her peaceful expression tells me she already knows who she is, that she’s perfectly comfortable with herself and her place in this world. Her furrowed eyebrows tell me that even so, she’s skeptical. She will grow into a woman not to be messed with; I can feel it. Her great-grandfather was named Lorenz. Her grandfather was named Larry. Her dad is David Lorenz. Continuing the name of a long line of strong men seems appropriate. It’s perfect.
“You’re right,” I smile. “Lauren Poppy.”
An Unintentional Tradition
The pregnancy test turned positive just that morning. We have no idea if the baby has a heartbeat or even how far along I am, but I can’t help wanting to talk about names. In his excitement, David welcomes the conversation.
“You know, we’ve created a sort of unintentional tradition,” I say, crawling around the playroom to clean up toys after getting the girls in bed.
David, his hands full of dinner dishes, pauses midway between the table and kitchen sink to look at me. “What do you mean?”
“I know with the girls we considered family and non-family names, but both times we ended up going with a family name,” I say. “Ellie is named after my side of the family and Lauren is named after your side of the family. I was thinking with this baby we could pick a name from both of our families. It seems like a nice conclusion.”
He smiles and nods. We start creating our third and final list.
That’s My Brother’s Name
With an ultrasound and an official due date, we start telling our family about baby number three. Ellie’s excitement far eclipses everyone else’s reaction.
“So, mama, tell me what we’re going to name our baby,” she says one day, cozying up to me on the couch.
“Well, daddy and I have a list,” I start to explain. “If it’s a girl…”
“No,” she interrupts me. “It’s not a girl. Tell me the names you have picked out for a boy.”
I’m a little taken aback by her certainty, but decide not to argue. She’s had a connection to this baby since before it was conceived, she probably knows what she is talking about.
“Ok, boy names,” I switch courses. “One of the names we are thinking is Walter.”
“Mama,” Ellie protests. “Walter is the name of O the Owl’s toy whale on Daniel Tiger. We can’t name my brother that.”
“What do you think about William?” I ask.
“Nope. That’s not it.” She is emphatic.
“The last name on our list is Henry,” I conclude.
She bolts out of her seat and turns to look at me. “Henry! That’s it! That’s my brother’s name!”
I wonder if she knows Henry is my favorite name too.
I Hope He Looks Like a Henry
Ellie throws her four-year-old arms around me and sinks her face into my burgeoning belly. Her 31-week brother swishes her direction and delivers a soft kick of recognition, a sign of the special bond they already share. I resist the urge to wrap my own arms around her tiny frame, knowing I would hear, “I’m not hugging you; I’m hugging the baby.”
“Oh mama,” comes her muffled voice. “When baby brother is born, I really hope you and daddy think he looks like a Henry.”
I smile in recognition—we’ve had this conversation many times.
“I know you do, sweetheart. But, if he doesn’t look like a Henry, won’t you be glad we picked another name? One that fits him better.”
“No,” she sighs, her face still buried in my bump. “I just want him to be Henry.”
I stroke her hair and decide to reveal a little of my own heart.
“I also want him to be Henry. I guess we’ll know soon enough.”
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “A Name”.