Monday, June 21, 2010

working backward to first names

Like any good lesbian couple, Elizabeth and I have had a running list of potential baby names for years. We're lucky that we have similar taste- we both want something that's less common, but not completely out there. We want a name that's easy to pronounce and we're not into the very creative alternative spellings (definitely no little Jayssin or Emmuhleigh in our future).

After we had our first appointment at the fertility factory, we went home and made a big list of names on our computer that we would add to periodically. It seemed so easy! We'd hear interesting names all the time and add them to the list. The list got longer and longer. We were prepared for octuplets. But then I got pregnant, and the idea of naming a child was no longer an abstract thing that we'd do sometime in the future. Suddenly some of those names didn't seem quite right. They were perfect for some other child, but somehow they just didn't seem like the right fit for OUR children. Choosing a name became much more complicated. The kids will be stuck with this name for the rest of their lives, or at least until they turn 18 and can change it. We have plenty of names that we like, but very few that we really love. And what if we look at our babies for the first time, and they just don't fit any of the names we've chosen? Gotta remember to pack that baby name book in the hospital bag.

We had a boy name that we absolutely loved for close to 5 years now. We had the perfect middle name to go with it. When we first checked, it was down near 100 in terms of popularity. But then it started climbing on the list to hit #25, and I heard of several other people who used this name. We had to abandon the name because it was just becoming too popular for our liking. (Elizabeth hated having such a popular name growing up.) Now I brace myself every time someone I know, in real life or in blogland is about to have a baby. I don't want to find that another name we love is becoming too popular.

We've decided that we're keeping our name choices to ourselves until the babies are born. People are way too opinionated about names, and tend to forget that it's our right to name our babies whatever we choose. We've gotten a lot more flack on our decision to keep quiet on our name ideas than we have on keeping the sex of the babies a surprise. Is it that unusual to keep your name lists secret? How did you / do you plan to choose your baby's name? For those of you who already have children, did you feel absolutely certain about a name before you gave it to your baby or was it more of a last minute decision? This is way tougher than I thought it would be!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Names

One night not too long ago, I awoke in a panic. I had gotten a call from our lawyer earlier that day, letting me know that the court had "misplaced" my name change documents and we'd have to re-submit the paperwork. I've been meaning to change my last name for a long time, but with my due date drawing ever closer it's taken on a new sense of urgency.

I can't stand the thought of my babies having my father's last name, even if it turned out to be a temporary thing until we got paperwork straightened out. My father has been almost absent from my life, but pops up just enough to make things complicated. I was 5 when he got another woman pregnant with what turned out to be my half sister. My mother kicked him out of the house. He was supposed to see me and my brother on weekends, but would cancel frequently. Sometimes, he wouldn't even tell us he needed to cancel. My brother and I would wait like fools in the elementary school lobby for him to come pick us up, only to have the secretary shake her head and sigh and drive us home an hour later when he failed to show.

Over the years we saw him less and less. After I left for college at 18, the visits slowed to a pace of about one or two per year. Now I see him for a few hours a year sometime around my Christmas / New Years break at work. He spends most of those brief hours trying to make me feel guilty about how little I see him, even though he is the one who has always failed to return my calls and breaks plans at the last minute. It made me sad when I was a kid- I would get my hopes up that he would come through but wind up feeling rejected. As I got older, I recognized my father for the pathetic person he is. I stopped feeling like I needed a daddy, so his unreliability and disinterest in my life no longer hurts the way it did when I was in pigtails.

I was lucky, I have a wonderful mother and didn't need to rely on him. I think the one who was really hurt by his absence is my half sister Ella. Ella and her mother moved out of state when Ella was almost 4. When he did remember to pay child support for her it was next to nothing, even though he knew that her mother was financially and emotionally unstable. At 24, Ella is a culinary school dropout. She is unable to find work and has few adult life skills. This is mostly due to the fact that she had no role model to teach her how to be a responsible adult. She also suffers from depression, and has some of the worst luck of anyone I know. She has a tendency to drop off the face of the planet for weeks at a time. I found out yesterday from my brother that her most recent absence was due to illness. She had a severe staph infection which spread to her bones and cartilage and she's now wheelchair bound, living in a motel. My father knew of her condition, but did not once make time to visit her and didn't let anyone else in the family know she was sick. So for the past two days, I've been beyond angry with that man. There is no way he deserves to be honored as a grandfather, no way he deserves to have his name passed down.

My court date finally came through, and is set for next Friday. We always knew we wanted everyone in our family to have the same last name, and toyed with a lot of ideas before coming up with a solution that worked. We thought about hyphenating, but that would have meant a 6 syllable last name. Waaaay too much of a mouthful, especially since Elizabeth's last name is Polish and has more z's than vowels. We thought about combining part of her name with part of my name (i.e. banana + vanilla = banilla) but the results were laughable. We didn't want one of us to take the other's last name, because we were worried it would make one of us seem too dominant. In the end, we looked at as many different last names in our family trees as we could come up with, and decided on a favorite. So next Friday, we will both be using my grandfather's name as our last name. Hopefully the babies will stay put until then.