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Blog about living a life to nurture, cherish and create.

Monday, 14 October 2013

My emotional reaction to by first baby's name

'Naming is nice.' Anne Enright
When I first started putting the meanings of names on my facebook page, as a thank you to all my likers and as a way of re-inforcing the fact that I make personalized name pillows, I searched for quotations about naming. When I found the one above, I was almost startled, as it spoke to me so clearly of what I had thought and felt in the immediate aftermath of the birth and naming of my daughter.

As any mother will tell you birth is an epic experience, if not in the time that it takes but as a rite of passage as a woman. I had experienced a very long labour that culminated in an emergency caesarean section. Until the time immediately preceding the operation my husband and I had not disclosed our chosen name to anyone. It may have been termed an emergency, but there wasn't anything rushed about it. My labour had simply stalled. We therefore had some time to talk and discuss what was about to happen. My mother was with us at the hospital and we told her, before I went to the operating theatre, the name we had chosen. I wasn't in the most alert or happy state at the time but I will always remember the look on her face when we told her. It did not communicate a ringing affirmation of our choice.

The operation went smoothly, I was returned to the delivery room. Our daughter was fed and dressed. My mum and husband then went home for some well-earned rest. A little while later, by this time late into the evening, baby and I were taken to the ward.

None of the family returned to see us until the following afternoon. This gave baby and I some welcome time to get to know each other. My daughter showed me a behavioural trait of hers that survives to this day. Instead of sleeping, as most new-borns do, she spent the whole morning with her deep violet eyes wide open staring at me. She has gone on through the subsequent three and a half years doing much the same in order to absorb the information she can learn by doing so. I talked to her softly as she stared but my mother's look of the previous evening caused me to hesitate about using her name. I was shy, almost embarrassed, to use it. I was worried about the world's reaction to the name we loved and had so carefully chosen. Instead, I coined a nick-name for her which has stuck ever since. I called her my little love-bug. Today I still call her 'Bug' or 'The Bug'. I'm not sure why this name seemed appropriate in place of her real name, which is beautiful and elegant. To some 'Bug' may sound derogatory and insulting but to me, as she was curled up like a little grub, and with the surge of hormonal, maternal love I was feeling that morning, it seemed perfect. So, to you, my lovely readers, in order to protect her real name for her as yet unknown future, she will be 'The Bug'.

It took me days to feel confident about using the name that is on The Bug's birth certificate, but I received nothing but compliments about my choice from birth onwards (not that I've ever known anyone to criticise a name once it has been given). After talking to my mother about her reaction when hearing it she says that she was just surprised, as I have been by the choice of name others have made. What I have learnt from this is that the commencement of motherhood is a happy, if anxious time. It is unfortunate that for many women the experience of birth does little to build their self-confidence and the hormones that are unleashed upon you in the following few days confuse a mind that has been made impressionable by fatigue. Do your best to endorse and support all the choices a new mum is making. If you think she's making dreadful errors try to help her in a positive, not a critical way. And, as Anne Enright says in the quote above, if you need to give your new-born a secret, or not so secret, nick-name to give yourself the time and space to become used to the formal name you have chosen, or to protect them from the world, them give yourself that small indulgence.

Does my experience resonate with you? Do you have a secret nick-name for your child? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

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