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Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Know What To Think

Several months ago, a woman I had been on a forum with for several years was having a baby. It was a girl, but she had list of "just in case" names for boys. Phineas John was one of them. She had lost her son, a stillbirth, a few years before. I thought she was aware of my story and my son's name. Maybe she just didn't pay much attention. It hurt, though. Nate told me how silly I was being about it, but I remained resentful, a fact I am a bit ashamed to admit. The baby was born, it was a girl as expected, but she was the "almost" woman.

Today I found out that I inadvertently became that woman, the one who named a baby the same name as another lost baby. I felt and still feel sick about it. I found this fellow BLM from a fairly well known loss forum where I rarely post but often read. She is more active there so I feel like I should just bow out altogether because I am the witch who stole a dead baby's name.

I can honestly say I did not know this baby's full name. Frederick was a name that we had considered long before and might have used had Phineas not been Phineas. It was a name to honor all of the Freds in my husband's family, and there are many. It was a name I had dreamt about this baby being named. His middle name was one that I hadn't completely wanted, but it was important to Nate and it actually fits better than I thought it would. I feel like it suits him.

I don't know why I feel the need to justify this choice so much. I have long felt that the names of babies that have died hold a special sacred spot in the universe. But then, the name was so right for our little boy. It is hard to reconcile the two, indeed.

It may seem all so strange to outsiders, but I have committed a babyloss taboo. I don't know, I may just end up deleting this post.

3 remarks:

Heather March 18, 2011 at 10:39 AM  

Kathryn, no one who knows you (even those like me who only know you through our computer screens) could ever think you would casually use a name that had been given to someone's lost child, without thought. You did not know, no-one can hold that against you, nor should they.

appellationmountain.net March 18, 2011 at 10:47 AM  

I think you're right about names being sacred. But I'm not sure that they're any less sacred because they're shared.

My grandmother used to call herself second-hand Rose. She had an older sister who died before she was born, also named Rose. In their era, baby names were routinely handed on in such circumstances. Today that feels heartless or maybe just odd.

I'm not really sure how to say this - it is as if there's a thread connecting the individual and the name. The thread is what we should value - the act of choosing, believing, loving. And the thread remains, no matter what happens to either of us.

Just as you wrote that you might delete your post, I hesitate to submit this comment - but you're talking about something that no one dares talk about, and it is incredibly powerful.

Kathryn March 18, 2011 at 7:13 PM  

Thanks, Heather! That really means a lot.

Abby, I decided to keep the post up based on what you said. I think you are totally right. Stillbirth and neonatal death used to be much more common (my great grandmother and her mother lost four babies each), and names were often reused.

Now, it is pretty uncommon to lose a baby. Most people are afraid even to mention your child to you. Using a name again would seem crazy to most.

I understand this woman's position and wanting to avoid additional painful reminders. I have them too.

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