Friday, April 8, 2011

Only a name

When we stopped using birth control over 8 years ago my (then boyfriend now) husband gave me a baby-names book for my birthday. We worked our way through it in the car the next week, on the way to his parents. Giggling at most, laughing out loud at some, writing down others. When we got to his parents house we'd found one name that was IT for both of us. It was a name that could be used for both a boy and a girl, but we instantly reserved it for our firstborn girl. She would be named Robin, and she would of course be born within the year (because we were still blissfully ignorant and stupid back then).

For many years, we would dream about our baby girl Robin. It's not that we preferred a girl over a boy, not at all. But we couldn't agree on any boy's names. And having a name for our imaginary girl made it easier to fantasize about her. Dreaming about 'some kid' is a lot harder than imagining holding hands with the little girl you already know the name of.

So for many years, we held onto that image of our little girl, Robin. She started of as a little baby all those years ago on the way to my parents in law, our little daughter-to-be. As the years went by and the children around us grew up, so did she. With every year that passed, I'd think about how old our Robin would be, had we gotten pregnant right away. I'd imagine what she'd look like, what she would be doing, how we'd cuddle her and play with her. After a couple of years I even started imagining her playing with the little sister (told you we couldn't agree on any boy's names) she might have already had, had we not been infertile. Our imaginary daughter playing with her imaginary sister.

They were what kept us going during all those years. Through all our treatments, at all my hospital visits, they were what kept me 'sane'. Our two little girls.

Then, after 4 years of dreaming and a whole bunch of fertility treatments, we finally saw those precious double lines. We had transferred two, and for some reason we both instantly referred to the still unknown inhabitant(s) of my womb as "our children". When the ultrasound 3 weeks later showed TWO heartbeats, we weren't surprised. We freaked out, cried, got scared and wondered what the hell we'd gotten ourselves into, of course. but we weren't surprised. Those tiny heartbeats couldn't be anything else then our two baby girls. We'd been imagining them for so long, we were sure they had finally come to us!

Imagine our surprise when the 20-week ultrasound showed a BOY! They couldn't see what Baby-A was going to be: s/he was doing everything humanly possible to stay out of sight. But Baby-B was most definitely male.

It took us a couple of weeks to wrap our minds around the fact that we were going to have a son. We dug up the babyname book and frantically started discussing boys' names, never agreeing on one for longer than a few days. What the hell would we do when Baby-A would turn out to be a boy as well? We couldn't even agree on the ONE name, let alone TWO!

Baby-A and Baby-B decided to show themselves to the world two months early. We named Baby-B, our firstborn son, Ivo. We now know it fits him like a glove, but had he been born a couple of days earlier or later, he'd have been given a completely different name. We named Baby-A, our firstborn child and daughter, Robin.

Our son was GIVEN his name. Our daughter was BORN INTO hers.

We have a second son now, too. Born from the same IVF-cycle as his big brother and sister. He was GIVEN his name, same as his brother. Our bonus-baby. Our Joris.

We still have one name waiting. Waiting for a child to be born into. A daughter. A little girl.

She will most likely never be born. We are infertile. We are all out of embryo's. We will never start another fresh cycle. We've been there, done that. We are well and truly DONE with treatments. Besides: never in our wildest dreams had we ever thought we would be the parents of THREE children. We hoped for TWO, but for a long time feared we'd never even have ONE. Three is nothing short of a miracle!

She will forever be a part of our family, though. Growing up together with her two brothers and her big sister. She will always be a part of me, even though she's never actually 'been'. She's only an image. Only a dream.

Only a name...


  1. We have a girl name too, one that might never be used. (One that we might change our mind on, even if we could use it, because of other children that have been born.)

    And boy names? Suck. Gah. I don't even want to think about it. We had so much trouble coming up with two already.

    You never know though. You might have her someday, as part of your family. My parents always thought they'd have a Daniel ... and now they do.

  2. A gazillion years ago, looooong before the LOTR movies, my boyfriend and I dreamed of boy twins. Merijn and Pepijn. In my mind they are redheaded teenagers. (ok, stop laughing now)
    My little girl is forever two years old, named after my mother and greatgrandmother. A former colleague had a picture of his two year old, with blond pigtails. She had the name and I would always pick up the picture, imagining...

  3. I don't know why but I bawled reading this. Maybe it's the idea of the missing person who belongs to the unused name being part of the family. We have this name for our third child picked out and there is a little stretch of road that always makes me think of this name. I have to drive it several times a week and when I do, I think this name in my head. The twins are usually with me in the back seat when this happens and when it does, I feel both here and not here. At the same time.

  4. We had our girl name picked out in 2004....and tentative boy names. We ended up adopting our first girl, of course, and the name both didn't fit and wasn't what we all ended up agreeing upon. Of course the thought of Ava now as Jenna seems almost silly. We went back and forth on names for this baby girl but Jenna seemed to fit in the end. I think they kind of grow into their names, no matter.

    It's a strange road, this one.

  5. This post is amazing and moved me to tears. Forever we talked of our Henry. He joined our family in May 2009 via IVF.

  6. What an amazing post. I really loved it. I was lucky to be able to use the name I always wanted for my first child when my daughter was born. She was definitely born into that name. I have a boy name picked out too, though I don't know if I'll ever have a boy. We'll have to see....

  7. I know exactly what you mean. We have the names for our son and daughter picked out, but there are no children to give these names. Some day I'll have Ivy and Thomas, but until then I wait and dream of the children that are only in my mind.

  8. So beautifully put. Thank you for sharing. It's a thought that's been circling in my head without words. Given vs. Born into.

    Very well said!

  9. What a beautiful post. I've had two miscarriages, and both times I was convinced it was a girl. My hubby and I have had names picked out for our first boy and first girl for over a year now. And with each pregnancy, I called the baby that name only in my head, afraid to speak it out loud, just in case. Now, because of that, I'm not sure if I'll truly be able to name my daughter what I wanted to. I don't want her to be born with two losses attached to her name. It's so hard.

  10. I named my first two children after my miscarriages on the advice of my therapist, with support of my then husband. Mari and Noah. I stopped with names after those, because it was too hard to name a baby that would never be, or to pick a name only to lose that child. When I went through IVF, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of a name. My spouse laughed that we would be the people in the hospital with Baby LastName because I was too afraid. I never had that much hope.

    I still have the boy and girl names I was saving, Luke and Elianah. I know now I will never use those name and I have a brief pain when I hear or see them somewhere, as I think about what might have been.

  11. My children were born into their names. We had truly wanted a large family, something it may not be safe for my body to undergo. Part of the reason I couldn't tie my tubes this time, was the thought that a little boy whose name we both want is still trying to find a way to it.

  12. Great post! I'm here from the weekly roundup. My husband and I also have a girls' name picked out and we have from almost the beginning of our marriage 11 years ago. I have serious doubts it will be used.