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A name to every fixed star

I am reduced to tiny acts of motherhood: birthed her, held her, dressed her, burned her.

Named her. I named her.

I rubbed her name into my belly, whispered it to my bedroom ceiling: Baby. Hello baby. I think I know you. I think. I think. I think you might be Iris. Hello my love. Hello. Iris. Iris. Iris. Hello baby Iris.

I whisper it now and tap it out. She is letters next to each other, keys compressed in order.


photo by mbecher

In Greek mythology, Iris was the rainbow. She brought water to the clouds and made the sky weep. She was a messenger goddess: tangible divine.

Iris makes your eyes pretty; soul’s window, shining iridescent. She’s purple and gold and upright in florists’ buckets, she’s blousy and overblown in an English country garden.

She’s a naked young woman running into the sea under a slate-grey sky, laughing, laughing as her friends  huddle on the cold sand in woolly hats and wellies. She’s an old lady with paper skin and a soft, powdery scent, peering at a vast, textured canvas in the National Gallery. She’s a bookish child with thick glasses and dimples, reading in the warm spot of her mother's bedroom floor.

She’s my dead baby. But she’s more real to some people than my living children. Others forget her for a time. But soon they remember.

When I say her name.

How did you name your baby or babies? 

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Reader Comments (43)

Her name is exquisite Jess, I have always loved her name and I think of her everytime I pass the florist in my local market.

We named Christian the day that we were told he would not survive. When we were thinking of names I thought of this person that I went to high school with. He was different to other guys. Such a generous, humble person and I loved his values. He was very intelligent and I knew he would go to great places in his lifetime. His name was Christian. He was everything I would ever hope my son would be like. And so our baby was given a name that he would never physically live up to.

I have a meaning and story behind every one of my childrens names and they all fit them perfectly.

Thank you for writing this unique post Jess. I really loved it.

Blessings x
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarly
I named our baby Teanne.. a mix of my parent's names - Trevor and Liane. Such a beautiful tribute to the people who I thank for making me strong enough to get through the most difficult times and appreciate the good.

Teanne was always going to be my first daughter's name, I just never imagined that it would never be called to get her in for dinner, be filled in on pre-school forms or have to be compared to other surnames when the time came to get married.

Teanne was born silent at 20 weeks.... I now have her perfect name tattooed on my wrist and I get to say her name every time someone asks about it.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKylie
Our baby boy was named Tex William. We chose William for his middle name as it is my grandfathers name and had been passed down to the first born son for many generations, but broken by my uncle. My Pop is a great bloke so lively and great to talk to and my husband and I hold him very dear. Tex was his first great grandchild. Pop would tell anyone who would listen that his was becoming a great grandfather as he never thought he would live to see it. He was so honoured we chose William, it was just so devasting he never met him.
Tex... such a perfect name for our first child. As soon as we knew we were having a boy we wanted a short, strong name, easy to spell, no confusion on how to say it, and never wussy. I had been listening to Tex Perkins in my car for months, along with the baby in my belly. I suggested the name to Ash and we just agreed, and knew it was perfect.
We found out an hour before I was going into my c-section that our longed for little boy had no heartbeat. Devasted we wondered whether to choose a different name, and looking back I don't know why.
When we met our beautiful little Tex he was so perfect and his name suited him so much. We chose a Tex Perkins song 'So much Older' to play at his memorial.
We often chat about our dreams of Tex, and as he was a big boy, and the longest the midwives had seen (57cm!) I imagine Tex William playing AFL, the girls chasing him, him flirting but with respect, creating with his hands & mind and loving music and travel with me, fishing & shooting with dad, being idolised by his mum and dad, and maybe even brothers and sisters.
Thankyou for the opportunity to share Tex's name with you xx
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne
This topic always gets me. I still wonder if we did the right thing. Did I make her more of an object, an ideal, by giving her the name I did? Less of a person, maybe? Less worthy? I don't know.

When pregnant with her, I knew if she was a girl she'd be Lily Joy. Always. Lily I always loved, Joy is mum's middle name. So that was that, sorted. Then she died inside of me four days past my due date, and I sat dumbfounded in the "dead baby room" at the hospital and wondered what on earth I should call the baby (still not knowing the sex yet, while her dead body floated at the bottom of my no good uterus).

Everyone around me said to use the name I was always going to use, but I wasn't sure if I could. In that moment, I think I was a massive arsehole. I think I thought I could have another baby, re-use the name, put this awful mess behind me. How wrong, stupid and naive was I?

The next day, she was born. A girl!, everyone exclaimed! And what would we call her? I thought back to that day before, to the stupid dead baby room, and remembered the print that was hanging on the wall. It said Hope. It had angels around it. I said Hope, her name will be Hope. Hope Angel. So that was that. We sent out messages, had cards printed and had the word, her name, plastered all over our limbs and our lives.

Everyone said it was beautiful, every said it was perfect. And sometimes I think it is. But mostly I think I made a horrible mistake. I always wanted a Lily, and even though I have since been lucky enough to have another girl, there was not a chance in hell I could use that name (though I did use it for a middle name).

I guess when my baby died, the name Lily Joy died as well. So Hope did fit. Though we had lost our Hope, hope was all we had left. I think it is the middle name, Angel, I feel most uneasy about, as I certainly don't think she is one. I think many probably see her name on my blog, or in my blogger profile, and get turned off, thinking I might be the sort of person who talks about angel wings, unicorns, fairy dust and dead babies being in a "better place". But that's just not me. And hey, if that's your thing and that gets you through, well that's great. But she's dead, and I don't think she's in a better place, and I don't think she's an angel. But that just happens to be part of her name, and it is what it is.

So yeah, I have a lot to say on this and very mixed feelings. And this is an essay.
I LOVE the name Iris. In fact I love all names floral. I think her name is perfect. She is perfect. You are lovely and I wish she was here.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally
There is something about today. All the posts and articles i have read, i feel like the words were taken staight from my own heart. I had a name chosen for my 3rd child, my 2nd daughter. I knew it should start with an 'A' just as my first 2 children did. The problem was my hubby did not agree, he rarely agreed on such important decisions. I never ared her name with anyone, it was to be a suprise. When we were told at 36wks that she no longer had a heartbeat, my world fell apart. I to felt i could not use 'her' name. That it was so perfect i wanted it for a living child so i could hear it said all the time. I hated myself for thinking and feeling this way. I wanted my baby girl with me. I wanted my other daughter to grow up with her sister. When it came to chosing her name we had help. From the day we found out she was a girl, my daughter miss 4, insisted her name would be 'ariel princess' after disneys little mermaid. It was he avourite movie at the time, and had alwas been mine too. It was the last movie my dad took me to before he died when i as 10. It is also my last memory of him. We agree our darling miss 4 would have the honour of naming our baby, the sister she so desperately longed for. We named our precious daughter 'Arielle' and it is perfect for many reasons. Thank you for letting me share her name here, i do so love to hear it xxxx
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie c
Stephen William is my little angel's name.. Stephen for his maternal great grand pop and William for his paternal great grand pop. We named him and his identical twin at 14 weeks and 1 day when we discovered they were battling twin to twin transfusion syndrome. Stephen was the little one who needed the most help to survive because he was donating his blood and fluids to his brother. At 18 weeks, Stephen lost his battle but had held on long enough to ensure that he did not harm his brother in any way. We had had placental ablation surgery at 17 weeks and 2 days and they had both survived. I held Stephen William in my arms after giving birth to his survivor Calvin Ian at 36 weeks and 1 day,who was whisked off to NICU. Stephen will always be my littlest big hearted boy and it hurts everyday when I see his twin being so very much alive with personality. Thankyou for letting me share.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJo A
I named her Iris too because Irises always seemed to be such hopeful flowers, because her full name Iris Felicity translates as Rainbow Happiness, because even as I held her dead body I wanted to believe that somewhere there was a different story with a happier end.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Leo Alonzo is what I name of my lil boy. Leo Alonzo was born sleeping at 23 weeks and 4 days. My granddaddy name was Leon and my husband name is Alonso. So I took the n out Leon and took the s out of Alonso and replace it with a z . So his name would be unique but also with a history of both of our families.

When I was taken to the O.R for an emergency c-section I was so scared not for me but for my Peanut aka Leo Alonzo. When I woke up I ask how my baby was doing , the nurse said "doctor will be in to see you." . Then I knew my Leo Alonzo had not made it. They told me that when they took him out he didn't had a heart beat. They try for 5 min. to resuscitate him.

Leo Alonzo was my first baby. I was ask if I wanted to hold him. I said " yes" . My first words to him Were " mamma loves you Leo". Leo was and is the most beautiful baby I have ever held in my arms. Leo Alonzo fit perfectly because he did had the heart of a lion and a fighter.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy
We lost our twins at 14w2d, in the "safe zone" of the second trimester. They had been fine and healthy, but then our daughter's water broke and everything went to hell. They sealer born dead 14 hours later.

We hadn't yet started seriously talking names but I couldn't rest until they had names. Having only "Baby Girl L" and "Baby Boy L" on their blessing certificate was unbearable. We scoured a big fat baby names book for days, searching for names with meanings that resonated for us, and that started with the letter that defined them in utero - A for our daughter, B for our son. We named our son Bennett, "little blessed one", and our daughter Aliya, "to ascend". We gave them our first names as middle names, since we're both named after family members (his dad and my grandma).
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I have always loved names. I bough a baby name book years before I ever considered having children. I had long lists of names for girls and a much shorter list for boys. I love beautiful names for girls that have an old fashioned feeling without being stodgy.

One day I read the lists to my husband and he would say whether the names could stay on the list or were an absolute no. Many of my favorites bit the dust that day, but Grace he liked. He also loved the nickname Ellie, since my middle name is Ellen that was all of a sudden in the running. Then what about Grace Ellen? He said yes that's it. I wanted to wait on my final decision until we met her, but he started telling people her name. I started calling her Grace. It fit, it felt good. I have a professional reputation based on my maiden name and so I never took my husband's last name, our girl would have his name, so I loved that we would have the same middle name. I loved the name Grace. All three of her names have 5 letters, I loved the symmetry. Her initials would be GEM, and that was what she was our gem, our precious jewel.

I was so glad that we had named her. When we went to the hospital that horrible night we found out that she had died, I am so glad that she had a name that we put so much thought into. A name that she heard us call her.

Now I see her name everywhere and it helps me feel connected to her.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrace's Mom
The name issue has always been tricky for me. During pregnancy (and being in an abusive marriage back then) we had argued so often about the name we'd give our son. The one name TheDad chose didn't sound right in my language, so I never really got into it. Every suggestion I made was left with a "How dare you" remark.

By the time he was stillborn, we still hadn't decided on a name and TheDad blamed me for our son's death - (after all, he died because I rejected his name, right?).

I gave in and we named him after his wish - but it never felt right to use it in daily conversation. No wonder hardly anyone ever speaks of him, they have never heard me say his real name. Only since I started blogging and decided on using his 2nd name for that I regularly speak his name out loud: SKY.

There are lots of Iris' where I live so I actually think of your little girl quite often... I will certainly never forget her - name or not. xo
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSkytimes
all of the irises are blooming whereb i live- such a pretty association to have with a name.

we named our daughter coral, because we both loved the coral reefs we went to together. my sister suggested the name at some point in the pregnancy, and it sounded so lovely. when she was born and we found out the baby was a girl (we waited for the surprise), we got a good look at her, and when it came time to choose a name, we both agreed on coral. her middle name, rose, was my paternal grandmother's middle name. we had a list of possibilities, and coral was the name that suited her best. naming her was such an honor, something that made me really feel like a parent.

our son is named after both of his grandfather's. my husband's paternal grandfather- anton, and my mother's father, harold. we found out the baby was a boy early in that pregnancy, and gave him his name right away. with our daughter, we always called the baby 'the baby'. we wanted our next baby to have their name right away. it was very hard on my husband's dad to lose this familial namesake as an infant... hard to see his name on the gravestone, something so connected to his family's history.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterss
When I found out I was pregnant I prayed and prayed for a little girl. I have two healthy beautiful and unknown miracle boys. When the day came to name her at our twenty week appointment I had been playing around with L names. Both our boys have such strong names I wanted the same thing for her. We decided on Letson Marie. Letson is my grandfathers name and I have such a close and special relationship with him I wanted to honor him with his own get granddaughter. The name dates back to the 1400's I thought how wonderful to have a name that is so string it's lasted hundreds of years. I fought with Marie it is my middle name, my mothers, and just thoughtmy mom was being lazy when she named me. But of course I did research and found out it has been passed down our family for decades so it seemed perfect to honor my grandfather again with this.

She was born at 26 weeks sleeping. She was the little girl I have dreamed about since I was little. She was so anticipated that it broke so many hearts around us. I am very proud to be the mother of an angel. I try to say her name as often as I can. It puts my soul at ease.

What a beautiful name for your daughter. She lives on forever in the flowers and rainbows.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney
Lucia Paz. I wrote a long post here on her death day in December about her name and what it means. It was a meditation on all I couldn't be for her. Her name was the only thing I ever gave her that she could keep. I doubted it the moment I named her. But it is all she has, and like her when it is spoken, it lasts less than a second.

And like others said, I always think of Iris when I see them. And I see them often, all around me. Love you, Jess.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
I don't want to post her name; it is unique and just too sacred for me.

I doubted using it, too because I thought, in my fucked-up, insane with grief decisions that I was wasting it. WASTING it! I'm always relieved to see I am not alone. I stared and stared, and stared...there was NO other name.

I've only come across it once in another country when looking for a house that belonged to my grandfather's family; not long after delivering her. I fled the US solo, leaving the now ex-husband behind for "introspective, alone time." Let's just say the wind was knocked out of me and I felt dizzy, faint. The woman was very, very old and very, very kind as I explained what I was looking for as I walked around this small, little village at the base of the Carpathian mountains. When she introduced herself , I broke down and in my first tongue with sweat beading on my forehead, snot flying from my nostrils beneath very heavy, winter clothes, I tried my best to tell her my story. She took me in and shared her afternoon with me.

I think of your Iris a lot, epsecially as it is my own Hebrew name - given to me as I was named after my great-grandmother, Ilsa. It is also, one of my favorite flowers.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCava
I've said before about how I dreamed of my youngest daughter's name when I was only 10 weeks pregnant. I awoke just knowing she was Florence Violet, there was never any doubt in my mind.
Sometimes I think her name is just too beautiful, and I feel like she's a character, a mythical girl that I imagined.

Iris is beautiful name, I think of her, and you often. x
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette
The middle name came first, long before we knew there was any cause for worry. It came because my pregnancy was such a surprise and because the surprise of it knocked the wind out of me and my first response was laughter. Stunned, confused, incredulous laughter that became happier and happier as the realization that I was pregnant sank in. And I remembered Sarah of the Hebrew Bible, who laughed, too, and even though we were surprised different reasons, I knew Isaac would be part of my baby's name, if he were a boy.

His first name, Theodore, came later. Such a weighty name, but we loved the meaning, which reflected the meaning of his father's name. We loved the nickname Teddy, which conjured up a Salinger story and character. We loved the way it worked with the rest of his initials. Our little TIN man.

When things began to look grim, when we knew he might not be able to breathe, when we knew we might not be able to keep him after he was born, we had a couple of tentative, "should we still use this name?" talks. But we had to. Even though we didn't want to announce it until we met him, it was his name.

And I just realized that the syllables in his name and those in his sister's name match perfectly, even the stressed syllables. We didn't plan that, but I think it's rather wonderful.

I love your Iris's name. I love how you write about it. I love that it's hers.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErica
We named our daughter Anja. It was on the short list of names we were considering, but I worried people might mispronounce it, and more important, I wasn't sure it suited the spirited, mischievous girl I believed I was carrying. I had begun thinking of her as Sabina. We knew from the time our first daughter was born that a second daughter would get the name Eleanor as a middle name, to honour someone important in my life. So, Sabina Eleanor was who I thought she was. Then, the night I learned she'd died, I was at the hospital by myself and I knew her name had to be Anja. I came home and told my husband and he said he'd had the same thought. We gave her different middle names, too. Mary, after my grandmother, whose birthday was Anja's due date. And Herma, after my husband's grandmother whose birthday was the day after the day we learned she'd died, the day before she was born. I love her name, now, though it wasn't at all what I'd thought it would be during all those months I spent carrying her and imagining our future together. That future died with our daughter, and she has a different name for her different fate. (Although I don't believe in fate.) Iris is a wonderful name, and I love the different Irises you describe, young, old and in between.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJLD
My husband knew from the beginning that she was a girl. Usually she didn't kick when I was out and about, but one of my librarian's said she was a girl and she kicked at that moment. I asked in my baby notebook, did the kick confirm or argue the pronouncement of "girl"?

Too bad 'Miracle' doesn't work as a name, it's too hippy, and it doesn't sound like a name. Baby is our Miracle after 3.5 years of trying to get pregnant (with a very small chance of actually getting pregnant). What about M-i-r-a? I looked up the word Mira in my Italian dictionary, and again she kicked! Both times I looked it up, months apart, she kicked.

We had other names on the list. Boys and girls. My husband didn't want her name to be such a common word in Spanish...so Mira was off his list. What about the Gaelic spelling, Meara?

When my husband saw her profile on the ultrasound (still not knowing for a fact she was a girl) he said that if baby was a girl her middle name would be Joy. Joy was a name we had come up with in honor of my maternal grandmother whose name was Joyce. My grandmother had died 2 weeks before Mira existed, so we joked that she had pulled some strings for us and that's how Baby happened.

When SHE arrived I knew she wasn't coming back, but they tried to resuscitate her. While they were doing so my husband's smile turned to horror. Then he smiled again as he asked me if I knew what we had had. A dead baby? A girl. We had a girl. They asked us her name. Her name? We wanted to meet her first, we didn't have technology tell us her gender. We haven't named her. They worked for 22 minutes to try and bring her back while we tried to name her and fight shock simultaneously.

I explained to everyone in the room it is 'Mira' for Miracle, 'Joy' for Joyce. If she would have to write and spell her own name we would spell it M-e-a-r-a, but since she won't be doing that we will keep the spelling M-i-r-a. Now please let me hold Baby while the low heart rate you did get stops. Let me hold my Miracle while she dies.

But really, she is Baby, gender-less, Baby. My little love. My dead Miracle.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKO
AdiaRose. I knew I wanted a double name plus a middle name, an A name, and an African name, so she could be matchy with her big sister. I was so thrilled to be having another little girl, and she needed to know she was just as important, so she had to have three names ,too.

I was worried, because of my age. First I had been worried I would miscarry. I also knew her risk of health problems was higher because of my age. I thought it possible that she could be born with Down syndrome, and prayed that she would still be in good health, and happy, no matter what life handed her. So when I went through the list of African "A" names and saw "Adia", meaning "gift" in Hausa, something leaped inside me and I knew that was it, that was her name. Her name. Because no matter what, she was a gift.

Rose was for my mother-in-law's rose garden, and because they are so beautiful. Her big sister chose Wangari for her middle name, because she loves Wangari Maathai (who incidentally died just two days after AdiaRose). I love that she has a weighty name. There is a lot in that name, for one so tiny and still. It was one of the few things we could do for her.

We mostly call her Baby Pumpkin, or Pumpkin, though, because that was her name before we knew if she was a boy or a girl. Our little Baby Pumpkin. AdiaRose is really a name one would grow into, with time.

I just love your post, Jess. I just love it. And the name Iris is a beautiful name.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen
What a beautiful post. just beautiful.

We have four little ones in heaven. Our first we named Bella because, in all, she and her small time in my body was beautiful. Our second Henry, after a grandfather, it seemed all too classic and perfect for him. Our third Alex, because we didn't know if he or she was a boy or girl and it's a name we both love for either sex. And our last William, we had, in a sense, lingered on this name for so long and so dreamed of calling it out across our yard to a crazy, playful little boy, instead one day I'll call for him in Heaven.
June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate
My first born son was named Jack William Angus, Jack for Johnny Cash's "Jackson" song, William after my father in law who has passed away and Angus is my mothers maiden name.. when he passed away at birth my heart broke but I knew that I would give him the name that I had called him for 9 months even knowing that he would never be here for me to call him by his beautiful name..

My daughter Ruby Jayne was born a year later, she was named Ruby after Kenny Rogers, "Ruby dont take your love to town" as I thought she would grow to be a bright gem, a pretty ruby to hold and love and cherish.. she is my light in the darkness. Jayne is a family name, my sister in law who passed was Jayne and my cousin Lily who was my best mate was Amanda Jane (Lily is the nickname)

When my third baby was born premature at 26 + 2 weeks I had only just decided on his name the week before. It was to be Nate Jackson Angus. Nate meaning Gift from God, Jackson as a tribute to his brother Jack and Angus my mothers maiden name, a name that Jack also shared.. when Nate passed away at 3 months old I was still so thankful that I named him Gift from God, he certainly was a precious gift..
So Jack, Ruby and Nate.. all 4 letters, one syllable, unintentional but that is the way that it worked out.. If I ever fall pregnant again by some miracle, I know in my heart it will be a baby girl and she will be named Hope, as I live in hope of holding another baby safe in my arms..
Thank you for letting me share..
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMel Bray
Eva Ruby Christine

After 3 sons, we were amazed to find out she was a girl. We wanted a name that was very feminine. We had a short list but Eva was always my favourite. My husband liked Ruby best, after a friend of ours, and she was our little Ruby after 3 boys. I liked the jewel name too. So we chose both Eva Ruby and Christine which is a family middle name for girls in my family. If we ever have the chance at another girl she will also have Christine or Christina in her name,but I digress.
When I was in labour with Eva I pushed and screamed and screamed her name. When we got a long look at her after birth she was only an Eva. It kind of cuts me up that we named a little girl 'Breath of Life' when that little one was taken from us so early. My husband had a vasectomy when Eva was a healthy 4 month old little girl. We were done with having more children. Anyway, jump ahead to dead baby and then to a reversal a few months after that and I thought maybe her name would be fulfilled in siblings that would never have had the 'breath of life' if it weren't for her life and death. Also, Eva is in Heaven and we believe that she is living life abundantly there. Not with us but still alive.
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEm
We named him Stefan. Stefan James. The story of his naming is prosaic. The name Stefan didn't have a special meaning to us. It does now. Stefan is the most beautiful sound in the whole world. It means love, the love of my life. (In actuality, it comes from the Greek Stephanos which means crown or wreath. Still not sure how I could interpret that in a meaningful way. It doesn't matter).

I wanted an international name, one that could easily be pronounced both in English and my native Bulgarian. There are a thousand girl's names that fit the bill, and roughly seven boy's names. I presented my husband with the list and he picked Stefan. I was leaning towards another name but was willing to negotiate - I would go with my husband's pick if he agreed that we find out the sex of the baby (he wanted to keep it a surprise). So at 17 weeks, we learned that our champ swimmer was a boy. And his name would be Stefan. We kept his name our little secret throughout the pregnancy. We didn't want any input, especially from one particular, very opinionated grandmother to be... I wish we had shared his name sooner. I feel that knowing his name made him so much more real during our brief time together. I regret not shouting his name from the rooftops when it would have made people eagerly smile with anticipation....

James is my father-in-law's name, as well as my brother in law's middle name. And it went well with Stefan. I also (secretly) thought that if people mispronounced his first name after all (turns out they do, it's STE-fan, not ste-FAAN), he could always fall back on the classic simple Jim.

Iris is a georgeous name. Thank you for the beautiful post, Jess. I've reallly enjoyed reading everyone's responses.
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMira
Thank you, Jess, for your beautiful piece. We had a different name picked out for our daughter when I was pregnant with her, a name that meant abundance of blessing, but when she was born (apparently healthy), we both felt that it didn't resonate. It was late in the afternoon, before the weekend, so we just decided we'd talk about it more later, after we'd had a chance to get to know her a bit. The next day when we found out that she was going to die, we named her Yocheved after Moses' mother and Leba for being beloved and having a fighting, seemingly healthy heart. Yocheved is said to have been one of the midwives who defied Pharaoh's decree to kill the newborn boys in Egypt and it is said that the Hebrew women had easy pregnancies and deliveries. I had been nervous about her birth, but that part all went so well, it was like the spirit of Yocheved was with us, helping things along. But I had been ambivalent about the name because after all, Yocheved had to let her little baby go, sending him down the river to try and save his life. The thought of a mother having to give up her baby was too closely associated with suffering for me to want to have wanted it as a daughter's name. Of course now, once we knew she would not survive, it was just right. So that's who she is, Yocheved Leba, and I am glad that I feel so strongly that her name is just right for her. Thank you for asking and to everyone who took the time to read this. It has been so meaningful to read your stories as well.
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
For our two living children, we didn't really know what their names would be until a week before the birth (or hours before, in the case of my newborn). I found out that baby #3 had died in the sixth month of my pregnancy. I had one favorite boy name: Isaac. But in the hospital, we didn't know if we wanted to name him. I wish we had named him in the hospital. Now everything on it just says "Baby boy" (including his ashes). I suggested naming him "Love" because that's the name my daughter gave the baby from the very beginning.

In the end, my husband agreed that Isaac was his name, but we have only told a few people. No one asked even if it was a boy or a girl, so it feels odd to volunteer his name. When I hear the name out in public, it makes my heart skip a beat.

The odd thing is that Isaac means something like "he laughs" or "laughter" because of the reaction of his father when he learned he was having a son. It seems like the completely wrong name for a dead baby, though it goes so beautifully with his siblings' names.
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh
The sex of our second child was going to be a suprise, but after many ultrasounds and a couple of complications that were known to be more common in boys (club foot and possible kidney blockage), I felt sure we were going to have a son. We only discussed boy names, and if we did discuss a girl name I sure don't remember it.

He was to be Henrik Gerald.

Henrik because we do Scandinavian names and also after my husbands Grandpa Hank (Henry). Gerald was to honor his other Grandpa, known to everyone as Jerry.

We told his parents of our plan, and they looked suprised and said, who is Gerald? Hans said, "Uh, that's Grandpa!", to which they replied, "Nooo, his name is Ole, he just had everyone call him Jerry". I think my husband was two when Jerry/Ole died, and he never saw his formal name in print? We all had a good laugh.

So now he was to be Henrik Ole.

I'm sure you all know, about an hour after your dead baby comes out of you they start giving you all this freaking paperwork to fill out. Do you want an autopsy? Sign here. Do you want this certificate? Fill this out. Do you want his (still)birth recorded? Fill this out. We couldn't see through our tears, but we had a pile of papers to sort though. Somehow in all that we spelled his name wrong. WE SPELLED HIS NAME WRONG.

So he is Henrick Ole, with an extra C, which is his little joke on us.
June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
The day I met my husband we watched a film called Leon (crazy assasin film, not at all romantic). There was a little girl in it called Matilda. Kooky, pretty little girl. We decided that night that when we had a daughter we would call her Matilda. How nuts is that - naming your future child on your first date!!!

But 6 years later we were married and pregant and still agreed if we had a daughter she would be Matilda. Matthew for a boy as they seemed to 'fit' together and we had got married just a few months before in St Matthew's church. So that was the way it was to be.

21 weeks into the pregnancy we found out our baby would die, and asked to know the sex of the baby so we could name it at once. So Matilda she was.

I didn't discover until much later that Matilda means 'strength in battle'. She gave us 3 more weeks of real strength in the battle for life, which she ultimatly lost, but she did have great strength and continues to give me strength as I battle on through the loss of her. Recently I discovered that St Matilda is the patron saint of lost children. Not sure if it's lost as in dead, or just missing. But either way - her name was more perfect than I ever realised.

Matilda. I love you my beautiful girl. xxx
June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbi
Your name stories are all so beautiful, each in their own completely personal and intimate way. Such an honour to read them. Thank you for sharing.
June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess
We couldn't settle on a name for Freddie when I was pregnant. We had a list and I like Freddie best but my husband said he 'didn't want to jinx it' by picking one. He never said that about our living girls.

When Freddie was born and rushed to scbu, it didn't seem that important. I called him William in my head for a little while. The scbu nurses like babies to have a name though and encouraged us to find him one. We stood over him, trying out the list of names and when we said Freddie, he seemed to almost nod, a little yes shudder. So that is what we called him.

It's odd that during the months of lists my dh's reason, only reason to not choose Freddie was that it sounded like the name of a little boy but not a man. Huh.

I think we both knew he wasn't coming home, even though the omens were good for a while.

He was Freddie on his birth certificate. If he lived he would have been longed to Frederick James George with the middle names after two relations. Our subsequent child does have those middle names, as much a nod to Freddie as to the relations. I always quite like that Fred is George's (eventually dead) twin in Harry potter. We nearly called Benedict Harry. It's a good job we didn't as he has a lightning birthmark on his forehead. That would have taken it all too far.

Now it seems rather strange to have called him Freddie, as our girls have less common names than that. It was always his name I think, and we didn't reuse any of his list names for Ben. They are all his, his unofficial middle names I think. But if he had lived and we had had Ben anyway, I think Ben might have been called one of those names.

It's such a complicated thing. I mind about names. And I often wonder how I feel if one of my girls wants to use Freddie for one of their children.

When I think back to those scbu days though, it feels like one of our few connected moments. Freddie did choose his name somehow. He knew it was for him.
June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMerry
We named him Andrés Teo.

Andrés means "manly." We'd chosen it a few weeks before and, in a way, it was a ridiculous name. But I just loved the way it sounded. The way it rolled off my husband's tongue in perfect Spanish: Andrés, Andrés, Andrés. A name meant to remind me he wouldn't always be my little boy.

He was perfect at 38 1/2 weeks. Perfect, and gone. We chose Teo for his middle name as I held him in my arms. "Gift from God." We were thankful and peaceful in that moment. Grateful that we'd had such joy in the 9 1/2 months we'd waited for him. Hopeful that we might live again someday, on the other side of this F-ing nightmare.

"Manly gift from God?!" I said to my husband after they'd taken my son to the morgue. "Do you think it will go to his head?"

"No, honey. He was a sweet little boy."

Yes, he was. He really was.
June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScotia
What a perfect day to share the story of my beautiful little starchild. Today is her first birthday. It was very unexpected that i started bleeding the way I did. I have PCOS and don't have a monthly. So when the bleeding was heavy and painful I knew something wasn't right. I went to the DR only for them to tell me I was carrying a baby that had passed. Oh the pain I felt that day. I sat on my front porch and looked up at the stars and cried. My husband took me to bed and I slept for a few hours and woke the next day with a name on my mind. Onyx. That was my baby's name. But I wanted a middle name for her. So I searched. I wanted one that sounded well with the name Onyx and one that had meaning since Onyx had none. Then I found it. Bahari, it's a swahili name meaning Something Vast. It fit perfect. her spirit was something so free something so large and beautiful that it couldn't be contained in an earthly form. And the stars were now her home. So my little Onyx Bahari has been in my memory for a whole year today. And today i will celebrate her short life and her eternal life among the stars <3 Happy Birthday Onyx Bahari.
June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
We named our baby Ellie Rose, because Rose was my Grandmothers name and Ellie was a name we thought went well with our living son. Oscar and Ellie, they are cute together. It didnt turn out like that though since she died at 3 months in pregnancy.
June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValerie
Thank you so much for this beautiful post Jess. I loved reading it and all of the responses here. There is something very special about the process of naming. It may be only be a tiny act of motherhood but it is, to my mind, a significant one. All of these names, those I know and those that are new to me.

Iris's name is so beautiful. And I can see her possibilities, refracted, through your descriptions. I wish that she could have been all of those women that you write of, in the sea, at the National Gallery, on your bedroom floor. And she is the first of your three children that I think of, when I think of you.

Georgina's name was fixed nearly ten years before she was born. In a conversation between two giddy teenagers and the only name we could agree upon. And there she was. Our Georgina. Our Georgie Girl. Like The Seeker's song. Sometimes I'm glad she had all that prior 'existence' as her life was destined to be a short one. We gave her THE name because . . .there was no other one. We knew she was very ill and, in my stupid magical thinking way, I thought it would ensure her survival.

Jane for my Ouma and my middle name as well. Georgina Jane. And, for the reasons that Cava has described so well, I often wish that had never shared it. Because it might not be an unusual name but it is hers and sometimes I feel I've said too much.

Her sister's name was chosen because it 'went with' Georgina. But I can't regret that. It is a beautiful name. Jessica.

And her brother's middle is George, for the big sister that he will never meet. I also think fondly of several other little boys called George when I call it. I've never thought about the Harry Potter connection Merry.

Sally - Hope Angel's name is beautiful and perfect and it pained me to read your comment. My dear, you are so far from being the things you accuse yourself of. Truly. Your daughter has always been a complete person to me, not an object, not anything 'less.' I don't think you were wrong, stupid or naive. Who could prepare for this situation? We all just do the very best we can and you chose her name with love.

And Scotia - I know he was. I'm just certain that he really was a sweet little boy. Your Andrés Teo.
June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine W
What a great post! I love sharing the story of my Darcy's name. I don't really get the opportunity to do that very much - people in general shy away from dead baby talk.

I love names too and like Grace's Mum have maintained a long list of favourites, mainly girls, since teenagehood. There is something beautiful about giving a name to a child, such an important act as a parent. Most of my favourite names are of the Irish (Gaelic) variety, the ones that sound nothing like they are spelt - Caoimhe, Saoirse, Aine. My husband did not want our child to struggle to spell their own name so they were all thrown out.

Amazingly, had Darcy been a girl, her name was to be Iris Angeline. Iris is just so beautiful, Jess. Iris was my paternal grandmother's name, who I lost when I was 7 and knew so little of her. I guess it was my way of saying I loved and remembered her. Angeline is my husband's beloved maternal grandmother and I could not think of having a daughter without including her. The names just went so well together, there was nothing else.

And as it turned out, our little one was a boy. We had about 2 hours in between learning this and learning of his condition. My husband chose his first name, Darcy, after his great uncle who lost his life at Kokoda in WW2. His second name, Christopher, is after my grandfather who also served his country in the same war. We felt he deserved a good strong family name, and giving him a name from each side made him an important part of the family.

I don't think there is anything wrong with your regrets Sally. I sometimes feel that the "imagined" Darcy is lost to me too. Never will I call his name to come to dinner, write his name on his lunchbox or his school clothes. Horribly, that makes me think I've wasted it to. But I also think that is a great tribute - giving up the privilege of the presence of that name to your baby, it's such a small thing but in the end we didn't have the opportunity to give them much.

2 years on I remain childless despite baby making efforts that could qualify for the Olympics. I often think of my long list of useless baby names. Iris, Rose, Susannah, Atticus, all sitting on a shelf with their brother's ashes, wondering if they will ever hear them spoken. I hope with all my heart that they will.

Lovely post Jess and thank you for the opportunity to share the story of Darcy's name. I am so glad you chose Iris, it's just perfect.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarahKate
This is beautiful. The post & the responses have taken my breath away.

We named our little girl Margaret Joy.

We hadn't decided on a name before we lost her at almost 28 weeks. Talking about names was one of my favorite things to do from the moment I got pregnant. I drove my husband crazy, I was so obsessed. I would make him pause TV shows when there was a name that I liked, to discuss whether it would be a good name for our baby.

There's a part of me that's still mad that we had to name her in the fog of grief. But we chose Margaret, my grandmother's name, although most of the time when I think her of I think of her as Maggie.

And Joy. Joy's the middle name my mother gave me. It's the name I always wanted to give my little girl. I almost didn't, almost held it back, feeling that it was the name that I wanted for a living child. Then I felt horrible for thinking that, for even considering not giving her the name that I loved. So Joy it was. Giving her Joy as her middle name makes me feel connected to her. And I try to use it to remind me that the 27 weeks we had her were the happiest of my life. It's hard to feel joy now, only 3 months out from losing her. But she made us so, very happy, she was so very loved, and I'm glad that her name reflects that.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
I had lots of intuitions when I was pregnant with Emma. I "knew" the baby would be born sooner than big brother and sister (42 & 41 weeks). She was a due date baby. I "knew" the baby wasn't staying - nothing specific, just feelings on and off that something was going to go wrong. At 29 weeks, I sobbed to my husband that the baby would be stillborn, I was being so silly and hormonal ... until it wasn't hormones, it was truth. And I "knew" my baby was a BOY and his name was George (after my grandfather and because we adored the way our four year old said "Dorge") with either Nathaniel or Joseph for a middle name. We barely discussed girls' names. We had kind of settled on Felicity with maybe Joy for a middle. No real significance to either name, just liked them. When I went into labour, my DH arrived home from work and casually dropped into the conversation that he liked Emma. I seem to remember I screamed through a contraction, thought about it for a second and said "Okay. I like it." Our name choices are so different - he likes "classic" and I like a little more out there but he also knew that I adore Jane Austin and that Emma would appeal for that reason. It didn't seem to matter because HE was a boy. When SHE was born, she was so, so obviously an Emma (not a Felicity). It has been that way with all our children, they have brought their name with them. They took her to the resus unit and I told my husband her middle name was Faith. Again, it was just so obvious in that room. I don't know if I was willing myself to have faith that she would make it (I knew she wouldn't) or if I was giving her the gift of my faith to go with (I spent the best part of the last three years without it). But she was definitely Emma Faith. I only discovered afterwards that Emma means "All encompassing / universal" which fits with my sense of her surrounding me and infusing me. It was (and is) the perfect name for a perfect little girl.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill (Fireflyforever)
Silas Orion was what we chose for him when we were deciding on baby names that summer. We didn't know it was a boy so we also had a girls name ready as well. Our friend suggested Silas after the character in the show Weeds. We really liked it. Orion came to Chris one day while we were driving somewhere. We are both obsessed with the night sky and that name was so beautiful. Silas Orion was perfect. We didn't name him after anyone in our families and in the jewish tradition, you are supposed to name after someone who passed away. We felt bad about it but we loved the name so we didn't care that much. I think my parents were disappointed but would never say anything due to the circumstances.

His name suits him so much, even though he isn't with us.

With Zephyr, a friend told us that she had a friend named Zephyr growing up and he was a really cool guy. We loved it instantly! Rigel, his middle name is after my grandma Ruth and is also the brightest star in Orion. That's our tribute to Silas without really naming after him. My niece Noa Seda is named after Silas so we didn't have to do that.

I love all the flower names too- Lily, Violet and of course Iris. So beautiful.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLani
Neve Rose

we didn't know the sex of our baby when we found out at 37 weeks that there was no heartbeat. I asked the doctor to tell me then but he said he couldn't tell from the scan. My husband & I went home that night to get ourselves organised for the 'birth day' in the morning. We discussed whether we wanted to use the names we had picked out and were both in two minds about it. His suggestion was using our own names but even in my shocked state I knew that would be wrong and a little weird. It was my father-in-law that said we should use the names we had planned and I'm grateful we did.

Neve was a name that I always loved but I loved the Irish spelling Niamh. we thought we'd use the easier spelling of Neve so that she wouldn't have to always spell it out for people or have people call her Nymph or something. I wish we had used the Irish version as those problems are irrelevant now.

Rose is after my maternal grandma and my mum who is Rosemary. I wish I had used Rose for my second daughters middle name as a connection to her sister.

It's nice to be able to share her name, thank you
June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMel
Gabriel Ross. Gabriel was a solid name, very male, but calm and steady. I pictured Gabriel as kind and fun. Gabe for short. Ross after a man who was like a father to, good to both my husband and I. It was his name before he was born, when we knew he was a boy and there was no question it would stay his name.

I'm still a little pissed that he died because that name was so special and important to us.

Vivienne was an act of hope. The root is Latin and means life. All I could do was hope that it would be true and not a sick joke, naming the dead baby with a name that means life at the core of it. I think we got so lucky, because she is definitely, really, truly, wonderfully alive.
June 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereliza
We knew we were having a baby boy, and had a name picked for him. It's a name both my husband and I loved. When he was diagnosed with the fatal condition at 32 weeks, we immediately stopped referring to him with the name we had chosen. We didn't need to talk about it, it just happened. We were in shock, but I guess deep down inside we both felt we couldn't let the name die along with our much longed for baby. So we talked about it and we decided to give him a different name. And I came up with this name that means wind in our language. I was thinking of the phrase gone with the wind. How he entered our lives like a breeze, and now he was leaving it, just like that. And the fact that you always feel the wind, but can never touch or see it. I just felt it suited him, that it suited our situation. My husband liked the name too. He was born at the end of the week, and so now it's my one and only baby's name. I'm not sure if we'll ever use the other name or not, but 'wind' is how I think about him.
July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereyr2012
John Angel would have been my son's name.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was ecstatic. I knew it was a son even though it was too early in the pregnancy to tell. I knew I was going to have a very beautiful baby boy. I wanted to call him John after his father. It was also a family name for almost all of the boys in my family. My brothers had John in their names. It was perfect.

But I lost John at 11 weeks because we had to terminate the pregnancy.

I believed in heaven and prayed to God while the termination was going on. The nurse told me that maybe he will become an angel. I started calling him Angel. His father doesn't say his name out loud but I do.

Iris is a lovely name. Sending love to you.
May 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenternoela
My first child was a boy and I named him Kevin Jr after his father. I lost him when he was still born at about 30 weeks 10/5/13. 4/4/15 I had miscarried and had to have an aspiration to remove retained tissue. Boyfriend thought it was a girl. I still do not have a name for her. I often wish I did... Just do not know what name fits a child I will never know.
July 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTES

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