There is a lot about the death and birth of my daughter Naomi that is a blur. I was so sick, and on so many medications, that my memories are not clear, but one stands out above many others – a nurse coming into my hospital room and asking us for her name. The hospital needed it for her memorial birth certificate. We had not even learned until her birth if she was a boy or a girl, so we had no name, but within a couple of days, we decided on Naomi Faith. We chose it because of what her life meant to us and with hope for what it could spur in us and in others in the days to come.
Over the next year and a half, we would give names to two more heavenly babies.
It was a meaningful part of grieving those losses, reminding us and others that we had not lost our “pregnancies”, but real children. But I also hated it – I wanted to give a name to a baby who would live on earth. I wanted to see it on a living birth certificate, to hear it called at well child check-ups. I wanted to use the first, middle and last name to get my living child’s attention. I was tired of making up names for children who would never hear them on earth.
So it may seem odd to some (though not to those of us on this journey) that we went into the hospital for the planned birth of our rainbow boy without having chosen a name. That hadn’t been the case for our sweet sunshine girl, our daughter born before Naomi. Then, we had gone away for a weekend, our last before her birth. We had talked about our hopes and dreams for our baby, and what we wanted for her life. And we had chosen a name carefully, and then kept it a secret until she was born.
Not so with our coming son.
We had talked about the need to name him, and put it on our “to do” list. We had tossed around some different ideas, and very nearly settled on one, but we had been having a crazy-busy winter and the final decision kept getting pushed to the side. It didn’t seem all that urgent.
In retrospect, I was in no hurry because I wasn’t all that sure I would use it.
Although everything seemed fine and normal, I knew too much to be certain that I would bring this baby home, and if he was destined for Heaven, I just might save the name in my heart for a baby who would live and choose something else for this one.
So when he was born kicking and screaming and very much alive, and when he stayed alive and the nurse wanted to know his name, we just looked at each other and realized that we needed to talk! They didn’t rush us too much (we found out that legally, we had a whole year to name our child – who knew!), but they did ask us a couple more times before we finally decided, more than a day later. As for our sunshine girl, we chose it with prayer for the type of man we hope he will become.
Weeks later, we received his birth certificate – with his name on it.
Not a fetal death certificate. Not a memorial certificate from the hospital. A real live birth certificate for the baby that we got to take home. The one we got to name with hope for his life on Earth, with us.
I use his name all the time now. When I enroll him in classes and Vacation Bible School. When I sign him into the children’s program at church. When I chastise him for throwing a ball in the living room. When I need his attention on the playground. When I kiss him at bedtime and tell him how much I love him. And when I pray for him, and ask God to lead him through his life on Earth.
There is so much that I will never take for granted in this journey of parenting after loss, and one of the biggest is his name.
What do you remember about naming your rainbow baby? Share below!