What’s in a name?

I take my kids’ names very seriously. Perhaps too seriously. I’ve had a list of potential kids’ names running in the back of my head for years, probably decades, and though I’ve had to remove some of those names (for example, “David” has been removed because our last name begins with “David” so it makes it sound like we’re stuttering), the list has remained pretty consistent for a while.

list_of_santa_claus-snow(also David is on the naughty list, come on)

I like names with strong meanings, names that flow well with our last name and with any middle name, names that–if they’re longer–lend themselves easily to nicknames. Part of me loves kind of quirky names (Tennyson and Peregrine are perennial favorites), but ultimately, meaning is the heart of any name I choose for my kids, and not just the meaning of the name itself, but the meaning and cultural influences that inspired us to even think of the name in the first place.

For example, Samuel Matthew.

Matthew, first off, is a family name–it’s Kyle’s middle name, so immediately, we liked having that as part of our first child’s name (before we found out Sam is a boy, we thought about Madison as a middle name for a girl, since it means “Matthew’s child”). The name Matthew means “gift of God,” which was especially appropriate–we went through a lot to get pregnant with Sam, so he really did feel like a gift, and still does.

Samuel is also a family name, on Kyle’s mother’s side–his mother’s grandmother–but we were also inspired by the Sams we kept seeing in fiction. There is, of course, Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, who is arguably the absolute heart of the story. He is, after all, Samwise the Brave–loyal and heroic, the reason Frodo gets anything accomplished, and Tolkien’s everyman. Samwise was meant to represent the brave English soldiers who fought in WWI, and really, he’s just the best character. Everyone loves Sam.

(and I do often call Sammy “Samwise” when I’m trying to get his attention)

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(annnnnd now I’m crying)

And there’s Samwell Tarly from A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, who is sweetly pragmatic and so damn likable (particularly in the show). And overall, the Sams we’ve encountered in fiction are just the kind of person we want our Sam to be.

The name Samuel comes from a Biblical story about infertility, one of several. Hannah, Samuel’s eventual mother, wanted a child so badly that she went to the temple every day to pray for a child, eventually promising that she would dedicate any child she had to God entirely. Sure enough, she eventually had a son, a boy whom she called Samuel, which means “God has heard.” Samuel was the last of the Hebrew prophets and the one to anoint both Saul and David to be king.

So Samuel Matthew. A good, strong name.

And now we’re onto the twins, and coming into today, we faced a slight dilemma. You see, we were struggling to come up with boy names. Girl names, that I can do all day. I’ve got enough girl names stored up that we could have identical octuplets and be all set for names. I am good for girl names. Boy names, on the other hand… eeeeeh. I had various ideas, but nothing really stuck, and Kyle refused to even consider the question until we knew for sure that we were having at least one boy. This caused me a LOT OF STRESS, as I kind of like, you know, planning ahead. Crazy, right?

eye-twitch
(this is fine!)

But whatever. Even if we didn’t come up with a name until we saw the anatomy scan, we’ve still got 18 weeks to go, a little more than four months. That’s plenty of time to come up with a good boy name, even if we dragged our heels and procrastinated and took our dear sweet time and waited and waited and…

Well. We didn’t really drag our heels and procrastinate and wait, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We had the anatomy scan today, the big look at how everybody is developing, if all parts are where they should be, and all of that important stuff. You can also, assuming everyone cooperates, find out the baby’s sex (and there’s a whole conversation about gender being a social construct and what if either of them are trans and so on and so forth and look, I just want to know if I can finally buy some sparkly Mary Janes for my baby without people looking at me funny).

Baby A was first, resting comfortably at the bottom of my uterus. Right now, said baby is head-down, which is the ideal position for any given baby, but that can change at any time (and considering how acrobatic these two are, will probably change at least a couple of times). Heart rate at 148 BPM, which according to old wives’ tales means that Baby A should be a girl…

…but old wives’ tales are wrong because Baby A is a BOY.

Very much a boy. There was no mistaking what we kept seeing on that screen (unless it’s a secret tail?), and honestly? Despite the name thing, I’m happy. He’s a much more chill baby than Sam was (or than his twin, more in a minute on that side of things); whereas Sam was always bouncing and kicking and moving, Baby A sort of languishes and lounges, stretches and moves his hands in long, fluid movements. He’s not dive bombing my cervix and not causing issues; he’s healthy.

And his name is going to be Isaac William.

Despite me thinking we’d need like four months to come up with a name, Isaac William actually came to us in about 15 minutes as we waited for the doctor to come in. We were going through lists of names we’d never consider (“Ebeneezer!” “Draco!” “Blayze!”) when Kyle asked, almost offhandedly, “What about Isaac? What do you think of that?”

As a name, Isaac means “he will laugh” or “laughter,” coming from the Hebrew tzachaq. The name first shows up in the Biblical story of Abraham and Sarah, another infertile couple, who were wayyyyyy older than anyone has a right to be when Isaac was finally born. As the story goes, a Visitor (implied to be God or an angel) came and told Sarah that she would have a baby; her response was, naturally, laughter, like, “Dude, that’s nice and all, but literally, my bits and pieces are dust and my wrinkles have wrinkles.” But sure enough, Isaac was born shortly thereafter.

(the next story about Isaac involves Abraham’s faith being tested by him being willing to sacrifice Isaac to God because not all Bible stories are pleasant)

So already, Isaac is a good name. It also has the association with Sir Isaac Newton (physicist and mathematician), Isaac Asimov (sci fi writer), musicians, designers, and artists. It’s not a super common name, either, but it ranks near Samuel in terms of overall popularity, which I am a-okay with. And it shortens well to Ike or Zack if we want to do a nickname thing.

William, meanwhile, means “resolute protection” (anyone else getting paladin vibes, because I sure am). Going through a list of Williams who could influence the existence of this name would take a decade; as a name, William is everywhere, and has been for centuries. We chose William as a middle name over Liam, though, because it’s a family name–my grandmother on my mother’s side was named Anne Williams before she married, so it carries on the tradition.

Isaac William. Our middle child.

Thus we moved on to Baby B. I’ve had suspicions about Baby B for a while; as babies go, Baby B has always been the more active of the two and was actually the first baby we saw as an indicator that this cycle was a success (tl;dr – Baby A is usually the baby closest to the cervix, but Isaac held off on making his presence known for a good week or so after we knew Baby B existed, so…). At every ultrasound thus far, Baby B has been SUPER active–jumping, kicking, punching, the works. Today was no exception. After giving us a dazzling profile shot, Baby B proceeded to do the usual gymnastics routine, which made the ultrasound take twice as long as usual. Usually the tech would have waited until the end to show us the sex, but in this case, she knew we were excited…

…because Baby B is a GIRL.

A healthy, bouncy, excited baby girl. Bigger than her brother by an ounce, but also with a slightly slower heartbeat (143 to Isaac’s 148). She’s the one who protests me lying down every night by squirming across the width of my abdomen at the best pace she can manage. At one point in the ultrasound, she had her hands above her head like she was dancing, and at another, she was very definitely punching Isaac in the head. She is going to give Sam a run for his money; he may think that his brother will be his partner in crime, but no. His sister will be right there with him and possibly leading the charge, and I am slightly terrified.

And her name will be Carolyn Jeanette.

Both names require a bit of digging to get to their meanings, because they’re both variants on other names. Jeanette comes from Jehann, which comes from John, which means “God is gracious.” That has nothing to do with why we chose Jeanette, but it’s a nice meaning nonetheless. Our reasons are more personal. First off, names in variants of John are pretty common for people close to us (my dad’s name is John, Kyle’s grandmother was Joan, etc.), so there’s a connection in that way. Closer to home, though, Jeanette was a dear friend of ours who passed away just a year or so ago; she and her husband were probably the biggest cheerleaders in our early relationship, and I can’t say how much we both miss her. Naming our baby girl after her was a no-brainer.

As to Carolyn (which means “warrior”), that name comes from my grandmother, Therna Carolyn Sturgis (before she married). By far, pretty much the most awesome person I ever knew, my Grandma exuded love and warmth. She always had a song in her heart and on the tip of her tongue (even when her hearing loss got a little too bad for her to be on key, pretty much ever). She embraced people and welcomed them into her life, and she loved people dearly. I can’t imagine a better legacy for my daughter to inherit.

And then, of course, there’s Carrie Fisher, late and great (why yes, part of my child’s nickname comes from Carrie Fisher, fight me). Her take no prisoners, give no fucks attitude is something I want my daughter to have; I want her to have that strength and courage, and the knowledge that no failure is permanent, that you can always fight your way back. I want her to embrace glitter and funny looking dogs and sharing her strength with others.

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(“Look,” I told Kyle, “if either baby flips us off during the ultrasound, their name is a variation of Carrie. Cary for a boy, Carrie for a girl.” He agreed)

Carolyn Jeanette. Our baby.

They’re both growing very well, and my doctor is actually expecting that I’ll go to term, making my delivery date around April 11, by hook or by crook. As for me, now that I know their names and am starting to know them, I just can’t wait until they get here. Isaac and Carrie, my long-awaited babies.

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