Monday, July 25, 2016

My child doesn't know his own name...

... and that is because we never call him by it. And I am OK with that (though yes, we will have to teach it to him at some point soon).

When we were trying to get pregnant, I read an article on the most annoying things people do when it comes to naming their children. Number three on the list was naming them something you have no intention of calling them, i.e. "her name is Sarah Louisa, but we call her Coco." When I read it, I rolled my eyes and groaned. Who would do such a thing?

As it turns out, this become another example of my "never say never" philosophy of parenting, because I did that thing.

Getting pregnant was not easy for us. Months of nothing happening was an affront to my Type A personality. It took me a while to admit that something was wrong and get my butt to the doctor. I will always remember her mischievous smile when she wrote the ultrasound and blood work orders. "Who knows," she said. "Maybe you're already pregnant..."  When I combined that with the urgent instructions from the ultrasound tech to call tomorrow to get my results, I was just sure I was.

When I called, breathy and excited to get news of my pregnancy, I instead got news of an undetermined mass and the need for more blood work. I wasn't listening to my baby's heartbeat a few weeks later, I was having surgery. I was very fortunate that it was benign, but did not escape unscathed. In place of a baby, I brought a raging intestinal infection home from the hospital.

While I was curled into a ball on my couch in gastrointestinal misery, the phone rang. This was the call that made the world a bit shakier under my feet. "Extremely unlikely," she said, throwing in words like "fertility clinic," and advising that continuing to try was likely a "waste of time."

If you've never been a woman who desperately wants a child and was just told their body won't cooperate, then you will never understand just how awful getting that news feels. This was one of the few times in my life that I didn't immediately go into "fix it" mode. I didn't start researching fertility clinics right away, or throw together a timeline for how we could save money for adoption. I just cried.

My husband when he suggested we take a weekend trip to get our minds off of everything and recover from such an intense few months. He is a smart man, and I am glad I listened. We went to my favorite city- New Orleans. On our second night there, I started feeling strangely. I woke up early the next morning, just knowing something was off. I woke my husband and started musing that perhaps I was pregnant.

I watched the panic settle in on his face as he recognized the no win situation he was in, as there was no course of action that would prevent the coming meltdown from the wife he had just gotten out of her sweat pants. Luckily, he just hugged me and waited silently with me after I took the test.

The faintest glimmer of a line appeared. We both looked at it from every angle, and watched as the line got darker.

The realization that you're pregnant is really one of those experiences that defies explanation. Panic, joy, terror, disbelief, elation, anxiety, and excitement all processed through us in the course of ten minutes. I cried, we laughed, we paced our room, and then realized that it was 7 a.m. on a Friday in New Orleans and very little was open.

That was how we found ourselves at a 3 card poker table in the casino before most people have their morning coffee. Thirty minutes into our parenthood and I was glaring at the smoker next to me while we waited on my decaf and bought chips. On the second hand, my husband hit a straight flush. I giggled as they counted out his winnings, and said "looks like we have a lucky little blastocyst," and he smiled and said "thanks, Lucky."

In that moment, the kid became 'Lucky.' At first, I thought it would just be our pregnancy nickname, like Sprout, or Peanut. However, when we got back, my doctor helped the name settle.

"Congratulations," he said, in a voice that sounded more like "I'm sorry." And then there was the "but...." The issues they thought would prevent my pregnancy apparently made its success unlikely. "You have a higher than usual chance of losing this baby," he said. In response, I wrapped my arms around my stomach and said "Nope, my baby is Lucky."

It was eight weeks before we were told everything looked normal. During those weeks, we had four ultrasounds, dozens of blood tests, a scare in which the baby was measuring too small and not showing a heart beat. During those weeks, I fell asleep every night praying that I got to keep my Lucky. Finally, finally, we heard a normal, healthy heartbeat and were told everything was fine.

When we found out Lucky was a boy, we went into full name debate. We picked several options, and I envisioned how they would look on a resume, a college application, in his birth announcement. We considered just naming him Lucky, but it just didn't look right on anything "official." Instead, we gave him a name I love, a name befitting a doctor or lawyer or ballet dancer (or whatever the hell he wants to be). When he grows up and life becomes official, it will be waiting.

I thought 'Lucky' might slip away once he was here and real, but it didn't. Instead, after an incredibly difficulty pregnancy and long, terrifying delivery, all I could think once he was in my arms was "he is my Luck."

I get eye rolls all the time when I introduce him as Lucky. His day care once strongly advised that we stop calling him that so he can learn his real name. People close to us have told me how stupid a nickname it is, or simply refused to use it. There is probably some validity in all of these reactions, though there is also a heaping helping of "none of your damn business," too. I also once rolled my eyes at the thought of naming a child something that you never plan on calling him, until I came to realize that sometimes nicknames can have a hell of a lot of meaning, too.

I expect that it will fall away one day. I imagine him bringing a friend home from college and groaning when he has to explain why his mom just called him by his childhood nickname. But for now, we refer to him in a way that describes how he makes me feel every day... Lucky. It flows better than "Exhausted-but-exuberant."

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