Miscarried baby’s name stolen?

A friend sent me this story yesterday, and I’m still thinking about it: ‘Don’t Talk About the Baby’ #ShatterTheStigma

Long story short: The author and his wife named their just-conceived baby Lydia Rose, and then lost her at 8 1/2 weeks. I know, as so many of you do, the devastation of miscarriage; mine was even earlier than the author’s, and yet it’s still fresh nine years later. I know you know! Later on (not sure how long) the author’s brother and his wife informed them that they would be naming their soon-to-be-born baby Lydia, which crushed the author and his wife, and despite them begging the in-laws to reconsider, the in-laws went ahead with naming their baby Lydia. Which led to the author and his wife basically cutting off ties with their family and even moving several states away.

The author’s very very sensitive about this topic, which makes me hesitate to even discuss it here, but since he wrote about it on his Patheos blog (so public! eek!) and it has to do with Catholic baby naming and a friend (who’s also a reader) asked me about it, I thought it made sense to post it.

We’ve talked here before about “name stealing,” and the example given in that post was a pretty emotional one involving family relationships; I’ve also shared my own story about asking my brother and his wife if they minded if we used a name I thought they might have been hoping to use (and we were committed to foregoing the name if it meant a possible family rift). Even still, I’m sort of blown away by the depth of grief this couple is still going through, years after the loss of the baby. I tried to imagine being in the same spot, but I just can’t see myself being so upset if my brother and his wife had wanted to use the same name for their son as we’d given to our baby. Of course everyone grieves in their own way, and just because I can’t imagine myself reacting similarly doesn’t mean they’re reacting wrongly. But I can’t help but think that talking about it all with a priest or even a mental health professional would be helpful (and maybe they already have). Dear St. Anne, please pray for this couple and their whole family!

What do you all think of this? Do any of you feel like you can understand where they’re coming from? If Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage is reading, I wonder what your thoughts are and if you have any resources that might be helpful for a family in this situation?

Name thieves

Reader Anna posted a story to my Facebook wall today — one of Abby’s Name Sage posts on Nameberry that had gotten quite a bit of feedback: Baby Name Theft? Sibling rivalry over a name.

This is the issue:

I have always loved the name Josephine, called Josie or Jo. My sister likes it, too. She doesn’t have kids yet, but really wants them. To be considerate, I asked if she was okay with us using Josephine for this baby. She said it was fine.

My husband and I decided to use the name. [Their older daughter] calls her sister Josephine, and we’ve been referring to the baby by name, though we haven’t officially announced it.

Just recently, my sister told me that she’d changed her mind, and she wants to keep Josephine for herself. Now she’s not speaking to me.

We don’t want to change the name. It fits for many personal reasons, and it’s the name we both love. Yet now when I hear it, I feel frustrated and sad.”

Oof! So maddening! So unfair! So ridiculous! I’m certain all of us can understand the mama’s perspective (who’s actually pregnant, actually expecting an actual baby who actually needs an actual name in the actual near future), but I’m sure even the most laid-back among us can imagine the sister’s perspective as well. What a dilemma!

I love that the expecting parents showed consideration and asked the sister for her permission (for lack of a better word) — we did this also with one of our boys. I hate that the sister said okay, and then changed her mind after the decision was already made. I hate that the sister isn’t speaking to the mom. I hate that the once-beloved, perfect name now evokes anger, frustration, and sadness.

I posted once about naming “dibs” and included a bunch of links that I thought were useful. Given that we add the element of faith to our name discussions, I think we might all agree that relationships are, objectively, more important than names? This is something I try to keep in mind myself, though I know I’m more laid back about this particular issue than a lot of other namiacs. I also feel like we can all intellectually agree that no one owns a particular name, so the idea of “name theft” is somewhat misleading. There are also a zillion other names (and Abby had some awesome suggestions for this couple). I also don’t at all mind the idea of first cousins having the same name, and I think I would love the challenge of coming up with different nicknames.

But. I also know that this can be a hugely emotional topic (especially for emotional pregnant ladies! I’m sacrificing my body, my hormones, my sleep, and my comfort for this baby, let me have my name!), which can override any objective understandings of anything. And relationships are more important than names, but it doesn’t sound like the sister in this situation agrees, and it’s hard to have a good relationship with someone who refuses to play by loving-relationship rules, and who insists on behaving in a way that feels traitorous, petty, and selfish (and I can see how both the sister and the mama could feel this way about the other). But then we’re supposed to rise above and do the right thing regardless. Gah! What a mess.

My dibs post is almost two years old, so let’s revisit it — what are your thoughts/reactions to the Nameberry post? Any personal stories you’d like to share?

Dibs on names? Sharing okay?

A reader mentioned to me the difficulty she and her husband have finding names for their children that haven’t already been given to one of their 20+ nieces and nephews, or are the names of their own siblings or siblings-in-law. Sharing already-used names isn’t something she cares to do — she wants her children to have his or her *own* name within the family.

Sound familiar?

I’ve read and heard other discussions about how to deal with this, and whether, as my reader asked me, it’s ever appropriate to give your child a name that’s already been used, and if so, how to do it without offending anyone. We had to deal with it ourselves: We wanted to give one of our boys a name that my brother could argue he had a prior claim to. The name was my grandfather’s name, but it’s also my brother’s middle name, and a distinctive one — so it would really feel like we were taking a name that was rightfully his. Though I’ve always appreciated the opinion that there are no dibs in baby naming, I do think sometimes there are. At least if you want to be a good sister/brother/aunt/uncle etc. So we asked my brother and sister-in-law (married but no children yet at the time) if it would be okay if we used the name, and we told them that if they preferred that we didn’t, we wouldn’t.

They were lovely about it, and assured us it was okay for us to use the name. Whew!

So that’s what I would recommend, if there was a particular name parents wanted to give to their child that was already used or potentially claimed by someone else: Just ask. But sometimes it’s not that easy, and I’ve liked the thoughtful ways in which the question was handled by some of the naming experts I admire:

Swistle: Naming Etiquette: Who Has Dibs on a Family Name?

Baby Name Wizard: page 8

Name Candy:

Particularly for big families, as Laura Wattenberg says, “In a really big family, something’s gotta give. Among your ten brothers and sisters and thirty nieces and nephews, you may have to accept an occasional duplicate name.” I would just heartily recommend that you go about the whole thing as respectfully as possible.

Have any of you had to deal with this? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?