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What’s in a Name? Grieving Your Lost Baby's Identity

By HERWriter
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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Choosing a name for a baby is a very personal thing. Each name has a special meaning to expectant parents. The name they choose for their child will be part of that child’s identity. Parents study meanings or try different variations of names together to get the right rhythm. Some parents are sensitive about their children being called by a short form. Others want to name the child after devoted relatives, which can be particularly tricky if there are many relatives and only plans for one or two children – and of course no one can predict which sex the baby will be.

For many couples deciding on a name is all-consuming from the moment they receive the news. But whether you’re one that decided on a name right away or waited until the baby was born, a lot of heart goes into choosing just the right syllables to identify your baby…and then you receive the news that your baby will only have that name for a short time.

My Story

I was one who had the name picked out not long after I found out I was pregnant. There were a couple of names I really wanted to include. I had a boy’s name picked out and a girl’s name picked out. In all honesty, I couldn’t tell you what the boy’s name was. But I can tell you what the girl’s name was – because in my soul I was sure that I was carrying a girl: Colleen Naomi Irmgard – a combination of the names of three female relatives (my mother, my great-grandmother and my husband’s grandmother) who meant a great deal to me. I had spent many hours debating over which – Colleen or Naomi – would come first. And had decided that for rhythm purposes Colleen would come first but that Naomi would be the name she would go by.

I had this all figured out and had just announced to my husband’s grandmother about her name being on the list when a few days later my ultrasound revealed that my baby had died.

What was I to do with a name I had put so much of my heart and soul into? To top off the debate, I didn’t even know for sure whether the baby was a girl or a boy.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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