On What's In a Name

posted on: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There were two defining moments for me in my pregnancies. One for Wes and one for Oren. Moments where all my silly concerns and senseless wondering and worries grew quiet and I knew, somehow in those moments I just knew with absolute certainty, that things were exactly how they were supposed to be. I could see the bigger picture of my life and the whole, complex and distant path stretched out ahead of me. I could see beyond the immediate details of my life and my current, temporary place within it. Moments of clarity where I was certain I was becoming exactly who I was supposed to be and my babies were exactly who they were meant to be. Moments where I knew life was unfolding just as it should. One piece at a time, pieces of a greater whole. And those moments both came to me with the names of my babies. It was always their names that solidified who they were for me. Who they always were, even before I'd ever even met them. Our babies were coming to us according to plan, precisely in their own perfect time. When I close my eyes I can slip right right back to those moments. Right back in to my pregant skin and there I am again, as if no time has passed at all.


We moved in to our first house in the fall of 2007 and by christmas I was pregnant. The house was still in a bit of an upheaval, the soon to be baby's room still lay untouched. I remember leaning against the door frame to the nursery, surveying all the work that needed to be done. The room still painted in the colors of the little girl who once inhabited it. Touches of her everywhere I looked, her pink curtains at the windows, a stray barbie doll shoe long forgotten in a corner of the closet. I remember staring in to the room in disbelief. I remember thinking "This is going to be my baby's first bedroom. And it's going to be a boy."

The thing was, I'd never really considered a boy before. Josh and I had a girl's name we'd long loved - Iris. It was always going to be Iris. There was never anything else. But a boy? We'd never even discussed it. How could we have a boy? Who was he and and who was he supposed to be? What would we call him? What name would we be shouting through this house? What name would garner the reply of tiny footsteps running down the hall?

I remember agonizing over this. Agonizing over something that seems so silly and superficial now. But at the time nothing seemed good enough and nothing seemed right. I wanted to name him Silas, it was my favorite boy's name. But I felt certain our Iris was still out there somewhere and when she got here she might not enjoy having a name that rhymed with her brother's. I couldn't picture giving a daughter any other name and so I saved it for her. We'd have to come up with something else for a boy. I liked the name Wes, but not Wesley. I considered naming him just Wes but that was too short with our last name, it just didn't fit quite right. When I spoke it the sound of the name felt abrupt and harsh in my mouth. I drove home from work one day ruminating over this. Playing with different names and combinations. Speaking them out loud in the car. I turned on to our street, Westvale.

"Wes-tvale" I said out loud. There's that Wes again. There was something about that name. It was almost right, but what was missing?  I pulled in to the driveway and just sat there. I stared through the frosty windshield, hands still on the steering wheel, the car still running. I was so close, I felt like it was on the tip of my tongue. "Wes" I said out loud. "Wes Booth, West Booth, Weston Booth..." And there it was. Weston. It was perfect.

At the time I thought I'd made it up. I've since discovered plenty of other Westons have come before our own and even more have come after. But at that moment the name was his and only his. If he was a boy, he was going to be Weston. I felt the smile creeping over my face and I rushed inside to tell Josh. He loved it too. If this baby was a boy, he had a name! After that I felt such relief, such lightness and certainty that this was right. Now we were ready for him. And in August, Weston Silas Booth joined our family. "Sir Weston of Westvale" was home with us, right where he belonged.

When it came to Oren, I had no premonition about his gender. I was never totally certain one way or the other, but I thought about it constantly. I have to admit, having had a boy already, deep down inside I was secretly hoping that this time we might get our little girl. For this reason especially I decided against finding out the gender ahead of time. It's one thing to find out the gender in a doctor's office via an indiscernible black and white image on a screen. In that setting, I felt like it would be too easy to feel disappointed. Too easy to feel let down if we were told our baby was another boy. And I never wanted to feel that way about my baby. Never, ever, in a million years. But when you find out at delivery, when you welcome your new baby in to the world and see them for the first time...well, how could you ever be disappointed then? How could you ever wish your child to be anything other than that perfect little person in your arms right at that moment? So, I went the surprise route again, just in case.

Late in the pregnancy, I was driving again, alone in the car on an empty stretch of highway with thoughts of the baby clouding my head. I was playing the guessing game on the gender again and thinking what it would be like to have a little Iris in our lives. Thinking about how this could be my last ever pregnancy and what life would be like with two kids. One girl and one boy. The more I thought about it, I started to feel a panic rising in my chest. With one of each, why would you ever need a third? What would even justify it with how much work and expense children can be?
But at that moment I was sure I wanted a third. I thought about the boy's name we had picked out - Oren Henry Booth. I thought about how much I loved it and how I would feel if I never got to use it.

Suddenly, all my thoughts and hopes and wishes for a girl turned in to, "Not yet, please not yet. Not this time." I had to have my Oren, and if this baby was another boy there would be reason to try for a third. I wasn't done having babies, I just couldn't be done already. If this baby was a boy I could have my Oren and hopefully an Iris too some day. And that's when I knew, that was what was supposed to happen. I felt it in my bones. So that's what I hoped for every day after that, my Oren now and a someday Iris. I guess I'm still hoping for that.


Yesterday, we were sitting around the dining room table with Josh's sisters and the boys. We were eating dinner and Josh was talking about cameras and showing everyone his new lens. I was looking at Oren, cutting up his food and not paying much attention to the conversation around me when I heard Josh say "iris." He was talking about his lens of course, but hearing that word, that name, it felt like one of those moments where it means so much more. Just like the moments before with each of the boys.

We've been debating the question of a third child for some time now. I wrote about it here once before and it's a frequent topic of conversation between Josh and I. It creeps in to my thoughts just about every day - gnawing indecision that I can't seem to get a handle on. The thing is, there are a million reasons to stop at two and just be done. And there's really only one reason to try again - because I want to. Maybe all of this is foolish to write about and maybe none of it really means anything at all. Maybe I'm making too much out of the whole thing and I'm only hearing what I want to hear. Maybe we will decide to take the plunge and maybe we'll end up with three boys, and that would be okay too. Another baby, any baby, would be a dream come true. Or maybe in the end we will stop at two and I can just be happy with what I have.

But what if she is out there? Why do I feel like she is? How much do you trust those feelings, those moments, to dictate your entire future? Do you follow your head or follow your heart? I don't have the answer. I don't know when I will. But this is where I am.


  1. to be continued..... I can't wait to see how this turns out! xoxox

  2. Shameless plug for Team Josh and Team your 30th Birthday... whatever you decide, needs to wait another 10 months to a year before happening!

    After that though-- go for number three. Even if it turns out to be "Cyrus" and not Iris. You're the sole propagator of the Cureton line so far. You might be the last and only propagator! Better stock up.

    1. I'm with you Marisa! 30th birthday celebrations must go on as planned :)

  3. Someone told me once that you will never regret having the third baby once he/she is in your arms, but you might always regret what might have been. That said, we stopped at two and could't be happier.

    Good luck with that decision. It was an easy one for me. Have you met my son Ryan?

  4. Go for the 3rd, definitely. With the beautiful babies you two make, it would be a crime not to. On a less superficial note.. who cares about responsible things like the financial aspect. College Schmollege, they can get loans ;) haha. No but really.. you will always wish you would have. But the question is.. if the 3rd turns out to be another boy.. will you feel like you have to go for 4? This is creepy but did you know reproductive endocrinologists can "wash" sperm a certain way to give you up to a 75% chance of having a certain gender child? They do that before you get an IUI although they don't tell you they can do the gender selection part! See? http://www.spermbankcalifornia.com/sex-selection.html


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