What’s in a name?

ImageThe minute the doctor told us I was expecting a girl I knew I wanted her to be named Sophie. To me, it was the most beautiful name in the world. It was feminine and timeless. I liked the way it sounded in English, Spanish and French. Sophie comes from the Greek, and it means “wisdom.” I loved that it meant wisdom.

Jean-Marc wasn’t convinced.

“I don’t know. It’s a bit old-fashioned, don’t you think?” he said. “Why don’t we look for something different?” 

Julia, who was 8 years old at the time, was thrilled to have a little sister and started campaigning for the name Leah.  For a week, she walked around with a notebook with the proposed names and took a vote among our friends. Not surprisingly, Leah won in her survey.

I liked Margot, and it would continue a family tradition because my mom and my grandmother are called Margarita, but Jean-Marc preferred the French spelling (Margaux) which in my opinion meant that she would have to spell it all her life. She would have enough having to spell her last name.

I googled African names and Indian names, looking for something different. They were too different. My favorite was Nasha, an African name than means “rain,” but a week later we were back at the drawing board.

By the time I was six months pregnant, and getting anxious because our daughter was nameless, Jean-Marc said to me: “What about Sophie? I really like it.”  It was too good to be true.

Sophie was born three days before her due date, a healthy, beautiful baby. Three days before turning four months old, she passed away of SIDS.

It was the turning point in my life. Her death brought sadness and shock, denial, confussion, dispair. At the same time, it brought a deeper appreciation of life, it made me value the simple things and it brought a new perspective to everything. In a way, I felt I had gained a little bit of the wisdom represented in her name.

Sophie not only made me a mother, but she left me an unexpected gift. After she passed away I discovered one of the passions of my life: writing. The journal I had started writing when I was pregnant slowly turned into the chapters of a book to be published one day.

Finding a name for Zoe was much easier.

A year and 3 months after we lost Sophie, Jean-Marc and I were on vacations, lounging in the pool area of a resort, when we saw a group of 3 year olds walking to the children’s club play area. They were holding on to a rope, led by a young woman. The last child holding the rope was a chubby girl with a large pink hat to protect her from the sun and thick brown curls rolling down her back. She looked at us and smiled.

“If we have a little girl, let’s call her Zoe,” said Jean-Marc. “I think that’s a cute name.”

“OK” I said.

That was it.

A couple weeks later we found out I was pregnant of twins, a boy and a girl. We never doubted the name Zoe and after some deliberation settled on Jean-Marc Junior for our son.

I was delighted to learn that the name Zoe also comes from the Greek, and that it means “Life”. Zoe would bring back the life that was missing in our hearts.

Zoe and Jean-Marc were born 16 weeks early, at 24 weeks of the pregnancy. Our son didn’t make it, and Zoe spent 130 days in the NICU. She underwent surgeries, infections, a grade II brain bleed and a severe pulmonary emphysema. One night, the doctor almost called us at 4 am to say goodbye because they thought she would not make it. (This is the blog post about that episode: https://guadalupehtroillard.com/2012/12/04/zoes-pulmonary-emphysema/).

But Zoe honored her name, and she lived. Today she’s a happy, healthy 4 year old, who loves pre-school and makes us laugh with the silly things she says.

During the 4 and a half months that Zoe spent in the NICU, I came to appreciate and love the NICU nurses. Every week I would buy a cake or chocolates.

“Why don’t we make something from scratch?” said my mom one afternoon.

“Mom, I don’t know how to make cakes” I said.

“Me neither,” she said. “But it can’t be that difficult. We’ll learn.”

My mom can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

We started with banana nut muffins, continued with carrot cake, apple crumble, pear pie and several other desserts.

Thanks to Zoe (and to my mom, now that I think of it), I discovered the beauty of baking. It is truly calming to mix eggs and flour, add butter and fruit or chocolate and watch it turn into something delicious.

My cakes gained a reputation in the NICU. Every week I baked two identical desserts: one for the day shift and one for the night shift. The day one of the nurses asked me if I baked for a living I couldn’t help but cracking up.

Four years later, Zoe and I cook together. She breaks the eggs and separates the white from the yolk, even if the recipe does not call for it, but I let her do it anyway because it’s fun and it’s good for fine motor skills and coordination. She mixes the flour and the butter. She says that the butter is sticky and the flour is soft, she gets all messy and we have to clean up the entire kitchen, but it’s worth it.

Now we’re waiting for a referral for our daughter from Ecuador. Among the many, many things I wonder about, I wonder about her name. We’ve decided to keep her given name. We might add a second name but we’re not sure yet.

The same way that I started writing thanks to Sophie and I started baking thanks to Zoe, I know that my little one will open the doors to something new in my life.

About Guadalupe

Mom of a 24 week beautiful girl who is now 5 years old. Love spending time with the family, reading and writing. In a nutshell... "Above all things guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23
This entry was posted in adoption, death of child, NICU, premature birth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Margarita Gallo says:

    Cada blog es ms lindo y me emociona tanto o ms que el anterior… Que lujo es leerlos, compartirlos, conocerte mejor, Guada querida!! Tu Mam que te quiere TANTO!!! Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 01:12:36 +0000 To: margaenmiami@hotmail.com

  2. Gloria says:

    Divino!! èste de los nombres es especial y sobre todo el poder que tenès de ver lo positivo a todo!! el escribir, aprender a cocinar!! que nuevo aprendizaje te traerà Ecuadora?? algo muy muy lindo por supuestooo!! te quiero guadiii!!

  3. Cida says:

    Você me emociona! Obrigada Guada!

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