Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's In a Name?

I have the incurable affliction of preferring to tell stories in order, from beginning to end. That's why I haven't updated this thing in a while. Contrariwise, I also have a tendency to ramble and jump off topic, only to skip through a dozen other topics before coming back to the one I started on. Let's see if I can keep my thoughts in order here.

Sometimes I have prophetic dreams. They're the most intense and realistic dreams I ever have. I don't always remember everything I dream, but these ones I can never forget.

When I was a child, I still to this day recall having a dream in which I was playing in the back yard with my neighbor friends who lived to houses up the road. I still remember every detail of that dream. We were running in a circle in the back yard, being chased by my pet ferrets (Pinky and Angel) whom we had let out of their cage. I had that dream the night before, and that very next day I experienced the dream as it had been down to every detail, including what my friends said to me for real.

I've had dreams that I think were glimpses into my past lives. In one I was a bonafide ninja, complete with that black outfit and sleek katana. I was fighting some enemy, chasing him through a warehouse. He caught me off guard and knocked me over the ledge of a walkway. I died when I hit the ground, and that's when I woke up. In another dream I was a flapper girl, only eleven years old, and I got hit by one of those gangster cars of the era. I died in on contact, and that's when I woke up.

When I was pregnant the first time, I recall having this very vivid dream of giving birth to four baby girls. FOUR. I was carrying all four of them, two in my arms and two strapped to my back somehow, into a doctor's office for a check-up. I think that was a pretty powerful clue into the gender of the baby that was never born. I miscarried that one at seven weeks.

This trend did not end, however. When I was pregnant with my daughter, currently 13 months old, I had similar dreams. Of course, I hear tell that every pregnant woman has baby dreams, so I understand that it wasn't too unusual that I did too. In every single dream I had, though, the baby was a girl. This leads me to choosing a name.

My husband and I struggled over baby girl names throughout the entire pregnancy. We were practically incapable of agreeing on any names we liked. For the longest time I was stuck on an R name, because of a trend my mother started that I wanted to continue.

There's a tradition in both our families, mine and my husband's. The firstborn son is always given the middle name of his father's first. My husband, for instance, is Jamie Lawrence; his father is Lawrence (Larry) Gilbert; and his father was Gilbert, though I don't remember his middle name off the top of my head. The same tradition exists in my family too. My father's name was David Nicholas; his father's name was Nicholas Frank; and his father's name was Frank something-or-other. My oldest brother's name is Michael David, but he stupidly broke that tradition when he named his firstborn son Michael David Jr.

Now, my mother's name was Becky Suzanne. She named me Stacey Renee. So I saw the opportunity for another tradition there. It looked to me as if she chose a first name that started with the first letter of her middle name. I like the letter R. I wanted more than anything to find an R name that I liked. There were a few. In the early months we were entertaining the names Regina, Riley, Ripley, and Ridley. My brother told me he didn't like Regina because he never met a Regina he liked, though I really love that name for the possible nickname of Reggie, for a girl. We found out that one of my cousins has a boy named Riley, which was disappointing. Though we both liked the names Ripley (hello, Aliens franchise) and Ridley (Metroid and one of my favorite directors), on paper they may look good but I was having trouble getting my mouth to say them clearly, without tripping over the letters.

For a middle name, we had no such trouble. We're both super huge fans of Joss Whedon's cancelled Firefly series. My favorite character on that show is Jayne Cobb. I love the way that version of the name is spelled. And even though the character is male, I liked it for a girl's name. A lot. I don't like it so much as a first name, though. So we decided that no matter what we'd use that name as a potential daughter's middle name. Our hats off to you, Adam Baldwin.

So one night, in about my fifth month of pregnancy, I had this dream. In the dream, we were at my step-mother's house after the baby was born. Again, in my dream, the baby was a girl. But in my dream, even after she was born, we still hadn't decided on a name. I left the baby on the couch, asked my brother Mike to watch her for me while she pooled around like a little newborn blob, and went outside to consult with my husband. There I asked him, "What do you think of the name Lilah?" And in the dream, he told me, "I like it."

When I was awake, that very next day, my husband and I were sitting outside on the back deck of our single bedroom loft apartment in Akron. I recall this dream and how much I like the ring of the name Lilah. So I ask him, for real, "What do you think of the name Lilah?" He considered it for a moment, nodded, and said, "I like it." It seemed, at the time, that we were decided on a name, then. However, I continued to balk about it all the way up to the day of delivery. And we'll get to that story next time.

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