The Naming of Dreams and Ghosts

The first thing I ever named was a baby doll. She had molded plastic limbs and a molded plastic head sewn to a soft cloth-stuffed body. I may not have even been the one to name her, since I don’t remember a time before I had her. She was called Molly, which may have been because it rhymed with dolly. My mom made doll clothes for her and for my sister’s baby doll, Mimi; I remember one Christmas in particular when we woke up and our dolls had matching outfits. She was also nearly newborn-sized, so actual baby clothes fit as well.

It wasn’t until I had been an adult for quite some time that I realized her eventual death was fitting with her name, as she was mauled apart by a dog, her stuffing torn out and tooth marks all over her feet and face.

* * * * * * *

You were my first-ever baby in a dream, a little boy with white-blonde hair and blue eyes. I named you Chase for the boy who would have been your father, had you been real, because it described exactly how I felt about him, even after a year into the relationship. I’m glad you never existed, just as I’m glad I stopped chasing the boy. Now that boy has two nieces and one of them has his eyes, and when I see photos of her I am haunted by the dream baby.

* * * * * * * *

I’d wanted a cat for so long, and after he moved in with me we decided to find one at the shelter where our neighbor volunteered. We went three times before we found you. You had the most unusual face and you’d had a really rough early life, so we named you Petra because the enemy’s gate was down. You were our first “baby,” and our first experience mourning together. We still miss you every day.

* * * * * * *

We’d been together for years and talked about the future all the time, couched carefully in hypothetical terms. Someday, and maybe, and might, and what if. What if we got married, he said. Whose name would we use? Not yours, I said. Not yours, he said. Let’s think of a new name, and so we named you Stryker, a blend of our heritages as denoted by the letters of our last names. Long before we were officially engaged, we’d named the baby family we’d already started to build long since.

* * * * * * *

Two years into trying to conceive and a year after our diagnosis, I had a dream about you. There were two of you, two little girls born sooner than you should have been and so you were in the NICU. To give you strength, we named you Arya and Lane after two of the strongest females we knew. We were a team, united in our love for you and wanting only for you to grow and be healthy enough to come home.

* * * * * * *

The very first cycle we tossed the birth control and started trying for a baby, my period was a week later than it had ever been. The night before I peed on my first-ever negative pregnancy test, I had dreams all night. The one I remember most is the dream of a baby girl. We named her Alice, for my maternal great-grandmother, descended from Irish royalty.

We named her Alice, after my sister.

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10 responses to “The Naming of Dreams and Ghosts

  1. My brother is expecting a baby. It was suggested they use our much hoped for but likely unnecessary boy’s name.

    God, it hurts.

  2. I’m so sorry, Liz. It sucks to love a name and feel like you can’t lay claim to it because who knows if you’ll ever actually be able to use it?

  3. I feel for you both.

  4. Oh. Sending you hugs.

  5. Yes, sending you hugs, too! And hoping for peace for you and Dan. I am so, so, so sorry that both of you are going through this. 😦

    • Thanks, Kelli. I hope that some of this feeling gets better once we’re in a position to start IVF. The last year or so has been pretty challenging for us.

  6. I love the name Alice.

    • Me too! We won’t use it because Dan doesn’t like name alliteration (Alice Stryker blends together too much) but it’s my favorite name for a girl.

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