Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Children's Names

My children's names are Rebe, Benny and Joa. Yesterday a friend asked me about their names. He teased me that we never call them by the names that we gave them after they were born; Rebecca, Benjamin and Joshua. He wondered did we not like the names. Of course we liked the names but I found it so hard to describe why we never use them.

Then as these things happen I picked up the book I'm reading and read this passage:

"Norah looked at her son's tiny face, surprised, as always, by his name. He had not grown into it yet, he still wore it like a wrist band, something that might easily slip off and disappear. She had read about people- where? -She couldn't remember this either- who refused to name their children for several weeks, feeling them not yet to be of this earth, suspended between two worlds." K. Edwards, The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Yes that's it, something clicked for me and I can now put into words why we never call Rebe 'Rebecca', Benny 'Benjamin' and Joa 'Joshua'. Quite simply it is not their name.

When we were pregnant with Rebe we chose 2 girls names. She was going to be either 'Beth' or 'Aoife'. For me both of these names are calm and quite names, when Rebe came out she was none of these things and neither name suited her. Andy and I just couldn't decide what to call her. We simply carried on calling her by her nickname that she had gotten when I was pregnant 'Lamb'. Even the nurses in NICU called her that by day 2. But we were under pressure to find her a 'proper' name. The midwives and nurses wanted to know, friends and family wanted to know what we were going to call her. So three days after she was born we finally decided on Rebecca. We tried it out for a couple of weeks, a long beautiful name, we tried shortening it to Becky, Becka. Then, and I remember the moment, I was playing with her on her change mat and chanting her name softly to her when I heard my self say 'Re-Be-Ca'. Rebe! There it was, her proper name. It fitted and felt right and from that moment she has been called Rebe.


Benny's story is similar, we actually thought he was going to be a girl and he was called 'Hannah' all the time I was pregnant. But Hannah didn't appear, she was a he! Andy and I took days trying to find his name, in the mean time we called him 'little brother'. We looked in books and both wrote lists of names we thought might be his. We settled on Daniel - Danny. He wore this name for less than an hour and while I was in the bath, rolling it round my tongue I knew it wasn't right. I just knew it was to be Benjamin shortened to Benny, I got out of the bath and dripped down the stairs to tell Andy he was called 'Benny' and Andy agreed. Again I remember the moment of finding his name. It was as if it was always there floating around with him and we just had to wait.

Benny (Aged about 10 months)

For Joa we didn't even bother trying to think of a name. We knew that we would find it when he arrived. Joa was our record, Rebe and Benny were nameless for 3 days each, we named Joa in less than a day :-) I remember being propped up in bed searching, I knew it was to be a 'J' sound,so I went through all the J names I could think of and I found it, 'Joshua'. It was Benny who found Joa. He used to coo softly to him 'hawow Joa' and that was it, he was properly named.

Joa (6 months perhaps?)

I am glad I have found a way to answer the name question.

There is a lot of pressure to name our children quickly, often before they are born. It is a big task finding them the right name, a name that is appropriate (our surname is Angel so we couldn't have anything like 'Precious') and suits them and feels like it belongs to them.

I feel like we simply borrowed the names Rebecca, Benjamin and Joshua for them to used until we found their right names.

They now have their proper names and my children are called Rebe, Benny and Joa.


  1. Lovely ponderings. My children are Archie Antoni and Tabitha Trouble (this is her real name). Mostly they are known as Pie and Pickle, it is just the way it is, Archie has always been Archiepie, sometimes just Pie. Tabby has always been a pickle and it suits her, I doubt they will ever be anything else to us even when they are adults. Archie and Tabitha are people that I expect them to become sometime later on, maybe when they bring their 1st boy/girlfriend home - who knows x

  2. I was once told by a numerologist that your name is already chosen, and it suggests itself to your parents. I definitely believe there is a right name for each of us. I had all my children's names before they were born, I don't know why, they were just there. Funnily enough, I named my mums cats as a child and 2 of them had names I later chose for my children. (The cats had very pretty names!) My Grandpa's name was chosen for my first son, because I loved him so dearly and wanted to pass on his name, and being born on Christmas day, he adopted his January birthday too. I also have a Joshua, though he mainly gets called Joshy. My other son I really wanted to call Zach, but it just wasn't right, so he is Tom and it fits him very well.
    My new niece has just been born and she has been given my name which is so lovely, she really looks like an Elizabeth too. I love the story of your children's names. I somehow feel they will always be known by those names and never revert back to the original names given.
    Have a lovely week, Liz x

  3. Yes indeed, it is all true what you say.
    I am wondering how Rebe is pronounced. I have read it as being pronounced Ree-bee.

  4. So true. I hated the name Cillian until he was born, I loved Tadhg but it was always Tadhg and Twin 2!!! Then after about 3 hours Twin 2 became Charlie. Annie was Isla (which I battled with hubby to get) But we didn't officially name her until her transfer to Crumlin at 24 hours and the nurses wanted her to have a name! I felt they wanted her named in case she died in the ambulance on the way!!! She was born on our wedding anniversary so Annie it was!!! XXXX

  5. We had a name picked out for our daughter before she was born (if she was a girl, we had no boys names picked)- Guinevere Elizabeth. But when she was born she wasn't even remotely a Guinevere. The nurses asked us every time they came in if we had named her yet. My husband had been dead set on Guinevere so I was afraid to bring up the fact that I didn't think it fit her at all but as soon as we got a chance to talk about it he said "I know what we wanted to name her but she's not a Guinevere" and I said "nope, she's an Eleanore and we'll call her Nora Rose". And that was the right name. We do call her by her given name some of the time but Nora most often. Family repeatedly tried to get us to call her Ellie no matter how many times we tried to explain to them that she wasn't an Ellie. Now that she's 5 she has a say in what she is called and she corrects people who shorten it to Ellie by telling them that they have the option of calling her Eleanore or Nora.

    Our son took us 24hrs to name. We tried a number of names on him but none of them worked. And then we both at the same time said "Henry". That was it, his name. Other than a few family specific nicknames, he only gets called Henry and if someone tries to call him something else he gets quite indignant.

  6. I LOVE this. Thanks so much for sharing. Beautiful story of how your children's names came to be.

  7. Timmy was nameless for about 10 days. Officially.Lucky child escaped Oak, Berry, Jerry... We had named him by day three ourselves. But Patrick didn't want to go public with it till he felt really sure. Each of our children's names were only settled on after they were born and we felt they 'fitted' them.

  8. Hi all, what wonderful stories you are sharing, thank you so much.
    Heather: Rebe is the same if someone tries to call her Rebecca or Ruby! She is very indignant that her name is Rebe.
    Amy I remember the battle with G to call her Isla...all in vein eh?!
    Carrie, yes we pronounce it Ree Bee (I think my description in the original post was probably a bit confusing, I was messing with the shapes and sounds of the words and that is how the Ree Bee sound emerged)
    Liz, how lovely to have someone named after you :-) I love what you wrote about the numerologist, I think that's so true!
    Sharon, I think you might possible have to start writing childrens books about your kids, I don't think you could get much cooler names than Pickle and Pie :-)

  9. I love this post, Laura- your children's names are beautiful, and with such meaning behind them! I always wanted to find the perfect names for my children, and always had that moment of panic toward the end of pregnancy where I hadn't discovered it yet! In the end, I always did, and it clicked. Ella Bronte is named after Charlotte Bronte. Oliver Winter is named for the winter was born into, one week after the solstice and during huge winter storms (snow past our waists!). Asa Cedar Sage, was named because Asa means "healer" and he was my VBA2C baby, who helped heal some of the cesarean wounds of the past. Cedar was because Ella wanted a tree name for him, Sage means "wise one" and it fit him. Ezri Sol, born a couple of weeks after the solstice in summer, during a horrid heat wave- so he's named for the sun.