I have written about Zach before; Today though - on his day, I am going to tell you how he got his name.
To be truthful, I didn't start out thinking I would name my miscarried babies. One of the hardest things I struggled with in regards to my losses was how much nothing there was. Sometimes I made it far enough that I had an ultrasound picture or felt a bit of morning sickness. A time or two I developed a bit of belly. Most of the time however, all I had to show for my efforts was a fading positive hpt. (and medical bills) I had no face, no name - no sense of who this little being was to become other than being something my dh and I struggled a bit to create and found ourselves inexplicably missing acutely. After all, how can you miss something or someone you have not known? Many times I heard that it was better for me to lose my babies so early on - rather than later. Somehow, not knowing them at all was supposed to make their loss less painful. In reality though - it was still a tragedy, and one I felt keenly. I did not lose a person I had spent a lifetime culminating memories of or experiences with. I celebrated no birthdays. I didn't decorate a nursery. I didn't teach them how to ride a bike. Fight with them, love them or grow with them. What I did lose was a person I should have had those memories of and experiences with. A person I expected and dreamed and wanted spending a lifetime accruing all those things with and more - and that in and of itself is also a tragedy to be mourned.
The well meant words of those around me often did not comfort me. The only hope I found was in the words of those who had walked a similar path; so I began to seek them out, finding my way to an email support group (SPALS). For the first time I was able to open up completely about my miscarriages and I was met with understanding instead of hollow platitudes. While there I noticed many of the women had given their babies names - even for the little ones who were lost so early on that gender was indeterminate. Had my babies been born still - I would not have hesitated to name them. A baby with a known gender - of course. I had never considered naming any of my miscarried babies and in fact, the one baby we had named at this point (Carena) was named by her older brother in a manner that completely took my breath away. I had just found out the pathology report had determined she had been a genetically normal female. For some reason my doctor never shared this information with me. I discovered it while going over my records that I was going to hand deliver to the specialist I had been referred to. I had a necklace with charms on it for each of my children - living and lost. My son was 5 at the time and only knew that was my "baby" necklace. He knew I had started babies in my tummy and that they didn't grow big enough to live outside my tummy with us. He did not know which charm was for which baby. I had told no one I had found out the baby I had lost in August 1998 had been a girl at this point, not even dh. Finding out she had been a girl was almost like miscarrying her all over again and I was trying to adjust to this new detail. On a particularly low day and in the midst of feeling rather sorry for myself, he came up to me and pointed to my necklace. Out of the several charms there, he picked hers and said "I know that baby. She's a girl and her name is Carena. I played with her before I was born."
Grieving is a highly personal thing. There really isn't any right or wrong way to mourn. There is no rulebook, no guidelines, no process laid out with steps to follow in order from begining to end and then you are healed. We knew no one with the name Carena. A five year old child can be highly imaginative and likes to make up stories - though they tend to focus around places, people and things the author is familiar with, even if the events are rather fanciful. By giving this baby a name, he opened up an avenue I hadn't found yet - another direction to take in my grieving and healing process. Simply - it felt better to have the validation naming that little girl begun and not finished brought. Though, I didn't start naming all my miscarried babies right then and there though. A year or more passed before the others were named. The funny thing is - their names often found me, when I wasn't thinking about them, when I wasn't looking - completely unexpected and unbidden. If I tried to come up with a name, I would always, always draw a complete and utter blank. When I would come across their name, it would just feel right.
I am a fan of Anne Geddes' photography. One day I found myself in a craft store the day they discounted all their small framed prints. Out of the dozens of Anne Geddes prints, I chose two butterflies - feeling drawn to them the most out of all of them. I paid for them and took them home. It wasn't until later when I went to hang them on my wall that I noticed the prints were named. On the back each had a label. One label read "Zac as a butterfly" and the other "Hannah as a butterfly" - and I knew. The significance in finding these two names together was not lost on me. I ended up naming the first baby I lost Zach. The second baby I miscarried became Hannah. I conceived her just several weeks after my first miscarriage. The pregnancy lasted to 12 weeks, the baby stopped developing shortly after 10 weeks - hb found, hb lost. During the entire time I was pregnant with that baby I felt a constant presence. I always felt like there was someone following along after me. I was certain if I turned around fast enough, I would catch sight of this someone. Initially, the first few times I had this experience, I was certain I would turn around and see my firstborn who was a toddler at the time. Each time though, I would turn around and no one would be there - just a something out of the corner of my eye and a feeling, and nothing more. The morning after my d&c, I woke up and that presence was gone and I never felt it again nor had a repeat of the experience ever again in any subsequent pregnancy. Because of this feeling, I always had the two pregnancies linked together and why this post is about him, but also about her. Zach looking after Hannah.