my daughter was born. At this point, she was out and they had taken her to be weighed, cleaned up, and all that fun stuff while I was being sewn back together. Actually, first they were taking pictures of my uterus (sigh) and then putting me back together. I have “interesting fibroids.” It’s unfortunate that one of those interesting fibroids tore probably not too long after the photographs.
In any event, Miss Katharine is now ten months old. The tag with her name came yesterday. I wear a necklace that has a tag for each of my children, their first names, and their birth dates. I’ve felt weird the last ten months wearing it without Katie’s tag, but now I don’t feel weird anymore and I’m grateful that the tag got here before her surgery date arrives. Katie is doing a lot of things now. She pulls up to a stand, she crawls, she puts everything in her mouth. She can say Mama, Dada, Baba. These are pretty much all the things she needs to say to get her way right now. And trust me, a more demanding Mama you have never heard. If she thinks she’s being ignored or if she thinks that I should be in front of her, “Mama, Mama, Mama, MAMA” until she gets her way.
I’ve joked many times that Katie is lucky she’s our only daughter as her name is the only girl’s name P and I could agree on. Had Ben been a girl, Katie would have been in big trouble. However, he wasn’t and his name is special for its own reasons, as is Katie’s. Ben’s middle name is Alexander. When my mother called our Aunt Joyce and told her Ben’s full name, my aunt’s response was, “That was Marion’s middle name, too.” Well, yeah, I knew that. I named Ben after Uncle Marion, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use Uncle Marion’s first name. I believe he would have understood. I hope that Ben will be like Uncle Marion — a nicer, more pleasant person, I don’t think I can imagine. He was as generous with his time as I hope to be someday. He was devoted to his mother (let’s hope Ben gets that trait, for sure), and he adored his wife. I loved my Uncle Marion very much and I do miss him. Ironically, and really, I didn’t realize it at the time, we also named Ben after the two male characters in my favorite book as a child, The Crystal Tree. The two boys we’re introduced to in the book are Benjamin and Alexander and they become fast friends. So, perhaps a bit literary as well.
And yes, this is Katie’s post, but I needed to preface a discussion of Katie’s name with that so that you’d see I have a habit of choosing names that have both intentional and accidental significance. In Katie’s case, both of her names have significance to me. I suspect that it is going to come as something of a surprise to someone who sometimes reads this blog to find out that my daughter is named after her, but she is. My sister has a friend named Katherine who I have known since they were both about eight years old. I quite liked Katherine and really admired her determination to be who she wanted to be and her willingness to try new and different things while trying to find herself. I think she grew into an amazing young woman who I am proud still to know. I had decided around her mid-twenties if I ever had a daughter I’d want her to have that same strength, that same fearlessness that I see in my sister’s friend and, after some discussion with P, we agreed that a daughter of ours would bear that name. Admittedly, it’s spelled differently because I’m also a huge Katharine Hepburn fan and it worked for us. Again, ironically, it turns out that the slightly different spelling of my daughter’s name is the same as the spelling for the mother of the lead character in Ellen Emerson White’s White House series of books (it begins with The President’s Daughter.)
Katie’s middle name is for my grandmother, my father’s mother. She was my rock for most of my growing up years and into my young adulthood. It was a severe body blow when she died and I didn’t think I would ever get over it. I don’t know if I’ve “gotten over it” yet, but I don’t find myself sobbing for no apparent reason the way that I used to, and I was able to watch football this past weekend without getting overly melancholy, which was a major accomplishment. But Marie also connects Katie to her other great-grandmother, Mary Margaret, her great Aunt MaryAnn, her Grandma Maria, and her Great-Aunt Marie and a cousin, Mary, too. All of those women were strong. They were fighters. And that’s who I want my daughter to be.
If I hadn’t survived her delivery, P might have been able to explain parts of the reasons for her name when she was older, but he wouldn’t have understood or been able to explain all of the reasons. I had meant to write them down, but I didn’t get around to it. Now I have. Not that I think I’m going anywhere, but all of the deaths of the past year have reminded me, forcefully, that we don’t know how long we’re here and we shouldn’t take for granted that our children will know the stories unless we tell the stories.