You give birth to a child. The child actually comes out of your body. It's your baby, a tiny little being who probably even looks like you and yet, when it's time to leave the hospital, you can't help but marvel when they let you just walk right on out of there. WITH THE BABY. They let you take the baby home.
It's quite extraordinary, isn't it? I mean, you know you're a decent person. You didn't smoke crack while pregnant (well, hardly any crack), you wear a seatbelt, and never pee in the shower (okay, never in the bath). But really? They're just going to let you take a baby home? Don't they know you once drank two bottles of champagne and then recreated scenes from The Exorcist when you got home? Don't they know you say the 'c' word – a lot? That it might be your favourite word? What about the fact that you have webbed toes? That's not normal. That's not right!
And yet, three times, I have carried a baby out of a hospital without being crash tackled. Amazing.
And then – you pick the name! You. It's your choice!
A name is such an integral part of who a person is. It has the power to shape an identity, perhaps a destiny. The task of choosing a name carries a mighty weight, it is a serious responsibility, one that perhaps not everyone is up to the task of - like, for instance, the parents of Audio Science, Diva Thin Muffin, Pilot Inspektor and Jermajesty.
To be fair, a name is deeply subjective though, isn't it? One family's Sunday Rose is another's Sunday Roast. I mightn't be able to fathom Gwyneth calling her daughter Apple but then, I called my son Ziggy so what do I know?
Well, I know this. My children are most definitely their names. Some people found Ziggy to be a controversial choice but I knew as soon as he was born that it was right. So much so that I wanted to put it on the birth certificate – up to that point, we had thought Ziggy would be a nickname only. In fact, Zig's first name is Xavier but to meet him is to know that this is a mere formality and that this little boy wholly and solely embodies the name Ziggy. Whenever anyone refers to him as Xavier, I have a physical reaction to it, like in my bones it feels wrong but Daddy felt strongly about going with the original plan (named Xavier, called Ziggy). Perhaps he'll revert to Xavier some day but then, the name never stopped Ziggy Switkowski from being taken seriously.
And most people do fill out their names nicely. I think names often choose a person (except maybe Moxie Crimefighter – I feel quite certain Moxie should have been Jane) and to that end, I can only think of one person I've ever met who really doesn't suit their name. Perhaps that's why I can never remember it.
I don't recall where I first heard the name Luca. But to me, it sounded like music. And still does. Luca. Ahh, I love it. Particularly when someone with an Italian accent says it. We toyed with a few other names, in particular, Ari, which I still love but that now seems wildly unsuited to my firstborn. But if we'd named him Ari, would I still think so? So hard to say.
And then there is my little Harlow Rose. Her name was kind of a big deal. I knew that I would only ever get to name one daughter so my research should have been extensive. We liked Lola for a little while but as soon as I had confirmation that Baby was indeed a she, Harlow became the only name in existence for me. It was a name I had loved for many, many years. It first occurred to me as a pretty name after reading about supermodel Shalom Harlow in the 1990s and of course, the beautiful Jean Harlow. Obviously, Harlow is the surname in both these instances but I felt it had a softness to it that I loved. I had never heard it as a first name.
And then, Nicole Richie. Bloody Nicole Richie! Stealing my gorgeous name for her adorable little daughter. I was crushed. And promptly crossed it off the list because I couldn't bear to think that people might assume I stole my child's name from a celebrity.
If Luca or Ziggy had been a girl, they could have been Maggie (inspired by the divine Maggie Gyllenhaal or maybe Scout (any To Kill A Mockingbird fans in the house?). In particular, Bren and I loved the way Maggie sounded with our surname. In many ways, I am surprised that we didn't end up with a Maggie such was our love for the name. But like I said, names choose people and Harlow chose my daughter with unwavering certainty. One afternoon, when considering that this was to be my only daughter and that maybe I'd better sift through a few more names, I half-heartedly did a google search but I quickly abandoned it because there was only Harlow.
I did, however, agonise over the middle name but once again, went with the name that seemed to be choosing us rather than the other way around. You might remember a little while back me talking about looking out the nursery window just before we discovered Baby's gender around 20 weeks into my pregnancy and noticing for the very first time that we had a rose bush in our garden. On that bush was one single red rose in full bloom. I took it to be a sign that I was carrying our much longed for daughter.
I believe in signs and trusting intuition and mostly, I believe naming our children is an incredible privilege and just the most stressful fun you can imagine.
Tell me about your kiddos names, will you?