When I was pregnant, one of the things we constantly debated about was her name. We had a solid list of possibles, but nothing stood out. There was one week, early on, before we even knew the sex, when I tried out the name Greta much to Dan and many others’ chagrin (apparently this name is unpopular with men, and my mother-in-law). Our 16 week ultrasound, which revealed our baby’s impressive skeletal development but left us with slightly creepy-in-a-cute-way photos, yielded the nickname Skeletor, which we joking called her from then on. Several times a week, we talked names, mined lists. In the end, we’d come down to three names, all of which we both liked but none of which we were sure was HER name.
And thus we landed in the hospital at 23 weeks with a daughter who had only so far been known as Skeletor.
The neonatalogist came to our room, handed both of us a piece of paper with statistics on it. 23/0-23/6 weeks gestation – chance of survival: 11-30%. 24/0-24/6 weeks gestation – chance of survival: 50-60%. 25/0-25/6 weeks gestation – chance of survival: 65-80%. For all of these ages, chance of moderate to severe neurological impairment – 50-80%. You can try to imagine being handed this piece of paper, but until it is handed to you, talking about your child, you won’t know. I wish I didn’t know. Even at that point, I knew 26 weeks was a long 3 weeks away. That even 26 weeks meant a long, long NICU stay, and that this was actually now one of the best-case scenarios we were hoping for. (Funny, the things that start to look like best-case scenarios.) And I thought, in that moment, our daughter needs a name. She could be lying in a NICU for month undergoing surgeries and treatments and we haven’t given her a name.
Mentally, I’m cycling through our top three, which do I like best, which feels right, and out of nowhere I thought, Amy. Amy feels right. I wonder what Dan thinks about Amy. It wasn’t on our list of three; I’m pretty sure we never even actually discussed it when the list was bigger. The neonatalogist left, and I turned to Dan and said, “we have to name her. She could be in NICU or worse and she needs a name.”
And he said, “what do you think about Amy?”
He’d thought of it, apparently, the night before. And so we knew her name, and I can’t explain how grateful I was to have a name for her all weekend, for my pep talks I gave her about staying in the womb, for the crying we did about what if she didn’t make it home, for the moment she was born when the nurse asked us if she had a name. She did, and it was Amy.