Dear Daughter, This is How Your Name Came To Be

Dear Daughter,

Someday, you might have questions about how your father and I chose your middle name. The day may also come where you turn against it because it’s too “old-fashioned,” or not as pretty as a Disney princess’, or trendy as the middle names of other girls in school.

I want you to know the origin of your name, because even though you may hate the sound of it, I hope you will someday learn to appreciate it. My sweet Molly, this is the story of your middle name:

When your father and I were first dating, we discovered that our grandmothers, who we both lovingly referred to as “Grammy,” also happened to have the exact same name. We joked, “If we get married someday and have a daughter, we know what her middle name will be.” And we laughed and laughed.

Fast-forward 9 years, and your father and I got married and are expecting our first child, a sweet baby girl whose name we’ve already chosen. We were ecstatic to tell our Grammies about M’s special middle name, and the moment we shared the news with them was a special memory we will always treasure.

Then, when I was 36 weeks pregnant, my Grammy-in-law passed away, just 4 weeks shy of meeting her namesake. Our family was distraught by the loss, and my husband and I were disappointed that M and her great-Grammy would never know one another.

As my due date approached, I started having negative feelings about our daughter’s middle name. We had already told both our families and close friends, but all of a sudden, the name we had chosen years ago wasn’t sitting right with me anymore.

I thought perhaps I was just going through a hormonal episode (as was common in my last weeks of pregnancy), but when my husband voiced similar concerns, we started to consider changing M’s middle name.

We thought about the middle name ‘Mae’, which also happened to be my maternal Grandmother’s middle name. The Mae’s and Rae’s were super popular at the time, and we liked the ring of “Molly Mae.” We felt much better about this new choice, but when we realized we would need to tell my Grammy that we had gone with a different name, my heart sank down to the floor.

I felt awful about lying to the grandmother I loved so much, but I was still on the fence about our original choice, so my husband and I agreed we would wait until we met our little girl to make our final decision.

Well, sure enough, the second I caught a glimpse of my baby girl, the first words out of my mouth were, “She looks just like my Grammy!” and our family members who visited her in the hospital all agreed. It was a sign from the universe to stick to our original plan, and so we did.

When my Grammy held M for the first time, I knew we had made the right decision. Tears welled up in both our eyes as she held the great-granddaughter who resembled her in both name and appearance.

Grammy raised four wild boys, so as she was holding M, I asked her if she ever wanted a girl, and she told me a story I will never forget: She’d always wanted a little girl, and after the doctor exclaimed “It’s a boy!” for the third time, she started bawling. She continued to cry as they moved her into the recovery room next to another weeping patient from the maternity ward.

When the nurse came around to check on my Grammy, she asked why she was crying, to which Grammy replied, “I have three boys now! I wanted a girl!” she said between sobs. The nurse leaned in close and said, “See that woman next to you? Her baby was stillborn. You better dry your eyes and be grateful for your healthy little boy.”

Grammy told me she stopped crying that instant and never felt as ashamed of her behavior as she did just then. So the next time she got pregnant, and it turned out to be another boy, she just “smiled and smiled and smiled.”

Grammy knew that my husband and I had two miscarriages before M, so this story hit really close to home. And even though she couldn’t relate, she knew how important it was to be compassionate to those who experienced that kind of loss and to be grateful for what (or who) you already have.

This spring, my Grammy passed away of heart failure. It was sudden, unexpected, and utterly devastating. I brought M with me to visit her in the hospital one last, tear-filled time, and had accidentally left her pink plush blanket on Grammy’s hospital bed.

At 6 am the following morning, my Dad called me to tell me that Grammy had passed. I was numb. I knew it was coming, but was still shocked to hear the words aloud.

My dad said that the nurse found M’s pink blanket covering Grammy after she passed. The moment he returned the blanket to me, my numbness faded and the tears came on strong. I don’t know how long I cried, but my husband was sweet enough to put M to bed while I grieved.

So when you doubt your name, my little girl, as I am sure you someday will, just remember that you are named after two strong women who were loved fiercely by those who knew them. I was fortunate to have had 28 years of beautiful memories with my sweet Grammy, just as my husband had with his.

Your middle name may not be modern or trendy, but it holds so much love and beauty and was chosen just for you.

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