Monday, July 13, 2009

Labels and Names

The astute Postilius reader may have noticed something different in the most recent pregnancy Update. I, for the first time, referred to the Update’s subject as “the baby”.

I recently wrote of people’s discomfort with my use of the word it, and I am sure my unwillingness to call my offspring “my baby” during the early pregnancy has been equally off-putting. I would like to emphasize that my hesitation was not from lack of excitement about the pregnancy or an indifference towards the little person still in its manufacturing stage. I just felt it was premature to call it a baby. It seems silly when pregnancy books state, “your baby is a few cells”. Clearly, it is not yet physically a baby. Its like calling a 4 year old a man rather than a boy. Initially, I used the correct names (embryo and fetus). As the weeks progressed I began to use “baby” more in conversation, but I could not bring myself to do so in the Update section. Since the Updates are about development, it seemed incorrect to call the baby something it had not yet reached developmentally. When fetus began to sound too cold and sterile I switched to using pet names (like lovingly referring to it as a parasitic, cave-dwelling, amphibian monkey). For the last few weeks the pet names have begun to feel forced, and “baby” has felt more natural. So, I decided that, though it is still on its way to technically becoming a baby, it is now close enough to call it one.

I also have to admit that part of my early reluctance to call the fetus “baby” stemmed from nervousness about the pregnancy. Maybe it’s like how you shouldn’t name a cow if you plan to eat it. I didn’t want to call it a baby until I knew it was healthy. Also, calling it a baby was admitting I was going to soon be a parent, and there was something in Amanda that was eventually going to emerge and change our life.

Having overcome these issues I am now calling it “baby” full-time. I have reached this point just in time to move-on to our next problem. Eventually, we will need to abandon “the baby” for an actual name - though we do have a pet turtle we have called Turtle for the past two years.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I thought coming up with a name in less than 9 months would be impossible. Deciding how another living being will be addressed for the next 80 years is intimidating. We are now six months into the pregnancy, and I am surprised to find that we have settled on two names (a boy one and a girl one). We are going to keep the first and middle names a secret for now, though I do see the irony in keeping certain things about the baby a mystery in a public blog. Though less exciting than first names, we are willing to share the kid’s last name. We have always planned to use Milius-Posto. We know many people hate hyphenated names, and maybe our kid will be among them. If that is the case they can change it when they are an adult. Until then we get to pick.

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