Saturday, April 7


I have always loved the name Isabel.
I don't know where I first picked it up or heard it, but it has always since I was small, thought it would be the name that my daughter would have. I'd been adamant about it and like many girls, dreaming of my first baby. Baby Isabel. No doubt born into a loving family of two parents almost besotted with each other as much as her. Born into a solid and secure house and to a fufilled mother and financially secure couple. Needless to say, she would be full-term because babies just weren't really born early except in very rare and exceptional circumstances were they? Not anymore.

And then Wriggles was born.

And my hopes and ideals were shattered.

Firstly, I was quite young at 23-and-a-little-bit. Secondly I had only just finished university and been in my first Grown Up job the grand total of eight weeks with no contract let alone maternity leave. Thirdly I was very much single and a long way from my family and also a fair way from the father, not that we had spoken in the last five months. Oh yes, and she was early by just over twelve weeks. Three months. A whole trimester virtually. And to top it all off, she just didn't look like an Isabel.

I am ashamed to say for three whole days she was nameless. Or to be exact, just "Baby Girl [insert my surname]". I did try. I deliberated and tossed and turned constantly. She needed, no deserved, a name. Every time I was ready to give up and say "fine, that's it, baby Isabel" I would turn and look at her tiny in her huge incubator, and into her huge pitch black newly-opened eyes and know that is just wasn't The Name. A name is important, it stays with you for life. It isn't that I didn't want to name her because she didn't live up to my expectation of first baby, it was almost the opposite. She had thrown all my preconceptions out the window and taught me the preciousness of life and the overpowering and all-encompassing love a parent feels, and she needed a new and special name for herself, not for a pre-dreamt up baby.

Her middle name was decided from the off. Ruth is a family name; it is the middle name of me, my mum, my nanny and as far as I am aware all maternal first-born girls. I wanted to keep with tradition and helpfully my friend Ruth came as soon as the ambulance rang her to relay the sorry state of affairs and the police officer who helped deliver my placenta (now there is an unexpected job) and one of the nicest midwives, were both called Ruth. My dad did hesitate, about if I wanted to "save" the name for a happier occasion-at this point it was not known if she would survive and I was having a breakdown convinced I would be unfit as a parent. But whatever the future held, I was sure. The deed was done. She was born now. She was my family no matter what happened next, and would always be in my mind and heart.

The Name just came to me clearly one night, late, sat in NICU watching her minute body sleep. As I looked into her tiny scrunched bright pink features, I knew the perfect name which just fitted. A name I have always been fond of, but never considered. I didn't think twice now. I knew it was her, from tiny scrap to grow up in a beautiful confident woman. Every morning when I scoop her up from her cot and kiss her, it is still perfect. As she shuffles around the flat flinging toys merrily, in my eyes she is her name. Beautiful, sincere, cheeky, clever, bright and beautiful. Sometimes, I do wistfully think of my old favourite Isabel, discarded. But the thought is banished as my clever girl squeaks in the here and the now. And I wouldn't have her any other way.

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