Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And Aubrey Was Her Name, and Then It Wasn't

Note: I possess powers of early recollection. I remember some things from when I was two years old and many things from when I was three. Almost anything of significance that happened to me since I was four, I probably  remember. This, however,  all went down in the earliest days and minutes of my life. I have no memory whatsoever of it. It might be interesting to undergo hypnosis and see if I remember any details, but I'll probably never bother because who has time for such things, and beyond that, does it matter all that much?

I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts that Alexis wasn't originally scheduled to be my name.  My parents had decided to name me Aubrey Anne, but my mother took one look at me as she was sort-of nuzzling my swaddled twin Matthew and as my dad was holding me before I was carted off to the NICU for incubation and for whatever it is they do to two-pound-two-ounce babies. "She's not an Aubrey," my mom called out to him as he headed toward the swinging doors to walk me to my new temporary home.

"Can't we talk about this later?" my dad turned and asked her.

"Yes, you can," a nurse and two pediatricians responded in unison as they hurried my dad to get me to the NICU.

"She's not an Aubrey," my mother said one more time to my father as he placed me into an isolette and walked me down the hospital corridor to an elevator that would take me to the NICU.

My brother got the name he was originally intended to have, which was Matthew John.

Eventually my father and mother met up again, and the next day my father took my mother in a wheelchair to the NICU to see me even though she really didn't want to go. She had lost premature twins nearly two years earlier, and the NICU did not bring back fond memories to my mother. Looking at my  skeletal body caused her to think of my brothers before me who didn't make it. One died in the O. R., while the other one lingered for a few days in the NICU before my parents made the gut-wrenching decision to stop life support and not to delay the inevitable. I, however, was nearly twice the size of my smallest brother and was a full  ten ounces heavier than the larger twin who didn't survive.

My mother tried to look away as my dad pushed her wheelchair directly in front of my incubator, but he used his hands to turn her head so that she was directly facing me. She said nothing for several minutes. Eventually she commented, "I still don't think she looks like an Aubrey."

"What do you think she looks like, Erin?" my dad asked her.

My mother thought for a moment. "Maybe an Alexis," my mom answered.

"So that's what you want to name this baby?" my dad confirmed. "Alexis?"

"Yes," my mom answered. "Alexis."

"She's going to make it, you know," my dad told her.

"What does that have to do with anything? " my mom asked him somewhat hostilely.

"You're not refusing to name her Aubrey because you don't want to waste the name on a baby you think isn't going to live, are you?" my dad asked rather directly.

My mom responded by crying. My dad wheeled her back to her room and helped her into bed.

They talked about it again the next day. My mom insisted that I just didn't look like an Aubrey to her. I looked like an Alexis. My dad asked about the middle name. She said that she still wanted to use "Anne," her late mother's name, which she had planned to use also had my name been Aubrey. My dad just said, "Fine." He's not a stupid man, and he probably understood the futility of getting into a serious argument with  a post-partum mother over the name of a baby or, for that matter, over anything else.

I'm not sure how an Aubrey should have looked. Perhaps an Aubrey would be light pink and softly rounded, with a Gerber-ish smattering of hair on top of her head. I, on the other hand, was blue or gray  in some places and very red in others. There wasn't anything soft about me, and veins could be seen through my transparent skin.  Instead of the Gerber-ish smattering of light hair on my head, I had something called lanugo, which is prenatal hair all over the body that is usually shed before a baby's seventh or eighth month of gestation but is still present on premature babies. Aubrey has the face of a tiny heart shape, not too narrow yet not too plump. Alexis, on the other hand, is more like the pound symbol on a telephone. Alexis is a bit spiky.

How might things have  turned out differently for me had I been named Aubrey instead of Alexis? How might I have been different had I been born full-term instead of about eight or nine weeks early? I'll never know the answer to either question.

The following '70's or'80's song was written by David Gates about a girl named Aubrey  and performed by the group Bread with Gates singing lead.  I don't think anyone has ever written a song about a girl named Alexis.





45 comments:

  1. I think you seem like an Alexis, too. Aubrey seems like a name for someone dreamy and romantic. Alexis is, as you say, sharp and opinionated... and a fighter. I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree, you are much more an Alexis than you are an Aubrey. I don't think we ever quite feel like our names. It took me a while to grow into Rebecca, but I am so glad my mom decided on Rebecca. Considering my mother was 21 when she had me, I could have ended up with something a lot worse.

    As far as what an Aubrey would be like... I don't really know. Normally I have a clear image of what a person with a particular name would be like, but Aubrey is hard to pin point. Last summer, my aunt Tracy had a foster child named Aubrey. She had a clefted ear-lobe, which was kind of cool. She was of partial hispanic decent. She had two sisters named Savannah and Jenna May, but Tracy only had Aubrey and Savannah. Savannah had white blonde hair. They were quite an interesting pair. I should show you pictures some time.

    Did your dad like Aubrey solely because of the Bread song?


    ReplyDelete
  3. I think my dad liked the Bread song, but I think he also liked the name. He felt a bit gypped because he was supposed to get to name the girl and my mom was supposed to name the boy, but my mom had been the original one to suggest Aubrey, and it was her favorite on the list. Then my dad picked it because it was his favorite. So when my mom changed things, she ended up getting to name both babies, which wasn't totally fair, but my dad knew enough not to mess with post-partum hormones. He told me he was bothered at the time that she might be saving Aubrey for a "better" baby in case I ended up with cognitive delays or cerebral palsy, neither of which is uncommon with preemies, although I was just above the worst of the risk factors for either condition or some of the others. He said it all worked out for the best.

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  4. Well then.

    I relate to this post in like 100 different ways. So I'll just say I love your name, and I'm sending light and love to your Mother That Was on the day of your birth.

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  5. Thanks, Amelia. Whatever actually motivated her to choose what she did, I don't blame my mother for any of it. I've never been where she was, and God, how I hope never to be there. Sending love and light to you as well.

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