I was hung over.
Not from alcohol, but from a late night of drugs and intense vaginal action.
The lady kept coming into the room. I am not sure what her official job title was, but to me it was “Lady who comes in every time you get half asleep.” Over and over again I remember her asking, “Have you chosen a name yet?” No. We had not chosen a name. My baby was in the NICU down the hall and I was trying to figure out how to keep my bloody crotch contained enough to be wheeled down to see her. I was doing everything I could to force milk out of my exhausted breasts so that I could carry it down to the NICU and feed it to her by a syringe. Needless to say, the fact that my daughter had “Baby” listed on her identification bracelet instead of a “real name” was not on the forefront of my mind.
What I really wanted was someone to interrupt by bringing me coffee or a burrito, but the person I saw most often that first day after delivering my child was the interruption paperwork lady. She was kind, I am sure she was kind, but I did not care to see her.
We are the type of parents who wait until after birth to look at our children, get to know them, and then name them. We had ideas in mind already, but wanted to make sure the names were a good fit. I was happy to let a couple of days go by without making the decision, but also wanted to be interrupted less and get it over with. When my husband and I were both in the same room, we had the discussion.
We looked at pictures of our daughter, we went down to be with her in the NICU, and we decided on a name — Aribella. It was perfect because it means “beautiful lion” and we loved the mix of tender beauty and fierceness. We decided on a middle name, starting with “S,” and then we added our last name, which also starts with “S.”
How perfect, we thought.
It was finally time to share her birth announcement and name on social media to make it real. At the same time, we made it real by finally completing the paperwork and appeasing that nagging, frequent visitor. We wrote it out. We laughed. We cried. We turned it in with a smile, proud of our new girl Aribella.
It wasn’t long before my mom was doodling her name out on paper and turned to me. “We have a problem,” she said. “Her initials spell ASS.”
Not long after, the messages started coming in on social media. “Congrats!” “She’s so beautiful!” “We are so happy for you!” And then a text from a dear friend, one not afraid to rattle me a bit. It said, “Um, do you know her initials spell ASS?”
If I am being really honest, ASS sometimes describes both of my children well and could be an appropriate nickname. I’m convinced that most every toddler could accurately go by the name “ASS” from time to time. The brutal reality of signing paperwork as an adult or initializing “trade-and-grade” assignments in middle school made it too much for me to bear. I believe in tough love, but I was not going to give other kids a reason to be jerks to my daughter or give her something awkward for her adulthood.
Alas, my husband wheeled me back to the nurse’s station where I found the paperwork lady. Again, I came eye to eye with her but this time it was to admit my fault. Much to our luck, she had not turned this paperwork in yet and we had the pleasure of ripping up all evidence that our child was, for a moment, known as ASS. We swiftly swapped her middle and first name and resubmitted the paperwork as if nothing had happened.
My social media announcement post was replaced by a message “Yes, I know I made my child’s initials ASS. I promise I am changing it and will be a better mom from here on out.”
Now that she is 2, I realize both ASS and SAS are quite fitting at times.