What’s in a Name?

When we transferred Ross as an embryo in May 2015, I was afraid to be hopeful. He was our last remaining embryo, and it would be our second out of three contracted attempts at a successful transfer, meaning that we would only have one more shot before our contract with Elle would be void and we’d need to sign another.

Our fertility clinic was 2 hours from home, but we stayed in the area for an extra night to spend the time with Elle and her husband, and after parting ways the next morning we stopped to pick up some snacks for the drive home. As I went to grab a soda out of the cooler, only one faced me: a bottle with my grandpa’s name on it. It felt like a sign.

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May 9, 2015: The day after our transfer

Names have always been important to me. As a kid I poured over the baby name books, making list after list of my favorites. Over the years my tastes changed, but some names stood the test of time (at 7-years-old I was determined to name my future daughter Fiona, not yet realizing that I’d have a husband with veto power). Family names were at the top of those lists: my grandpa had hoped to have a grandson share his name, and while that was not a possibility for him, I’d always wanted to give him that gift with a great-grandson.

Kyle and I talked about using my grandpa’s middle name for a son from early on in our relationship, but it wasn’t until our first year of marriage that we discussed it more seriously. At the time it was early 2010, and just six months from our wedding day, my healthy, vibrant grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Everything about our daily lives changed when I chose to become one of his caregivers, but I felt that doing so, and spending that time with him, was a privilege.

Back then we were making plans to soon have children, and although those plans would not come to fruition, we came to an official decision sometime that summer to name our first son Ross for my grandpa. We knew our time with him was short and he would likely never meet his namesake, but I wanted him to know that someday he would have a great-grandson bearing his name. So, on Christmas day 2010, I sat on his bed and held his hand as I told him of our plan. He was no longer able to communicate his feelings to us by then, but I will never forget that moment or the look in his eyes. He passed away two days later on December 27, 2010. Seven years ago today.

We held onto the name for a very long time, until it even became painful to hear or say out loud. Five years later in July 2015, we were just a few weeks from finding out whether we were expecting a boy or a girl. Nearly everyone had guessed it would be the latter, especially since our families were already gaining two baby boys that year. We were only a month away from our big move for Kyle to start grad school, and we decided to drive out to see the new apartment in order to determine how much (or how little, rather) we could bring with us from our current house. Coincidentally we stopped at the very same rest stop where I’d received the sign from my grandpa in the form of a Diet Coke label just after our transfer a few months before. This time as I walked up to the case wondering which name would be on my bottle, my heart skipped a beat when I saw it:

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July 2015: The first sign that told me Ross was going to be a boy

Ross. Not a common name here by any means. And my very first thought was: it’s a boy.

My grandpa isn’t the only one with this name in my family. It was a name he loved because he shared it with a grandfather he never met, Roscoe. His mother had become an orphan at a young age, so her parents were no longer alive when she had her children, but Grandpa loved the pictures of his grandparents and always thought he took after his namesake. I happen to think that my Ross takes after his namesake as well, and at times I can see my grandpa as a young boy in him so clearly. I believe Ross has his eye and hair color (not quite blonde, not quite red, not quite brown), and the way he sometimes smiles or holds himself reminds me of the little boy from the late 1930’s that I’ve come to know through worn black-and-white photos.

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Larry Ross as a toddler
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The original “Ross”: Roscoe Rufus, my grandpa’s namesake and my great-great grandfather
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Grandpa holding me for the first time, on the day I was born in 1987
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Our birthdays are 3 days apart, so we celebrated our 22nd & 74th birthdays together in 2009. This was the last birthday celebration before the diagnosis.

There have been mixed reactions to the name we chose; it’s not especially popular here beyond its association with a well-known tv character, but I don’t care. It’s him. He was named almost 6 years before he was born, and I know he could never have been anything different. If possible, I love the name even more today than I did the day it was written on his birth certificate. It’s been a part of our daily vernacular for almost two years now and still I often pause and smile when I hear it.

And for his middle name? We wanted something of equal importance and meaning. It is tradition in my dad’s family that the first son receives his father’s name in the middle spot. Had any of us been boys that would have continued, but my dad had four daughters. So to honor both my dad and my paternal grandfather, we chose the name David, the name they both share. Along with Kyle’s last name, Ross bears the names of all four of the most important men in my life.

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Daddy’s girl
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Cape Cod summers
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Reading with Grand-pop
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The “Davids”: David Walter, Kevin David & Ross David (6 days old)

And that’s how we have our Ross David.

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

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