What's in a (Baby) Name?
It started when I was in 10th grade English class, and we were assigned to read A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. After getting over the initial infatuation with a young, beyond beautiful Marlon Brando on the cover of our books, I was drawn to the name of his wife in the play, Stella.
I remembered years before, going on The Great Movie Ride at MGM Studios in Orlando (now Hollywood Studios, but whatever), and watching the film montage at the end of the ride. Brando's famously pained screaming in the rain scene for his "Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" always stuck out in my mind during that montage.
Instead of reading the play outside of class, we read the play aloud, drawing names out of a bowl to see which character we'd be "playing" for the unit. I crossed my fingers for the little piece of paper that said "Stella Kowalski" on it, and sure enough, that was the character I read for during the play.
Every character in A Streetcar Named Desire is far from perfect, including Stella, and being able to delve into the play in the way we did during English class made me really fall in love with it and its characters' imperfections.
From that point on, I also banked the name Stella as the name I'd most want to name a future daughter.
It's the kind of thing I imagine a lot of girls do, and whether we end up sharing our sacredly secret baby names with friends is a gamble not everyone is willing to take. What if someone wants to take it, like Rachel does to Monica on FRIENDS or Shayla-gate on Sex and the City? What if a friend or family member is pregnant and you aren't even dating someone - is there really a way to have a claim on a name?
Yet I think my friends and family have always known my love of the name Stella over the years, even when I was just a high school or college student. For the longest time, my cousin Olivia has called me Stella and I call her Scarlett, paying homage to the glamorous, old Hollywood versions of ourselves.
After meeting my now husband at Michigan State, and discussions turned towards things like where will we live one day and will we get a dog and how many kids do you want one day, the Baby Name Game began. And fortunately, he also became a fan of Stella. For the many years I knew that I'd want to name a daughter Stella one day, he was on board the Stella train, too.
When we found out I was pregnant this summer, I couldn't help but be excited with the 50/50 prospect of having this long-standing dream come true. What if it's "a Stella"? In fact, a friend of mine from high school sent me a message asking if I knew "whether it was a boy or a Stella yet."
Then the flip side happened - what if it's not a Stella? Whenever people asked if I planned to find out the sex of the baby and, then, if I had a preference, I tried to play it even. Of course I'll be happy either way, I'd say. And it's true - no matter what, this is such a blessing. But even when I revealed how much I would love a girl, how it would make my parents so happy to have a granddaugther to go with their two grandsons, how I know my husband will be such a sweet daddy to a little girl, I didn't want to get my hopes up or sound like I'd be disappointed if the baby ended up being a boy.
After several weeks of speculation and getting close to settling on a boy name I would be just as excited about giving to a baby that I'd be if I could name a baby Stella, it was time for our big ultrasound appointment on Monday to find out the news. My mom came to Lansing to spend the day with me in anticipation of the appointment, and sat in the ultrasound room with me and my husband.
The tech knew we wanted to find out, and told us she'd be doing some measurements and photos for a bit before talking us through the different camera views. Yet sure enough, as we waited and made small talk amongst ourselves, she told us the news: "So, it's a girl!"
We were taken aback and so surprised to hear those words! For the last couple months, I've heard every old wive's tale and more than half of the time, it was steered towards the baby being a boy.
We all screamed and hugged in excitement. Our little peanut is going to be a little Stella.
I've been overwhelmed with the love and support of our friends and families throughout the whole process, but especially with the unveiling of this exciting news.
That little Stella is already one lucky gal.