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I Have Baby Name Regret

Photograph by Getty Images

It was all settled—my uterus was no longer accepting visitors. It wasn’t just closed for the season; it was closed forever. I had turned my energy toward mothering the children I have and thinking about what might be next on the horizon professionally. I hadn’t wrung my hands or spent a hot second mourning the end of my baby-making for months. Then, I saw a little girl at the park with my grandmother’s name.

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I heard her mother calling, “Virginia!” and then saw the little girl scramble off the swing, and right then, whatever was keeping all of those emotions at bay broke, and I was flooded with thoughts about the children I would never have.

I always thought I would have a daughter with my paternal grandmother’s name. But when my daughter was born, she didn’t look like a Virginia. I didn’t fight for the name because I had another one that fit her better, and deep down I assumed I could use “Virginia” at a later date with subsequent children.

I’m having trouble letting go of this persistent fantasy of cradling a baby named Virginia in my arms.

But unless Virginia is going to be the name of a beloved pet, I won’t be using it, and now I’m feeling spasms of grief about missing my chance to connect with my beloved grandma by giving one of my children her name.

Nothing about having a third baby makes sense for my family—not the finances, the emotional reserves, my age or my growing desperation for a regular sleep schedule. I know I can’t have a baby just so I can give her my grandma’s name, but I’m having trouble letting go of this persistent fantasy of cradling a baby named Virginia in my arms.

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Perhaps this fixation on the names I will never use is really just a cover for the actual babies I will never mother. I get that. I assume this is all part of the process of truly letting go of the possibility of having additional children. Still, I hope it passes soon, because our next door neighbor just had a baby named John, which was my grandfather’s name, so now I am filled with regret that I didn’t give that name to my son.

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