Thursday, November 1, 2012

Call Me Ishmael

Hi Baby, you're probably not going to care about this for a long time, but when you do, we can dig this out and you can see all the reasons we named you what we did. I was surprised that your dad came up with most of it, since I've always been a name-crazed person, but I agreed immediately to both his choices. We decided on your first name before we were married and before you were ever conceived, but I had been pregnant for about 5 months by the time we agreed on your 2nd middle name and 7 1/2 months by the time I'd decided to add your 1st middle name, which your dad said was my call.

Ishamael (Hebrew, meaning "God Hears")-
Your dad brought this up (he later said he thinks he had been considering it as a name for a character in a story he was writing) and it happens to have great meaning to me, so I quickly agreed. The story of Ishmael in the Bible is a beautiful example of God caring for the lost and broken, especially when there is little to be found from others. I wrote about the whole story, including scripture references, here. We've also been going through the book of Genesis at our church, Element, and there are some great sermons concerning Ishmael available for free on iTunes. I had also recently read the graphic novel "Habibi" by Craig Thompson which is one of my favorite books. Although I don't think its depiction of the Biblical character Ishmael lines up with the Bible (the Koran tells the story in such a way that Ishmael offered himself as a willing sacrifice), there are some really beautiful stories about him which maybe I can read to you someday. Here's an illustration (image from tumblr) from the book - incidentally, Solomon is one of my favorite Bible characters as well and another name that I thought of for you. Post-birth: You were born with an unusually shaped right ear-lobe which your Grandma Welch pointed out as a reminder that "God hears."

Azure (Persian, name of an ancient city. Pronunciations vary.) - Azure was the name I was on the fence about for a long time. I originally wanted your name to have some reference to the fact that you'll be born in the year of the dragon, and there's a dragon in some Asian mythologies called the Azure Dragon. That's a little nod to China in your name. There are a bunch of other cool things about "Azure" too, which is generally the name of a shade of blue, originally a deep blue but more often associated with a lighter vibrant sky blue now. The word is originally Persian and was the name of an ancient city in Northern Afghanistan, where a lot deep blue stones came from, now synonymous with lapis lazuli (which happens to be one of my favorites; the photo above is of a lapis lazuli earring I wore when I married your dad, that belonged to my mom and came from Tashkorgan. photo by Peter & Emily Kappen). In English and French, "azure" generally refers to the ocean, which is also something your dad and I love and enjoyed looking at a lot as we drove around while you were in my tummy. Traditionally, pigment made from crushed azure was the most rare, expensive and precious, and that is why the Virgin Mary's robes were always painted in blue (I can't remember where I read that, though) [image]. She is another incredible Bible character to me. The official color azure happens to appear in the Swedish flag as well, which is part of your heritage. The reason I went back and forth about whether to include "Azure" in your name for so long was that it makes your name sound more Middle Eastern than ever (not that I mind that!), though this is the only truly Persian name of the bunch. I'm sorry if you get beat up on the playground for this name or pulled over for extra screening in every airport. I don't wish you pain, but I do wish you trials and I hope you grow through any discrimination people show toward you and that it teaches you the value of compassion.

Rajan (Sanskrit, meaning "King". The J is pronounced like the J in "Taj Mahal", kind of a zh sound that we don't use in english!) -
I had a baby brother who passed away who was named Ryan. We never got to meet him, but we will someday in heaven. Rajan has the same meaning as Ryan, just in a different language. Upon googling "Rajan," I discovered it is also the name of a very special swimming elephant.

Tucker  (English, various interpretations of meaning) -
We wanted to give you a Swedish or in general, Scandanavian, name, but it didn't work out quite that way. However, you'll still have this sir-name, which means "shoe maker." I think it's kind of funny that most people will expect that you're from another part of the world when they hear your name, until they get to "Tucker", in which case they might think you're African-American. According to wikipedia, "Tucker" actually isn't Swedish and it doesn't mean "shoe maker." Rather, "Tucker" probably has Saxon roots and means literally "to torment", but referred to people who worked (or wrestled, as it seems) with cloth and the process of making it.

If you had been a girl, your name would have been Mercedes Magdelaina (on the Welch side of the family, boys get 2 middle names and girls get a middle name starting with M). Some other boy names we liked were Liam (but then everyone suddenly named their sons Liam), Odin and Darius. We didn't tell everyone what your name would be until you were born, which made everyone very curious. We realized after we had finalized your middle names that your initials are IART. We don't know whether you'll be an artist, but it made us smile that your name turned out that way. I hope that's not too cheesy for you.

Some nick names you acquired pre-birth: X-Ray (your Grandma Tucker knew the first letter of your name is not one of the most common and that a middle name started with an R), Squirrel, Young Coconut, Teeny Boots, Bambi, Rabid Monkey (labor was Monkey-Go-Time), Sesame (and a succession of less endearing size-related terms), the Insidious Baby Fu Manchu (not in any racist sort of way), and Zeus. Post-birth; people keep bringing up the first line of Moby Dick, so "Moby" is a possible new nick name. Your dad and I call you "Squishmael" or "Squishy" sometimes!

We love you, Ishmael. 

1 comment:

  1. One of our top choices before we settled on Jaina was Zahavah. It's Hebrew meaning Gilded or Golden. Zach, especially, was totally in love with that name. I wrestled with it for a while, though, because of it's Middle Eastern sound, especially since people often mispronounce our last name like ha-LEED (It's Hallead-rhymes-with-salad). ZaHAvah haLEED would always have a tough time through security, as awful as that is. WE certainly didn't care and were ready to name her that in spite of everything. But then I realized that in all likelihood we would call her Havah, and I really didn't like how Havah Hallead sounded. (It would probably turn into "Have a Hallead" on the playground.) So that decided it for us. I love the name we picked. Jaina is also Hebrew and means Jehovah is Gracious. And both of our mothers' names are Carol, so we've always known our first daughter would have that for her middle name.
    I love hearing Ishmael's name story. It's always so neat to hear how each name was picked. And good for you for holding out and keeping it a secret! People will do anything to try to drag it out of you. ;)


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