Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What's in a Name?

What do you think of the name Elsie?  I think it’s quite a pretty name.  480th most popular name in the US (Official UK statistics are very difficult to source if the name is not in the top 100, but according to BabyCentre Elsie is number 72 in their list).  It’s not an unpopular name and has a lot of charm.  One thing Elsie isn’t, however, is the name of our daughter, it hadn’t even been an option that my wife and I had talked about. But for a few early minutes of her life Elsie was our daughter’s name, sort of.  Let me explain.
Names are tricky beasts.  My wife and I struggled over what to call our child.  Much like most parents we had a list of names that were excluded, close relatives, Santa’s reindeer, that sort of thing, another list of names we just didn’t like, Snowshoe, Artichoke etc., a list of names that one of us liked and the other didn’t and a very short list of names that we could agree on.    Finally we plumped for a girl and boy name, although it’s lucky we didn’t have twins as there wasn’t much in reserve.  The names were a closely guarded secret until the birth when they would be unveiled in a ceremony much like that for the opening of the Olympics, thousands of people cheering as people representing the names walk round a track carrying oversized flags with the names stitched on them.  Maybe that was just my imagination, anyway it’s not quite how it turned out.

Technology has a way of scuppering the best laid plans.  The problem in this case were the mobile phones which we had.  You will all know, having read about it here, that our daughter was born early in the morning, this was followed by a while of just sitting in stunned silence while both she and my wife rested after their ordeal.  At this point we had to inform people about the momentous event, starting with the grandparents.  There were, however, a couple of small issues with this.  First of all there was very little reception in the hospital which made any phone call tricky for both parties to hear, difficult, but not impossible, a message could be passed if it was important.  The second problem was a little bigger.  Both mine and my wife’s phones had very little battery, and I mean very little.  Imagine, if you will, the very smallest thing you can think of.  Picture it sitting in the palm of your hand, now, if you could zoom in on that very small thing what you would find is that it totally dwarfs the battery power which both of us had in our phones, it was miniscule.  It was so small our phones had stopped beeping to tell us it was small and had instead gone off in search of it, convinced that all it would find was a note saying that the batteries had gone on holiday and could the milkman not bring any milk until the 20th.

There wasn’t much battery life in our phones is what I’m trying to say, which would, of course, severely hamper any exultant phone calls we wanted to make.  It’s hard to exult when all you can think about is that your phone may die at any moment.   But this was what we had to work with, so we set about making phone calls.  My wife rang her parents first and passed on the happy news, we had a healthy daughter.  This was about all the information she could pass on given the paucity of the reception, but we thought it was probably sufficient and full introductions could take place later on that day.  My call was to my parents and this went pretty much the same way.  Having passed on the happy news we quickly returned our attention to our new daughter.  At which point any phone troubles were forgotten. 

We only found out that something had not been communicated properly when I rang my wife’s parents a little later that day, after we had been moved to a ward more conducive to phone signal.  It turned out that instead of ‘healthy’ my father-in-law had heard ’Elsie’ and had presumed that that was what we had called our daughter.  And so Elsie was her name.  He had passed the name onto to my mother-in-law, who had confessed it would take some getting used to, and was relieved when she found our what it really was.  Perhaps she thought it was all a ruse to make sure that people really liked what we had chosen. 

Maybe if we have another daughter we could incorporate Elsie somewhere in her name.  For now though we are an Elsieless family.  If there’s another time, we’ll try to make sure our phones are charged.

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