I thought of this topic the other day while reading a blog post at The Bates Motel. Totally not related to what I'm going to talk about, but the title of the post made me think of it.
Occasionally, I see discussions on Down Syndrome support sites about why they named their child the name they did. Some parents didn't know prenatally, named the baby in utero and stuck with it. Some parents did know prenatally and chose a name based on that knowledge, usually because of it's meaning. And then there is a third version where parents had a prenatal name, didn't know baby had Ds, and then decided to change it at birth when they found out. Some times that change was made out of inspiration, hopes, and dreams for the future of the baby. I'm often so proud of parents that have a prenatal diagnosis and chose to honor a loved one by naming the baby after them. I guess, because to me that shows how proud they are to continue their family tree though this child that may seem so different than all the other branches. A father that names his son with Down syndrome Junior seems to be such an amazing statement of hope and pride. It's very rare that I read of the opposite- a beloved name no longer seeming "worthy" or "fitting" of the unexpected child.
In our family, naming sons was a difficult task for us. We were not interested in doing the junior route, Doug isn't exactly a popular name anymore. Male family names we could of used were either too popular within our families or in general, or just not to our tastes. So we went the 1000 Baby Names Book route. Circling, sharing, and vetoing until we came up with possibilities we liked.
Aidan's name wasn't too hard for us to agree on. It wasn't very popular the year he was born, in fact it wasn't even in the top 50. We were surprised to see it skyrocket to the number one male baby name in just a couple of years after his birth! His middle name is Riley, chosen because we liked how they sound together and it coincidentally was also the name of the county he was born in. Doug liked that his initials spell ARM, he figured it would look cool on a Pac Man high scores screen.
Since we didn't find out Sean's sex until birth, we were less solid in his name. We were very sure on our girl name, but the boys names were wide open. I was pushing for Jared, Joel, or Sebastian. Doug didn't care for those. Somehow we both thought Sean was a good choice. It was a nice Irish name to go with Aidan. Short, didn't lend itself to mean nicknames. Easy to spell, so we wouldn't have to go around constantly spelling it for people like we do Aidan ("With an e or an a?") His middle name, Patrick, seemed like a great balance to the first name. We did toy with other options, including a nod to our family names, but in the end chose Patrick.
Since we didn't learn of his diagnosis for a few weeks, it never crossed our minds not to use it or to re-think it's meaning. As we got used to him and how his name fit him, we learned that it wasn't as easy of a name as we thought. Spelling questions always come up. We like to reply, S-e-a-n, like Sean Connery. Or P-Diddy. :P We only had it mispronounced once- a nurse at a doctor's office kept calling for "Seen? Seen? Is there a Seen here?"
As he's grown older, it definitely fits him. I love that it is short and easy to spell. He's been "reading" his name for quite awhile "S e a n. Sean, that's me!" It took Sean a long time to be able to say his name himself. Most of the time it comes out pretty clear now, but sometimes it still sounds like "On." When Aidan was a toddler, he started calling him Seanie and it's really stuck with us. We all call him Seanie. His preschool teachers asked Aidan, and us, to please call him only Sean as they didn't want him to be confused about his name. They told him he was a big boy and they want to use his big boy name. Phooey. We have tapered it down and call him Sean about 70% of the time.
Ella has only recently started calling him Sean. For some reason, for many months, she called him "Nice" or "Nicey" Doug thinks it sounds like Seanie backwards. It amused us to no end, and even Aidan started calling Sean, Nicey. I shot a little video of Ella saying it, to save as a memory of her special nickname for her big brother. Now that she's stopped calling him that, I kind of miss it.
So, if you have a child with Down syndrome, how did that affect your child's name? I'd love to read more stories!