Not named by me

A week ago I was in early labor and baking a pumpkin pie. Today is our baby's due date, happens to be a very special day in the Church and feels like the perfect day to share the story behind our baby's name:

We have both always had the name Claire on our lists (and it matches the trend of French girl names I've mentioned), but the point of contention came in when exactly we would use Claire. Chris wanted our second daughter to be Claire whereas I imagined Claire to be more of a name for a baby sister and should be reserved for later down the line. Chris always countered with, "How can you be sure we will have more daughters instead of sons??" and that if we loved it, we need to use it. 

We found out about the baby on a Sunday morning. That morning is one of my favorite memories with Chris. We immediately started joking about names. Since I didn't even get a say with Elise, I was staunchly holding fast to my trump card if this baby were a girl and pushed against Claire. Chris supposedly gets final say for boys, and I supposedly get final say for girls.

Fast forward to Mass that morning. The Mass was one you dream about: the gift of the Eucharist wrapped up in reverence and song and Scripture that went straight to my heart. I was standing in the back of the transcept with Elise, and my emotional heart could barely be stopped from breaking into tears hearing the readings and knowing that God was telling me something not just about my life, but the life within me. 

Here is the first reading.

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Isaiah 58:7-10

Here is the psalm:

R. (4a) The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
His justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
Psalms 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Here is the Alleluia:

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John 8:12

Finally, here is the Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."

Matthew 5:13-16

Then the priest's homily strongly filled the Basilica reiterating and supporting all of the challenge, inspiration and truth the Scriptures had brought to us. I felt full of excitement.

After Mass, we buckled all the kids into our five-seater that we were now on the cusp of out growing. I gushed to Chris that I just KNEW that we had to give the baby a name that meant light! or bright! or something like that! We had to. There would be no changing my mind at all. He was on board with the idea and listened attentively while I scrolled through name lists on my phone as we drove to the seminary for brunch. 

We parked and sat there for a minute while I continued delving into names about light. Then it dawned on me that I already KNEW a name that meant exactly that, and at that same moment, it dawned on Christ that I, his stubborn wife, had walked myself into forfeiting. His laughter was full of that borderline maniacal joy, and I couldn't stop laughing either. Claire, meaning bright and spelled the French way, would be our second daughter.

We secured a bright name for a boy if the life growing within me happily happened to be a third son. 

Months later, I found out that October 13th, the day our baby was due, was the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun from the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. I was beside myself with joy that our little bright baby's name would have meaning both from the day we first welcomed his or her life into our family and possibly from the day we would finally meet him or her. Both Ryan and Conor were due date babies so I felt our chances were good. 

However, as it turns out, if you spend a hefty portion of the year researching rosary gardens andn painting botanical rosaries, there is a decent chance that your baby will arrive a week early on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Chris was holding our Rosary baby, standing next to me as the nurses still tended to me, "Claire Rose." And I agreed whole-heartedly. How could we not have a rose on such a feast? 

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My middle name is Rose after my great grandmother so Chris had initally suggested Claire Rose. I've always wanted a daughter with the middle name of Rose, but I nixed it leading up to the birth because I had doubts about two one syllable names. Of course I said that, but then the middle name we ended up lining up to go with Claire that I was very enthusiastic about was one syllable so I kind of defeated myself (yet again!). Claire Rose has quite a few patronesses: St. Clare of Assisi, St. Rose of Lima, Our Lady of the Rosary. So rich in prayers already!

So there is yet another story of how I didn't name another one of my daughters. Good job, Holy Spirit. Good job, Mother Mary. I love her name. Our bright, luminous rosary. We aren't ones to have set out plans such as, "You must be a doctor or else!" for our children. But to pray that they be lights to the world? We can do that.

Conor Daniel, a name


Okay, I am a middle child (the middle of three! No ifs, ands or buts about my place in the family), and I never felt like a middle child. I actually have the most baby photos of my siblings, ha! Of course, that is most likely because I am the only one born in the states where it is was easy for my parents to develop photos unlike the developing world in which my brother and sister were born. Anyway, I know that just because you are the middle child doesn't mean that you will battle middle child syndrome, and it seems that Conor is most likely going to be considered an older child in God's plan for our family. Nevertheless, I need to type out a little "behind the name" post before this new baby arrives because currently the oldest child has one, the youngest child has one and the middle child is tallying nothing! 
If I go back and search through our email archives (I'll keep the exact date a secret), our earliest name discussions listed Ryan Donald as our first boy and Connor Daniel as our second boy. From the start and totally unplanned, we leaned toward Irish names for boys and French names for girls. Even before we knew what the name Conor meant, we loved it, and once I looked up the meaning of the name, there was no going back. Conor is an Irish name meaning, "wolf lover," or "dog lover." Most people would think, "Oh cool! That's cute. That's tough." For Chris, it is was like a divine sign. I don't think I've met anyone who is not a professional animal expert (veterinarian, professor or someone like that) who knows as much about animals as Chris. And when it comes to wolves ... wow. When we were at Yellowstone National Park, we got up at 4:30am two days in a row (we were only there for two days) just because that was the best time we could possibly see wolves. We never saw a wolf, but we did see a coyote and the beaming look he gave it rivaled the one he gives our children (he's seen a coyote before plenty of times, but I guess there was something special about seeing one at Yellowstone). Anyway, Conor sounded like a perfect second-born boy name to us, and its meaning had us sold. 

We like to add some family meaning to our middle names. Ryan's middle name, Donald, pays homage to my dad (it's his middle name, too) so it was fitting that we chose Daniel, my father-in-law's name, for Conor's middle name. Connor Daniel, we were set ... except for the spelling. I had only ever really seen the name spelled "Connor," and I thought that was the correct spelling. However, it turns out that Connor with two n's is how the last name is spelled in Ireland, and the first name is spelled Conor. News to me! I still leaned toward the Connor spelling, but I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that Chris is part melancholic and so things must be done the CORRECT way ;) (most of the time ... he is married to phlegmatic me after all :) ).

As for saintly connections, there are a bunch of Sts. Daniel and the prophet Daniel obviously has a wonderful story of strength and courage. Those connections covered our ever-so-stringent "must be one saint, we don't really care if we know anything about them," criterion of old. I wasn't a Sancta Nomina addict yet. When the day came for Conor's baptism, our priest friend that was celebrating the baptism opened his homily with, "Well I'm sure you already know of Blessed Conor O'Devany," and Chris and I sheepishly smiled because nope! We did not know anything about him. Upon further research, Blessed Conor O'Devany was a Catholic martyr in Ireland, and the anniversary of his consecration as a bishop is February 2nd. Chris and I first met on February 2nd. 

Conor's name may be the last of our three out of the womb that I wrote about, but the timing is perfect because at almost four years of age, we can really and truly see exactly how much his name suits him. He loves dogs and wolves (heavily influenced by his dad, of course, but he is also naturally drawn to them unlike Elise). Furthermore, his ferocious outlook on life lines up with someone with a name of wolf lover. However, my favorite part that made me laugh to Chris recently was the meaning of his middle name. We didn't really care about the meaning when we named him because like I said, it's Chris' dad's name so we were going to use it regardless. For some reason, I looked up the meaning of the name, Daniel, a few weeks ago and it means, "God is my judge." Chris and I could not stop laughing. "God is my judge," is pretty much Conor's unofficial motto in life. He definitely doesn't see his parents as his judge, and I'd hesitate to say that you would ever meet a more stubborn, headstrong, obstinate, charming and sweet boy. Lord, thank you for our boy, Conor Daniel.