Naming a tiny human is a big responsibility.
From the very beginning, I was excited about names. Maybe it’s the Bible nerd in me, but I’ve always been enamored by names – the meaning behind them, their significance, etc. Whenever God was making a big change in someone’s life, he changed their name. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. Saul became Paul. Simon became Peter. These names had great significance – each of these name changes represented a change–a shift–in identity.
Names are a big deal. Here you have this responsibility as a parent of naming a tiny human, and that tiny human will carry that name–that identity–for his or her entire life.
Scott and I knew from the start that choosing a name would be important. We picked up a book of baby names while we wandered around a bookstore one evening, and I promise you that we eventually read, literally, every. single. name. in that book.
We had started with girls names. Early on, we were both convinced that we were having a girl. Maybe because so many people thought the idea of me parenting the girliest of all girls would be hysterical. Barbies. Princesses. Tiny hair bows.
When we went in for our 20-week anatomy scan, we had a list of girls’ names that we liked, and even had a top contender. We were so excited to see that little girl and to finalize her name. So, you can imagine our surprise when the ultrasound tech showed us the screen and cheerfully proclaimed, “looks like it’s a boy!” And, trust me. Little Alexander was not shy about sharing that news.
We were both excited, and happily shared the news with our family and friends.
So, it was back to the drawing board for names. Girl names had been easy to pick. Boy names were a little bit harder.
People had plenty of suggestions–mostly ridiculous. You know, things like Mike Wazowski Haligowski because of our love for Monsters Inc. (thanks, mom!). Or Dwight Ulysses Haligowski, so his initials could be DUH. Or Jalapeño Haligowski. You know, just because. Some of our youth group kids suggested that we could name him after them. The suggestions were never ending.
We decided pretty early on that his middle name would be Scott, after his dad, since Scott’s middle name is Michael after his dad, and we wanted to carry that on.
We spent a number of nights reading through the 10,000 (or however many there were–it sure felt like 10,000) boy names in that name book we had bought, marking any that we thought maybe we liked.
At the end of all that, we had a list of about ten first names that at least one of us liked. Most of them started with the letter A. (Maybe we had just gotten tired after we got past A in the book, but I think maybe we just have an affinity for names that start with vowels.) Oh, and none of the names on that original list was Alexander.
One of the names near the top of the list was Ashton. Scott seemed to like the idea of being able to call him by his initials–ASH. I just couldn’t get images of Ashton Kutcher out of my head, and it somehow just didn’t seem to “fit” this boy I was carrying. Plus, we could keep the sweet initials by selecting one of the other “A” names on the list.
We had decided early on that we weren’t going to share his name until after he was born–partly because we wanted to make a decision without people’s opinions, but mostly because we were so indecisive throughout the process.
One of the reasons we had so much difficulty deciding on a name is because we know so. many. kids. That happens when you’ve been in youth ministry for more than ten years at camp and three different churches. (Not to mention the great task of avoiding naming your kid after some jerk you knew way back in middle school or high school.) It’s really hard to not associate names with specific people when you know so many.
So, when we were sitting at dinner one night and I said, “what about Alexander?” I had to preface it with… “I know we know people named Alex, but I think we should consider adding it to the list.” It wasn’t about naming him after anyone–it was mostly because, like I said before, name meanings are important, and because I loved how it sounded with the middle name we had already chosen: Alexander Scott Haligowski.
The name Alexander means “defender of men.” It’s shared by eight popes and Alexander the Great. It’s a strong name, and I liked the thought of giving our boy a strong name. (Plus, to me, it was better than Ashton, which means “from the ash trees.”)
So, it wasn’t finalized, but Scott liked it enough that we added it to the list.
We didn’t talk a whole lot about names after that. Maybe we knew deep down that the list was complete, or maybe it was because we really thought we still had another month or so to narrow it down. Every once in awhile I would find myself running through names in my head, and I would frequently land on Alexander Scott, but it still wasn’t “official.”
While we were in the hospital, we knew that we would have to pick a name. This was hard. Picking a name is hard enough when you know this tiny human will have to live with it forever, but nobody thinks about picking a name for a tiny human who won’t ever get to use it. I only have vague memories of the conversations we had in that tiny hospital room–most of that week is a blur. I remember wrestling with if we wanted to use our perfect name for a child that wouldn’t live. I sort of remember talking about that with Scott, and deciding that whatever name we would have chosen will be the right one, because, after all, he is still our firstborn son. I don’t even remember other names coming up in those conversations.
Then, the minute we saw him, we both knew. This little boy was our Alexander Scott – defender of men. It’s a strong name for such a tiny human, but it’s perfect. And, while I’m so so sad that we won’t get to see him grow into the great defender of men that we know he would be, and while we won’t get to sweetly whisper his name into his ear or sternly yell it–first, middle, last–when he’s being bad, I will never stop using his name.
And I hope you won’t either.
Because I love the sound of it when it is spoken. I love to see it written. Because it is the perfect name for our precious firstborn son.
Alexander Scott Haligowski, forever in our hearts.
We’ve been using #AlexanderScott on social media to help keep his name alive, and to share things that remind us of him. I invite you to join us–not just today, but in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Side note: A few weeks after Alexander was born, my friend Alex sent this picture to me. Two of my favorite humans named Alex on a mission trip together. And, even though I promise you we didn’t name Alexander after either of them, it was a perfect reminder that he shares a name with some pretty remarkable people.