Each of my babies has had a nickname in the womb, one only my husband and I use. Our first was “The Pumpkin” because of her late October due date. She was going to be my Halloween baby, who would have her birthday parties at the pumpkin patch, love trick-or-treating, “jacket weather,” and stepping on crunchy leaves. But she didn’t get to do any of those things.

My son was “The Hatcher.” We chose this moniker because the embryologist selected his embryo to transfer first because he was already starting to “hatch” on his own by Day 5. Throughout that pregnancy, my husband would ask, “What does the Hatcher want for breakfast?” Or I would comment, “The Hatcher is very fond of kicking me today.”

So, as I was looking over our first ultrasound photos of this baby, prepping to add them to the small album I made with The Pumpkin’s and The Hatcher’s sonogram stills, I realized we needed another nickname.

I quickly abandoned other overtly Halloween- or fall-themed names. “The Pumpkin” was really the best one of those. “The Gourd” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. My husband suggested “The Peanut,” but I shot that down because Peanut is one of several terms of endearment I call my son now. (Oddly, we never call him Hatcher now that he’s here).
I turned to the internet for ideas. What were other symbols or associations with October? The Opal, October’s birthstone? Maybe. I wasn’t sold on that either, as I’d found some comfort in a few pieces of opal jewelry after my first loss as ways to remember, so it still held associations to The Pumpkin for me. I kept looking.

Then I found an article about the Celtic Animal Calendar. Being partly Irish, I’ve always found Celtic symbols intriguing, so I read on. According to this calendar, most of October (until the 27th) is the month of the butterfly. Intrigued, I dug deeper.

One site described how people associated with the month of the butterfly are dreamers who experience joy and wonder. Further, the butterfly is revered for its vulnerability and faith. Dreams, joy, wonder, vulnerability, and faith? All the things we need as we navigate this pregnancy.

“The Butterfly.” Perfect.

I’ve seen a couple of small signs since then that reinforce for me that this is the right nickname. A few weeks ago, my son’s daycare shared pictures of him coloring in a butterfly printout during art that day.

Stuffed butterfly - Mary's Bump Day Blog, Week 16: The Butterfly

Author’s Personal Collection/Mary Mathes

More recently, in Nathan’s Easter basket from his grandparents, the first item he pulled out was a stuffed butterfly. I was shocked at the coincidence. We hadn’t told them what we’ve been calling the baby. They happened upon it on their own (and almost didn’t buy it). But as soon as Nathan pulled it free of the tissue paper, he smiled, then snuggled it close to his chest. Hopefully, he’ll feel the same affection toward his sister when she arrives.

I’m also aware that butterflies hold significance to some loss parents.

The woman who ran the support group we joined that first year after losing the Pumpkin saw the butterfly as her symbol of her lost son. She gifted each of us a butterfly on a stick which I still use as a stake in one of my potted plants. When we first found the gravesite where our baby’s remains were interred by the hospital (along with countless other babies lost too soon to have their own graves), there was a yellow butterfly decoration and some yellow silk flowers left by another grieving family.

So, “The Butterfly” feels like a fitting choice. Soon enough, I hope to start feeling the butterfly-like flutters of her little movements in my belly. Her way of letting me know she’s there, eagerly growing in her chrysalis and waiting for her chance to emerge.

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