One of the parenting forums I'm on had a rant from one saying how they found it annoying when people call their fetuses stupid nicknames like 'Bean Dip.' On the same thread, people reported hearing Nugget, Emmy (for Embryo), Peanut, and my personal favorite, Cletus the Fetus.
Cletus! That’s a good one, I thought. Mine were Sluggo (because come on, you know that's what that first ultrasound looks like) and Birdie (because that was my older daughter Penny's favorite word at the time). And these anonymous posters, whomever they are, can think whatever they like – I would nickname my fetus again if the need arose.
My reasons for having a pre-birth nickname for my kids were complicated. First of all, there was simply superstition: we Jews are extremely cautious when it comes to babies, and as my friend Jessica notes, it’s just to protect ourselves from excess disappointment if something doesn’t work out. We’re not even supposed to have baby showers, and I went though complicated rituals of pretending I had bought baby items for someone else just in case. Just in case what? I have no idea. But there was no way I was going to attract some avenging angel’s attention by announcing my babies’ names ahead of time.
Then there was indecision. If I go shopping with a partner, I’m guaranteed the whole expedition will take one-third to one-half of the time it would take if I were alone, because without external assistance saying “yes,” “no,” “are you nuts?” “enough!” I enter a shopping fugue state that leaves me dazed, wearing mis-matched shoes so I can better gauge how a skirt will look in different situations, nearly weeping because I just don’t know whether I can stand missing this opportunity to own an Anna Sui, even if it is hideous. All this to say: if I can’t buy clothes, if I haven’t yet (at age 40) settled on a tattoo design, if I insist my husband orders a different entrée from me so I can taste two – how could I be sure I wouldn’t change my insanely pregnant mind in those heady nine months?
And finally, there was stubbornness and a desire for privacy. I’d have to share my baby with the rest of the world soon enough. Must I have family members calling up and asking “How’s Penelope?” when she was still inside me? They don’t call up and ask “how’s Pancreas” or “say ‘hi’ to Kidney the Left.” Let’s leave my insides inside, that’s what I say.
Incidentally, I did have one pregnancy that didn’t work out – and I just don’t say what I called that one. He’s mine, alone.
What did/do you call your babies, pre-baby? And why?
Image via the author -- from a book-signing barely a week before "Sluggo" became Penelope!