Relatives and Late Night Television


Despite having no evidence either way, while I was pregnant I somehow convinced myself that our first child was a girl.

Our first child was affectionately nicknamed “Bean” in utero. Having decided not to find out whether Bean was, as we put it, “A Lima, or a Garbanzo”, we worked hard to come up  with a short list of male and female names. Our criteria were simple: the name had to be compatible with Peter’s last name, and preferably, the name couldn’t be shortened in some unattractive or off-colour fashion. Whatever name we chose also needed to be common enough, but not so common that they’d be one of five in their kindergarten classroom. Whether we were hedging our bets, or just giving in to some mistaken belief that we thought we knew what was going on, we ended up with a list of girls’ names long enough to be wrapped around my expansive belly, and only two names for a boy.

The length of the girls’ list caused me some anxiety, for I was sure we were going to have to make a choice from it.  I take now the fact that we never did agree on a girl’s name as a sign that my body knew something that my brain refused to recognize.  Once we knew that Bean was, in fact, a Garbanzo, his name was obvious.

The name we chose is so perfect for him that I can barely believe there were ever other names on the list at any point. He was named for for my grandfather, who was 92 when Daniel was born and who passed short months later. His middle name is Peter father’s,  who passed away in 1995. Even though he was named for his ancestors, he now owns that name; it is him, in its entirety, and I can’t imagine having given him any other.


When it came time to find out whether I was carrying a boy or a girl the second time around, practicality (and my will) prevailed, and “Chip” showed himself to be all boy. This time, I was not surprised. But what to call him? We went back to our old list, now with one name on it, mulled it about, rolled it around, and put it back on the shelf. It was….all right. It would do. Maybe.  In jest, I threatened to make Chip pick his own name using a naming ritual that I’d read about in some attachment parenting book.  We debated names. We perused the baby name books. We were stuck.

At around the 29th week of pregnancy, I was admitted to hospital. The woman in the bed across from me was lovely – ebullient and generous. She also snored like an elephant with a head cold: long, sonorous, raspy inhalations and exhalations that made it impossible for me to sleep, and left me sobbing with exhaustion.

Desperate, I got a TV. For the next few nights, I stuffed the TV’s earplugs deeply into my ears, hoping to at least muffle her snores. Muffled they were, but not enough to actually allow me any decent restorative sleep. So, I passed the time with late night movies, including this one. I can barely remember now what the movie was about, but I was taken by the main character, and the character’s name stuck. Luckily, Peter liked the name, too, and the previous contender for a name was pushed aside in favour of the name Sebastian, with a middle name honouring my father. Like his brother, he now embodies that name, and I can’t imagine what we’d have called him had I not watched TV that night.


Both boys share a second middle name: my last name. This was not part of the original plan, but minutes after Daniel’s birth by forceps, Peter suggested that we also make my last name a middle name. I wasn’t in a position to argue.