Caleb. If you’d have told me five years ago that just seeing my number-one baby name pick written on a page would have make me cry into my margarita for six hours, I would have said you were crazy. But today, that’s my reality.
It all started when my husband Carlo and I were trying to conceive, just 11 months after our wedding. My best friend, Jenna, was my maid of honor. Throughout our childhood and teenage years, we shared everything: secrets, hairstyles, clothes, and yes, even boys. So when it came time to celebrate all of the milestones of adulthood, Jenna was my natural companion.
One slightly tipsy night, Jenna and I wandered onto the topic of baby-making. I poured my heart out to Jenna; I told her all about basal temperatures, leaving work to do the deed just because I was ovulating, and most importantly, my cherished baby name: Caleb Michael.
I’d decided on “Caleb Michael” when I was eleven years old. At sixteen, I vowed to only date men with first names that began with the letter C to ensure their receptiveness to C-names. Caleb Michael was the perfect name for Carlo and me. The C to honor my husband and the M to reflect my first initial and the first initials of both of my parents. When I told Jenna the name, I made her swear not to tell a soul. I trusted her implicitly. This was a woman who’d seen me throw up into a basket of tortilla chips nine Cinco de Mayos in a row.
Three months later, I arrived to girls’ night with a happy secret. Jenna showed up wearing a sly smile and her fat jeans. When the server asked for our drink orders, Jenna and I both blurted “I’ll have a soda water, please” at the same time. As soon as we said it, we dissolved into happy tears, giggles, and embraces. “I’m pregnant!” I cried. “I’m pregnant!” she screeched. We hugged and cried, knowing we were going to be mommies together.
On the night of December 3rd, 2011 I received a text from Jenna that read “Im in labor bitch!!!!1” It was happening!! Caleb Michael’s future BFF was coming.
I remember walking into the birthing suite and seeing Jenna with new eyes. She was pure maternal perfection. It wasn’t until Jenna uttered three words that both the energy in the room and in my life changed forever. She looked up at me and whispered, “Molly. Meet Caleb. Caleb Michael.”
CALEB!? Meet Caleb?! The harp I’d been hearing quickly turned to a soundtrack more befitting a horror film. I was so infuriated, in fact, that my mucus plug blew and I had to suffer the indignity of going into labor at that very hospital, completely violating my flawless birth plan. As the nurses firmly placed me in a wheelchair and wheeled me to my own birthing suite, I turned and told Jenna, “this isn’t over.”
Twenty two hours later, my own little man was in my arms and I was a wreck. As I held my new baby, I felt nothing. For twenty nine years, I expected to look into the face of a Caleb Michael. And now, he was no one.
It took almost two months for me to regroup and begin to think about a new name for my child. When I asked Jenna to explain herself, she told me, “I’m sorry. I really am. But when you know, you just know. And when you said the name ‘Caleb Michael’ to me, I swear I felt him kick.” I explained to Jenna that feeling a baby kick before conception was completely impossible, but she wouldn’t listen to reason.
Jenna and I parted on terrible terms. I keyed “name stealer” into her Kia on my way out. Two years later, the anger still pops up in moments when I least expect it. My family has moved to another town in another state. We’re almost happy now. Most importantly, we have a beautiful, intelligent and almost remarkable two-year-old son: Calen.