When my husband and I first got pregnant, we weren’t quite sure what to think. We didn’t know if we were ready—after all, raising a human is a big responsibility.
But as the due date approached and I watched my belly grow, we became more excited. This baby would be the first in a new generation of our family. This child would make us parents, our parents grandparents, and our siblings aunts and uncles.
Like most expecting parents, we agonized over names. We’d decided not to find out the baby’s gender before birth, so we needed a boy name and a girl name and decided to keep our choices to ourselves.
But choosing names was hard. We wanted to bestow a name our child would like and appreciate, but also a name that would inspire. Names have significance beyond the designation we use to refer to one another—they are central to our identities, and the right name can signify the parents’ prayer and hope for that child’s life. We wanted to inspire this child to become a man or woman of God and picked names we hoped would encourage that future.
Then came the horror and shock of the moment we found out our child would be stillborn.
Already in labor, I lay in the triage room at the hospital and watched the nurses’ eyes fill with tears as the doctor with the ultrasound gave us the devastating news.
“The baby isn’t alive at all?” I asked.
“No,” he said. And with that, my world shattered.
We were suddenly faced with decisions we never thought we’d have to make.
What funeral home would we use? Did we want a burial or cremation? Would we get an autopsy if we didn’t find out why the baby died? Did we even want to see the baby’s body or know the baby’s gender?
With an epidural in place so I could think around the pain of contractions, we cringed at the first set of pressing questions. We finally decided that yes, we wanted to see the baby’s body and know the baby’s gender.
But suddenly the names we’d picked out no longer applied.
We’d picked out names that would inspire a future reliance on God, that reflected our hope that this child would shine the light of Christ into a darkening world. But now this child would never see the world—would instead go straight to Heaven.
So in a 10-minute decision that belied the months we’d agonized over the previous names, we picked new ones. And when our daughter was delivered at 12:30 PM on May 28, 2019, she had a new name.
It has struck me in the long months of grieving her death that while naming her based on present circumstances is unusual for our culture, it’s also Biblical. The Old Testament is filled with parents naming their children based on what was happening at the time. When Jacob and Esau were born, their parents named Esau after the red hair that covered his body “like a hairy cloak,” and Jacob (which means he takes by the heel) because he was literally holding onto Esau’s heel.
The name Reuben means see, a son because Leah wanted to be loved by Jacob; Hannah named her son Samuel, which means heard of God because God heard her and granted her pleas for a child. The Bible is full of names that reflect the present.
We’d done the same. But we’d also named our daughter Faith for the same reason we’d chosen the previous names: to inspire.
But not to inspire her life here on earth since she won’t have one. We want her story to inspire others, especially us as her parents, to renew our own faith in the Lord. To remember God is faithful to us and can use any hardship for his glory. “For all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God is faithful, even through the trials and agonies that happen on this earth. And though our daughter Faith is no longer here with us, God can (and I pray He will) use her to draw others nearer to Himself and make us more like Jesus.
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).
So as we tread further down the path of grief, I’m thankful for a name I can hold onto like a prayer. Her name reminds me that God is faithful to me, and that I need to trust him in return.