Naming Four

Circumstances that I will not go into here had led me to be mildly concerned that I might be pregnant. It shouldn’t be a concern. My birth control method is one of the most reliable on the market. Birth control has never failed us in the 20+ years we’ve been married. But still, I became increasingly worried as the week went on.

Eventually, I asked my husband to pick up a pregnancy test. Just so we could relax about it. Or face our grim fate, if need be.

So early Saturday morning, when I awoke, I slipped quietly out of bed and peed on the stick. And waited. I hid the box and other evidence under the other trash in the trashcan so we wouldn’t get any awkward questions from our children. And then I crawled back into bed.

“Well,” I said, “I guess I can safely drink wine tonight when the Joneses come over.”

“So it was negative?” he asked.


“You ok with that?”

I laughed a humorless laugh. “Of course I’m ok with that!”

“You aren’t just a little disappointed?”

“Maybe point five percent. That’s all. The negatives way out-weight the positives.”

“Well, it sounds like the biggest negative was on that stick.”

I smiled. “Some of the biggest negatives are… financial. We are less than two months away from being done paying for preschool. Done! And we’d be starting all over again. We’d still be paying for preschool when Jane left for college.

“And then there’s physical. My body didn’t handle the last one too well. How much worse would this be? Carrying all that weight around? I was thinking about that when I rolled over in the middle of the night. How much harder it’d be. And you know, the blood donation questionnaire asks if you’ve had four or more pregnancies. Would I not be able to donate blood anymore?

“And then there’s potty training. I SO don’t want to go through that again.”

“We are still going through that,” he said, referring to Hal’s unwillingness to wipe his own bottom. And his ineptitude when he tries.

“I’m too tired to have another baby,” I said. “But the positives… holding that tiny little thing in my arms? Shocking everyone when we break the news. That’d be fun. And it’d be nice for Tabitha Grace to be in the world,” I said, referring to the second girl’s name that we had chosen along with Jane’s some fourteen or fifteen years ago.

“Or Elliot,” he said.

I looked up sharply. “Simon,” I said. “Or maybe Peter.”

He said no.

“Oh, yeah. Not Peter. Peter from Ender’s Game. And my old boss. Not a good name.”

“Peter from Divergent,” he said, smiling.

“Right. Not Peter. Ok. What about Paul? Adam?”

“No. How about Arias?”


“Arias. A-R-I-A-S.”

“Is that a boy’s name or a girl’s?”

“Either one.”

“Did you make it up?”


“I don’t like made-up names,” I said, snuggling in closer.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t.”

“Ok. Samantha.”

“WHAT?!” I asked, scandalized. “You can’t rethink girl’s names. You can’t do that to Tabitha. She’s been next in line from the beginning. Don’t even go there!”

“What about Turner? I like Turner.”

“You are breaking the pattern we’ve established,” I said.

“What pattern?”

I waved my arm toward the kids’ bedrooms. “They are all Biblical,” I said (I don’t use their real names in this blog). “And they all mean something to us. And they are all simple. Common but not currently common.”

“Ok, how about Table? We can call him Tab.”

“What?! Have you lost your mind? Why Table?”

“The Lord’s Table. That’s in the Bible.”

“You are impossible.” I glanced at my Kindle lying on my pillow. “How about James? It’s my favorite book in the Bible. We can call him Jamie.”

Knowing that I was currently rereading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, he said, “No. I see what you are doing there. No.”

“James! It’s my favorite Bible book! That’s all!”

He tickled me and we both laughed.

“Hezekiah,” he said.

“Barnabas,” I countered.

“We could call him Barney,” he said and we both smiled, thinking of Jane’s love for How I Met Your Mother and Neil Patrick Harris in particular. “Wouldn’t it be funny if he turned out to be gay?”

“Beats being a womanizer.”

“Or a gay womanizer!” he laughed.

I smiled.

“Kevin,” he said. “Simple but not common now.”


Kelvin” he crooned. “I like Kelvin.”

“Going scientific instead of Biblical, eh? That works.”

“I could call him Vinnie. Oh! Calvin. I could still call him Vinnie.”

“Calvin, huh? Going with our Presbyterian roots?”

He snorted with laughter. “Our Presbyterian roots?! So our kid is going to be shallow?” This referring to the fact that we have been Presbyterian for less than three years.

“Something like that. Why don’t you name him Alvin? Then you can still call him Vinnie.”

“Ooh! Elven. Let’s go Lord of the Rings with it. And I can still call him Vinnie.”


“I like Tobias.”

“Me too. But we can’t name him Tobias,” I said.

“Why not?”

“Divergent. Everyone will be naming their kid Tobias for the next five years.”

“No, everyone will be naming their kid Tobias in five years. They are still teenagers right now. It’d be safe to name him that now.”

“Yes, and some of those teenagers will be having babies soon. And some of the Divergent fans are older. I’m telling you, there’d be too many Tobiases.”

“I like Tobias,” he repeated.

“Me too. And I guess that’s what’s most important.”

“No,” he corrected, “What’s most important is remembering that we aren’t actually having a baby!”

“True,” I laughed.

“I could call him Obie.”

“Wouldn’t it be ‘O-bye’? Toe-BYE-us?” I asked.

“Are you trying to be biased?” he asked with a grin. “I’d still call him Obie.”

“Not Tobie?”


“Because of my brother’s dog?”

“No. Because if I call him Obie then I can call him Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

“You are awful!”

“Ooh! Tobias Wan {our last name}.”

“That’s awful.”

“No! I’ve got it! Tobias Wonder {our last name}.”

“You need to stop playing now. That’s terrible.”

“That’s awesome! When girls found out his name, they’d be like ‘Oooh!'”

“No, they’d be like ‘That’s so weird. What’s wrong with your parents?'”

“No. They’d think it’s awesome because he’d be so awesome.”

“He’d be a spoiled brat,” I said.

“No, he wouldn’t. He’d be another firstborn. That’d be perfect.”

“There was a big enough gap for Hal to be a firstborn, but he sure isn’t.”

“No, he’s the baby for sure,” he agreed. “But it’s not a science. There aren’t hard and fast rules. Hal would still be the baby.”

“No he wouldn’t,” I argued. “He’d become a bitter and mean middle child, mad at the world and sure everyone was out to get him. Just like his brother.” Daryl is entering that difficult preteen stage and starting to get a little dark and moody at times.

“Tobias. Obie.”

“We’d have to call him Four,” I said, referring to Tobias’s nickname in Divergent.

“Yes, we would. That’d be perfect,” he said, drawing my attention to the fact that our mythical Tobias would be the fourth child.

“That is perfect,” I agreed, squeezing him for a hug. “Of course, it isn’t going to happen since we aren’t actually pregnant.”

“True,” he said.

Before that morning, we had been on edge and reluctant to discuss the fallout if my now-discredited worries proved accurate. We just got still and looked past each other with dread. But now that it was safe, we wiled away the morning dreaming of what could be… knowing that it was all only in fantasy land. And now Tobias can join Tabitha in our happy imaginary expanded family.



I’m responsible for providing the bread for visitors at church tomorrow so I checked supplies before heading out to drop Jane off at her Etiquette Dinner. As it so happened, the only carton of eggs in the fridge was full of boiled eggs, their little penciled B’s looking up at me when I peeked in the carton.

We live outside of town and the dinner was further outside of town. Oh, well. I’ll just have to stop at the convenience store and pay convenience prices for the eggs, I thought.

After dropping her off, I noticed my stomach starting to cramp. Just slightly. It had been painfully cramped all day yesterday. I started thinking about whether I should go to the doctor because this seemed to be happening too frequently. That made me begin to wonder what could be the cause. Diet? Some new food sensitivity? Something scarier?

Before long, I was having one of my full-blown dark fantasies. I was diagnosed with cancer, needing surgery and chemo. I started examining what the effects of such news would be. I wouldn’t be able to secure additional life insurance anymore. If I died, my husband wouldn’t have a lot to support him while he struggled to get on his feet. Even if I didn’t die, what would change?

I still don’t know if this imagination of mine is a good thing or bad. On the one hand, it allows me to explore how I would handle traumatic news without it actually happening. On the other hand, it chokes me up as if it is really happening and just seems kinda creepy.

At some point, I realized that I had driven past the convenience store. I pulled over and waited for the other cars to pass so I could turn around. Then I realized that I had not actually passed the convenience store. So once the road was clear, I resumed my journey.

I pulled into our driveway and verified Hal was still asleep in the backseat. I wondered if I could leave him sleeping without him being too scared when he woke up and was alone in the car. That reminded me that I had planned to leave him sleeping in the car while I ran into the store, which I had not done.

I circled out of the driveway, returned to the store, picked out a carton of eggs, and drove home without incident. Hal woke up when we got home so we entered the house together. I sat the carton on the counter and gathered the other ingredients. I fixed the batter and put the pan in the oven. I began cleanup.

Opening the door of the fridge, I looked for a spot to put the carton of eggs. There was room on the shelf under the carton of boiled eggs. I slid it into place. Right next to another carton of 12 raw eggs.

Perhaps it’s not cancer I need to worry about.