When you become a parent, one of the first decisions you make for your child is what name to give them. It’s a pretty big decision. They’re going to carry this name for their life. There are all sorts of things to think about; Will they like their name? What meaning does that name hold for you? What will their initials be? Are there any possible dodgy abbreviations or nicknames? Will it sound nice with their surname or siblings names?
With both of my boys, I have ended up naming them after family members. I named my eldest “Thomas”, after my Granda. Although I love the name, for my second I wanted a name which was more Irish so that my children would remember that aspect of their heritage. My husband was absolutely resolute that if we went with an Irish name, it had to be one which was easy to spell (so that was Aodh and Dubhaltach out…). After lots of discussion we settled on the name “Aidan”, after my father.
When we found out about Aidan’s diagnosis, I suddenly was not so sure about the name I had picked out. I had pictured Aidan in my head for 8 months, and the Aidan in my head did not have Down’s Syndrome. It sounds so ridiculous to say it now, but for a few days it just felt wrong. I wondered if my Dad would mind if I used his name for my disabled child, who wouldn’t be tall, might not get married, might not complete further education, who wouldn’t look “typical”.
From reading other blogs and hearing the experiences of others, it seems like this is not such an unusual feeling. It was even part of an Eastender’s story line, when Honey struggled with the diagnosis when her daughter Janet was born.
I spoke to my husband about the way I was feeling, and he thought we should keep our original choice in name. The more I thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed.
Aidan is an Irish name meaning “little fire” or “fiery one”. My Dad was born prematurely, weighing only a few pounds, and required a full blood transfusion at birth. Against the odds, he made it and grew up to be a big, tall, strong man, who has achieved so much in his life.
My little Aidan, growing inside of me, had beaten the odds to get this far (for a variety of reasons, only a very small percentage of Trisomy 21 pregnancies make it to term). We knew that when he was born, he would face an even greater fight, with surgery in the first week of his life.
This little boy was a fighter, he had fire in him. Suddenly the name which meant “little fire” seemed so appropriate. And why wouldn’t it? He had never changed from the baby he was when he was conceived – he was always little Aidan.