Iris Magdalen arrived last Friday night at 7:54, weighing 8 lbs 11oz and measuring 22 inches.
Although we first fell in love with the names in other contexts (a movie and a book, respectively), the more I thought about the names the more perfect they became. She’s named for a goddess and a saint, which is not too shabby for a person somewhat smaller than a seedless watermelon.
In Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow and a messenger of the gods, appearing on urns and statuary as a beautiful young woman with golden wings.
Mary Magdalene was also a messenger, called the “apostle to the apostles” in some Christian traditions because she was the first to see the risen Messiah and the first to carry the good news of his resurrection to the other disciples.
Carl, who is generally the less pretentious half of our marriage, tells people that what this really means is that our daughter is going to grow up to be a postal worker.
I prefer my version.
Our daughter is our message from the (G)ods, our reminder that life is good. Iris is the goddess of the rainbow, and in the Christian tradition the rainbow is a symbol of hope and promise. After we lost our first baby last year, I joined a message board to process that grief with other women who had experienced loss or fertility problems. That’s where I first heard the term “rainbow baby.”
One of the moms explained it to me like this:
“Rainbow Babies” are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds.
You don’t have to experience fertility issues to know that life is sometimes hard. We each get our chance to deal with disappointment, loss, and grief. Or, you know, broken ankles and multiple surgeries. Storms are an inevitable part of life.
That doesn’t mean life is bad.
Life is still good. Still a gift.
That’s what her name means to me, although it’s definitely a coffee-shop type of thought and not something that engenders especially mystical feelings whilst trying to resolve latch issues and decipher the secret language of poop consistency.
But you give your child the best you have. I have words and symbols. So that’s what I give. A name that is also a blessing.
And if she grows up to work for FedEx, that’s cool too.