Yesterday, we held the Jewish baby naming ceremony for our newest daughter, Cleo. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I remember feeling a similar rush of joy at the naming of Katie, about seven years ago, and again at the naming of Annie Rose, about three and a half years ago.
Katie's Hebrew name is Chaya Liron, which means life and joy. Those were the two best words to describe what she brought to our lives, after a childless, grief-filled time. Annie Rose's Hebrew name is Eitana Nessiah, which means strength and miracle of God, because she was not expected to survive the pregnancy, and she made her way to us nonetheless.
And Cleo's Hebrew name is Davina Hadar. The meaning is explained in the following letter that I wrote to my baby girl and read during yesterday's ceremony.
My Dearest Cleo,
I have been looking forward to this day for months. When you were born, and we saw that the long-awaited baby was a third little girl, I knew that another little girl was exactly what I wanted. We managed to keep your gender a surprise, which wasn't easy in a pregnancy that had two amnios and more than 30 ultrasounds.
Becoming a mother to my third daughter was one of the best surprises in my life
Cleo, your birth was beautiful, and it was a wonderful way for us to start our life together. It was sort of a metaphor for our process of becoming parents. The night was long and anxious; the labor was difficult and uncertain, but we turned the corner as the dawn approached. You arrived, a gorgeous little miracle, bathed in the morning light that illuminated our room.
It was a fitting beginning to your life in our family. We were great as a family of four, but we are spectacular as a family of five. Our house is a noisy boisterous place, full of life and love, and you are right in there with all the action.
There was a rare quiet moment a week ago. Daddy came to get me and said, "You have to see this." He led me to the office, where you and your sisters were all sitting on the floor. Katie was absorbed in a book. Next to her, Annie Rose was engrossed in a book. And, sitting up, there you were, holding a little book and carefully examining the picture on one of the pages.
The room was silent and peaceful. The three of you sat there, separately engaged in reading, yet still members of a pack. Each of you, an independent, strong little girl, each of you an individual in this family, yet clearly a trio of sisters, forever bound to each other, as I am to my own sisters.
It was a special moment, seeing all that you are to each other, and all that you will become.
Cleo, we picked your Hebrew name, Davina Hadar, because it means cherished and spectacular. That is what you are to us.
Cherished and spectacular.
You only need to exist, to be our daughter, and we will feel this way about you. Our love is unconditional. It can be hard sometimes to have older sisters. It can be difficult to feel as if you have to fill their shoes.
So, let your Hebrew name remind you that you do not have to fill anyone's shoes. You are cherished and spectacular, right from the start, simply because you had the karma to end up where you are in this life. Whatever you do with your life, wherever you go, whatever mistakes you make and triumphs you achieve, we will cherish you.
We will find you spectacular. Cleo Josephine, Davina Hadar, let our loved ones here today bear witness to our joy at having you as our precious daughter.
Welcome to the world.
It was a beautiful naming and a terrific party! We could not have pulled it off without my parents and Andrew's parents, who were all indispensable, as usual.
And here is a special thank you to my sisters, Lisa, Jenny and Lindsey, and my nieces, Sophie and Livie, and to my parents, Barbara and Allan, for flying in from around the country to be with us at Cleo's naming. Thank you also to Julie and James, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Fred, Uncle Bob, Aunt Roberta, Jean, Candi and Joel for flying in or traveling in from far away. We really appreciate the effort you made to be with us at such a joyous occasion.
To Cleo! L'chaim!