Today was a calm day for Blaise. No real changes to any of her feeding amounts or schedules, no new medications, and a lot of nap-time while being held by Mom and Dad. Since there's not a lot to report on the medical/surgical front, I thought I'd take a second to write about her name.
I actually overheard her day nurse briefing the night crew on Blaise's condition, and at the first mention of her name, the new nurse interrupted right away:
"Blaise. Blaise Conwell."
"How do you spell that?"
Most of the reactions we've heard have been really positive (though those are only the ones that we've heard). Our friends in France seemed very pleased that we chose a scholarly French name, and the priest that baptized Blaise was also all excited to tell me about St. Blaise and St. Ursula. The question everybody has asked us is where the name(s) come from, and we honestly feel a little bad that we don't have a great story. Still, there is a lot of neat stuff about her name we can tell you, some of which helped us decide that it was a great name for our kid.
OK, the first thing is going to sound a little dumb, but I'm just going to fess up: I thought it would be cool for her to have doubled B's for initials. I've got 'em, my Dad's got 'em, and they've worked out great. When I was a little kid I thought it was really cool that I had an alliterative name, and since I didn't have any desire to actually pass my own first name on in any form this seemed like a neat way to keep an ad hoc tradition going. Besides, lots of great superhero names have doubled initials: Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards...you catch my drift.
So why Blaise? Why not any other girl's name that starts with B? Honestly, we just saw it on a list and liked it. It sounded strong and interesting, and both of us liked the idea that it was a unique name by virtue of being old rather than new. (I actually told some of my friends that the girl's name we picked was old-fashioned, and when they started guessing things like "Beatrice," I couldn't resist telling them that I meant "like Middle-Ages-old.")
The name has a few neat things associated with it that we knew we liked. St. Blaise has one of the more interesting rituals in the Catholic church associated with him, in which a blessing to ward off throat disease (one of the things Blaise is patron of) is accompanied by crossing lit candles at the neck of the petitioner. He's also the patron saint of infants, animals, and (according to some sources) scientists...three things that more or less sum up our household. Besides St. Blaise, Blaise Pascal was an important mathematician and Christian scholar famed for his attempts to reconcile science and religion and fleshing out a great deal of probability theory. If you're curious, looking up "Pascal's triangle" and "Pascal's wager" will give you a good sense of both aspects of his life and how he tried to reconcile them. Finally, it turns out that "Blaise" is actually derived from the same root as "Balas." In a sense, this means that we've effectively named our daughter something approximating "Shrimp Scampi" but I figure it's alright.
So what about "Ursula?" This one is unfortunately just us being a little cutesy. We fell into the habit early on of referring to the baby as "The Cub," and so a middle name that means "Little She-Bear" seemed appropriate. I know, I know...we're reverse-anthropomorphizing bears Disney-style. But you know what? Bears are awesome. They're top of the food-chain in most ecosystems they inhabit, are better swimmers and tree-climbers than most animals who develop only one such skill, and can walk bipedally whenever they feel like it. Seriously...beat that. We also just thought it was a pretty name.
So that's pretty much it. Like I said, not so much of a great story or anything, but we feel like we've given her a name that's got a lot to recommend it. It's a name with history and strength, and seems to suit her very well. I think some of our family and friends have been a bit surprised that we did pick something unconventional, but I also think that when you meet her it doesn't take long to see that she really is "Blaise."