It took us four days. Or 32 weeks and 1 day.
We had a hearty list of girl names that we had planned on whittling down before the baby came, but we'd always wanted to see her before we chose something for sure. At least the benefit of having her come two months early was that we had a lot of time to decide!
Because of my c section I wasn't allowed to go see our girl until the doctor gave the go ahead for me to move which ended up being about 24 hours. Thankfully, I am married to the best man in the whole world. Tommy not only made a billion trips between me and the NICU that day, taking pictures and taking care of both of his girls, but he made it clear to the doctor that night that I really needed to see my baby and fought for me so I could see her that soon! Get that man a medal!
Because I hadn't seen her in person and because she came so early and was still developing and changing, it was a challenge to pick a name that we felt fit her face and her personality.
Many names on our list were easy to nix because they didn't fit her face, but even then we had a lot to figure out! There were certain aspects of her personality that we wanted to be reflected in her name, the weirdness of "Clara" being the name to flash into my mind when I saw her for the first time, and the fact that I wanted the concept of "hope" to be in her name somewhere.
Emma ~ whole, complete, universal
We could tell that our baby had a calm, steadiness about her. She barely cried and was born with these coal-black eyes that felt like an endlessly deep pool of perfectly still water. The nurses called her an old soul, and even though she was so new to life on this Earth, she just took it in like it was already familiar. She was okay with it even if her body needed more time to catch up :) Emma has been a significant name to both Tommy and I and we always felt like/hoped we'd have a daughter that would fit the name. Emma seemed to fit that deep, calm, steady side we saw in our little girl.
Alexis ~ defender of man
We also learned really quick that our baby girl was feisty. She fought the nurses and doctors, ripped off her breathing tube, and successfully flourished at being alive in the outside world she technically wasn't supposed to be in yet. Feisty! We thought that Alex was a feisty name and it had always been on our list because Tommy's best friend is named Alex, and I love boy names for girls and that one in particular. Being a book nerd, I love Alexandria because of the library of Alexandria...but Alexandria Steinkuhler is suuper long. Thus, Alexis.
We debated Emma or Alexis for about two days. Which would be first? Which was she more? Which would she like better? Tommy tried yelling both, we thought Emma Alexis flowed better than Alexis Emma, but it didn't suck if you said it slowly... For a whole day she was Alexis Emma. The poor nurses put up with our flip flopping and just kept changing her white board and started calling her whatever we said next :)
Clara ~ clear, bright, distinguished
I still have no idea why Clara popped into my head when I saw her face! It wasn't even on the list! I think it's a beautiful name but it was too close for comfort to my own name and Tommy didn't get any such name flashings when he saw her. We decided it didn't really seem to fit her anyway and nixed it. So maybe it was the drugs??
Hope was the greatest truth I learned from this baby. From the very beginning when we first found out we were expecting right through her birth and to this day; she has been one big lesson on hope. I wanted so much for her to know that. Know what a light and hope she has been to us, and to have that be a part of her name somehow. Unfortunately there aren't that many names that mean 'hope'. We tossed around the name Dawn which is a family name of two great ladies we absolutely love and denotes a beginning and the first light of a new day. We tossed around straight up using Hope as a middle name. But when it seemed like we were really liking Emma Alexis, a third name was going to be a bit much just to satisfy my whole hope complex!
It took me until that Saturday morning (I think) to see the 'hope' concept in her initials if we went with Emma as the first name. It's a bit of a stretch as you have to use the first two letters of her last name, not just the S, but I kind of like that it is hidden.
E.mma A.lexis ST.einkuhler
East is where the light comes from! Every dawn of the new day comes from the east. Ah hope-filled east!
*And now, in true Steinkuhler fashion, I'm going to quote LOTR and scripture right after each other, and crack up while doing it.*
"Look to the East!" - Gandalf
"For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." Joseph Smith Matthew 1:26
There you go.
Emma Alexis Steinkhuler,
Gandalf, God and your ridiculous parents approve of your name. Hopefully you like it ;)