Dealing with the death of a child is unthinkably difficult. Sometimes, family members aren't quite as understanding as they should be. This post from Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" is from a woman who wasn't about to let her baby name plans get derailed by her sister-in-law, even though her sister-in-law had just suffered two stillbirths.
The woman explains that she and her sister-in-law found out they were pregnant at the same time. The SIL was due 10 days before her and was having twins. OP didn't plan to talk about baby names until her baby was born because she knew their family members would have a lot to say about it. So she and her sister-in-law didn't confer about baby names at all.
Unfortunately, her SIL's pregnancy didn't go as planned. She had massive complications and had a stillbirth of both twins at 24 weeks. They had still named the babies, and coincidentally, one of the names was the one OP and her husband had chosen for their baby. They didn't even bat an eye at using the name when their baby was born weeks later. Yes, they used the same name her SIL had just used to name her stillborn baby.
Now, her family members are mad. Wonder why! They won't refer to her baby by that name, but she doesn't think she did anything wrong. Luckily, Reddit was there to knock some sense into her. "You named your daughter after her dead cousin," one person wrote. "Think about that." They asked her to imagine a relative choosing the name of your dead child, and then having to call their niece by that name for her entire life.
"This isn't one fo those 'you stole my hypothetical baby's name!' situations. This was a real, live baby who sadly died. You knew before your baby came that was her name and you still used it. It's called respect for the dead my dear and you do not have any apparently," another person wrote.
This comment is spot on. We hear all the time that you shouldn't discuss hypothetical baby names with people because it might create issues when one of you actually gets pregnant. But that's not what this is. Her SIL happened to choose the name she wanted before she did. If the baby had lived, she wouldn't still use the name, right? Why does she think it's OK because the baby's dead? Heartless, really.
Another recent Reddit post tackles nearly the same subject. A dad-to-be posted to "Am I the A-hole?" to ask for advice. He explained that his wife lost her parents in a car accident when she was just a little girl, and she was raised by her aunt and uncle.
Four years ago, he and his wife had twin boys, and they decided to name the babies Michael, after her dad, and Adam, after her uncle. It was a way to honor those all-important members of her family, and they both liked the names.
Unfortunately, the twins were born early, and Michael died in the NICU at only 6 weeks old. Adam survived, got healthy, and is doing great. Fast-forward to today... They're pregnant again, she's due in May, and they just found out they're having another boy. Here's the kicker: His wife just told him she wants to name the new baby Michael. What is with people wanting to name babies after dead children?
He wrote, "She says that she still wants a son named after her dad, and it's not fair that her dad and son share a name and they're both gone. She also said if we can remember her father by naming our son after him, why can't we remember her dad and our son by naming our next son after them both." Obviously, this woman is clearly distraught and not just heartless, like the woman in the first story.
For OP, naming their new baby Michael would feel like "erasing the memory of our son who died. I already have a boy named Michael, he's just not here anymore." But his wife was adamant; she wouldn't even compromise and agree to use Michael as a middle name because "middle names are only used when you're trying to get his attention or scolding him for something he did wrong." They went to bed not having resolved the conversation since they were both in such oppositional places.
It sounds like OP is super sympathetic to his wife's position, but he's still firm in his stance. I don't blame him, and neither does Reddit. He was overwhelming voted NTA in this situation. Many pointed out that not only would it be strange for the parents, but having that name would place an unfair burden on the head of their child. "I think the child would prefer not to have that put on him," one commenter wrote. "I know I personally wouldn't want to be a walking reminder to my parents of the baby they lost."
Others felt for his wife but still agreed with his position. "I get both sides and I don't think anyone's being an a--hole," one person wrote. "But I do agree with you that your third son shouldn't be called Michael. It's horribly unfair that your wife's father and son are both dead, but it's also horribly unfair to saddle this child with that emotional baggage from birth."
They go on to write that they have a friend who re-used the name of her first child, who died when he was 3 years old, and they said it was "shocking and weird when my friend insisted on giving her new baby the same name." Eventually, her son was renamed.
The great suggestion was made by one commenter to get some counseling as a couple, so they can "work this out in a neutral and impartial environment." But it seems like that might not be necessary for the moment. In an edit to his original post, the OP wrote that his wife called him the next day while he was at work apologized, and said she was "just overwhelmed with the idea of having another chance at the name Michael."
She realized she hadn't thought through all the issues that could arise if they used the name again. He again brought up the option of using it as a middle name, but she said she was thinking about using her dad's middle name for their son's. Maybe she consulted a friend or family member who made her realize the truth, or maybe she just needed a day to really consider what naming their new baby Michael would do to both them and the kid.
Either way, she thankfully came to her senses, and they're in agreement once more. Someone suggested getting a memorial bench to honor her father and their son, and that was an idea they'd been floating around for a while, so they're going to start working on that. Best case scenario ending for this AITA post, I think.
The lesson of these stories is don't even consider giving your baby the same name as the dead child of someone close to you who suffered a terrible tragedy! There are so many names out there. Like, so many. Choose any other one.