What's In a Name?

Guest Post by Cristin Woodsum

I already had six beautiful children: Frank, Eddie, Charlie, Josephine, Louis and Eva. And in 2015, my husband Jon and I conceived two children that we never got to meet: Max and Gemma. They are two precious souls that our kids talk about every single day. But losing them was really hard for Jon and me. It was a time when I had to coach myself, and have others remind me that, despite the deep grief I was feeling, coupled with the feelings of loneliness and brokenness, that God was still there holding me. Even when I didn’t “feel” it. Jon and I consciously put our pain at the foot of the cross, some times better than others, asking God to take away the hurt. And for what seemed like a long time, He didn’t. He let us feel the pain, the loss, and we had to choose to accept God’s plan as perfect and beautiful, even though it didn’t feel like either at all.

The pain did subside eventually. Jon and I felt like God was asking us to open ourselves up to having another baby. That meant the potential of pain again, knowing that God wanted us to trust his plan, regardless of what that was. It was scary, but we knew we were called to trying, even if it meant not being able to hold another baby we partnered with God in creating.

We found out we were pregnant in early September. We “knew” it was a girl and that we should name her Rose. LaRosa is my mother’s maiden name, and I thought Rose was a nice little wink and a nod to her, as well as a beautiful name for a rainbow baby. But there were other reasons Rose seemed like such a great fit. First, the baby was conceived on the feast of Saint Rose (sorry if that is TMI). Second, the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist Saint Rose Guild had been praying for us for this particular intention, on St. Rose’s feast day. Finally, a priest friend of ours informed us that after our family visited his new church, a sweet little lady asked who we were and to let us know that our family reminded us of her own. She told him to let us know that Rosie was praying for us. So, obviously Rose was the name, right?


Imagine my surprise when we found out at The Big Ultrasound that our baby Rose was a boy! I was pretty disappointed. It wasn’t because that baby was a boy and not a girl. I love my boys dearly! I just felt confused by all of the signs I thought I saw indicating who this baby was, and it turned out not to be who he was at all. And even more so, after our two losses, for some reason our next baby’s name seemed so much more significant. I wanted it to have special meaning and no boy name jumped out at me as bearing any real significance. So we went back to the drawing board with the name search, and I prayed deliberately for God to help us to name this baby.

After a few weeks, I came up with Isaac. I liked it ok, but it felt a little uninspired. I mentioned it to Jon, whose best contribution up to that point was Cornelius and Gunther, and he liked it. I still wasn’t sold, but we tentatively agreed. The next morning, I was talking to my second-grader, Charlie, and mentioned that we were tossing around the name Isaac. Charlie grinned a huge grin and said, “I love that name! Isaac means laughter, because Abraham and Sarah laughed when they found out they were pregnant after they were sure they couldn’t have a baby!” 

Suddenly Isaac sounded a wee bit more “inspired” than it did before. I was diggin’ it.

The middle name was hard. Again, we wanted it to have meaning, but wanted it to sound good with Isaac too. And, let’s be real: not a whole lot of names sound good with Isaac! Then Jon and I remembered St. Francis Xavier, who was a super stud missionary, and co-founder to the Jesuit order. Isaac Xavier. Jon loved it. I liked it enough, but again, it felt a little uninspired.

The next morning, Jon asked me if I still liked the name Isaac Xavier. I told him that I liked it ok, but wasn’t sold. He said, “Well, I just realized, that if we did name him Isaac Xavier, his initials would be IX Woodsum, as in Roman numeral 9 (IX) Woodsum, and he is our ninth baby. I think that is a pretty cool shout-out to who he is. People will see us and think he is our seventh kid, but his name says he is our ninth.”

I stopped in my tracks. Isaac Xavier was the perfect name! Done! 

The day Isaac was born was a beautiful day. Jon and I took walks, talked, got some coffee, spent an hour at church worshiping our Lord, and gave birth to our beloved little IX Woodsum. The next morning I was reflecting on how good God was, and how, now as I was holding my precious little rainbow baby, that God was there when I was grieving with the losses of Max and Gemma. If I hadn’t lost them, I wouldn’t have Isaac...who was born at 6:12 (add 6+1+2, please…9!), and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce (8+1=9, if my math is correct). He is our precious little gift that God knew we would hold, even when we were grieving the loss of his siblings. And his name, and his birth stats shout out who he is as well. No one could have possibly have manipulated those!

We have a bit of a routine when we all our heading out somewhere as a family. Jon will go through a Woodsum Family Roll Call done by number. “Is #1 here?”

Frank replies, “Yep!”

“Number 2?”

“Here!” says Eddie…and so on.

We were going through our roll call this week, and Jon turns to me and asks, “When Isaac gets older can we call him number 9 instead of 7? I want him to know who he is and remember Max and Gemma in heaven.”

Needless to say, I agreed.

Everything about this new little man is such a beautiful reminder of God’s beautiful plan. When we were grieving, He knew He would let us know He never left us. We just had to trust Him enough to do it.


Cristin Woodsum is a mom to nine sweet children, seven here and two in heaven. She was one of AWPC's original social media writers.