My Antonia

Jenny and I welcomed our daughter Antonia last week. Antonia was healthy at 9 pounds 1 ounce and 21.25 inches long. Jenny had a tough labor but is recovering nicely.

Antonia birth photo

Picking a name for someone is hard. They are pretty much stuck with it. Many expectant parents have a hard time choosing a name, but strangely, we never considered any others (we knew we were having a daughter very early in the pregnancy).

The name comes from My Ántonia by Willa Cather, one of Jenny and my favorite novels. We read the book on our honeymoon back in 2007. I connected with the book in many ways. Growing up in the Midwest, I loved the novel’s evocation of the changing prairie landscape, sparse yet beautiful and doomed. My family heritage connected me to the book because my dad’s family is Bohemian, like Ántonia’s. And it’s simply a wonderful story about friendship, loss, and life.

I suggested the name, and Jenny liked it too. Both of us have Antons and Antoinettes in our families, so we appreciated that connection. According to Wikipedia, it means “priceless” which seemed appropriate due to the emotional and monetary cost of bringing her into the world (but that is a story for another time). That said, the name is of unknown Etruscan origin, so I doubt Antonia really means that. The name is old; it has been used since Roman times. Dooming her to a lifetime of correcting both her first and last names, we pronounce it an-to-nee-a, like Ántonia in the novel. We think it is a strong name for the strong woman we hope our daughter will grow up to become.

I was worried about not having a backup plan. What if Jenny gave birth, and we looked at the baby and thought, “She just doesn’t seem like an Antonia?” But Jenny had no hesitation. So, welcome to the world, Antonia.