When I was a teenager, Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel had a daughter and named her Alexa Rae. I LOVED the name and decided that if I ever had a girl, that would be her name. Thankfully, when the time came, Cris liked the name, too, and we decided on Alexa Rose, so as not to be total copycats.
Deciding on a boy’s name, however, was much harder. And we needed one because we were not finding out the sex. I had always loved Noah, but Cris thought Noah Cohen sounded like a Chico Marx joke: “There’s no-a Cohen here.” And so many boy’s names end in “en” or “on”, which we didn’t like with Cohen. We almost decided on Chase, but we couldn’t think of a middle name, and Cris thought Chase Cohen sounded too close to Cris Cohen. One day, I said “How about Max?” He loved it. Maxwell Chase, it would be. But we weren’t telling anyone. Instead, we posted a list of names we were not considering on our refrigerator and asked people to contribute. There were names like Corky, Kiki, April, May and June, Peabo, Butch and, since it was 2001-2002, Osama.
One weekend while I was pregnant we were visiting my mom. A woman from church called and I answered. Her name was Alexa. I had met her a couple of times, but knew her mother, Maxine, well. At the time, Cris wrote a weekly humor column for my hometown paper, and Maxine was his biggest fan. She used to carry his columns in her purse and make her friends, or anyone else she encountered, read them. So, it was a fitting coincidence that we chose a boy’s name that was a derivation of her name.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but tell Alexa our girl’s name choice. She was so excited. It turns out her middle name was also Rose. I pointed out that it was an unusual name. She agreed and told me that while her mom was pregnant, she was reading a book with a feisty female protagonist named Alexa. And since Alexa seemed feisty in utero, she decided it was perfect.
But she had more to say that didn’t seem pertinent at the time, but did later. Alexa had an adult special needs child. Her daughter had Angelman’s Syndrome. She told me not to worry in the event I had a special needs child… that it would enrich our lives in so many ways. I thanked her and kind of put it out of my mind, which is funny because by the time I got pregnant, most of my friends had already had all of their kids — and they all had normal kids. For years, even before I married Cris, I thought “It’s going to be me.” But, at that moment, late in my pregnancy, I didn’t feel that her heartfelt advice applied to me. But, what did I know? I was convinced the baby was a girl. In every baby dream but one, it was a girl. The one dream where I had a boy, the baby looked Middle Eastern. Maybe that was a message… your baby will be a boy and he will be different.
And Alexa was right… having a special needs child is nowhere near the end of the world. And, just like everyone’s kids, he has enriched our lives in countless ways. But, thanks to him, we have a more varied circle of friends that we ever would have imagined.