in , ,

New Mom Refuses To Change Baby’s Name To Appease Grieving SIL Who Had Stillborn Baby

Newborn baby holding onto mother's hand
Sally Anscombe/GettyImages

Coming up with baby names is a huge challenge.

Once a name is agreed upon, it is usually shrouded in secrecy for fear the name isn’t used by anyone else.

But once the newborn arrives and the name is announced, all bets are off, and loved ones can focus on celebrating the new addition to the family.

But one woman who was very proud of her newborn daughter’s name faced strong objection, and her reaction led her to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit to seek judgment.

Redditor No_Leadership_2850 asked:

“AITA for telling my SIL I won’t change my 4 month old daughter’s name for her?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I gave birth to my daughter, Ember, 4 months ago. My husband and I both loved her name and that’s how it was chosen.”

“We announced the day she was born and nobody said anything negative or gave a reason for us not to use it then.”

“I say this because three days ago my SIL (sister in-law), who is married to my brother, sat me down and asked me to change the name because it’s the name of her stillborn daughter she had with her ex-husband 7 years ago.”

“She told me she tried to keep it quiet but she couldn’t let me keep calling my daughter Ember because it’s such a painful reminder for her. She told me she really feels like we should change her name.”

The OP delivered her response.

“I gently told SIL that my daughter was 4 months old and her name is on the birth certificate and it would cost us to change it, so we will not.”

“She told me she tried so hard not to say anything and the fact she did eventually break and bring this up should show how hard this is for her and make me more willing to change the name for her sake.”

“I told my husband about it afterward and he felt the same way I did. He told me it seemed like a weak excuse to wait four, almost five months, to tell us, when she had the chance long before this.”

“My brother found out about the conversation with his wife and he reached out and told me she mentioned it to him two months ago and that she was battling with asking us to change the name since, but he understands why I said no and supports the decision.”

The OP continued:

“Yesterday she reached out to me again and asked me if we had decided on a new name yet and I told her my answer is still no and she asked why and I told her she waited four months to tell us.”

“She became very angry very quickly and told me if she had lost my niece my response would be different and I should see this as her losing my niece because she would have been if she were alive.”

The SIL was determined not to back down with an eye-raising hypothetical.

“She also told me my daughter is going to grow up always hearing about the cousin I gave her the same name as and that I should reconsider before burdening my daughter with that.”

“She told me a good person with good morals would. I should also mention; I knew she had suffered a pregnancy loss but it was implied she had a miscarriage far earlier and not a stillborn child.”

“I never knew the name or sex. And I never ever heard her use a name for her daughter.”


Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Many Redditors thought the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) here.

“Everyone grieves differently and at their own rate.”

“However. 7 years definitely warrants therapy, counseling, and coping mechanisms. I find it extremely difficult to believe that in 7 years, your SIL has never met anyone, or even a pet, named Ember.”

“Or has she, and she insists that person change the name also?”

“NTA.” – CheeseMakingMom

“There are productive ways of grieving and unproductive ways. Demanding that the people around you cater to your grieving process and change a baby’s name because it triggers your grief is unproductive grief.”

“SIL needs grief counseling to learn skills to cope with her loss.”

“My wife and I lost our first son at 39 weeks. We didn’t expect other people to turn their lives upside down and go out of their way to avoid triggering our grief. We went to counseling and learned coping skills for that kind of stuff.” – jimmy_three_shoes

“Instead of grieving that this other child is named ‘Ember,’ she could feel that this child is giving life to the name and think of her new niece as a sign of hope. (I have known people who asked relatives to name their children after someone who died young.)”

“What I think SiL is going through is jealousy that this Ember is alive, but her own died at birth. It isn’t the name but the child’s life while bearing the name she resents. That’s why I think she needs therapy.” – Why_Teach

“Okay. Look. You are NTA for keeping your child’s name. Sil needs therapy. One who is an expert in child loss. But…”

“You’re mad at her for not telling you sooner but would that have even changed anything? I bet the answer is no. You’re husband is wrong saying it’s a weak excuse to have waited to say anything when infact it shows she was trying to come to terms with it. Have empathy for her.”

“She lost a child. You may one day be in her shoes. I hope you never are, but well, sh*t happens. So look stop blaming her. She shouldn’t keep pestering you. But she did seemingly try to be to get over it. And until you lose a child you’ll never know or understand her pain.”

“How about compromise? Can she call the child a nickname ?”

“You are NTA for not changing her name. She isn’t one for having some rough feelings regarding this either. Though the pestering of you changing it leans her toward AH territory.”

“Again you aren’t an AH. You picked them name that you love. You didn’t do it to be malicious as you didn’t know.” – Wickedlove7

“I find it impossible to believe this sil had a stillbirth named Ember. No woman would ever refer to their baby dying as a miscarriage, no f’king way. Historically, Sil only ever mentioned a miscarriage, no sex, no name.”

“The far more likely scenario is that Sil spent those 4 months so fixated on her miscarriage and not having a baby when OP has a baby that the story grew in her head.”

“NTA. The site’s explicitly stated intention to f’k with Ember’s head means OP absolutely needs to go no contact with that lady. OP needs to inform the entire family of Sil’s stated intention to cause psychological damage to an infant so they understand the severity of the situation.”

“Sil can never be allowed near Ember.” – tulipvonsquirrel

“NTA. It’s funny how she says that your daughter will grow up hearing about her cousin Ember, bla bla bla, when IN THE YEARS YOU HAVE KNOWN HER, you never even heard her child’s name. Although not clear but it sounds like your brother, her husband, didn’t even know about the name.”

“As someone who has had several miscarriages and has a friend who had a stillborn: i dont speak to any children (mine, nieces, nephews etc) about their cousin/sibling who passed away before the baby was able to be born. Did I have to tell them that the baby didn’t make it? Yes, cause they knew i was pregnant.”

“I dont bring up my lost children. My baby nephew will be born next month. Do you think I’ll be telling him about how i had lost babies who were his cousins? Nope. My friend only speaks of her stillborn son to the baby’s twin sister who survived and close friends and her parents.”

“She is going to make sure to make you, your husband, and your child uncomfortable by always bringing up her lost baby and the name.”

“You told her you were not changing the name, yet she calls you and asks about names? She sounds delusional.”

“Your brother needs to put his foot down and demand she get some professional help. I’ve seen how this plays out. The woman who lost the child becomes triggered and then starts seeing someone else’s baby as the one they lost, or they start displaying anger at the mom and the baby. I would not be anywhere near her until she seeks help.”


Overall, while Redditors were sympathetic towards the grieving SIL, many thought the OP was not in the wrong for refusing to change the baby’s name that she and her husband were content with and had settled on.

While some believed the SIL’s emotions were warranted, others suggested therapy might be a good option to help her in her ongoing grief.

Until a person has been in the SIL’s shoes, the feelings of loss can never really be understood, but it also doesn’t mean she wasn’t out of line for her request.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a Los Angeles based actor whose work has been spotted anywhere from Broadway stages to Saturday Night Live.
He received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese.
In addition to being a neophyte photographer, he is a huge Disney aficionado and is determined to conquer all Disney parks in the world to publish a photographic chronicle one day. Mickey goals.
Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1 Flickr: nyckmo