If you were like me when you were expecting your bundle of joy, you obsessed with what moniker you would ultimately bestow on your little heir. You might pour over baby name books, or even post a baby name poll on www.babycenter.com. After rigorous research, you may have even considered yourself an expert in the etymology of names.
Like many parents, I did not want a common name, or a trendy name that would date the child’s name to a particular era or a name that is, well, not very pleasing to the ears. Baby names became a very important topic in my life and upon hearing many a name given to a child, I would think “out of all over the beautiful names in the world, THAT is what you came up with?”
Naming your child is a very personal decision and, frankly, I find it to be a daunting task. The name seems to define the child before you get to know him/her. What if the name you choose, once so lovely to your ears, becomes like that pop song that you just loved….but then hated after hearing for the bazillionth time.
And then, of course, is the annoyance that your spouse also has to like the name. Yes, yes, yes, I know…the child is his, too, and he will put just as much energy into parenting as I. However, it is hard not to feel territorial about something that you carried inside of you for 40 weeks. Something that caused you to vomit, have to use the restroom 49 times a day, have heartburn and a shifting of your body weight.
I named my first child, a daughter, Regan, after a character in the “Trixie Belden” series. Of course, this character was a male and a Regan was his surname. But I thought I had a get out of the trendy jail card with the name, because Shakespeare—and how much more classic can we get?—used the name in “King Lear”. I still like her name—and the meaning it has for me. But, I sometimes fear that we scrambled for a middle name. For some reason, I was “fixated” on the first name and middle name “going together.” So, I choose a Celtic name “Aislinn”, pronounced “Ashlyn” in the US and AshLEEN in good ole Ireland. Looking back, I wish I had chosen a middle name with more meaning. A relative’s name, perhaps.
When I was pregnant with my second child, also a girl, I decided that the name Josephine was spunky, had a serviceable nickname “Josie” and was timeless. I felt, though, that the name did not go well with Regan. So, we decided that Audrey was more in the vein of Regan, was also a Shakespeare name, and that Josephine would be a great nickname.
My third child, another girl!, became Elizabeth. Elizabeth is also a classic name, has oodles of nicknames and, in my opinion, is beautiful. While I was 6 months pregnant with Elizabeth, my father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Because pancreatic cancer is almost always terminal, we decided that Elizabeth’s middle name should be a nod to him. My FIL’s name was Henry James Barsch. We toyed with using the feminine version of Henry—but Elizabeth Henrietta is quite a mouthful. When it became time to sign the birth certificate, I decided that if we were going to honor my FIL, we should do it straight up. So, her name became Elizabeth Henry. Which I still find to be beautiful and regal—just like my third child.
Said child, however, hates it. She insists that we change her name to Brittany Rose or Bridget Rose. Sigh. I am hoping that someday she sees the significance of the gesture of her middle name and comes to embrace it.
As for my fourth child—my only boy—this child was hard to name. Girls are easier to name…so many more choices. And while I used to think naming girls with boy names was cute, I now feel a bit differently. The boy name pool is dwindling! However, we managed to pull the name Spencer out of the air and gave him the middle name of Jeffrey, after my father.
I still obsess about baby names and fantasize how different my kids would be with names like Neve, Phoebe, or Piper. And just like when I was expecting my own adorable baby, I have all kinds of opinions when learning of a newborn’s name.
I just have one piece of advice for expectant parents: yes, you are naming a bay, but your baby—if all goes well—will be an adult for a lot longer than they will be a child. Please name accordingly.