Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thoughts On Baby Naming

Nicole Gonzalez and baby Lillie Sol, via her blog Lillies & León | photograph by Mary Grace

This week marks the start of my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. 28 weeks. I can't believe it's come this fast. Despite being more than ready to meet this little girl and embrace the challenges of new motherhood, I am still woefully unprepared to bring her home and step away from my job for 3+ months. Still so much to buy and prep and do!

Preparing for baby in all the big and little ways that one prepares for such things has been both fun and stressful. Jonathan is hyper-involved in everything, but most of the research on baby gear and essentials has fallen to me—mostly because I've embraced it like it's a full time job. But one area where we've both been particularly attentive is to the issue of baby names.

I don't know how most couples approach this kind of thing in the early stages of their relationship, but Jonathan and I—once we were each aware of the other's interest in having kids someday—talked openly about baby name preferences before nearly anything else, including marriage. It was probably because talking about baby names is one of my favorite topics of conversation period, full stop, and I forced him to talk to me about it. Six years ago, it was very important that he know how I felt about his preferred boy's name, Doc ("Hell no."), and it was necessary that I knew his feelings about my favorite girl's name at the time, Laila ("Not feeling it...").

He was such a good sport.

And so it went, the "What about...?" discussion happening a hundred times over the years, thus we were able to narrow down our top choices to a short list of possibilities that sat in stasis for upwards of three years. When we found out we were having a baby—and especially when we found out it was a girl—Jonathan's baby naming seriousness kicked into high gear. Something about the reality of picking a name for a real live person to have for their entire life makes you look at all your name choices differently. At least, it did for us.

A big discussion of late has been whether (and how) to honor family members in the naming of our baby. So many individual names and name combos we love, and that made our list, have little or nothing to do with family legacy. We liked the idea of family names, but neither of us thought it really mattered all that much when we were just ruminating over ideas. Now though... with an actual baby brewing... we are weighing all the pros and cons.

There are lots of pros and cons, it turns out.

So at 28 weeks, we're honing in on a much shorter short list of names, with one that's peaking out as the favorite. It's mind-boggling to have thought so much about baby names for so many years (long before Jonathan was even a blip on my romantic radar), and now... we get to name one. A girl who will hopefully live a long life with that name, carrying it into adulthood, hearing it through the voices of friends and lovers, putting it on job resumes!

The weight of such a life long decision is not lost on us. We're so honored to get the opportunity to name a human being—bestowing upon her the first little piece of her identity.

We've made the decision not to announce or discuss the baby's name until she's born, primarily because I would like to reserve the right to change my mind after seeing her little face! It's tough though, since I love talking about them so much...

SO TELL ME: If you've got some favorite baby names, or your children are already named and you love talking about the why and how you came up with that name, let me know in the comments. Are there names you used to love, but your partner nixed them? What about names you are sad you couldn't use because you are done having children? I would absolutely love to read all about it!

Baby names. I seriously can't get enough.


  1. I am also obsessed with names. I think it's a combination of my pride in my own name (a name that is a family name, a classic name, easily pronounced, generally nice sounding, gives me lots of options to determine my identity, etc.) and my interest in how we determine our identity, genealogy, family history, etc. etc. The HIGHLY controlling part of me is worried that I'll have a partner who nixes my favorite names (one of which is a closely guarded secret only my mother has ever heard).

    I'm a huge fan of giving children family names, at lease in their middle name and of adding the mother's maiden name (I have my mom's maiden name in my own). I have always felt connected to my roots through my names, despite the fact that Katherine Ingram (my namesake) is not a beloved 'character' in our family history (she made some questionable decisions). Still, it makes me feel like I'm a part of something that has existed well before me and (hopefully) well after me as well.

    I've also recently become interested in the idea that names are more or less made up and vary vastly from culture to culture. They're really just a linguistic construct that evolves over time, in the same way that any part of language evolves and changes. This is particularly interesting to me because I'm such a judgmental jerk about baby names being spelled "correctly". But what is "correct" anyway... I don't know!

    1. Katie -- I am very much the same way. I am such an etymology nerd and have several websites I revolve through, looking at the history and trending of my favorite names. I have super strong opinions about spelling, but it's so much more about the intention than it is the simple fact that someone is spelling a name a not traditional way. (Spelling it "Lynzee" instead of "Lindsey" simply because it's "more unique" is not acceptable to me, no matter how much I try and stay open-minded.)

      I'm personally a fan of traditional names, especially ones that are generally associated with mine and my husband's family lineage (not surprisingly: super white Euro folks -- Scottish, English, Swedish, etc.), but I love hearing names from other cultures and backgrounds. Especially in the U.S., the diversity makes everything more interesting. It's part of the reason I am so surprised when people go with a Top 10, or even Top 100 name! So many great options out there.

      Also, I can tell you from personal experience, you may get some of your top names nixed by your partner. I was *certain* I would fight for my longtime favorite names when our discussion started, but I learned quickly that it mattered just as much that he was happy. Exploring names together has opened me up to many names I love far more than the ones I loved when I was single. Granted, if there was a particular name that meant a whole hellova lot to me (like it sounds as though your top name does), I'm sure I could have fought and won him over! ;)

  2. A girl who will hopefully live a long life with that name, carrying it into adulthood, hearing it through the voices of friends and lovers, putting it on job resumes!

    That line made me tear up! Seriously, I'm reading this at work and fighting back a happy-cry!

    You know how I feel about baby names. I love talking about them, and hearing other people talk about them, and give their thoughts and favorites. It's tough to separate the "I wouldn't name my baby that" thing from when other's tell you what they love and hope to name their little ones some day, but I think that's what makes it so special. Names mean different things to different people, and they're a huge example of our uniqueness -- or willingness to follow trends. ;)

    I can't wait to meet Baby Girl and start calling her by her forever-name. <3 J'adore, already, my little peanut!