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On Choosing a Baby Name (or Not)

Jon Whittle

26w, 1d. Ever since we found out that we’re having a daughter, my husband and I have been deluged by questions from friends, family and strangers about what we’ll name her. Everyone has an opinion (of course), and I’ve learned my lesson about sharing a name we love for a baby we’re expecting; many people seem to lack a filter when it comes to their reactions, even if they mean well, and in my pregnant state, a negative comment about a name we’re thinking of bestowing upon our only daughter would surely push me into tears.

And so, Sam and I have been working off-and-on to come up with a name for this girl on our own. We chose our sons’ first and middle names before each of their births, and I was kind of expecting that we’d do the same this time around. I refused to even think about baby names until we knew what we were having, as it felt heartbreakingly sad to consider girls’ names when I thought it virtually impossible to have a girl. Luckily, time is on our side, and we’ve got about 14 weeks left before this baby makes her way into the world—plenty of time for me to sit with my 2005 edition of The Baby Name Wizard and cross-reference it with the Social Security Administration’s database of baby names and their popularity by year—and Sam to shoot down my suggestions.

Our name brainstorming sessions usually go something like this:

Me: What do you think about “Alice” for our daughter?

Sam: Alice? Who names their baby Alice any more? What are you, giving birth to an 80-year-old lady?

Me: OK, so no Alice… What about Charlotte? [Checking the SSA database] No… Charlotte’s too popular now. It was number 27 last year. And just think about all of the times we hear the name Charlotte called on the playground… OK, what about Maya?

Sam: Maya’s the name of a girl who rode on the bus with me in second grade, and she always smelled and wiped her boogers on the seat back.

Me: What?! You would seriously not give our child a lovely name like Maya because of some random girl with bad hygiene you remember from second grade?

Sam: Yep, just can’t do it.

And so it continues. I suggest names I like, talk myself out of some of them and then Sam dismisses the rest. Except for two of them—both of which I suggested. (Of course I did, because I suggest all of the names. Well, except for the one his grandmother suggested, which was the name she had chosen for her stillborn daughter 60-something years ago. I still don’t know how to feel about that one.) We’re stuck now; I like both of the names and love one of them. And Sam, well, he’s just not sure about the one I love. (And no, I can’t divulge the names, lest someone write that one of them is horrible and ugly, thus making me cry.) So this time around we might be waiting until meeting our daughter to determine her name—which is fine, but I’m in a checking-things-off-my-list mood these days, and Naming Our Baby is definitely toward the top of that list. (For the record, her middle name is a family name and thus settled, so it’s not a matter of using both names as first and middle.)

How did you choose baby names? Did you do so before or after your baby’s arrival? Leave a comment!