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What’s In A Name?

Shortly after my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, we made the four-hour drive to my hometown to visit my parents and tell them the news. On our way there, we stopped at a bookstore and picked up a baby name book to peruse, figuring that the eight hours in the car could be spent more productively than just repeating “I can’t believe we’re having a baby!” to each other over and over again.

She opened the book and started reading the most popular boy names in it. Within 10 or 15 names, she hit upon one that both of us loved, and when we combined it with my middle name (which, incidentally, is also my father’s middle name, and his father’s – my grandfather’s – first name), it sounded perfect to us. Quite literally, within a few minutes, we had chosen our boy name.

We found a few girl names that we really liked (ironically, or entertainingly, one was the name she gave the bag of sugar that she had to “care for” in one of those high school parenting or family life projects), but struggled tremendously with finding a family name that we liked to combine it with. Initially we limited our search to her side of the family (thinking it only fair that one name be from each side), but we quickly broadened our search to my side as well. We tried going through grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and cousins; we were desperate to find a name that we liked.

Eventually, about a month before her due date, I said to her, “You know what name I like? Firstname Middlename” (neither of which were family names). She agreed that it was her favourite as well. And then it dawned on me: Firstname Middlename would give the girl the same initals as me (and funnily enough, the same initals as the boy name we chose so many months ago). We talked about it, and concluded that sharing initials was a close enough “family name” for us. And that is how we named our daughter.

Now, we’re going through the same cycle all over again. The boy name has lost a bit of its lustre, partly because it feels a bit like a cast off from the first pregnancy. Fortunately, we also like two of our grandfathers’ names (one from each side), and therefore have a plethora of boy names at the ready. All we have to do is make a final choice (which we have agreed to hold off on until we are certain we even need a boy name).

On the girl name front, however, we are in the same boat we were in last time. Since then, one of our friends had a girl and gave her the sugar sack baby name, so we’re reluctant to reuse that one so soon. We have a couple of first names, both of which we like (although we each have a different “preferred” one of the two), and have struggled with the middle name. Last weekend, (again, while driving back from a visit to my parents) I came up with a derivative of my wife’s middle name (in other words, it’s not exactly my wife’s middle name, but it’s arguably a short form of it) that we both really like when combined with both first names currently under consideration. However, we haven’t really talked names since then, agreeing to wait until the next ultrasound (and therefore cut our decision making in half).

What kinds of difficulty did you have in choosing your children’s names? Did you place any emphasis on having one or both given names being from a family member? Was that as challenging for you? What about the “flow” of names with your surname? Was that a consideration?

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