Naming her offspring threatens expectant writer's marriage

March 23 | Guest post by Wilson Diehl Strote

Wilson submitted her post in October (ACK!) and it's taken me this long to get it up because I suck. 🙁 Sorry world. In the meantime, Wilson has had her baby. More about that later… -Ariel

Welcome to the third trimester!
Welcome to the third trimester, Wilson!
Our baby is due any day now, and Dr. Husband and I still don't have any agreed-upon boy names for the wee one. I'm getting slightly panicky about it.

Yes, we could be having a girl, rendering the issue irrelevant, but the only thing getting me through this 5-week window of "any minute now you're going to start the most excruciatingly painful/gloriously magical experience of your life" is by being prepared as a way of deluding myself into thinking I'm in control.

Baby clothes and blankets washed? Check. Burp cloths personalized with poorly executed DIY alterations? Check. Diaper delivery ordered? Check. Freezer stocked with labor-friendly popsicles? Check. Pediatrician met, interviewed, and approved? Check, check, check.

If this critter curling its toes around my ribcage does turn out to be a boy, we know what we're doing with the foreskin on his penis—we just don't know what his name might be.

Every few days I come up with a new name that I love—Issac, Oliver, Grover—and every few days Dr. Husband makes the same horrified face at me that I make at him when he reasserts his inexplicable love of Conrad, Casey, and Percival.

"We're not going to find the perfect name," he warns. "We need to focus on ones we can both live with."

Has this man not met me?

I'm a writer. Words are my life. Of course my child needs the perfect name—one that's not too popular or trendy but not totally weird or obscure. Something dignified that doesn't scream "I'm destined for private school!" (especially since he probably is), a name that's classic but not so old-fashioned that people will assume we chose it from a tombstone in a local graveyard.

If our baby is a girl, we're all set with two solid options and a third likely contender if neither of the first two options seem to suit her.

If it's a boy, Dr. Husband and I will likely be leaving the hospital with a blank birth certificate and a renewed need for couples' counseling. How else to reconcile his insistence on something manly like Conrad (!) with my desire for something sweet like Robin?

Last night during the second of two hours-long bouts of infamous third-trimester insomnia, my mind decided it would be delightful to present a roster of nefarious men with the various names on Dr. Husband's and my "don't totally love it but are willing to consider it for the sake of our child not being nameless for the rest of his life" compromise list.

In no time at all, my exhausted but wide-awake mind came up with a child molester, a mass murderer, and an assassin. Do normal people just block out these associations? Do I just need to get out of the house more?

Okay, the answer to that is clearly Yes.

But where can I go that doesn't require standing, sitting on any hard surfaces, smelling any strong smells, staying awake, or wearing a properly-fitting bra?

Is it wrong to think that because the baby will have my husband's surname and because I'm the one growing this creature inside me that my vote should hold more weight than his? Perhaps, oh, thirty pounds more?

Post script: Wilson had a girl!

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  1. Is it wrong to think that because the baby will have my husband’s surname and because I’m the one growing this creature inside me that my vote should hold more weight than his? Perhaps, oh, thirty pounds more?

    I so do not think this is wrong because I kind of felt this way. We both found a name we loved but the name I had picked before my husband hated and I kind of did not care.

    1 agrees
    • I sympathize. My husband and I aren't parents yet (and we're planning on holding off for a while), but comments have already started. We come from two different cultural heritages (with distinctly different naming traditions). People have already started in with the "oh, well, you'll be giving any kids a name from husband's culture, right?" Nope. Mercifully he's been supportive of this – they will have a name from his culture, their last name. Right now we're looking at middle names from my culture and first names that don't appear in either family and that don't have specific obvious ties to either culture. We're even working out a compromise on how to select the final names, based on different traditions. But despite the fact that there is no baby yet and that we're in agreement, other folks keep sticking their nose in and emphasizing the importance of husband's culture and heritage. It really makes me want to rebel and give them first names that are really obviously from my culture, but his willingness to compromise has helped a lot.

  2. Boy names are -hard-. My hubby and I are very lucky we found -one- name we both loved before we even got pregnant, or we'd be in real trouble now (expecting our little boy). It was bad enough when I decided briefly that we couldn't -use- our boy name because it was becoming trendy, but it was so ingrained in our minds by the time it came down to it, that we just have to keep it. At least it's not popular in our area!

    I think it's in part because naming boys is such a -tradition- filled thing. You can't just make up boy names or they sound silly, and since so many people use boy names for girls, that makes the pool even smaller. Add to it trends and popularity and the fact that while most older girl names end up coming back, older boy names tend to stay old-fashioned sounding or end up with negative associations that stick in a way girl names do not (Adolph, for instance), and boys just end up with the short end of the stick as far as choice!

    1 agrees
  3. What *girl* name did you pick then?? You can't set us up in suspense and then leave us hanging!! 😛

    2 agree
  4. Ugh! We found naming our kids ot be a relationship landmine! Too many associations with too many names. luckily we found a few in common. Would love to know what you picked for your daughter (congratulations!)

  5. We picked our first son's name, Jonah, like it was no big thing… we came across it and that was it, he couldn't be anyone but Jonah.

    We picked Joaquin's name maybe a week before he came. Joaquin was one of my husband's favorite names… which I found out was one of his mom's favorite names and the name of a former boyfriend of hers, and since there is a lot of tension in our relationship, that really tainted it.

    Like your partner, my husband looked HORRIFIED at all the names I wanted (especially my favorite, Leo.) The sad truth is I am still not 100% the name Joaquin… sometimes I like it, sometimes I am surprised when I hear myself say it out loud. But we scoured everything we could and didn't find a name we both really loved, and this was a name that he really loved and I could live with. I picked the middle name. And you know what? We almost never say Joaquin… we still call him "the baby" or our pet name for both our kids, "bubs". I think we're both still getting used to the baby formerly known for 9 months as "Baby No Name" as Joaquin.

  6. We had the same issue with boy's names! Plus the added complication that we both love male names that have a K-sound, and his surname starts with that sound so EVERY name sounded so incredibly ridiculous with the aliteration! Luckily we agreed on a girl name at around 12 weeks and despite the amazing number of mispronunciations in the 6 days of her life we are very happy we could give up on the boy name argument!

  7. We had trouble with a boy name too! I was set on Ezekiel and my husband was set on Thor. Obviously, Thor was out of the question in my mind, but when I realized my husband hated the name Ezekiel as much as I hated the name Thor we agreed on Xavier Danger for our little boy. 🙂

    2 agree
  8. What is it with boys and Thor? That was on my husband's list too, as well as Abraham, Theodore, and Moses. I couldn't picture calling a baby any of those names, and everything I suggested (My top 3 being Ari, Luka, and Ezra) he insisted sounded like they should belong to "little boys with blond curls and blue eyes, and you know our kid won't have blond hair!" He seemed to have a picture in his head of every kid with a name I liked, no matter what the name was.

    We finally decided on either Judah or Jonah before he was born, and after, we spend a day and a half going back and forth before deciding on Judah. Looking at him now, he couldn't be anything else, but man was it hard to get there. My husband HAS agreed to at least let Ari be on the list if we have another boy at any point, so at least I've still got a shot 🙂

  9. Judah was our other favorite name, Erin… we came /–/ this close to naming him Judah, but we had a pet who we had named Judah in the beginning of our relationship so we finally had to admit that we couldn't name our son after our dead dog! How funny that your favorite names were Jonah and Judah 😀

    • That's hilarious! The only problem with Judah is people don't seem to know how to spell or pronounce it. We figured, it's biblical, it doesn't have a weird spelling, we're fine, but people keep hearing the name and thinking he's a girl for some reason, or spelling it without an "h." I love it though, and it's him. Don't know if he'll ever find a mug or a water bottle or anything else with his name on it though.

      Our daughter is Sophia Lyra Rae. I had no idea how popular Sophia was when I chose it, and we're running into Sophias everywhere! I loved Lyra, but didn't want her to have to correct mispronunciations of it all the time. Being as we're already experiencing that with Judah, however, we're seriously considering calling her Lyra or Lyra Rae, since if it was me, I'd rather correct people when they say my name than be known as "Sophia R." in every classroom. She's 19 months old…I wonder how hard that would be for her to understand if we did start calling her by her middle names?

  10. My husband said that Thor was the only name he refused to consider on the grounds that our child may have a lisp and say things like "my thummy ith thor" Strange beings, but we do love them..

  11. What is it with boy names? We were the same way, everything we picked was on the top of last years most popular list. We didnt want our son to be the 10th Aiden in his class, so it took us about 6 months before we finally came up with Dexter Rohan. We thought it was the most original name, but now we see lots of kids named Rohan, and everyone asks us if we named him Dexter after the tv show about a serial killer.

  12. As a Mom of 3 boys, I feel your pain. Boys names are HARD. By baby number 3 we had nothing left. My husband's suggestions were Grandpop or Batman…and yes he was totally serious. So I picked baby #3's name by my self, Charlie. And I get Charles all the time, but nope it's just Charlie. Oldest is Simon and No, I don't watch American Idol. I get that ALL the time. Middle one is Oliver he was the easiest to name. It just worked for both of us.

  13. Aaaahhhhhh! So what's her name?! I am dying here! I just went to your blog AND your Twitter and read all the way back to before the baby was born, and, while entertaining, it did not appear to provide the answer to the very obvious question posed by your article. Don't you know that that is, like, the Name Enthusiast equivalent of putting a birthday cake in front of a 5 year old and asking her not to eat it?!

    Maybe it's a privacy thing? In that case, I totally understand…but maybe you could just make up a fake name to appease the wonderers? :o)

  14. Okay. So I keep everyone nameless for privacy's sake on my blog… but I can see how that doesn't work when writing about choosing names… one of the many, many, many landmines of parenting!

    Her name is Maisy Josephine. "Maisy" because we liked it, "Jospehine" after her maternal great-great-grandmother and great-grandmother. When she's visiting her relatives in Texas, we call her Maisy Jo.

    Thanks for caring (and reading!).

    *
    Wilson

    4 agree
    • Whew! Thank you! I almost lost some sleep over that. ;o)

      LOVE the name, by the way. You guys have fantastic taste!

    • Oh, that's a lovely name. Thank you! I also read all through your blog. I totally understand keeping everyone nameless for privacy on the blog. But in this case, curiosity was really killing me! 🙂

  15. Baby name wizard – there's a website and a book, each with different features – is my favorite name source, since it graphs trends and discusses the types of names that have been popular at different times. You really get a feel for what the next big name is going to be, and can plan accordingly. The creator started it because so many people on her block named their girls Hannah, thinking it was unique, sweetly different, and rare. Um, hello, people weren't going to keep name their kids Jennifer and Jessica forever! Check it out and you'll see the next Sophia and Aiden coming from a mile away!

  16. We are having a boy. And I thought we'd settled on a good boy name, Ian, then my husband decided we should brainstorm. And that's when he came up with, wait for it, Vercingetorix. I only wish he'd fallen for something like Thor or Conan. Vercingetorix!!! Only after several months of 1) outright telling him it would break heart to have to name him that and 2) delicately leaving the whole topic alone, did we finally agree that we could choose another Gaulish warrior name that is less difficult, Brennus. It's been torture. So, I feel your pain. Congratulations on having a girl.

    • Vercingetorix. That is SO awesome. I mean, it's completely ridiculous, but I love ridiculous names. A LOT of potential there for nicknames, though. Vercy. Geto. Rix-rix. Tori.

      While I am childless, if I were to have a little boy, I'm pretty sure that my boyfriend has a name all picked out already. He's still bitter about his own name and will probably select something like Genghis.

  17. thanks for telling us the name after all : *
    loved your article, especially being halfway through my pregnancy, when it´s slowly getting serious with names..

  18. I find girls names harder than boys, although maybe that is because my brownie pack has 4 Niamhs in it!

  19. We had the same trouble, but with girls names. It caused problems, we fought, tears were shed, and she wasn't even named until she was a week old. But we both agreed had she been a boy, the name would have been picked months in advance.

    I ended up with the name I wanted in the end, but it was hard. I will be using that last line in the future!

  20. My "chosen one" and I talk about what we'd want to name our children when we get to that point, whenever that might be. We are both pretty open to pretty much anything, but I do have one name that I must use if we have a boy. Gabriel Timothy Bishop. This name has been in my heart for many years now and I am unyielding in my need to give my child this name.

    Why you might ask? Several years ago, I saw a video that featured a memorial to unborn children. One of the names on the memorial was Gabriel Timothy Bishop. And at that moment I felt that if I were to have a son I should name him so. I want to do this so that in some way that child's spirit could live on in some way.

  21. Hi, Sorry for re-opening such an OLD post!
    I'm in the middle of the naming game with my hubby over sprog #1.. but we'll see how that pans out in about 7 months or so!!

    The real reason I'm writing is to say that someone commented that you cant make up boys names or they sound silly.. my best friend is the 2nd of seven kids (I KNOW!)
    anyway, they are as follows:
    Michael (30), Karissa (27), Deltar (15), Thourpe (14), Astrell (12), Kraxtin (10) and Anniken (7).
    ahh.. Karissa and Astrell are the girls. I dont remember all the kids middle names but they are equally as unique and awesome. The boys are all super glad they dont have 'normal' names as they put it and tease their big brother for being adopted (he's not).

    So yeah, proof in point that made up boys names can rock your world. And theirs.
    And their mum said she has always regretted nameing her first michael, but back in those days she diddnt have the strength of character to do things her way..

  22. I am getting into this one too as we are trying to concieve (or for that matter may be preggo as I type)But we agreed on boys names imediately the girls however The hubs is very opionionated on, everything is that sounds like a grandma's name, hell no we are not naking her gertrude and no that sounds like a stripper's name. We did finally agree on Alice for the imaginary girl, the middle name is still up in the air, Gertrude anyone?

  23. haha i love the last part about carrying more weight! good point and i'm gonna remember it!!

    my FH and i have been rowing a bit about names. we plan on having 2 kids, and hoping at least one will be a boy, though we'll be in love and happy no matter what. but if one is a boy, he wants to name him Soren. i was okay with it til i realized that sounded a lot like "sore end." as a kid i went by my family's nickname for me, and i was teased so badly for it that i dropped it and went by my middle name in high school (and beyond!). it hurt a lot. i want the name Gabriel but when he realized it's an "angel name" he didn't like it. for a girl he likes Annika. pretty, yes. where'd he get the name? big breasted actress on star trek: voyager (7 or 9) ummm no.

    our solution: 2 children…
    girl born first- i name
    girl or boy born second- he names
    boy born first- he names
    boy or girl born second- i name

    😀

  24. I cant imagine the hardship. My bub and I picked depending on the sex of the baby- if it was a boy, then I got to name, if a girl, he did. We both had to pick 5 names. We could eliminate from each others list 2 of them without question, or explanation. 1 with a valid point, and the last two, we put into a hat, and drew. Which ever came out was it. I know it doesnt sound much like fate, or destiny when picking a name, but it worked for us. Now, we are having a girl. He picked:
    Abigail
    Lilly
    Jordan
    Chloe
    Isabell

    I got rid of chole and lilly right off…too normal, too popular. I game him the reason that I dont like Jordan as a first name for a girl, although I feel like Isabell Jordan is a beautiful name (so I left Isabell and Abigail)— I prefered Abigail so lucky me that it was the one drawn! It IS on the top 10 list, BUT I felt it fit our family well. But the good thing about this list is that, if we ever have another girl– we already know isabell works for us etc.

    With as much disagreement as we had since 10 weeks ago!– it was only fair to us to do it this way. I really hope you found a way to come to some peace!!!! (and I agree, Percival wouldnt be my first choice either 🙂 )

    Good luck!

  25. I hear you on this! My FH is from a family of Italians who name their kids after another family member until no one had their own name. I HATE that tradition, and so am convincing him that our kids should have names that aren't over used and unique. ^_^ I actually had a nightmare that we had a beautiful baby girl and I COULD NOT REMEMBER WHAT WE WERE GOING TO NAME HER!!! It was awful… then I woke up and remembered her name… Canaan. <3

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