My partner and I suffered from baby-name remorse

Guest post by Cat
Baby Feet

I have friends that took around eight days to name each of their children after the births. Can you imagine!? I used to think this was ludicrous. Then I was pregnant with my older son and we decided firmly on his name in pregnancy and changed it just before he was born.

Apparently the need to rename your child is called “baby-name remorse.” Considerably more common than one suspects. Certainly unusual by standard practice of naming your baby, but in the larger scheme of things it is less unusual than many may think. I came upon a few stories on the internet about baby-name remorse and even a few personal stories by parents who went through with the out of the box renaming of their child. Hell, even some celebrities have been guilty of this seemingly shocking act!

Caitlin's youngest son.
In fact, in my own circle of friends there is a couple who renamed their ten-month-old adopted child. Whether adopted or not, there are many reasons why one might decide to change their child’s name. These reasons span from just not liking the name that was originally chosen to suddenly realizing that the child does not suit the name originally chosen at all. Whatever the reason, and there are too many to list, the fact remains that name changing isn’t a new occurrence.

I thought we were on the ball while I was pregnant. Ok, so maybe we were having issues agreeing on a name, but surely we would agree by the time he was ready to be born… right? Wrong. We passed names back and forth. My partner hated the unique and unusual names I liked. I despised the traditional and classic names he suggested. Finally at the birth I swallowed my unsure feelings and we named him Angus Griffith Asher — a name we both settled on but didn’t love.

When he was three months old and we wanted to rename him Finnegan. My partner and I not only had seriously considered it during our pregnancy, but it was really the only name that we had agreed on and both loved. When we looked at him we recognized it as his name, he was Finnegan. However a promise made to a (now) former friend about not using that name kept us from it. Had that promise never been, he would have definitely been Finnegan from the beginning with never a name change to come upon him.

Because we couldn’t use Finnegan we then went through a few more names and even actively changed his name to the ones we liked (not legally, but instead by announcing it to others and calling him by it). None of the names we tried seemed to fit just right. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t just about names that we liked, but more about whether I was bonding with this baby as I should be.

I started to look at names that had a connection to my history and culture. My other kids had Hebrew names; therefore I decided that must be the problem. If the others had Hebrew names then by all means so too should this child in order to be properly connected to this family. Well, I realize now that at the time nothing would have worked. His name was Finnegan in my heart and nothing but that would suffice. It’s a name that we loved so much that we suggested it to our other friends for their baby just to see it used (they decided on another name). A name that not only fit him, but that created a stronger bond between my partner and I. We both loved this name, a big feat for us with our vastly different tastes in names.

By the time he was seven months old I thought I had finally found him a proper name (the name Finnegan notwithstanding). We decided to change his name to Levi. It was a name we had previously considered and one that I really liked. My partner didn’t love it, and I didn’t love the sound of the name on my tongue when I heard myself saying it (I kept playing with how I would pronounce it, Lee-vy or Leh-vee). However it did fit most of my terms for a name. It had a beautiful meaning “united” and was from the Hebrew origin (a way for me to honour my history and culture). And for a brief time, about three months, it worked. My partner grew to like it and we started to see him as a “Levi.”

Still I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was cheating him and myself and my partner out of the name we had always thought was right for him.

Now at ten and a half months old, he is certainly not without a name, but instead with many, many names. All the names that were considered along the way have stuck in one way or another. And he’s been “officially” renamed four times. All but Finnegan, the name we wanted but didn’t use. It’s evident to my partner and I now that the reason we never actually sent through the forms for the legal name change (that is ridiculously easy in the province of Ontario) is because we really weren’t ever truly committed to those other names, try as we might.

So, holding our breaths and diving into the raging waters of stigma (we’ve been wading in it up to our hips for a while now) we reintroduce you for the fifth and legally binding time to Finnegan Levi Angus Griffith Sleigh.

Comments on My partner and I suffered from baby-name remorse

  1. Thanks for this! My husband and I have been thinking about changing our son’s middle name. We went with Alexander, which is a perfectly decent name. But then we came across the name Addison, which is so perfect since my name is Addie and he’s my son. He already has his papa’s last name but he doesn’t have anything in his name to tie him to me. I didn’t used to think that would matter at all, but I’m finding it kind of does. I’ve felt a little silly about wanting to mess with his name at 2 years old, so it’s nice to hear that you went for it and have no regrets. Maybe soon we’ll do the same!

  2. Not a month goes by that I don’t hear a name that I think OOH, THAT’S THE NAME I SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN! I figure my son have unlimited nicknames unrelated to his birth name. 🙂

  3. I hesitated to name my son Elijah when I by accident discovered that my ex’s daughter had named her son Elijah as well. It really didn’t matter — we’re not connect in any way — but, it just made me feel weird. But, Elijah (Eli for short) was the name my husband and I both loved and agreed upon. In the end I decided it didn’t matter who had what name in my realm of family/friend/acquaintance; I was going to name my kid what I wanted to name him.

    And, I’m glad we did. But, had we second guessed ourselves, I think I would have totally renamed him, too. I think the older I get, the less I concern myself with what I think are the more trivial of social norms (for me).

    BTW, Finnegan is our next choice if we have another…girl or boy! 🙂

  4. We had a terrible time agreeing on a name for our daughter. Like you guys, I liked new and unusual names while dad liked classic, and IMO, frumpy names. But, I am also in the unique position of having changed my own name as an adult. So we picked the name we both could deal with (well after she was born) and I feel reassured that she can change it later if she wants. To me, she feels like her name fits, though. Had I named her Xara like I wanted, it wouldn’t have suited her.
    It’s not easy, but there’s always room for change!

    • I know the feeling so much! I have a whole list of boy names that my partner and I both love, but we can’t agree on a girl’s name. I actually really dislike MOST girl’s names, and every time I find one I do like, he vetoes it. *facepalm*

  5. my daughter’s first name was easy. My husband already had twins, Nick and Nathan, Even before we got pregnant we joked that we’d have twin girls, Nicole and Natalie. Well it turned out to be one baby girl and nothing worked quite like Natalie. Her middle name on the other hand was up in the air until we filled out the birth certificate. She was born on Valentine’s Day so we thought about honoring that somehow. But when people’s suggestions started getting out of hand (Cupid, Lovey, etc)we quietly put our original combo. Natalie Michelle. I absolutely love it now. And it works for our family. But there are a million other names I love too…guess i’ll just have to get lots of cats to satisfy my name list. lol

  6. people question me about my son’s name (Dean Reznor) all the time, especially my husbands super conservative family. they LOVE to tell him being name after James Dean and Trent Reznor is bad because they were not good role models. but honestly it fits him he is a total rock star and i still love his name

    • Considering that Trent Reznor is an accomplished, Oscar-winning composer of some of the most interesting film scores today (as well as being a very influential albeit angst-ridden artist in his NIN days) and James Dean was one of the most promising actors of his day and is still admired and respected for his talents today…I’d say you picked pretty well 🙂

    • LOVE THIS. Trent is my all time idol! ANd I Love James Dean! My son Harrison(named after George Harrison) always points to a picture on the wall of JD and says dada. Ha. I love this though. Harrison is a huge rocker as well. Never stops the beat!!

  7. My daughter’s name is Else (like Elsie). I had wanted that name the hardest but had a few others in case she wasn’t an “Else” after all (we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl). For about a month and a half after she was born I kept calling her Anna in my head. I totally love Else’s name, but in my head she was Anna. I wondered if I had chosen the wrong name for her and it was fate signalling my brain that this was so. However I told that silly brain of mine to stuff it, she is Else.. and eventually it stopped. But then I made her up the name Lou and that’s what I call her most of the time anyways but sometimes I wonder.. what if she was Anna Louise instead of Else Marie?? I guess we will never know!

  8. We named our daughter Lotus when she was five days old. Nothing seemed right for her and then an online friend suggested Lotus and it was like rainbows started exploding out of everywhere. She’s so peaceful and beautiful. She’s our Lotus!

    Our son Phoenix was named prenatally and it suits him. He was born still (Apgar of 0, full code) but a team or 20+ people rushed in, pumped his heart, breathed for him. Once his heart started beating on its own they rushed him away and got him intubated. He recovered quickly and is super healthy now (19lbs at 4 months!). He died and came back, just like a phoenix.

  9. This is so interesting to read! I always had a strong belief that name meanings were very significant to the way a personality develops. I don’t believe in souls or horoscopes, but for some reason, I have always believed this about names. We’ve pre-chosen all of our future children’s names and talk about how their personalities will be based on their name meanings. It would certainly be something if they turn out completely different!

  10. I think it’s interesting so many of us still have post-natal name angst (myself included, still not sure if our son really is a Dylan). In many cultures around the world, babies are given a name at birth and then when they come of age they choose/are given another or new name that reflects personality, ambitions etc Sounds like a much better idea in my opinion!

  11. I love my son’s middle name and that’s what we call him, but I hate that I was stuck naming him somewhat after his father and grandfather. I would much rather prefer to switch them around. Less hassle in school and everywhere else.

    • Did you end up switching the names? This is the exact thing I’m struggling with. We call him by his middle name (Caden) but his first name is my husband’s and I would just rather we switch them to avoid all the school/doctor/legal paperwork hassles! My son has also told me he would be happier with his middle name as his first. Now he is 6! My husband won’t agree to it so i’m not sure if I should let it go or continue to try to convince him.

  12. While we are waiting until we meet our baby girl before we officially give her her name, we pretty much have it set. However, my husband and I really liked two different names…meaning we each liked both a lot but I liked one more than the other and vice versa. Then it dawned on us that she didn’t have to have just two names, so she’s gonna have three. That way we can find all kinds of pet and nicknames for her as we each like, and if she decides she likes one of the other two better, she can choose to use one of those as her “main” name.

  13. I hope this isn’t us we settled on names bow we just have to wait. I sometimes think Alice may not fit what would be a stunning little girl (with my husbands dimples and MY nose) but then I picture her and it’s perfect. For the babe we don’t know is a boy or girl and still has lots of baking time lol

  14. My parents named my little sister “Alia,” but my mom kept calling her “Casey” in her head. They changed her name when she was around a year old. If the remorse sticks, you can always change it.

  15. From the moment my son came into the world, he was undoubtedly a Liam. We even joke that he was going to be dark haired until we decided on a name, and from that moment he had to be red haired. We don’t use his middle name, it’s his father’s, but I can call him whatever I want as a nickname.

    Funny though, at the exact same hospital on the exact same day, another woman named HER son Liam Christopher. So even though we though it was unique, it totally isn’t, but we wouldn’t change it for anything.

  16. My son’s middle name is Aramis…I hate it!! It’s his grandfather’s middle name and my partner had his heart set on it. Every time I hear it, I think of the 3 Musketeers. Ugh. At least we agreed on a first name that we both love…Massimo!! My family calls him “Mo”.

  17. We had a horrible time picking names for our first child. We went through hundreds! I like really older names that people have stopped using for the most part, but my husband liked names that were newer/unusual/unique whatever you would like to call them. We had finally settled on a name we both liked, Cyrus Lucien Sloan. (Just an aside Lucien was totally from HP.) Then everyone began to make Billy Ray Cyrus jokes and say that he was going to grow up and be a devil worshiper (Lucien). We got really aggravated, because in no way was that what we thought of when we picked out the name. It made us think really hard about how other people were going to view his name, especially once he was an adult.

    We went back on the hunt. We sat on the floor in our Wal-mart one evening for about two hours while I was eight months preggo looking through books, magazines, etc, to find something we could both agree on. Connor Bishop Sloan was created that night and we stuck with it. We didn’t know ANY Connors, so we were thought we were being different. HAHA. It’s a super popular name for his age group, but that doesn’t bother me now. His name (luckily) suits him very well. And yes, he loves dogs. 🙂

    I am really glad we went with the name we did, even though we still got flack for his middle name. My family is Jewish so they went WTF on the Bishop bit, but it’s unrelated. X-men for the win!

    We already have picked out a name for another boy, but we’re having trouble agreeing on girl names already. Roland Isaac will be our boy. I wanted Roland with our first son, but his dad hadn’t read The Dark Tower series by Stephen King yet. Mwhahahaa.

  18. When we were trying to decide on a name for our son I was stuck. I hated every single name imaginable and by the time my son was born I didn’t even care anymore. I had specifics like 2 middle names, my last name being the second one and I wanted something unique and fun.

    My partner came up with Samuel and I hated it because I dislike the name Sam a lot. I decided while under the influence of morphine to just go with it but spell his name Samual. I do however love my sons middle name: Aegis. My partner found it online and it just fit.

    My son is 10 months and I still can’t stand his first name but we made it so his initials spell out SAMI so I call him Sami and politely correct people when they call him Sam.

  19. My husband and I sat at a restaurant trying decide on a name for our son among our top 4 once we realized I was not having gas pains but actually in labor. We decided on Eli and off to the hospital we went thinking that would be the name. But once he came, somehow we weren’t satisfied. After a day – we decided to go with Oliver instead which had been my #1 name all along. He is definitely an Oliver, and every once in a while I look at him and try to imagine his as an Eli and wonder if we had stayed with that name, if I would have had regrets later.

    I’m glad you have found the name that is right for your son.

  20. My oldest son’s name is Alexzander Jubliation. I wanted to call him Zander and it was one of the only things that ‘worked’ with Jubliation, which his father insisted on. After our divorce, I contemplated changing his middle name, but never got around to it. Flash forward years later, and as crazy as Jubliation is, it totally fits him. He is quite the ham and loves being different; no one will ever be able to guess his middle name.

    I used to love that no one could guess my middle name. (Davonia)

  21. I really do believe that babies name themselves some times. We had a name picked out, set in stone. Then she was born and the first thing we said was “that’s not her name!” We agreed to sleep on it, and out of nowhere came my husbands favourite, with the perfect nickname to boot. So, our MacKenzie became Eleanor ‘Norah’.
    I’m just glad we hadn’t told anyone about our favourite, so no-one knew about our naming remorse, so we could rename in peace!

  22. My parents went through many names for me, and finally settled on ‘Hannah Lisa’ right before I was born. All the cards they received from my birth had that name. Flash forward 2 months, and Dad was registering me with Births, Deaths and Marriages as ‘Kathleen Lisa Hannah’. The only reason I know this? Mum told me, as a bit of life trivia. So from the child’s point of view – GO FOR IT! Pick a name you love, and that suits. And don’t worry about ‘stigma’ – even if there is a bit for a while, the kid has a lifetime with that name. It’ll pass.

    Being currently childless (our family plan has us waiting another 6 months – I’m counting!) my naming experience is limited to pets – and I am SUPER fussy. I hate to think how I’m going to be with my children. Our 2 dogs are Huxley and Mitchell, our 4 rabbits are Harriet, Jasper, Coco and Dominic and the guinea pig is Maxine. I’ve also had rabbits (I foster) named Felix, Marmaduke (Duke), Aurora, Alice, Esme, Merlin and Houdini. Most of them went through changes! My husband is all for the older, not so used names, and for me – they have to fit. Our kids will have name changes, I’m certain!

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