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. My husband I couldn’t decide on a name for our baby. I liked classic names like Eleanor and Henry, he liked names that I though were too common, like Jamie and Ben. Whenever we pitched names to our friends and family they had comments and complaints. I remember thinking “we will never agree, and even if we do everyone else will hate it.”
    So we decided to have a contest. We picked out 64 names- 32 girls and 32 boys. We each picked 16 girl names and 16 boys names. Then, with a random number generator, we paired them and put them in an NCAA style bracket. We decided to let our friends and family do the picking. Each day I posted a survey asking people to vote on the match-ups. I posted the link on facebook and emailed it to other family and friends. Each day we got about 50 responses. People left comments about how much they loved or hated oru names. I asked people to be brutally honest now, rather than hearing it after we loved the name.
    The winners were Nathan for a boy, and Maura for a girl. We decided that we would pick the middle names (so that at least part of it was very personal).
    We were unsure, even up to the moment he was born whether his name would really suit him, and we were prepared to change it, but we fell in love with the fact that it was a community effort. And it turned out that my little boy really was meant to be Nathan Malcolm.

  2. My daughter is 3 and I have had naming-remorse since she was 3 weeks old. I grew up always knowing I would have a little girl name Mackenzie with a nick name Mac. Fast forward to me holding my 3 week old little girl and my brain calling her Charlie. And to this day when I have to call her Mackenzie I trip on it. I almost always use her nick name because she should be Charlie.

  3. For the record, the biblical name is pronounced, “Lee-vai”. Just like the brand of jeans. I suppose it’s your baby, and can be pronounced any which way you please, but it’s a name with history and the history pronounces the name with a strong I.

  4. I chose my daughters name while I was almost 4 months pregnant with her, the father chose a boys name (which I loved but will NEVER use). I got inspiration from a movie, and decided on Allegra Grace…..but two gra’s made the name a little clumsy on the tongue. When the relationship ended, I had found her middle name; Jayne, the female version of her dads name. She was also always going to have my last name, so her full name is Allegra Jayne Ditchfield 🙂 i LOVE her name, and she is as lively and joyous as her name meaning 🙂

  5. I think this post reinforces the idea to me that my husband and I will probably try to keep the names we pick a secret so no one can voice their opinions about the name until after the baby is born, also hopefully eliminating the “please don’t name your baby [insert name here] because [its my fav/i hate it/i know too many, etc]”. Then if we decide we time after the baby’s born to give it a name we can do that too.

  6. I named my daughter Bella before the Twilight book series came out. Unfortunately she is now lost in a sea of Bella’s. I asked her how she felt about her name being very popular. Her response, “It’s that stupid vampire book series”. She is nine now and completely a “Bella”.

    Have any of you had the same experience of having a wonderful name for your little one that pop culture kills?(pardon any punctution errors please, I am still getting to know my ipod touch)

    • I can answer this question.

      The Little Mermaid came out when I was 15. At first I loooooved that there was finally a well-known Ariel. I collected Little Mermaid stuff, and watched the movie over and over again. Within a year, however, I got sick of introducing myself and having people say, “Ariel, like the Little Mermaid?”

      “No,” I’d snap. “Ariel, like Shakespeare’s The Tempest.”

      Then I started meeting the waves of “Little Ariels,” the girls born in the early ’90s who were named after the movie. Without being a bitch about it, let’s just say that the parents who name their kids after Disney movies in the ’90s were VERY different than the parents who name their kids after Shakespearian characters in the ’70s. Things reached a fever pitch of irritation in 1994, when I worked at The Disney Store. My name was a serious liability at that point.

      By ’95, the buzz over the movie had died out, and the popularity of the name died down — although it’s still more common than it was before.

      In summary: this too shall pass.

      • My middle daughters name is Aria as in a beautiful operatic melody. She is in the 4th grade. People call her Ariel extremely frequently. Arianna or Ariella often, or the worst- Area. like the rug. she tries to politely correct people. But once people get it in their head, it’s very difficult to get it out again. Last year her third grade teacher only got her name right about half the time, and was constantly making comments about her being the little mermaid.

    • My mother’s maiden name is Bell, and so I decided in high school that if I ever had a daughter I’d name her either Bell or Bella. (I don’t like Belle with an e, although I’m not sure why. I just don’t. I’m not a big fan of silent letters.)

      Now, with twilight, it will almost certainly be Bell, which is fine. I like noun names better than adjectives anyway.

  7. We named our eldest daughter Rhiannon after the Welsh myth, but nearly everyone always associated it with the song. These days less and less people are familiar with the song. Instead they ask if we named her for the singer Rihanna forgetting that Rihanna was a child when my daughter was born, lol.

    My daughter is 11 now and I’m having serious name remorse. She never liked her name, feeling it doesn’t suit her. It seemed perfect up until a short while ago. Something in her changed and it no longer fits. She wants to change it to her Hebrew name Rivka. So now my husband and I are discussing how/when to legally change it. 🙂

    • I’m a Rhiannon and love it, but yes I too am sick of people mishearing my name and saying ‘Oh, like the singer?’ and jokes about ‘umbrellas’ were SO tiresome a couple of years back…but not so much now 😉
      Good luck with her name change x

  8. Or… they can always change it to whatever they choose when their older.

    My mother had baby-name remorse and changed my name from Morgan to Kate very early on. Though Kate’s a lovely name I always felt Morgan suited me better. I finally made it legal this year (at 31).

  9. I live with baby name remorse every day. Elijah (should have been Ezra or Indiana) is almost 4 now. I tell everyone to take their time choosing a name. I would not be surprised if it takes me 10 months next time.

  10. My oldest daughter was ALMOST Fiona Elise. Like, everyone called her Fifi through the womb (for the record one of the main reasons she is not Fiona..that and an affectionate ‘Fioney Baloney’ from a friend (AGHH!)and I ended up going with the name I knew I loved all along, but had been told was inappropriate as it was her dad’s ex girlfriend’s name (For the record, her dad and I split before she was born, for great reason). But I stood my ground, and my beautiful Lauren Elise could never be another name. EVER. She is, as we tell her, the Most Lauren Lauren ever! 🙂 My youngest was quite the battle in the name game. From the moment we found out she was a girl, my fiance and I went from chatting to almost not speaking to each other, in a matter of an hour. For the record, Clementine, Keeley, Evie (V for Vendetta, her due date AND birthdate was November 5..and this WOULD have been her name, but my name is Edy-long e- and we didn’t want her confused..SAD FACE), Lucy (but Lauren’s nickname is Lulu), and Amelia were all in the running. So we were sitting at Burger King, eating too angrily when suddenly a name we had never discussed came to me. I said, Emily? And he said ‘Shake on it. Right here!’ and that was it! Her middle name had already been we’re redheads, we have a lot of negotiations around here!..if the baby was a boy the middle name was up to him, and if it was a girl the middle name was up to me. So she became Emily Harper..and it’s perfect. THOUGH, I will always be a little sad that her gamer daddy and I didn’t think of Atari sooner. Atari Clark may be the most epic name ever..or could have been. And it would have fit her. But Em is good with Emily, so we will be too 😉

    • Im Fiona Kimberley and the one name I cant stand being called is fifi my sisters call me Flo for short (no idea where it came from) and other people call me Fe or Fiona I wont answer to fifi at all now.

  11. We named our son Jeston you say it like (Jestin) Every one complained its to close to Justin blah blah and his middle name is Blaine People started saying Plain Blaine. No matter what anyone said I Loved his name Jeston Blaine Rigsby. If I ever have a second son his name will either be Seth O’Ryan Or Bentley O’Ryan. If I ever have a little girl her name will Be Kora June names that I love!!!!!!!!

  12. Giving a name that fits the baby is important, I understand that…

    However, I feel there’s an aspect that’s not been discussed yet : one’s name can also be a wish or even an aspirational standard.

    At least that’s how I feel about my name : it’s pronounced like “my heart” in Dutch & harkens back to medieval times of chivalry and nobility.
    An earlier poster mentioned her son growing into the name Jubilation, even though as a baby, the name “cuddly-peekaboo-with-baby-giggles” would have fit better… *wink*

  13. My ex and I had the hardest time coming up with a name we liked for our youngest daughter. The two older girls both had names starting with A and we got a lot of crap from people for not sticking with the trend. We ended up naming her Clara. Her two older sisters contributed the choices Rose, and Rain. We ended up putting Raine on the birth certificate, but neither of us were really really happy with it. When she was about 4 months old, my mother came for a visit, we were sitting in the car at a red light with the kids in the back seat, and my middle daughter Aria, pipes up about how pretty the song was, and my mom and i both just looked at each other. The song was Fur Elise. We never did get it changed legally. But our Clara has ever after been Clara Raine Rose Elise. …..up until she was 3, when she realized that her name should start with A like her sisters, and renamed herself Anna. Which strangely enough kinda stuck. Especially with my adult friends. I never could get used to calling her Anna. But my boyfriend does, and several close friends do. Sometimes she introduces herself as Anna, and sometimes as Clara. I just hope the fluidity of her name doesn’t lead to trouble with identity later on in life.

  14. Posting on this thread a bit late but I loved reading all the posts and wanted to share too!

    My oldest son was born named Adeus (Uh-Day-Is) a shortened version of the name Amadeus. Family and friends would call him both names so he grew up like Adeus was a nickname. But after enrolling him in t-ball and preschool last year I found out its incredibly hard for people to read his legal name and pronounce it correctly. Most people say Ahh-Dee-Us and it was bothering my son a lot. A few months ago I legally changed his name to Amadeus. I don’t regret the change at all because it wasn’t a huge leap. But it did cost quite a bit! That part I definitely didn’t like!

    With my youngest son, his father and I chose not to know the sex beforehand. I was certain he was a girl and had a name picked out, Adalyn Renee. I was so excited to have Adeus and Addie! Surprise! It was a boy instead! I wasn’t sure what I would name him. His father and I had been leaning towards Maximus (Our love of the Gladiator movie) but at the time I was not too fond of the nickname Max which I knew would be forced upon us. I remembered a name I had written down a few months earlier. TYDUS. He was a Ty! Not to mention I absolutely loved how it sounded with his brothers name!

    Our family still jokes about Ty’s name, calling him Tydus Maximus Desimus. Its funny how names stick! Hopefully my boys are as in love with their names as I am. But if not I will gladly call them Rob and Bob or whatever they connect with more. But I am NOT getting my tattoos of Adeus and Tydus covered! HAHAHA!

  15. Praying my husband happily agrees. Now he doesnt and I am depressed and going to see a therapist. He thinks its postpartum feeling but its not. I chose a name that I didnt realized is not its not the common pronounciation is usa and there is a german pronounciation but i went by the rare one. So he is almost 3 mos and he will constantly have to correct 2-3 times bc no one can pronounce it and the name is not even our origin. I was being too creative and end up making it too complicated. My hubs is so stubborn and i think its more of a hassle to change but i swear, if he doesnt agee , in 5 years he regret for not agreeing with me. Prayers to God, he agrees and not mad at me. Help!

    • Con’t Every time I hear my hubs and daughter says our son name, it cringe or anyone else. It didnt registered to me until we took him to his 1 week chk up. I wanted to change the 2nd week but went over this 3 times with hubs and told him that he just has to get used to the new name which is simple to pronounce, spell, easy on the eyes. Everyone pronounce it the common pronounciation, some can pronounce it the German way if they know but ours was not even close. I have not been able to eat, sleep, concentrate over this. Told hubs we can keep the orig name as middle name. Prayer he agrees

  16. Anyone ever concerned or given thought to what your child’s initials will be?
    This is huge for me because growing up my initials were “EZ”, as you can imagine this set me up for loss of ridicule. My mother’s irish family didn’t believe in giving girls middle names because upon marriage their maiden name would remain. So my mother has no middle name, her sisters neither but a few have hyphenated names like Mary-Jane.
    Now my brother was born in ’69 shortly after my father’s return from Vietnam, my brothers initials are DMZ (for those not familiar with military terms it stands for De-Militarized Zone…oops).

    My mother never considered the ramifications of not paying attention to our initials.
    When my husband and I discuss baby names I’m always aware of the possibilities. Our last name begins with a D so the last thing I want to do to any of our children is traumatize them with the initials along the lines of “DUD” or “DIED”.

    (Side note my new married initials are “ED” and I work in emergency medicine)

    • Funny story, as an adult I changed my first and last name and my initials are now EZ (formerly, they were LH). However, with my (retained) middle initial it is EJZ which I mentally read as “edges”. Fortunately I’m no longer subject to the immature jokes of former age groups. I did consider it before the change, but the name all together just sounds so classy and rad, the initials weren’t a big deal. It is something I would probably avoid when naming a hypothetical future child, however.

  17. Apparently, I was Leah (lee-ah) all through my mom’s pregnancy, but I popped out and they looked at me, looked at each other and said, “no way.” It seems I don’t look like one? Trying to pick a new name didn’t go well either, lots of fights and indecision I hear.

    S0, my parents didn’t name me for over a week while they considered things. Finally my great-grandmother came in with the tie-breaker, she said I should be named after her mother; who I apparently am something like, if a newborn can be said to have had a very distinct personality. I think her mother must have been grouchy and opinionated too. Ha!

    Otherwise I was probably going to still be “baby girl last name” in kindergarten. 😉

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