I’m obsessed with naming babies. Ever since high school I could be found scribbling names like Savanna and Miles in cursive on my loose-leaf paper along with imaginary boyfriend’s last names. I would come up with endless lists of names and their pros and cons. When I actually became pregnant and one of these fore runners became real, I’d end up changing my mind.
I used to be so consumed with naming babies that I would sit on the phone for an hour with my best friend who was adopting. As we hung up, I would call back and ask, “How about Lillian?” My baby naming skills weren’t reserved for my best friends; for example, I was ordering some furniture from Ballard and ended up on the phone for thirty minutes with the sales rep who had shared she was pregnant and struggling with a strong Italian name for her boy. I came up with Armando, and to this day I wonder if she went with it. I’ve met pregnant women in the nail salon and wracked my brain thinking of the perfect girl name that starts with T to compliment her older son Tristan. I have four kids, and four “naming them” stories, along with some hindsight 20/20 tips in case you are currently facing the “what’s name’s best name” debacle. Know you are not alone.
My first-born daughter’s gender was a surprise, so I was able to go to the hospital with two names. When she wasn’t Zachary Ryan, my gut feeling told me that my girl name wasn’t as cool. I changed my mind in the last second and after lists and lists of amazing girls names, I named her Alexa. My sister’s friend Alexa had recently visited and she just looked more like an Alexa than the other names that I picked. I was okay with all the possible nicknames and even yell Lex from time to time myself. Who would have known that I had the same name taste as a big company, oh well.
My second son would logically be Zachary, right? I found boys names to either be too common (like Jack) or too similar (Hayden, Brayden, Aiden) when my son was born in 2006. After four years of infertility, I also wanted a name with meaning because I truly felt he was a blessing from God. I chose the name Elijah and get a lot of compliments on his name. I chose Mark for his middle name, as Mark was the last name of my birth mother who passed away when I was little. Aksel Mark—my biological grandfather—lived to be 100, so I decided the name meant strength. So feel free to come up with your own name meaning, there are no real rules.
With my third child, I began to be obsessed with it “matching” Alexa and Elijah. I thought it would be good to yell through the house for another “a” ending. Perhaps Joshua, or Jonah, I thought. I was a military spouse blogger and even solicited help from my blogging audience. I got hundreds of suggestions and discovered I wasn’t the only one consumed with coming up with the perfect contender. Then, in the middle of watching Private Practice, I decided on Lucas. I thought I was wise not to choose off the top ten baby names list, but guess what? There were three other Lucas’ in his preschool, so perhaps it wasn’t as unique as I thought. I chose my Grandmother’s last name Moore as Lucas’ middle name. While my mother-in-law didn’t like the name (you have to ignore naysayers), she has decided that Lucas has made the name and I love that she finally came around. I was glad I didn’t share the idea before I chose it because it might have been harder to have it be my final pick if her cross-eyed look was in my mind. Consider keeping your “perfect name” a secret.
My last daughter was the toughest. I knew this was my last chance to dwell on my lists and I had so many close contenders from my first three pregnancies. I mean, this was my last chance to name a child after my Grandma Jane or use my husband’s grandmother Julia’s name. The pressure was on now that other moms stopped me on the playground and complimented Elijah for being a unique name. My head was spinning. Was Chelsea too “presidential daughter” for my biracial daughter? Was Jane too plain next to her cool big sister, Alexa? I went to the hospital, looked at my husband, and said, “OMG maybe it’s our last chance to use Savanna.” However, he didn’t have the same fears. My husband and I tossed every name on our list around the room, and the nurse looked up and asked, “How about Sierra? There was a Sierra born here this morning.” And just like that, I broke “rules” about the name needing to be unique, or have a profound meaning (Sierra only means mountain), or having to “match” Lucas. My husband and I mutually nodded at the nurse’s suggestion and quickly signed her birth certificate before we stopped agreeing that her suggestion was a worthy one. While I would have never put it on my list, it works.
If you are stressed about naming your baby, trust that the perfect name will come to you. No matter what you chose, know that your baby will make the name.
My Baby Naming Rules In A Nutshell
1. It’s okay to change your mind, because sometimes the name you picked doesn’t feel right when you see the baby.
2. Look up the baby name’s meaning and consider choosing something special. Or choose a family name, even if it’s for the middle name.
3. Be unique, unless you just love it. If you chose a name based on a television show or the Pottery Barn Catalog’s stockings, be prepared to have a few others with the same name. But if it’s a great name, who cares?
4. You can’t please everyone, so choose the name that sparks excitement for you and your spouse and your loved ones will learn to love it if you do.
5. Do your best, but don’t obsess, break all the rules and know your child will make the name amazing!