• Mon, Dec 2 - 11:00 am ET

I Have Baby Naming Writer’s Block

105784040When people ask why it took so long for my husband and me to get pregnant, I give the standard answers: career, finances, a Manhattan apartment the size of a clog. The truth is that Garrett and I couldn’t agree on a name. Sure, Girl Baby or Joe Doe Baby might see the kid through middle school, yet it wouldn’t work in college.

My name was supposed to be Samara, but my great-grandmother vetoed that idea. She didn’t want me nicknamed Sam, which was the name of a brother she no longer spoke to. In retrospect she was probably jealous that Samara is pretty and her name, Gussie, was, uh, not. Name envy never really goes away. At any rate, my parents settled on Jessica, one of the most popular names the year I was born, and just about every year since.

Nevertheless, I understand my great-grandmother’s concern: there’s a whole host of people I’d rather not be reminded of each time I look at my kid. Ex-boyfriends, Garrett’s ex-girlfriends, old bosses, a calculus teacher, that bank teller who was incredibly rude that one time. The older we get, the more names we can cross off the list based on life experiences alone.

I can’t really discuss these issues with my dad, who wants me to name the kid after his parents. As it happens, his dad was called Yosef, but somehow that got changed to James at the hospital. So his whole life he went by both Jimmy and Yos. My grandma, Sara-no-h-thank-you-very-much, and I were very close, but she had name issues of her own.

Garrett was named for Pat Garrett, the Old West lawman and bartender. His dad wanted a cowboy theme for the whole brood, but his mom drew a line after their first son. Feminist to his core, Garrett has decided that our kid should have my last name, Allen, rather than his last name, Ziegler. Hyphenating wasn’t on the table, nor was a portmanteau, a popular trend of combining names. We’re not exactly sure how you would pronounce Allziellengler, and Jessarrett sounds like something you need to hire an exterminator to deal with. He likes ultra-feminine, almost Victorian names like Winnifred Sophronia. So badly does he want a girl that he refuses to discuss boy’s names.

I’m the opposite. I find it much easier to pick boys names. Luckily, these days a ton of boys names have become girls names. I’m not talking about Ashley or Pat, the source of so manySaturday Night Live skits. I’m talking about Ryan, Addison, Sloan, Kyle, even Maxwell (thank you, Jessica Simpson).

Fashions change. When was the last time you met a Clarence under the age of 90? And yet that was one of the most popular names of the early 1900s. Not only does a friend’s kid share the name of our childhood dog, but we had to rename our cat after our first niece was born.

We like the idea of naming our child after significant moments in our life together, such as where we met. Unfortunately, University of Washington–Seattle Allen would be a nightmare to fit on a driver’s license. For a while, we talked about naming the kid after the place where it was conceived, which is allegedly what Ron Howard did (c.f., Bryce Dallas, as in the city, and Paige Carlyle, as in the hotel). We agreed, though, that Fallopian and Uterus would be tough to go through life with, especially if we have a boy.

However, the advantage of Uterus is the possibility of some pretty cool initials. I wasn’t given a middle name, so my mom asked me to pick one as she was filling out paperwork to register me for kindergarten. I went with Sky, she added an “e” because it was the 1970s, and I magically became Jessica Skye Allen. I desperately wished that my first name had been Eunice, so my initials could have been USA. Back then, I was both patriotic and a bad speller.

Garrett and I know a kid whose initials are LOL. An unfortunate oversight on the part of otherwise very bright parents, or 21st-century cheekiness? Tough to tell. Not only do you have to consider initials, you also have to consider serial killers. Thank goodness for Google. Does your number-one choice also happen to be the name of a brutal dictator? Porn star? Creepy politician? Better to find out now, rather than when you’re trying to get your kid registered with Social Security, lock down his/her Twitter handle, figure out how Google+ works, and sign up for a discrete Facebook URL.

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  • NicknamesAreDull

    My husband wanted to give our child a name from someone who was a strong, awesome person. I wasn’t a fan of naming them John Joe Smith II, because it’s not my cup of tea. So, we made a list of family members and historical figures that we admired, and went through calling out names. I’ve mentioned that our daughter’s name is Kathleen Grace-Elizabeth, if we had a boy, his name would have been John Bradley-Alexander.

  • Megan Zander

    Baby names are hard. My cousin wanted to name her baby Matza, but her mother put up such a fuss that two days after the birth she changed the name to Julia. When the baby was 3 months old she decided she didn’t like that and changed her name to April…for now. So yes, I think it’s a good idea to do the heavy thinking BEFORE baby gets here. Personally, on our honeymoon we had a very nice and attractive french teenage for a waiter who was named Jeremy. As we left the restaurant my husband commented that he liked the name and we joked that we should name our kid that. Three years later we did. Good luck!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      LOL THIS! ^
      A girl I knew called her baby Tiffany. Then two months later changed it to Tulisa. Then a month later, to Britney. She’s now six months old and is called Rihanna…

      I do like unusual names too, but Callie Rose and Abigail Jane are our girls names and Logan and Blaine are our boys names.
      I so wanted to choose Dante for a boy but himself said no way lol I bet I’ll wear him down by the time we get pregnant. =P

    • Megan Zander

      Our other son is named Logan!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      that’s awesome!!!! I LOVE that name!
      My mate had twin boys two years ago, she called them Blaine and Blaize.
      They’re barely two and are already the coolest kids in the estate!

  • LadyClodia

    Our older son’s name is Hans Michael: his first name is my husband’s best friend’s name and the Michael is my father’s middle name. Our younger son’s name is Ridder Johannes: Ridder means “knight” in Dutch and Johannes is my husband (and his father’s) name. We knew right away what we wanted to name our older son, but it was something like 3 weeks before he was born that we settled on our youngest’s name. Ridder is not a normal Dutch name, and I think my husband’s family think we’re a little crazy, like my family would probably think if we named him Knight. I like the way Ridder sounds, though, and we figured that if he didn’t like it he could use his initials “RJ” as a nickname. My grandmother has since passed, but apparently she couldn’t say “Ridder” for some reason and called him “Radar” which is kind of funny.
    For our youngest my husband had suggested Floyd, but there was no way I could name my baby boy that. I liked Flynn but worried that there would be a lot of Flynns. I also really liked the name Cadel, but we couldn’t agree on that either.
    If we had had a girl I wanted to name her Mina Pearl: because I like the name Mina and Pearl was my grandmother’s name. I know it sounds a lot like Minnie Pearl, but I wouldn’t have cared.
    Sometimes it seems like there is so much pressure to give your kids the perfect name that it becomes almost impossible to agree or make a decision.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Dutch names rule, I always liked Kees and Rien!

    • LadyClodia

      I like a lot of Dutch names too, but there would be too many pronunciation problems with a lot of them, unfortunately. Even my husband and I pronounce Ridder slightly different, and a lot of people say “Rider” at first. I don’t think anyone has messed up Hans, but even my husband gets some weird results from “Johan.” Johan isn’t that unusual, right?

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Not as far as I know lol, then again I listen to a lot of Finnish metal, and most of those dudes are names Johan, Johanne or Johannes lol!

    • March

      Ridder in English sounds kinda cool, like a hip abbreviation of “exterminator”.

      Considering that some kids here in the Netherlands are called Storm, Vlinder (butterfly) and Engel (angel), he would probably get away with it even here!

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    I was named after my grandmother who died a week after my parents told her the good news (Peigí) My second name, Maeve, is one of the few Irish names my mother liked (she’s Dutch/Indonesian).
    I chose Joan after my mother for my confirmation, my brother is Ruairí. My father wanted to call him Dubhaltach (Doo-il-tock for non Irish speakers) but my mom vetoed that after making the very reasonable point that her relatives needed to be able to write and pronounce the child’s name!

    Think we got lucky, our neighbours called their kids Thomasina, Dubhaltach (yup someone did it, child is called Doody for short. cute now he’s 8. wait til he’s 18) and the daughter Liadhian.

    While these names sound lovely trust me, I’ve known these kids since they were in the womb and I STILL can’r spell the names right!

    • JLH1986

      We have a one year old Maeve in our family. She’s the bees knees. :) I had never heard of it before her mama told us. She has a very traditional name.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Ah that’s so cool!
      You know the whole Irish story of Queen Meabh (Maeve)?

    • JLH1986

      I do not! I just thought my cousin decided to embrace our Irish heritage. I’m all ears (or eyes)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      http://homepage.eircom.net/~lumcloon/Legends/brown.htm

      This explains it as best as I could lol!

    • G.E. Phillips

      My 30 year old sister is named Maeve. She’s hilarious and adorable :) Good choice!

    • pixie

      My name is Welsh (Nerhys) and a lot of people misspell, pronounce my name when they try for the first time. I’m kind of used to it, now, though (most people are nice about it, which helps).
      One of my riding coach’s daughters is named Niamh, and I love that name. Here in Canada, though, where Irish names aren’t very common, I know she gets worse misspellings/pronunciations than I do. When entering in horse shows we both write our names phonetically for the judges when they call out names lol.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      A friend of mine recently completed an internship in Boston. Her name is Aoife, and not a single person in the lab knew how to pronounce it, nor could anyone in HR. They had to actually call Aoife herself so they’d know how to pronounce her name when she got there!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      one of my girls is called Aoife! I always thought it’d be the more difficult names that people find hard, like Doireann, but my friend Niamh, Aoibhe and even my cousin Senan have had mad variations of their names!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Are you a Gaeltacht area family? Getting very Connemara with the names ;) I’d have absolutely LOVED an Irish name, but nope, Emma it was! A friend of mine is names Turlough, and I absolutely love that, but he’s not a fan. I suppose if you have a very Irish name you want one less so, and vice versa, you can’t really win!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Wicklow originally lol but my dad is an Irish musician so he was mad into the old names!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Oh my god, I bet these sound so cool! I am trying to picture it with an amazing accent.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      yup lol especially if you can get the kids to say it, it sounds so cute in their own little voices!

  • Bethany Ramos

    I’m crazy, so I had baby names picked out for both genders from conception. We ended up with two boys: Elliott Liam and Jonah Reed. I loved the name Elliott, and I find it interesting after the fact that it is becoming a popular girl’s name. There’s actually another girl Elliot in my son’s daycare. Who knew?

    • Jem

      Blame the show Scrubs. I desperately wanted to name my son Elliot but my husband, who is a huge Scrubs fan, refused because he thinks it is a girls name. This is due to the character on there named Elliot, played by Sarah Chalke.

    • pineapplegrasss

      I have an Elliot too:)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Great name!!

    • Lee

      My son’s name is Liam Reed. :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOVE!

    • K

      I have an Elliot too. I’m glad you didn’t name your son Elliot Reed because that’s the exact name of the female Elliot on Scrubs lol.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Whaaaa – I had no idea. I’ve watched Scrubs but didn’t remember that. That would have been oddly hilarious.

    • Adam Fitzgerald

      My sons name is Elliot, my nephew is Liam

  • Momma425

    My daughter’s dad and I compromised: his name is Nate, mine is Kristi. Put it together, and you get Kate. He liked Lynn as a middle name, it is his sister’s. Marie is tradition for my family (as it is for like everyone’s apparently). So Katelyn Marie happened.

  • Gertie

    Try naming a baby after you’ve been a teacher for a few years. There’s a terribly long list – unique to each teacher – of names that are totally off the table because you’ve had too many jackasses with that name.

    • momjones

      My husband and I are teachers; you are absolutely correct! This was a huge thing when we were picking names (in the early 80s). We went with Rebecca, Celia and David – pretty traditional and actually not many of our students had those names! Our oldest daughter, also a teacher, chose very traditional names, Catherine and Laura, for her children, and if one of them was a boy, she was going to name him Joseph.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    My criteria for names was that it be common enough that it’s not uber difficult for people to spell/pronounce, but not so common/popular that they are one of 5 in their class.

    As it turns out, my kid’s name is getting a bit more popular (though it still hasn’t cracked the top 100), and sometimes people apparently do have a hard time spelling/pronouncing it even though it’s pretty simple. I guess you really never know….I got “Alicyn” on my starbucks cup the other day, which is a spelling of my name I have truly never seen before!

    My sister really struggled because she spent her whole pregnancy thinking she was having a boy (not based on ultrasound, just ‘gut’ and everyone telling her she was ‘carrying like a boy’), then when she had a girl she didn’t know what to do, complicating it was the fact that she lives in Quebec, so needed a name that worked in both French and English (Penelope was her favourite girl name, but apparently it doesn’t work en francais) and sounded good with her long, very Polish last name (women in Quebec tend to keep their maiden names, and her husband insisted their kid get her last name as his is very common).

    So it was I think close to a month before the kid had a name. But I guess that’s better than having it change 5 times!

    • JLH1986

      I always made my pretend name Allison. I had no idea it could be spelled differently. My name is Jennifer. I’ve seen is spelled “Jinnifer”, “Ginnifer”, “Jenifer” “Giniffer”, “Jinipher”. WHAT THE HELL? I get people want to make sure their kiddos are unique but Ginipher?

    • Bethany Ramos

      Haha that makes me think of the Parks and Rec character Tynnyfer.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      At least yours are in the ballpark of your name, mine is Emma, but working over the phone people mis-hear it spectacularly. Just some of my favourites were Sarah, Aoife and Orlagh, none of which soind even remotely like Emma.

    • JLH1986

      I got nothing Emma to Sarah? What??

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I know, Sarah isn’t remotely like Emma, but I got that one a lot in work!

    • http://www.twitter.com/ilikeswears Dusty

      My name is Dusty and yet over the phone, people constantly mishear it as Stephanie. I don’t even…

    • scooby23

      That’s it, I’m naming my first child Orlagh.

    • March

      Or Guinevere…. or Gwenhwyfar…

    • Muggle

      It could always be worse. You know there’s got to be a Gynnephyr out there.

    • http://www.parisunraveled.com/ Allison Lounes

      I live in France and even though I spell my name for the Starbucks people, I once got “Aliconne” – conne being the very bad insult c&!t in English :-)

      Penelope works in French – it just doesn’t sound pretty. Likewise, I’m having trouble naming our future children, because the names thatI like in English aren’t great in French, and some of the nice ones in French are old lady or old man names in English (Agnès, for example, is super pretty in French, but I can’t imagine it working in the States.)

  • Megan Zander

    True story : I once had to help a woman who was getting divorced with her paperwork. I called out her name , which was spelled. ” Ta-a”. So I called out ” Taa”. She came up to my desk with a hefty dose of attitude and yelled, “it’s Tadashia. You pronounce the dash” . And I was thinking, lady, be mad at your mom for that name, not me for saying it wrong. But I didn’t say that, because I was afraid she’d hit me.

    • JLH1986

      I had a La-a. “Ladasha”. I always thought the dash people were fakes. Maybe they were at one time but they aren’t anymore.

    • dcford

      this story had my dying! too funny.

    • Nope
  • Jaclyn

    Here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter what you name them. I agonized for months over what to name my first daughter, going back and forth between two choices. I can’t tell you how many names I eliminated based on “bad associations” with people I knew. Within 2 weeks after she was born, I couldn’t imagine ever calling her something else. She became the association with the name and it fits her personality perfectly because she’s been molding the name around herself since the day she was born. Now, pregnant with my second daughter, I stumbled across a name I liked, said “yeah, that will work” and never looked back. No agonized. No google searching top baby names and meanings and all that bullcrap. Just “I like this” and done.

  • Lilly

    it is such a interesting process to choose names — I wanted to have my father’s name as my son’s middle name so a lot of or decision making was involved with what names went with it. Since it is William we found the more modern names didn’t flow very well (I think they were all too many syllables). My joking choice was to name him William Robert or Billy Bob as a nickname.

    • K

      Haha. My husband liked to joke that we were going to name our sone after his 2 grandfathers – James Robert, and call him Jim Bob.

    • K

      Ahh, son not sone. I really need to spell check before I post.

  • pineapplegrasss

    I am too having a babyname block this time around and all my husband can think of is dumb stuff lol. I carefully read all posts for an inspiring boy name. I knew all my other babies names so early on in my pregnancy. I guess I have to stop having babies if I can’t think up any more pleasing names. My boys-Gavin and Elliot, my girls- Faelene and Chelsea

    • Bethany Ramos

      Gorgeous. If you go on that baby name flow chart on BabyCenter, it’s really creepy because all of our names were accidentally related to one another – like they were in my brain! (Elliott + Jonah + others we liked, Owen + Emma + Graham in the same style…) So maybe plug your kids’ names in to see what you get?

    • pineapplegrasss

      Im gonna try that. Maybe I’ll find a name

    • break_time

      try nymbler.com too!

    • pineapplegrasss

      That was fun. I spent way too much time on that site yesterday

    • pineapplegrasss

      I just keep getting the same names like Owen and Liam and Aiden.
      What about Cameron Taylor? too feminine?

    • Bethany Ramos

      We have the same name theme!!! We used Liam as a middle name and loved Owen too. Cameron Taylor is really great – but it could go both ways. So what? I like the name Cameron a lot, and I also like Irish names, like Quentin. :)

    • pineapplegrasss

      My husband says he has a couple ideas but is saving them until later because I reject names too quickly. Like saving them would make me like them more in a few months? How fickle does he think I am lol. Besides, I bet I think about this topic way way more than he does and I’ve probably already rejected them oh hahah. Naming your child-for life!- is hard

    • Bethany Ramos

      Agreed! Maybe he’ll catch you at a weak moment – in labor.

    • pineapplegrasss

      oh lol I used the labor/walking/contractions at the hospital once to get my choice of names with Chelsea. We had originally agreed on Katelyn and I just wanted Chelsea soooo bad!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Ha!! I like Chelsea :)

    • pineapplegrasss

      He said I win again in the baby naming category :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Did you get Cameron??

    • pineapplegrasss

      yes, I did!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hooray!! It’s a great name :)

    • pineapplegrasss

      just wanted to share :)
      much nicer conversation then the one I was having over there with anongirl lol

    • Bethany Ramos

      I’m glad you did :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I’m so glad you did :)

  • Lee

    We keep saying if the next one is a boy the name is going to be Corbin Dallas. It started as a joke but the more we say it the more it grows on me.

    • waffre

      If it’s a girl I suggest Leeloo Dallas Multipass.

    • Surly Canuck

      Haha. We are having the same thing with Fitzroy. It was a joke, but now it’s starting to roll off the tongue a little too easily.

    • Shaina

      I know a Quinlan whose parents chose that as a joke name before he was born and then when he came super early, they hadn’t chosen anything else so Quinlan he became! They call him Q and he’s super awesome.

  • CrushLily

    I wanted to call our son George. It had the benefit of being both our grandfathers’ names so we could cover off the family angle. Plus I used to know this lovely guy at uni called George and I figured that if the kid was good-looking enough – which of course he was going to be – then he could carry it. But my partner said George was an old man’s name. Apparently his ideas of Percy and Spencer are not. Anyway, I managed to negotiate George as a middle name and of course NOW I am vindicated since the future king of my country’s name is George. This time around our boy name is a TV character’s name we both liked. And the girl name is just the left over one from last time!

    • http://www.parisunraveled.com/ Allison Lounes

      My grandfather was named George and he died last year. I was going to use George as a middle name (too old man-ish), but now that there’s a baby Prince George, I’m totally going with it if we have a boy!

  • pixie

    I really like mythological names and like looking at name meanings. One name I really like for a girl is Epona (a gallo-roman/celtic deity who was the protector of horses, donkeys, and mules), but that name has so many popular culture ties to the Legend of Zelda game series. I’m not close to being ready to start a family yet, so thankfully I don’t have to start thinking about names for a while.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      same!
      Our main girls name is Callie (short for Calliope!) and we’ve discussed Sephy too (short for Persephone!) I’m a big Greek mythology nerd!

    • pixie

      Those are both great names!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      yay thank you!!!
      we’re very taken with Tallon and Seth for boys. so many gods and deities to consider! *star eyes*

      I have two friends who are actually named after their birth sign, Libra and Gemini. I always thought Gemini had a nice ring to it

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      and hey, Robin Williams named his daughter Zelda!

  • dcford

    Omg this is my life right now. I’m 36 weeks pregnant and my husband and I CANNOT decide on a name for our second son. So much pressure! We struggled with our first son’s name up until a major “a-ha!” moment, and we have had no such moment this time around.
    Oddly enough, I DO know a guy named Clarence…he’s 29 and has always gone by the nickname Tink.
    Very well written article, btw!

    • AP

      Is he Tink because every time a bell “tinks” an angel gets its wings?

    • JD

      Don’t lose hope! I just had a baby but didn’t know the gender beforehand. We were 100% resigned to just settling on some name we were just meh about if we had a girl…this was our third kid and there was just NOTHING. At 39 weeks and three days my husband yells from across the house, “I’ve got it!” And it really was the perfect name, one we had never considered in 27 months of pregnancy. (Four days later I had a boy and we were bummed that we couldn’t use the girl’s name!)

  • G.E. Phillips

    I could name boy babies all day long! (Current favorites: Truman, August, and Rhys.) Girl names are much harder. I have an unusual first name, and it was frankly a burden–I’m 36, and I still kinda hate it. As I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to name Face “Beau” and got talked out of it by family; I wound up giving him a simple, more popular name that I do love, and now I’m glad I did.

    By the way, before anyone asks, I did not name my son Face :) Just a nickname!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I’m with you there,I’ve a long list of future boy-child names, but i’m stumped when it comes to girls.

    • G.E. Phillips

      I have girls names that I like but none that I love. Cecilia and Stella are probably my top choices.

    • The Kez

      Good choices – my little girl is called Stella :)

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Heheehee. You know, this may sound dumb, but I’ve *thought* that was your privacy screen name for him for a long time, but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to find an appropriate way to ask. I mean, I figured you didn’t name him Face for real, but….you just never know!

    • G.E. Phillips

      Lol! Now you know :) and I HAVE been asked outright on here before.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I figured one day it would come out without my having to actually ask.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      My first serious boyfriend was named Beau. He did not live up to that name.

  • The Kez

    My son is called Vincent (only when he is in trouble – usually he is Vince, Vincey, Vinnie or Vincey-moo). He’s a cheeky, curly headed two year old and it suits him perfectly (without a wifebeater or meatball sub in sight)

  • Kaitlyn Catherine

    Our baby was almost 3 days old before we literally flipped a coin to choose between ‘Archer’ and ‘Elliott’.

    • Adam Fitzgerald

      We have an elliot

    • pineapplegrasss

      wow there are a lot of Elliots. I have never met an Elliot in my life, until my son came along

    • pineapplegrasss

      LOL! I took votes for a middle name by the ladies at the Birth Certificate counter in the hospital. Came home with baby Gavin Marcel. He could have been Gavin Samuel- sounds funny 8 years later haha

  • Kelby Johnson

    I have a Jaden and an Emma =)

  • Adam Fitzgerald

    My daughters name is very ethnic and rare, but super easy to pick, she’s named for family. By ethnic and rare, I mean eight in the us.finding a boy name that matches was harder. I’ve never heard of so man Elliot’s until this post lol