Why I Stopped Caring About What to Name My Baby Girl

Photo: Downtown Magazine NYC / The Bump
Photo: Downtown Magazine NYC / The Bump

Like many little girls that envision their wedding day long before they find their prince charming and walk down the aisle, I dreamed of naming my children at an early age.  Whether in dance class, at the park, or while watching a movie, my ears were keen to baby names that I would one day bestow upon my child.  From Alexis, to Julia and Joslyn – I was in search of the perfect name that was used as practice on Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbie dolls alike.  Sometimes the names stuck, other times they were changed quickly; regardless, a laundry list of possibilities were inventoried in my brain for future pickings.

Years later, finally pregnant, and incredibly excited to name our first girl, my husband and I were at a loss.  We weren’t in disagreement of what to name our daughter; we just couldn’t find a name we liked enough to use!  We knew we wanted a name that wasn’t too popular (sorry Emily, Ava, and Emma), made up (Story and Rain, no thank you), or unisex.  We wanted to pick a name that would capture the vision we had of our little girl – a wild, rambunctious, pig-tailed wearing child.  But website after website and book after book, we more quickly said “no” than frequently said “yes” to the thousands of choices that existed.  Finally, we settled on a shortlist of 3 names (Penelope, Zoey, Eliana) and agreed we would name our daughter upon first glance.  Perhaps seeing her would settle what she should be called for the rest of her life (no pressure, right?)!

I was wrong.  Once my daughter was born and our eyes met, the uncertainty of what to name her was lifted. I almost didn’t care. I just wanted to hold her, love her, and stare at this tiny miracle.  So instead of further questioning the perfect name, I defaulted to my husband and said, “Do you still want to call her Penelope?”  With tears in his eyes he responded, “You will let me name our daughter?” I responded, “Yes”.  And within 30 seconds, after 41 weeks of agony, Penelope Rae was named.  It seemed simple, it seemed right.

Yet here we are again with another girl on the way, and I am back at square one contemplating, questioning, the shortlist we’ve created with the additional pressure of picking a name that lives up to the excitement of Penelope.  The inventory of names from my childhood has been erased and no particular meaningful names comes to mind, and so I am left with deciding on factors like sound, sibset compatibility, and popularity.  The naming of our second child seems like a daunting task that may never be completed and I can’t help but think that we will end up back in the labor room making a last minute decision based on emotion, based on Daddy’s pick.  And perhaps that’s the best approach since Penelope wound up being a perfect match.

Have you struggled with naming your baby?  Are you naming your child based off tradition or using family names?

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Pick a Name Without Picking a Fight

A No-Stress Guide to Baby Naming

Hot Baby Names Inspired by 2012