Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Naming Nightmares

Our firstborn son and daughter were more or less named before they were conceived. In a way, I thought that was a little boring and took some of the fun out of pregnancies (at the time), but I always forget what a wrestle it is to name a baby if you don't have something solid in your mind. Naming a child feels like such a responsibility and expresses something about you and about them. There are so many associations with names out there, both good and bad, and they vary from person to person.

For example, one of the contenders for Ian's name was Owen. I'd say it was in our top four, which was as close as we could get to naming him until he was a few hours old. But about two weeks before he was born, we watched an episode of Criminal Minds, which is a detective show about serial killers.(In general, this is not a great show for mothers to watch, and I have learned to avoid it, as it gives me more things to worry about in the middle of the night.) This particular story was about an 11-year-old boy who was a pathological serial killer. And his name was Owen. By the end of the night, the name was scratched from our list.

What's hard is that family members also feel the need to remind you of their own associations with a name. Another of my favorites for Ian was Mason, which reminded me of the years that I spent working in the bakery of a wonderful family. It is also a German name, and Jared has German blood; as we like to give our children a name consistent with their heritage, it worked. But it was also the last name of somebody's ex-husband and brought a shudder to Jared's parents every time it was mentioned. (Incidentally, now it is a favorite with a couple of my brothers and will probably be used at some point by one of them, so they are probably glad that we didn't use it.)

Now I have no regrets about letting go of those names. Ian is Ian and I can't imagine him as anything else. But once again we are struggling to find a name that clicks for our coming little girl. We want it to be a classic, but one that is not over-used. We want it to match our heritage, which means English, Scottish,Welsh, Danish, Norwegian, or German. There are a few family names that we really like and her middle name will definitely be a family name, like all of her other siblings.

The front-runner for a long time was Lucy, which also happens to be the name of one of my great-grandmothers. But once we found out we were having a girl, it somehow didn't seem right. And we don't LOVE it with our last name. It may stick around as a middle name, but it is off the first name list.

Other top names include Margaret, (my grandmother's name,) and Violet, (Jared's great-grandmother's name). But we differ a bit on what we would call Margaret. Jared likes Meg, which I don't really mind, but this weekend we discovered that Meg is the name of the vixen-n0t-quite-heroine in Disney's Hercules, and I'm kinda turned off to it at the moment. I'm not saying I couldn't get over it, but let's just say that she's no one whom I want my daughter emulating.

So we started perusing web lists of names this weekend, and I'm going to share some of our favorites with you. I've decided that I like positive feedback on names-- if you think one of them is hideous, please keep that to yourself or gossip about it to your sister, but don't tell me! I'll put up a poll in the sidebar and you can vote for as many of them as you like. This doesn't mean that we'll use the most popular one, but I'm interested at this point in knowing which names you all like.

As Bronwen's name is Welsh, we've looked a lot at Welsh names and a few that we like are: Eleri (Ell-er-eye), Meredith, Aerwen (Air-wen), and Sabrina. Other Gaelic names that pique our interest are Rowan, Maren, and Regan. Old-fashioned names (besides Margaret and Violet, which are still on the list,) are Eleanor, Helen, and Maeve (May-vee).

There's a good chance that she'll come home being named Margaret, but she may have a name that isn't even on this list, as nothing has clicked to the point of calling the baby by a certain name, even though I've tried it out for a day or two with a couple of them.

So, give me some (positive) feedback. Do you like any of these names? And please warn me if you already know three children under 4 with one of these names. We'd like to NOT choose a future top ten name, even though it doesn't need to be previously unheard-of.

37 comments:

J and M said...

I (Jon) am partial to the name Eleanor, perhaps because we named our daughter that. :)

btw - Gretchen and Gretel are two authentic German diminutives of Margaret that you could use instead of Meg.

Prudy said...

I've got such a positive association with Eleanor. I love it and it also makes me think of Sense and sensibility. I'm going to love whatever you choose!

Love the sunshine... said...

Hello. Hope you are well. I was worried about you! So Olivia is loving Maeve. I just am crazy of Eleri, Maren and Maeve (as well.) I think you have done a wonderful job with all of the kids names and you can't go wrong with any you choose.

david mcmahon said...

I have a ``name'' story or two!

(By the way, I was named after a famous cricketer....)

Kim said...

There are no "safe" names. EVERY name can fall into someone's, "Oh, I knew this one girl who..." so don't worry too much about what anyone else thinks.

I remember when I was pregnant with Caity with about 2 months to go someone else at our church had their baby girl dedicated and they had named her Caitlin Marie. For just a moment I thought, "But that's MY name!" Then I realized it really didn't matter. And since we no longer attend that church, it really doesn't matter. :) My point being: any name you pick is going to be perfect because circumstances never stay the same forever. Even if "your" name suddenly shows up on the top 10 list, it won't stay there forever and there are plenty of other names out there to drown out the 'popular' ones.

Good luck! Can't wait to hear the final verdict.

Becky said...

I'm a huge fan of Maren. Meredith is my second pick and Sabrina is close to that. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I like Sabrina the best for you. I like the way it sounds with the last name.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I like Margaret because I like Maggie as a nickname. I like Eleanor because I like Ellie as a nickname.

I like Maren, but I ADORE Marin ... just thought I would share. (It isn't pronounced like Maren though, it is pronounced M-uh rin ... if that makes sense.)

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I think many of your names are lovely, but all that matters is that you like it. When I told my sister that we had chosen the name Clark for our second, she said, "I don't want a nephew named Clark!" and guess what? I didn't care. I figured I wasn't naming her nephew, I was naming my son. And now none of us (her included) can imagine him as anything else.

My only advice is to choose a name that people can easily pronounce correctly when they see it written, and one that people can spell correctly when they hear it. My two cents, worth about that much.

Sea Star said...

We too are having the name discussions. We have actually be considering many of the names you have here. But that doesn't surprise me. Since I have an Ian and a Henry too. We just seem to think alike. We too look to our Welsh, English, Scottish, German ancestry for names. I really like Eleanor and Margaret. My daughter really wants the name Mary which is also on our list. But if we went with that one we would call her Molly. This name thing is very difficult! We will be mulling over it for a few more months. Good Luck!

nickandstaci said...

I love so many of your names! Funny about Lucy, that was one of our top names for a girl.
My picks would be Violet, Maeve and Maren.
Nick's pick is Arewen.
I am sure whatever name you guys pick will be just perfect for your little girl!

TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

I love Eleanor (but I think I already told you that)and like Violet as well. I like Maren, but how would you pronounce it? Hmmm...
Naming kids is such a hard thing. When I first found out we were having twin girls, I thought "Yay, I can pick my two favorite names"--but, really, it was harder. We changed what we named them the day before they were born. My mother-in-law didn't like the names at first(I think she expected rhyming, similar names, which they definitely are not), but now she can't imagine them as anything else. Good luck to you!

Nana said...

I like Maren, Eleanor, and Margaret. I am still trying to understand why someone would name a child something they have no intention of call her...although I guess James looks better on the oval office door than Jimmy.

ps - I don't think I hate any of them, just listed my favorite 3.

Life At MandyLand said...

I will support any name you pick of course. I really like Margaret and call her Meg.. Of course trully my Favorite is Regan. It just fits she will be born in July. I know I'm partial i still wish sometimes I hadn't changed Olivia's from Regan. Don't worry it will come to you . You might have to wait till you meet her..

Jeannetta said...

I love Margaret, and Margaret Lucy sounds lovely.
I love Elinor, spelled with the 'i', just because that's the way Jane Austen spelled it.
I love Maren, and Maren Lucy also sounds nice to me.
I love Gemma, I read it somewhere.
Oh gosh, I wish I could have had several more babies! There are so many names I'm wanting.
My daughter is going to use Hero (from 'Much Ado About Nothing') which I am so excited for.
Good Luck, it is a lovely,great burden

Aly sun said...

Thanks for letting your audience be in on the vote. This is fun! I vote for Violet. It is just precious. My Grandmother's name is Viola and I would love to use it, but my husband can't stand it. What do you do when husband and wife can't agree?

Mahina said...

i agree with nana! "I am still trying to understand why someone would name a child something they have no intention of calling her..." i have a friend who did that with two of her three children. she named them one thing, but from day one called them by a different name. it just seems strange to me. nicknames are a whole different thing because they just sort of happen....

anyway, i like maren. i know a maren and a maryn and they are such adorable girls! sabrina and regan are nice, too!

Tamara said...

I still love Margaret!
Having said that, I have ALWAYS LOVED the name Maeve! (And I always loved the author Maeve Binchey.)
ALSO, I love the name Maren! One of my dearest friends is a Maren.

So... I guess I vote for an "M" name...
:)

Nancy said...

I think it's funny that you say you wanted the name Lucy until you found out you were having a girl. You wanted Lucy for a boy's name?

Anonymous said...

Is that Nana the same one who named you Elisabeth and always called you Michal? Hmmmm. :)

I really can't think of any of those names about which I'd have to be careful not to be negative.

I have a soft spot for Violet because she was such a surprise at every turn. A lovely British lady.

Sabrina has been a favorite since I was a little girl. I also like Helen.

But just so it's clear, she will be Grammy's little ____. So whatever works for you is just peachy with me.

MyrnaMom

Malia said...

I love Maren and Regan is cool too. If you name her Eleanor, can I call her Ellie? I think thats cute!

Ashley said...

My vote, for what it's worth, is for Margaret. I think it fits best with the rest of your kids' names. I like Lucy too, but I do know several people who've named their girls that in the last few years. I think middle names are good spot for ones that are more common, popular, trendy.

I thought naming Calli was next to impossible. I never would have imagined that she would have been named that. I always thought I would to more traditional, formal names. But somehow when it came time to talk of names Audrey or some of the others I liked just didn't seemed to fit. Calli was Dan's first choice and it was the first one we kind of agreed on and after much searching, it became the one we ended up using. Now it's hard to imagine her as anything else, of course.

Being pregnant now, makes me think more about her name and sometimes I wonder if I should have named her something else or spelled it differently. In the end, I have decided names are just names and I don't really believe that there is one that is just perfect. Someone will always find something.

In the end, just pick what you like and don't worry about it. I think there's something to be said about your first choices... you are drawn to them initially for a reason. And by the way, isn't the girl on Hercules Meg and Margaret is your choice? It's not even the same name, right?

Aubrey said...

I love Meg, even with your last name. I always think of Little Women when I hear it. I'd consider that a positive association.

And my grandmother is Eleanor and I considered it with this last girl we had because I'd love a little Ellie.

But any name you pick will be great. As long as you love it, then everyone else will too.

Aimee said...

I love Violet, Aerwyn & Maren. My daughter's middle name is Marin. I don't know of another Marin. I stole the name from the movie "Something's Gotta Give." Diane Keaton's daughter in the movie was named Marin and we put it with Ava to come up with Ava Marin. Violet is a sweet, classic name and I love Aerwyn because it's different, but not difficult. Good luck!

Jen H. said...

I love Margaret. But not shortened to anything. And I think Sabrina sounds unusual and beautiful--I love both Sabrina movies.

Scrappy said...

That is a pretty great list. It is hard to pick a favorite. Anything you use will be beautiful.
Can't wait to see what you decide.

Molly said...

Names are hard, especially when you are a teacher. I'm sure your mom has some names that she just can't like. Mine are MiKayla and Connor. I'm sure there are some lovely children out there with those names, but they weren't in my class!

I love all the names. They're adorable! The only one I know of that's being used is Lucy. That's what some of our friends are naming their baby girl, who is due in a couple of weeks. But since that's a only a middle name contender, it probably doesn't matter anyway.

Jamie said...

My friend just named her little girl Margaret and she calles her Greta. I think it is really cute. I like almost all of the names though.

Tamlynn said...

I've always loved Sabrina. when I was a little girl, my primary teacher Sabrina, she must have been a college student at the time. I loved the name so much I named one of my pets after her. I won't tell you what kind of animal it was in case you don't like that animal. :) But I loved the name and still do.

BTW, I do know several little Marens.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Maren and Margaret. I was about to vote for Helen, but when I tried it with your last name, it sounded familiar. And, sure enough, Google reminded me of a somewhat-famous person with that name. I'm not sure how you feel about that.

Christine M.

Michal said...

nancy,

thanks for commenting! i'm sorry that i deleted your comment, but since you used my last name . . . my mom can't sleep at night if strangers can easily track me down and steal my sweet babies from their beds. :) she's paranoid like that.

Bunsy said...

Eleri, definitely. Great name. Unique. I love unique. Have you heard of Aoife (Ee-fuh). It's Welsch. I knew a girl I met in Ireland who had that name. Always like it. Good luck on your decision.

Mimi Nowland said...

I like Margaret, Meredith, Sabrina, and Eleanor. My mom's name is Eleanor. We of course love the name Lucy! Have fun deciding!

Garbett Family said...

Love the names Maren and Margaret! I can't decide which is my favorite. I love Eleanor (or Elinor like Jane Austen)as well. You have so many beautiful choices! My favorite grandmothers's name was Helen. I really like the name, but taking a look at the first three letters you know what her nickname would be! :)

morganmoore said...

Rowan, Maeve, Maren and Helen were all on our list- I like all of those. Good luck on choosing a name. Don't let what happened to us happen to you!!

xoxo

Jenni said...

I like Violet and Maren. And Olivia. And XavierConrad.

Grammy said...

I think you already know I love Margaret - always wanted to name a girl Margaret but never got the chance. I also really like Violet and Eleanor and Helen - I think they all go well with your last name. But whatever your choose will be perfect. Matt & Emily are having a girl and are naming her Eleanor. She will probably go by Elle or Ella.

The Red Hen said...

Here are my two cents - I like Maren and Sabrina. I hope that you don't perceive this as negative feedback, but I think Aerwyn sounds too close to Bronwen and that can be a nightmare when you are trying to call all of your kids or just get the name right!

I also don't get people who name their kids names when they have no intention of calling them by that.

For instance when we had Jack, Mark's mom thought we should name him JOHN and CALL him Jack. (his middle name is Ryan - kind of after the Tom Clancy character - a long story) Mark told her that we were going to NAME him Jack and CALL him Jack.

And I also think that whatever name you choose will be perfect for your precious little one.