By Heather Pohlabel
Naming your baby can be a fun and wonderful experience; it is one of the funniest things pre-birth to do; however, it can also be the cause for many an argument between you and your spouse. Trust me, I've been there. For some reason, it becomes almost a power struggle of sorts. Do we name the baby after my mother or father or his mother or father, or no one's mother or father? What about grandmas and grandpas? Would that be mine or yours? Do we keep a family name or go with something that reflects our religious views or go with something more trendy? These are all facets of baby naming. While it may end up being a point of conflict for you and your spouse, there is some fun in it, however, so don't lose hope, but do make a wise decision. This is a name your child will have to carry for the rest of her life.
To enjoy the fun in baby naming, take your time researching different names. The names you initially like or choose may not be the names you end up taking. There are hundreds of baby naming books on the market. You can even find them on end caps at supermarkets while you're waiting in line to pay! More comprehensive studies of names, their origins, and their meanings can be purchased at bookstores like Barnes and Noble, or you can even find out much information online. It can be entertaining to put a name you have never heard before with your last name to see how it fits. I really liked the name Quenna, but everyone in my family thought I was crazy. I found it in a baby book and thought it was unique and interesting. My dad said "white people don't name their girls Quenna". So much for that! But it was fun to pretend and to ruffle everyone's feathers for a bit.
Everyone will have something to say about what you are naming your baby. It could be a rude comment like, "white people don't name their girls Quenna", or it could be a simple, "Isabelle, I like that name!" Some people get very animated and have whole stories to tell you about the names you're considering "I had an aunt named Grace; wonderful woman. She died last year. Yeah, that is a wonderful name. You will have a beautiful baby." Others live vicariously through your baby naming adventure, "I always wanted a boy named Matthew, but we only had girls" or "that was the name I chose, but my husband liked Derek much better...meet Derek." Some people may even try to change your minds about the names you have chosen, or choose one for you! "So, what names do you have picked out? Isabelle and Marleigh? Who names their kid Marleigh? I have never even heard of that. Go with Isabelle. It is such a beautiful name. I just love it. LOVE IT!"
Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your spouse. You will be the ones to write the name on the birth certificate. But there are options to help the baby naming process to go more smoothly and to help you be confident that the name you choose will be the perfect name for your baby.
Things to Avoid When Naming Baby:
Family names: If you can't agree immediately that your child should carry on someone's grandmother's or mother's name, it's best not to do it at all. It is common to explore these names for your baby, but very hard to "be fair" to all grandmothers and mothers or grandfathers and fathers; after all, how many babies are you going to have? Some people opt to use family names for middle names. We have three children that we did this with, but with our fourth, we decided that she was going to be her own person. You can still love your family members and show respect for them without naming your children after them. If your family members are still alive, they may develop hurt feelings over your naming your child after someone else and not them. There are other ways to honor both deceased and living family members without dragging your child into it. Don't feel badly if you do not name your child after someone in your family or if you want to break the tradition of naming every first boy John. If you don't want your child to be John VI, that is your choice.
Very trendy names or spellings: Apple. Britni. No way. Sticking with more traditional names or spellings of baby names will be easier on your child in the long run. With our first daughter, we chose the name Micaela. Spelled without the "h". If you know a Mikayla, it could be spelled any number of ways. There are at least twenty ways to spell McKayla. Every girl named Makayla has to spell her name for the rest of her life. When the teacher calls out, "Michaela (insert last name here)", how do you spell your name?" your daughter will inevitably have to spell our "M-y-k-a-y-l-a" every time. When you go to sign up your Mickaylah for sports or school, you will get "how do you spell that?" to which you will reply "M-a-c-k-a-i-l-a". You will almost always hear "We have lots of Mickayla's, but none of them spell it the same way". Really? I couldn't imagine. Dave, on the other hand...there's a difficult name!
People will find a way to spell things badly or wickedly in order to confuse everyone. Is being different really worth the price? Our daughter learned to spell her first and last name BEFORE pre-school because she heard us spelling it so much. Heather, for example, should not be spelled without the "a"; it just doesn't seem natural. What's the point?
Things to Do When Naming Baby:
Check out books and online sources about baby names. As mentioned before, you can learn the meaning of your baby's name this way and also come across some pretty unique names that you may like. You can find spelling variations on common names, but, as mentioned before, be careful not to get too crazy, or you will be dooming your child to a lifetime of spelling her name or getting offended when others spell it incorrectly (Micaela particularly takes offense to that).
Talk to your friends and see what they like with your last name. Some names just don't sound right together, like Richard Dick, for example. Bryan McBryan is another one. Names that rhyme or repeat each other are just sensible no nos.
Search your heart and soul. With my children, I knew there really were no other first names for them. The right ones came pretty much immediately.
Write it down. Keep a list of the names you like along with middle names and attach your last name to it. This is the name your boy will have for the rest of his life and the name your girl will start out with until she marries (and even then she could choose to keep your last name). Don't choose a name without considering your last name as well. (See above where some names just don't go together!)
Finally, wait until your child is born to fill out the birth certificate. Your baby may "look like" a certain name to you. I wish I had waited before attaching Grace to my baby daughter's first name. She looks like an Elizabeth, but her first name was destined to be Isabelle. I would have named her Isabelle Elizabeth if I would have waited, but she is Isabelle Grace. I could always change it, I know, but who wants to go to the trouble of that? It seems so untraditional to change one's name that was given at birth; however, don't discount that as an option if you are unhappy with your baby's name. Unlike her looks and personality, some things can be changed if you are unhappy with them!