The Baby Name Game

The Baby Name Game

As we’ve begun telling family and friends the joyful tidings of our bun in the oven, we have been asked a fairly predictable set of questions on the subject.

First off, when is the baby due? August 5.

Secondly, how is Mommy doing? I answered that one in my previous post.

Things are getting a little better for her, as she’s realized that eating every 10 minutes seems to stem the tides of her stomach acids. Constant grazing and constant sleeping are her new prescriptions, but it’s still pretty touch-and-go. Most mornings and evenings, she’s still doing an impression of the Waiters Who Are Nauseated By Food.

The prenatal questioning can go in a variety of directions from here, but if the conversation lasts long enough, we reach the inevitable: Have you discussed baby names yet?

Well of course we have. What couple hasn’t randomly brought that up during idle conversation on a long car ride? Or when you hear a really great first name that might sound particularly nice with your multi-syllabic and semi-difficult-to-pronounce Italian last name?

FRAN-CIS-CO
(not actually being considered)

But now it’s for real. We get to label a new human forever. Talk about pressure! If my kid legally changed his name, I would consider that a pretty significant parenting failure…and here we are, presented with the name game as one of the opening decisions of our parental careers.

We can’t screw this up. So I did what everyone does when there is an important decision to make: I Googled it.

Since we still don’t know the gender, every option is on the table, so let’s see how most people have handled this. Here are the Top 10 Boy Names of 2015:

  1. Jackson
  2. Aiden
  3. Liam
  4. Lucas
  5. Noah
  6. Mason
  7. Ethan
  8. Caden
  9. Logan
  10. Jacob

(Parents who chose a name ending in the letter N in 2015 received an extra tax deduction.)

In looking at this list, I’ve realized that many names have a lot of deal-breaking, pre-existing baggage connected to them in my mind. This makes elimination a lot easier.

Jackson. Like Michael? No.

Liam. Like Neeson? Not unless our son proves to have a very particular set of skills in utero.

Noah had an ark. Lucas invented Ewoks. Logan was Wolverine. Jacob had a son with a Technicolor Dreamcoat. This list isn’t working for me. Let’s move on to the Top 10 Girl Names of 2015.

  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Zoe
  8. Lily
  9. Emily
  10. Madison

(Parents who chose a name ending in the letter A in 2015 received an extra tax deduction as well.)

This list presents a different challenge. While I don’t have pre-existing conditions with too many of these names (Mia Farrow, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner–I guess 1960s celebrities are back in vogue?), the remaining names just don’t really work linguistically. Since my last name ends with a long E sound, I’m not sure my daughter would want a first name that ends in that same sound or any sort of vowel sound for that matter. I think we need a good strong consonant to finish it off.

On the other hand, there’s also the consideration of length. My last name contains four syllables. Lots of these names are refreshingly short. It might be nice to have a first name that gets to the point when its combined with a last name that can overstay its welcome.

Editor’s note: If we end up choosing one of these names, the above critiques are immediately null and void. But we also probably should have been more creative in our choice.

There are other considerations when naming a child beyond how it sounds with your last name. What is the significance of the name? If it doesn’t have any significance, does that mean there’s something wrong with it (or you)? Should you name your child after a relative? A Biblical character? A movie character? A sports team?

My wife has made it clear that we need to at least be creative enough to not reuse a name that has already been used by her family…of 9 siblings and 24 nieces and nephews. This narrows the field more than you would think. I told her we have to cut it off there and can’t start letting her countless cousins’ and aunts’ and uncles’ names limit our scope. That’s how you end up with something like Caden. (No offense to any Cadens out there. Or you, son, if that’s really what we went with. Take it up with your mother.)

I also like the idea of giving our baby a name that has a built-in nickname. Nicknames are fun. That said, I would like the name on the birth certificate to be a legit-sounding full name, not a shortened nickname version of a longer name. For the baby’s full legal name, go big or go home.

Wait, are we really talking about this? Concrete discussions about what to name our baby reveal just how little this whole situation has sunk in for me, even though my wife is now 10 weeks along. Without a visible baby bump or a gender or a name, this sometimes can still feel like it’s just a wonderfully vague dream.

But I know there’s a baby in there and that I am a Dad. So who are you, baby? Who do you want to be?

Like everything else you’re bringing our way, I’m sure we’ll figure it out soon.

4 Comment

  1. Emily S. says: Reply

    Congratulations! Also, I can’t believe my name is down to #9! I used to be the top of the list in most years (especially in the 80s…). Good luck and best wishes!

    1. Thanks, Emily! Yeah, I can’t believe that Matt isn’t in the Top 10 anymore, either.

  2. Good luck! For some reason Brad doesn’t like the name Caden either… something about our last name or something..hehe 🙂

    1. Can’t imagine why… 🙂

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