What does the future hold?

This is something that I've been wondering about for a while now and it's not something that can be answered without the experience of having had children. Therefore, I'm looking to you, the people who understand where I'm coming from, for answers: Does being somewhat name-obsessed take the fun out of actually naming a baby? Does being so aware of the trends amplify their importance beyond their merit? Does preparing lists of names years in advance mean that it's a let-down when I actually get to make a list for real because the exploration has already been done?

I can imagine the excitement of new parents-to-be as they buy a book or begin internet searches for the first time and I wonder if I will have anything like that myself. I've already explored. I've already pictured a variety of names on my hypothetical progeny. I've already fallen in and out of love with names so many times that I wonder if I would still be in love with these names if I had not had years to think about them and get sick of them. I'm not afraid that I'll get sick of whatever name I ultimately choose, but I do lament the loss of some names that used to feel beautiful but now feel old and dull. If I've been thinking about a name and then I start seeing it all over people's lists and suggestions, then the name begins feeling a bit... mundane. Less new and exciting to me. And exposure within my own head seems to have a similar effect in that the longer I've been thinking about a name, the more likely I am to become bored with it. And the thing is, I'm not a fickle person of ever-changing likes, so this whole experience is quite unfamiliar and disconcerting to me. I know that some of the problem stems from the fact that I plan on choosing English names primarily based on style and not as honour names. The Hebrew names that I've chosen are in honour of beloved, deceased relatives and those names don't ever lose their lustre, but neither my nor my husband's family tree offers any English names that interest me.

So, please tell me, Oh Wise Ones. Am I over-thinking things? Will the fun return when I'm actually naming a real baby? I mean, I know that the experience will be completely different and it will develop a kind of excitement that I have yet to experience, but is it mostly more stressful and frustrating or will the non-hypothetical nature of the process make my spreadsheet making feel new again? I assume that it will, but I'd like to hear about the experiences of other list-making, name-obsessed people to see what I may have in store for me :)


September 18, 2012 2:44 PM

I think it's totally going to be a varied experience. With my son, we had talked about names, we decided the boy's name very early on and we knew the first name for a girl. However, we both came to the conclusion (by 8 weeks) that the baby wasn't a (insert original boy's name), in actuality a (insert new name). From then on, that was set. It was a name that we had planned to use for a second son as a middle name, but it became our first son's first name. Go figure. Our girl middle name became a battle between my husband and I. We finally settled on a name when I was 7 months pregnant (and all that work for nothing as we had a boy and by the time we were in a pregnancy that was lasting, our name tastes had totally changed).

With our second, we talked about names, but my husband is strange in that he'll pop off random names, but not really think about them. So we decided to wait to discuss until after the ultrasound that showed us we were having a girl. We then spent *weeks* as he was dead set on the same first name from our first go around, but I just could't do it (multiple reasons--I wasn't just being stubborn). He told me to make a list of all the names I would be okay with, so I did. He crossed off every single one of them, but had nothing for me to go on. I finally convinced him that it was stressing me out to not have a single name as a possibility for us to agree on. We sat down with nymbler and each put in our three favorite names. Then we went through for 4 hours listing all the names that came up that one of us liked and the other was okay with. Until we hit one screen that I went to "x" off one (we were doing this all the way through) because I assumed (based on all his picks so far) he wouldn't go for. He stopped me and said, "Wait, I like that one." Epiphany moment as it was one I also really liked. We then spent another 2 hours on a middle name, which we then decided to play with and see how it fit for a couple of days. It didn't take me long to decide that it was too much name (4 syllables, 4 syllables, 2 syllables). 

Back to the drawing board for a middle name we went. He kept throwing out 4-5 syllable names for the middle, so I finally told him that I thought we needed a 1 syllable middle name for flow. I then pulled out all the one syllable names on BNW and made a list. We finally settled on one (after weeks and weeks and a poll I posted here and two other places to get feedback) that would be an honor name to multiple Grandmas and fit based on when she was due. 

I was about 35 weeks  when it became apparent that all the grandmas this baby was going to be honoring were not being nice and the baby was not going to be born in the month we originally thought (coming early). So we went back, and I caved to a 2 syllable name that mostly works. What got me was the meanings of the two names together. While it's not what I would have picked by myself, it is a combo of *us* as a couple and fits our daughter to a "t". I can't imagine her being anything else. 

We've started talk about names for a 3rd, but basically just went through and made a list of all the names that we currently both like/are okay with. We'll wait until I actually get pregnant to have the duke it out fights. ;-) (Although I think we're completely settled on a middle name for a boy already.)


I think while having done the stuff before can be slightly frustrating when in the midst of the naming, the journey of figuring out which names you agree on with your SO (assuming you are not going it alone) and which name fits *this* baby refreshes the process (for me at least). I had to go back to examine what it was I liked about certain names and then find other names that fit that style that might also fit my husband's style. :-) 

September 18, 2012 5:53 PM

I think it depends & will probably vary for every child you have.  

With my first, the 1st name was agreed upon for years.  We did discuss girls names at length (didn't find out what he was) and I obsessed over just the right honor name for his middle name.  Overall, it was a pleasant experience.  Honestly, I had enough other stuff to be anxious about that thinking of names was kind of a nice distraction.

With my 2nd, we agreed in advance to not to discuss names at all.  I know to many NE's this would be their worst nightmare.  But I got to make my name lists in a bubble, without any non-sensical vetos from dh & it was actually not so bad.  He ended up with a first name that had been on my list, but removed because I was positive dh would hate it (I like to say he got my secret favorite name).  Turns out, dh was the one to suggest it.  His middle was narrowed down to 2 in hospital and dh got final choice (since I got the middle with the oldest).

If it's stressing you out, don't think about it.  I believe that's true when you are just thinking hypothetically and when a real baby is on the way.  Even with my 2nd, I wasn't stressed about a name because I know babies don't go nameless forever.  

September 19, 2012 1:42 AM

I spent years making lists and naming hypothetical babies but by the time I had a pregnancy that was actually progressing I was unable to really think about actually naming a real baby. I found it quite stressful. Not so much the finding a name, but the ruling out so many names I loved. It is also harder to imagine names you love on *your* child (well it was for me anyway).

We kind of agreed not to discuss names until after our 20 week scan when we knew the gender. Then we still kept delaying it. I made plenty of lists and sought advice on this forum but I didn't really actually sit down and discuss names until I was 37 weeks. Honestly, it just felt too real to be discussing names and after a previous miscarriage at the end of the first trimester, I still felt like I was tempting fate. That, and I didn't want my husband to veto all my favourite names, which I was scared he would do.

In the end at 37 weeks I just sent him a list of my top names with info on them and pros/cons. He vetoed a few of them, but most got through unscathed. We back and forwarded on a few names and in the end had a list of 8 potential first names and about 10 potential middle names. It turns out we have a pretty similar style and we didn't really have any arguments about it. There were a few names he didn't like that I loved but I had plenty of other options so didn't bother fighting for them. I wanted a name we both loved. The short list also had some names on it that I really liked but weren't my favourites, but we decided to meet our baby first and see what name suited her. In the end she didn't get named til she was about 3 days old but we had always planned to take our time. Once we sat down and talked about her name it took us maybe an hour to decide. The first name was easy, we had both mentally crossed off most of the names on the list as 'not fitting' once she was born. We each had a few left and one name was on both our lists, so that was her first name. It was actually the name I had thought of her for most of the pregnancy so that worked out well. The other name I was dead keen on just didn't fit once she was born and I had no issues letting it go. I'll still consider it for a future girl though. 

The middle name we debated back and forth on for a bit and we had several options we both liked. In the end we got it down to 2 combos and we went with the one my husband preferred. I loved both but he really loved her middle name and that was good enough for me. A year down the track I have no regrets, she is so her name. I could see her as some of the other names we considered but I still think we picked correctly.

I think I'd enjoy the naming process more second time around, I wouldn't be so scared of not finding something we agree on or of having to let names go. The first time is all so unknown. I think being more aware of the name trends does make you more critical but I simply discussed with my husband that popularity, trendiness (or lack there of) was important to me and we agreed on those issues so he was quite happy to look at stats with me and rule things in/out on that basis. I can see that wouldn't be the case for everyone though. I do think it is a risk that you can get too caught up in finding the 'perfect name' rather than the perfect name for *your* baby but I don't think that happens all that often. 

With regards to getting sick of names that you have discussed, mulled over for years, I also worried about this. Things I used to like just seemed 'blah' to me even before I was pregnant. I worried that any names I picked would suffer the same fate but I think you reach a point where you are fairly confident in what you like/don't like. Of all the names remaining on our shortlist there are a couple I don't love as much but I would still use them if they felt right. I have added a few names in the last year or so but I think my taste has been fairly consistant over time. In 10 years time if some of the names had become really popular I might not like them as much but it's hard to know whether that will happen. I think you just have trust you won't get sick of the names. I think most people find their taste changes slightly between babies even. I know that I am exposed to a lot more kids now that I have my own and some names I used to like (although weren't on my list) now seem overused.


I don't think you are necessarily over thinking things (I worried about similar things) but I'm sure you'll find that naming your baby (when the time comes) will be a fun experience. It might be stressful or involve some arguments but it's still special to get to pick out a name for a real life person and it's very different to hypothetical name talk.  

September 29, 2012 3:08 PM

Thanks, guys. I've read over each of your answers a few times and thought about what you said and I really appreciate your different stories and perspectives. I know that I was overthinking things, but it was something that kept coming to mind and I felt like getting it out there was the best way to get rid of the worry. And it did. I mean, rationally I knew that the real life situation would throw hypothetical out the window, but it really helped to hear the voices of experience.

I'm also really lucky because my husband is completely willing to talk about names with me, suggests some pretty unusual options, and has only nixed a single name that I've suggested over the years - and that wasn't because he didn't like the name, just that he didn't like the association he had with it. I know that I'm fortunate in that regard - though he's also said that he will need to meet a child before committing to a name, so that might present some frustration. I can see, however, letting it come down to two choices (or so) and then making the final decision when there is a real person looking at us.

Hopefully the next time I ask a question it will be less hypothetical :D Any pregnancy that I eventually have will be considered higher risk because of a medical condition that I have, so I think it's true, as you said above, that thinking of names will be a nice distraction from more serious worries.

So thanks again for taking the time to indulge me!

November 4, 2012 2:25 PM

Like your husband, my husband & I felt strongly that we had to meet the baby before naming it, and so in our first pregnancy we had a top-two for boys and a top-two for girls.  Our son was born, we looked at him, and agreed he should be named after my husband's grandfather (it was perfectly obvious that he'd inherited his great-grandfather's chin, which my husband and his mother both inherited as well).  With our second child, it was entirely different, but no less satisfying or fun. 

I'm a name-enthusiast but both my husband & I are family-namesake people, so there were no books & no delving with either child -- just a short list of people we wanted to perhaps name after.  I didn't feel shortchanged at all, because enjoying names was different than naming a baby, for me!


By Coll
October 14, 2012 4:11 PM

We chose our first boy and girl names years before we conceived a pregnancy that lasted (like a lot of member here, it seems, we had some trouble). We stuck with those names, so there was no real name debate during the pregnancy. I did miss that--the thought of breaking out the name book, making lists, it seemed like what we were "supposed" to do. But we had so many more of those conversations over years and years than most people do. We didn't really miss out in the end.

We did talk a lot about the girl's middle name (the boy's full name was set in stone from the beginning). We eventually settled on something perfect when I was about 8 months pregnant. And had a boy, so that's been shelved.

In the end, while I did feel I missed out a little by not getting to debate names and pick one while pregnant, the moment when I got to hold my son and call him by the name my husband and I had chosen and loved for years while we waited for him was incredible. Nothing felt short-changed at all.

October 15, 2012 1:04 AM

Wow, thanks for sharing that! Your last thought is a perspective that I hadn't thought of before and it makes me happy to imagine that moment.

November 6, 2012 6:30 PM

I have a thoery called "Name Phases" which is where originally, you might love a name for a certain book/movie character, or because it has a nice namesake, or maybe you just got your head around the idea that it's a nice-sounding name.

But then, after you've had enough time to think the name over, and let it sit in your head for a while, you don't like it as much as you used to. This is okay. And it's important to recognise that you no longer love the name, and possibly even give up on the idea of using it. Don't feel guilty. There isn't anything wrong with not loving a name anymore. (It's happened to me with too many times to count.) Just accept it, and you might be more open to exploring even more new names.

I will promise you that your absolute favourite name you will never fall out of love with -- ever. You will love it regardless of other people's opinions, or its stats on the popularity chart.

Name Phases will always frequent your life. There is nothing you can do about it. Only time will tell if you truly love a name. But if you want to test if you truly love the name, try thinking it over in your head, to see if there is a root to this love. Sometimes, figuring out why you love a specific name at the time helps realise if it's just a Phase. If the name you love is one you've already heard before, (perhaps a day later, at the very most,) and you've only just suddenly thought the name was particularly nice, it is only a Name Phase. You will notice that you like your true favourite name(s) more than most others, immediately/almost immediately upon hearing/reading it.

Chances are, you won't find your favourite name off a Baby Name Website or Baby Name Book. Most likely, you will end up discovering it at random -- off a character's name in a book, (which you would like regardless of the character,) or from a movie. But don't worry -- you'll know soon enough after hearing/reading the name that you love it. It will stand out more than others, and you won't stick it to a particular actor, character, etc. (actually, so far, I've found my most favourite names off fictional books I've read.)

As for middle names, you could lean towards honouring a family member, a close friend, someone who's made a difference in your life, etc.; I see no reason why you need to use one of your favourite names as a middle one, especially if it could be used for another child later on. It is perfectly fine and normal to have a symbolic middle name instead. 



November 8, 2012 3:04 AM

I appreciate your encouragement and think that there is something to the name phase theory. However, I think that portraying your experiences as absolute truths is less helpful. People approach names and naming children in many ways, from many perspectives, and are influenced by a myriad of different forces. What's true for one person may be completely untrue for another and that's why such a varied range of names gets used. Some people might have their children's names come to them in dreams, while other might create detailed pro/con lists. Some scour their family trees, while other scour books and websites looking for inspiration.

Yes, I likely won't find my favourite name in a book or on a website, but many many people do. Yes, I know very quickly if I like a name, but just because I like it, that doesn't mean that I'm going to want to bestow it on my child. You say that I'm more likely to find a name that I like in a book or movie, but actually, it is highly unlikely that I will use a name that I find in such a source. You see, I strongly connect people (real and fictional) with their names, and once a name has someone attached to it in my head, I won't want to use it for my child since that name is already "taken". And besides appreciating things that are less popular, this is another reason for me wanting to avoid common names. No, I don't think that it's true that I will use a name that I love regardless of popularity. I know that you think that popularity is a silly reason to discount a name, but I don't.

As for using the middle name slot to honour a family member or close friend, this is something that is very unlikely to happen, except in very, very select circumstances. In my family's tradition, Hebrew names are where we honour the dead and as per Ashkenazi custom, we do not name after the living. I'm not worried about liking enough names to find something to use for a middle name. In fact, there is a big list of names that I would only use in the middle, for various reasons, popularity among them. It's more the fact that I already HAVE the list that prompted me to write the post. I had fun making my lists and wanted to know if the experience of writing real lists was distinctly different from writing hypothetical ones.

Again, I do appreciate your encouragement, and I'm sorry if what I said seems harsh because I know that you weren't trying to be patronizing. However, I think that it would be helpful for you to appreciate that what works for one person might not work for another. Preferences, restrictions, inspirations, expectations, and processes are personal, so telling me how I will feel is less helpful than telling me how YOU feel and letting me come to my own conclusions.

November 17, 2012 12:11 PM

I agree, I did put my personal experiences into it too much. And I get where you're coming from. I didn't find your comment harsh, but I appreciate you acknowledging that it might come across that way.

My Theory is really just someone loving a name at first, for any reason (though there is a root to said reason,) and then later finding out they don't love the name anymore. But the name you truly love you will  love forever. That is my Theory, in short, without personal experiences involved.

But I have to ask -- you say that when you read/watch a movie, you no longer like to use the characters names for kids? But there are so many forms of media and people in the world, after you name your kid(s), you might encounter a name connection. There must be a fictional character with every name on your list, you just haven't heard of them yet. So, if you come across a name on your list, attatched to a character, will you cross it off? Also, there are many popular names in the world, and so, naturally, you'll probably meet people with the same name at least a few times in your life. How strong is that "attatchment"? You do distinguish that people who share the same name will look different and have different personalities, right?

You don't think, Jacob -- all Jacobs are loud, annoying trouble-makers, do you? 

OK, I'm taking that to the extreme, I know, so please don't be offended, and I'm very sorry if you take it the wrong way. Personally, I'm just curious.


November 17, 2012 1:14 PM

Don't worry, I'm not really that sensitive and I'm happy to answer any and all questions! I was just rubbed the wrong way by some of your comments and thought that you might not be aware about how some of the things you said could come across.

It's not that I think that all people with a given name are the same and therefore I don't want my child to be like those people. A name doesn't predetermine personality any more than zodiac signs do. It's more like I don't want to have strong connections to a name that I give to my child because I want my child to be my first strong association with it. If I then meet someone with that name, then that person has my child's name, not the other way around, and that's perfectly fine! I don't need to find a name that *nobody* has, just that nobody I know has! So, for example, there is a show with a character whose name is currently my #1 choice for a girl and I don't want to watch it until after I have the opportunity to potentially use it. Once I've used the name, no problem.  It might sound silly but I very strongly associate people with their names (and vice versa) and my gut desire is to use a name free from specific associations.

Plus, knowing *of* people with the names I like is different from knowing them personally (whether they be real or fictional people). It's not like I want my child to be a unique little snowflake with a name that nobody else has! And if my child happens to meet others with his or her name, well, it happens and it can be a fun connection. (Of course meeting one or two people with your name is different from having several in your grade at school, as I did.) And even if that happens, what can you do? Especially if you picked a name that is low in the popularity charts, flukes happen. But there is also a difference between chancing to meet someone with your name and your name being a poster-child name for your generation. THAT, I do want to avoid - which is easy enough because I tend to be attracted to more unusual names.

And who knows, maybe a name will sneak in there and feel special despite previous associations! But I do know that this would be an anomaly and not the rule, and that looking to literature or television or movies wouldn't be the best way for me to go about looking for name inspiration.

November 17, 2012 3:45 PM

I agree in some ways to the "associations" thing. And I am the same way, (in part.)

I'm a writer. And I, personally, try to avoid using my favourite names for my characters. I don't mind reading about other authors' characters who share my favourite names -- actually, I think it's kind of cool...

Only, when I consider using my favourite names on my characters, it doesn't feel right. I feel like if I use one of my kids' possible names on a character, and then I do have a child with that same name, I'm afraid I'll imagine when they get older they'll be like my character, (just because I created the character.) And I don't want that expectation. (Although I can't explain why I think I'll have that expectation... I think maybe because it's my character, I have that strong association.) 

But I couldn't help myself using my favourite girls' name, Caulfield, on one of my characters... so I'm not sure if I'll cross that name off my list or not. But I am very fond of the particular character now, compared to the other characters. :)

But now  that I learned your outlook on names, Karyn, I was wondering if you could answer another  question, (I'm not sure if it's entirely relivant to your thread, but I think it's kind of relivant.):

I'm not sure if you're a writer or not, but if you had created a character, and you gave them your favourite name, would you still use it on a child later on also? Or would you choose something else?

 The funny thing is, I just realised many, (but not all,) of the Jacobs I know are trouble-makers, though not annoying. Just a coincidence, I guess. :)


November 17, 2012 5:47 PM

I'm not an author, but my sister and I do enjoy naming our possessions, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I will not use a favourite "child" name on anyone nor anything until I know that the name will not be used on my children. Typically, we select names that are fun and not in the style that we would name children. I think that being the one to choose a name is an even more extreme version of knowing or encountering someone with a name, and therefore I can tell you with positivity that I would not reuse a name that I've already used for someone/something else. And again, it's not because of a fear of my child becoming like the other bearer of the name (hah, more so if the name is bestowed on an inanimate object!) but because that name will then be "taken". If I were the sort of person to have pets, for instance, I would definitely not use any name that I liked for children until all of my children were already named.

November 18, 2012 9:38 PM

I think it's also good to remember that a lot of the time (not all but a lot) there's another person in your naming process. My husband and I both had to let go of names we'd cherished for a long time because they just didn't work for the other person. We had fun finding our common ground with names that we both truly loved but it was a process, sometimes a long one. We also chose not to find out the sex of our babies ahead of time so for each pregnancy we had a boys name and a girls name.

My daughter's name was pretty easy to choose. My son's name was more difficult. A few weeks before my due date, my husband came home and declared that he didn't like any of the boy names we'd been talking about and the only boy name in the entire world that he liked was Desmond. Now I like Desmond fine but we already knew two young Desmonds in our close social circle and I was not going to have my son be the third. We ending up finding a great name that really works for both of us....in the comments section of this site (it was before the forums.)

So- you love what you love and many babies are named by a combination of what their parents love and can agree on. Which is great and symbolic.

November 18, 2012 9:53 PM

Oh, I definitely haven't forgotten that my husband has a say :) He's even been game to talk a bit about names over the many years that we've been together. And amazingly, up until this point, there is only one name that he's said that he doesn't like. That being said, since he says that he doesn't want to make any decisions until he sees the baby, he might totally throw a wrench into my plans, but that doesn't really feel like his style. I know that there will be more negotiating once it's not hypothetical, but I also know that the names that he's suggested, I've liked, so I'm not in for a nasty surprise, either. Thankfully.

My husband's a funny guy because he doesn't actually put all that much stock into names. He responds to his own name, but if he encounters someone who shares his name (first or last) he doesn't really make the connection that this other person has his name. I really don't understand it, but that's what he says... So I think that his perspective is that, since names mean so much to me and they don't to him, he wants to make me happy. Not that he'd allow a name he doesn't like - nor would I want to use a name that he doesn't like - but that barring a strong dislike, he's willing to indulge me.

We'll see if that changes once it's for reals :)