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Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

2011 September 7

Naming a human is hard. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s just one word (maybe two), but it carries a lot of weight.

It can have some pretty major implications on a person’s life. Will it stand out on a resume? Will they get teased on the playground? So when that person is your little contribution to human civilization, you really don’t want to screw it up with one of the very first decisions you have to make for them.

And, to top it off, it’s a team effort. You not only have to think of the perfect name, you have to convince someone else (or be convinced by someone else) that it’s the perfect name. Not an easy feat.

When I was pregnant with Lilly, we started talking names early on. I, like most girls, had been keeping a list of baby names since I was about 12. Most of them were less-than-traditional (“Anya”). Some reflecting my heritage (“Siobhan”). Some more common to people of other heritages (“Katya”). But, ultimately, when they would be attached to an actual human being — my child — none of them were right.

There was one exception that had been on my list since the very beginning in various forms: Isabella, Isabel, Isobel. Unfortunately, by the time Lilly was due, “Isabella” was the second most popular name in the U.S. and I really didn’t want her to be 1 of 20 in every class in school. (In fact, she would have been 1 of 3 out of 6 girls in her preschool class this year.) So, it was back to the drawing table.

Our first name discussions came before we knew gender. After a few attempts at lists and verbal brainstorming sessions, one thing was clear: we would not agree on a boy’s name. We agreed to cross that bridge when we came to it.

When we received confirmation that we were having a girl, we both breathed a sigh of relief. We won’t need a boy’s name!

Now, 3 years later, that bridge is before us. Baby Boy is on his way. And, while unique, I’m pretty sure he won’t appreciate being called “Baby Boy” when he is called up to accept his high school diploma.

The hard thing about boys’ names, from what I can tell, is that they are either very traditional or recently invented. I’m not so into the invented names — sorry, Jaydens. Traditional can be nice, but also very common. Too common. Like Isabella. So it’s finding that happy medium.

Another challenge is trying to choose a name with minimal feedback. Since my first pregnancy, Elliott and I have one rule on which we agree absolutely: The baby name is a secret. We don’t share the contenders. We don’t share the final decision until it can be announced along with weight, length and time of birth.

So, of course, the minimal feedback is a self-imposed challenge and one whose benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks in my opinion. What could be more disheartening to an expectant mother than excitedly telling someone her yet-to-be-born baby’s name, only to have them say, “Really? You like that?! Hm.” It’s so rude. And yet so very common.

Keeping the name a secret also deters the would-be lobbyists. Those who would insist on their name, or a family name, or the name they never got to use or any other random name that we’ve already ruled out. Or, perhaps, we haven’t ruled it out. But do you really think I want to tell my son, “You know how we named you? This very persuasive woman at the grocery store suggested it and we just had to use it!”

So, once it sunk in that we are having a boy, we had to face our next big challenge: agreeing on a boys’ name. We had many conversations that went something like this*:

How about Jacob?

No. . . I like Michael.

Too common. Noah?

Too biblical. Bradley?

Hate it. Brayden?

Is that a real name?

Nevermind. I don’t really like it anyway.

I don’t really like any of these.

Boys’ names are hard.


What do you want to do for dinner?

*All names have been changed to protect us from nagging and speculation.

So, finally, we did the only thing we could do. We brought someone else into the fold. We were obviously incapable of reaching a decision. We needed ideas. We needed enthusiasm. We needed decisiveness.

Enter Lilly.

She was certainly the right woman for the job. She had no problem coming up with a name, traceable to Latin and Greek roots, both widely-recognized but not commonly used, easy to spell and pronounce and screaming masculinity. And, even more impressive, it took her all of about 40 seconds.

So, while we’re breaking our rules. I might as well go ahead and announce Baby Boy’s name even before he arrives. Henceforth, Baby Boy will be known as….

T. Rex!

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3 Responses Post a comment
  1. Elizabeth permalink
    September 7, 2011

    Hey, you could do a lot with a middle name of Xavier or Xander. 🙂

  2. Mary Rounsavall permalink
    September 7, 2011

    Bet you and Elliott have some thoughts about using/not using a middle name for a primary name (as in R. Elliott)! But there’s always “T.R.”…

    I know one Rounsavall baby who, forty years ago, was ALMOST “Baby Girl Rounsavall” on her birth certificate, since we took so long to settle on the name. Her initials were going to be E.R.R., and Bob balked at that – so in the hospital, under stress, we ended up picking what we THOUGHT was a family name. It’s not – but it is now!

  3. Erica Albrecht permalink
    September 9, 2011

    I love it! That’s awesome and I can so see her saying that to you guys with a dead straight face like she was totally serious. Can’t wait to meet him and see what you guys have come up with once the day arrives!

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