Three months before our due date, the name game had become more complex.
Things had become really interesting when a friend recommended the US name site Baby Name Wizard. We then found the UK version, England and Wales Baby Names. I loved these sites because you could use the information about past popularity of names to see the likelihood of a name coming back into popularity or whether it was declining. This was particularly interesting to us because we didn’t want a name that was coming back into fashion any time soon. We wanted V. to be the only one in her class. I had a feeling, though, that no matter which name we chose, other examples would immediately come out of the woodwork.
Just weeks before V. was due, we had a shortlist of 26 names. We wrote each one on a sticky note and put them up on the wall. A separate sticky note for each first and second name. Sometimes the notes would be in columns, sometimes arranged in a random cloud effect. Once in a while, one of us would take two names and place them side by side in front of a sticky note that had our surname on it. This combination of three names would stay up on the wall for a couple of days while we mulled it over in our heads.
Strong contenders made it to a shorter shortlist. Weak combinations got cut. We approached it as though voting on a reality show: if you have to choose between two names, who stays to the next round and who goes home? It was just such a technique that presented us with V.’s final names.
We’re very happy with our daughter’s name. Sometimes, we can’t believe we went ahead and called her V. Although it fit all our criteria and was right there from the beginning of our search, it’s still pretty unusual and feels a bit daring. We’ve been feeling sightly smug over our choice, but the announcement of a royal baby this week has us slightly jittery. Perhaps my prediction of V.’s name appearing everywhere will come true and our daughter might possibly spend her entire life explaining that “no she was not named after the princess but in fact was born a year before her”. Fingers crossed it’s a boy.
I have heard that it’s quite common for mum-and-dad-to be to write their own lists of favourite names, then come together to have a (ahem) discussion about which to choose. This didn’t happen with myself and F. In the early days of the pregnancy, we made two lists; one for boys and one for girls. The names mostly came from our own imagination. I had a couple at the top of my lists that I have always liked and thought that they were reasonably unique. Little did I know. ‘V.’ was on both of our lists from the very beginning.
It became clear that F. shared with me similar thoughts on names. We both had favourite names, a handful of which matched. It also became clear that not knowing the sex of the baby left us with a lot of work. I felt that constructing a list of baby names that would become completely irrelevant (when we learnt the sex of our baby at our 12-week scan) might feel a bit disappointing. So the name game took a break.
A few weeks later, when our scan revealed we were having a girl, the list-making began again in earnest. As we ran out of names from the top of our head, we brought in some baby name dictionaries. Every so often, one of us would sit down with a book to read out a letter of the alphabet. I’d read out all the names that started with a ‘B’ and I’d get a shake of the head or a nod of approval. Or a long discussion if we weren’t sure about a name. It was fun.
By this time, though, we had created quite a few criteria that a name had to pass before it reached the shortlist. Here were the more non-negotiable:
1. Our surname is unusual, not immediately obvious how to spell and not particularly attractive (which was noticed at school). I wanted a first name for my daughter that that would always ‘run interference’ on the surname. A name that had enough impact so that people would focus on it rather than her surname.
2. A name that wasn’t so girly or babyish, that the grown-up CEO of a company couldn’t use, or doctor, or nobel peace prize winner.
3. No names that could be shortened easily by her school friends to something awful
4. No unisex names
5. No names in the top ten
There were plenty of others. In part 2 of this blog topic, I’ll tell you the best online resource we found for baby names and why the announcement of a royal baby this week has me a bit nervous.
If you had some interesting criteria for choosing your baby’s name, leave a comment, I’d love to read about it.