Namer's Remorse

Sep 25th 2008

I hear from a lot of parents in the grip of naming dilemmas.  Some of them are just starting their name searches, while others are feeling the pressure as they count down to their due dates.  And yet others -- a surprisingly large number -- are already home with an infant in their arms, but still uneasy about the names they've chosen.

"Namer's remorse" is a complication you really don't need at an already complicated time of life.  It piles on top of the sleeplessness, the endless to-do lists, and the general life upheaval that comes with expanding your family.  Sometimes, in fact, it's a product of those factors.  The high emotional pitch of the first days at home tends to amplify every parenting concern.

Name anxiety can also be a safe place to channel some of the difficult feelings of new parenthood.  It's a big leap from the imaginary baby in your mind to the real baby in your arms.  Sometimes it takes a while to really feel like the mysterious little creature you're holding is your child.  (That's ok, it'll come in time.)  Similarly, the name you chose in advance may not seem like a natural part of your child, or a good "fit."  If that's worrying you, rest assured that babies grow into their names in surprising ways.  By the time she's running around, that name is likely to fit her like a glove.

But for a small percentage of parents, namer's remorse has a more straightforward cause: they simply chose the wrong name.  Heck, it happens.  If both parents are set in unshakeable namer's remorse, dreaming of the name that should have been, what should they do?

I have the answer for you: they should change their baby's name.

That sounds obvious, but there's an unspoken taboo against it.  Most parents treat birth certificates as near-sacred objects, graven and immutable.  In part, that reflects the power names hold on our psyches.  We tend to see names as a core part of a person or thing, an identity not easily overwritten.  Yet when it comes to infants, names are anything but immutable.  Stop and think about it and you'll realize that you're constantly calling your baby Baby, Sweetie, Little Gumdrop, or even (insert your own random family nickname here).  So your baby should handle a gradual shift from Elizabeth to Annabelle easily enough.

Will you handle the change as smoothly? Well, there's the practical annoyance of arranging a legal name change, and maybe a monogrammed baby blanket to finesse.  When it comes right down to it, though, I think the biggest factor holding most parents back from changing infants' names is the same factor that holds us back from a thousand other unconventional behaviors.  It's good old fashioned embarrassment. 

Yep, you already sent out 100 birth announcements.  Yep, friends and relatives may laugh at your indecisiveness.  So what?  The embarrassment will last a couple of days, but a name lasts a lifetime.  If you're trying to whomp up your courage, you can take a lot of the sting out of the embarrassing situation by acknowedging it head-on, with some cheerful self-deprecation.  I recommend a new ritual: a formal birth re-announcement.  Below is my take on one.  Readers, can you offer alternative compositions?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Birth Announcement, Take 2

On August 12th we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy.  Before he was born, we had expected that his name would be Jayden.  Once we met him, we discovered we were mistaken.  Who knew?  He's actually:

Cooper Michael MacDowell
7 lbs, 4 oz.

Stephanie & Mike


By Valerie (not verified)
September 25, 2008 2:50 PM

Excellent post, as usual, Laura! I second your approach and think that kind of announcement would solve the problem.

So... I guess it's on topic. Roenne and Oliver's parents are nearly at the due date and have no names they can agree on if it's a boy. If it's a girl, she will definitely be Matilda (Tilly). And I'm appealing to you wonderful people for some more ideas. It's one of those situations where the Mum is suggesting and the Dad is mostly vetoing :( . She's looking a bit large and down-hearted...

Near misses: Jack, Milo, Jasper, Frederick, Sebastian, Benjamin. They need something that will shorten well.
I'm going to suggest:

Any other ideas? They are an Anglo-American couple. He's from the North of England, very down to earth. She's Californian, gentle. Thanks in advance. Baby has engaged, so time is of the essence...

By Tessa (not verified)
September 25, 2008 2:50 PM

I think my favorite part of the suggested announcement (and I love it!) is the selection of before and after names. Seems absolutely believable for new parents at this exact moment in American time — the kind of new parents who reconsider, obviously.

By Tessa (not verified)
September 25, 2008 2:51 PM

Valerie, how about Sidney?

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 2:56 PM

I'd want new parents to understand that it's perfectly natural to call your newborn by the "other" name you were considering, by accident. That doesn't mean you chose wrong! It's just that you have to get used to the name you did choose being for real, attached to the baby you're holding.

But if you really do decide to change the name officially, I guess an announcement is in order:

"UPDATE: We changed our minds about our daughter's name. Better now than later, eh? So, instead of Anne Elizabeth, she'll be Beatrice Jane (as soon as we get all the paperwork done). We have reasons, but we realize they're probably not that interesting to anyone else; so please, just welcome BEATRICE JANE into the family."

By Kate, mom of T, G, and J (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Wow, Laura, I never could've imagined an appropriate second baby announcement ... but you did it! Sounds perfect!

I had a mild form of namer's remorse with each of my kids, but by the time they were at most a year old, their names were definitely the names they were meant to have. Our littlest one, John, is only three months, so I still go through it sometimes ... but I know it will pass!

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:02 PM

Maybe Roenne and Oliver's brother is just John, or Christopher, or James--maybe the parent's are trying too hard, when the name they really want is elsewhere on the lists?

In their shoes, I'd look at my family and my friends and think "whose name would I proudly give my son?" If they know and respect (or remember) a truly good man named Marc or Leo or Peter, that name might be a more satisfying choice than something they have no real connection to, just chosen in the desperation of the last days before delivery.

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:08 PM

Laura -- I think the second birth announcement was wonderful! Maybe just having some language as a jumping-off point will push some people to do it. I think it would be terrible to regret something as integral to your child as his/her name. The short-term embarrassment of the name change would be worth it, IMO.

Valerie -- What about Thomas, Abraham, Edmund/Edwin/Edward, Leopold, Callum, Malcolm, or Walter?

By julie (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:09 PM

Is "namer's remorse" a relatively new thing? In western cultures, were babies historically named prior to or shortly after birth? What about other cultures?

I had "namer's remorse" with both of mine. After my daughter was born, I had a nightmare that I had chosen the wrong name. After my son was born, I had a longer, less intense, lingering feeling that maybe I didn't get it right... It's all good now! :-)

By Susan (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:35 PM

I suggest Louis or Lewis. It's timeless, easy to shorten and sounds great in every language.

By another amy (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:40 PM

in some cultures, babies are named way after they are born. I was asked to name numerous toddlers in East Africa who had been known roughly as boy/girl or nicknames for several years. On the other hand, the more modernized families named them at birth for baptism.

it always cracked me up to be naming a child for a woman who shared very little common language for me. There is a Sophia, a Sarah and a Jennifer out there in the bush. Those were the names I remember that stuck. i'd suggest several and see which ones they liked the sound of (and could pronounce).

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 25, 2008 3:54 PM

For those of you who may have frequented the BabyCenter naming polls, do any of you remember a woman who visited them regularly with her daughter nn'ed Bunny (I think). Bunny was choosing her own name (wish I could remember what she finally selected) so she and her mom used the polls for ideas.

As an NE I could never have turned the reins over to my daughter to name herself, but I was fascinated that Bunny's mom could. I also don't remember how old Bunny was when she made her choice -- maybe 5?

By Jodi (not verified)
September 25, 2008 4:16 PM

Thanks for another great post, Laura. I am a regular reader but only an occasional commenter.

I can't say that I've had any namer's remorse with any of our three girls. There have been some little niggling things, though. I have occasionally wished I'd saved our first daughter's middle name for another girl (who knew we'd have three?!?). I have sometimes wondered if our second choice name would have suited our second daughter better than the one we went with. And of greatest concern right now is that we really love a boys' name for our current pegnancy that starts with the same letter as our youngest daughter's name (so far we've been careful not to duplicate first initials among our children).

How do you think it would fly if we sent out a double birth announcement when our next baby is born (should it be a boy), something like this? :

"We are delighted to introduce to you our son Barnaby Merit _____.

In light of this development, we would also like to announce that our nearly-two-year-old, previously known as Beatrix Joanna, will henceforth be called Clementine Joanna. We still like Beatrix better, but, you know, you can't have two B's in the same family, so something had to give."

A little neurotic, maybe? ;) Yeah, we'll probably just either bend our rules or keep looking for other boys' names. Or maybe just keep having girls :)

By TM (not verified)
September 25, 2008 4:24 PM

Thanks for the interesting topic! I experienced some name remorse just recently. My daughter, Julia Rose, was born 7 weeks ago. We had the name picked out for several weeks, with Elizabeth as a backup. I had pictured Julia in my mind as having dark hair like her daddy. I was put under for my c-section and upon waking up and looking at my blonde daughter (who looks exactly like me) I said, "She looks like an Elizabeth." My husband and mom exchanged panicked looks, as they had already been calling people telling them her name was Julia! Some days I still think she looks more like an Elizabeth, but I've had Julia picked out for so long and it has so much personal meaning, that I don't think I could have changed it. :) Glad to hear I'm on the only one who has had second thoughts!

By Aybee (not verified)
September 25, 2008 4:45 PM

My fiance, Matt, was supposed to be named Kevin Matthew, after his father. The family story is that when he came out without his dad's signature red hair, his mom switched the names and lead with the one she liked better! (I have since heard she just didn't want a junior...but I like the first explanation better.)

I also know a friend whose sons are Harlan and Hunter. She's expressed remorse about the second one, thinking it might have been a little much with the Hs. I think it suits him though.

By Michelle (not verified)
September 25, 2008 4:49 PM

I'm having some mild namer's remorse. My two-year-old's first name (Miranda) fits her like a glove, but I've never been entirely satisfied with her middle name. It is Kimie (pronounced Kim-EE-ay) after a beloved relative. I've considered changing the spelling to the more phonetically correct Kimiye. To top it off, the beloved relative's response to us using her name is that she never really liked her name anyway, and thinks we should have chosen something more special. So that makes me consider scrapping the whole thing and giving her my middle name, Elizabeth. Or maybe two middle names...

By RobynT (not verified)
September 25, 2008 5:16 PM

Miranda: Kimie is Japanese right? If your daughter is Japanese I think it's very nice to have this nod to her heritage! And I am not fond of the "y" when it is added to Japanese just to make them more pronounceable for English-speakers. I guess it just doesn't jibe with the Romanization I learned, but it bothers me! Especially in a name like Uyeno, where Uweno is much more phonetic!

Valerie: I'm curious. Is Roenne a girl or boy? And how is the name pronounced? (Sorry if I missed this on an earlier thread; I haven't been able to keep up lately.)

Jodi: I definitely would NOT worry about the repeated initial. Only us name-obsessed folks even notice stuff like that. Especially cuz since you've got two others without the B--it's not like only one is left out which might be a little more worrisome.

By Guest (not verified)
September 25, 2008 5:40 PM

Too weird. Don't second guess yourselves. The first days or years of parenthood are uncertain enough already. Make a decision and just stick to it.

By Keren (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:03 PM

Roenne and Oliver's sibling - how about Jacob, Stanley, Alfred, Albert (Bertie or Albie), Micah, Rufus. Also agree with your suggestion of Solomon.
I haven't experienced any re-namings but lots of babies seem to sit around for ages while their parents try out different names before they find one that sticks. And I have a friend who was Helen for the first six months of her life before her parents decided to go for her middle name, Mandy.

By Jessica (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:27 PM

I think that "Barnaby and Beatrix" would live quite nicely together. I would toss the rule before I changed her name. hee hee

Laura, I think you announcement was well written. I shall have to remember that in case I ever fall prey to Namer's Remorse.

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:42 PM

I'd say, as a general rule, you shouldn't explain the reasons for a baby's name, or his new name, in an announcement--most people don't care, it's none of their business anyway, and you may come off sounding defensive or overly precious about the decision.

Imagine if engagement announcements came with explanations: "Mr. and Mrs. James Smith announce the engagement of their daughter, Audrey Lee, to Jeffrey Young. Audrey decided that James was more stable than anyone else she ever dated, even though he's not as cute as her last boyfriend, and not as romantic as the guy she dated in college."

Well, they'd be entertaining, but if they were completely honest, they'd also be TMI!

By Nicole S. (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:46 PM

Oh Jodi, please don't re-name your little girl. If you do, please don't go for a "two-fer" by including her information along with your son's baby announcement. It's a pet peeve of mine whenever new parents go the "two-fer" route (typically for late-autumn babies) by including the baby announcement as part of their holiday card. Just wish they'd send them separately, especially if they have the means.

While I hope never to actually receive a baby re-naming announcement/second birth announcement for the same child, it's a fun little exercise to come up with the wording for such a card! I suppose it should evoke both levity about the unfortunate situation, and love for the baby. Something like this:

[With a cute B&W picture of baby]

Right baby, wrong name!

We joyfully announce the re-naming our sweet newborn son, Gabriel Jack. From now on, please join us in calling him

Graham Jonah

Proud, indecisive parents
Mama & Daddy Lastname

Big sisters
Lauren & Claire

I'd probably omit the birthdate & vital stats since they were already mailed in the original birth announcement. Emily Post is rolling...

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:47 PM

The answer is yes, people in past times did sometimes experience namer's remorse. I've read the papers of various families in the 19c. South where baby names stay pretty fluid for a few months--with letters back and forth between various relations, debating the first choice, offering alternatives.... if letters take, say, two weeks to go between writers, those negotiations can take a while! There was one couple where the son's name was clearly a contentious issue--mama wanted to name her boy after a famous author, while papa was more inclined to name the boy for a grandfather--they used both names, but the order varied depending on who was writing about him.

By Nicole S. (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:54 PM

oops - should have been "re-naming OF our sweet newborn son"

@Lorelei, er, Leigh (or anyone else who knows) - What does "overly precious" mean? Precious is one of those terms I hear a lot but don't fully understand. Thanks!

By Valerie (not verified)
September 25, 2008 6:55 PM

@RobynT: Roenne is pronounced the same as Rowan. They just decided to spell it that way to make it clear it's a girl. Personally, I prefer the trad spelling.
Lorelei Leigh- LOL! Glad my parents never made an announcement like that!
Thanks everyone for the suggestions for Roenne and Oliver's sibling. I'll wait another day or so and then send them on, so keep them coming if you feel so inclined.

By another amy (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:18 PM

Here is one remorse story and one last minute name change:
1. I think I've told this story before but its on-topic. A friend of mine is the son of a former priest. Before he was born his mother picked out a name for him and was very happy with it. At the birth however, his father was so overcome with joy (and religious duty apparently) that immediately after the cord was cut he took the baby and ran to the nearest water source (a drinking fountain) to baptize the baby. Unfortunately, the only name he could remember was his own, so the baby (my now 30 year old friend) was baptized xyz III. When the father ran back into the birthing room to tell his wife what he'd done (very pleased with himself) his wife apparently yelled at him--but I *hate* the name xyz III!

my friend tells me his mother called him by a series of nicknames and endearments exclusively until he was well into school before coming to terms with it.

2. my sister was supposed to be named Merry. While in the hospital, however, someone did the numerology on Merry and my parents (hippie of course) decided they couldn't go with Merry and switched it to Sar@h. I don't think my mother has ever regretted the switch b/c my sister isn't really a Merry sort of person.

my mother just told me why they changed their minds this summer and probably won't tell my sister for a while. Mom doesn't figure S would be as amused by the numerology as I am.

By another amy (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:20 PM

I should also admit that I wasn't entirely sure about my daughter's name until she grew into it, even though I loved the name. It was my grandmother's though and it took a while before it didn't seem strange. Nor am i entirely settled with my son's name but I figure it will come.

By enterbrainment (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:23 PM

how about:

hi all!

this is kind of embarrassing, after all the money you spent on shower gifts, but we decided to go with a different baby. jayden was just a really trendy, conventional-minded tyke who spit up a lot and pooped a lot and did nothing original that we could embarrass him with later.

so we're "welcoming" joe into the house. we trust he'll be regressively masculine, which is, in itself, original these days. i'm personally hoping he'll be a bit delayed in crawling so i can catch up on my beauty sleep, but we'll see.

point is: you might want to change the names in your christmas card database. wouldn't want to embarrass yourself, would you?

By Liz (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:30 PM

I have friends who did this. The first baby announcement came by email from the husband, announcing baby Ella. Twenty-four hours later there was a second email, from the wife, announcing Kate, and "oops, we changed our minds." Some of us wondered about the state of their marriage.

By Shira (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:39 PM

This is one of the reasons I usually recommend picking a couple favorite, road-tested names before the birth, then spending those days after the birth picking which one seems best.

Because names have taken on such strong connotative meanings, I can easily see someone wondering if they chose the right name as they get to know the child himself. However, in most cases, parents tend to link the name in their mind with the child, and then can't picture their child with another name. It's one of the reasons a lot of parents confuse criticism of the name with criticism of the child.

As for namer's remorse, I don't think it's worth the hassle to change the name unless there's an objective reason it's bad (like the parents didn't realize that the first and last name together form an unpleasant word (like Jenna Side), the first name itself has an unpleasant meaning, or they realize the baby will outgrow the name before the umbilical stump falls off. After all, a baby who doesn't "look" like a Vincent at three days old might do so at age 20, and no longer look like an Ethan.

By Melanie (not verified)
September 25, 2008 7:48 PM

A friend of mine has a younger sister whose name was changed. Her mother spent two weeks trying to call her by the name that was originally picked and finally decided that it just wouldn't do. I heard that story when I was pregnant with Thomas and kept it in mind after we named him. I really didn't want Thomas myself, but found that every time I looked at him that was just who he was. (I guess that is almost the opposite of namer's remorse). I did take the S off of his middle name, however, and I think that if I said I wanted to put it back on my husband would jump at the chance to change the birth certificate.

I wonder if we had less taboos about changing names if it would be less stressful for people in making the original choice? I have a friend stressing about naming her boy and we've discussed the idea that for most kids those objections go away and the name just becomes the child. I think most of the really big conflicts I've heard about have more to do with the couples way of negotiating and less to do with the actual names. I'm interested in how the conflicts I've heard about paint an interesting picture of the couple -- not that they don't like the same names, but how they deal with the differences.

By Cathie (not verified)
September 25, 2008 9:01 PM

I couldn't see myself changing a name not because of embarrassment but because once you name the baby that it becomes them (in my mind, not the baby's of course)... I'd have a hard time seeing the baby as anything different after the first few days.

At the same time, I have to admit having a bit of naming remorse over my second son's name. For some reason , I didn't realize that George and Jonathan start with exactly the same sound. DUH! It's only now that I'm using the baby's name that I realize what we've done. I do often mix the names up (it doesn't help that they really look alike!) What is it going to be like when I am eighty and losing my marbles?!

By sdh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 9:07 PM

my aunt was originally named Janet. when my grandmother's sister came over to meet the baby, the first thing she said was "she doesn't look like a Janet! she looks like a Debbie!"
so they changed her name to Debra Ann. when she got to school, her 2 best friends (who she is still best friends with today) were also named Debra/Deborah Ann and they all had last names beginning with the same initial. their other good friend is "just Ann."
maybe my grandmother should have stuck with Janet after all!

By juliag (not verified)
September 25, 2008 9:47 PM

Naming is tough. I had namer's remorse for over a year with my (Graham). It wasn't that I had another specific name in mind though...that would be a slightly different story and I might've considered a change. I just didn't feel he was a Graham exactly, you know? The funny thing is that he was named Witt for the first two days and I have never looked back with regret about not naming him that.

I fear for the one in my belly. In this pregnancy I have settled whole-heartedly on several names only to disregard them later (Cedar, Newton, Cannon). What if I'd been set on one of those names at the time of birth? Ack. Now I'm 100% in favor of Bishop (with Wheeler and Silas as backups). Hubby isn't convinced though and I'm only 25 weeks along, so who knows what will happen. Thoughts??

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 25, 2008 10:10 PM

"Overly Precious" (hey, that might be my next posting name!)... the dictionary definition would be "very fastidious, overrefined, or affected, as in behavior, language, etc." In the case of naming, to my mind, it's someone who assumes everyone else is fascinated with the exquisite perfection of the name they chose, and the details of their monumental decision. To be honest, unless people ask, they're probably not even a tiny bit curious.

It's different here on a naming board, of course!

By Jane (not verified)
September 25, 2008 10:28 PM

I wanted to name our daughter Anne. DH wanted Juliet. So we named her Anne Juliet and agreed that he would name the next child (which he did). But when she was born, the first thing everyone noticed was how much dark, almost black hair she had - just like my husband's. And although her eyes were blue, they were that dark, dark blue that usually turns brown (they are now golden-green). So, in short, she just LOOKED so much more like a Juliet than an Anne. An Anne is freckled (like me), not a raven-haired beauty. So anyway, at about 6 weeks of age, we told our family we were going to start calling her Juliet. I thouht it would be hard to transition, but it wasn't and now I can't image her any other way.

I don't care for Bishop, but I really like Silas. I have a feeling there are other names out there in the same family, too... I'll have to think about it.

By Nicole S. (not verified)
September 25, 2008 10:33 PM

@juliag - You're having a boy? Bishop isn't necessarily the first name I'd think of when I imagine "Graham's brother," but if you absolutely love it, I say go with it! You could also consider: Parrish, Oliver, Sebastian, Pierce, Miles, Duncan, Jonas, & Elijah

@Lorelei, er, Leigh - thanks for the great definition - now I get it!

By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
September 25, 2008 11:31 PM

I know a family who named their son Elv1s, but because of family and friends' ridicule and pressure renamed him Dyl@n. I think happened when he was about 6 weeks. He's now about 15 and Dylan fits him perfectly. It's too bad, though. I know we were had a lot of negative reinforcement from our families (but not friends!) with our first son. I couldn't imagine renaming him.

For both our boys we had shortlists of both girl and boy names and decided to wait until the morning to name them. (Both were born around 11pm.)

My sister was three weeks old before she had a name! While I think that's pushing it, I like that my folks found the right name for her instead of picking one beforehand and making it stick regardless of who she seemed to be. But that's just me. I can see why folks pick out names before the child is born, too.

juliag- I ADORE Silas. Bishop is less my style, but I can see both going with Graham.

Valerie - my captcha is 'and Stephen' -why not throw that on the list, too? ;)

By Cathy (not verified)
September 25, 2008 11:32 PM

Cathie - interesting that you have 2 boys named George & Jonathan. My sister's first choice for a full name for a baby boy is Jonathan George.

By hyz (not verified)
September 25, 2008 11:47 PM

Valerie, since Rowan and Oliver are two of my favorite names for boys (yes, I know Roenne is a girl, but...), here are some of my other favorites that might fit:

I'd love to hear what they pick!

By Guest (not verified)
September 25, 2008 11:56 PM

It's a girl!

Jennifer and Brian Myers welcome their first child

AUDREY ELIZABETH [<--typed, crossed out] ANNIKA JOYCE [<--handwritten]

September 18, 2008
7 lbs, 2oz. 21 inches

Oops...we knew we'd make mistakes in parenting, but who knew we'd need two tries to get the name right?

Please join us in calling our precious new daughter Annika Joyce.

[picture of baby]

Brian and Jennifer

By Kari (not verified)
September 26, 2008 3:23 AM

My sister-in-law had a spelling change after she was born. Her parents had definitely decided on Christen Jewel, but say that they never really thought about the spelling. So "Christen" went on the birth certificate since it was the first thing they thought of. A few days later, they realized that they wanted it spelled "Christin", so they have just been spelling it that way since.

My parents were all set to name me Allison Kathleen up until a day or so before I was born when my mom suddenly decided she couldn't stand Allison, and the only other name they both agreed on was Kari.

By Keren (not verified)
September 26, 2008 6:35 AM

Juliag - what if he grows up to be a bishop? Then he'd be Bishop Bishop...

Silas is too like silage for me.

By juliag (not verified)
September 26, 2008 8:06 AM

Karen -- yep, we thought about this when we were considering the name Dean! My husband and I are both university professors and so we deal with a lot of deans. We were thinking Dean Dean would be kind of funny. Much less likely that our kid would grow up to be a bishop ;)...but one never knows, right?

By Eo (not verified)
September 26, 2008 8:42 AM

juliag-- My take on "Bishop" is that it is interesting, off-beat. But then I'm a bit partial to some of the less-popular, occupational/surnames.

It isn't on the currently stylish, "sanctioned" roster, so my guess is you won't necessarily get much affirmation for the choice. For about ten years. Then suddenly people will say, hey, brilliant! By the way, isn't "Deacon" creeping up in popularity? I like it.

The occasional "name-shorteners" he will find at school and elsewhere, might nickname him "Bish" among others. Some namers might blanch at that, (and the unfortunate variants that might occur!), but not others.

Even though "Silas" IS one of the currently fashionable names, I like both it and "Wheeler". Don't see how you can go wrong with any of the three, since you like all of them.

By Sarah (not verified)
September 26, 2008 8:42 AM

My mother's cousin and his wife did this with their second daughter. When she was born the word went round the family that her name was, well, it was a derivative spelling of Holly. Then, about six weeks later, the birth announcement came round for Antoinette. No mention of previous name, but my grandmother helpfully called and said they'd changed their minds and legally changed her name. No big deal. So, it can be done.

Perhaps it would have been weirder to deal with if I had ever met her.

I have another friend who learned as an adult that his name, Michael, was (mis)spelled Michal on his birth certificate. Being the kind of guy he is, he immediately made sure he was Michal forever going forward. Has that happened to anyone other than him and Oprah?

Now, a confession: despite my interest in baby names, I am hugely superstitious about referring to the baby by the chosen name before it's born. (By which I mean, my SIL announced her last pregnancy by texting me in February: Katy Anne will be born in August. When my niece was born the spelling had changed but the name hadn't.) I just think it's very risky. What if something awful happens? What if you do change your mind, and Jayden does become Xavier? Mothers I've worked with have mentioned hospital employees using the potential name pre-birth as well, and I can't tell you how disturbing I find that.

Am I crazy? Do any actual parents have thoughts on this?

By Shay (not verified)
September 26, 2008 8:44 AM

I continue to feel a mild form of namer's remorse - I feel utter delight and joy when I think of my younger two children's names, but my oldest was a compromise with my husband and I continue to feel somewhat dissatisfied with it. My husband is delighted by it, however, so I figure it's worth it!

A couple of years ago I dealt with my parents' longstanding naming mistake and changed my first name ... it continues to be a challenge as many places (websites, doctors) don't have systems in place for changing a first name. My family and friends have taken a long time getting used to the new name - but I don't mind, because I am thrilled and feel so much happier and more confident now that I have shaken off my clunky old name and have one that really fits my personality. A different twist on namer's remorse, as they did the naming and I had the three decades of remorse!

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 26, 2008 9:06 AM

Jodi -- Please don't rename Beatrix because she would share a first initial with her brother. Beatrix is hands down one of my favorites now, and I'm always thrilled to hear about little Beatrixes IRL.

juliag -- I like Silas the best. I have friends who have two sons, Martin (nn Marty) and Silas.

Sarah -- I'm not sure I'd describe myself as "hugely superstitious," but my husband and I kept the names we were considering just between us until our daughter was born (although I might have shared with this community had it existed). However, once we identified two girl names, in my mind I always thought of the baby as being one of them (the one we ended up choosing). (FWIW, we didn't know the sex ahead of time.)

By ET (not verified)
September 26, 2008 9:36 AM

I know a family who changed tehir daughters name from Danielle to Tessa Danielle because her grandparents hated the name Danielle. Tessa does who better with her brothers names though, they are called Jamie and Tristen.

By Jodi (not verified)
September 26, 2008 9:36 AM

Nicole S. and Amy3 - Don't worry, we would never really consider changing Bea's name. It is her through and through, and we do both love it. Now, calling her Trix rather than Bea in order to de-emphasize the duplicated initial... that's more of a possibility. She currently gets called both, but more often Bea, probably. In any case, I was mostly just bemoaning how her name has upset our naming options for this baby, but it will no boubt work itself out :) (Thanks for the compliments on her name, btw!)

Sarah, I, too, have an aversion to calling a baby by name before it's born, but for different reasons. 1. I feel like there's not an awful lot to announce when the baby is born if everyone already knows her by name. Like, "Ellie's here and she weighs 8lbs!" is just a little lacking, somehow. 2. It makes the parents feel trapped into their choice. My cousin began calling her daughter Leah soon after her ultrasound. At some point, she decided she preferred Lydia, but as she expressed this to friends and family, it was met with, "But she's Leah!" In the end, she went with Leah, but I don't think she was entirely happy with it. With her second (a boy they called Mark) she didn't discuss names with *anyone* and kept her options open until he arrived.

By Lorelei, er, Leigh (not verified)
September 26, 2008 10:08 AM

"I just think it's very risky. What if something awful happens?"

It's certainly risky because it makes a change of plans more awkward.

But if by "something awful" you mean a late miscarriage or a baby who doesn't live very long, it's not necessarily a bad thing to have that name already given. I know it seems morbid to some, but that's just our general discomfort with death. For a lot of families, it helps with the grieving to name the person they were hoping to know better. NICU nurses strongly encourage families to name tiny/delicate babies who might not make it long--because the alternative is so distancing, and the NICU situation already makes bonding more difficult.