Baby Name Manifesto: The Prequel

Photobucket I don’t think it will come as a surprise to any of my readership that finding the perfect name is rather at the top of my to-do list these days.  Two names, in fact, since we won’t be finding out whether this little one is a boy or a girl.  The trouble is, we’re both suffering from a bit of name exhaustion after naming three children (and having to settle on boys’ names for each of them as well!) in four years.  We’re tired of talking about names, we’re tired of thinking about names (well, Trevor is at least), and we’re even tired of a lot of the names we once liked.  So, in the interest of livening things up a little bit, perhaps getting some outside input, or at least getting ourselves to organize our thoughts, we are letting you all have a glimpse into our name universe.  As soon as our schedule permits, we will be featuring our baby naming philosophy as an HS,SSS topic (though it may be a few weeks!)

Just so you’re not disappointed as you read on, I’ll tell you upfront that I don’t plan on sharing any of the actual names that we’re considering in this post (or its sequel).  It just gets too messy when people comment on names you’re considering before you’ve actually used them, so I’ll spare us all that grief.  Having said that, I am looking forward to hearing suggestions from you all after you’ve read this and understand the intricate (albeit self-imposed) name infrastructure we have to work within.  But that’s all for another post…

In preparation for what may be the most exciting post I’ve ever written (exciting for me to write, you understand, I’m quite certain not at all exciting for anyone to read) I’m taking myself (and my husband, who says he doesn’t remember anything about this) on a little trip down baby naming memory lane.   So, for posterity as well as preparatory purposes, I present to you a thorough history of how our girls came to have the names they have.

I think we are probably thought of (at least among our American cohorts) as “out-there” baby namers, but it hasn’t always been that way (and, in fact, I could make a pretty good case that it isn’t that way at all).  When Pippa was on the way, I first wanted her to be called either Alice or Violet.  Violet ended up being her middle name, since neither of us loved the possibility of her being nicknamed Vi.  Trevor didn’t love Alice (which ended up being Romilly’s middle name) so we decided that we would find a name that we “just loved” for the first name and use a family name in the middle.  (Little did we know this would set the precedent for all of our children to follow.)  Pippa was really the only name we talked about, the only one we both loved, and after that it was just a matter of working out the middle name.  Once we settled on Philippa Violet, we never looked back.  When I held her for the first time, I asked Trevor, “Is she Pippa?”  and she was.

Romilly’s name wasn’t as easy to come by, but probably by about halfway through the pregnancy it was a frontrunner.  We both loved it but had slight misgivings about its legitimacy as a name.  So we did our homework.  It was clearly not a name with centuries of use like Philippa (which, by the way has an interesting story itself*), but it does, nevertheless, have an interesting and colorful history, most of which we discovered on this website, devoted to the history and use of the name Romilly: first as a place name, then as a surname, then as a first name.  (If you follow the link and scroll down for long enough, you will find our own little Ro among the ranks of recorded Romillys worldwide – fun!).  We had intended to call her Romy for short, but for the most part, it has never stuck, at least not since Pippa dubbed her Ro-Ro when Pippa was 18 months old.

When the time came to name our third baby (and, as it happened, third girl) in three years, we found ourselves a little uninspired.  We easily came up with a list of names we “liked”, but nothing we loved, and finding the perfect combination proved quite a puzzle.  Beatrix was our first child to be truly born without a name waiting for her.  We had gone to the hospital with a list of about ten possible girl names (incidently, the boy name was perfectly settled), and the nurse seemed very surprised to receive the answer “I don’t know yet” when she asked us what her name was after she was born. Fortunately, she had a name within about thirty seconds of that conversation, since Trevor and I both (separately) knew she was a Beatrix immediately upon seeing her.

The one thing that we did know going into the delivery room was that if we had a girl her middle name had to be Joan, or some form thereof (it’s Joanna).  Violet had been Trevor’s maternal grandmother’s name, Alice is the name of both of my grandmothers (handy) and that left Trevor’s Grandma Joan.  Joan caused all sorts of problems for us (the name, not the Grandma – she’s wonderful), not that it isn’t a fine name.  It is one-syllable, which wasn’t our first choice for flow with our one-syllable last name.  It started with a J, with made it rather too alliterative with several first names we liked that had soft G sounds in them.  It ended in an n sound, which made it awkward with first names on our list that ended in and n also.  Nothing but trouble, you see?  Once a dear friend suggested tweaking it to Joanna, our name possibilities opened up considerably.

In the end, it was possibly the meaning of Beatrix that gave it the extra sparkle that sent it to the top of the list.  It is from “Viatrix” meaning a traveller or sojourner, and was used quite a bit by early Christians to emphasize the idea that this earth is not our true home.  What a helpful reminder to them (and to me and hopefully one day to Beatrix herself) not to get bogged down in the snares of this world that so easily entangle!  We did consider the French form Beatrice, but we liked that the x preserved the original intent and language better.  Plus x’s are just fun.

This time around, we have had a girls’ name in mind (first and middle) since I was about five weeks pregnant, long before anyone but us even knew we were talking names again.  (I know, you’re dying to know.  I’m sorry, I really am.  E-mail me if you really can’t take the suspense.)   For boys, we seem to be stuck in a holding pattern over the same five or six names we’ve considered for all of the girls, and they’re all seeming a little… eh.

If you think I’m a crazy neurotic name nut now, wait until you read about our rules… But until then, why not regale me with stories of how you chose your own children’s names?  Or just tell me what you’d name a baby right now if one was left on your doorstep nameless.   Oh, I would love comments like that so much.  You really can’t imagine!

*  The history of Philippa: a long time ago (don’t ask me how long, because I don’t remember, Philip was a unisex name, commonly used both for baby boys and baby girls.  On census records, baby girl Philips were recorded as Philip(a) to make it clear that she was female, and gradually a new feminine form of the name emerged.  It is usually spelled Philippa in the UK, but (interestingly) Phillipa in Australia.  It is common in both countries, though not popular for little ones right now.  More like a ‘Susan’ type name.

10 thoughts on “Baby Name Manifesto: The Prequel

  1. I’d like to think that a lot of thought went into my first two’s names but really we came up with their names quite easily. Joshua Wade- just because I liked the names and how they sounded together. Christa Eliza is named after her great-great grandmother on her father’s maternal side. I like how it worked out that both Joshua and Christa are sort of the same, meaning that Joshua is another name for Jesus(Christ). Did that make sense? Lol. Now Calliope Avalon got her name because her dad liked that it has reference to a circus. A calliope is the music that is associated with circus music. And Calliope is a muse of writing and poetry. So we liked that because he writes screenplays as a hobby. I love the name Ava but it didn’t flow with Calliope so we went with Avalon which I think flows better.
    Remedy Grace got her name from a song. “Remedy” by the Black Crowes and again of the names I loved Grace flowed the best plus it’s christian reference. Now I look back and think Remedy is perfect for her because she was in a way a remedy for me finding out that I had some issues with my ovaries and was able to have that taken care of!

    As a side note, we never got another boy but if we had his name would have been Hendrix. The middle name we never settled on. It would have either been Haze or Bleu.

  2. As much as I’m sure you’d love to hear the names we’re considering for our wee twister…I won’t share a peep! Except to ask…what do you think of only giving a child a first name if you can’t think of a meaningful enough middle name that flows? I don’t want to just add in a one-syllable word just because. Any thoughts? Looking forward to hearing your “rules”!

  3. I love your baby naming stuff! Hmmm…let’s see, if I had a child dropped off on my doorstep today…I’d call dfacs. KIDDING. I don’t know, I really wish I could do a color or a flower for a girl’s name. I know Lily is way popular right now but I love it. I wanted to name Lydia that. Boys? Too much.

    And I may be emailing you for the name you’re thinking of…

  4. The history behind Luke and Rosie. We did not have any rules except it couldn’t start with a J sound. Like George Jeffes wouldn’t work – or Jeff Jeffes would have been really very mean. In fact, our pastor married us as Rich and Jeff. Yes, it’s true.
    Anyway, for Luke we wanted a biblical name and something that wouldn’t be shortened into anything. It was either Luke or Dean(or Noah was a close 3rd) – I know Dean isn’t in the bible but he was our car repairman and I liked the short name. In the end, we settled on Luke when driving to our summer vacation to Niagara Falls – that was 4 months before he was born and 13 months before we ever met him! 🙂
    Rosie (Rose for real) was easy – can’t even remember how we came up with it but it was the only name we liked. And then AFTER we decided on it, I remembered my grandmother was called Rosie for a nickname (wasn’t even close to her name). Anyway, I made the mistake (as you are not making) of telling people and when I told my Mom, there was a long silence on the phone and she said “Oh, are you sure?” Uggh.. After that we wouldn’t tell anyone but we did say that Luke knew so if you could get it out of him (2 years old), you would know! He was very verbal about it so it wasn’t too hard.
    If I had a boy now – I like Zachary. If I had a girl – I have no idea.. She’d probably be nameless for a couple months. We know someone having a girl in the Spring and they are going to name her Ondine..
    Your names for your 3 girls are wonderful and it is with bated breath that I wait until March to hear name #4 ! 🙂

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing the years of “Young Baby Naming Rules” finally written down. I may then understand them myself. I love your girls names, I love the way they suit each personality. The way Ro ended up with that shortened form was great as it really suits her:-)
    I am dreading ever having to discuss name options, I’m not even allowed to briefly discuss it until we are actually expecting. I try ot slip it into the conversation sometimes when he isn’t looking but he usually realises and it’s back onto some other topic 🙂
    As for what our rules will entail. Who knows! Nana B will not like anything which can be shortened. Not sure Grandma A will mind much. I’ll just be wondering if we made the right decision. But never fear, Duncan will not be one of our names (any Duncans reading this…this is nothing personal!)
    Don’t take too long with the HS SSS. Missing those a lot.
    Oh and Happy Birthday btw, as usual my card hasn’t yet left the country but should be with you soon. Hope you have a fab day.

  6. LOL, by the time Becca came along we were pretty tapped out on the girl names that we liked too. If she hadn’t ‘looked like’ a Rebecca than the poor thing would’ve been nameless for a while. 🙂

    Good luck on deciding!

  7. Pingback: Jodilightful! » He Says, She Says Saturday: Baby Name Manifesto

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