The name game: Finding one that works

Week 21: 5/28/2007


As I sit here, semi-reclined, the very-active-but-unwilling-to-pose-for-a-crotch-shot baby inside of me is making her- or himself known--an elbow or knee to my bladder, a head or butt to my lower abdomen. I like it. But it raises the question: Who is this kid, anyway? And what do we call him or her?

(This whole "him or her" thing is annoying, I know, linguistically if nothing else. But since we're not absolutely sure if we're having a boy or a girl, and since I think it's sort of fun to keep what we think it is a secret from the two of you who aren't friends or family reading this column, I think we're all stuck with it.)

The question of what this child's name will be has been and on-and-off preoccupation since I first found out I was pregnant. In the very early days of my pregnancy, when I was nervous that the pregnancy wasn't going to "stick," Aron would allay my anxiety by brainstorming the most ridiculous names he could think of. Here is a smattering of the ones I can remember him coming up with:

"Totally Free Checking," or "Tote" for short

Stanley (as in the stapler company)

Lightnin' (as in Lightnin' Hopkins)

Maurice (the Steve Miller song)

T.J. (standing for nothing)

Alas, none of these have made the short list. (Although I am still a sucker for Maurice, and the Dada-esque notion of initials standing for nothing is sort of tempting.)

You might notice...

... that these names have a distinctly masculine air about them. It turns out that Aron was pretty sure it was a boy at the beginning. Now that we have a healthy dose of ambiguity about the gender thing, we've been working on both girl and boy names.

"Sylvia" has always been a favorite of mine; it was also the name of Aron's grandmother, his step-great-aunt, and is still the middle name of my good friend. But I didn't know if it should be our little girl's name. It seemed sort of heavy for a child, and I didn't know how to make it flow with Aron's last name (which is different from mine). I was on a walk one day, about this far along in my pregnancy, when I was thinking about Aron's grandmother. Then I thought of my late grandmother, Lynn, and how I wished I liked the name more on its own so it could be a serious contender. And that's how it came to pass: I was thinking Sylvia. Then Lynn. Sylvia Lynn! (I also liked how it made me think of Loretta Lynn.) When Aron met me halfway on my walk, I said, "I've thought of her name." And within a few days, he was sold, too.

The short-list

So I think we're down to our boy and girl choices. Should we share them? Last time, at least a year before we were even thinking of getting pregnant, we went out to dinner with friends who were due in a month. They were stuck for a name. "My favorite name is Sylvia," I said, and Aron agreed--it was a good, solid name. They smiled politely. And that was that.

Until we received the email birth announcement a month later. Subject line: "Meet Baby Sylvia!" When we finally did meet her, we walked into their apartment, and Aron looked around. "We're here to pick up our daughter," he said. Her mother--who has a perfectly dry sense of humor--solemnly picked up the child, and pretended to hand her over.

But here's the problem: This time, I'm worried that we're in danger of poaching on other parents' territory. Namely: another blogging mother on this very site.

That's right: We love the name Charlie. We lurrrv it. But here I am, friends and colleagues with someone whose very blog is a testament to her use of the same name! Aron has always called everybody Charlie, including Sylvia. (As in, "Hurry up, Charlie.") Aside from feeling like we're stealing Dana's name, this is the thing I am most concerned about: That if we had a son named Charlie, Aron wouldn't be able to call me Charlie, and I'd miss it.

Luckily, we have boy back-ups: Aron wanted to be called "Billy" as a boy, and I've always loved the image of his skinny, 7-year-old-Little-League-self yearning for this "normal" name. I also really like my late grandfather's name, Julius. And, you know, there's always Maurice.

As for girl names, in no particular order, we're down to: Isabel, Maya, Charlotte, Annabel.

To test them out, I imagine calling to this child from the bottom of the stairs: "[Fill in the blank], let's get a move on!" (I use the state of exasperation to best conjure up a realistic future motherhood moment.)

The other night, as a way to distract Sylvia from unraveling all of the toilet paper off of the roll while she sat on the potty, I said, "Hey, Syl--we've been thinking about names for the baby. What do you think about Isabel? Or Annabel? Or Charlie?"

She looked at me with a sort of serious confusion. "No," she finally said. "Baby's name is Baby."

"That's fine," I said. "We were just thinking that another name might be good, too. Like, Baby Annabel. Baby Charlie. That sort of thing."

She smiled a sly little grin. "I like Anniebell," she said. "And Charlie! Baby Charlie!"

This is all good. Now I just have to figure out--if it is a boy--what sort of penance I'll have to perform for Dana.

Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.

Next week: Finding a good balance between Fit Pregnancy and Vegetation Pregnancy.