Un-Named?

Do you have a name picked yet?

What names do you have in mind?

Have you decided on a name?

My palms get a little sweaty, and my heart beat quickens (which translates into a lot of work for that muscle, considering my blood volume has increased by 50%)… Nervously, apologetically I reply “We have, but we’re not telling anyone till she’s here.”

Why not?

Oh, I promise I won’t tell!

Really? That’s lame. Come on!

I shake my head and change the subject. Or mutter something like “Well, we’re still not quite sure…blah blah blah”.

That’s a lie.

Of course we’ve named our daughter. How could we not? She’s been a wanted and loved human being since her conception, worthy of every dignity afforded to her birthed sister. That includes a beautiful, unique name that’s entirely “her.”

However, we choose to keep that name to ourselves until she makes her appearance on the outside.

Why?

Well…how can I say this without sounding mean…Some people have no tact. I think that’s a good way of putting it. What I really want to say is some people have no brain…but that’s a little harsh…maybe.

While we waited for Mo, we had several names in mind, but in our hearts, her name was always Monica. It was a very spiritual decision, made with a lot of prayer and late-night conversations. You see, my great grandmother’s name was Monica, and I’m pretty dang sure that both Mo and I exist because of her intersession. My own mother was never going to have kids. Those of you who know my amazing mom may find that hard to believe, but, next time you see her, ask her about her bra-burning, man-hating hippie college days (that’s a little bit exaggerated…but only a little). The truth is, she and my dad were perfectly happy living a child-less life. Or so she thought.

Great-grandma Monica (Mom’s Grandma) passed away in the mid-eighties and at her funeral my mom had an intensely religious experience that convinced her it was time to have a baby (me!). At great-grandma’s funeral memorial 25ish years later, I felt the same compulsion (Andy and I have always wanted babies. For me it was just the nudge I needed to realize there was no reason we shouldn’t be having babies).

So, great-grandma Monica was seriously involved in both my existence and Mo’s existence. That made choosing Mo’s name pretty dang simple.

However, naming this baby has been no easy matter. Everyone warned me about preparing for my “ideal birth” and designing the “perfect nursery” and told me the first several months postpartum is hard. No one told me how difficult it is to name a child. There’s a lot of pressure involved, and it comes from everywhere: family, friends, media, baby books, even myself.

I didn’t realize how many associations I had with names until I tried them out on our own little ones.

And (bringing it back to the beginning) that’s the problem with discussing names with other people. Searching for a connection, people are more than willing to discuss their own associations with that name.

Responses vary from relatively harmless: Oh! I have a dog named John.

To a little more hurtful: Oh, not Anthony! Every Anthony I’ve ever known is a jerk!

To “Seriously? Did you just say that!”: Hmm…the only person that comes to mind is (insert famous serial killer or other infamous historical figure).

(For clarity’s sake: we have never considered any of the previous names, and all comments do not reflect my own opinion of the names John or Anthony!)

With Mo’s prospective names, I honestly heard all of those comments, and some that were even worse…Hurtful? Yes. Did I get over it? Mostly. Because here’s a little secret: it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. The reality is that most parents spend a great deal of time choosing a name, and an unintentionally insulting comment never changed my mind. However, I do remember being struck speechless, and thinking “Why would you ever tell me that? Do you have any tact at all? Do you realize I’m thinking about this name for my child? As in, the name this little person will have forever and ever, Amen?”

After several of these experiences, Andy and I just decided the easiest way to protect my hormone-inflamed feelings was to stop discussing our options with people. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. Especially with our own families (and in their defense, no one near and dear to us was critical of our choices).

If someone asks my opinion on baby names, I know that what they really need is affirmation. Not an opinion. 

What is my response? “Oh wow! I love it”. And I make the response genuine. I remember looking into someone’s face and hearing “That’s so cute” but seeing a different reaction in their eyes. I never, ever share my personal experience of that name with soon-to-be-parents. I know what it’s like to struggle between several names, to change my mind every other day, and I know that all I want is someone to say, “Wow! Good choice.”

Once a baby is on the outside, birth certificate signed, SSN applied for, opinions don’t matter. It’s a done-deal, and people don’t feel like they need to give an opinion. They just look at the baby and coo and love. Newborns are pretty funny looking anyway, so most people are just trying to keep themselves from commenting on the baby’s pointed head or squished nose or super red skin.

For now, Andy and I will continue to keep our little one’s name a sacred secret, revealed only at the end of this crazy 10 month journey. Does that mean we’ll always do it this way? Maybe, maybe not. There are plenty of mom’s out there whom I love and respect who are not afraid to announce a name with the first ultrasound picture. My skin may get a little thicker. I may be able to control my hormone-induced mood swings with more pregnancy practice (stop laughing Andy!). We don’t know.

So, #2 has a name. We love it. We know you will love it. Thanks for waiting a couple more weeks to find out. It will be wonderful to introduce her to you!

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One Response to Un-Named?

  1. Margaret says:

    I never told anyone any of our daughters’ names before they were born, including my family and dearest friends- even though the names were all picked out – and for all the reasons you said. Once they’re born, that’s just who they are and no one tries to change your mind (though we heard a lot of That’s a LONG Name) and I just said, no longer than my own, smiled, and continued to call them by their given names. Though many did try to nickname them with names I didn’t want, but those were minor, infrequent skirmishes. If there was a nickname, it was ours to choose. Hang in there! You can’t unhear it once it’s said and there’s so much joy in this sweet stage to tarnish it unnecessarily! Enjoy and I can hardly wait to meet your sweet daughter! Sending hugs~

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