Who would have thought that choosing a name for baby number 3 would be so hard?! I guess having already had a son and a daughter who were bestowed with my favourite names for their genders, I was going to have a tough time. In the last 36 weeks or so (less really given that I didn’t know I was pregnant until 7-8 weeks) I have read every list of every name I could find on the Internet. Pages and pages of names in alphabetical order, boys names, girls names, unisex names, classical names, pretty names, biblical names, Italian names, floral names…you name it, I’ve seen it! Add to that the attention to every TV and Film credit, every magazine, every Facebook comment; all in the hope that the perfect name would appear to me. Sure, there were names I thought were ‘nice’, plenty of pretty girls names out there, but adding each ‘nice’ name to the list didn’t give me any indication that I had found ‘the one’. And I kept waiting for lightning to strike.
Then there’s the sharing. One of the most asked questions of a pregnant lady must be “have you got a name?” That’s where the pressure starts! Panic! No I haven’t! I don’t have a clue! She is going to be nameless for ever!! And of course when you share your thoughts, you must be prepared to deal with the feedback. Everything from the blatant “Oh, I don’t like that” to predictions about how the child might be with a name like that; naughty, ugly, precocious. And then the guilt by association; “I knew a *** who was a bully in school”, “I teach a *** and they are really naughty”, “I once saw a really ugly ***”. So of course, that rules all of those names out!! I learned pretty quickly to stop sharing as more names were crossed off the list. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t have a mind of my own, it’s just that I hadn’t been 100% convinced either so I was easily swayed by the negative comments.
Then you get the suggestions. Everyone tells you the names they like. The names they would have called their own children. And it’s funny how their reaction to your rejection of their offerings far exceeds your own reaction when they ungraciously rejected your own choices for your unborn child! Ironic!
My friends recently threw me a baby shower and one of the ‘games’ we played was a name game. My best friend knew I was struggling on the name front so each guest was asked to write down a name for each letter of the alphabet. I think there were about 10 guests, so I came away with about 260 names that day and still nothing! Why was it so hard? I think there were a number of reasons.
1. Naming a child is a big responsibility. They are likely to have this thing for life. It could be one of the reasons why they love you or hate you as they grow.
2. There are so many expectations on you to wow with this wonderful gift of a name. It has to be pretty or strong, uncommon, individual and best of all it needs to represent a personality that you can have no idea about!
3. You have preconceived ideas and high expectations. You see, both of my children have been named with a nod to my literary favourites. There is a reason why their names were chosen, they weren’t just names I liked. And this one can’t be different can she – wouldn’t be right!
4. There is too much choice! When pretty much anything goes and you’ve got celebrities calling their babies North and Apple, the possibilities are endless! Where do you start?
5. It has to ‘go’ with the other children’s names. Now I personally don’t buy this one, but I’ve heard it a lot. Apparently it is imperative that when the 3 names are seen together, they sound ok. So now I am naming my child based on what will look ok in a greeting card!
6. It has to ‘go’ with your surname. I’m not sure I’m convinced about this one either. I mean, surely if the name is said often enough it becomes that familiar that it ends up just ‘going’. And if you’re having a girl it’s kind of a moot point because at some point they are likely to get married and take their husband’s name and the trouble you went to to find a name that perfectly matched your surname will all be forgotten! Heaven forbid she marries someone whose surname doesn’t match her first name! Wow, finding a life partner is hard enough without throwing that into the mix!
All the while though, this lack of a name has weighed heavily on my heart. I have attached huge significance to my inability to find one. My initial thought was that maybe this was my body’s way of telling me the hospital had got the gender wrong. The little voice in my head would say “perhaps you can’t think of a girl’s name because it isn’t a girl?” So I waited for a further scan to re-confirm whether baby 3 was pink or blue, believing that once I knew for sure a name would present itself to me in a dream or something! Once it was confirmed that she is most definitely a girl (I’m still kinda sceptical about that one if I’m honest) and the expected lightning strike didn’t materialise, other thoughts crept in. What if it was a sign that this baby wasn’t going to need a name? Something bad was going to happen. And maybe the fact that I didn’t have a name would somehow influence that outcome? I know, I know. It’s completely irrational. What happens when I’m in the labour room has nothing to do with whether I have thought of a name or not! But I’m an over-thinker, a catastrophic thinker, and I have a friend called ‘Ant’ who likes to remind me of these potential perils every now and again. You’ve read about me right?
This name game has kept me awake many nights during this pregnancy!
One of the ‘pearls of wisdom’ I have heard a lot is “It will come to you when she’s here.” Never got that! If you have no idea what you like and you haven’t got a shortlist how the hell are you going to ‘know’ just by looking at a crumpled purple newborn face? Don’t all babies look the same? Do you call them the first thing that pops into your head? Because if that’s the case the first thing I’m likely to be thinking about when it’s all over is Vodka!! Hmm, that’s got a nice ring to it…😉
Anyway, I’ve gone on far too much so let’s get to the punchline shall we. After weeks of agonising and sleepless nights, I deployed a new search tactic to the Internet trawl and was hit by a name. Didn’t know why I liked it, but it just gave me a feeling that I can’t describe. I did a little bit of research and found the literary links that I have with my other 2 children’s names. (Aside – feel I must share that as I typed ‘I have’ in the last sentence the autocorrect changed it to ‘Isabel’! So you can guess how that messed with my overthinking brain can’t you lol!) Anyway, a bit of juggling with other names I had on the list and it fell into place. I actually cried! I know! I’m nuts right?! But for me it was hugely significant given the journey I have been on. I couldn’t give birth to a child with no name. I’d reached 36 weeks with a nameless baby, and suddenly I felt like a connection was sparked once the name fell into place. She is no longer just a thing growing inside of my body. She is my daughter, and she is going to be here anytime soon 😊