When is a Name a Name?

When did you officially consider your children named? Did you decide once and for all before they were born, or did you just narrow it down to a small number of choices and wait until you met them to decide? Everyone keeps asking if CW and I have picked out names and I feel like we have but he will never answer this question in the affirmative.

We have middle names that I think are definitely chosen — a family name from each side. Our baby girl’s middle name will come from my side and baby boy’s will come from his dad’s side.

For first names, we have two top choices for the boy and two top choices for the girl, but realistically we’ve really only been referring to one first name for each. For example’s sake, let’s say the girl choices are Katniss and Hermione and the boy choices are Kermit and Hannibal. But we only ever use Katniss and Kermit in conversation. We sometimes call them by Katniss and Kermit and talk about the nicknames and initials and imagine them as bigger kids called Katniss and Kermit. Always the same names. We never call either of them by the second option name, Hermione or Hannibal. To me, it feels like Katniss and Kermit are their names right now. But of course, we could at the last minute decide to pick Hermione and/or Hannibal instead after they’re born.

Note: these are obviously not the names we are actually considering. Also, the names we are actually considering are not alliterative, though the “most-likely-choice” names do share consonance. 

I would like to consider it DECIDED but my husband thinks it’s “weird” and “doesn’t understand how people can name their babies before they’re born.” (He doesn’t say this to/about me; rather about the people who keep asking us if we’ve chosen names yet.)

I love the names we have (mostly unofficially) landed on. Especially the boy name. For the girl, I could see us switching because I truly love both girl names and will be sad not to use whichever one we won’t use. (Honestly, if we were having girl-girl twins these would be WONDERFUL names for a pair of girls!) For the boy names, I really love the one we keep mentioning, and the other one on the list is honestly more my husband’s choice, though I do like it. 

Either way, he’s not committing to a name until we see the babies and I on the other hand want it to be set. In my mind it is pretty much set already, so I really hope CW doesn’t decide he wants to switch it up at the last minute. There are so many things about this process we just can’t know or control; I don’t like feeling unsettled about this one. 


  1. Well, you pretty much know my situation, but I will say that having Liam named for half my pregnancy gave me a great sense of security. It helped that we were SO confident about the name that calling him by it just made it seem like it was his. Honestly, I can’t imagine a situation where we would have looked at him & thought “nope, not a Liam.” Because it already was his name due to us calling him by it for 4 months. Anyhow.


    1. I feel like it would be so hard to go with one of our alternates at this point, because we do call them by the most-likely names. Not all the time, but it happens.


  2. As someone who’s firmly on this side of the naming children experience, I can only share my current experience without the ability to reflect on the entire process.

    That being said… I understand what your husband’s thinking. There’s a whole world of unknown life growing inside of you/me and I feel like making definitive claims about who is in there is a risky/scary prospect.

    Let’s focus on the Katniss/Hermione names. Baby girl may definitely feel like a Katniss now and the name may sound awesome, but what if she comes out and she looks totally nerdy, like a Hermione, not badass and brave, like a Katniss? What if you spend 3 hours with her and it’s clear she’s a Hermione… she looks really smart and smiles and cuddles awesomely… instead of putting up a fight like you’d expect Katniss to do? Then maybe you made the wrong decision! You picked the wrong name! And that’s scary!

    The place I’m finding myself in right now is similar… I have two girl names that I love but I think of my baby as one of the two names almost exclusively. I find my perception of the name changing to fit whatever’s happening in my uterus. (Which I can do because the name isn’t tied to a certain set of characteristics… like Katniss and Hermione are.) I think that I’ll probably think of my newborn baby as having really similar characteristics as my unborn baby and won’t need the other name but I want to have it as an option just in case!

    So while I’ve got the top names that I’m happy with, I need the backups in case something changes. I think the uncertainty is fear and as your babies continues to grow (inside of you) and you and your husband become more and more familiar with them, the need to have the other names will fade away.

    (Also, I have this strong (very irrational) feeling that you’re going to use one of my two favorite girl names for your girl and I will totally still use it as my baby’s name if that turns out to be the case.)


    1. In this case the girl names both have a similar attitude and feel, so I don’t think I’ll feel strongly that she’s “not a ___” but “more a ____” instead. With the boy names, they’re fairly different but I don’t have in my head a strong sense of an attitude or personality for either name (they’re much less common than our girl picks).

      Re the girl names, I doubt we are thinking of the same ones, but there is definitely no such thing as laying claim to a name, so even if we do use your pick, you should ABSOLUTELY still use it! During the time I’ve been pregnant, two women I know (not local, not family) have both had girl babies and one named hers our top pick and the other named hers our second pick. Not letting that stop me 🙂


  3. I personally think people sharing babies names before they are born is extremely tacky, especially when they put the name on cakes, clothes, etc. I also am a bit superstitious about it, I feel like a baby needs to be born healthy and the gender before I could feel comfortable being public about it. I just couldn’t imagine having all these Aubie Tiger (fake name) items in my house and not have a baby to bring back there. My two cents, not that you wanted them.

    I do like that you have been referring to them as the same names with CW. I think that’s telling. As someone whose first and last name are alliterative I’m not a fan of alliteration because one name always gets jumbled in other people’s mouths and sometimes in my own!


  4. Well for our first, we never knew if we were having a boy or a girl. We went in with 2 girl names and one boy name. Middle names were definite. We had a girl and went with the name we had been leaning toward of the two. Now, with our second, we will find out the sex tomorrow. I want to narrow it down to one name (we find it super hard to find names in the first place – we both need to like them of course, and then have them work in two languages). I think if it unsettles you not to have a definite choice, then you should have one. But it’s hard if CW doesn’t agree. Can’t wait to know what the picks are! (And the backups too.) Good luck!


  5. Even though I’m been committed to a name for three months, I never call him that. I always use his nickname and am weirdly annoyed when my mom/sis use his name. Was also annoyed to find out today that my sis bought him a personalized blanket with his name all over it. (Looks like one of those digital word maps that are so popular these days.) I dunno–just don’t want to jinx anything!


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