The 12 Stages of Naming Your Child
August 10, 2016
One day, when I was around four weeks pregnant with my first child, I was walking along the road and, “PING!” into my head came the name of the baby. Ramona. I knew it instantly to be her name, with every bone in my body.
I went home and told my husband and he said, “Nope.”
After a little discussion it turned out that he felt my name choice belonged to a "certain kind of person." So we checked with Google Images and Google Images had my back as we discovered a diverse range of awesome people with my name choice. My husband gracefully relinquished his opinion and the baby was named; from start to finish the process took about 30 minutes.
When I became pregnant for the second time, it wasn’t at all like this. It was the opposite. It was an agonizing, arduous, stressful period filled with the opinions of, seemingly, everyone on the planet. Apparently this is a far more common baby-naming experience.
Here’s what I went through, in order:
Unbridled Excitement Stage
Wheeeeee!!! We are pregnant! This is the greatest day of my life! Nothing compares to this! We made a human!
Panic Stage (two minutes later)
Feel overwhelmed with responsibility. WHAT WILL WE NAME THIS BABY? It is such a big deal! They will be stuck with this name their whole life! It will make-or-break them! I am not worthy of naming another human being! WHERE IS MY DIVINE INSPIRATION?
Searching the Internet for Divine Inspiration Stage
Googles “nature baby names.”
Googles “alternative but not too strange baby names.”
Googles “feminine but strong baby names.”
Googles “boy names that give an impression of being in touch with feminine energy baby names.”
Googles “nice baby names.”
Searching the Neighborhood for Divine Inspiration Stage
Go for a walk around a graveyard. Leave feeling upset by all the babies that died in Victorian Era. But also scribble Alice, Margot and Henry into notebook.
Look with new eyes at shop signs. If child becomes a barber, “Barbara” would be a great name. Or if child owns a bookstore, could be called “Rook’s Books!” Or could sell doorknobs – Rob’s Knobs! Child could be anything! Anne’s Pans! Jean’s Jeans! Peter’s Heaters! Try to think of name that rhymes with very fulfilling career. Realize have gone too far down rabbit hole.
Searching History for Divine Inspiration Stage
Write lists of grandparents, great grandparents, great great aunties. Is “Gertrude” antique enough to be cool now? Derrick? Mildred? Wonder what it was like for great auntie to have such a great auntie name when she was tiny baby. Do they go by nickname until they become more noble/wrinkly?
Pick out a book in the library “Great Women of History.” Scrawl Rosa, Emmeline, Sojourner into girls’ column in notebook. Later on, scribble them out – don’t want child to think will only love her if she is magnificent world changer.
Pick out another book: “Goddeses of the Greek and Roman Eras.” Lots of good, strong names but also much sexual wildness. Do not want child to be sexually wild.
Deciding Not to be Confined by Small Mind Stage
Decide that internet, neighborhood, and Google limited by the narrow scope of human mind. Let’s make up a name! The dude that wrote "Peter Pan" did it for Wendy! Write a list in notebook of all the things I like, try adding a “Y” on to them. Ocean-y. Rainbow-y. Chocolate-y. Need to get more abstract. Start adding “Y” to things I see around me. Night-y. Lamp-y. In desperate moment Bird-y makes it on to list. Husband crosses it out.
Subtle Gauging of Public Opinion Stage
Begin dropping some of the names on our lists into conversation with friends and family to see what reaction is like. So far, every one has an opinion. An extreme opinion. Most of names on list are “hideous” or “ridiculous” or “boring.” Mum says my favorite name so far sounds like name of Lady Gaga and Charlie Chaplin’s love child. Point out that lovechild between Lady Gaga and Charlie Chaplin would probably be very successful person.
Sign in to anonymous online mom forum and ask what people think of “Zebedee” – everybody loves it and says “nearly called my own son that!” Now very suspicious. Think maybe internet strangers want my child to be laughing stock of his generation.
Playground Test Stage
Take list of names to brother-in-law who was badly bullied when child. He goes through them and turns every single one into a playground taunt. Children/brother-in-law can make almost every possible name rhyme with genitalia words or fart words!
Back to square one.
Panic Stage Number Two (around 38 weeks)
Due date looming. Every morning wake up with new name in head. Oscillate between whimsical, wonderful name, and traditional, very serious name. Begin to believe baby won’t come until have truly settled on name.
Who Cares Stage (around 41 weeks)
Preoccupation with naming baby, an obsession that has lasted nine months, massively overtaken by preoccupation that baby is not ever, ever, ever going to make an appearance. Will be first woman in history to be pregnant forever.
Feeling so overwrought by overdue-ness, decide husband can name baby.
Baby is here! Joy and Jubilation! Husband’s feelings are too immense to cope with pressure of naming baby. Start calling baby “baby.”
Family members say “We can’t call her Baby her whole life!”
Think about "Dirty Dancing." Baby will hear, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” every day for rest of life as humans think themselves very funny. Agree with family.
Settle on name in rush of heady determination. Quick Google search of name along with “famous murderers/psychopaths” just to check. Tell everybody baby’s name and hope everybody keeps their thoughts to themselves. Especially brother-in-law.