How to find the perfect name for your unborn child? Well, I think it is safe to say - there is no "perfect" name. Choosing a name is one of those situations, where you have to make a pretty important decision based purely on the information at hand and some gut feeling. How will you know you will still like the name in 5 years? Well, you don't. Both you and the child will be "stuck" with it. No pressure, right?
When I was pregnant the first time around, I had no idea of how often I will use that name (in all tone of voices and volumes). Smilla here, Smilla there - all day long. Luckily, to me, Smilla Margarete is still the "perfect name" for our daughter. It had been the first name that we'd heard, that both me and my husband adored and on a whim, in week 14, we decided to stick with it. It was nice to have a name to address that kicking tiny being in my belly. It felt comforting and sounded lovely. Our very own little secret.
This time the choice has been made, too - kind of. For some reason it doesn't resonate quite as strongly with me (yet) as with my first pregnancy and so I wonder, if it might still change. Maybe, it will be "perfect" though - once we find out the sex for sure.
Maybe, I'm more uncertain this time around, because our surrounding seems to have very strong opinions about how this child should be named.
Since my father has recently passed, a lot of family members gently, or not so gently, suggested, we name the child after him - particularly, if it's a boy. And while I had considered including some version of his name in the first place, I felt an almost teenage-like rebellion against it, as soon as it was suggested to me so ardently.
Luckily, I know in my heart, that my father wouldn't have cared either way and that I don't need to give his name to my child, in order to honor and lovingly remember hin. That knowledge lifts a ton of weight off my shoulder.
So when it comes to family names and legacies I say - follow traditions if it's in your heart. However, never name your child "something something the third", or "something Jr." just because the family expects it. And if you are looking for a very politically correct way out - there is always the middle name.
In Smilla's case, we didn't share the name with anyone (well, one tiny exception for my best friend and one sister who magically guessed it one morning) until she was born. To me - that is the way to go. If you are very open with your name, that is your choice - however, don't be surprised if people have all sorts of negative input. They will tell you about old lovers, old dogs, old bitter aunts, old bullies, and every other mean person they have ever met. They will immediately come up with five ugly short forms. They will most likely compare the name to an orange juice brand or some other random thing. So, if you are sharing early, you can't be very sensitive - especially if you are not going with a very common name.
For some odd reason, once the baby is born and the name gets announced alongside the happy news, IT IS WHAT IT IS. Either people don't care to put so much thought in it, once they feel they don't have a way to influence the outcome, or they do, but they don't have the guts to tell you after the name has been put to paper. Either way, I'd be hard pressed to find, if after birth, holding your newborn, a relative or friend will tell you straight up that your sweethearts name is plain ugly.
Another phenomenon with baby names is, that it seems to be a generational occurrence. You may think you are the first one to come up with a name, but soon you notice it all around and by the time your little darling enters Kindergarten he is only one of 5 Jacob's (always on the baby name top 10 in the recent years, alongside Sophia, Abigail, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, William, Jayden, and Noah). That's because our tastes, are in fact communal creations. In a shared culture, communities and even social media alter and shape our likes and dislikes. While you may feel sad, that you are not quite as individualistic as you had hoped, at least your baby won't be made fun of, for his parents odd choices. North, who?
When it comes to expressing one's individuality I think the rule of thumb should be "how would I like to carry this name. How would I like to introduce myself with this name in Kindergarten, at the bar, at the job interview? ". With this baby, we are playing with a more uncommon combination of names, however, I feel confident, it's not too crazy for the child to handle. As a matter of fact, reading along in a baby Facebook group, I get the feeling it may turn out to be one of those communal appearances.
I ran into another pregnant lady, who told me they picked the same name, although in a different combination. Did I whack her with my diaper bag, for stealing my baby name? No. It is not "my' name. I have no patent on it, nor any other form of exclusive rights. I will say, that my feelings might not be so level-headed, if it was a very close friend or a sister. Then of course I would have to accept - first come first serve.
Do you have the issue that you and your partner have great name ideas - but they are not the same ones? All I can say is, stay calm and respectful. I may have gotten loud in the past and stomped with my feet on occastion. The words "that's stupid" may have fallen out of my mouth at one point or the other and really, it doesn't change anything! If the person I created this baby with hates the name, then ultimately I can not love it enough either. After all, this is a joint venture.
Some people wait until the very last minute to pick a name - or even want to take a look at their baby first to make the decision. Hey, that is their prerogative. Personally, I never felt that any squishy, red-faced newborn would convincingly strike me as "exactly like a Mason", or "she's definitely a Valerie". And so, to avoid postpartum panic, I know, that to pick a name mid-pregnancy is the right path for me.
When picking the name Smilla I had envisioned a pale, blond, very northern looking baby. My due date was in January, my baby shower was winter themed, my baby blanket had reindeers on it, my inspiration for the name came from the book "Smilla's sense of snow". All very winter wonderland and icy, really. When she came out of me, she was very tan, and had a full head of thick black hair. Her facial expression resembled that of an angry owl (the most beautiful angry owl I'd like to add). She looked nothing like a Smilla. Or the Smilla I had envisioned. We went ahead anyways, because we loved the name and it felt right. And now, two years in, her hair is blonde, her eyes are icy blue and her skin tone is as pale as mine. We still love the name and it has never felt more right.