You give birth to a child. The child actually comes out of your body. It's your baby, a tiny little being who probably even looks like you and yet, when it's time to leave the hospital, you can't help but marvel when they let you just walk right on out of there. WITH THE BABY. They let you take the baby home.
It's quite extraordinary, isn't it? I mean, you know you're a decent person. You didn't smoke crack while pregnant (well, hardly any crack), you wear a seatbelt, and never pee in the shower (okay, never in the bath). But really? They're just going to let you take a baby home? Don't they know you once drank two bottles of champagne and then recreated scenes from The Exorcist when you got home? Don't they know you say the 'c' word – a lot? That it might be your favourite word? What about the fact that you have webbed toes? That's not normal. That's not right!
And yet, three times, I have carried a baby out of a hospital without being crash tackled. Amazing.
And then – you pick the name! You. It's your choice!
A name is such an integral part of who a person is. It has the power to shape an identity, perhaps a destiny. The task of choosing a name carries a mighty weight, it is a serious responsibility, one that perhaps not everyone is up to the task of - like, for instance, the parents of Audio Science, Diva Thin Muffin, Pilot Inspektor and Jermajesty.
To be fair, a name is deeply subjective though, isn't it? One family's Sunday Rose is another's Sunday Roast. I mightn't be able to fathom Gwyneth calling her daughter Apple but then, I called my son Ziggy so what do I know?
Well, I know this. My children are most definitely their names. Some people found Ziggy to be a controversial choice but I knew as soon as he was born that it was right. So much so that I wanted to put it on the birth certificate – up to that point, we had thought Ziggy would be a nickname only. In fact, Zig's first name is Xavier but to meet him is to know that this is a mere formality and that this little boy wholly and solely embodies the name Ziggy. Whenever anyone refers to him as Xavier, I have a physical reaction to it, like in my bones it feels wrong but Daddy felt strongly about going with the original plan (named Xavier, called Ziggy). Perhaps he'll revert to Xavier some day but then, the name never stopped Ziggy Switkowski from being taken seriously.
And most people do fill out their names nicely. I think names often choose a person (except maybe Moxie Crimefighter – I feel quite certain Moxie should have been Jane) and to that end, I can only think of one person I've ever met who really doesn't suit their name. Perhaps that's why I can never remember it.
I don't recall where I first heard the name Luca. But to me, it sounded like music. And still does. Luca. Ahh, I love it. Particularly when someone with an Italian accent says it. We toyed with a few other names, in particular, Ari, which I still love but that now seems wildly unsuited to my firstborn. But if we'd named him Ari, would I still think so? So hard to say.
And then there is my little Harlow Rose. Her name was kind of a big deal. I knew that I would only ever get to name one daughter so my research should have been extensive. We liked Lola for a little while but as soon as I had confirmation that Baby was indeed a she, Harlow became the only name in existence for me. It was a name I had loved for many, many years. It first occurred to me as a pretty name after reading about supermodel Shalom Harlow in the 1990s and of course, the beautiful Jean Harlow. Obviously, Harlow is the surname in both these instances but I felt it had a softness to it that I loved. I had never heard it as a first name.
And then, Nicole Richie. Bloody Nicole Richie! Stealing my gorgeous name for her adorable little daughter. I was crushed. And promptly crossed it off the list because I couldn't bear to think that people might assume I stole my child's name from a celebrity.
If Luca or Ziggy had been a girl, they could have been Maggie (inspired by the divine Maggie Gyllenhaal or maybe Scout (any To Kill A Mockingbird fans in the house?). In particular, Bren and I loved the way Maggie sounded with our surname. In many ways, I am surprised that we didn't end up with a Maggie such was our love for the name. But like I said, names choose people and Harlow chose my daughter with unwavering certainty. One afternoon, when considering that this was to be my only daughter and that maybe I'd better sift through a few more names, I half-heartedly did a google search but I quickly abandoned it because there was only Harlow.
I did, however, agonise over the middle name but once again, went with the name that seemed to be choosing us rather than the other way around. You might remember a little while back me talking about looking out the nursery window just before we discovered Baby's gender around 20 weeks into my pregnancy and noticing for the very first time that we had a rose bush in our garden. On that bush was one single red rose in full bloom. I took it to be a sign that I was carrying our much longed for daughter.
I believe in signs and trusting intuition and mostly, I believe naming our children is an incredible privilege and just the most stressful fun you can imagine.
Tell me about your kiddos names, will you?
I love that you knew so instinctively about Harlow’s name.
I felt that way with Freya – once her name entered my consciousness (or rather, I was reminded of this name), there was no other name in existence. A done deal. When I learned the Norse mythology behind it, there was no going back. A strong goddess of love, war, fertility (and more)? Who rides a chariot pulled by CATS? Combined with another name we loved, Freya Lily just flows like poetry.
I tell you, though, naming a second daughter is so much harder! Nothing jumped at me so immediately like Freya’s name. We went through that stage of intently looking at names in film credits, and paying attention to character’s names, because the name book had yielded nothing. One night we watching Faulty Towers – a show we’d both been fans of since practical infancy – and one of us said, jokingly, “How about Polly?” We giggled. Giggled some more. Giggled again… then realised it ticked the boxes we’d had of liking ‘old-fashioned’ English girls names, and wasn’t popular/common (very important to us). We decided to keep the floral theme for her middle name, and a name I’d loved since I was a girl myself was Jasmine (and it’s a favourite flower). Polly Jasmine – PJ for short. Realising her initials would coincidentally be the same as PJ Harvey’s was a happy thought. I’d totally forgotten PJ Harvey is a Polly, too, so that was even funnier when my preggo brain finally cognised that.
And with that ramble done (sorry!), I’m off to bed. x
Two beautiful names with awesome stories attached! Love that. And don’t they just embody their names so completely? The whimsical beauty of Freya, the mischevious, doll-faced Polly. Nailed it, love. Totally nailed it.
OMG Ziggy is really Xavier? I always thought he was just Zig……he is so just a Zig!
I think it’s true that they grow into and become their names … one way or another.
I had no idea Nicole Richie took your name. None. I’d never heard another child with it, but there you go.
I know with naming mine, it was instinctive. First born boy was always a William. Had been that way for years and yes, he is named after Diana’s boy.
Strangely, Rory came to haunt me not long before William’s birth but I stuck with my original choice. Once I realised number 2 was also a boy, well that was done and dusted. I just liked it – it was funny to watch people try to get their tongues around the Rs but they seem to have worked it out now.
Rose was always my choice for a girl’s name.
I have a Zack and a Will – We made list after list, crossed off, added on and still we just couldn’t agree – Zack was a take on my Hubby’s choice of Jack (but far to common for me) – and we were never ones to want to use lengthened names for the sake of a certificate. I have always wanted Lewis but was used by close friends so we used it for Wills middle name. I would love to have a girl – I have had my girls name picked since forever. – i love Harlow as a name and was one i had definitely short listed – also long before Nicole Richie!!!
Beautiful post. I have one daughter called Elka…I saw a girl in the art gallery where I worked called Elke…and loved the name. I had never heard it before. My Lilys and Claudias and all other names I had loved flew out the window. My husband loved the name too. We never told a sole the name choice until she was born, although one mutual friend randomly guessed it during my pregnancy..’Is it Elka?’ she asked. I couldn’t believe it. We took it as a sign it was the perfect name. We were right – it suits her so much. Her second name is Margot after my best friend who died when we were 20.
I have been agonising over a boy’s name ever since. What would I call a boy? Luca too was my one and only choice, but now I have a daughter called Elka (they rhyme) and two good friends with Lucas…it doesn’t seem right anymore. 20 weeks pregnant now, I think we are finally honing in on a couple of boys names we both like. And when the baby is born we will see firstly what gender, and second what name he/she is. Can’t wait 🙂
Yep! Totally a Zig but actually a Xavier.
I love that names most often have a back story and meaning attached for the parents.
People struggled with the Rs? How hard is it?
Great names, both.
Great names, Lauren. I am actually a huge fan of Will and Zack is a classic which never gets old.
Yeah, I never really understood why people would choose one name for the sake of the birth certificate only to call them something else – and then I did exactly that. I loved the name Ziggy but wasn’t sure I could sell it to Bren so made up this idea in my head that he could be Xavier officially but we’d call him Ziggy – and that’s exactly what happened. However, the moment I saw his little face, I knew he was Ziggy and although I loved the name Xavier (and still do) I felt it didn’t belong to my new son. But as I mentioned, Bren really wanted to keep the Xavier so we did. I only wish Ziggy was also on the birth certificate but the poor kid would have ended up with three names AND a hyphenated surname!
I have a friend Elke and she is as beautiful as her name. I really love it.
After we had Ziggy, I felt Maggie was too much the same kind of sound. So as much as you’re naming an individual, you have to consider the sibling names, too. Although Carla, a girl I went to school with, obviously had parents who disagreed since they called their son Carl. TRUE STORY.
Very excited for your impending baby! Can’t wait to discover ‘who’ it is in there. xx
Ah the meaning behind the names. Such a big choice isn’t it. We named our daughter Mietta, not because we were looking for an unusual name (not at all), but because having grown up in Melbourne married to an ex chef, the name Mietta O’Donnell was iconic in the restaurant and food industry for so many years, and she shaped the way forward for so may women at that time. Mietta’s restaurant was so famous for so many years, and even before meeting my husband, I have always loved the name, so whimsical and beautiful.
Having said that, we also toyed with Layla for a long time, as we both loved the Eric Clapton song “Leila”. I was wading through a naming book once and for the first time ever found Mietta listed. It said the meaning was Hebrew for “wanted child”. This was. Sealer and a sign from above, as Mietta is an IVF miracle, having taken us many many years to conceive.
Funnily neigh we didn’t even know we were having a girl until she was born, but our boys names we were never really in love with, so thank goodness she was a girl!
Oh, I love that story, Lisa. And yes, Mietta’s was an institution in Melbourne and I always thought the name had such a pretty, lilting sound to it.
So glad you got your wanted child, your sweet Mietta.
Thank you! I like to think we nailed it too. Can’t imagine them with any other names.
I love all your stories, you know way back before children, when you hope one day you’ll have them, I always had loads of boys names, and just a few girls names.
Then Hubby is Moroccan so one night he’s telling me how much he loves me & I am like, yes I know to which he responds, but I really love you, I know darling, what do you want? Apparently the babies names have to be Arabic….. HMNNN About that… Ok, but no Mohameds (which is like smith or jack – everyone is called it) no Ahmed’s etc, I had always loved Noah, but when spoken in Arabic it becomes Nner – sounds like no, so no then we settled on Zachariah as I had again always loved Zach or Zachary or Moulay Zachariah, but he’s called Zachie & if he’d been a girl then I locked in Sophia because all the girls names I liked such as Anna or Ella translate to words in Arabic that no longer work.
So we always had a daughter’s name so when #2 was confirmed as a girl, that was easy – although not typically Arabic, I got away with it as her middle name is Zaina which is his Mum’s name. Can’t have anymore kids as there aren’t any other names we both like… 😀
Ziggy is SO Ziggy. I can’t even imagine him being called Xavier!
You are so right about names choosing people. Even the fact that i detest my own name, it still suits me and makes me unique.
And i think it is absolutely true that it’s such a privilege to be able to name our children, and that responsibility to ‘get it right’ makes naming our bebe’s one of the most stressful parts of a pregnancy LOL!
The girls names were easy to pick for us. Again, both names just ‘came to us’. Ella was always going to be Hollie (after my angel sister, Holly) – but about half way through the pregnancy i saw Billy Crystal on Oprah (hehe) and he was raving about his new Grand daughter, Ella. The way he said her name and spoke about this little presh absolutely captivated me. I was immediately in love with ‘Ella’. I mentioned it to Paul that night and he said yes straight away (which was unheard of). So Ella Hollie it was!
I had a massive list of beautiful names i wanted for baby girl #2. Asha was the top – but Paul wasn’t sold. I loved Eden too. But again, Paul turned up his nose. Then we saw Tia. And that was it. Love at first sight. And Rose just flowed so perfectly with that pretty/feminine first name, and we also liked the idea of a floral/botanical theme for our girls (Holly/Rose).
But choosing a name for our son. Excruciating! We couldn’t agree on ANYTHING! I wanted Micah, Paul wanted Luca. But of course, there was already a beautiful little blonde-haired, blue-eyed Luca in our lives 😉 – so i said it couldn’t be done. Then, right towards the end of the pregnancy (panic setting in), Jerod jumped out at us again. We’d loved Jed, but Paul preferred a ‘not so trendy’ name for our son. So we agreed on Jerod Paul – Jed for short. And it’s perfect for our boy.
You have made beautiful choices and I agree, names choose people. Everyone always questions the name Banjo….how did we come up with that? I honestly don’t know how or why… but one day whilst enduring a long car trip in which we were “debating” over various options it just tumbled out of my mouth and then nothing ever compared. We were both in agreeance, and that was something. He was Banjo from that very moment and indeed it suits him more than I could have imagined. My only thing…. he was always going to take on the family middle name from the Vick side, which has never really made sense to me…. Richard. I cannot ever say it without thinking Dick Vick….. many men, including my husband have inherited the same middle name. Who started that? Honestly? I feel helpless about it, it was honour I didn’t want to be blamed for breaking…. What can I say…. but what does a middle name matter anyway? 🙂
PS I meant to say…. I was shocked too about being allowed to walk out with a baby to keep. Didn’t they know I didn’t know how to do ANYTHING? Couldn’t they see right through me????
The moment I heard my second daughters name I knew I had to have a Catrin pronounced Kah-trin. I was pregnant with my first daughter at the time but we had already settled on Eileen for her, both our maternal grandmothers were Eileen and it really is a very beautiful name that is not heard much anymore, it also suits her beautifully. But I could not get Catrin out of my head, we both loved it and my partner was very happy as he gets to call her Trinny.
Oh, names…..I found choosing a name for this perfect human being we had made was the most stressful part of new life!
We had been looking for names that inspired yet weren’t difficult to pronounce or spell….I was conscious of the fact that as a child I really hated my name, because it was a little bit different and I always, always had to correct people and spell it for them, so they’d ‘get it’….”no not lynette, not annette, it’s NANNETTE, it’s annette with a N” – sheesh.!!
My husband already had two children so we wanted the babies name to be a bit different as theirs where, we felt it important that they had their ‘own’ names, they are Trista and Texas……we eventually ended up with Tasman Antoinette….my husband is a Kiwi and I’m an Australian and we liked the fact that the Tasman Sea touches the shores of both countries, and Antoinette was chosen because my husband’s name is Anthony and mine of course is ……Nannette, Annette with N!
We love our girl’s name, it really suits her, she’s Taz for short. We decided that couldn’t possibly have another child because we couldn’t come up with a name that has such a meaningful story behind it.