Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Name Games

When you’re pregnant you feel like there are things you should know. And unless you’ve been pregnant before, you’re not quite sure where to get the information. Naturally you want to turn to other women who have been pregnant. And of course, everyone has an opinion about everything. I listen to half of what they say and believe half of that. Which I think leaves me with 25 percent worth of useful information. But what about the rest? Where do you go?

It was Sunday when I took a trip to the local Borders to browse some books. My first stop is always the magazines. Then, the fitness books. The cookbooks and – new stop - the baby book section.

Where to begin, where to begin, where to begin. I’m not even sure I know what I’m looking for I just know there are things I need to know. Right now I am pregnant so perhaps I will start with the books about pregnancy. All 9809823948022of them! For crying out loud there is a book about pregnancy + everything. How about your organic pregnancy. Your pregnancy with your same sex partner. How about being pregnant like Hollywood. Or being over 35 and pregnant.

I SWEAR TO GOD! I am just in my 35th year, NOT approaching death!

I looked through some books but didn’t find anything revolutionary. I mean, I’ve already got the What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I’ve kind of read ahead a few chapters so I know what to expect and there are only so many ways to tell me that I’m going to get bigger, boobier and bigger.

That pretty much sums up the next 26 weeks.

Looking somewhere between a book called Pregnancy Sucks and My Boys Can Swim, I noticed the next shelf…

Baby Names

Oh sweet Jesus (which coincidentally was one of the most popular boy names in 2007), there has to be over 1,000 books about baby names. An entire book shelf standing 7 feet tall stacked with different books about….names. Where do you even begin? Each one promises to have the most comprehensive lists, the most complete book, the best baby names. With claims like that how do you start the selection process? Which one of these is the most complete of the best bestselling books?

Check this out:

The Complete Book of Baby Names: The Most Names, Most Lists, Most Help to Find the Best Name, #1 Bestselling Baby Names Book with 100,001+ Best Baby Names

I’ll have you know it was that extra “1+” that made me select that book.

Plus I got all that for only $12.99!


I brought the book home and put it on the dinner table. Now, Chris and I have not really talked too much about names because we figure that we can just save ourselves 50 percent of the work by waiting until after we find out the gender of the baby. Which we plan on finding out (hopefully in another 6 weeks). I mean, you’re either going to be surprised at 40 weeks or 20 weeks so why wait the extra 20 weeks? Plus do you really want people buying you a bunch of nongenderspecific green stuff?

Really? What if someone gets you something pea green. How do you feel about that?

I know, I know, I know…it’s one of the few things in life that you can still be surprised about. Not true. Here’s my big surprise each day: will I take a crap? Will I make it through the day without a nap? When will I need to buy new pants? There are tons of surprises in pregnancy, trust me.

Chris and I have entertained the thought of a few names. And shortly thereafter I learned Most Valuable Pregnancy Lesson #2: do not share ideas for names with anyone, including but not limited to your own mother. Because she will have an opinion about that name and it will not be the opinion you want to hear.

(and in case you are wondering, Most Valuable Pregnancy Lesson #1: do not listen to anyone)

Naming a child is a tricky thing. I remember around week 8 it hit me: I have to name this child. Crap! Naming a puppy was one thing. That came to me easily. I remember the first time I held Boss, I looked at him and said “I shall call him Boss.” Like many of our best ideas (and don’t deny it, naming what became our 10-lb chihuahua "Boss" was one of the best ideas I ever had) – you don’t know where they come from or why. They just come to you.

But with a child – that seems a little risky. Plus I might be under the influence of very heavy drugs. Which reminds me I have not even thought about a birth plan! There are a dozen ways to give birth to a child. I would like to chose, um, let’s see … THE EASIEST MOST PAIN FREE ONE! Anyways, waiting until I hold the child to name the child might result in something very bizarre and sedated like….Freedom.

I cannot give birth to Freedom Waterstraat!

This is why I bought a book about names. And because I realized a few weeks ago that talking about names with my husband was not going to be enough. You see, he revealed some very strange things to me. He told me he named his bikes. Then he confessed that they were girl names. Then he said maybe we should name our future could be a daughter after one of his bikes. Two problems here. First, you RIDE your bike. Think about that. Second, one of the bike’s was named….Vera.


I really did not want to be one of those wives that just put their foot down as soon as the husband came up with a name because I want him to have a say even though we both know that I will have the final say (I will) but Vera? Does Kiss My Grits ring a bell?

Of course with Chris, it did not. Because he was not allowed to watch television growing up which meant he never experienced the quality show, Mel’s Diner. And, please recall, that Vera was the ditzy, unconfident, skittish waitress who never got anything right.

NO to Vera.

Back to dinner the other night. We sat down with the book of baby names on the table. Of course I sexed Chris up (meaning, I made him a good enough dinner so he would completely ignore the fact that I just pulled out a baby name book during dinner) with homemade green curry. Then I explained that I thought it might be fun (of course nothing mandatory is fun but let’s pretend) to start going through the book, tossing out some names and getting an idea of where we were at.

Beyond Vera, for sure. But settled on nothing, yet.

This book had more than 600 fantastic lists to start the conversation out. Lists of names by state or ethnicity. Lists of saints, senators and country singers. Emmylou Faith Waterstraat? No thanks. Royalty, rednecks and popular television show names. I read through a few and we concluded that we would not name our child Ava, Emma, Madison, Isabelle, Jacob, Joshua, Caden, Jayden, Braden, Aiden or any of the other 100 names that every kid in their 1st grade class will be named in another six years.

The book also gave some rules. Make sure you feel comfortable shouting the name across a playground: Charity get over here....ick! Make sure it’s clever but not cruel: Hello, my name is Candy Land. Scour the media: Yes, Apple was a brilliant name….for a martini?! Make sure it is a name that they can carry through life: would you really hire a girl named Mikayla to do anything but work a pole? Turns out you should not name your child something like Sugar or Cookie. And don’t even think of rhyming. So that nixes Scratch Waterstraat.

Then, there are other rules not in the book. Of course I am talking about the Filipino nickname. You see, our child must have a name that can be easily transformed into a Filipino nickname. If you are not part of a Filipino family, let me explain. When I first met Chris’ relatives, I was introduced to them with a certain name. For example, this is Jeff. Awhile later in conversation, someone would start talking about JepJep. Who the hell is JepJep, I asked. That’s Jeff. How can one person be two people? It didn’t stop there. Stacey is CeCe. Meredith is DitDit. Megan is MegMeg. Yes, there is also a LopLop though I don’t know their real name. It’s kind of like bananananfofana but Filipino-style. You take a part of the person’s name and you break it up into one syllable and double it. Elizabeth is BetBet though there is already a BetBet in the family so I am just “the skinny girl.”

It could have been worse. The last girlfriend was known as “the girl who stole the hand mixer”.

The other day, Chris’ grandma was talking about PongPong when I got totally freaked out by the whole Filipino Name Game. On the way home, I told Chris that I don’t know what PongPong’s real name is but we are NOT naming our child that!

Incidentally, his real name is John Paul. How they got PongPong out of that, I just don't know.

Bottom line, whatever name we give to our child, it has to be easily morphed into a two syllable nickname. There are no other important rules to us than that. That said, we started flipping through the names by alphabet. Starting, of course, with A. And wouldn’t you know that the first name that makes perfect sense to me is already taken?

Aubrey: (English) one who rules with elf-wisdom.

Our niece is already named Aubrey.


Fortunately there were 25 other letters with names to choose from. But there were over 100,001 names! It was almost too much. Where do you even begin? After an entire dinner conversation, we had 2 names circled. Both girl names.


We should just wait another few weeks so we only have to do half the work. Chris is right. And since ultrasound technicians are not always accurate in what they see, we better pick a name that is gender neutral or else we might end up naming our was-supposed-to-be-a-daughter-but-came-out-as-a-son as Katelyn. Or something like that.

I realize this is going to take some time. And I might need some help. One thing the book suggested was asking friends and family. So, I ask you. What are some of your favorite names? With a last name like Waterstraat it needs to be simple. But not too boring. Cute but ageless. And can easily be transformed into a Filipino nickname.

Any ideas out there?


Keith said...

I here present my naming convention for your edification. I wish everyone would do this. It cuts your work in half. Double the risk of annoying everyone in your family.

One name. Any name that doesn't make you throw up. Just about the first one you find that you can live with. Because you don't have to live with it, the kid does. You have no idea who or what the kid is going to be be all about.

So let the kid choose a name as soon as they are old enough. By the time they are teenagers or so, they will have figured out if they are a Billybob, or a Rasputin, or (gasp) a Vera. Then call them that. If they go through a bunch of names along the way, trying them on for size, so what?

cat. said...

first of all, you are SO having a girl.

second of all, my brother knew a girl named candy mintz.

third, those thoughts are not actually connected, so please do not take that as my suggestion.

i'll get back to you on what i think her name ought to be (no, i will not suggest cat, it rhymes).

ADC said...

I like Alex. It can be boy or girl. How about LexLex :)))

Alicia Parr said...

Regarding popular names of the current batch of babies - Liam. Cute, but common.

In coming up with our name options (we did have a choice for a girl prepared), we went with some syllable-based guidelines. With the last name Crumpler, I decided that a first name with 2 syllables and a middle name with 1 syllable was the way to go. Having such a guideline cuts down on the infinite possibilities to a less-overwhelming 1000's of options.

Angela and David Kidd said...

If you and Chris are torn between a few names and you secretly know which one you want, wait until after you give birth to declare it. Once he sees what you've gone through he will let you name that baby anything you want. This is why Zach is not named Andrew.

And we could easily come up with girls names but had a really hard time with boys names.

Laura said...

You probably know this already, but the SS administration keeps track of the top 10 (20, to whatever) baby names for each year. So you can always type in the name you are thinking of and see what the popularity has been historically.

Here's the link:

jennifer said...

Riley = LeeLee ... ? Kinda gender-neutral too. We liked that name, but a girl named Riley Ray just sounded like Trouble!

Pedergraham said...

ADC has a good suggestion with the LexLex. That should go into the bag of options.

Jennifer Harrison said...



We did NOT agree on a boy's name....ugh. I wanted Parker (my maiden name) and that was veteod. So, we came up with our top 3:
Ethan, Graham and Sebastian. Sebastian was NOT happening - might be a great English name but here in the US...he would be thank you.

Jerome did not want names with nicknames b/c that is not how they work in the UK. Here in the US we shorten everything: Jennifer - Jenny - Jen....

SO, that is why we did Graham Parker Harrison.

For Morgan - we agreed on that from day #1.

Our 2nd choice was Ella. Our third was Abigail....but again, that would be Abby. I like Alison too - but that would be Ali, which I liked too.

Girls names are easier - I think we can be more fun w/ them.

We just had a GUT feeling with Morgan's name. Just fell in love w/ it and never told too many people b/c I didn't want their opinions.

Middle names are :

Morgan Bethany (my sister).
Graham Parker (my maiden name).

Have fun!

Melissa said...

OMGosh Liz, this is such a funny post! Based on your description of the lists in the beginning of the book, I'm pretty sure we bought the same name book. I got through "D" for girl names and quit reading.

OK, your comment on the Filipino nicknames sounds like my in-laws too (the Filipino side)! Seriously, this post cracked me up, I'm going to have Michael read it.

Thanks for sharing all your pregnancy stories with blog-land :-) Do you have a feel for what you are going to pop-out? I think Boss Jr. would make a nice boy's name. Ha!

kT said...

We called our first child "Fenway" while it (she, as it turned out) was in utero. When I proposed actual names, my husband deemed them all "too weird." (I don't remember specifics, but I think they were names like "Madeline" or "Frances," i.e. not weird at all.) When he finally came up with a suggestion of his own, it was. . . . Maple. Which is not, as I pointed out, technically even a human name. We went with Charlotte, which is great, except that she now calls herself Char, which is a little too reminiscent of Kevin Federline's baby mama.

Anyway, secretly we both agree maybe we should have just kept Fenway as the real name--our families would have killed us, but really, how cool is that for a girl's name? (Although in your case, "FenFen" would be really unfortunate, i.e. fen phen.)

Love your blog.

Iron Maiden said...

First I have to say that GREEN is a perfectly fine color. Everything, well almost, is some shade of green. You are right about the pea green for a baby - YUCK! Not like you aren't going to see enough of that color in the diapers.

Secondly, don't name your child Richard because you know this will mean the nickname will possibly be, you got it, DickDick.

I have a niece Avery Jane Xinrong (Chinese and adopted. Hey there's an option! Richard Nicole Jane Waterstraat so it could be Dick N. Jane), if you want to go with that Southern flare, a nephew Jackson Graham and, if you want to go the Irish route, a nephew Reid Cormack. I always said that if I had a kid that I would go with old fashioned names like Abigail or Oliver. So there you have it! My 2 cents.

Joy said...

If you haven't already seen it, check this out when you're bored:

LZ said...

This is a great post! I too am preggers for the first time and due in July and our name game has gone like this:

I keep a list of names that we both like and we just randomly will hear names or read them somewhere and say to each other "do you like that". If we both agree on anything it goes does on our list of possible names. At, they have a baby name thing where you put in the names you like and it searches for names it thinks you also might like. We got a lot of names from that.

As for your surprises each day...totally agree on if I am going to crap today. So frustrating...I miss being regular! Good luck with the name game!

GoBigGreen said...

I always tell people to name their kids Julia. just bc i love my name! :) egocentric isnt it.

quietandsmalladventures said...

not a suggestion, but i am not filipino and my sister nicknamed me TinTin when i was was easier than kristin :)

i second the keep the name close to your vest and simply ask others what they like (you might get good suggestions and you won't get your name disparaged).

good luck and thank you for bloggin about all this preggers bit. i'm filing it for future use :)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

I like ADC's and Jen's suggestions. I've also always loved Eva, or Evelyn... Abigail as well... Lots of fun ways to go. For some reason - your baby strikes me as a girl. But we'll see... :)

Audrey said...

We did not want to give our kids popular names.

Our daughter we gave totally androgynous names. I just looked up both of them and they aren't on the top 1000 list for the past 10 years. Her name is Darcy (Dardar - reminds me of Jar Jar Binks!) Allyn (alal- sounds like halal or lynlyn) This is fun!
Son is Clayton (tonton?) Elias (asas - now the kids would have fun with that one!)
Good luck! Thanks for the Thursday night entertainment.

Dave said...

How about Lancelot?

Or if that doesn't work, here's your full list of elf names via the interwebs:

Elf names (Girl)

Ailsa ... Alfsigr is a personal name meaning "elf or magical victory" ... [5]

Albreda ... "Elf counsel." ...

Alfreda ... "Elf or magical counsel." ... [55]

Alva ... "Elf." ... [7]

Alvar ... "Elf or magical army, warrior." ... [2]

Alvara ... "Elf warrior." ...

Alverdine ... "Elf or magical counsel." ...

Alvina ... "Elf or magical being, friend." ... [22]

Arwen ... an elf maiden in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" ... [1]

Aubrey ... "Elf or magical being, power." ... [12]

Elf names (Boy)

Alfred ... "Elf or magical counsel." ... [21]

Alger ... "Elf spear." ... [9]

Alston ... "Elf stone." ... [5]

Alvar ... "Elf or magical army, warrior." ... [5]

Alvin ... "Elf or magical being, friend." ... [19]

Aubrey ... "Elf or magical being, power." ... [15]

Avery ... "Elf or magical counsel." ... [2]

Elger ... "Elf spear." ... [3]

Elvin ... "Elf or magical being, friend." ... [7]

Elwin ... "Elf or magical being, friend." ... [6]

Helen said...

Hey Elf, long time lurker finally commenting here. As a southerner, my family is really big on naming the child after someone else. Last names as middle names are popular too (I'm Helen Cabell, for instance) like Jen mentioned. There is also the added plus of the reaction from the namesake being honored.

Sarah Giacomarra Schrader said...

Oooh, Avery Waterstraat for a boy or girl sounds kinda cool with a nickname of RyRy and you keep the elf lineage alive.

I named my daughter Grace but call her Gracie. I've never met a Grace I didn't like. It was a no brainer from the beginning. I wanted to pay tribute to my husbands mom who passed the year before but could not bring myself to name my daughter Mildred so I look for a middle name beginning with M.
My son Max was a little harder. We wanted to call him Max, but weren't sure if we should name him Maxwell, Maximillion, we just went with Max. For his middle name, we fought tooth and nail. I wanted Giacomo because it was part of my last name and meant James in Italian (husband is Jim). I also thought Von or Vaughn would be a tribute to Jim's original last name of Von Schrader which was changed when his family came to America from Germany soon after WWII (not a good time to be German). Those were poopooed. Jim wanted Power as in Max Power...yeah right (unsure to this day if he was serious or not). Then we came across the name Darwin which means "lover of the sea". The Schrader family have always been sea-lovers so that's what we went with...
Grace Madison
Max Darwin
...unfortunately some people think we are atheist evolutionists. Oh well.

E.L.F. said...

You're killing me. I love the name Avery the only problem is that in high school there was this REALLY dorky girl named Avery. She's probably hot as hell now. And, Max was our choice for a boys name but don't tell anyone. The nickname wouldn't be MaxMax but rather MixMix or HaloHalo (which is a Filipino desert that means MixMix!).

BriGaal said...

My husband's stepmother (kind of, his dad married her 10 years ago, so it's kind of hard to consider her his stepmother, but you get the idea) is from the Philippines, and the nicknames are hilarious and I totally get it! We used to dog-sit for them when they went over there, and the dog's name was ChoyChoy. One day, a long time after, I finally asked her what that meant - litte baby boy balls.


meredith said...

i read somewhere that 'cool' grandma names are coming back. (i think they had no where else to go but to recycle) like opal, birdie, milicent (milly for short) i myself am partial to gertrude, gretchen, imogene, izolda, oscar, oliver...

riggens is a gender neutral name. call them rigrig. not riri or if it is a girl, gigi.