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Modern Parenthood

Baby names advice: Keep it to yourself

Baby names, baby names, baby names: Nothing is mulled over and debated more during a pregnancy than what to name your newborn. One mom warns: Keep it to yourself, or the chatter may sully your bright idea.

By / January 8, 2013

Baby names are one of pregnant moms' biggest wrestles. Expectant mothers and new moms and their babies are led by a fitness instructor through a park in Ohio in May, 2011.

Associated Press

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We have come to that point in this pregnancy, Husband and I, where people no longer wonder whether I’ve just become too close with Ben and Jerry.

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is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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There are none of those “is-she-or-isn’t-she” pauses; no worries that they will make a mistake while identifying this bowling ball of a belly as a baby-in-the-making.  

Clearly, this woman is pregnant. Very. 

Yes, we have entered the phase where fellow passengers on the airplane look at me nervously. Where some people look at me and smile and other people avert their eyes uncomfortably. And where everybody – everybody – asks whether we have a name yet.  

I mean, some people don’t.  But many do.  

And we have learned, Husband and I, that no good can come from answering this question. 

See, everyone went to school with someone with the same name you are pondering for your soon-to-be progeny. Usually it was the nasty kid or the evil girl or that guy they thought was up to no good behind the black fingernails and dark hooded sweatshirt. And they will jump to share this information. Because....  because.

Or maybe the name sounds to your friend/relative/person behind the Starbucks counter like it has, as one helpful barista informed me, a bad aura. 

Or perhaps the inquirer will share the important factoid that every other child in her daughter’s class has that same name, and how she is quite glad that her child won’t need to have a last initial attached to her first name to distinguish her from all the other Sofias/Isabellas/Emmas out there.  (No judgement call there, folks – just picked as examples the top names of 2011, as called by the Social Security Administration.)

Or they can respond like my mother. 

“Hm,” she says weakly after we shared our most recent idea. “Have you thought about ‘Abigail?’ ” 

Even when the reaction is positive it can still create nervousness.

“Oh, that’s a pretty name!” a few friends declared the other day.  

But are they just being nice? I wondered. What if we decide to switch to a different name – will they think that we’ve done my baby daughter a lifelong disservice? And what would they think if I gave them my honest answer, that really we have no solid idea about what to name Two, and that we still don’t have a place set up for her to sleep?

And wait, why am I caring about what other people think, anyhow?  Clearly I will be a bad mother if I can’t even model minimal resistance to peer pressure.

The nervous prenatal logic system spins.

Looking for advice and relief, I turned to the Internet. Helpful, always. But there is not much to be gained from even the BabyCenter website, which, unlike the more official Social Security Administration, has already released its top names of 2012, as reported by half a million users who decided to share this intimate detail with the web. BabyCenter also has compiled some “naming trends” to help out parents-to-be like me. 

(There are also chat boards where you can run your name by perfect strangers. Because, you know, anonymous Internet users are a good target audience.)

I checked out the trends to see whether we were, I don’t know, current. And to maybe get a little bit of inspiration.

“50 shades of baby names!” sang the first headline.

Maybe not.

For now, I decided, we will simply continue to ponder in silence.  And to smile when people ask about what name we have chosen for the bowling ball.

“Nothing definite,” I will respond. “Have any ideas yourself?”

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