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.

Associated Press
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.

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.

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?”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Baby names advice: Keep it to yourself
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today