Monday, March 23, 2009

Yes, We Actually Refer to Her in Conversation as "Fetus"

Baby names were a lot easier the last two times.

Claire was picked as our first girl's name when she was still qualified only to be called "Embryo."

Our first son was dubbed Scott I think before M and I even got married. (It happens to be a family name, so it made it even easier.)

Do you see how both times in the past we had a name to replace the "Fetus" designation as soon as we knew the gender? As soon as we left the 20 week ultrasound, our baby had a name and we started to use it. So it's been really weird this time, knowing now that Fetus is a girl and still only being able to call her "Fetus." I suppose normal people would say something like "the baby" or even a cute nickname like "bump" or "bean." I guess we're just a little bit overly matter of fact about things, but any other name besides Fetus just sounds too cheesy to me. Sentimentality has never been a strong suit for M and me.

I knew this time around we were in for a much harder time since we didn't already have a name "waiting in the wings." It could have been like this last time if Scott had been a girl. In fact, during my pregnancy with Scott we started making a list of girls' names and then abandoned it when we found out we were having a boy. But not before I got a little taste of the impending horror.

M and I do NOT have a terribly similar taste in names. I think the ideal case is for a name to be something of a unique identifier. Isn't that kind of the point? I mean, otherwise why not call us all "man" and "woman"? But since issuing everyone a serial number might be a tad cumbersome, you try to find a unique name. Not unique in the whole world, maybe even not in their whole school, but hopefully at least in their classroom. I don't want it to be a made up name, or a name no one has ever heard of, but I think it ought to be fairly uncommon.

M, on the other hand, thinks a name shouldn't make you stand out. He figures, if everyone else has used a name, it must be a good name. This is particularly problematic given our last name. Imagine the most generic last name of English origins you can think of. Are you imagining it? Okay, now I'd bet good money you are thinking of our last name. I feel like M's taste in names would doom our children to a life of hopeless anonymity, no matter what. If we pick the names he likes, our child could cure cancer and be the first astronaut on Mars and no one would ever remember their name. In fact, no one would probably even notice what they had accomplished.

It's interesting how different our perspectives are given that we both have fairly uncommon first names. Growing up, I LOVED having an uncommon name and I think he hated it. So our naming goal is to find a name that everyone has heard of and is fairly normal, but that not too many people are using right now. It's a tall order and it's a matter of debate how successful we've been thus far.

We've been working on a girl name for this time around for awhile now. We started talking about girl names even before we knew this one was a girl because we were at such an impasse last time before being saved by Scott being a boy. I'm starting to get pretty antsy. I know I still have over 14 weeks left, but I think I would rather die than walk into the hospital unsure of the name I wanted to use. That smacks of "going with your gut." Pshaw! What, do you want to me to name them based on what they "look" like? Then we should name them "Svork" or something because they come out looking like aliens. And how my kids looked as newborns has absolutely NOTHING to do with how they look later anyway. In our house, names are NOT left to some whim of the anesthesia. Around here, picking a baby name is a intensive process that involves spreadsheets and ranking and scoring and graphs to check for positive or negative correlation... Seriously, it's bad, people.

So help us. Spare us poor geeks. Vote in the polls in the sidebar and give us your two cents in the comments. Here's the lowdown:

When we were pregnant with Scott, we had narrowed it down to M's favorite girl name being Helen and mine being Ellen. Not so easy to compromise on. You can't exactly use one for the first name and one for the middle name. To ease the tension, we said we'd just always say her name with a heavy British accent and call her 'Elen. The deadlock continued so we've come up with some other names.

Kate is our top scoring name. We took a rough list of conceivable candidates we compiled together. Then each of us ranked the list. The score is calculated by the sum of the square of the respective ranks. (For example, if M ranks Svork at #2 and I rank it at #20, then the score would be 404.) This system amplifies "dislike." A lower number is better (like golf!). I'm a little concerned with this one about popularity and about the fact that she would be named Kate and not Katherine or anything. We'd technically be naming her a nickname.

The other "name family" that scores well is Lauren or Laura. Lauren has some real popularity issues as well, but there's a bigger problem here. We like the names, but we don't actually say them the same way. (Crazy east coaster husband...grumble grumble)

So what should we do???


Anonymous said...

You know you want to name the fetus Michael and just get on with it. I don't think Peter, nor I would mind. :-)

Kelly M said...

Oh, the name game! I'm totally with you- it stresses me out big time if I don't have a name by the ultrasound. I can't just put it off! I also completely agree with you on the not unnheard of, but not so common. A name that will make people think of them when they hear it. Too bad both parents have to agree, it sure complicates things. :) But, for whatever its worth, I like both your front-runners. Good luck! Oh, and I have a brother who wishes he were just named the "nickname" he's always gone by because he thinks it's such a hastle to explain, especially back in his school days. He'd say- if you're gonna call her Kate, just name her Kate!

Corbett Family said...

You could just let your kids name the baby, which is apparently what we are going to do this time since our boys already have a name for her and insist upon it. Since we (the parents) don't agree on many names, we may just go with it!

Curtis Gibby said...

I'm definitely with you on the idea of giving the child a name that most people have heard of, but not one that's too popular. I wouldn't let Sarah pick a name that was in the top 15 names the previous year because I didn't want our kid to be one of 5 Ethans in his class. (Nathan squeaked in at #16 for 2007, and I think he'll do all right. As for in-womb nomenclature, he was officially "Baby Brother" until 2 minutes after he was born.)

I assume you also know about NameVoyager, which might help you find one of those classic names that has gone out of fashion temporarily.

As for which of your poll names is best, I voted for Laura, but all of them are great names.

Kristi said...

So glad I don't have to stew about it any longer. I vote for Kate. It fits with your other kids names and you could use 'Elen as a middle name. And you could pronounce it the same.

But I'm just a girl who names her children while under the influence of anesthesia and under the pressure of the birth certificate sender off-er. : )

Leann said...

OK.... gut responses, totally disregarding your guys' opinions.
I love Kate, think its a gorgeous name, and a much prettier name that the longer version of the name... Katherine, yuck!
However, Kate [your last name] initially sounds kinda bland. BUT then I think about Claire and Kate, and that sounds REALLY cute together. And Claire [your last name] doesn't sound to bland, so maybe Kate isn't too bland either. Still thinking on that one....
As for the polls, I like Ellen [your last name] cuz I think it sounds pretty. So I voted for that.
As for the Laura/Lauren thing. I think you are wise to ask people what they think is the most common pronunciation... because that's what she'll be called (mostly) regardless of what you two think... UNLESS you teach your child to correct everyone... WHICH, I think is kinda annoying. I think you have to accept your name in all proununciations here and now.
My sister-in-law LOVES the name Laura (Lahr-a) but I'd say that name (Lor-a), and think that Lahr-a should be spelled Lara. BUT alas, she doesn't think so, and corrects everyone. And I think the being corrected all the time is more annoying.
SO, who cares if you guys pronounce it differently? So will the rest of the world, and I think its better not to be a weird stingy person who has to correct every single person.

Ok, I'm done... There's my two (maybe 5) cents whether you wanted it or not. :)

Corinda said...

You and Marshall have the exact same dilemma Matt and I have. I'm praying number 2 will be a boy (where I'm totally happy to pick a more common name for a boy for some reason). Otherwise, the battle will rage on.

Texas Turleys said...

I really like Lauren I think it's a pretty name and it fits well with Claire & Scott. I know what you mean about wanting a name for after the ultrasound. We were so shocked we were having a boy we didn't have a name for a LONG time!! Now thankfully he has a name. But he is called "baby brother" (for the girls you know!)

Stephanie T said...

I'm with the others. I like Kate because it fits with your other kids names. Plus we were really close to choosing Kate (not Katherine) for Rose.

But I like Helen the best with your last name. This voting thing is way too simplified, can you please post your weighted equation:-)

Janssen said...

We have NO boy names and two girls names that we love. So, clearly we're going to have five boys.

Bryan said...

LOL! Gretchen, this post, among all your excellent writing, hits home in so many ways. The name game, analysis paralysis, The Great Laura/en pronunciation debate, West Coast/Midwest/East coast pronunciation debates in general, just hilarious.

I've never been bothered by having a common name. I always thought it was cool to get to use my last initial in elementary school classes. Now that was unique. Plus there's a kind of immediate bonding when you meet someone with the same name. That being said, I've grown a little jealous of Ily. She never *has* to use her last name. No awkward phone calls where she says, "Hi this is, not that Ily." I have to give my full name on the phone all the time.

I have worked with a very nice woman named Helen for the past few years. Ellen just makes me think of DeGeneres, which kind of makes me think of Dori, and Leann already said all there is to say about Laura and pronunciation issues. I'm going to vote Kate or Helen.

Genevieve said...

Research has shown that women with slightly unusual names do better in life than girls with plain names, whereas men with traditional names do better than men with wild names. For what that's worth - which is possibly why you and I had good experiences with our unusual names, whereas M hated his. I like all the names proposed, really, although I'm not a huge fan of Lauren for some reason; I prefer Laura. I don't think the different pronunciations thing is a big deal though - try being married to a Scot! ;)

azufelt said...

pronunciation set aside... a friend of ours named their son Jackson and the mom wanted jsut Jack. Well, the mom only calls him Jack and of course the Dad refuses, so he calls him Jackson. I'm sure people will realize that they don't have twins named Jack and Jackson, so it's no biggie, but I do also think they probably should have comes to terms on something they could both say and agree on. --Well, that's what I would have done, is tossed it and found a new name, but maybe they were at a dead-end with it.

The Four Redheads said...

I think the name will come to you one day--just have faith. And baby books. You just don't have as much time to think about baby names because you already have two kids. How about Chelsea? Kendall? Kaila? Amelia? Corrine? There's some more for you. As for your poll, I wouldn't choose any, actually. But I'll still vote.

Ily said...

As a child I hated the name Ily because NO ONE ELSE had it. I was not a cool kid because I was not a Jennifer, Stephanie, nor Michelle. Note that there were tons of them in my elementary and each one of them was considered cool. As I grew though I started to realize that my name had cool meaning-It is an acronym for I Love You and the original spelling of Aili is from my ethnic origin of Estonia. Anyhow, I have since decided I like being the only one around with my name. I have met a handful of others named (Ily,Aili, Eilee) but not many. I would go with a more uncommon name if I were you. Helen is very uncommon these days, I think Ellen is more common. I really think you should just use Ily. Fetus would be grateful I tell you!

Liz H. said...

i've always been partial to the name elizabeth :) classic. not trendy, yet modern sounding.