Last night I dreamt that baby had arrived and I was taking care of him. In the morning, I asked myself, “Did he have a name? What was his name??” But if he did have a name in the dream, it escaped by the time I awoke.
It’s never taken us this long to settle on a baby name. Maybe a middle name, but we always had a first name in mind even before conception. Now that we’re on our third boy, we’ve already used my husband’s favorite boy name (Finn) and my favorite boy name (Graham). We have a list of names that we sort of like, just not one that we really love. At least we have ruled out a fair number that we can’t use.
With every last name comes a few no-can-do’s in the naming department. When your last name is Butler, you want to steer clear of names like Harry and Atticus (say it out loud and you’ll see what I mean). I suggested Amos the other day, and my husband was quick to say, “What, Anus Butler? No.” I love the name Guy, but Shawn says you can’t have a kid whose name starts with “Guy Butt.” I also loved Gray, but Shawn says it sounds like an adjective describing the Butler, so you’re picturing an old Alfred Pennyworth type. We’ve also ruled out all names that end with “-er,” “-ar,” or “-or” because they’re too rhymey with our last name. There are a couple names I like that end with a “k” sound, but I don’t love the “k” followed by the “b” of the last name. For a while, we also avoided alliterative B names, but now they’re back on the table.
There are also our other kids’ names to consider. Baby’s name needs to sound reasonable next to Charlotte, Finn and Graham, but it can’t be too similar to any one of them. For example, Charles is too much like Charlotte, and Griffin ends with Finn, so we can’t go there.
We live in Utah, a state with a reputation for wacky baby names and unconventional spellings. Utah is also known for hosting hordes of large Mormon families. I think these two trends go hand in hand. When you have dozens of cousins working with the same last name, you have to get creative with your kids’ names or decide you’re OK with repeating. Shawn comes from a huge family of Butlers—his dad is one of 10 kids—so with a lot of the names we’ve considered, we end up saying, “Don’t you have a cousin with that name?” or “I think your cousin used that name for his kid.”
Another interesting phenomenon: I know so many people who thought they were giving their child a unique name, only to find out later that their name breached the top 10 that year. This is exactly what happened with our Charlotte. When I chose the name, I could think of only one Charlotte I had ever known—a roommate’s sister. Since then, we’ve watched the name climb to the top of the charts, and it doesn’t help that there’s one in the royal family, too! Fortunately, Charlotte doesn’t run into her name among her fourth grade peers very often, but anytime we’re at the playground or Chick-fil-A, somebody is calling for her 3-year-old Charlotte. How is it that we all start liking the same names at the same time? It’s uncanny!
In short, we are still looking for that just-right name. Anyone have any suggestions? Or resources that have helped you? I have a few books I’ve been studying, and babynamewizard.com is a long-time love—it charts the popularity of a name throughout history so you can see if it’s on the rise! The site also stocks user content; fellow namers can relate their experiences with a name, list sibling names that go with it, and point out celebrity or media references to a name. If you’re in my boat, check out this site—it’s my favorite!