Name that character
If you’ve settled on a name but are second-guessing your decision, fret not. Even if the ink on the birth certificate is long dry, changes can be made should you realize while bonding with your babe that perhaps Bonnie wasn’t the best fit after all.
Both Owens and Perez attest to the name-changing process being a simple one. “I went to the courthouse, filled out a form, paid a fee, and now it’s being published for four weeks in the local newspaper. Then we’ll have a hearing, and after that, it’s done!” says Owens. “I was thinking it would be hard and maybe not even worth it, but it’s been so easy.”
Rosenkrantz’s advice: “If you’re going to make a legal change, do it as soon as possible—before you and the child get too used to it.” It’s much easier for a newborn to adjust to a new name than a 4-year-old.
The procedure varies from state to state, but your first step is always to call or visit your local county court to find out exactly what you need to do to make the change happen. (Expect a fee, although it’s typically a modest one.) The hardest part of the process might just be the emotional aspect. “I felt I failed my baby,” admits Perez.
“I was so scared to tell people,” says Owens. She also questioned whether a change was what she really wanted. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just the hormones. I’m sleep-deprived,’” Owens recalls. But when the feelings of remorse didn’t go away, she knew she’d made a mistake. And so Wylder June became Lyla June, which everyone agrees is a better fit.
To help you settle on a name that you won’t end up wishing to change, Owens offers up some advice: “Say it out loud, all day every day. Let it roll around in your mouth and in public and hear other people say it. Practice with it! It was not until I started saying it out loud that I was like, Oh no.” (Pro tip: Use the name when you place an order at the coffee shop or deli; you’ll have the opportunity to hear it called out in a crowd, and you can see how you feel about it in a real-world setting.)
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to stick with a name you chose during pregnancy if it doesn’t feel right. “Spend a few hours in the hospital with the baby trying it out before you sign the birth certificate,” suggests Owens. “A name is such an honor, and it’s something that you give your child that lasts forever. You want her to feel confident when she says it and when she hears it.”