Choosing a name for your baby is incredibly personal. It’s also incredibly intimidating, or at least, that’s how I felt when I was faced with choosing names for my two daughters. The reality is whatever baby name a parent chooses, their child will have to live with for the rest of their life (well, unless they pull a Phoebe from “Friends” and end up changing it to something like Princess Consuela Banana Hammock, of course). It’s a big responsibility that I didn’t take lightly as a mom, and I can only hope I did right by my girls.
My first name, Ashley, was the second most popular baby girl name the year I was born. I genuinely don’t know that I was ever in a class where I was the only Ashley on the roster. I’m sure my parents had good intentions when they gave me this name, but as a kid, I craved originality and made a promise to myself that my future kids’ names would be unique. Thankfully, I married a man who is so hipster it’s comical (beard, thick-framed glasses, a vintage bike, obsession with craft beer—he checks all the boxes), so if I had tried to add something trendy to our list of baby name possibilities, I’d have been met with a scoff. Suffice to say, a name like Ashley never stood a chance in our home.
As much as I wanted my daughters to have uncommon names, it was equally important to me that their names have meaning. I’m sentimental, so the thought of blindly running my finger down a list of baby girl names and picking one at random felt cold to me. My husband is less sentimental, so he didn’t really have a strong opinion on this, which meant I had a bit more say in the names we chose from. Overall, though, it was a joint effort that led us to finally settle on our girls’ names, and I’d like to think we did a pretty good job.
We named our oldest daughter Eva Grace, and, admittedly, the inspirations behind our decision to call her Eva are kind of funny. You know how when you’re thinking up baby names and you immediately cross one off the list because it reminds you of some horrible person you once knew? Well, it was the exact opposite for us with Eva. I had heard the name here and there throughout my life, but it wasn’t until I met a co-worker with the name that I really became drawn to it. This woman was one of the nicest people I had ever met. I already thought the name Eva was beautiful, but meeting such a lovely person with the name just gave it a little extra sparkle.
When I pitched the name to my husband, he lit up. At first, I assumed he just found the name as pretty as I did, but then, in his best “Wall-E” voice, my husband delivered the character’s only line, “Eeeevvvvvvaaaaa.” So, yes, we chose our firstborn’s name because of a nice co-worker and a cartoon robot’s mispronunciation of “Eve” in one of my husband’s favorite movies. (By the way, whose favorite Disney/Pixar movie is “Wall-E”?! I told you he was a hipster.)
While the origins of her first name are somewhat random, Grace, her middle name, is a family name. It’s after my great-grandma, who was still living when Eva was born. (She passed away in 2018 at the age of 99.) When you think of the stereotypical grandma with white hair and glasses who tells you, in her sweet, quiet voice, how wonderful you are, you’re imagining my great-grandma Grace. She was so kind and remains one of my favorite family members, and I knew well before I met my husband that if I ever had a daughter, she’d have the name Grace. Given this backstory, my husband had no grounds to object to this middle name. And so, that’s how we came to name our first beautiful little one, Eva Grace.
Indiana “Indy” Belle
There are some wild names out there, and at one time or another, we’ve all found ourselves in a position where someone shares their child’s very unique name and we have two choices: either comment on how much we love it, or just nod, smile, and keep our opinions to ourselves. I’m pretty sure that’s the decision people find themselves facing when they learn we named our second daughter Indiana Belle.
I grew up in northern Indiana, and even though I am incredibly happy now living in North Carolina, the Hoosier state will always be “home” to me. But, this connection is actually what solidified our decision to call our daughter Indiana, not what inspired it. The idea came to me thanks to a podcast I used to listen to hosted by Indiana Adams. At first, I thought the name was somewhat odd, but I also kind of loved it. Over time, it really grew on me, especially when her co-hosts would call her “Indy.” In fact, when I originally pitched the name to my husband, I suggested we make our child’s name Indy, but he loved the idea of Indiana, partially for its connection to my home state, and partially because of his love of “Indiana Jones.” (Yup, both of my children’s names were influenced by my husband’s taste in movies.) So, we compromised by officially naming her Indiana, but agreeing to call her by the nickname, “Indy” (except when she’s in trouble and I call her by her full name, obviously).
The decision to make Belle her middle name was a collaborative effort between my husband, myself, and Eva. Given Indy’s four-syllable first name, we wanted something short and sweet for her middle name. I was campaigning for the name “Joy,” until my mom pointed out that “Indiana Joy” was just too close to “Indiana Jones.” Shockingly, despite his love for the franchise, my husband agreed with her, so we took to Google to search for one-syllable baby girl names. We came up with a list of names and thought it would be fun to let Eva help us choose. As soon as she discovered a Disney Princess’ name was on the list, Eva’s mind was made up, and we all agreed on our second daughter’s name.
I love the names we landed on for our girls because they’re full of meaning and thoughtfulness. And, somehow, their names fit their individual personalities perfectly—Eva is sweet and kind, like her great-great-grandma Grace; Indy is my beautiful little wild child. If I could go back and do it all over again, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t change a thing.
By Ashley Ziegler