There are so many major things to consider around topic of deciding what to name your baby: how to spell it, if you'll try to introduce a nickname, whether or not you'll include a middle name, and whether or not the initials will spell a word. Since my last name that starts with O, that was actually a pretty significant concern since technically we could have ended up with P.O.O. or H.O. even B.O. (Sorry, Mr. President. My concern is with the reference to body odor, not you.) I certainly sympathize with those who are in the middle of this decision-making process. And while I made a lot of mistakes during my pregnancy (never again will I assume that just because I can feel my belly band, that doesn’t mean that it’s actually holding my pants up properly), I can comfortably say that one thing my partner and I got right was deciding not to widely share our list of baby names.
Sure, we mentioned our top contenders to our parents and my brother — but that was it. No friends, no other family members, no casual discussion of it over coffee with colleagues or during small talk at parties. This worked out well: When we finally did share the name, it was final, and no one had a choice but to say anything but nice things.
Should I get pregnant again, we will do it the exact same way. Despite the fact that people didn’t know what names were on our list, we still got earfuls and earfuls of advice and commentary about naming. I kinda wish I’d worn a wire during my pregnancy so we could compile a comically-long supercut of all the unsolicited advice we received. Of course, I smiled and nodded as politely as I could, but the fact remained that everyone wants to weigh in, including, but not limited to:
One of my son’s four grandparents (who shall remain nameless) told me with relief that they were really glad we’d taken a certain name off of our list, because they really didn’t like it. Except we hadn’t actually taken it off our list. But hey, nice to know how you really feel.
My colleagues already knew way too much about my pregnancy based on the sheer fact that they sat a few yards away and could tell how often I had to get up to go to the bathroom. They did not need to be involved in naming, too.
Random Pedestrians On The Street
I could only imagine telling future generations a story about the mysterious stranger who asked me for a cigarette and then gifted me the name of my first-born child while we waited for the crosswalk to change. Sounds like an instant classic.
Your Grocery Checkout Clerk
Our neighborhood grocery store is full of kind and helpful people who always appear eager to help me to my car, and I value them very much as part of my community...but that does not mean I will be naming my son after any of them, and frankly, it was really awkward when they suggested it.
Your Close Friends
OK, I can kind of see why close friends feel comfortable weighing in on this and being a part of the naming process. But I still I can't say that I welcomed it. Sorry, besties. Too many cooks in the kitchen where we're only cooking one bun in the oven anyway, so like, this many cooks is so not necessary.
Your Casual Acquaintances
Person staring at my belly: How are you feeling?
Me: OK, considering.
Person: Do you know what you’re having?
Me: A boy.
Person: Do you know what you’re naming him?
Me: We’ve got a short list but sorry, we’re not sharing it.
Person: I love the name Cayden.
Trust me, your old high school nemesis or summer camp rival will come out of the woodwork to make small talk with you during your pregnancy. And she will try to hijack your baby naming process. But stay strong. You’ve got this. And oh, look at that, who had more people at her baby shower, Bethany?
Perhaps you’ve heard that anonymous commenters like to share their opinions? I know, sounds crazy, but it’s been known to happen. Tread lightly on the message boards, my friends.
I can't blame them since casual banter is a part of their job, and being visibly pregnant signals to everyone that you must want to talk about your baby. Apparently.
Regardless of how hard we try, there is a chance that a celebrity will steal your baby name, or Disney will name their next princess the same thing that you named your princess, or a new pop star will come on the scene with the same moniker. As much as we try to avoid this, it's bound to happen to at least some of us. Sending all my good vibes out to all in the midst of the struggle.
Your Own Inner Child
My older brother likes to remind me that I went through a phase in my youth where I declared that my firstborn would be named ~Blueberry Pancakes~. I couldn't imagine loving anything as much as I loved them, so to a four-year-old, it made total sense.
Your Friends' Kids
So here is a supportive sloth gif that shows how I feel about getting name ideas from my friend's kids. I don't care who you are, we don't roll our eyes at that.
It's one of your first co-parenting duties, but there's a chance one of you might feel slightly stronger about a name (or names) than the other. Take your time. You guys have got this.