I Didn't Keep My Babies' Names A Secret & I Regret It
If I had the chance to do it over again, there's a lot I would do differently about my pregnancy. Had I known how much I'd miss kid-free life, I would've gone to see way more movies in theaters and slept in every single weekend. I would've eaten cold cereal for dinner just because I didn't have the responsibility of feeding anyone else. I would've visited all the shops I know with narrow, stroller-resistant aisles and displays filled with pretty but breakable knickknacks that my future kids would try to choke on. I would've worn dangly earrings and carried around tiny, cute clutches while I still could. I also would've eaten way more dessert, because I utterly failed at playing the "eating for three" thing to its full advantage. But the biggest regret I have over my pregnancy isn't failing to give in to the siren call of maternity pants sooner or not eating more fudge — it was telling people my babies' names before the delivery.
Since I'm the type of person who used to color code her notes in college, I always knew if I got pregnant I'd want to pick out a baby name well before my due date. People sometimes struggle to come up with a single baby names, and when I found out I was having twins I panicked a bit at the though of needing to find four potential names for my future offspring. In hindsight I realize that I could have waited until after we knew the babies' gender to pick names or even (gasp!) waited until they were born. However, as amazing as pregnancy was to experience, I was shocked with how out of control I felt with what was happening to my body. Freaking out about the realities of raising two babies was stressful, so anything that I could take control of while pregnant helped me maintain a semblance of normalcy, and picking baby names was part of helping me feel in charge of my situation. Plus, hey, I wanted to shop for things that weren't yellow or green.
Thinking these names were perfect and common enough that no one would find them strange, I was excited to tell people when they asked, since I didn't see any way people wouldn't also love the names we'd selected. But some people suck.
We quickly settled on two names we really liked for our future sons: Jeremy and Logan. Jeremy was a name with special significance to us. We were at a French restaurant on our honeymoon, starry-eyed off each other and an excellent Merlot, and our handsome waiter was named Jeremy. Somehow the topic of kids came up, and we had the romantic notion that if we ever had a son we'd name him after that waiter. We decided on Logan because it reminded my partner of of Wolverine, and because it reminded me of Mary Anne's dreamy boyfriend from The Baby-Sitter's Club books. I liked that these names didn't lend themselves to nicknames and I thought it was cute that the initials of our four first names were J, K, L, and M. Thinking these names were perfect and common enough that no one would find them strange, I was excited to tell people when they asked, since I didn't see any way people wouldn't also love the names we'd selected.
But some people suck.
My dad was the first to balk at our names. He goes by a shortened version of his own name and therefore didn't like that these names didn't have easy nicknames as well. My best friend, who'd always wanted a girl, told me to throw myself off a bridge when she learned I was having not one but two boys, and after we got over that fight, she chose to ignore my adorable French waiter story and instead reminded me that Jeremy was the little boy who went crazy and killed his classmates in that Pearl Jam song. Lucky for her, she had a daughter.
Surprisingly, the people who were most supportive of my baby name choices were my young male coworkers. In their late 20s and most of them single, I was surprised at how interested they were in my pregnancy, and when I told them I was naming the boys Jeremy and Logan they were quick to tell me these names sounds like they could belong to future Navy Seals, and that they wholeheartedly approved of my choices. They also always emailed me to let me know when there were donuts in the break room. I miss that.
There are some basic rules about how to treat a pregnant woman. You give her things, like your chair or the last ice cream sandwich. You lie to her and tell her she looks glowing and ethereal even if she's waddling and showing signs of sweat in the subzero chill of winter. And you smile along when she gives you the privilege of knowing her children's names, even if you hate them.
It could have been worse. At least our middle names were a universal success. Online parenting forums are filled with horror stories from women talking about how hurt feelings over a baby name led to all types of family drama when honoring one side of the family over another. My partner has his father's first name as his middle name, so we carried on that tradition, giving one of our boys his dad's name as his middle name. Since my dad didn't have any sons (just the sparkling joy that is yours truly and my younger sister), we gave our other son my dad's middle name and hoped both sides of the family would feel equally included. Happily no one had anything negative to say about out middle name selections, but just waiting to hear how our families would react was nerve-wracking.
Perhaps part of it was on me, maybe I shouldn't have said anything about the names if I wasn't prepared to deal with people's honest reactions. And judging from the fact that I couldn't listen to a single Mumford and Sons song without turning into a sobbing, drooling mess during my entire pregnancy, it's safe to say I was probably a tad more sensitive than usual to what people said to me. But there are some basic rules about how to treat a pregnant woman. You give her things, like your chair or the last ice cream sandwich. You lie to her and tell her she looks glowing and ethereal even if she's waddling and showing signs of sweat in the subzero chill of winter. And you smile along when she gives you the privilege of knowing her children's names, even if you hate them. I just figured that when people asked me what I was naming the babies, telling me the names were lovely would fall under this umbrella of things society does to prevent pregnant woman from crying in public.
I'm a woman who knows what she wants regardless of what other people think. And when it came to naming my children — the ones I was literally carrying inside of me — it felt like no one trusted me with that anymore.
Luckily for me, I was the first one of my close friends to get pregnant, and anyone I knew socially who was expecting just happened to be having a girl, so I didn't have to deal with the paranoia of anyone with a due date before mine stealing my baby name. But that made it even stranger when someone without a stake in the game tried to talk be out of my baby name choices.
Even though my names were safe from poachers and I had no plans to change them regardless of what people thought, I didn't understand why people would choose to tell me if they didn't like them, especially when they weren't people I was particularly close to. When was the last time you heard of a mom-to-be changing what she was going to name her child because her co-worker who chews too loudly tells her that Logan was the name of her jerk of an ex-husband who never pays child support on time?
Telling everyone the babies' names before their arrivals also made the delivery day itself a bit depressing. Friends and family asked to know the babies' names in advance of my baby shower for gifting purposes, and one of my girlfriends made the boys personalized blankets that I still love and plan to save as keepsakes. But when the babies were born, it was weird to see their names being used on social media before we'd even announced them ourselves. We were just getting to know them, but with their names being shared online, it felt like people were taking tiny pieces of my kids from me and claiming them for themselves before I even knew who my sons were as people.
Although I don't think anyone would have minded in the big scheme of things, between my hormones, the fact that I couldn't keep my nose out of baby names books while I was on bed rest, and people's constant opinions, there were moments when I considered changing the names we'd picked, but felt that we were stuck with what we had already decided on since everyone knew. It would have been nice to keep the names quiet until the delivery so we could change our minds without fear of hearing anyone's opinion on the matter.
Except for the times when I'm forced to choose what flavor of latte I want, I'm a woman who knows what she wants regardless of what other people think. And when it came to naming my children — the ones I was literally carrying inside of me — it felt like no one trusted me with that anymore. It would have taken some really compelling reason for anyone to convince me to change my babies' names once we had settled on them. But when you're becoming a parent for the first time, there's so much uncertainty and fear and what-the-hell-are-we-going-to-do-with-a-baby-we-can-barely-remember-to-feed-the-cat moments that any extra stress isn't something a mom-to-be needs. Baring a miracle of biblical proportions or an alien abduction, another pregnancy isn't my future, but if it was, I wouldn't tell anyone my baby's name until the ink on the birth certificate dried.