It's a truth universally acknowledged that Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are all kinds of #relationshipgoals. They're best buds, they make each other laugh and despite their celebrity status, they keep their private lives private, especially when it comes to their kids’ genders and names. In a recent interview on Today, Reynolds said he planned to keep their second child's name private for the time being: "All that sort of stuff with kids and revealing — oh, you revealed the sex! — I didn't 'reveal' anything," he said. "I just don't feel the need to publish it. It's a normal feeling that most people might have."
As a first-time mom and the mother of an 8-month-old, I found myself nodding in agreement with Reynolds' reasoning. My husband and I did the same thing Reynolds and Lively did: we kept mum about our kid's gender and name for as long as we possibly could.
As a first-time parent and someone with a huge and close-knit family, I found this an incredibly difficult task, and it also might seem like a pretty asshole-y thing to do. But hear me out for a second.
First of all, no matter how close you are to a person and no matter how original and amazing your baby name is, people will always have an opinion about it. Usually, it's not an opinion you'd like to hear while going through waves of nausea and other pains of pregnancy.
We learned this the hard way as soon as we passed the 13th week, when my husband and I decided to tell his parents that I was pregnant. Since this was going to be their first grandchild, I wanted it to be special: I bought a bib that said “It’s a great day to visit Grandma!” and a pair of baby booties. I put them both in a paper bag, pretending it was an oven mitt that I saw in the store that I thought my mother-in-law would love.
I got the best reaction: shock, happy tears, and jubilation. My father-in-law started crying and asked what we intended to name our baby. After I mentioned one of our leading contenders, he said, “What? What a weird name!”
Remember: I was a hormonal pregnant lady, and at that moment, still a bit weepy, so I did not take that comment well. My husband tried to help me out by saying that wasn’t our final name and that we were still “trying a bunch on," but the damage had been done, and on the drive home we made the decision to keep our child's baby name a secret.
Eventually, we started telling people we didn’t know the gender of the baby. While we had legitimate reasons for not wanting to reveal whether we were having a boy or a girl (for starters, we wanted better, more practical, non-gender-specific gifts), it was really just a way for us to keep the name a secret until our baby’s birthday. We wanted it to be a wonderful surprise.
Of course, it didn’t help that my family kept calling bullsh*t on the idea that I didn't want to know if I was having a boy or a girl. "How could I not want to know?," they kept asking me. "If you're not going to tell us the gender, could you at least tell us the name? Why aren't you sharing any details with us?" When the guilt trips didn’t work, they resorted to trickery. They would use pronouns when referring to the baby, and when I failed to correct them or use the generic “it”, they would go, “Aha!” They would also suggest names and see if I would finally give it away by commenting on them. (It didn't work.)
Keeping the name to ourselves until I gave birth was a good decision because the people around me didn’t have the chance to say anything remotely critical or negative about it. Eventually, our family members and friends just accepted whatever name we had chosen. They were too happy for us to care.
If you do decide to tell a select few, they will forever cherish the privilege and honor of knowing such a well-kept secret, and the bond you’ve forged with them will be super strong.
There are a few other reasons why it's a good idea to keep your baby's name/gender a secret. For starters, you get to re-use ideas for any following children you may have. Imagine how you would feel if you shared all your prospective names in your list and one of your friends got pregnant and thought, "Hey, Jam had a pretty cool idea for a name…let’s use that! She’s not having a girl, anyway." You. Will. Not. Be. Happy.
Also, if you do decide to tell a select few, they will forever cherish the privilege and honor of knowing such a well-kept secret, and the bond you’ve forged with them will be super strong. I shared our final baby name and gender with a few of my best friends. (They also happen to have the worst memories ever, so there wasn’t any risk of them spilling the beans.) I also told my cousin on her wedding day, as my bridesmaid’s gift to her. The gesture made her extra happy that day.
Ultimately, the biggest advantage of keeping your baby’s name a secret from everyone is this: You get to enjoy sharing a truly important (and almost sacred) secret with your partner, the only other person whose opinion on the subject truly matters. No one else can ever spoil that for you, and it is a decision and memory that you will forever cherish.
That said, now that he’s been out and about for 8 months, my husband and I don’t mind if the whole internet knows our son’s name. It’s Jasper Quinn, and he’s awesome.