Choosing a name is one of expectant parents' trickiest tasks. There's so much to consider: family input, meaning, siblings, nickname potential and originality, which is -- an ever-growing concern for many modern parents who simply cannot get behind anything in the top 100. You brainstorm, you bargain and when the big day arrives, you decide. Introducing Rambo John Doe. Huzzah!
But for some parents, the happiness of having finally unearthed the perfect name for their perfect baby gives way to something far less satisfying: Regret.
"I have a hard time putting into words how I felt about [my son's] name when Ryan was born," Elizabeth, 22, told The Huffington Post.
She and her husband agreed on the name halfway through her pregnancy. They wanted something traditional, but not ubiquitous; something short, easy to spell and easy to pronounce, without a common diminutive. They made a short list, and Ryan emerged the winner, so they started telling family and friends. But at her baby shower, with Ryan-adorned decorations around her, Elizabeth's confidence started to slip. And soon after Ryan was born, she was sure of it: Something was... off.
"Every time I said his name, it just didn't sound right... I can't pinpoint why it didn't fit," she said. "It's like it was close, but not quite right for him."
For a lot of parents, the source of their disappointment is far clearer: a sharp turn in popularity. Take S, 40, who for privacy reasons, asked that only her first initial be used. She pored over Social Security data before settling on Harper as a middle name for her son, born in 2007. It was unusual and gender-neutral, S thought, only to be surprised when, years later, it entered the top 20 for girls. A similar thing happened to Jill, 47, who named her now 22-year-old boy Skylar -- unusual at the time, but now within the top 50 girls' names. Then there's Jen, 45, who was torn between Grace and Zoey for her daughter, settling on the latter when a family member went with Grace. Soon after, Jen found that Zoey was a top-10 name... for dogs.
“"It can get to the point where it seems as if there is no perfect name."”
Fortunately, Pamela Redmond Satran, co-founder of Nameberry, told The Huffington Post, parents now have many more tools to help them track trends.
"The old brand of baby name regret was often that parents picked a name that turned out to be much more popular than they thought," she said. "But now [sites like Nameberry] publish the full popularity statistics not only from the U.S., but from many other countries around the world -- and parents can also download the list of all names given to five or more children in the U.S. each year."
Nowadays, people are working harder to find the "right" name she said, which can lead to less name regret, as they make better-informed choices.
"But it can get to the point where it seems as if there is no perfect name, and then parents regret whatever choice they make," Satran continued. "Most names do have down sides! So, the unusual name has the advantage of being distinctive, yet may be hard for people to spell and pronounce."
And while singularity can be a bonus for some, it's a hurdle for others. Danielle, 27, looked for a long time to find a name for her daughter and finally settled on Evelia (sounds like "azalea," she clarified).
"Everyone said it was a bad idea. But I liked that it was unique and it was pretty sounding," she said. "There were four other Danielles in my high school class. [I thought] 'At least my daughter would never have this problem.'"
“Six months in... Kelsi decided they should change their son's name.”
What she didn't anticipate is that her daughter, now in elementary school, would hate the name -- a fact she reminds her mother of every year when she starts a new grade and has to once again clarify pronunciation and spelling. Though Danielle stands by her choice, she does occasionally regret it, not wanting to cause her daughter any pain. She hopes she will grow to love it.
But sometimes, parents feel making a legal change is the only option.
When Kelsi, 21, was pregnant with her first boy, she didn't want to name him after her partner, Vinny, because she wanted the freedom to make her own choice. The couple settled on Andrew, but when the baby was born Kelsi blurted out, "Oh my God, he looks like Vinny!" She had a gnawing sense that Andrew, or Andy as she called him, wasn't right.
Six months in, much to the delight of her partner, Kelsi decided they should change their son's name, and two months later, he was officially a Vinny. For a week-and-a-half after the change, Kelsi slipped up from time-to-time, calling him Andy before catching herself. And her family gave her a hard time about it, asking her if the couple had another baby if they would name him Vinny as well (they did not). But Kelsi is far happier with the change than she even anticipated.
"We'll definitely tell our son [about it]," she said. "We'll say, 'Once we saw you, and we knew you... we changed your name. Your father loved you so much, he wanted to share a name with you.' I think he'll be happy to know that."
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