How We Chose Our Baby's Nameby Gemma Campbell
Choosing a name for your baby is a minefield…do you go old-fashioned, new-fangled or a mix of both? Do you honour a family member or channel a favourite celebrity? Are you thinking gender-neutral or one that can’t be shortened? When I was pregnant with my first I had no idea, however every time I put a few names to my partner, he’d simply say no – my first round were too ‘red’ – Ruby, Scarlett, Poppy. My second attempt too ‘much’ – I liked Persephone for the shortened options of Sephy or Percy or Henrietta to shorten to ‘Henry’ ‘Hen’ or ‘Hattie’. His were all, as I thought, mundane – Emma, Sarah, Laura. And we were trying to steer clear of the Top 5 – Olivia, Amelia, Jessica, Emily and Lily!
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And then ours had the added complication of me being a secondary school teacher. Some of the names suggested were simply a No because of associations to students – remembrances of a diva or just plain old trouble – Arabella, Sophie, Caitlin. And when I suggested nice Welsh names, as we now lived in Wales, he pointed out it could be seen a cultural appropriation and so gone were the Ceridwen’s or Elin’s or Catrin’s. And flowers were a no even though Marguerite (shortened to Daisy) was an all-time favourite of mine as it both slightly linked to my mother’s name – Margaret and yet had the added something of being French.
And then we were given our due date…It was Remembrance Day and suddenly Poppy was back in the mix…both sets of parents hated the idea we would name our daughter Poppy, likening it to a dog’s name but we were sure. The middle name was always going to be his Gran’s and so Poppy Florence we settled on…that was until she decided she’d hold on tight and we missed Remembrance Day by a week! Sitting there in the Birthing Room, we were still discussing baby names and this time I was throwing out suggestions from my favourite characters in novels and Shakespeare plays – Katy, Alice, Ophelia, Portia. And each one met with a no. Even more frustrating was, he simply wasn’t putting anything into the mix.
As the labour progressed, we weren’t getting any closer to fixing on a name and the nurses laughed and offered up their names – Helen, Maisie, Jayne (with a Y) and then, just as I was being wheeled into the Maternity Unit, he posed Charlotte. We both instantly loved it – classic, my favourite novelist and with the added beauty of being shortened to ‘Lottie’ or ‘Charlie’. Thus came Lottie Pops…Charlie Pops, Pops. She isn’t best pleased however as learning to spell ‘all’ her names has been quite the journey and as for her surname – she’s opted to simply shorten it herself out of laziness! And when we told family, we discovered, on both sides, our Great Grandmother’s had both been a Charlotte!
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Baby number 2, however, was simple from the off…he was a boy and so Harry was his chosen first name, for the old chap who lived above my partner’s first flat who, when we bought it, had been given only weeks to live. He lived months as the ‘lads’ were such a joy to have around and made his last few months full of laughter and youth. We’d always said if we had a boy, we’d called him Harry for him. His middle names were family – Great Uncle George from my partner’s side and my beloved Grandad Neil from mine. All 3 of the names in remembrance of ‘a bloody bugger’ and my Grandad, who is still alive aged 90, couldn’t have been more proud. Not only was little Harry carrying one of his names, but he was the first boy child in my family for 46 years! That said I had advocated for the consideration of Rory…one of the few boy names from my students although only because his spelling of it was one of my favourites from Ireland – Rhuaridh!
Were I to have my time again naming my children, I wouldn’t change a single name, although for form filling maybe we should have stuck to just the one middle name as my partner’s surname is difficult and long enough to challenge any form and gets all manner of extra letters added in from teachers and phone operators!