Name Game

I’ve got names on the brain so forgive me if you’ve heard this one before.

Notice I didn’t say stop me? I’ve been listening to baby stories on my Facebook page and got inspired to tell Charlie’s again.

Have I ever told you, oh Interwebs, that Charlie’s name should not be Charlie?

You see, we selected two different names that we like equally. In our heads, one name was for a brown-haired boy and one was for a blonde. We assumed our son would have brown hair like my husband and I both do, and so we also assumed that our son would be named Charlie. We didn’t really call him Charlie in advance or anything, though–we were waiting to see if he looked like a Charlie.

Well, Charlie’s dramatic birth happened and I was given no moment to lovingly cradle my baby in my arms. Instead, I glimpsed a foot and later waved at his isolette as it was rolled off to emergency transport to the Children’s Hospital.

I really wanted to wait–to make sure he looked like a Charlie. But he got sicker and sicker and they called twice asking me if he had a name yet. I hated the idea of him dying without a name. I hated strangers calling him “baby boy.” So Charlie it was.

Later, after the puffiness had gone down and the tubes were removed, Hubby and I agreed–he was not our vision of a Charlie. Had we been given the time, we certainly would have gone with the other name.

At that point, he was Charlie, and had been for several weeks. A legion of people had prayed for “baby Charlie.” There was no going back. Whenever I try to explain that he doesn’t look like a Charlie, people disagree with me. I guess it suits him.

Does your child’s name have a story? I’d love to hear to it.

boy laughing

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  1. Each of my kids went without a name for a couple days, but I’ll share Grant’s name story. We found out he was a boy during the pregnancy. I was told he wouldn’t survive birth, and then I was told he had spina bifida, etc, and would likely survive. We had a few names picked out, and I decided they didn’t work that well (Forest being one of them).

    Anyway, I was caught unprepared on his due date and left my baby name book and list at home. Lol He went by the name Boy for a few days, while I agonized that I didn’t have the name book (with all the name meanings), and it was a couple of hours away. I wanted to find a name with meaning, had to work with other kids’ names, and it had to suit him! I had it down to 3, and my husband finally said, “It’s Grant. His name is Grant.” Middle names were between Philip and Charles. I agonized, seriously, for months whether Grant was the right name. It does mean “great”, and it suits him so much now. :)

    • Grant seems like a very strong name. I think it would be perfect for a boy with a rough start.

      Knowing me, I would have sent my husband off to buy a name book somewhere.

      Right after Charlie was born, my friend looked up his name is this book she had that assigned a bible verse to different names. The verse was perfect for his circumstance and we taped it up in his room in ICU.

      • I walked to the library in the hospital and found a name book. Unfortunately, it was just names with no meanings or origins! Lol he was sent home to look for our book but couldn’t find it. By the way, I have a brother named Charlie, and Ive always loved that your Charlie is Charlie. :) I think the name suits him.

  2. He definatly looks like a Charlie!… I have 3 yr old twin boys and only had one name we could agree on, Nathan. We put off figuring out a second name, figuring we had time, well we didn’t. The boys were born at 27 weeks via emergency c-section. Right after delivery the Dr. asked if we had names, my husband looks at me and asks “Anthony?”, it was perfect. Later in the NICU we had to decide who was who, and I feel we made the right decision. I couldn’t imagine them being named any different. Their names fit them perfectly… Anthony and Nathan =} my older son got stuck being a Jr. (Mark).
    Love reading your blog Katy! My Nate has CP and Anth is autistic and it just feels great to know I’m not alone on this journey.

    • Thank you so much, Eli!

      Anthony and Nathan is a nice twin combination–they sound good together, but not too matchy-matchy. My husband has twin aunts and their names are Arlene and Marlene–I am ALWAYS getting those confused.

  3. You could always change it…. that way down the road, if you STILL feel like it, Charlie won’t have 6 years of medical documents with his name on it and the younger you do it, possibly it means you don’t have to fill in “Other Names Known As”….

    But, I think Charlie is an adorable name and it does seem to fit him, but go with your gut if you want to change it! :) My mom always wished she had changed mine and I was well aware of what name she wanted to change it to but at this point it would be a hassle to have to do a name change form and put in my “Other names” and get my license changed and…. you get it.

  4. *To clarify, I want to change it too! :) I wish she had done it sooner! But as for my “legal” name- I do like it, but it gets annoying sometimes. (Real name is Tasha, which sounds like a black person’s name, really! I once made a hair appointment and they asked my name. When I showed up, there was a black stylist who had been assigned to me and she made a big fuss out of how she couldn’t and didn’t do white people’s hair well. Unfortunately, she was right.

  5. My daughter wasn’t named until she was three days old. We were leaving the hospital and they forced us to name her before we left. I could not pick out a name and was driving myself nuts! I agonized over the decision and still feel like I would change it if I could live those moments over again, well, her middle names at least. Gracie is her first name and it fits her because she has brought so much grace into our lives and hearts. She has changed everything about us and she did it with so much grace. I still have moments of intense regret that I didn’t give her my and my mother’s middle names.

    • Well, as my readers have said, you can always change it! Gracie definitely looks like a Gracie to me.

      My mom and I have the same middle name and I have no intention of using it if I have a girl. This makes my mother nuts.

  6. That’s really funny because he looks like SUCH a Charlie to me! I assume he’s truly a Charlie and not a Charles? Should you ever have another boy child who is brunette (ah. Now I understand that tweet) will you just shake everything up and give him the blonde boy name, or is that name forever off the table? (Because if it is, I’m totally going to ask you what it would have been!)

    • It’s not off the table. In fact, we joke that one day the names will be all mixed up. We loved both names and it would be great to use them both.

      Charlie is legally Charles–I hated growing up with what many people consider a nickname, so if he grows up and decides Charlie is too babyish, he’s got a choice.

  7. Elena was Handy, girl for the first three days of her life. I guess I felt the opposite of you…I was afraid to name her, b/c then I’d have to mourn my baby instead of some random label they put on her isolette. It felt safer to be detached, I’m sorry to say. We had two names too…one I wanted, a strong, consonant-full name…and then Elena, which I felt was softer. We went with Elena, b/c she looked so frail and tiny.
    She’s still tiny now…but a firecracker of a kid and a mouth to boot!

    • I’m sure we can all relate to the idea of wanting to detach. Nothing scarier than “here’s your baby–doesn’t look good.”

      Elena is a beautiful name, and while soft in sound, I do picture a strong girl/woman behind it.

  8. I do have a story for Bennett’s name…sorry to do a cut/paste job, but I recently wrote about it a few weeks back so why RE-WRITE, know what I mean? :) (BTW, you’re statement ‘I hated the idea of him dying without a name.’ is a sentence no Mother on Earth should ever have to write.

    Here goes…

    I was already familiar with the story of King Leonidas of Sparta, who was known for his leadership at the famous Battle of Thermopylae where he, along with 300 of his Spartiates and other Greek soldiers, fought against the invading Persian armies of Prince Xerxes. Leonidas refused to yield, refused to give in, and although his sacrifice didn’t have immediate positive consequences for his people, his actions do have great historical significance.

    The Battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the power of free men protecting their native soil, and it has also become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.

    I had convinced Jennifer to allow me to have Carter have the middle name of Maximus, though I had been unable to convince her to have Maximus be Carter’s first name. I was close, but not close enough. She couldn’t wrap her head around it, but she was OK with Maximus as a middle name. (I originally wanted his name to be Maximus Tiranus Lilly, how COOL would that have been, after the actual Maximus of Hispania, a real historical figure…but she just looked at me and said ‘You’re weird.’)

    When it came time to choose a name for Bennett, I got lucky. I loved Frank Miller’s interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae and King Leonidas in his graphic novel called ‘300’, and fortunately, earlier in 2007 (the year Bennett was born) Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of ‘300’ had come out, and Jennifer had seen it and actually LIKED it.

    So I lobbied hard for Leonidas, and when Bennett was lying in the NICU, I reminded Jennifer about Spartan children, and the fact that the real-life Leonidas was one of the few Spartan Kings who, because he was not an actual true ‘heir’, had to attend the ‘agoge’, the harsh physical training school that all Spartan males had to endure in order to qualify for Spartan citizenship.

    The name was a symbol for courage and fighting against impossible odds, and it was a perfect fit for our son, and for us, and Jen could see that too. I don’t think she would have, though, had it not been for the film.

    But she still wouldn’t budge on letting that be his FIRST name. Dammit. :)

    • Wonderful story and a great sign of strength for both your boys!

    • Bennett was one of the names I really wanted but hubby didn’t care for it. I did not have the cool history to back it up, though! Thank you for sharing that, and I love the name.

  9. Have you any idea how disturbingly similar this is to my son’s story?

    If we’d been given time to discuss it, to look at him and decide if it was the right fit, I don’t think he’d have the name that he does.

    We didn’t want him getting on that plane without a name, to die without a name. So I just blurted one out. It was on our list, but the list was long.

    Now, he is who he is with the name that he has.

    And Charlie is a Charlie.

    (Oh. And he’d have been a CHARLIE if my sister hadn’t used it first!!!)

    • I debated over including that detail, but I figured that’s part of the story. I didn’t feel like I had days to think it over.

      And yes, now Charlie is Charlie–no doubt about it.

  10. I don’t have any kids but I love thinking about and talking about baby names. My darling fiance has been putting up with me doing this for years! :) It’s funny b/c if I had my way, I’d have 1 girl, but I’ve agreed to try to have 2 kids someday b/c he doesn’t like the idea of having an only child. But 2 kids means coming up with 4 names (in case you have 2 boys or 2 girls). We’ve actually been pretty stable with the boy names Bruce Charles for the first boy and Errol (haven’t decided on the middle name) if we have a second.
    The girls are harder- we don’t want anything to popular. (I love my niece Ava’s name, for example, but that’s in the top 10 these days so it’s going to be like the “Sarah” of my generation-I regularly hang out with 3 Sarah’s in my immediate group of friends.)
    We really like Lucy, but would rather have Lucy be short for something. My grandmother’s name was Lucille, but I actually hate the name Lucille- so I think Lucy will formally be Lucinda. For the longest time we liked Molly as a second girl name, but, again, what is Molly short for? We also love Southern double-names but haven’t really found one we like. So who knows. I’m kind of toying with Mary Ellen or Sue Ellen as the second girls name but haven’t mentioned it to my darling fiance as of yet.
    I know this sounds at best overly analytical and at worst like I’m agonizing, but really, I just love thinking about this stuff. :) I’ve wasted a lot of time playing around on Baby Name Wizard over the years. :)

    • I love this stuff too and you and I have very similar taste in girl’s names! I LOVE the name Lucy. I guess I like names that seem friendly and happy.

      Random thought, although Ava is supposedly SO popular, I only know one person who has a baby Ava and that’s just some girl I went to high school that I keep in touch with via Facebook. Meanwhile, I know three different people who I see pretty regularly who have had Emilys. I find it strange. I also knew three Abigails born within months of each other. I wonder if Ava is ranked lower regionally?

      • I agree- I think it’s the Y-ending, but I think names like Lucy and Molly (and Katy and Shelly for that matter) sound pleasantly upbeat. :)
        I love Ava’s name b/c I think it sounds like a 1940’s movie star. Also, my cousin and her family live in Jackson and have really pretty southern accents- so I like how it sounds when they pronounce it. (Although, I think that the wrong southern accent could really mangle it….And on a similar note, hearing my mom say “Yale” and “yell” is hillarious because they both sound exactly the same and contain 2 syllables…”yay-yull”)
        I only know one Ava too, but I just looked it up on name mapper and it says it was #1 in Louisiana in 2009!

  11. How funny! Coming up with baby names can be tricky business.

    My husband and I picked out our baby names long before we ever got pregnant. We only had 2 that we agreed on – one girl and one boy. Any other names that were brought up were promptly rejected by the other person.

    We picked Emily Rose for a girl. Rose is Mike’s grandmother’s name and we thought it was a beautiful fit for Emily. I know Emily is super popular, but I was OK with that. Emily is still one of a kind!

    The boy name actually came to me in a dream. I dreamed that I was driving around in a minivan and my 2 kids were acting up in that backseat. I yelled something like “Joshua, stop that” in the dream. The next day I told Mike that should be our boy name and he instantly liked it. We decided that we would use his first name as the middle name – Joshua Michael. Guess we just don’t have the unusual name bug!

    • I love both those names! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with naming your child something “popular.” I mean, if your kid has a name that people know and recognize, they’re not going to get teased about it and people will always know how to spell it.

      And you’re right–Emily is definitely one of a kind!

  12. Until the anatomy ultrasound, I was convinced I was having a girl, and for a really good scientic reason… I am first born in my family, and I am a girl, so obviously my firstborn would be a girl, too, right? That and I am lazy and all the baby name books I read had the girl section first and I tired out before I got to the boys.

    So at 20 weeks we found out he was a boy and I immediately made a list of all tolerable boy names I could think of. I was going through the Baby Name Wizard book and came across the name Fletcher. I included on my list, kind of as a joke, because I thought Trevor would think it was funny b/c of the Chevy Chase movies (are you too young to have watched those?). But as the days wore on, it just spoke to me, so I took to call him, in-utero, Fletcher.

    Then came his birth at 25 weeks. Fletcher was still the only name I’d tried on for size. My sister had told me to find the right name, you go to a pee wee soccer game and see if it feels right yelling it across the field. She never mentioned writing it on the outside of an incubator and see if it had a nice ring. I was deathly sick for days after his birth, and with Trevor’s mom in town “helping” I could never get enough time with him to talk about names. Much like Amy’s comment, above, if I am totally honest with myself I would have to admit that part of me was putting off the naming because of the whole detachment issue. But then we decided to have him baptized in the NICU when he was four days old, and the pastor said he obviously need a name before the ceremony. So, Fletcher it was. It was his name, it just was. I had no doubts about it. Trevor, on the other hand, was a little concerned that is was too weird. He would never admit it, but I think he figured that Fletch had a significant chance of being disabled, and he would have enough obstacles that he didn’t need too unique a name. We compromised by choosing William as his middle name and deciding if he couldn’t pull off Fletcher, we could call him Will. Obviously, he is still a Fletcher.

    • I love the name Fletcher! Suits little man to a T. I would have guessed that you had that name picked out all along.

  13. Just curious, what was the “other” name for Charlie??

    Hubby named our girl. We took a late honeymoon to tour the Greek islands and one of our last (and most beautiful) excursions was in Oia (E-ah), Santorini. Before even returning back to the States, Rob very casually and randomly said to me “You know, if we ever have a girl one day, I think we should name her Oia”. The teacher in me questioned the idea due to the spelling although I agreed with him and loved the name and significance of it. I begged to spell it differently to help with pronunciation but he swore the name had to stay true, spelled as it was intended. Two years later, Oia was born.

    Knowing this girl three years later makes me so happy we chose this as her name. It’s short, she’s petite. It’s unique, she certainly is too. And to boot, she speaks very little words but she can say her own name. It’s perfect.

    • Weird coincidence–I have a friend who will be naming her not-yet-here daughter after a Greek vacation as well–must be quite a place.

      I can’t decide if I want to tell you guys the other name–I might still use it.

  14. Charlie’s name story is great! Thanks for sharing it.

    My husband and I had a difficult time agreeing on names for our first three daughters, and their names were finalized either just before or just after they were born. So, when our twins were born early at 29 weeks, we had really not even discussed names. One of them was kind of not expected to make it, and the doctor was pressuring us to name them even before they were born, which I took to mean that it it would be best for the more sick one to have a name before she died. My husband finally suggested that each of us name one of them. I didn’t love this idea, but knew we would probably never agree on names in time. Each of us chose a name that we had wanted for our third daughter, but the other had vetoed. I chose “Sophia,” which he didn’t like because of its popularity, and he chose “April,” which I didn’t care for because I think it is kind of strange to be named after a month and don’t really like the idea of “Ape” as a nickname. In a gesture I meant to be kind to my husband, I chose to name the more sick child “Sophia.” They both survived, and we call Sophia “Phia” now, which I love. I think she has a lot of similarities to Charlie in her abilities. I still don’t love the name “April,” but of course I love the child. She is sitting next to me right now, and says that the picture of Charlie is cute.

    • Please tell April thank you!

      I think it’s funny how much some of us focus on the nickname. I cannot pick a name unless I can also come up with at least one nick name that I really like.

      I’m glad you got to keep both your girls. That’s a lovely ending to the story.

  15. We couldn’t decide on a name for our oldest, even after we found out “it’s a girl!”. After a short labor without pain meds we decided on the name that means “God is gracious.” After we found out she is autistic I doubted this name a bit, but her middle name is Hope, so that became my focus. She is doing really well now, so both names actually fit.

    We have a Charlie, too, but we call him CJ. :-)

  16. We had three names on our list. Liam, Noah and Tristan and lots of “discussion” over picking one of the three. Six months into my pregnancy, my best friend who is like a sister to me put her hand on my belly and asked “Do you like Liam?” Nothing. “Do you like Noah?” Nothing. “Do you like Tristan” and he gave the biggest kick he’d ever given directed right at her hand just as she finished saying it. So he essentially picked his own name. I have no diea who he gets the opinionated bit from πŸ˜‰ Incendatlly, it was her favourite and my husband’s favourite, so the decision was made.

    I have an ex-sister-in-law that waited until her husband left the hospital to rest and named the girls what SHE wanted while he was away. Not only once, but TWICE she did this! That was a patient man πŸ˜‰

    • Patient is right.

      Charlie told me he was a boy in much the same way. I suspected he was a boy, but we hadn’t had the official ultrasound yet. I started joking about buying him dresses and I swear he kicked me from the inside. No dresses for Charlie!

  17. Such great baby name stories! By the time we had our third boy, we also ran out of names. So we named Magnus after a character in a book I’d read the night before he was born. Loren was also named in a hurry, because I was afraid he would die without one. And the name came from a possible second name for our first son, Marco, which we decided not to give. It means “victor” which turned out perfect for him.

  18. Katy, I would love know the Greek name your friend chooses for her baby girl if you remember to share once she’s here!

  19. So I know you don’t know me but I found your website through Makenzies Miracle and read this post and just had to tell you about my Emerson. Before I ever got pregnant my little girl was going to be Gracelynn but when my daughter was born she didn’t look like a Gracelynn and my family fought me on this because they said no one looks like their name it just grows with them. I disagreed and my daughter went without an offical name for about a week until my husband and I finally said it’s our baby and she doesn’t look like Gracelynn so we chose Emerson Louise!

    I also live in Louisiana, my daughter near drowned in June of this year and she’ll be 2 on December 24th. Maybe we can get together one day.

    • So funny that other people think they should get any opinion at all on what you name your child! That’s one of the great things about being a parent–you get to pick the name!

      I’d love to get a chance to meet Emerson some time–it’s so great getting to meet other special families.

    • OH! And I love the name Emerson Louise!

  20. Aw, that’s sweet! And funny, b/c I would have said that Charlie suits your little guy perfectly! :) My son is named Zachary, which means ‘God has remembered’. We waited a long time to conceive Z, so we chose this name b/c that was how we felt when we found out we were finally pregnant – like God had ‘remembered’ us! My daughter Natalie’s name means ‘born at Christmastime’, because her birthday is Dec. 22nd, and her middle name is Grace, since Christmas is a story of God’s grace. :)

  21. I love this story!

    Elisabeth’s name is spelled untraditionally with an ‘s’ so that my name is tucked into hers: eLISAbeth.

    Sneeky, huh?