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Keep your mitts off my baby name, HBO

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My husband and I never share what we are naming our babies until after they are born.

Our theory is that nobody will criticize a baby’s name while they are holding the baby or hypnotized by the charm of a photo. Plenty of people have no qualms trashing a particular name while the baby is still in utero, though.

Also, how am I supposed to know the baby’s name until I see his or her face? What if she doesn’t look like a Priscilla or he doesn’t exactly fit Merlin? We go to the hospital armed with a couple of possibilities and chose the name that softly clicks.

The danger in keeping potentially perfect baby names close to our hearts is when someone announces their new baby has been given our top name contender. It’s happened before, but we don’t find ourselves angry or terribly jealous that we were beat to the birth certificate. There are hundreds of other perfectly wonderful names, and I’ve learned that tastes change over time.

When our first child was born in the olden days of 1997, we gave her a predominantly boy’s name. We liked the meaning—little fire. It was so obscure at the time that most people had never heard of it and we were proud of our clever creativity.

I have one thing to say about this: Aidan.

All it takes is for a character to be introduced on a popular TV show and it’s over for your sweet little girl. I can blame Sex and the City’s Aidan for making it The Name of the early 2000s.

Now we are naming a child for the seventh time. I hope our front-running name doesn’t show up on a new late-night cable show about a sexy handyman/spy/single dad who gets into racy situations and drops a lot of four-letter words as he battles eco-terrorism and watches his girlfriends try on jewelry at Tiffany’s.

Today’s media heroes are tomorrow’s preschool roll call.

Author: gretchen

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  • comment avatar stacey @ tree, root, and twig November 13, 2008

    In the hospital after the son of our fifth child, Elijah, we had the same funny conversation about names with many of the nurses and attendees. They’d ask the names of our other four children. “Hannah, Madeline, Abigail, and Isaac,” we’d answer. SO many people would pause and then say, “I didn’t know there was a Madeline in the Bible!” The assumption was that they were all scriptural names; in fact, that was just coincidental. We really chose the names for their vintage feel (and most of them are names of ancestors). It’s funny what people will automatically think about your name choices!

  • comment avatar Cyndi November 13, 2008

    When I was pregnant with our son people would ask what we were naming him. When I told them Isaac they would say “oh… I like Isaiah!” I lost count how many times this happened. I would just say no, Isaac. So, I sure understand not saying until the baby is here.

  • comment avatar Veronica Mitchell November 13, 2008

    You might enjoy the blog that Laura Wattenberg writes about baby names. She studies the trends of baby names in great detail and offers several tools to help parents, like, NameVoyager, and NameMapper. You can find her stuff at We run all our prospective names through it, just to see what’s coming.

  • comment avatar Jamie ( November 13, 2008

    I wish I hadn’t told people my favorite name for our daughter before she was born — she might have a different name today. Then again, I guess I would have had to keep it from my husband too, and sneak it onto the birth certificate, because he didn’t like it either. Heh.

    For what it’s worth, I like the name Aidan for a girl. (And I’m probably in the minority, but I never watched Sex in the City, so I don’t associate it with any male characters of questionable, um, character.) I’m sure that whatever you choose for this little one will be a perfect fit.

  • comment avatar Cindy November 13, 2008

    We named our daughter Aidan as well and she is living into her name. Now, if we could just get people to spell it correctly (“an” not “en”)!

  • comment avatar Bonnie November 13, 2008

    We went to the hospital with a few names for our baby (we didn’t know the sex). We had one top contender for a girl’s name and when we saw her that was not the right name for her. I was surprised when my husband told the doctor her name. We had originally decided against that name because it sounds traditional but isn’t spelled the way people expect. But we chose it for the meaning rather than the spelling. Her name is Serah, pronounced like Sarah, but with an entirely different meaning. It means little song or morning star and she is both to us.

  • comment avatar Kagey November 13, 2008

    I second the suggestion to check out the Baby Name Wizard. We used the book & the website, and she does this great list of “sibling names” for each name. So, when it came time to name #3, we looked up our first two kids’ names as a starting point.
    We also didn’t decide until we saw each baby. We narrowed down to 2-3 and in the moment, only one seemed to fit.
    This drove my MiL crazy. She was certain we were just keeping the names from her!

  • comment avatar Shelley November 13, 2008

    We have all “older, traditional ” names for middle names. Our first names go normal, unusual, Normal, unusual, normal :Lindsey, Dejah, Katelyn, Journey and Bryan. Most of these names we had chosen before they were born. I do have to say Dejah is much better than “Tiger” that my dh was toying with. Of course NOW he says he was joking (for months?).

    Names are fun! Aidan (had to check the spelling, lol!) will like her name eventually. 🙂

  • comment avatar Lori November 13, 2008

    “Today’s media heroes are tomorrow’s preschool roll call.”

    I can see the preschool class of 2014. All those Baracks and maybe a few Palins. And some Tinas and Merediths.

    My son’s name is quite obscure on the website Veronica mentioned. And my daughter’s isn’t even on there.

    She wishes it were Kaylee.

  • comment avatar Shayne November 13, 2008

    Well, I can certainly understand how Aidan is feeling! But you are right that eventually she will grow to like her name. Over time, I grew to appreciate the uniqueness of my name (even though some people in my own family still misspell it from time to time ).

  • comment avatar pisceshanna November 13, 2008

    When my daughter came out a girl instead of a boy, I was overjoyed to give her the name I had always given my dolls, cats, toys, characters since I was a litte girl.

    Sometimes things just work out naturally, though its very interesting to think of what effects the collective consciousness of baby naming, Media definitely.

    I work for a school disitrct, and i STILL See tons of Jasmines being enrolled. Didn’t Aladdin come out in the early 90s? Why are they still naming their kids Jasmine? Its fascinating.

  • comment avatar Goslyn November 13, 2008

    I like your philosophy on choosing names; playing it close to the breast is always a good idea. And I happen to love the name Aidan. Like the PP, I’ve never seen Sex in the City, so the name has no moral (or immoral) associations for me. That said … Adian may never grow to like her name. I dislike my name intensely, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Stacey was such a trendy 80’s name. It forever screams “I was born in 1980 and named by my teenage sister!” Also, it’s a name that doesn’t GO anywhere – doesn’t sound good as a byline or on the cover of a book; doesn’t sound senatorial or presidential or famous in any way. Just ordinary.

    At least Adian won’t have that problem.

  • comment avatar Oz November 13, 2008

    I could be wrong on this, but I think the Baby Name Wizard’s theory is that TV names can both trigger trends, but can also be reflective of trends – so Aidan might’ve been in the baby name waters before Sex in the City, but was given a push by the show. I don’t know why names seem to pop up out of nowhere – like the Caden/Jaden group – but I think I’ve heard a handful of people say those are “their” names or they made them up. Maybe they did, but so did some other folks at around the same time! I like your philosophy about keeping your name of choice quiet, and being flexible.

  • comment avatar randi November 13, 2008

    I love Aidan’s name, largely because it is different. And she is so adorable, it seems to fit her.

    I disliked my name when I was younger because I always got tired of people expecting me to be a boy when they knew “Randi” was coming. Now I like it because no-one has the same one as me–it feels rather novel.

    When we named Emily, 17 years ago, we thought we were being different, but it turned out we were on the first crest of the Emily-name-craze. Now her name is as common as they come. boo-hoo

    PS, I love your name too. It is old-fashioned and romantic. Just lovely. Nothing like a cough!

  • comment avatar Aubrey T. November 13, 2008

    I also love the name Aiden. My name, see, is Aubrey. Which is also technically a boy’s name, though these days it does get a little more play as a girl’s name. And I used to dislike my name, too. It was too different, no one could spell it, and I always got called Audrey. Which isn’t a bad name, but getting consistently called a name that is not your own does get a little old.

    But now that I’m older, I really do like it. I like that there was never another Aubrey in my class. I like that I’m the only Aubrey T. that I know. But mostly, I like knowing that my dad picked out a name he loved, and gave it to me.

    So she’ll come around.

  • comment avatar Stephanie November 14, 2008

    I love the name Aidan, but I’m a big fan of Irish names (although you wouldn’t know it from what we named out girls).

    We’ve never been ones to keep the name secret, but on account of my fairly intimidating personality we’ve never had anyone say boo to our name choices. The only exception being my mom, who didn’t like the name Julianne (and still refuses to call her anything except Jules). Fortunately, I rarely take anything my mom says seriously, so we laughed it off.

  • comment avatar Stephanie November 14, 2008

    (OOPS! I meant to say: I love the name Aidan BECAUSE I’m a big fan of Irish names.)

  • comment avatar Beth - total mom haircut November 14, 2008

    I think she’ll love it. It’s a name I would have loved when I hit late high school/early college. Yes, it’s popular now, but hey, you guys were first!

    Don’t we all hate our names? I do.

  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist November 14, 2008

    We also used the Baby Name Wizard and the Social Security Database in our research for a name. My hubby insisted that our little girl’s name be on the more uncommon side of the spectrum, and I didn’t have a problem with that.

    We also didn’t tell anyone what our name choice was! My family is known for being RUTHLESS when it comes to bashing name choices, so we kept it to ourselves.

    They were MAD. Oh well…they got over it. 😉


  • comment avatar Kayt November 18, 2008

    My husband and I agreed on names years ago. I like a lot of more unusual names (If I had my way, we would have Gideon and Sylvia), and he likes more basic names (He wanted Billy and Stephanie). We settled on James and Daphne for our potentials for our child that’s due in December. Then, the TV show Heroes went and introduced a villain named Daphne. I’m just relieved we’re having a boy. Hopefully by the time we have a girl, Daphne will be a flash in the pan on the show, and we’ll be back to hearing “Like the Scooby Doo character?”

  • comment avatar Texas Girl November 18, 2008

    My parents gave me a boy name for my middle name and I hated it. It was a family name, but I am not a boy! I grew up with several bothers and was always trying to be a girl in the midst of them. When I got married, I droped my middle name. No legal documents have that name. I hope Aidan grows to like her name, but she may not.

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