Choosing baby names is tricky; it needs to appeal to you, you might want it not to be too popular (I speak as the temporary keeper and guide of one of the oldest Amelie’s in the country!) and give off the right vibe for the child you hope they will grow up into. It needs to suit your surname and not risk spelling our rude acronyms – and maybe you want to encourage your child to be a future bluestocking or sportsman. So Co-op have come up with a handy tool that lets you check your baby name ideas against who else has had them and see what type of future a child with that name might be looking towards. It’s a bit of fun – and gives you other name ideas too – and you never know, it might even work!
It made me think that naming stories are just as important a “how you were born” stories and could easily get lost and forgotten, so I’ve written them down here for my girls and boy(s).
To my children…
Let me tell you a story of how you were named….
You might have been Charis, or Alicia, or Hester or one other name lost in the mists of time now. We ummed and aaahed. Were you a boy, you would have been Alexander, but Alexandra was not (don’t ask me why) on the list for you if you turned out a girl. And we didn’t know – not even that night when we sat up late, watching a film about scary evil twins (which mysteriously managed to be on twice more the night before a sister was born) and wondered who would come home with us.
6 hours after you were born, in the middle of dealing with feeding a baby with a cleft and meeting speech therapists and looking at photos of other repaired babies… we chose Frances. It had popped up in the week before – an outside runner – but I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t even sure 2 weeks later when I sat with you in another hospital awaiting your lip repair and leafed through a name book. (Does anyone buy those now?) But Frances you remained. Some people even still call you that, but you’ve been Fran to most for a very long time. I can’t imagine anything else now…
Madeleine was your name from the minute the line went blue. I was sure you would be a girl; we flirted with boys names – Ethan was one – but I don’t think we ever expected to be naming a boy. When you were an hour from arriving the midwife asked for both our name choices to write out a pink and blue wrist label. We only had Maddy… because we knew in our hearts that would be who you were. (We didn’t let her do that though!)
The film had come out but we didn’t know until after your name was picked. I spent hours browsing name lists online (oh, that was a very new thing to be able to do in 2001!) and chose your name straightaway. We’d started to have a ‘French’ theme by then and so Amelie fitted perfectly. And so we spent the next 8 months trying to find a boy’s name. We almost (laughingly, we didn’t believe we could do boys by then) picked Jules, only to discover your cousing who was due two weeks later, would be either Amelia or Jude. Serendipity.
We had an A list (Lucile, Cecile and something long forgotten) and a B list (Genevieve – glad I didn’t pick that!) and Josette and something else too). And then in a flurry of drama you appeared and I lay there all white and worn out and bloodless with this dark-haired scrap who looked nothing like a Lucile or Cecile. So the B list came out and Josette seemed almost right but not quite and then I said “Josie?” and Josie you became. It took us a while to work out why your full name looked so familiar but eventually we realised it was 3 letters different to your uncle’s! (I bet you aren’t surprised we didn’t have a boy name!)
And suddenly we needed a boy name. It was painful! We had a list of nearly 50, eventually whittled down to about 5 (Freddie, Barnaby, Dominic, William and Daniel) but when you arrived names didn’t seem all that important. As I lay in my bed with your photo – which in my mind is a time where you were with me – I imagined you as William, then Daddy came back from telling your sisters that all was not well and we named you in SACBU. The nurses wanted you named so they could tell you what was happening. We texted a few back to the girls (Monty was one!) and settled on Freddie – you had a Daniel as a room mate so that didn’t seem right) and I foolishly thought if you died I might still want to use William another time. So all of those names are yours really because we didn’t give you a long name or middle names; you were Freddie Raymond on the SCBU board and Freddie Raymond you stayed. None of those names were in the running for…
Names felt like the last thing to worry about. And, actually, you were always going to be Benedict. I decided. I just had to let everyone else have their 2p’s worth. We even had a special system. Everyone in the house could add names to a piece of paper using a Post-it note. Once a week everyone placed 5 ticks across the names and then the bottom names got removed. After you arrived safely Daddy brought the top runners to the hospital and we named you then. But you would always have been Benedict. A midwife who looked after me when your brother was born too asked me if I named you for the Pope; I shocked her to the core by saying I named you for Benedict Cumberbatch! You have the middle names your brother should have had – it’s a little link between 2 boys who never met.
Those are your stories. I wonder what you will tell your own children. I hope I get to find out one day.
This is a collaborative post.