My husband and I could have 700 boys and we'd name each one of them with a smile on our faces. Girls, on the other hand -- yeah, not so much. I always wanted four boys and I always had a gut feeling Ethan was a boy so we didn't have to put too much stress in the what if it's a girl department. We'd probably still be arguing over a girl name, should he have been a girl. We had Ethan's name picked out long before I was pregnant, back when Ethan Embry was my dreamboat of choice and ruling the '90's cult film scene. I never knew of an Ethan before him and he was so cool, and so cute, and it just seemed like such a strong, unique name. My husband was always on board with it which is surprising because I think he likes boring names and he thinks I like crazy names. I guess Ethan was a nice middle ground. Of course, by the time we were married and I was pregnant, everyone was naming their kid Ethan. I loved it too much to care. It always felt right, like we would have a son named Ethan and that would be all there is to it. We've had a couple of run-ins with similarly aged Ethan's in our playgroups and mommy and me classes but it hasn't been too overwhelming. I mean, I fail to see Ethan suffering the not-so-fun middle school fate I did where I wasn't just Lindsay P. but Lindsay P.#2. (Because nothing says fun and games like being a middle schooler forced to write "#2" on your assignments.) We had our next boy name picked out long before this pregnancy was a thought. There wasn't even any discussion about it. It was one of those "what about ___?" "That's perfect!" conversations where everything just flowed beautifully.
And then we had to think of a girl name.
Performing heart surgery with a wooden kitchen spoon always seems easier in theory than my husband and I agreeing on a girl name. I'd been having girl vibes since the start of this pregnancy which left me preparing long lists of potential girl names -- only to be back at square one after running each one by my husband. It seems totally possible that we would have a baby girl simply named Untitled for the first fifteen years of her life.
Until it happened and we decided on a girl name. It was one that I found in my sister's yearbook back when I was pregnant with Ethan, one that I had only heard once before in my life. I knew of both a boy and a girl with this name and it was perfectly ambiguous. Perfectly sweet. Perfectly wonderful. My husband didn't like it during my first pregnancy and, for most of this one, he tossed it to the side. Until he came back to it. Like even he couldn't deny how right it was.
Naming a human being requires a lot of pressure. I mean, there are so many factors to consider. Do the initials spell anything crass? Does it rhyme with something inappropriate? I don't want a trendy name that everyone else has, but I don't want a difficult name that no one has any idea how to pronounce (he or she will have enough fun explaining our last name seven zillion times). I also strongly dislike "classic" names but am the first to roll my eyes when someone invents some new, crazy spelling for a preexisting name. But let's face it -- there are a lot of names out there. Everyone always thinks their names are nice and can't figure out what other people are thinking. I've had some people who have named their children what I consider to be incredibly strange names tell me not to choose weird names and then I just get confused because I don't think I'm choosing weird names -- in fact, I think they did. And then you get the well-meaning friends and family (hi, mom) who suggest all of these names that you would never in a million years consider and you just want to scream "do you not know me at ALL?!" Plus, I think having a last name that begins with J complicates things beyond reason. Nearly any letter you pair with J turns into a nickname -- DJ, CJ, AJ and so on. And, trust me, there are only so many old boyfriends -- er, plus your husband -- you can have with the initials AJ before it just becomes a heck no. And then, you know, there are the letters everyone warns you to avoid with a J last name, like the time I almost gave my kid the initials VAJ. I mean, you don't want your kid to grow up hating you and counting down the days until they turn 18 to have their name legally changed. But, you know, then there's that old saying how a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and a name doesn't define a person. This is true. When I was working in an animal hospital, we had referrals from another veterinarian who had the unfortunate first name of Baby. I mean, that's pretty...different, but she still went to medical school. She didn't, in fact, remain a literal baby unable to conquer the world.
I read so many stories of people waiting to see the baby to figure out the name and, kudos. I'm too much of a control freak to even consider such a thought. I love that we are able to refer to this little one by name now, first and middle, and order tiny things embroidered with her name, sweetly and cutely so. We also swore to keep this little one's name a secret until she was born. I feel guilty about this. I feel like people think you don't like them when you tell them it's a secret. (Secrets, secrets are no fun...you know how it goes.) I also feel like this is the most frustrating option, because people hear "it's a secret" and determine it as "I still need suggestions." On any given day, the random stranger in Publix who asked me what I was having is quite content giving me a list of what I consider to be the most atrocious names I've ever heard and I still have to smile and thank them for their suggestions that I never asked for. I'm also not sure what I hope to accomplish by keeping her name a secret. The same people who would scoff and make faces and act grossed out during my pregnancy when I reveal the name are going to be the ones who do just that once she's born. Since we were met with a whole lot of criticism during my pregnancy upon announcing Ethan's name ("what about Evan?" "Ethan, like Ethan Allen?" "Doesn't everybody have an Ethan?"), it still seems like the best option now, keeping it hush hush until she's born. Knowing her before everyone else does, if you will.
And whether there are four people on the planet with her name or four million, whether the random cashier at the grocery store likes it or hates it, I know it's perfectly her. After all, no one knows her like I do already.