How did you choose your baby's name? While I was pregnant with Coco, we didn't find out the gender of the baby, so we had to choose two names. Before we had even conceived, we loved the name Theodore because J and I had both had a student named Theo. He was in my class first and then graduated to J's class when we were teaching in Portland. He was a simply delightful child, lovable in every way. My dad died when I was five years old, so using his name as the middle name was a given. Voila. Theo's name was chosen before we had even started trying to become parents. Ha!
I was about two months pregnant and so queasy when we settled on Coco's name. It was an evening in February and J and I were watching TV after dinner. I was sipping on mango juice to try to curb my nausea. One great thing about our TV service in Switzerland was that we got a huge number of British channels and could watch all the murder mysteries we desired! Have you ever watched Poirot? He's a very funny Agatha Christie mystery character. J and I have seen every single episode of Poirot ever produced, but at that time there were still loads of episodes that we hadn't seen yet.
So there we were, watching Poirot and the story was The Affair at the Victory Ball. Everyone is going to a costume ball, where guests are supposed to dress as someone famous, so Poirot goes as himself! Only Poirot... Anyway, one guest at the party who was part of a six member Harlequin group costume gets stabbed to death at the ball. Then, the following day, another member of the Harlequin costume group dies of a drug overdose. Well, of course, Poirot uses his little grey cells and pieces together what happened and how the deaths were connected and solves the mystery.
I don't remember much (it's funny how Agatha Christie mysteries are so completely forgettable) but I do remember that the woman who died of the drug overdose was named Corrine Courtney -- and she went by Coco! J and I had been throwing around the name Courtney for a girl for a while at that point. He knew a girl in college named Courtney who had a Swiss boyfriend and a Freitag bag and he thought she was super cool and always associated the name Courtney with Switzerland.
I like the name Courtney because I have never met a Courtney I didn't like. I love that it's a really solid, down to earth, yet happy name. Even still, I was on the fence because I really wanted to name a girl Maxine. Catherine Keener's character in Being John Malkovich is my absolute forever style icon, but J wasn't convinced, mainly because of the nickname "Max" or kids making fun of her and calling her Maxi pad. So silly. But, he did have a point, so my counter argument was that "Court" isn't a very nice nickname either.
So when Coco Courtney was there on the screen with her CC monogrammed pill box on the bedside table, dead in her bed, I grabbed J's arm and practically screamed, "We can call her Coco!" and the name Courtney was settled. And now this is the point in the story when we all collectively ask ourselves who the hell names their daughter after a woman who's just overdosed?! Well, we've gotta grab inspiration where we find it, right? Besides, just read the book or watch the show and you'll see she wasn't really to blame...
Fast forward 7 months and I'm in labor. J is all excited and proud as he fills out the paperwork after we arrive at the hospital. We still don't know if it's a boy or girl. He chooses this moment (look at my face) to ask me if maybe we should do a different middle name if it's a girl. Do I look like I give a damn? No, no I do not, but he's asking, so I suggest my grandma who died just a few months after our wedding.
J is delighted with this idea because she once complimented him on the headdress he was wearing at Thanksgiving; when in reality, it was just his hair. J was already proud of his ridiculously amazing hair at that point, but that remark from my grandma really put him over the top. During my labor, I am convinced we are having a boy, so I don't think much of it.
That night at 10:21 pm little Courtney Julia was born, and you better believe that that paperwork was in the hands of an efficient Swiss clerk by 8 am Friday morning. They're not just efficient, they will actually fine you 2500 CHF for holding up the birth certificate and registration of your child if you don't have a name selected within 72 hours of the birth! So when I found myself unable to shake the feeling that she looked more like a Margaret the first day, I had to just shrug it off. Doesn't she kind of look like a Margaret?
The first few weeks of her life, I was insanely proud of my baby girl and everywhere we went with her in the Bugaboo, people would lean to peek in and ask her name. They would smile at me expectantly, and then when I replied, "Courtney," their smiles would vanish from their faces, which would then contort into an expression of repulsion and confusion. They'd often just shake their heads and walk away. After experiencing this a few times, I realized that perhaps the name Courtney really doesn't work in Switzerland. I mean, how would you feel feel upon seeing a beautiful baby girl, asking her name, and then being told, "Hildegard." Not good, right? My apologies to any Hildegards reading this, but that name is just not pretty in English, much the same way Courtney is not pretty in German. Plus, the Swiss can't even say Courtney! When our Swiss neighbor would see her, it sounded like she was saying, "Hi, Curny!" like Kurt, but without the t, and a knee at the end. Eeeeew!
So, we used Coco exclusively from the time she was about two weeks old. It never failed to turn that expectant smile into a bubbling over expression of outright mirth. "Like Coco Chanel!" they would squeal. Yes. Just like Coco Chanel. Much better!
When we moved back to the US, we wondered if we might start calling her Courtney more. But, it turns out she doesn't even respond to Courtney. She is Coco. When she's in trouble, she's still Coco. When she introduces herself, she's always Coco. I've even stopped filling out forms with Courtney "Coco" because it just lends itself to confusion.
When I got pregnant with Theo, we knew that that would be his name. But before we knew he was a boy, we tossed around a few girl names: Maxine Lindsey and Marlowe Lindsey were the two top contenders. Then, we found out it was a boy and he was born and we named him Theo and it's been all good ever since.
I often wonder if we should have put more thought into Coco's name, or if we should have named her Coco legally. I guess I really regret not giving her my name as her middle name. But any time I find myself doing that, I just shrug it off! In the end, your baby embodies whichever name you choose and it takes on a whole new meaning of its own. Don't you agree?
How did you choose (or are you choosing) your baby's name? Spreadsheets and rankings? Reading through book names? Or just choosing one without much thought?