Monday, February 29, 2016

Choosing a baby name

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?

20 comments:

  1. Well now I don't feel so bad about naming our daughter after a contestant on "Project Runway" ;)
    We didn't know the gender of our first born either...we could not think of a girl's name that we loved...we settled on Molly..but never used it because we had a boy :) We were in between the name Felix (the name of a character from a Canadian show called "Road to Avonlea" that my husband and I both grew up watching as kids and loved) and Oliver (because we have a slight obsession with Jamie Oliver ;) ). We went with Felix and everyone loved it (at least that's what they have said).
    With our daughter, it is just as you mentioned with Coco's full name...when we say it here in Canada people wrinkle their noses and we know everyone hates it lol but we love it...and she is an Uli (a very German name ha ha). People have a hard time pronouncing properly here as well because of the letter "U" pronunciation in German and English.
    My mom is Austrian (has an accent like Arnold Schwarzenegger) and has a hell of a time pronouncing her grandson Ethan's name...we all find it amusing ;)
    ~Sabine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is hilarious! What you need to do is move to a German speaking place. ;) xoxo

      Delete
    2. ..and yes, Uli's name came to us while watching an episode of "Project Runway" :) (at least the contestant Uli was a really nice German lady ha ha)

      Delete
    3. The "Project Runway" aspect makes me feel much better!

      Delete
  2. I LOVE hearing about how people chose their child's name and wrote about the same thing myself!

    (https://sortofamomblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/how-did-you-choose-your-childs-name/ if you are interested in reading)

    I got the idea for my son's name from The Bachelor (of course I didn't share that with my husband at the time or it would have been immediately vetoed) and my daughter's name came from a book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THE BACHELOR! Yes, this makes me feel heaps better. :) Thank you for sharing. I'm going to check out your post now. :) xo

      Delete
  3. For the longest time pre and during pregnancy, our daughter was going to be Josephine. Then my husband brought up Georgia in passing and it just stuck. She is Georgia or Georgie. Elodie is her middle which I heard first as a French girl was staying at the hostel we managed on the coast of California.

    Our son is Eli, which just sounds horrible in Switzerland and no one got. He was born there and I didn't care...we like it. His middle is Nathaniel, which hilariously enough I can take or leave. We just had to have a filler. LOl, so bad to say but true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Georgia is such a great name! And I love Elodie. That's so fun that you chose middle names that sound good. I've always felt there was a rule it must be a tribute to a family member. How liberating!

      Delete
  4. Hahah, loved this post! Names are sooo hard (says the 39 weeks pregnant lady soon to decide on a name). We found out a few weeks ago that we're having a girl, which we find more difficult to name than a boy. I loved reading about people's reactions to Courtney (and the commenter above that had a similar story) because we are thinking Helena but the reactions we get when we tell the odd person are not….reassuring. Haha! We have one other contender, a family name, but I think we'll wait till she's born to see what sticks. ~K

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck! Not everyone will love your name. But hopefully they won't shake their heads and walk away!!!! Huge congrats on the baby arriving any day! xoxo

      Delete
  5. This is so fun! I'm just at the end of my first trimester with my first baby and my husband and I have had two boy names for years that we both love (and I'm certain we're having a boy). We have had a hard time narrowing down girls names. My husband is convinced we're having a girl and keeps sending me new names-- Marion, Nessa, Coralie, Thea, Clementine... the list is getting a little too long but thankfully we have time to decide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great list of girls' names! I especially love Marion and Clementine. :) Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy. The second trimester is the best!!! Congrats and hugs to you! xo

      Delete
  6. Such a fun topic :-) It IS so tricky to name a baby, especially if you decide to tell anyone in advance your shortlist. Oh the unsolicited feedback you receive, most of it not good! We had one bad experience when pregnant with our first that cemented not telling anyone about the name, and ultimately ruled out that original pick. Our first choice was my husband's, Eve. Our second is Hazel, my choice. Both times, we wanted to avoid names that were on the top 10 lists, here or in the UK, and personally since the husband is English, I wanted to avoid a name with a "t" in the middle of it as they then end up with different pronunciations depending on who is speaking. Our original pick that we then swore off was Etta which at the time I was still torn on as for Americans, it sounds like "Edda" and in England, "Etttta". Though not to be confused with the Spanish terrorist group (yet another concern)! And PS- for Hazel, almost no one ever has replied to say they like the name, only ask if it's a family name (assuming we HAD to name her that, not chose to). A tricky thing names! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coco has a classmate named Etta! I love that name. So sorry it got ruined for you. :( But Eve and Hazel are awesome names. We, too, wanted to avoid top ten names. Smart move! xoxo

      Delete
  7. I always wondered about Coco's name ;) My twins are Jacob and Elizabeth. Jacob didn't have a name until after he was born; Elizabeth had one early on. BUT! We told no one! Not a soul! Precisely because we didn't want the reactions ;) We gave our kids common names, but they have more unique nicknames that we use regularly with them. (I hated that there was always more than one Jessica and I had to use my last initial, so we're hoping the less-than-common nicknames will avoid that). The names weren't chosen for any reason other than the fact that we like them. Their middle names are familial (Christopher and Anne). They also have two middle names (the second for both is my maiden name); this has been a problem with social security, because their system has a limited number of characters. Go figure ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes to having a not so common name! I was always the only Lindsey...but about five years later was a Lindsey explosion, so I was lucky!
      Interesting about the social security number of characters - I never knew that! Just another hassle!!! Hahaha!!! xx

      Delete
  8. Like Claire, I also recently wrote about this topic! (http://www.queso-suizo.com/2016/01/whats-in-baby-name.html) It's such a fun one, and I love hearing everyone's stories. Like Jessica, I also wondered about Coco (and assumed it was after Coco Chanel! ha!). By the way, the story of your grandma loving J's "headdress" is THE BEST! Love it! We didn't find out genders for either of our babies so always had to have a boy name and a girl name ready. We went with first names we both loved and family names for middle names, but our stories are nowhere near as entertaining as yours! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's obvious you lived in Zurich if your mind goes to Coco Chanel, and not coconuts, first! Bravo!! :)

      Delete
  9. I'm just as bad as you. I picked my daughters name (Cecilia) from the youngest daughter in the book The Virgin Suicides, who jumps out of a second story window to impale herself on a wrought iron fence!! We call her Cece or Cecilia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, that makes me feel so much better! :) Thank you for sharing. Cecilia is a lovely name! xx

      Delete

Blogger template designed By The Sunday Studio.