I'm due 2/10/09 with my first baby, a girl. My husband and I are having such trouble reaching an agreement on her name! He would like to honor his sister, Anna, who passed away when she was seventeen. I'm all for honoring - I think it's a beautiful idea. The dilemma is that Ana (spelled with one N) is a common abbreviation for anorexia. After struggling with anorexia for close to a decade, I don't feel comfortable using Anna/Ana for my daughter. I don't want to be reminded of a horrible disease every time I call my daughter's name!
I've offered my husband other names that sound similar to Anna. I really like Julianna and Angelina. I've also suggested Annelise, Susannah, Angelica, Annika, Annabel, Hannah, and Andrea.I also told him I would be okay with using Anna as the middle name (I like Isabel Anna and Gabrielle Anna), but he's still refusing to budge.
Don't get me wrong, I totally understand why he wants to use Anna. He was really close to his sister and was completely devastated when she died. I just don't feel comfortable with using the name because of the connotations it has for me. Do you think this is the type of situation where I just need to bite the bullet and go for it, or should I stick to my guns? What would you do here?
This is a mesmerizing problem. I've been thinking about it for several days and can't see an easy way out of it. Most of us would probably agree that one parent shouldn't insist on a name the other parent doesn't want---but when one parent IS IN FACT insisting, what's the other parent to do? Even if every single one of us unanimously agrees he shouldn't insist, that's not any help to you if he IS insisting.
As you've pointed out, his reason for wanting to use that particular name is a good reason: that is, he's not insisting on the name Anna because he's "always liked it," he has a genuinely good and understandable reason for wanting to use it. His reason is a touching one, and that makes me softer toward him than I might usually be.
But let's strip away some of the sentiment. What is his GOAL here? Will naming a daughter after his sister make his sister "live on" in any literal sense? Will it lessen the pain he feels when he thinks of her death? Will it make him miss her less?
The symbolic act of naming a baby after an important person is a pleasing one, but it is ONLY symbolism. How important is this symbolism to him? So important he's willing to steamroll right over his living wife---the living mother of this living child---for the sake of it?
If you want an "in your shoes" opinion, I THINK in your shoes I'd fold and I'd use the name Anna, and I would just really, really hope that the dear sweet baby would in time erase any associations I had with anorexia. But that's because I don't really see another way out of this situation. You suggested using an Anna-combination first name; he said no. You suggested using Anna as the middle name; he said no. You explained your extreme aversion to the sound of the name; he is unmoved. Sticking to your guns doesn't seem like it's going to change anything, and this can't remain in perpetual stand-off, with both parties refusing to budge: the baby is going to be born and she will need a name.
In the speech I would give to accompany my folding, I would go on AT LENGTH to him about what a huge deal this was to me, because if I WAS going to be forced to do something he should not be forcing, I would want credits applied to my account for a future disagreement. I would also arrange that this meant I could name a future child 100% on my own, with him not even having veto power. (I would not intend to USE that power, because I LIKE to agree on a name and would NOT want to force him into using a name he hated---but I would want to own that power: not only for the fairness of it, but also to point out to him what an enormous thing he was currently asking of me.)
That's just my guess, though; I don't really know what I'd do. And marriages are so very different, what makes sense for one marriage may be an utterly foreign language to another. But...I'm not sure what your other option is, after you've explained your point of view and he's ignored it. Steal the birth certificate? Fight to the death? Best two out of three thumb-wrestle?
Name update 02-23-2009! Rachel writes:
Anna Gabrielle Cooper was born on February 18, 2009. Thank you so much for all the input and advice! Ultimately, I realized that naming my daughter Anna could be a tribute to how I've overcome my eating disorder, just as much as it is a tribute to my husband's late sister. Now that Anna is here, my immediate association is with my beautiful little girl, not with anorexia. (BTW, my husband fully agrees to give my opinion priority when naming our next child.) Once again, thank you!