My husband and I are expecting our first baby, a girl, in mid-January (EDA 13th). With just one gender to focus on, and so much else in common, I really thought picking a name would be easy. However, I was completely wrong and we cannot agree.
Since our last name is a tricky one (Greek origin, starts with P), we should be considerate to give her a strong first name. My husband loves the name Sofia (with an ‘f’), and wants nothing but his name. He’s been calling and referring to her as this from the moment we found out we were having a girl. Although I adore the name for its strong, feminine character, I do not like the popularity of it at this time – top 10 for the past few years. My husband and I were both blessed with unpopular names and never had to go by our last initial in school like many others. I want this same thing for my child.
I love different, yet still not off-the-wall names like Portia, Matea, or even something Greek to honor her heritage. Every name I come up with, my husband declines. At one point, it was okay with Alia, Riely or Emma (again, quite common), but ended up back at Sofia and that one and only name.
Please help! Even a Top 5 list would be more desireable going into the delivery room with.
My secondborn, whose blog pseudonym is William, has most years been in class with two other boys who have his same name. In fact, the year he was the only "William" in his class, kids who'd been in class with him before still called him "William T."---and soon everyone was doing it. And as a mid-seventies Kristen, I went by a surname initial or nickname a couple of times myself. I talked it over with William to make sure we agreed, and we do: it is no big deal. I know a lot of people disliked it in their own situations, but neither of us cared at all, or wished we had a different name. (In fact, he says it's fun: he says "Hi, William!" and the other boy says "Hi, William!" and the third boy says "Hi, William!," and so on.) And as I feel like I keep repeating, the common names of this generation aren't the same commonness as the common names of our generation: the spellings Sophia and Sofia combined beat Isabella for the highest-ranking girl name in the U.S., but at 1.12% of baby girls born in 2009, that's still only about 1/4th the percentage of baby girls given the name Jennifer in 1974 (4.03%). (Source: Social Security Administration.) That's just over one Sophia/Sofia per 100 girls, or about one per six classrooms (assuming 15 girls per classroom).
In short, if your husband loves the name and thinks of that as his daughter's name already, and you adore the name for all the reasons you mention, it would be foolish to abandon it merely because other little girls are also being given the name, or because she might have to endure the common experience of occasionally using her surname initial or middle name along with her first name. I think it's helpful, too, to remember that you can reduce the odds of your daughter having the same name as another child, but you can't prevent it: even if you give her a much less common name, sheer chance can make her Portia P. anyway (and I'd avoid the initials P.P.), as in my other son's class where there's not a single Michael or Joshua but are two boys who share a name that wasn't even in the top 100 when they were born.
Name her Sofia. It sounds like you won't be able to get your husband to agree to anything else anyway, no matter what you or we say. Give her an uncommon name as a middle name, and then if she DOES find it unendurable to sometimes need to use a surname initial, she can instead use her middle name, or have a fun first-and-middle combination instead of using the first-and-initial. (This could be a bargaining chip with your husband: he gets the final say on the name Sofia and you get the final decision on the middle name.)