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Friday, December 10, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Baby Name Regret 2

Terra writes:
So, I am coming to you again.....wrote to you earlier about Baby Girl Patterson. She is here and is now 2 weeks old. We went to the hospital with Catherine "Cate" Hazel in mind, but with a few others from our list as well. We didn't name her until they were kicking us out of the hospital and we went with what we had liked the longest - Catherine Hazel. We couldn't decide between that and Caroline "Carly" Harper. Again, my son is Grady Owen, and we call him Gray.

For some reason, I felt liked she looked like a Carly in the hospital (although I have always thought people were crazy when they said a newborn "looked" like a certain name). But I was afraid I would regret not using Cate and so I went with that. My husband wanted me to decide. He likes all the names fine, but his biggest thing is he doesn't want her to have a name like a dozen other little girls in school. He is Josh and hated that when he was growing up for that very reason.

Now that we are home and she is Cate, it just doesn't feel right. When I say it, when I hear it, any of it. I don't know if this is just a case of name remorse, b/c Baby Name Wizard specifically says that you should NOT wait until you are looking at the baby to decide. That you will second guess yourself for weeks. So maybe that is it. I also think it could be that we just need to get used to it. Since we had not decided for sure, we haven't really been calling her that before she was born. Or, is the name wrong???

The other names we are considering are:

Charlotte Harper - do you think Charlotte will make it to top 10? My husband loves this name and I like it too. Think it goes well with Gray. But if we are trying to avoid overly popular, maybe we shouldn't go this route.

Caroline "Carly" Harper - I have always liked the name Carly, but we do wonder if the style of the name goes well with Grady/Gray. I have also had several parents mention the TV show icarly to me. I wasn't aware of this. Do you think this name will become trendy? Is it a totally different feel than Gray?

Hazel Sutton - I am falling more and more in love with Hazel, but I don't know if I want to use it for a first name. One issue is the color thing. Do you think of a color when you hear Hazel? Because my son is Gray, I want to avoid sounding like I am naming my children after a box of crayons. That is the reason I didn't use Violet, which i love. Also, I adore the name - but I wonder if she will like it one day or think it is too old lady sounding? The other option here is to call her Sutton, which is my husband's favorite. I like that it is different, but wonder if it is too boy sounding.

And finally, my issues with Cate - I was already concerned about the popularity of it, especially with all the close names like Kaitlyn, Kate, Katherine, etc. And then the whole Kate Middleton thing isn't helping right now. I also do not want her called Catie at any point since my son is Grady. BUT, we exclusively call him Gray - so I don't think we need to worry about him going by Grady and her being called Catie later. I also feel weird saying it, like it is so short and the "ate" sound. Maybe I like the way it looks better than sounds...or maybe I am just overly emotional right now and totally sleep deprived. :)

So, please give me your feedback and advice on all the names. We want something that goes well enough with our son's name, that isn't too popular, and not too strange. My only musts are I want to use either Hazel or Harper somewhere in the name, and using Harper as the first name isn't an option (husband doesn't like it). We also don't want to call her Catherine (for family reasons I won't go into).

Baby Girl needs a final name! I feel so bad that I am still undecided!!!

We recently answered a similar question, and I'd say the same answer applies to this one: i.e., that you certainly can change the name, but that if there isn't a specific name you feel is the perfect one to switch it to, you're likely to continue feeling indecisive even after you change it.

I do think that a "baby already named" naming decision is much different than a "baby not yet named" decision. When the baby is not yet named, we can all discuss the merits of various names, and which we'd prefer, and which combinations work best and so forth. Once the baby is named, it doesn't work to re-open the discussion as if the baby had not yet been named: it's a matter of whether you want to switch it, and whether you think switching it will make you happy, and which name you feel strongly enough about to be worth the hassle and kerfuffle.

If the baby were not yet named, I'd be advising you to start over: the names you have on your list are causing you to go in circles. Since the baby is named, I find I have a very strong opinion: I think you should keep her name and call her Catherine instead of Cate. It seems to me that most (if not all) of your current uncertainty is about the nickname: too short, wrong sound, too common, too much like Grady/Gray, not wanting it changed to Catie. Calling her Catherine solves all of these problems, and Catherine is a wonderful name: one of my children has a classmate named Catherine, and it is a pleasing fresh surprise each time I hear it. At only 3 syllables, I don't think it requires a nickname, though a nickname may come about naturally (I knew a Katherine who went by Kitty as a child, and a Catherine who in her high school years went by Cat). Gray and Catherine is a wonderful sibling set.

I think you made a very good, solid choice when you chose Catherine Hazel, and I think you would be sorry in the long term if you changed it to Charlotte (which is widely predicted to get even more popular) or Carly (which is a less solid choice to begin with, and then has the iCarly complication) or Hazel (which does sound like a color to me when I hear it with Gray).

[Edited to add:] Dang it: as Elle pointed out in the comments, I missed the part about not calling her Catherine for family reasons. In that case, I don't have any ideas. None of the other names/combinations on your list seem right to you, either, and shuffling them around seems to be increasing the "NOTHING WORKS!!" anxiety. I think you'll have to choose between calling her Cate or starting all over with a new list. Or perhaps find a non-name-related nickname to call her. Or call her "Rinnie" for the second half of Catherine. Or perhaps the "family reasons" can be overcome?


Nealy said...

Swistle, that was a great answer. I totally agree w/ you. It's a beautiful, solid name and you really can't go wrong w/ Catherine Hazel. And good point about the Hazel/Gray color names too.

Good luck to this mommmy! I think naming the baby is such a huge decision, it's so easy to second guess what not absolutely sure.

Elle said...

I think Catherine has a soft but strong femininity that matches the feel of Gray (and Grady, for that matter).

But I worry that Terra specifically said they didn't want to call her Catherine for family reasons.

Maybe Cate is sounding so short to you, Terra, because of your insecurity. Maybe you're repeating it in your head in a short and clipped way to test if it IS too short and clipped. Why don't you try saying it, in your head and out loud, with a longer A sound. Just try and drag out the name so it takes you a full second to say the name. I think it softens the sound of the name and makes it extra pretty sounding.

Overall, I'm with Swistle, stick with the name you've already given her. But give Cate a chance. It really is a beautiful name.

(I wish I could use it someday! But can't for family reasons.)

Swistle said...

Elle- Oh dang it, I even SAW that about not wanting to use Catherine, but then got caught up in all the other issues and forgot!

Kate said...

Not sure if this helps but we had both of our sons names picked out before we had even conceived and still when we brought them home from the hospital I thought they sounded weird - being heard and said. My youngest son's name is Hutton and I'm not sure I've ever admitted this but I rarely said his name aloud the first few weeks because it sounded so odd to me. He's 5 months old now and I look at him and think he is totally a Hutton, no other name would suit him (and I'm so glad my husband was adamant on keeping this name.)

Catherine (Cate) Hazel is beautiful and I hope it grows on you. (Notably, I might be a little biased of the name, but I have to tell you that no matter how many Kates (Cates) I meet I still love my name.)

M.Amanda said...

Basically, my answer is the same as the other regret post. You have a lovely name for your little girl. While it may not quite feel right, it will most likely grow to be your little girl's name in your mind. If not, nicknames are wonderful things. They don't necessarily have to be very close to the given name (Sarah/Sally, Mary/Molly, John/Jack, I've heard of Catherine being shortened to Cassie) or derived from the name at all, like the other regret poster's Birdie - so cute!

M.Amanda said...

I just saw Kate's comment and I admit I didn't say my daughter's name very often the first couple months. It was strange. This was MY CHILD, yet I was avoiding saying her name while I got used to it, like I do with people I've just met and don't want to offend by getting mixed up and saying their name wrong.

Also, my little one is Kate, but I often say Kay, KayKay, Kitten, KitKat, Kit, and K-Bug. She has her "real name" and Mommy's names for her. It works for us.

Sara said...

I immediately though of Charlotte, nicknamed Charlie. Charlie rhymes with Carly, but eliminates the problems you have with Carly. Good luck!

Erin said...

I do feel like you have more leeway because its only 2 weeks out instead of 4 months out in your case, so your baby hasn't been Cate that long. It also seems to me if you are leaning towards anything its Caroline, and Caroline is lovely (even if I prefer other nicknames than Carly). If you want her to be Caroline Hazel, go for it, and don't worry about the nicknames.

If you do stay with Catherine Hazel, what about calling her Hazel? You don't have to worry its too old lady sounding because she can always switch back to her first name if she wants to later on, but it also won't immediately appear (on paper at least) that Grady and Catherine are colors.

One last suggestion, what about Cat instead? I don't think its less short than Cate, but its not as biting sounding to me (not that Cate is biting, but the long a with the sharp consonants is more jarring to me than Cat). If it were me, I might just go for Caroline though. I do think Charlotte will become quite popular.

Anonymous said...

I've met Catherines nicknamed Carrie, Cassie, and Cat.

Abby@AppMtn said...

I love Erin's suggestion of calling her Hazel. I'm A. Abigail - I just explained it (again) this morning to (yet another) financial institution when I went in to complete a form. But it is a VERY minor headache.

So I think C. Hazel is a very good option.

There's also the nickname Trinny from Catherine. Catharine is a family name for us, but I dislike the idea of our child Cate/Kate blending in with all the others.

Gray and Trinny sound like sibs to me, but then, so do Gray and Hazel.

Good luck!

Caitlin said...

Does she still look like a Carly to you?

If so, why not call her Carly? If someone can get Cassie from Catherine, then in my mind Carly is not that far off either.
Or what about changing her name to Catherine Caroline Hazel, nn Carly?

Whenever I see this issue of name regret come up, I always wonder what the parents think the baby looks like. I have met babies that are TOTALLY their name, and others whom do not look like their name at all. I am sure it's hard, but I say always go with your gut. If she's a Carly, she's a Carly. Look at her and call her Carly. How does it feel? Does it feel any more comfortable than Cate?

Caitlin said...

Oooh and yes! Going by Hazel sounds adorable, too!

Clarabella said...

What about the nn Rina (pronounced Reena) or Trina for Catherine? I know you can't just use Catherine, but those are lovely & original & still not too far from the given name.
Or, if you use Caroline, I have heard of "Caro" being used as a nn, which I honestly like better than Carly & you can bet no one else would have that name. Good luck!

Clarabella said...

OR what about Casie (or any spelling) as a sort of morph of Cate+Hazel? I don't even think Casie is too much of a stretch for Catherine.

Karen L said...

I think there's no shortage of good nicknames for Catherine. I might go with Kay, Kit, or Kitty if I weren't loving Cate. Rin is cute too.

FWIW, I don't have a colour association when I hear Gray and Hazel together. And even when it's pointed out, I don't think it's a problem. So, if I were in your shoes, I'd stick with Catherine Hazel and call her Hazel.

sarah said...

I was going to say what Caitlin said -- I think you could keep her full name as Catherine and still call her Carly if you want. I wouldn't be too concerned about iCarly as it is a show for older kids that probably won't be on any more by the time your daughter is old enough to watch it.

Jenn said...

I think you should keep Catherine Hazel and just change her nickname. If you can overcome the family thing, I also think that calling her Catherine solves a lot of your other issues.
I agree that with the sib name of Gray, Hazel is too much like a color.
I also agree that you can still use Carly as a nickname for Catherine. It's a nickname, you can make your own rules! I like Cassie too. Catia?

I had a student once that went by Cates instead of just Cate. It took me a minute when I first saw it, but I quickly fell in love with it. It's really the same name, but doesn't sound as short to me. The "s" really softens it.

StephLove said...

I'd keep the name as is since as Swistle pointed out, you're not focused on another name that seems like THE one. I'd change my answer only if Caroline/Carly really is seeming like THE one ( and I mention that only because that's where the post seemed to be going at first).

The Mrs. said...

Hazel also offers a couple of original nickname options:

I really can get on board with the 'Jenn' poster above me who suggested 'Cates' as a nickname. It sounds so fresh, cool, and sophisticated!

Grey and Hazel ARE colors... understated, classic, refined colors. Why not embrace it? They sound wonderful together!

Your daughter has a fantastic name; you've done a good job. She has boundless nickname options, a stellar middle name for interest, and a family that loves her no matter what she is called.

Anonymous said...

Call her kit!

mixette said...

Swistle gives darn good advice! Catherine is a great name and gives you many nn options while leaving "Catherine" a fantastic name to keep as-is. For my two cents, my grandmother was a Katherine who went by Kitty - very cute.

christine said...

Oh I still love both Catherine and Cate. But I think you could use Cat, or Carly or Hazel as names for her, if she doesn't feel like a "Cate" to you. One of my favorite cousin's daughters is a Kate, who I always call Katydid.

You are only two weeks out though, so if you want to change it go for it. I just wonder (and I'm not trying to sound condescending at all, I swear as someone who goes a little batty over minor sleep loss and has suffered depression) how much of the doubt is just getting used to the weirdness of having a new baby + lack of sleep + hormones.

Any way you choose, good luck mama!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I know a woman whose name is Caroline and her family and friends call her Ceddy (hard "C" like in Caroline, rhymes with Freddie). It's a cute nickname that is unique. I think you could use it for Catherine as well (hard "C" sound). I LOVE the name Catherine (it's my sister's name). As a child, she was always Cath or Catherine and as a teen and adult she's always Cat or Catherine. My sister-in-law's name is Kate and her family calls her Ka-tink. I think anything goes! Good luck!

bethy said...

I know it's a bit of a stretch, but I knew of a baby Catherine who was called "Wren" (it kind of sounds like the end of Catherine, I guess!).

Patricia said...

I would call her Cathy. Catherine Hazel is a lovely name, and I think that must have been why you stayed with it, even with your several reservations about "Cate" and your not wanting to call her Catherine. Cathy is a lovely sounding nn and the one closest to the given name. We named our first daughter Catherine and called her Cathy.

I know that Cathy isn't being used as much now, but it will come back. Catherine called "Cathy" must have been somewhat common in the mid-19th C because Emily Bronte used Cathy as the nickname for the heroine of her classic novel Wuthering Heights, published in 1847. The nicknames for Catherine -- Kitty, Kate/Cate, Cathy -- come and go as the one most in favor at a certain time. Cathy would give your Catherine a nickname that's less used right now: classic name, classic nn, yet not one that's been overused in 2010. In 2009 56 American baby girls were named Cathy; 1856 were named Catherine, with no doubt, some of them being called Cathy as well.

I like Cate/Kate, but I find it somewhat harsh when compared with the softer Cathy which flows more naturally from the given name Catherine. And I think by sticking with the original short 'a' vowel sound, Cathy sounds better with Gray or Grady. Your daughter would have the option of choosing a different nn when she's older or using her full name, as my daughter Catherine does. (I would think that by then the name Catherine would be seen as belonging to your daughter every bit as much as to the family member you don't want to copy at this time.)

Best wishes!

Patricia said...

Further thoughts-- You said in your previous letter: "Catherine Hazel (call her Cate) - This is probably my number one pick. Have always loved the name Cate (with a C)..."

But now after naming your daughter Catherine, you're having second thoughts (which isn't that unusual) and thinking maybe you should change it: " issues with Cate...
- concerned about the popularity of it, especially with all the close names like Kaitlyn, Kate, Katherine, etc.
- And then the whole Kate Middleton thing isn't helping right now.
- I also do not want her called Catie at any point since my son is Grady. BUT, we exclusively call him Gray - so I don't think we need to worry about him going by Grady and her being called Catie later...
- ...or maybe I am just overly emotional right now and totally sleep deprived. :)"

I think you had good reasons to name your daughter Catherine, and I'm guessing that 'hormones' and tiredness are causing you to have all these doubts now. Someone said this is a better time to change the name -- with Catherine/Cate only 2 weeks old -- than later on. But I'm wondering if it might be the opposite. You've very recently gone through child birth; you're adjusting to having two children -- one of them a newborn and the other adjusting to no longer being the only child; you're sleep deprived and probably all and all feeling at least a little overwhelmed. I think you should give the name a little more time.

I'm concerned that if you change the name so soon after going through childbirth and while you're adjusting to having a new baby, you may later have a different name regret -- that you didn't stay with your instincts and your love of the name Cate.

Catherine is not overly popular (even with combined spellings) or trendy. I don't think Catherine "Kate" is going to become a Top 10 name anytime soon due to the future "Princess" Catherine. In 2009 Catherine ranked #177. (When combined with the other spellings of the name in the Top 1000 -- Katherine and Kathryn - the name Katherine ranked only 42, nowhere near the Top 10.) Kate ranked 159. (Caitlin is an entirely different matter -- too many spellings and many of them are called the full Caitlin/Kaitlyn, etc. anyway.)

I have another nn option for you: Catrina. When our daughter Catherine, official nn Cathy, was very young we sometimes called her"Catrina". Years later she decided to give her second daughter Catrina as her give name. Before long we were also calling Catrina "Catie" and that evolved to "Cate" when she was growing up. She's a young adult now and mostly goes by Cate (but uses Catrina too). The name Cate may seem too grown up sounding for your baby girl, but you could ease into it by calling her both Catrina (such a cute nn for Catherine) and Cate (and I wouldn't worry that Catie would stick forever if you find yourself calling her that too).

You've given your daughter a lovely name. I'd keep it as is.

TT said...

Thanks for all of the comments and feedback everyone. As Swistle suggested, we sort of started over from scratch. Obviously none of the other names were right. The new name we decided on is Annabel (Anna) Harper, and we would call her Anna Harper. This is the only name I seem to like as much as Catherine (Cate) Hazel. But now we just have to decide if we want to go to all of the trouble to change it. I'm also wondering - is Anna even more popular than Cate? Or do all of the Catherine/Katherine/Katies/Kaitlyns, etc. make them about the same in popularity? Thoughts????

Anonymous said...

Your new choice is just as lovely as all the others, you do have wonderful taste in names. I wanted to post a link for a complete list of names with spelling variations tallied so that you can get a solid idea of what the numbers are like. I personally wouldnt be as worried about popularity, because popularity has dropped significantly from what it was a generation ago (70's/80's). I wish you luck in choosing the perfect name, keep us updated on you final decision!

Here is the link:

krisfun said...

The new name you chose is lovely, but I've noticed Anna being just as popular as Hazel,if not more so. My eldest has met 3 Hazels and 4 Annas in her short 5 yr life. And Annabel doesn't have quite as many nickname options as Catherine does.

My youngest is named Katherine as well. This was my choice, with the nickname being Katy, and I wasn't going to change my mind about it. But you know what happened? My older daughter came up with the best nickname for her, and it totally stuck (it's a combination of her first and middle name). Now I don't even think to call her Katy. Maybe Gray will do the same for you!

I think if you are set on changing her name, then make sure you really really like the new name, because if these feelings come up again, you can't just keep changing her name to try and make them go away. Otherwise, let it go. Just like looking at the same word over and over again makes it start to look does saying it over and over again.

Caitlin B said...

I have to agree with Swistle. It does seem like you are more anxious about the nickname Cate (which happens to be one of my own nicknames along with Caitie - but no hard feelings!:)) rather than the name itself.

I have an aunt who goes by Reenie, although her name is Maureen.

Cathleen is originally a nickname for Catherine, although I realize it's usually seen as its own name nowadays.

I suppose if you don't like Catie or Kitty you wouldn't like Cathy...but I know a 3 year old Cathy who has really taken the name from seeming like a 60 year old lady to being the meaning of sweetness!

And Cath. I think Cath is much more common in the UK than in the US. Cath & Kim and Cath Kidston both come to mind.

However, my favorite option is calling her Hazel! That is a wonderful name - gorgeous. And I don't think of a color first, I think of flowers! Also, it would be such a plus to not have to change her official name.