Help! My husband and I are expecting our first baby, gender unknown, at the end of February (Feb. 27). Our last name sounds like Luke but starts with a D instead of an L. We are set if this baby is a boy, but I just KNOW that it is a girl and in that area we are in trouble!
I really like classic, "pretty" girls' names that aren't TOO popular. Of course, the name I have loved since I was a child is Emily, which has been #1 or #2 on the SSA site for ten years! I still like that name, but it just feels so "used" to me that I am not sure I can use it. (And I don't think it really works as a middle name, but I would definitely consider it for that slot). Another name I love is Elizabeth, but my husband dislikes this name (he says he would consider it for a middle name, but not a first).
Some other names we have discussed:
Penelope - this name has been slightly soured for me by people's reactions. We aren't telling anyone our name choices, but someone mentioned this concidentally and called it a "weird" name. I like the nickname Penny but husband doesn't. Really loved this name before I was pregnant, but with the combo of the "weird" comment and husband's dislike of Penny, I'm less enthusiastic.
Elinor - Husband's grandmother's name. I LOVE this one too, he won't use it as a first name, but willing to use it as a middle.
Grace - Husband's grandmother's middle name. I know this is popular as a middle name, but is it used a lot as a first name? I love the nickname Gracie and I think Grace is so pretty. One problem - Husband's sister had a baby a year ago and her middle name is Grace. His cousin also had a girl a year ago, and ALSO has the middle name Grace. (All after the same grandmother). If it was just the cousin, I wouldn't mind, but my SIL and BIL seem to call their baby by the first and middle name fairly frequently. It's not like there would be confusion, necessarily, but I am worried about accusations of "copying" SIL.
It seems like we have thought of and thrown out a million other names. As you can see, we are going around in circles. At this point, none of these names really feel like the baby's name to me, and definitely not to my husband, who is a classic vetoer. I am hoping you can suggest some names that I haven't thought of. I am really feeling sad that I haven't hit upon "the" name yet - I love baby names and have been thinking about them forever (long before I was pregnant), so I can't believe that I am 8 weeks out with no idea what this baby will be named!!
The Emily situation is both better and worse than you think. Worse because it was #1 for twelve years in a row, from 1996 until 2007. Better because in 2008 it was #3, and in 2009 it was #6. Also better because in terms of percentages of baby girls being given the name, there's been a very significant drop, from a high of 1.36% in 1999, to 0.76% in 2009---that's getting close to being cut in half. And also better because despite its long popularity it still doesn't feel used-up to me. Used, sure, but that's true of all the traditional names and even the ones people think of as unique. Used UP, no.
However, if it DOES feel used-up to you, there are lots of possibilities that are a little less common. Emeline, for example, is similar to Emily but is surprisingly unusual. Or there's Emilia, Emlyn, Emryn, Emery, or Emerson. My favorite is Emeline because I think it captures more of the style of Emily. There's also Adeline and Amelia.
Since you also like Elizabeth, I recommend Eliza.
Grace is a popular first name: it was the 17th most popular girl name in the U.S. in 2009. The Social Security baby name site is great for this: not only can you see a name's current popularity, you can see if it's falling or rising---and how rapidly. Grace, for example, looks like it has settled: after a rise, it's been floating in the space between #10 and #21 for a decade. This makes it look to me as if it's not going to get super-super-popular, but is instead going to stay nicely popular. However, if your husband's grandmother has already been honored twice via the use of her middle name, perhaps there are other family members who could be honored? It seems so unfair that the family members with currently-popular names get such a disproportionate amount of honoring-via-namesakes.
Penelope is a name that seems highly unusual and yet I don't think it will seem that way for much longer. Look at this:
(screen shot from the Social Security baby name site)
(click it to see it larger)
(click it to see it larger)
An underlined lowercase A means the name was not in the Top 1000 that year. I cut it off at 1994, but those underlined lowercase As go back to 1974. Penelope was nowhere in sight, and now look at it go: up almost 700 rank places in 9 years, and I'm eager to see where it will be when the 2010 statistics come out in May. It's good news for people like me, who prefer to use more common/familiar names: Penelope would have been out of the question for me back when my first child was born in 1999, but if I were to have another child now, I'd feel able to use it. (And in fact, when I was expecting in 2007, it was one of our frontrunners until we found out we were having a boy.) If your husband doesn't like like the nickname Penny, maybe he'd like Nellie or Pip.
It's even more unusual than Penelope, but I wonder if you'd like the name Felicity? It has the same rhythm as Penelope, but more of the early-American style of Emily. It's pretty and feminine and underused, and it would work with any of your possible middle names (though because I prefer not to spell anything with initials, I'd avoid FED---perhaps this is a good moment to go through your family tree looking for other women you love whose names would be good middle-name candidates).
Name update! Melanie writes:
Baby name update for you! Our baby GIRL was born March 2. We decided to name her Emily Elizabeth, thanks to your reassuring comments about the popularity, and all the commenters who said that Emily was a great, classic name. In particular, one commenter mentioned how special Emily would feel when I told her I had loved her name all my life, and when I read that I started crying. That's when I knew she had to be Emily!! Elizabeth, her middle name, is after my grandmother. Thanks for all your help!!!
P.S. I attached a photo too! I love the photo updates myself, so I had to include one. :)