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Friday, May 13, 2011

Baby Girl Zarembsk1

Katie writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first child, a girl, on July 4th. Our last name is Zarembsk1, with the 1 being an i (my husband has a coaching job where he's googled frequently). We're both teachers and have started running into the problem where when a name comes up, at least one of us can think of an annoying kid with that name. We've both agreed that if one vetoes a name, it's out of the running. I really liked the name Ella, but my mom cautioned me to check what the baby's initials would be since my dad regrets his initials that spell ASS. That's what threw Ella out of the running and caused my husband to veto it.

The other thing I am 100% insistent upon is that she be given a first name that when the average person looks at it, they know how to pronounce it. With the last name of Zarembsk1, she's going to have to already battle mispronunciation problems for at least a good portion of her life.

Here's the list of names we're considering and we're definitely open to more:


We have 0 middle name ideas right now, so any help on that would be appreciated. If it had been a boy, my husband and I had easily agreed the boy's middle name would have been James, after both of our beloved grandfathers. However, our grandmothers' names are Barbara, Verna, and Kathleen (Kathleen is too close to my name). We're not thrilled with any of those combinations.

Any help you can throw our way would be greatly appreciated!


In many ways, the first child's name is the most difficult: if you plan to have more children, and if you like sibling names to coordinate, the first name sets the course. If you choose Quinn this time, you might feel locked-in to androgynous names; if you choose Mia, you might feel locked-in to common names or short names---and so on. Each name you choose can eliminate other names, depending on your taste in sibling names: if you use Mia, for example, you're likely ruling out Leah and Amelia and Mila and Mina and Micah and maybe Milo; or if you used Brooklyn, for example, you might not want to use names ending in the same sound, or you might think of another name you love that starts with B but you don't want to repeat an initial, or you might think of another place name you love but not want two place names, or you might love the name Brandon but it's too similar, or WHATEVER.

This is why my main advice to first-time baby namers is to make your job HARDER than it already is, by thinking in terms of sibling groups. In the long run this will make your task easier, and help protect you from "We chose ____ without realizing that it doesn't go with any other names we like!" It was sheer chance that Paul and I didn't back ourselves into that very corner: if our first child had been a girl, we wanted to use the name Emerson---but Emerson is not a name in our usual style, and so we would have had a very difficult time choosing sibling names.

And this is one reason I like The Baby Name Wizard so much: by sorting names into categories, she's made it so much clearer when a name falls into our usual style and when it's an outlier. If I'd had this book back when I was naming my firstborn, I would have seen that 95% of the names we liked fell into the same two or three categories, and that Emerson was an atypical choice for us. (Instead I was saved at 20 weeks by finding out the baby was a boy.)

So that is the BULK of my advice. I don't have many suggestions because I think you already have a good list, and also because I'm not sure which style you'll end up going with.

But I do have a FEW suggestions! If you liked Ella, I wonder if you would like Clara or Lily or Calla or Stella or Annabel? If you like Mia, maybe Amelia or Lia or Mira. If you like Natalie, maybe Meredith or Bethany or Cecily or Celeste. If you like Brooklyn, maybe Maren or Rowen or Delaney or Keelyn or Tylyn. If you like Quinn, maybe Bryn or Lane.

For a middle name, I like to wait until after I have the first name chosen, and then see what seems good with it. Sometimes a family name works even if it's not a name you love: we used one where I don't like the family name at all, but DID like the family member, and it turned out to be a very satisfying choice even though I still don't like the name. Or family SURNAMES make good middle names, or the mother's maiden name if the children will have the father's surname (I'm so tempted to call it "the father's maiden name"). Or sometimes a name gets rejected for a reason that doesn't mean the name itself was rejected (as with Ella, which had to be rejected for its initial, or as with a name you might love even though it fails the pronunciation requirement), and those make good middle names too. Or if one of you gets more sway with the first name, the other may get more sway with the middle name. Or if you have several names that don't quite make it as your first-name choice but you still love them, those make excellent middle names. Or the name of the city where you met? or the city where you got engaged? or the city where you got married? or of an author you both love?

Name update! Katie writes:
Thanks for all of your (and your readers' help) with naming our daughter. We took your advice and tried to think of possible other sibling names that we liked and realized we were not gender neutral baby namers. We also went digging a bit further back into our family tree for inspiration for a middle name and found out my great grandmother's name was Grace. Our daughter, Natalie Grace, was born on July 7th at 6:18 AM. She was 8 pounds, 4 ounces and was 21 inches long. She also lots of dark hair, long enough for a baby ponytail!

Thanks again for all of your help!


Mia/Maria/Maia/Maya/Mya said...

If you want a name that people immediately know how to pronounce, I recommend steering clear of "Mia." It's likely she will hear a lot of "Maya" and maybe even a "Maria" or two. I know it seems like an easy enough name, but for some reason, that combination of letters and sounds confuses people.

From your list, Natalie seems like the clear choice. It's easy to pronounce, and it doesn't lock you into a certain set of sibling names. And it's lovely. :)

Christine said...

I really like Natalie and I actually like Natalie Verna (NVZ) no negative associations I can think of. Quinn Barbara is sweet to me too. If you like Quinn, you may like Peyton?

Good luck!

StephLove said...

I like Quinn Kathleen and Mia Kathleen, and for me the middle being similar to your first is more of a plus than a problem. The names on your list are different styles so I'm having trouble coming up with suggestions, but how about Bailey, Jordan or Taylor if you decide to go the unisex route? Place names I usually like best if there's a personal reason for choosing it, Swistle had some good ideas of locales to consider if any meaningful places for you are also used as names. Mia (and Ella) bring to mind, short and sweet names like Ava, Chloe, Emma, Grace and Lily.

Karen L said...

Thinking in terms of sibling groups IS useful, if you care about sibling groups. Overly similar in sound or spelling and is one thing but style is another. Overly similar is inconvenient but matching style is just a preference. And how well names go is rather subjective, too. There's nothing "wrong" with having an Emerson, an Anastasia, and a Gertrude, it's just unlikely that one person would like all those names.

I agree with StephLove that Kathleen's similarity to your name is a pro, not a con. Or you could go all the way and actually use your name as the middle.

You have a good list to work from but .. some other suggestions (stabs in the dark, really):

StephLove said...

Oh, I also wanted to add I have a favorite middle name for Mia in my back pocket. It's Susannah. Mia Susannah Zarembsk1. I also like it the other way around. Susannah Mia Zarembsk1

The Mrs. said...

Natalie would be my pick.

Other names that remind me of 'Natalie' are:





You've got a tricky spot with both of you being teachers! So I've tried to pick names that haven't been common for a while... but ones that could still go with 'Smith' when she got married.

The name 'Ella' reminds me of:







All the best to you as you anticipate your sweet daughter!

Susan said...

I'm not sure if this is a problem for many people or not, but I never know how to spell or pronounce "Mia." There are so many variations of it out there, and they all sound so similar to my ears, that even with a particular child, I can't get it straight. There's a little girl in my church named "Miah," and after probably two years of chronically forgetting which of the spellings and pronunciations was the right one, her mom told me to think of the last two syllables of the name "Nehemiah." Now I finally have it, but I still have to first think "Nehemiah" each and every time before I say her name.

I have another friend whose daughter is "Mia," and I finally stopped using her name at all unless the mom uses it first, because I cannot for the life of me remember whether she's a MY-uh or a MEE-uh. (I DO remember she's not a MAY-uh.)

Your last name, on the other hand, I find pretty easy. The first time I heard it, I wouldn't know how to spell it, but I think I'd have it down for good after one practice. Cool-sounding name with great sounds.

Kas said...

My baby Niece is Mia (Mee-ah) i dont know of my sister ever having and issue with people pronouncing it incorrectly. I alway thought Mia was pronounced as Mee-ah and Mya or Myah was pronounced My-ah! As Mia is becoming quite common i really dont think you will have an issue with the pronounciation!! its a beautiful name my favourate from your list! I love Estelle as the middle name Mia Estelle!! A girlfriend recently had a little girl and named her Lara Estelle i think its the prettiest middle name and works well with most names!!

Also from your list i love Quinn! Quinne Estelle!! or Quinn Kathleen is also very pretty! congrats and all the best picking a name for your baby girl x

Allison said...

My son has a girl in his class named Mia, pronounced MY-uh.

Patricia said...

With a longer, 3 syllable, somewhat difficult to pronounce surname, I'd suggest choosing a 1 or 2 syllable, familiar first name. From your list, Mia is definitely my favorite. There could be a pronunciation problem now and then, but generally I think it will be pronounced correctly.

Other names you might consider:


Anonymous said...

I like the Bryn suggestion. I think with your last name you need a short sweet first name. Bryn Kathleen has a nice sound and I think it is a pro rather than a con.

Joanne said...

I think everyone is right about Mia, my daughter's name is Maria and I can't BELIEVE how many people call her Mariah or Marie or Mariana, once, even. I have a friend who likes to name her kids names that you can only spell one way and her girls' names are Piper and Nola. Piper is my favorite of those two but I really like both. It is sort of a long, complicated last name but I recommend thinking of two syllable names, too, because otherwise you can get a funky cadence going. My kids' last name is one syllable and I have really front loaded their first names and I wish sometimes I had gone with a little bit shorter names so their names flow a bit better.