We are expecting a baby girl around 4th of July. Our son is called River, but he is a fourth, and his full name is Richard S___ H___ IV. We used the R from Richard and IV from fourth to get River. We wanted him to have a more unusual nickname, but like that he has a traditional name as well. My husband goes by Rush, from the initials RSH. My name is Sarah, which I have never really liked because I was always one of 6 or 7 Sarahs in school and among my friends. But, it is a family name that goes pretty far back in my family tree, and my middle name is my mom's maiden name. I like the family/tradition aspects of my name. Our last name sounds very similar to Hamilton. We would like our daughter ideally to have a family name as well, since the rest of us do. This will probably be our last child.
My favorite is Rose, with the nickname Rosie. I love it and it meets all of my name-nerd criteria. I like that it is traditional/timeless, but not super popular. I think it is popular as a middle name, but is in the 300s on the social security list of first names. I also like that it is a word and has a nature theme like River, without sounding too matchy. (A lot of people have suggested names like Brooke, Sky, etc, to go with River, but those all seem overly matchy/naturey, where Rosie does not to me.) One of my grandmothers is Rosemary and Rose is a name that appears several times in my family tree. The middle name would be my maiden name. People have a very positive reaction to this name when I mention it, except for my husband.
My husband does not like Rose/Rosie. He likes more androgynous/tomboyish names for girls. He thinks Rose is too flowery and frilly. His favorite name is Holland. It was his great-grandfather's first name. I don't mind the nickname Holly, but I really don't like the sound of Holland Hamilton, it is a mouthful of a name. If we did go with Holland, I would want to use a more feminine middle name, maybe Rose, instead of my maiden name. I also have a bad association with name Holland from a family I knew growing up whose last name was Holland. I am having a hard time getting over that association. We have looked at other family last names, but none of them really work as a girl's first name. If this baby had been a boy, he probably would have been Burke, which was my grandmother's last name. We both love it, but it seems too masculine for a girl.
A compromise family name that we both like but neither of us totally love, is Dora/Dory. My husband's grandmother was Doreen and my mom is Donna, so Dora seems like a good combination of the two, and Dory is a cute nickname. Not sure what the middle name would be. My maiden name stars with D and doesn't sound great with Dora. Rose also doesn't flow very well. The big issue, however -- Dora the Explorer and Dory the fish from Finding Nemo are causing most people to have a bad reaction to the name and no one we mention it to likes it. Dora is not in the SSA top 1000, probably because of the cartoon, even though rhyming names like Cora and Nora have been rising. I would be interested to hear what your readers think about Dora! Will anyone even remember the cartoon when our daughter is grown up? I realize she would likely get teased as a child, but who doesn't, and I'm not sure a cartoon should prevent us from using the name.
A final family name option is Elizabeth with the nickname Libby. This is my other grandmother's name, and it has been used a lot by other family members, though none of them are Libby. I have a cousin who goes by Elizabeth, a few other cousins with the middle name Elizabeth, and my niece is Elspeth (scottish version of Elizabeth) but we call her Ellie mostly. It is a nice name, but maybe too popular overall and definitely overused by my family. I also don't think Libby really goes with River very well. (We talked for a while about calling her Liberty nn Libby if she is born on 4th of July, but then I found out that River Phoenix had a sister named Liberty and so, no.)
Since our son is named after my husband, a lot of people have been suggesting that I should have final say on the name of our daughter. And I think if I really pushed for Rosie, my husband would eventually give in, but it would be nice to use a name that we both like! We have a list of non-family names that we both like, but as we get closer to the due date, it is seeming more important to me that she have a family name. The non-family names we agree on are Fiona, Ainsley and Penelope/Pippa. All sound good with my maiden name as the middle name, so she would still have some family connection.
Sorry this is long, feel free to edit! Thanks!
Oh dear, I'm afraid it's true for me, too: the instant I hear the name Dora, the "D-d-d-d-d-Dora!" theme song starts playing in my head. And the show is still on the air, and I remember reading they'd branched out into a pre-teen-type Dora, too. It seems like in our children's peer group, that's going to be a well-known character. At least she is a strong and positive character, which can make the difference between deciding to go with it anyway and having to throw it out.
As to whether anyone will still remember the name when she's grown up, I'm not sure. I thought back to the TV shows I watched as a child: I was an early-'70s baby, so I remember Sesame Street. The names Oscar and Ernie and Bert and Gordon still have strong associations for me. Maria and Olivia have only faint associations: they've been diluted by frequent use. A name like Dora lacks that dilution, but may achieve it later on---or might, even a generation later, still be a name like Ernie.
One possible solution is naming her Isadora and calling her Dora---but if you or she finds the teasing is too annoying, she can switch to Izzy or to Isadora. The downside: now we have drifted quite far from the namesakes. If I were named Donna or Doreen, I don't think it would feel like an Isadora was named after me.
Berkley comes to mind, because of Burke. But again, with family names, finding variations doesn't really help---since then they're not family names anymore. Still, you'd have the positive association, and with your maiden name as the middle name, she'll have still have a family name.
A name I love with Richard is Margaret. And an old nickname for Margaret is Daisy. Richard and Margaret; River and Daisy. But if your husband didn't like Rosie, he might not feel any happier about Daisy.
Since your son is named after your husband, it is appealing to think of naming your daughter after you. It's a family name on your side, and the name Sarah has two nicknames I think are adorable: Sadie and Sally. I think Sadie is best with River: Richard and Sarah, called River and Sadie.
Name update! Sarah writes:
Thanks to you and all the readers for your input. Many of the suggestions we had already considered and decided against. We had talked about naming her Sarah with the nickname Sadie, but my husband didn't like that it looks like the word Sad. For similar reasons, he doesn't like Violet --it reminds him of violent. Hollis was the name of a computer program I used to use every day at work, so that was out. And thanks for alerting us to expansion of the Dora cartoon to Teen Dora, that helped us decide against using it.
I am happy to say that my husband came around to my favorite name, and Rosie was born on July 6th. We are home now and doing great! Thanks again.