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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: We Already Used the Best Names

Alayne writes:
Hi. I am due with my second child in less than five days! My husband and I do not know what we're having, as we didn't with our first child; a beautiful daughter named Elise Claire. We are totally settled on a boy's name. He would be named after both of his grandfathers (William David). However, we just can't settle on a second girl's name.
We both feel as though we chose the two most lovely names for our daughter. Would it be wrong to use the name Claire for a second girl (as her first name)? We're thinking Claire Danielle, as my middle name is Danielle. Our last name is Muscarella, which I also like to keep in mind. We also like the name Lucy, but not as much as Claire.
Here are some of the options that we've discussed:

Claire Danielle
Claire Lucille
Claire Elizabeth
Claire Juliet
Lucy Anna
I love the first name Lucian(n)a, but hate the Italian pronunciation Loo Chee Ahna and don't know what could be used as a middle name so this is totally out.

Please help! We're desperate!

In the greater scheme of things, it wouldn't be a big deal to use the same name twice (especially since middle names aren't often known), and I know plenty of people have done it and for the very reason you'd be doing it. On the other hand, it means making it clear that the firstborn got the best two names in the whole world, and the secondborn got only one of them. And if I apply The Baby Name Wizard's test of "Would _I_ want this name if I were the baby?," I think no: I wouldn't have liked to have my sister's middle name as my first name.

It is almost always the case that parents use their first-choice names for the firstborn: we look for our favorite, and we use it. Sometimes we have a very close second choice to use later, but more typically we have to start from scratch. I suggest continuing to look for other names you also love, even if you don't love them as much as your first child's names. My guess is that with time, you will come to love the names nearly as much, if not just as much or more. Don't panic: you will have time to think, even after the baby is born.

It can be difficult to search if you're both stuck thinking you can't find anything you love as much. A stubbornness sets in: each new name possibility is compared to the favorite name and found lacking, and so is rejected. This is the same trouble a parent sometimes has when their first choice is rejected by the other parent: the parent can't begin the search for a new favorite until they realize their favorite WILL NOT be used and therefore they must drop it, and stop comparing everything to their not-going-to-be-used choice, and help look for another option. I suggest trying that as an exercise in this case: think to yourselves "We already used those two names. They are out of the name pool. We need to find our favorite from what's still in the pool."

I could suggest some names (Celeste, Camille, Cecile, Corinne, Genevieve, Simone---pretty much anything from the French section of The Baby Name Wizard that doesn't have an -el- sound or an -a ending) but if you are comparing each one to Elise and Claire, you'll reject the whole list. Keep in mind what we've already talked about: it is typical and normal to use the favorite name for the first child: we choose the name we like BEST, so you're not alone in having trouble finding another name you like identically well. It's about finding the NEW best. Compare each name possibility not to the names you've already used, but to the other names in the name pool: Don't think "Do we like the name Lucy as much as we like the name Elise?" Instead, think "Do we like the name Lucy more than all the other names in the name pool?"

Let's also have a poll about your original question, and see what people think about using one child's middle name as a subsequent child's first name. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update! Alayne writes:
Well, it was a girl! Elise Claire's new little sister is named Lucy Elizabeth Muscarella. I must confess, I was still quite anxious about selecting a name all the way up until the day I went into labor, which coincidentally was five days past my due date (you'd think the extra time would have helped in deciding!). I was so anxious about it that I had convinced myself, the day of, that Lauren needed to be the name if it were a girl (which wasn't on our list at all). Needless to say, the baby names books went with us to the hospital. In fact, Lucy wasn't named until the day following her birth, which in part was due to the fact that she was born five hours before my husband was to be the best man in his cousin's wedding (yes, the tux accompanied the baby names books to the hospital). I knew Lucy was the right name when I saw how happy my husband was to say it aloud. Plus, Lucy was born on August 6th, Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday. We took it as a sign! Thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions and especially to all of your followers who commented. We love our Lucy!


StephLove said...

I've long thought Elise and Madeline would be a good sister pair, so I will suggest that, but I like most of Swistle's suggestions, too. Elise and Celeste is darling. Celeste Danielle M. Very nice. Gabrielle could work for you, too, with one of your alternate middles.

I like Lucy, too. Lucy Anna is cute.

Nell said...

If you dislike Luciana, what about Lucinda? You still get Lucy, but no undesirable pronunciation.

M.Amanda said...

As a younger sister, I must say that being given my sister's middle name as my first would have made me so very jealous as a child. I probably would have gotten over it, just as I got over all my other "why does she get that just because she's older!" gripes, but it would have bothered me nonetheless for those first 15-20 years.

One French name I think is underused is Sabine. I also like Amelie and Audrey. Or Margot if alliteration doesn't bother you.

AirLand said...

The older sister might have a problem too- thinking you gave her name away. I'm not sure it's a great idea. Maybe Clara? So it would be a little different?

What about Lilliana or Lily?

Sarah said...

I wouldn't use Claire again. Something similar happened in my mother-in-law's family and the second "Christine" is still questioning her mother's choice and she's in her 50s. I don't think it's something she will ever really get over.

I understand your feelings of "we have used the best names already". I feel the same way about my daughter. My husband and I agreed straightaway and _love_ her name. Talking about names for a second, there are names we like but none garner the same reaction as our first's and it seems we are looking for that feeling again.

I love the suggestion Cecile and Celeste. Good luck!

Alice said...

I don't think it's a huge deal to use Claire again, but I do think there are just so many nice names out there, surely this little one warrants her very own...? What about using feminine forms of the grandfathers' names? That way you get some added signficance without having to pull from your daughter's name. Willa Juliet is beautiful: Elise and Willa.

Jenny Grace said...

There are lots of SIBLING DYNAMICS that will play out with your children. When I, a second daughter, imagine if I was given my older sister's middle name as my first name?
Oh I would hate it.
I would really, really hate it.

liz said...

Emphatically no. Nonononono.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest giving this baby her own special name...maybe your little girl could help name her? Or perhaps you would like one of the following?

Tahlia Danielle
Susannah Danielle
Sylvia Danielle
Naomi Danielle
Sonia Danielle
Danica Lucille

Mrs. Haid said...

I think those are the best names, too!!

My husband really liked Elsa, so instead of Elise, I got an Elsa. I like her name, but I still like Elise!

I wouldn't want to be named after my sister if I were the second child in the family. Maybe if I were #5 or something and there is an age gap I would love it or think its an honor.

beyond said...

Would you consider Anna as a first name? It's simple and timeless. It's my first choice for you. Sweet for a baby and girl, and beautiful for a grown woman. Anna Danielle M.; Elise and Anna. I think that makes a great sister duo.
Anais? Isabelle? Lila? Nina?
Good luck!

Jodi said...

I agree with others - definitely don't recycle the name! There are lots of really neurotic reasons for ruling out perfectly good names (starts with the same letter as another child's name is a bothersome one that my hubby and I struggle with every pregnancy!), and in those cases, I want to be able to say "Just get over it and use the name you love most!" But this is *not* one of those situations. I think you really would be sending a clear message to your precious new daughter that her name is just a little less awesome than her sister's.

If you love Luciana but not the Italian pronunciation, I wonder if you'd like Lucia (pronouncing it either Lu-SEE-a or LOO-sha, but giving the Italian Lu-CHEE-a a miss).

We struggled with the same thing when we were pregnant with our second daughter (nothing felt as beautiful as our girl's name!), but I think Switsle's approach is the right one: those names is used now, they don't exist to you anymore. There are so many other lovely ones out there and you *will* find one you love! So many beautiful possibiliies just on the list you gave us: Juliet Anna? Juliet Lucy? Lucy Elizabeth?

Or maybe you'll have a boy and all this worry will be for nothing :) I look forward to hearing your news!

Katie said...

If you like Lucian(n)a, what about Lucia? I have heard it pronounced both Lu-see-a and Loosh-sha (ok, pronunciation spellings are hard.) I love both.

Kylie said...

My husband's parents did this with his two older brothers. In their case it was a family name and I think that was what they were thinking. Also the older was a junior. But my husband always thought it was weird.

P. Gardiner said...

My older sister and I both have the same middle name. I always thought it was incredibly unoriginal of them. It was as if they couldn't think of something better, so stuck me with the same middle name. It has always felt like a hand-me-down. Keep looking, you'll find the right name for #2. BTW we have very similar taste in names, as everything on your list was also on mine. Here is some more from my list: Camelia, Susannah, Zoe, June, Genevieve, Summer, Gabrielle, Anzia, Faith, Hope. I must say, I really like the name Danielle too. I babysat a Danielle and she was a great kid, so I've always had pleasant connotations with it.

Rae said...

I agree with Swistle's sentiment - don't compare all names for baby #2 to Elise or Claire. I would also agree, don't reuse Claire (though it is a fabulous name!).

Start fresh. Find a name you love more than all other names on your new list.

What about...

CAMILLE. Elise and Camille. Doesn't really work with mn Danielle, however.

AUBREY. Elise and Aubrey. Aubrey Danielle M.

LILY. or LILLIAN. Elise and Lily.
Lily Danielle M.

NATALIE. Elise and Natalie. Natalie Danielle M.

LILA. Elise and Lila. Lila Danielle.

Best of luck!

Carolyn said...

I thought the suggestion of Audrey was great. It's so timeless, just like Elise and Claire.

What about:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't reuse Claire directly, lest the younger sister feel as though she wasn't special enough to merit her own name, but if you *really* love Claire that much, what about giving her a name that might lend itself to having Claire as a nickname, yet be different enough so that it is unique to that child? Clarissa, Clarinda, Clarabella, Clarice...

Susan said...

If you're planning to have a largish family, I think it might work to start a family TRADITION of using the middle name of each child for the first name of the next same-sex child. So Elise Claire followed by Clair Lucille followed by Lucille Simone and so on. William David would be followed by David Steven followed by Steven John, etc. I know a family that did this, and I never heard any complaints!

Catherine said...

I'm Catherine Elizabeth and my sister is Elizabeth Claire. My parents wanted to be sure they would get to use Catherine and Elizabeth. It's never been an issue for us, actually it's nice to be tied together and it's a sweet story to tell. Middle names don't come up very often either, I'd go for Claire! You love it and it links your girls. I just asked my sister and she has never even thought about it being less special! Go for it!

Frazzled Mom said...

The other names on your list are very lovely. I like Lucy Juliet. I also like the suggestions of Faith, Hope, Amable and Sylvia. If Sylvia seems to stately, I feel the Frech Sylvie is a lighter, more youthful sounding version.

Leslie said...

I know reactions will vary somewhat according to personality, but I think if my younger sister and I shared a name, we would both hate it. Growing up, we were both very sensitive about comparing such things, so I would just avoid the potential conflict and pick a new name. For what it's worth, I think Lucy is wonderful! Also, I think if you wanted to use gorgeous Luciana (loo-see-ah-na), a simple correction would be all that was needed to avoid the Italian pronunciation.

What about Luciana Alayne? I think that has a lovely sound, and gives the 2nd daughter a special family connection.

Alayne said...

Thank you to everyone who has posted a comment thus far! Your kind words are very helpful and I hope that you will continue to post your opinions as our final days until baby wind down. A final question to consider. We do truly love Luciana. However, being in an Italian family we know this would be a constant pronunciation correction to get the end result of Loo-see-anna. Can you think of any alternative spellings that would not look odd to ensure the pronunciation is the above? Though we would call her Lucy, when I think of professional situations in life (resumes, what have you), I do think it would be nice to have a proper name (and believe me, I am the last person in favor of nicknames). This is why I chose the name Elise for our first daughter, so no one in my husband's family could shorten it. Thank you again for your excellent help. Please keep the comments coming!
Sincerely, Alayne

christine said...

Hi Alayne! I meant to comment earlier...I would echo the crowd and say that I would avoid Claire as a first name, for the reasons outlined by most of the commenters, although I did like the suggestion of using the middle name as a first trend suggested above, if you were planning on having a larger family.

I just wanted to say, that while I hope that Luciana would be pronounced as you liked, I actually think Lucy is a perfect stand alone name. When I hear the name Lucy (unless it is spelled with an "i" or some other way) I don't assume it's a nick name. I also like the names Lucia (pronounced either way), Lucille and Lucinda.

I hope that the pronunciation fears aren't enough to keep you from a name you love!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm late to comment but will add my two cents!

I've a good friend who shares a middle name with her sister -- she liked having a name in common so much she gave her two daughters the same middle name. In her & her sister's case, the middle name is Dawn, in her two daughters' case it is Joy. I would imagine it would be a different dynamic for every individual & sister-pair.

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned the name Louisa yet, but I think it's lovely & a nice balance between Lucy & Lucianna. It also goes very well with both Elise & Claire. Elise Claire & Louisa Claire.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I do think it might be fun to share a middle name with someone! In this case, though, it's one sister's middle name being reused as the second sister's first name.

Aimee said...

I personally wouldn't like to be named my sisters middle name, however if you really don't love any other names, I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world. You could always tell 'Claire' that she was named after her sister because you wanted her sister to feel included or something (though it depends how old Elise is).

I really like Lucy - how about Lucy Danielle? 
I also like Luciana, but that may be a bit much with your last name. Luciana Danielle is nice, or even just Luciana Elle?

ps. It's funny that you are considering Claire Danielle, my moms name is Danielle Claire!

AmyRenee said...

If you can't come up with a middle name for Luciana and you want to make sure to get the pronunciation you want, what if you used Lucy Anna as first and middle names? In resume or more formal situations, she could just include her whole name. My first name is short and slightly informal (Amy), so I use my whole first middle last on resumes, which gives it a little more weight and formality.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Luisana or Lusiana as a name similar to Luciana.

Karen L said...

Nice name and lovely naming story! Thanks for updating.

Patricia said...

Lucy Elizabeth is a very pretty name. Congratulations!

Leslie said...

Lucy Elizabeth is gorgeous, and I think you and your husband chose a wonderful name!

Tamara said...

beautiful name and love that she has a story to her name ie Lucille Ball's 100th. Congratulations.