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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Account of Baby Name Regret

Bethany writes:
I wanted to write to you to share this name-journey with other readers who might feel the same other sense of unease with name and encourage them to keep calling their baby a variety of nicknames and name variations, rather than starting to feel gloomy about choosing the wrong name.

My darling girl is twenty weeks old, and it has honestly taken me this long to come to terms with her name and feel quite proud of it. I did not experience the sort of baby name regret that is mentioned occasionally on your blog, but I did not feel so at peace with the name we selected for our daughter. It just didn't seem to stick the same way her brother, Daniel Henry Hyde, seemed to stick with me instantly.

I think its taken four months to get to know her as Elsa Catherine Haid, and four months for me to put away the other names (Eliza, Anneliese, Elise, Elissa, Joanna, Mirabelle, Beatrice, and more) that weren't chosen. I think it took four months of calling her Elsa Kate, Elsie, Elsa Catherine, Elsabug, my sweet Elsa to make it feel natural.

Elsa was my husband's #1 choice and he feels such pride when others comment on the name's beauty. It was not my first choice, but I do really like the name now, especially when I call her Elsa Kate, which is how I introduce her to others.

The advice you and your readers gave sent us in different directions. I was first concerned about a name that would sound good with the German vowel pattern of our last name. You and your readers helped me see that its not such a big deal. I really liked the suggestion of Elsa Jane for the way it sounded, but having no connection to any Janes and wanting a bit of a namesake, we named her Catherine, which is my paternal grandmother's middle name. I enjoy that she was born the same week Catherine Middleton married William, and it was fun to hold my little Elsa Kate and watch the wedding.

So in conclusion, I'd like to implore your readers to not get stuck in the muddy waters of baby name regret. At first, I started thinking about how I the name Elsa was too much like Melissa and Elsie was a lot like Kelsey (both names I don't really like) instead of focusing on my daughter and the beauty of her name. I thought about the name Elsa meant I can't have an Eliza or an Elissa or Elizabeth. I should have been thinking about how wonderful and special it is that her father lights up when he says her name, that its a lovely name, and that its a name she can be proud of since its sturdy and timeless and classy and feminine.


Anonymous said...

I have a Catherine (Cate), and I'm embarrassed to say it took me even longer than you to start using my daughter's name instead of "Sissy" (what her big brother calls her) or "the baby." It came so easy with our son's name, but not so much with our daughter. I was so adamant about using it throughout my pregnancy and kept coming back to it above all others on our list. But then once she was born and everyone started calling her "Katie" which we don't want to use, and I noticed just how many K/Catherines there are in the world and I had a serious case of name regret. I would just cringe every time I heard the name. I regretted not choosing something a little more unique (like my son's name). We thought about changing it way past what others would consider acceptable. But when it is all said and done - I think Catherine is one of the most beautiful names ever, and she just seems like a Cate now. You don't really discuss it with people b/c it makes you feel crazy, but name remorse is a very tough thing to deal with. Thanks for sharing your story.

Leslie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It's great to hear about coming out on the other side of name regret. Plus, Elsa Catherine/ Elsa Kate is just such a lovely, charming name (and from the picture, your little Elsa is a total cutie to boot!). Congratulations to you and your family!

Mairzy said...

There's so much to love about this post, so I'll just love it all. I've never been wild about the name Elsa, but after reading your post I'm realizing what a charmer it is. It helps that your little girl is beautiful, of course. :)

Carolyn said...

I've always been fond of the name Elsa and am so glad to hear that it is being used and with such a lovely story to go with it.

Patricia said...

Thanks for sharing your story of how you came to love the name your husband so wanted for your daughter. Elsa Catherine certainly is "a lovely name, ...a name she can be proud of since its sturdy and timeless and classy and feminine." It's also a name that goes beautifully with her brother Daniel Henry's sturdy, timeless, classic name.

Your Elsa Kate is as darling as her name, and she's lucky to have so many nickname options. My only suggestion is that you change the spelling of her nn to Elsa Cate -- with a C -- like the beginning of her middle name Catherine. We have a Cate in our family too -- given name Catrina, named for her mother Catherine.

Best wishes to you all!

Kathleen said...

Great story and great name! I actually feel Elissa is more like Melissa than Elsa is.

Bethany said...

Thanks dear readers for your positive comments.

Here's another question:
Do you think Cate is a real spelling of the name Kate? For some reason, it just doesn't go for me. Maybe I am looking to Kate/Catherine Middleton. I look at Cate and think Cat - E or something.

But my son does often call her Elsa Cake, so perhaps Elsa Cate makes sense afterall!

Grasshopper said...

I think Kate or Cate works fine for Catherine. I knew a few Cate and Catie's growing up, I knew more Kate and Katies, but they usually spelled their full names Katherine or Kathryn. Either way though.

I just wanted to say thank you for that post. I am pregnant and already regretting my decision (a decision I haven't yet made), because in order to choose one name, you have to discard all the others. You put it beautifully in stating that you not only had to learn to love her name, but to let go of the other names. I hope I can do that too, but it helps to know someone else out there struggled with it and came out alright.

For what its worth, I think Elsa is adorable. Elsa Kate (or Cate) is even better.

The Mrs. said...

What a BEAUTIFUL girl with a stellar name! Elsa is deliciously classic, and when paired with 'Catherine'... oh, my! Swoon-worthy!

The fact that her big brother calls her 'Elsa Cake' makes me squeal quietly from the cuteness. Seriously darling! Yes, by all means, spell Cate with a 'c'. It distinguishes her nicely from the multitude of Kates out there right now (without seeming cre8tive or made-up). It also makes another clever nickname with 'Elle C' (Elsie), and that feels special, too.

I appreciate your letter; many, many parents have gone through your struggle, and it is reassuring to know that we aren't alone or crazy.

Congratulations on your wonderful family!

Mrs S said...

Thanks for sharing your story. You have a beautiful daughter. And I like that you call her Elsa Kate. I agree Elsa Cate might be even sweeter. I think it is wonderful that you gave your husband the gift of naming his daughter. And so the connection begins.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for this post! My daughter is 12 weeks and I've been CONSUMED by baby name regret. I LOVE my first daughter's name and never regretted it for a second. Naming a second was much harder and I also had to factor in the "matchiness" factor (we wound up too matchy anyway, fwiw). This new girl is my last and I think part of it for me is the very real loss that I don't get to name another baby.

There are many reasons behind my remorse and many valid reasons for and against changing it (which I am sadly STILL considering), but it's nice to hear from someone for whom this was an issue and who ultimately came to love their choice. I mean, we picked these names for a reason the first time, right? Perhaps it's just hard to apply these sophisticated womanly names (that will serve them very well as adults!) on itty bitty babies?

I can't promise I still won't change my daughter's name, but I will definitely refer back to this post when I start to get a little crazy. Thank you for writing it. I hope to write a similar post soon.

Tonni said...

I felt the same way with my Felix. He was 10 months old before I felt like I could call him by his name and not cringe and the disjointed-ness of such a strong name on such a little boy. But I knew he just needed to grow into it :) Now, he's the cutest little Felix around :D

Amy said...

I also want to thank you for this post. I wrote in to Swistle with a serious case of baby name regret when my daughter was 4 months old. The comments I received were very helpful, warm and supportive. My daughter is 13 months old now and I feel better about her name - although I still have some moments of regret. Her name is Evelyn Suzanne. We call her Evie (eh-vee) or Evie Sue or Birdie. We started calling her Birdie early on and it was pretty much the only name I used for her for a long time. I still call her Birdie, but I call her Evie too. At this point she is totally Evie to me and I do love to say Evie, but I am still not in love with her full name. As you mentioned, I think one of the hardest parts has been letting go of some names that I know I'll never be able to use (like Anna and Catherine). When I get down about it, I try to remind myself (as your post did) to stop thinking about it and instead focus on and appreciate the wonderful, beautiful, sweet, fun and delightful daughter that I have! (Your daughter is darling and her name is too btw). It is always comforting to me to hear from others who have had a similar experience. Although the whole concept of name regret may seem trivial or weird to some, it can be very consuming and painful. Anyway, I am glad we seem to both have made it through the hardest part and to a place where we can have some perspective and enjoy our baby girls!!

Lindsey said...

Thanks for this. I had a lot of the same feelings about my daughter's name and at nearly six months, they still occasionally surface. Like another commenter, I, too loved this: "a lovely name, ...a name she can be proud of since its sturdy and timeless and classy and feminine." since it sums up what I do really love about our daughter's name. Congratulations on your Elsa Kate...she really does have a lovely name.

Frazzled Mom said...

Your daughter has a beautiful name.

When I was pregnant with both of my kids, I started out the process of naming with the firm belief that whatever name my husband and I agreed on would be the name that was meant for my baby.

And both times, that was true. Letting go of some other reject names was hard, but telling myself those names weren't meant for my kids, and that their names fit them helps close the door on the other names. That, and suggesting the reject names to other parents on name blogs also helps.

KJC said...

I agree with many of you. I stumbled upon this blog because I was having similar feelings about my daughter's name. The feedback & comments are very comforting and it feels good to hear that I'm not the only one to have some form of baby name regret.

My husband and I had a few girl names picked out, but never finalized anything since we didn't know the gender. Needless to say, I was in no shape to make a decision after my c-section. He chose two of the names from our list, Julia Reese, which everyone loves. However, I wish that we had spent a little time with the baby before choosing because I didn't feel like Julia was a good fit for her. I kept telling myself that it was just my hormones and that these feelings would eventually go away, but it seemed to get worse. Now, she's 4 months old and I absolutely hate when people mistakenly call her Julie all the time and I never realized how many Julianas are out there. I even hate the way some of our family members pronounce her name Jul-ya with a New Yawk accent!

I suggested calling her by her middle name Reese (my top pick), which is more original, but everyone in our family strongly disagrees and I've been out-voted. I also tried introducing her as Julia Reese for so long because I liked the sound of it better, but my husband always chimed in with, "Her name's Julia."
He said that we could use the name Reese Madeline if we ever had another girl, but I think that might be strange. (Will have to write to Swistle for opinions on that one!)

Everyone keeps telling me that it's silly to obsess over something so trivial, but reading this blog has definitely helped validate my feelings. From now on, I'll have to take your advice & focus on all of the wonderful things we have to be thankful for.

Going back to the original post, Elsa Cate is a darling name and I love the combination because it makes it more unique. I'm glad to hear that you've grown more fond of it. @Amy- Your daughter's name, Evie is also beautiful. I'm a teacher & hear many different names at school, but neither one of those is overdone. Thanks again for sharing your stories!