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Monday, September 12, 2011

Baby Girl ______ Sights Flemming-with-a-D, Sister to Gavin

Katy writes:
My name is Katy (short for Katharine, but I've always been "Katy") & I am nearly 38 weeks pregnant. My husband Brian and I expect to welcome a baby girl to our family pretty much any day now!

Before I go any further, I should note that our last name starts with a D and rhymes with "Flemming." When we got married, I moved my family name (a german name that sounds like "Sights") to the "middle" position, my husband legally changed his middle name to my family name and our son has my family name as his middle name also. So this baby girl will have my family name as her middle name. I love that we all share both of our family names. I do find it harder to chose names because I love the idea of finding first & middle names that just "go together!" but the middle/last combo was decided years ago when we got married and changed names!

We have a three year old named Gavin and we love his name. It took a LONG time to settle on his name and because I feel very superstitious about "definitely" picking a name before a baby is born (and about telling anyone the name choices), we actually went into the hospital with three names in mind (Kevin, Sean & Gavin ... the last of which was only added to the mix about a month before he was due to be born) but in the midst of a 37+ hour labor we both admitted that each of us had begun to think of him as Gavin in our minds so we settled on that moments before he was born! [True confession, I also loved that everyone we told his name to in those first few weeks told us how much they LOVED the name Gavin and it was very nice to get such enthusiastic affirmation of the name we'd chosen]. It was chosen mostly because we just really liked it ~ but I like connecting names to other things and immediately went out and bought a copy of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight to give to my son in the future.

Although we knew the gender of our first child, somehow in the midst of agonizing discussions about names for him (we have seemingly different "styles") we threw out a few girls names and at the time we agreed that we both really liked Cora & Molly (truthfully, I loved Cora SO much more than Molly and I had pretty much decided from the moment that Gavin was born that if he had a little sister, she'd be named Cora)
Fast forward to today, however, and lo and behold we know a "Cora" who has been a child in my son's daycare the past few years. Somehow, knowing another little girl named Cora has caused us both to have such a strong association with this one particular girl, that it makes the name harder to consider (especially for my husband... I think I could get over it, but he really can't get back on board with Cora). And Molly was used by a cousin and by a friend of ours (spelled Mollie) over the past three years and suddenly it doesn't seem right this time around.

Since the first week we started seriously discussing names a few months ago (when the ultrasound tech told us it was a 95% chance of a girl), we keep coming back to the name Heidi. I loved the book as a child (and I love names that have literature connections and read that post on your blog about 15 times for inspiration!) We both really like Heidi, but for some reason neither of us can quite say: "I love this, this is her name!" I wonder a lot if Gavin & Heidi are good sibling names? Gavin is so Celtic sounding and Heidi is so German sounding (although with our two family surnames, I guess that is appropriate!). I am also REALLY hoping this little one gets my husband's thick, dark brown hair and green/hazel eyes and I have a hard time not thinking of a "Heidi" as a blonde with blue eyes (which is unlikely given our genetic contributions!) Finally, although I really like my name "Katy" I have struggled with it sounding too "young" as I've grown older. I think of Heidi as a spunky little girl's name so I'd love to hear your opinion on whether Heidi is name that she will "grow into well" and whether it transfers to the professional world. (and also whether it's too "70s" as one baby name book suggested)

The only other name we've come close to agreeing on is Tessa or Tess. (but not short for Therese or Teresa, just as a stand alone name)

We do both agree that we like names whose spellings make it easy to know how to pronounce and that we like names that are both not too unusual that someone will look at us and say "is that a name?" or too popular -- we'd likely rule out names in the top 15 of baby girl names.

My husband also likes (and I REALLY don't):
Jodee (although I do have a cousin named this and I adore her)

I'm lukewarm on his suggestions of:
Marissa (although I like Maris and Marin)

For my husband, any name we choose also has to pass a test of "sounding like she could play women's professional soccer" (don't ask me exactly what that means but it does rule out names like Margery & Adaline apparently)

I really like (and my husband does NOT like):
Gretchen (his grandmother was Margaret & even my trying to convince him that this would be a way of naming a baby after her didn't help!)
Ada (my husband's other grandmother was named Aida ... pronounced "Ida" so this is a little tricky since the family might wonder why we didn't just name her Aida)
Polly (my grandmother's name)
I also like the nick name "Nell" but my husband only agrees to that if if comes from the larger name "Janelle" and I really prefer that it come from "Eleanor"

Can you see how we have seemingly different naming "styles"!!

For some reason I keep thinking we'll happen upon a name that we just both LOVE and will know that it's the right one... but we're getting down to the wire (and I'm having lots of pre-labor contractions as I type this) so I'm sending this one email to see if you or your readers have any name suggestions for us that go well with the sibling name Gavin and blend our two styles of names!

Oh and this is our last baby (unless the absolute unexpected happens) so the only thing we'll be naming in the future is a dog!

Sorry for the long email, feel free to edit if you decide to post!
Thanks so much! I love reading your blog and have come back to it many sleepless nights during these last few weeks of pregnancy but since I've never seen anyone ask about the name Heidi, I thought I'd try emailing!


P.S. I do just want to add that although the ultrasound tech gave us a 95% chance of a girl, I have serious doubts about the gender sometimes and I keep peeking in the "boys" section of the baby name book to have a back up "just in case" this little one surprises us!! Is it crazy to have a back up boy's name?

I don't think it would be at all crazy to have a back-up boy's name: I am always in favor of more name-hunting! At this point in the pregnancy it seems best to prioritize: FIRST get a solid girl name (or solid list of several to choose from) and THEN continue the fun with a boy name search. When I'd start to get stressed about choosing a name for the non-indicated-by-ultrasound sex, I found it comforting to think that if the baby WAS the sex we weren't prepared for, it would be such an amusing and startling surprise and such a great story, everyone would be distracted by THAT for awhile---and besides, we'd have a perfect reason for needing a little extra time to find a name.

Your husband is suffering from a common affliction among fathers-to-be (not ONLY fathers, but it does seem more heavily weighted toward fathers), which is that he's thinking about girl names from his own generation, rather than shifting to the current batch of baby names. You, on the other hand, have successfully shifted. This is the main difference between your lists: not so much style as timing.

I like the idea of making sure a name can work for various types of women, though I don't like the idea of picking just ONE type. The idea behind "Does it work for a stripper or a Supreme Court Justice?" (which I modify to include less-unlikely professions such as manager, receptionist, teacher, lawyer, bookkeeper, check-out clerk, bank executive) is to make sure we're taking into account that a child could be any of many different temperament types and skill-sets. It's good to keep the athletes in mind, but also to remember the introverted book-reading types, the drama club types, the pink and glitter types, the nature-loving types, etc. Another thing to keep in mind is nicknames: it's difficult to picture a Cordelia or a Marjorie playing soccer---but the picture changes if I imagine her teammates calling her Deels or Jory or Flemming.

I seem to be coming down pretty hard against your husband's side here. Dear, dear, I don't mean to: he has some very nice names on his list, and wanting her name to work on a girl who plays sports is good thing to keep in mind. I think it's just reminding me of Paul back when we were first naming our babies and he kept suggesting names like Wendy, Tracy, and Tamara. Those are indeed fine names, and they were perfect fits for the girls we knew when we were in high school, but I was ready to move on to Eve and Elena and Emerson and Lauren and Olivia. KEEP UP, BOYS.

I love the name Cora. A name that feels similar to me is Clara. Clara Sights Flemming; Gavin and Clara. So pretty.

Another possibility: the rhyming name Nora. It reminds me of your Nell option, and it too can be short for Eleanor but works even better than Nell as a stand-alone name. Nora Sights Flemming; Gavin and Nora.

Maura and Laurel have similar sounds as well. I particularly like Laurel, especially since you have Laura on your list. Laurel Sights Flemming; Gavin and Laurel. Would the initials LSD bother you?

I think Heidi might be a very good compromise name. It's a name from my own high school, and yet I feel ready to hear it again---unlike many of the other names of my peers. Heidi Sights Flemming; Gavin and Heidi. But I'm not sure I like it with the actual D-surname, without the Sights in between.

There's also Idey or Eidey (stand-alone, or else short for Eidelyn/Idelyn), which share many of the sounds of Heidi and also give you a tie-in to Grandma Aida-pronounced-Ida. But this may fall into the "Is that a name?" category you're talking about.

Ivy, too, has some of the sound of Heidi, without the potential '70s problem, and I love the repeating V sound with Gavin. Ivy Sights Flemming; Gavin and Ivy. This is one of my favorite options.

Holly falls into this same category as Heidi for me: sure, it was used in my generation, but it's more the "1970s owls" category than the "1970s bangs" category: I still want it around. And it's similar to your old favorite of Molly. Holly Sights Flemming; Gavin and Holly.

A good compromise category might be The Baby Name Wizard's New Classics: these are the names that I was struggling to describe using owls and hair, but really what they are is names that work at our ages AND at our kids' ages. Wendy, Tracy, and Tamara aren't on there, but Kevin, Sean, Tessa, Holly, Alicia, Samantha, and Marissa are. Other good possibilities: Bethany, Cara, Bridget, Clarissa, Jocelyn, Lara, Laurel, Leslie, Meredith, Sabrina.

Name update! Katy writes:
First of all apologies for having taken SO long to update you on the name of our little girl!
(It's been a busy three months with two kiddos and in the midst of it, I wound up back in the hospital with gall bladder surgery so I've been playing "catch up" on nearly everything!)
Secondly, thank you so much for posting my letter and for your very thoughtful response! And thank you to the many people who commented and offered suggestions as well. What you wrote as well as the many comments helped me to fall even further in love with the name Heidi however, I still kept feeling like I would need to see this baby to settle on that name.
After you printed the letter I made a huge list of every single name that was suggested by you as well as all the other names that were given in the comments. I grouped them by the ones I loved, the ones I didn't like (or couldn't use because I work in an all-girls school and they have the wrong connotation) and ones that I wanted to think about. I showed the list to my husband and after several long conversations, we settled on three that we could agree would be wonderful names: Heidi, Tessa & Leah (thank you to "Erin" who commented and suggested this name)
Despite my hopeful projections on Sept 12th, when I wrote the letter, our little girl took her sweet time and didn't arrive until Sept. 28th. During the 36+ hours of laboring in the hospital, we were still so undecided that my husband kept offering other ideas and we even started to throw Mira into the mix of names. I knew, though, that I would need to meet my daughter to decide ultimately (which drove the nurses crazy as I felt so protective of wanting to decide on our own, we wouldn't even share our top names with the nurses/midwives/my mother during the entire labor).
Finally, though our little girl was born ... and as much as I LOVE the name Heidi, even from the first moments of seeing her, I wasn't sure that was her name... she spent the first ten hours of her life as "Baby Girl" and while we cuddled and she nursed I kept trying out our names to see what fit...(Admittedly, I really wanted to look at her and know she was a Heidi, but something about her tiny little face, wouldn't let me settle on that!) ultimately she let us know that she is a Leah. So I'd like to introduce you to our darling Leah. I think that Gavin & Leah wind up working well together and it really is a name that just seems to "fit" her in a way that the other names didn't!
My only slight naming regret is that in our discussion of the name, we never imagined that a name spelled Leah would be pronounced any other way except "Lee-uh"... and for the past three months I have been asked about the pronunciation (and had to correct people ~ even close family members!) because many people pronounce it "Lay-uh" (or "Lee").
So thank you again for all your advice. Attached is a photo of our little Leah at about 2 months in a beautiful handmade dress from the mother of a friend of mine!


Erica said...

I love the combo of Gavin and Nora(h). Katy wrote that she bought a book associated with Gavin's name, she may be interested to know that there is a trilogy of books about a brother and sister named Norah and Gavin (Norah being the elder of the two). The first is called The Lights Go On Again and the author is Kit Pearson. They are 'young adult' novels and have been my favorite since I was young.

But maybe that is a vote against the combo, though I don't believe the books are particularly well-known outside of Canada.

StephLove said...

The only Heidi I know has curly dark hair and dark eyes, not at all the blue-eyed braided blonde you probably have in mind. I think it could work on a girl with any physical appearance.

I thought Cara, Holly, Ivy & Nora were all good suggestions.

I like Madeline (nn Maddie) for you. It has the elegance and spunk at the same time.

Lauren said...

I really like both Tessa and Heidi. They seem to be the only names you have agreed on so far, so maybe they could be part of your short list for the hospital. Tessa, Heidi, and maybe another name that you both like from Swistle's great advice? It takes some of the pressure off if you already have the list partly assembled.

And if it turns out to be a surprise boy, I think Sean is still a great name from your original list. Good luck!

Frazzled Mom said...

I am always fascinated with the Baby Name Wizards New Classics category. This category always reminds me of Eric, Kyle, Megan and Allison. You would never see these names on the current crop of grandparents, but are almost equally popular among today’s parents and their children. I always wonder what will be the next new classics for tomorrow’s generation?

Tessa, Holly, Heidi, Bethany, Bridget, Lara, Laurel, Meredith and Sabrina are all great names!

I'm mostly posting because I don't understand Swistle's 1970's owls vs. 1970's bangs category. Swistle, I get your point. I understand the 1970's bangs are dated while the 1970's owls are not, which should be all that matters. But I just don't understand the bangs and owls references, and I'm curious and maybe a tad clueless. I was born in the 70’s too, and never heard of these references, but I also never heard of, let alone watched, “Welcome back Kotter” or "Chips" until I was in college and confess I can be out of it. Sorry if I start a tangent.

What are 1970s bangs? And what are 1970's owls?!?!?!?

Swistle said...

Frazzled Mom- 1970s bangs could be either the huge sweeping feathered bangs of 1970s actresses, OR could be a reference to the high "bagel bangs" worn by those of us BORN in the 1970s when we were in high school. And 1970s owls is a reference to the idea that owls were a huge fad then---and yet owls already look fresh and cute again in the stores. It should be too soon for them to be repeating (they should seem to us like a "mom collection"), but somehow it's not.

Heidi J said...

My name is Heidi. I'm 30, so was actually born in the early 80s, but yes, most of the other Heidi's seem to be around my age or older. There aren't that many of us though, I don't meet many other Heidi's, so I don't think it'd be so strange to hear of a baby named that now than if you were to use a more common 70s/80s name.

As for the blue eyed/blonde haired Heidi, I never quite got where that came from. Shirley Temple maybe? Heidi in the book had dark hair. I have dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. I can remember being told that I didn't look like a Heidi a few times, but not that often. I only remember because I thought it was a strange thing to say.

I haven't had any problems with growing into my name. While it's technically a nickname name, most people are only familiar with Heidi as a stand alone name since no one used Adelheid anymore, which I think helps keep from sounding too young. The difference between Evie and Ivy - Evie sounds like a little girl, but Ivy could be either since one is a nickname and other isn't.

So, if you like the name Heidi, go ahead and use it. However, I'd still use Cora personally. You won't know that little girl in daycare for very long and once you name your daughter that, I think you both will feel much more connection with her and her name, than with the other little girl.

Anonymous said...

Since my first name is Nell, as a stand alone (no Eleanor!), and my sister is named Polly, I heartily agree with those choices!

I also played soccer, though not at a professional level :)

Swistle said...

Here's the book that leaves me with the impression that Heidi is blond: Heidi.

Carolyn said...

I like Swistle's suggestion of Maura, but agree that Cora would be my top choice. Maybe give her a longer name like Coralie or Corrine, then gradually call her Cora as a nn?

The Mrs. said...

Congratulations on your little girl!!

From Swistle's list, Ivy is really fantastic. The repeating 'v' is wonderful, and Ivy is completely classic and underused.

Another full-length name with the nickname of Nell is Penelope.

A full-length name for a nickname of Cora is Cordelia. That may seem too fancy for the field, but Cora sounds great in cleats, and Cordelia sounds sharp in a judge's robe.

The only Heidi I know is dark-haired with green eyes. She is friendly and composed. Quite some time ago, a mom wrote in to Swistle asking for a name for her child. The mom's name was Heidi, and it was short for Hyacinth! It's definately feminine and gives an adult alternative if you're concerned that Heidi is juvenile.

On a totally seperate thread, how do these name ideas strike you?

Malinda (best soccer player I ever knew, by the way)
Geneva (repeats the 'G' and 'v' of Gavin, and Genny is good for the field)

Excited to hear what you choose! All the best to your growing family!

Emily said...

My top girl name choices of all time have been Cora and Tessa for so long, so I just had to comment! Some of my other favorites are Sabine, Sabina, Renata, Renate (Re-naw-tay), Belen (pronounced similar to Berlin)... good luck!

Jenny Grace said...

My friend's mom is named Heidi, and she wears it well as a full-grown adult lady.
If you were wondering.
I've never htought it sounded young/weird on her.

Erin said...

I love the name Nora, but I am also watching it go up the popularity charts quickly. like swistle, I am ready for Heidi to make its comeback. What about Leah? It is one of those names you hear but not too commonly, and I think it Sounds great with Gavin.

Anonymous said... - a great book for Nora, although I love Eleanor, nn Nora. I also love Maura, Ivy, and Clara!

The bangs and owls reference is one of my favorite ever!!

Lise said...

I love the name Heidi, and think of dark hair and brown eyes when I see the name. I also like the long version of Adelheid, for hanging on the door of her law office.

If you both like the nickname Nell but disagree on the source name, here are two others for your consideration: Avanell (short "a" sounds) and Nella. Avanell was my mother's middle name and is my third daughter's middle name, as well as the middle name of my oldest granddaughter. We've gotten countless compliments on the name. And Nella was my grandmother's name, and is similar in style to Cora. Of course, Janelle is my middle name as well as the middle names of my oldest daughter and her beautiful new baby, so I sympathize with your husband there. Our family clearly lovse us some names that end in "ell!"

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

What about Hazel?

Hazel Sights Flemming

Gavin and Hazel

Also, I love that you and your husband both took your family name as a middle name. I just got married and have been wrestling endlessly with what to do with my last name, and let me tell you, THERE IS NO PERFECT CONCLUSION! But, yours is pretty good!

And also, Heidi on the book covers is almost always blonde, which is maddening because Heidi is described as having dark hair and rosy cheeks.

Oh! Don't worry, I have even more to say! You mentioned literary names, which reminded me of one of my closely guarded hypothetical baby names. You know, the type that makes you want to rush out and get pregnant right away because what if someone I know uses it first??? But we don't know each other, so I feel like I can tell you. Are you ready?

Piper. Oh yeah. Piper, which, yeah. Is really good. But hang on, because it gets better: Piper, with the nickname Pippi. I mean, COULD YOU JUST? Pippi! Oh man, I have talked myself out of my Hazel suggestion earlier, because I'm imagining Piper Flemming, college soccer star! And: Piper Flemming: child's advocate lawyer/reknowned pastry chef/US Ambassador/Jet Setting photographer, I mean, there is literally no profession in which I don't find that name awesome and compelling. But meanwhile, while she's an adorable little girl, you get to call her Pippi!

Anonymous said...

You must have the same taste as my mum as my name is Tessa and my sister is Heidi! (She's brunette by the way).
Other names she considered for us were Natasha, Nikita, Polly, Lyndal, Milly, Mariah, Elli, Riley and Johanna.

Anonymous said...

I love Cor, Heidi, and Tessa! You can't go wrong there :) and Gavin is such a beautiful, underused name.

I liked Swistle's suggestion of Cara as well. Gavin and Cara. What about Caya or Kaya?

Piper is also completely awesome.

Nell reminds me of Neely, Ellen, Helena, and Penelope. siblings Gavin and Helena would be gorgeous.

Tessa reminds me of Teresa, Nessa, Willa, and Celia.

Cora reminds me of Corinne, Coralie, Edie (Eden/Edith), and Isla

Frazzled Mom said...

Thanks for clearing that up Swistle!

I sort of had an idea of 70's bangs (Farrah Fawcett hair or the 80's "I stuck my finger in a light socket" hair) but I was completely lost on the 70's owls.

I actually googled 70's owls and found this:

They are cute! My friend decorated her daughter's room in these owls! I just didn't know they were retro. You learn something new everyday!

Anonymous said...

Piper, Meredith, and Regina are all my favorite new suggestions when paired with Gavin! Lovely names.

Hazel and Gavin makes me see Hanzel and Gretl... so that would be a deal breaker for me, to be honest.

I LOVE Heidi with Gavin. I don't think it's a "too young" name, and I don't think of little blonde girls when I hear it, either. I think this is my favorite for you!

Finally, if you love Cora, I would keep it on the short list going in. Don't rule it out now, because all of your associations with it could fly out the window the second you see her and realize that, oh! She IS a Cora!

liz said...


Leslie said...

The name Jodee on your husband's list immediately made me think of Josie/Josephine. I always thought that name had a perfect mixture of spunk, strength, and sophistication, so I wondered if it might appeal to both of you.

That said, I do like the name choices you already have. Both Heidi or Tessa are great names, and I think they'd both work well on a young child or an adult. I also love Swistle's suggestions of Nora and Ivy.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Nell can also be a nickname for Ellen.

Katy said...

First of all, Swistle ~ Thank you SO much for publishing my letter & for the advice... and thanks to everyone who has commented too! 2nd of all ~ No baby yet! My son was 17 days past his due date so I guess I've just been super hopeful that this one is coming a little quicker!
I love the 70's "bangs" vs. "owls" reference... and I've been chuckling a lot because my husband (who had no idea I wrote the email) suggested Jennifer just days after I had written it and just a couple of days ago he suggested Tracy! The best part is that when he suggests these names, he GENUINELY looks surprised when I look at him like he's nuts! He somehow fails to see the difference in the names we are both suggesting.
A friend of mine summed it up nicely when she said: "his names are driving you crazy because you imagine these are all the girls he had crushes on back in high school!"... which is absolutely true with Alyssa/Samantha (Alyssa Milano who played Sam/Samantha on "Who's the Boss?")
Anyway, just wanted to update and say that we haven't come to a consensus yet on the names we'll take with us to the hospital as our top contenders, but I think for me, I'll be lobbying for the short list to include Cora, Heidi & Tessa...
I failed to mention in my first email that I also teach at an all-girls high school and that makes picking a girls name even more difficult. I have a whole bunch of names that I just can't separate from the personalities of students I've had recently... unfortunately Nora is one of those names (although I've been trying it out with the spelling Norah for the past few days and thinking that by the time I'm back from a year-long maternity leave, the student in question will have graduated and I'll no longer make that connection).
The suggestion of Jessie was a fun one because my great grandmother was named Jessie (Jessie Jane) and that was a name that my parents were very seriously considering for me... My husband likes it very much but suggested it come from the name Jessica which was a deal breaker for me...
So, we'll keep thinking about names and I'll keep doing everything I can to get myself to go into labor sometime soon and I promise I'll send another email when the baby finally arrives and actually has a name!! :-)
Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Owls vs Bangs, you are brilliant Swistle! I have lots of real and nouveau 70s owls in my life and no bangs...that's right, right?

I love the Ivy suggestion. And I second Cora too. Coralie?

Anonymous said...