This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Politely Using the Same Baby Name Someone Else Used

Erin writes:
I am now 16 weeks pregnant, due in mId March. My husband and I tried for about 2 years undergoing fertility testing and 3 IUI's. We ultimately had our happy ending when we got pregnant naturally between our 3rd IUI and beginning our first round of IVF.

During the time that we were trying we watched our friends and family conceive naturally and easily and have their babies. Our very close friends got pregnant with twins the year before we finally conceived. They were boys named Ayden and Noah. They have an older child named Chloe that my husband and I watched while they were in the hospital having the twins. We are now the Godparents of Ayden.

Here's the tricky part - my husband and I picked out the names Adin Kennedy (Conant) and Madelin Hope (Conant) YEARS ago...and by that I mean close to 2 years before we started trying. The significance of the boy name is that the village we live in was founded by a man named Adin and my husband loves the Kennedy's. We are not shy about the names we have picked, but don't open up conversations with it. It was heartbreaking for us that one of the twins was named Ayden. However, we are going to plug forward and still use the name.

My question ultimately is: How do we politely deal with using the same name (even though it's different spelling) as our Godson and is it really that big of a deal? They will be a year apart. I find out in a few weeks if it is a boy or a girl, but feel very strongly that it is a boy.

This is a very interesting question: we often discuss here whether a name can be reused in a particular situation, but it's a different matter to discuss how exactly to pull it off in a polite way that eases the situation for everyone---especially when we know there are people who feel that names are one-time-use items, and that any second use of a name constitutes stealing.

In your particular case, it helps considerably that the name is a common one. If both children were to be named, say, Deegan, I suspect there'd be more room for hard feelings. Aiden/Aidan/Ayden/Aaden/Aden/Ayden is, when spellings are combined, significantly more common than the #1 most common name in the United States, and it would be hard to imagine someone feeling as if it were their own unreusable idea.

It further helps that you're choosing a different spelling, and that both the name and the spelling have special significance for you. And it further helps that you've had this name picked out for a long time.

Do you see how I am gathering up reassurances, and yet still nervously skirting the actual practical application of them? It's one thing for me to be certain that it is fine for you to use the name Adin; it is another thing to think of how to encourage your friends to share that certainty.

Because you are close friends, I suspect that the topic of your pregnancy will be a common one. They'll ask how you're feeling, whether you've felt the baby kick, etc. At some point, the discussion will almost certainly turn to baby names. This is when, if I were in your shoes, I would be prepared to let them know. The exact wording will depend on your own speaking style and on the way you usually talk to your friends, but the essence, I think, would be:

Them: "So, have you guys thought about names?"
You guys: "Oh, we chose names back before we even started trying: Madelin Hope for a girl, and Adin Kennedy for a boy."

This is where you look carefully for reactions. Their faces will do one expression when you say Madelin, and there may be a sudden change or flicker when you say Adin. They may be feeling the same heartbreak you felt when they used the name, so what is needed here is SPIN. I suggest filling this moment with propaganda: what a happy surprise it was for you when your dear godson had the name you loved so much; how your love for your godson has only improved your love for the chosen name; how fun you think it will be to have "the Aidans" growing up together. This would also be a good time to discuss how you chose the name Adin, and how you'll be spelling it. The tone throughout should be happy and excited: finally you get to tell them the secret name and the wonderful coincidence, and isn't this FUN!

After that, how things go will depend on their reaction. Some people keep their feelings to themselves and soldier through it with pretend delight. Some people feel the actual delight. Some people speak frankly of a negative reaction. Some people have to process the information before they can react, and may bring it up again later. All this is why I started with the reassurances: I believe you are doing the right thing by using the name you chose. There could nevertheless be consequences to the decision that may be difficult to deal with. We will hope for the best ones: that your friends will be pleased, and/or that they will realize that it is just fine for you to be using the same name. Or that you will have a girl!

Name update! Erin writes:
Here is a picture of Adin Kennedy. Our little man arrived just over 6 weeks early and, added to our journey of infertility, we got to experience NICU. We were on the very lucky end and had a relatively short stay. He is going to be 6 weeks tomorrow and his due date is Wednesday! He is growing like a weed and performing at or above all of the developmental milestones.


saly said...

I am here to reassure you that it will be just fine. Hub and I decided on our girl's name about a week before we found out she was actually a girl (although, I just knew). Imagine my surprise, and heartache when good friends of ours--who are also my brother's inlaws-- who weren't telling names beforehand, sent an email with the subject just being "Hannah"--which was the name we were dead set on.

I cried for a few days about it, leaned on the internet for help, and in the end sent a note with a welcome baby gift that said "How fun will this be! We've also named our baby girl Hannah! Can't wait for the 2 Hannahs to meet!"

And it has been fine. Totally fine. The biggest confusion is for my brother and sister in-law when buying gifts for their same aged nieces with the same name.

So you will be fine, and so will your friends and you will all live happily ever after.

Good luck!!

Tommie said...

My cousin named his daughter, who was born 18 months after my daughter, the same name. He approached me at the wedding of another cousin and casually asked if my daughter was Alyssa. I said yes. He mentioned that Alyssa was his pregnant wife's favorite girl name of all time and she couldn't find another name she liked at all. I replied, "Well, it's a great name."

And that was that. The two Alyssa's rarely see each other these days but even when they do, it's fine. No big deal at all.

I will admit that when I heard they were expecing a second girl when their Alyssa was about six months old I snarked, "They better name this one Alyssa too, since there is no other girl name out that that she likes."

But it was just a moment of meanness on my part. It really, truly isn't that big a deal.

Frazzled Mom said...

I'm one of those petty people who would hate if a friend or family member used one of my kid's names, but I don't consider myself unreasonable. Therefore, while I wouldn't like it, IF my expencting friend/family member explained they planned to use my kid's name before their baby was born, I would come around. In time I would totally support the decision and appreciate that they told me about it beforehand so I didn't have to deal with the shock/surprise when I get the birth announcement.

I think your friends will be fine, as long as you tell them before the birth, especially if you include your compelling reasons for using Adin. I would tell them the story of how you chose the name. What I'm suggesting is you acknowledge their possible disappointment ahead of time, but I'm not saying you need their permission to use the name you love.

A couple of years after my daughter’s birth, an acquaintance (close friend's brother) used my daughter's name for his second daughter. I'll admit initially I was a little disgusted with the choice ("They copied me!") but I didn't tell my friend that. There were several reasons this shouldn't have been a big deal to me: 1. this guy lives across the country and I never see him. The last time I saw him, I was in college and he was in high school - like 15 years ago. 2. I liked their first daughter's name (she was born only 6 weeks after my daughter) and clearly we have the same taste. 3. My daughter's name complemented the other daughter's name and their last name well. 4. I didn't pick a terribly common name at the time, but it is getting more popular (Fiona).

Anyway, in time I got over it, and I'm even a little flattered now. But if we were closer friends (like I am with his sister) or if he were my brother, I may still be a little miffed if they hadn't told me ahead of time of their choice. I'm not saying that's not petty of me; I'm just being honest.

Mrs S said...

It is a little too close for me personally. I wouln't want to use a name that close friends just used for their baby. But I do feel your situation is different. And I assume they know of your name choice(s)? Since you love this name and it has meaning for you I would still use it. And like swistle pointed out there are a lot of Aidens around. Theysooner you share this info with them the better! If they are upset about you using the name will you still use it? Or will you be prepared to select a new name? Well, I hope you are having a girl and it won't be a concern.:)

Anonymous said...

I think you should discuss this with your friend immediately. Just get it over with. You know the name you want to use, and you stressing about this and being pregnant isnt good for your health. I honestly dont think its a problem to use the name, its a common name. Hopefully she will be mature and respect your rights as parents to also bestow your child with a name you love.

Best of luck to you!

~ Connie

Erin said...

The opportunity to talk about it came this weekend. My friend asked me if we had decided and are sharing our names and I said "Oh yes!" and she then piped in and said something like "That's right, aren't you using Madeleine Hope or something like that?" and I said "yes, Madelin Hope if it's a girl, Adin Kennedy if it's a boy" (slight pause) and then stated our reasons for the name Adin, mentioned casually how long we had wanted it and slipped in at the end that we were sad, at first, when we found out they were using that name but understood how common it was and figured it wouldn't be a big deal to have the same name. She agreed with me...I'm sure she may have had some underlying feelings - but we went out to dinner with them later and I went shopping with her the next day and our relationship is just as it always has been (except maybe better because this is 100% out in the open).

Anonymous said...

Im glad you got it out in the open. You said you think she may have had some underlying feelings. Do you think the conversation is over now or do you think one of you will discuss it more in the future? I hope you keep us updated if further conversation happens as it can help others who are in the same position as you. Congrats on your pregnancy.

Brittany said...

So glad to hear that you were able to talk to your friend and that things went well. And congratulations on your long-awaited Adin Kennedy or Madelin Hope!

Kas said...

Congrats on your pregnancy and great to hear you were able to discus your names choices with you friend!!

My little girl is Ava and recently a close friend of mine who was expecting a little girl sent me an email to tell me they were condsidering using the name Ava for their little girl, she explained to me her reason and asked if i would mind!! Of course i had no problem, but i did really appreciate the fact she thought to ask me first before actually naming her Ava, it just took away the awkwardness! Im sure your friend really apreciated you discusing your name choices with her before little Adin was actually born!! I think it will be sweet both of you having little ones with the same names!

Congrats and all the best x

Anonymous said...

I really hope that this can be the way 99% of parents can start feeling on the issue. Names are shared by many a people, just look at the 16,000 little Ava's born last year. Parents shouldnt have to suffer and miss out on a name they love just because of who they are friends with. And personally if a friend were so petty as to have an issue with me using the same name, I wouldnt want them as a friend, so it would so long friend and hello name!

Anonymous said...

You might want to consider the pronunciation problem with Adin: It's spelled to be spoken as "Add-in," as in, "I want to add in some tomatoes to this spaghetti sauce." Welcome to a lifetime of constantly correcting people's pronunciation. I met a woman recently named Theya, pronounced "TAY-uh", with no "H". She said her name is a constant source of errors, repetitive questions, misunderstanding and general annoyance, especially on a professional level.

Anonymous said...

I think when people choose extremely popular names, they have absolutely no legs to stand on in complaining. There are millions of little Aidens (no matter the spelling), Madisons, Avas and Olivias out there, and if the parents don't want to be somewhat unique, the have to get used to the fact that their child is going to be one of many, many peers with the same name.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of in the opposite boat right now.

Hubby are still "trying" for our first little one.

Dear friends of ours are 19 weeks pregnant. Last weekend while having dinner the talk of names. I was crushed to learn they are considering the name I've always loved for my daughter (which is my mom's name, my great aunt's name, hubby's aunt's name to only name a few in the family).

They are still debating names and are not decided yet.
I'm wondering if I should say something or just let it go. There's still at least 50/50 chance it won't be an issue with this little one.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I don't see anything wrong with jumping in and saying in a happy tone of recognition: "Oh! That's the name we're planning for a daughter!" That may steer them away from it---not out of any feeling that you have dibs on the name, but because they may want to avoid a duplicate themselves.