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Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby Girl You-dell

Erin writes:
I have been following and commenting on your blog for many years now (before I was married even), and here I am finally writing to you and your readers for help with an actual baby! (a book, sorry about that, feel free to edit)! I am Erin, my husband is Brian, and our last name sounds like you-dell (accent on the dell). We chose our last name together as a mixture of our surnames but didn’t realize how it would limit us from almost all french baby names ending in L, many of which I love (ie Noelle). This is our first baby, due in March, but we don’t know what we are having yet. We anticipate having two children, possibly three, but for naming purposes I am thinking of the sibling set in terms of two, as I’m fairly confident we can come up with a third we love if need be. Here are our lists:

Boy names we both agree on:
Griffin (he loves)
Everett (I love)
Owen (friends just named their son this, its extremely popular where we live but we both love)
Josiah (too old testament? The other three are pulling away from this candidate)

Girl names we both agree on:
Audrey (we both love and is current front runner, but I always wanted to stay away from girls names ending in y or ie for various freakonomics reasons - namely that those names give the impression of “least smart” according to the studies. Also, sometimes I have trouble with the Odd and the “DR” sound rolling off my tongue. Wondering if there will be confusion with all the Aubreys out there. Stylistically though, this is exactly what we are looking for).

Lilah (he loves more than me, we also have a dog named Lola - is it a little frilly to yell at her soccer game?)

Clara (he loves more than me, I find a bit frumpy in feel but love the acoustic value of it)

Eliza (I love more than him)

Genevieve (he loves, I have trouble with all the nn possibilities - and would hate if her name was shortened to Gen. I took Madeline off the list because of the Maddie nn, but I am hoping for an Eve or Evie/Eva nn out of Genevieve)

Claire (I love, this is my mothers middle name who I would like to honor and together with our last name Claire reminds me of my favorite classical piece, Clair De Lune - but he finds a bit plain so I am definitely willing to move to middle name spot)

Elizabeth (mostly because we both love Liz/Lizzie. My middle name is Elizabeth though, so it feels a bit narcissistic to use this as a first).

Sienna and Annika are also high on the list, but don’t match the others in style (they do seem to fit alright with eachother, though, I think).

To give you an idea of names we don’t agree on, here are a few of his:



and mine:

Colette (LOVE, but he does not care for)

Names that are OUT (but we like):
any elle names (adele, noelle, etc. because of our last name)
any names beginning with F (because the initials would be horrid)
any names ending in a ya sound, including names like Amelia and Cecilia (because when said fast, you get a ya-ya effect with our last name).

For middles we would like to honor family. for girls the middle will be Claire if the first is not Clara or Claire after my mom, and for boys we are working with Curtis, Gerard, Emory, and a host of other kind of blech names. Curtis or Gerard would be for my father however, and since we are closest to him, would be the best ones to use. My dad is a pretty laid back guy though, and wouldn’t care too much if he werent honored and my mom was.

Ready for a weird restriction? I can’t stand long A sounds, so names like Amy, Katie, Jane, Rachel etc. don’t really work. Same with boys (no Ames or Aiden or any of that). I truly get a bad taste in my mouth when I say long As, so I don’t want to have that every time I say my child’s name. I don’t even love short A sounds like Abigail or Alexandria but Ah sounds (like Annika and Audrey) are just fine. Have you ever heard of that before?

I would prefer shorter, one or no nickname names, but husband likes nn’s more. In a perfect world, the name would be of Irish, French or German origin, but we haven’t found a lot of those that we love that aren’t already on the list. I am tempted to name all my potential children (two boys, boy and girl, two girls) now and have it set going forward, but my mind has already changed so much since I’ve gotten pregnant, who knows where I will be in a few years. I do know that from our lists, we have a lot in the same categories that would work as sibling sets, so I am not as worried about that (if I have Sienna, I will probably opt for an Annika next, and if I have a Lilah, I will opt for a Clara or Audrey next - Elizabeth and Genevieve (Liz and Eve). Eliza works with almost all of them). Griffin and Owen or Everett and Audrey, there are combos that work. I am having a hard time imagining cradling my baby and calling him or her things, but I have been trying. My problem is I love all the names I will have to discard, and I can find something wrong with all of the names I have chosen after I say them over and over again. Will I ever be satisfied or know which one is THE ONE? Please help us narrow down our choices! New suggestions I am open to too, but I am sure I have already considered all the options, as I am a true name nerd! Sometimes,
though, it takes having someone else re-suggest it for you to really feel it, so I’d definitely reconsider other names!

In terms of popularity, I’d like to stay out of the top 10 or so, but if a name is classic and pretty popular (like Elizabeth) I am ok with that. I am a little afraid Lilah or Clara will be the next Emma, though, given the trajectories of the names. For whatever reason, I don’t have the same panic about picking boys names as I do girls names, and I can’t explain why. The girl name has to be perfect, whereas the boy name I just have to like well enough. I will be finding out what I am having in November and will update you then! Sorry for the book, I just really care about this! Thank you so much!

We are having a girl! Now that we know we can get down to business, although as excited as I am to get to name a daughter, I also feared it! She is our first baby, we may have 2-3 kids, but we can find things in similar styles that we like for a sibset. We thought we were settled on a name (Audrey Claire) but found out a cousin of my husband's who neither of us like just named her daughter that, which has soured us a bit. I think we were both looking for a reason out of the name too, if that makes sense - I didn't love that people would confuse it with Aubrey, and that it didn't have any nicknames, and the weight of the "OddR" sound, though I loved the style of the name.

Our current choice is Eliza Claire. A couple of questions about it - my middle name is Elizabeth, and my mother's middle name is Claire, so is Eliza Claire family name overkill? I don't want to seem narcissistic and name the baby after me, and while we considered Elizabeth for awhile, I think we've come down on the side that Elizabeth is too much mine and feels overused. On the other hand we like the spunk and freshness of Eliza, still feel connected to it, and feel as though it takes on a different style and personality than Elizabeth.

What I'd like to know is if you or your readers agree? One thing I still hear from people is that Eliza is not its own stand alone name, but a nickname for Elizabeth. Thoughts? Also, DH loves the nn Lizzie for when she is little and Liz or Liza Claire for later, do you think it will be difficult to get people to call her Lizzie when the vowel sounds are different from Eliza? Obviously, many Katherines go by Kate, but in this instance I wonder if its a bit weird. Last question, if I use all my favorite family girl names on this girl and have a future daughter, then what? Should I save one of the names just in case?

Our short list for girls is below, we will very likely choose something from this list if it is not Eliza or Audrey as we have been through every other name in the book a million times over, but feel free to suggest something else too. I have some odd restrictions in that I don't like long A sounds as in Ava or Kaylee, names that start
with a short A as in Abigail, names that end in "elle" sounds as in Adele and names that end with a "ya" sound, as in Cecilia for purposes of going with our last name. You have my names we cannot use list from the previous email too.

Top tier

Eliza Claire
Sienna Claire
Annika _____ (I'm reading that there are pronunciation issues with this one, I would pronounce it Ahn-i-ka, accent on the first syllable. Is that how you would?)
Lilah Claire
Genevieve Claire (Eve or Evie, possibly Genna)
Claire Alexandria

Still being considered:
Audrey Claire
Eva Claire
Clara ____

If this baby had been a boy, we were considering Grant, Everett, Griffin (top choice) and Owen.

This may be a request for reassurance more than a question, but hopefully you and/or your readers can help me feel confident in a name!

Thanks for your help!

I am first going to do a sweep through this whole thing, giving my answers to questions and commenting on major issues; this will help sort them for other opinions in the comments section as well.

1. I don't think Lilah seems too frilly to yell at a soccer game. I think one reason the name is getting so popular is that it seems right for many types of girls.

2. Yes, I've heard of people disliking certain sounds right across the board: short-A endings, K sounds, J sounds, B sounds, -den endings that are more like d'n, that sort of thing.

3. I think it's a little annoying of our culture to consider it perfectly natural to name a child after the father but not after the mother. But when it's the mother's middle name, and especially a variation on the mother's middle name, I think it's nearly a non-issue: most people won't even know.

4. Eliza is definitely a name in its own right.

5. I don't think Eliza Claire is family-name overkill. I think it's great.

6. A general warning about the middle name Claire is that it can change to "éclair" with some first names.

7. I don't think of Liz as a nickname for Eliza: the changed vowel sound is also what makes me feel like Eliza is not a natural nickname for Elizabeth, so that shows you how much weight you should give the opinion (especially since I am fine with Kate for Katherine and Meg for Margaret, Because It's Traditional). I'm sure you can use Liz or Lizzie if you want to; most people are not as conservative about nicknames as I am.

8. I definitely think of Eliza as a different style from Elizabeth, same as you do.

9. Saving names is a difficult issue. Because it's a gamble, it has to be treated that way: weighing on one side how disappointed you'd be if you didn't get a chance to use a favorite name, and on the other side how stressed you'd be to have used up the names and need to come up with a different plan. In this case, I'd be in favor of using both names, because you don't want to miss the chance to honor your mother. I'd feel differently if you were cramming in a ton of honor names, but this sounds more like you happen to want to use a name similar to your own middle name, and then you want to honor your mother. Since you're even a little uneasy about seeming as if you're honoring yourself, it seems more like one honor name and one sweet connection name.

10. Yes, I pronounce Annika ON-nicka. I have heard from other people that that they've encountered Annikas who pronounced it ANN-nicka, so both pronunciations are in use.

I think Eliza Claire is the best option. It gives you what you want, and it sounds as if you like it best. It also gives you the most flexibility with future sibling names, since you've mentioned you like it with almost all the other options. Eliza You-dell is a great name, and it's one I'd want for myself.

I also think you have a lot of other nice possibilities, if Eliza doesn't sit right. You've been reading me long enough to have heard me preaching against the concept of The One Perfect Name, but I do like to feel a sort of CLICK as a name settles into place. You may find that several names click nicely, and this can make it harder to decide---but it also means you have a nice group of names that would ALL work well. And if you regret letting a certain name go, perhaps you will have a chance to use it on a future child.

It IS hard to choose a name: the "forsaking all others" aspect is daunting, and I think it's inevitable that a baby name hobbyist will have some names she'll always regret not having been able to use. I find it helps to realize that EVERY name means letting go of all the others: there will be some sadness with EVERY name, and the task is to find the one you'd be saddest not to use. You might also find it useful to revisit Choosing Between Two Finalists (which also works for more than two finalists).


Annika said...

Not only to I NOT think it is family name overkill, I think it is WONDERFUL and you should ABSOLUTELY use it!

Of course, I am biased since it's very close to how I named my daughter. Her first name, Grace, is what my name means, and her middle name, Lydia, is my Grammy's name.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I LOVE Eliza Claire.

I'm one of the people who does NOT think of Eliza as a natural nickname for Elizabeth, but I think it has the possibility to give your daughter that nice feeling of sharing something wonderful with you. And I personally think Eliza as a first name does NOT rule out the possibility of using Elizabeth as a middle name for your next daughter, should you so choose.

Congratulations and good luck! You have lots of beautiful names to choose from - you won't make the wrong choice.

vanessa said...

Eliza Claire Eliza Claire Eliza Claire! SO PERFECT. and not overkill at all, and I too find it very irritating that its considered arrogant to name a baby after th mother when it gets the father's surname. nonsense. Eliza Claire!

StephLove said...

I don't think Eliza Claire is overkill. In fact, I'd even prefer Elizabeth Claire (because I like the name better and because it's yours).

I think my favorite from your list is Lilah Claire, though. Very pretty. I also like Genevieve Claire, Claire Alexandria Audrey Claire and Eva Claire. Good luck choosing.

gail said...

I love Eliza Claire. I'd second everything Swistle has said, plus you've been so thorough in your process!
I realize in retrospect that I named my second daughter so casually, a name I only liked and didn't love because none of our names seemed to fit her when we actually met her. Even so, the name we chose totally grew on me as she did. So to start out with a name you already love--you can totally relax. Eliza Claire is a golden mean name.

Beth said...

Eliza Claire is a great name and I happen to be liberal on nicknames and think that you can call her Liz or Lizzie or Liza Claire - I especially think Liza Claire is sweet.

I have a daughter Annika pronounced ANN-nicka. The other Annikas I've run in to have almost all been ANN-nickas too, but I've heard of 1 or 2 ON-nickas. If the idea of correcting people drives you crazy, then maybe you should reconsider this name. Although, as is often mentioned here, you don't have to correct people that often (the people in your circles eventually learn - usually!) and you can come up with nifty mnemonics to help them.

Brittany said...

I think Eliza Claire is an excellent choice - I love how it uses two names you both love, honors your mother, and connects her to you while still giving her her "own" name! And it's a beautiful, spunky name. I think you also have many other wonderful choices, but it does seem like this may be her name and you're looking for reassurance. If that's the case, you have it!

I also think Eliza Claire leaves many names open for future siblings - maybe even Audrey for a girl. Perhaps when more time has passed from the birth of the other Audrey in your family and it's paired with a different middle name, you'll feel better about using it. Congratulations on your first child and best of luck!

Natalia said...

I love Eliza Claire, it's perfect! It really stands out between your other options. I don't think of Eliza as a form of Elizabeth, and I would totally use Liz as a nn.

I think the name Eliza Claire will let you choose from a wide variety of options for your other future children.
I wouldn't name a second daughter Lilah though; Eliza and Lilah sound very similar I think. So, from my point of you, choosing
one of them would mean forgetting about the other. But maybe that's just me.

I personally love the name Sienna (one of the contenders for my future daughter's name) and I think Eliza and Sienna are adorable sisters' names. I'd save Sienna Rose or Sienna Grace for a future sister, although you'd probably think all over again when
you get pregnant the second time. I'd just be happier knowing that I already have an option. Eliza Claire and Sienna Rose, so

For a brother I love Griffin! Eliza Claire and Griffin Curtis, Eliza and Griffin, love it!

Emily S. said...

You found her name.. Eliza Claire. It's beautiful and I do think you can use Liz or Lizzie as a nickname.

liz said...

My maiden name was (sounds like) You-Bell (letter U plus bell).

And my first name is Elizabeth.

Full name Elizabeth Amy YouBell.

So I'm voting for Elizabeth.

Eliza Claire is also beautiful.

And I totally agree with not using an -elle name.

Lauren said...

Eliza Claire is lovely. I also thought immediately of Audra when I looked at your list. It might be a nice substitute for Audrey, either now or for a future sister.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Congratulations on your girl. I go by my middle name which is Eliza and though my mother's name is Elizabeth I was not named after her. The connection only surfaced when I began going by Eliza instead of Ashley in my late 20's; my mom wishes she was an Eliza instead of Elizabeth! She was a Liz at one point but never used Eliza. I think they are truly separate names. I was named for a great great aunt Eliza who was named almost a century ago. I agree with your issues regarding certain sounds in names as you can see I ditched Ashley as soon as it seemed natural to do so! I love being an Eliza and I highly recommend the name! Eliza Claire is great!!!

Jessica said...

My middle name is Margaret and I gave it to my daughter as her first name. I love having a connection like that. Anyone who knows that's where the name came from seems to think it's nice (not weird).

Anonymous said...

Just throwing this tidbit out there... I have a niece named Auden. I think it's such a nice option for Audrey.

BUT Eliza is totally cute if that's the way you go!

Magic27 said...

I think Eliza Claire is lovely, but you don't need me to say that as just about everyone else has said the same. Can I just ask, though, what you meant by the -y and -ie endings having something to do with "least smart"? I've never heard this, and my own name ends in -y (Kirsty, a Scottish derivative of Christine) and my younger daughter's ends in -ie (though hers is a French name, in France, where -ie is extremely common (Emilie, Lucie, Amélie, Magalie, Sophie, Mélanie...), just not her particular name, Lydie). I'm curious...

Swistle said...

Magic27- It's from a book called Freakonomics. It has very dicey baby name information, including some flat-out misinformation.

Grasshopper said...

First, thanks everyone for reading both of my incredibly long questions! You have all given me lots to think about and I am feeling really good about Eliza Claire.

As to Magic27, I had read a book (wish I could remember the name now, but it was a library book and a couple years ago) that had a study group rank female names by the perceived intelligence of their bearers, and while it isn't the below excerpt it followed a similar logic: - I don't think the study I was reading was actually a Bruce Lansky book though, when I go back to the library I'll try to find the name/author.

Of course, being as Audrey was pretty much our top choice before we found out other family had used it, I don't take any of this too seriously. In fact, I've probably done too much research on the subject for my own good. While I do take into consideration others' perceptions, I believe a name has very little to no impact on how successful the person becomes (See the story of the two boys named Winner and Loser in Freakonomics, or strong, smart women with y names like Hillary Clinton for examples).

Certainly there are beautiful and intelligent sounding names in all varieties, and a myriad of opinions for each name as well. Thanks everyone for their help!

Swistle said...

I think also that the -ie/-y name thing comes more from nicknamey names (Chrissy, Lexi, Becky) given as full given names, than from names that happen to end in -ie/-y already (Emily, Audrey).

ambient said...

Reading this whole thing, what jumped out at me was the second mention of Genevieve, with the addition of Genna as nickname. Genna Youdell is very sweet and ageless to me. I vote for that one!!

Random other comments:
I don't think that Audrey falls into the cutesy -ie camp. It works perfectly well in a serious context, and evokes Audrey Hepburn for me. I agree with Swistle's comment that the impression of "silliness" mostly derives from nicknames ending in that sound rather than given names. (Though I've kept Katie into adulthood without feeling like a child. I like my name Kathryn, but it's not ME. I think if the last name isn't cutesy, you're fine.)

Liz for Eliza feels like a stretch to me...and it's a sin to not use the adorable Liza! I still prefer Genna though, as it's both cute AND easier to pronounce with the last name.