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Monday, June 18, 2012

Baby Girl Whittaker

Catherine writes:

I recently found your blog, and love the idea of impartial naming help!  My husband (Jeff) and I (Catherine) are expecting our first – a baby girl on July 14.  We started discussing baby names before we were even pregnant.  The only issue?  We had no baby girl names… Baby boy name?  Definitely checked off the list – Zeke Myers Whittaker (after my husband’s grandfather), which we still plan to use if we have a little boy at some point.

We went through a list of 4,000 girl names from the US Census – and in the end decided on the same two names we liked before going through all those names!  Our long list included Clare, Maris, Meryl, Adele, Lucy, and Penelope.  My husband really liked Kate (I thought it was too close to my name) and Caroline (I thought it was too popular).  I really liked Evelyn (Evie for short) and Hazel, but he vetoed both.

In the end, we really just keep going back-and-forth between these two…

Alice Marion Whittaker
Louise Marion Whittaker

Marion is our frontrunner for the middle name, as it was my great grandmother’s name and I love the family significance.  But what do you think about the first names?  We like them because they’re different and a little quirky without being too unusual.  Growing up as a ‘Catherine,’ it’s important to me to give our daughter a name where she won’t end up being one of 10 in her class.  I also like that both names still feel classic.

Alice means ‘noble one’ and Louise means ‘famous warrior’ (a meaning that I love).  I have liked the name Alice for years (and it is my family’s favorite between the two), but recently my husband suggested Louise.  I love that we could call her Lou or Lulu (maybe even Louie?) – all adorable nicknames.  

My main concerns:  I’m just not sure if Alice is overplayed?  I feel like there has been a lot of buzz around Alice recently, and I don’t know if it has become too popular.  For Louise, I’m not sure if it is too quirky?  Maybe a little old-lady-ish? (which I originally really liked about it, but have gotten a lukewarm to negative reaction from family about).  One of my sisters even told me that Louise sounds like an ugly old lady.

We briefly considered Louisa and Eloise as similar sounding but more ‘modern’ versions of Louise – but we both decided that we couldn’t picture ourselves with a daughter named either one of those (maybe they’re just a little too modern/trendy for us?) 

Lastly, I'm starting to worry that the answer isn't either name? I keep waiting to be totally sure and have that a-ha moment, but I just feel so indecisive about naming her!

Any help would be so appreciated!  I’d love to get your thoughts. Thanks so much for your help!
Sorry for another email, but we are almost 4 weeks away from our due date – and still without a name!  We were pretty settled on Alice, but now know someone who recently (in May) named their baby Alice.  It’s definitely not off the table, but it did cause us to reconsider.

We have recently revisited Lucy, Penelope (it’s my great grandmother’s name – but we’d call her Penny) and Jane. 

We’ve also been seriously thinking of Hazel Grace.  My maiden name is Hazle****t, so I thought it might be a fun nod to that?  Or is that too far removed, since it’s just a part of my maiden name?  We’ve been ‘testing out’ Hazel, but I’m just not 100% on it yet.  Plus some family members have made it known that they really don’t like the name (although this is not a deal breaker for us, because I think they’ll get over it once she’s born).

We’ve also considered naming her Myers – a family name that was our middle name choice, if we were having a boy.  My husband feels okay about that one, but he worries that it’s a little too different.  We also have a large neighborhood in our city (and the school that she’ll most likely go to) with the name Myers in it. 

Lastly, we’re no longer sold on a middle name – and considered using the previous middle name contender, Marion, as her first name?  We’ve also been thinking of Grace or Elizabeth as possible middle names.  

I’m starting to get worried about not having a name at all by her arrival – and even more worried about ending up with baby name regret because we couldn’t find one that we loved!

Any advice would be so appreciated!!

From your first letter, it sounds as if you had it narrowed down to Alice and Louise, and no amount of research was adding any further serious candidates. Then Alice was taken out of the running for you. So it sounds to me as if this brings you to Louise, but that last-minute jitters are setting in.

I think Louise Marion Whittaker is a wonderful name. It has long roots, it's fun to say, it's great with your chosen boy name, you love the meaning, you love the nicknames, and you've liked it consistently throughout this process. Your sister's reaction tells me only that it's time to stop asking for family input; it sounds like family input so far has made things more difficult for you, and I think you're right they'll come around to what you choose.

Hazel would also work well; it would give you a repeating Z if you had a Zeke later on, which can be a plus or a minus depending on your style. But it sounds like Hazel falls into the category of names you like but that don't make it to the finalist list.

Marion seems like another good choice, if it feels like a finalist to you. But again, I'm getting the impression that this is more like anxious last-minute reshuffling/reconsidering, rather than a candidate.

Myers seems like an outlier name for you: a name you like that is not your usual style. Choosing it would make future name choices significantly more difficult (the other girl names on your lists wouldn't work very well as sister names for a Myers), and may also later make you wish you hadn't ruled out your perfect boy name.

If you weren't particularly close to your great-grandmother (i.e., if you're choosing her name from the family tree but not because you specifically want to honor her), I might like Hazle****t for the middle name instead, or Hazel. Or you could use any of the other considered names: Alice, Penelope, Caroline, etc.

Name update! Catharine writes:
Many belated thanks to you and your readers!  Hazel Marion was born on 7/14, weighing 7 lbs and 14 oz.

Your input was incredibly helpful – although, she did end up being almost 12 hours old before she had an official name!  We absolutely adore our sweet Hazel and her name – it just took some encouragement for us to tune out others!  And, much as you said, our family has come around to loving her name also.

We definitely plan to use Zeke and Louise for future siblings.  Thank you again – and hope this Christmas picture makes up for the overdue update!


Michelle said...

Remember that old ladies named Louise were once little girls named Louise. I adore any name that would render the nickname Lou for a girl.

StephLove said...

I would have guessed Alice and Louise were about equally popular since I know one of each (ages 10 and 13) but I looked it up and Alice is considerably more popular. Not so popular I think that you'd be inundated with them, though.

I do like the names on your second string list (in a funny twist the Alice I know has a sister named Lucy) but I think Swistle is right that Myers is outside your normal taste and could cause sibling naming problems down the line. I also think this could be a case of last minute jitters and Louise could be the one. If you do go a different direction, Caroline is a special favorite of mine and Hazel would be a lovely way to incorporate your maiden name.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, STOP running Your thoughts past family. Until you DECIDE. They will confuse you. I would use Hazel 100%. Link to your family is strong, it has a great sound, and is a strong female name and links so perfectly with the Z of your future boy!
Place a pretty name that you like in middle- what did you name your favourite doll when you were little? What was your best friends or favourite aunt's name? I think Louise is great with Hazel. As is Marion. Beautiful names.
I repeat- Hazel. Hazel Marion is simply beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I like Louise Marion and agree with Swistle that it is time to stop talking to family about names. I got the same kind of reactions when I named my son George, but people have gotten over it. If you still aren't sure about, Marion Louise is also very nice. Hazel is a nice tribute to your maiden name and I like the shared Z with Zeke. Hazel Louise and Hazel Marion are lovely. I know you said Kate was off for being too close to your name, but I rather like it. It'd be a nod to your name, but you wouldn't actually share names. I like Kate Louise and Hazel Kate. Good luck, and please let us know what you decide!

Anonymous said...

I recently heard the name Elsa in the grocery store. It is a name I would never have thought of, but has the same classic feel of your other choices.

Erin said...

I love Louise! I vote that you use it! Lulu would be such a cute nickname, and I think Lulu and Zeke sound adorable together...

Anonymous said...

Your sister may think ugly old lady when she hears the name Louise, but I guarantee you after a month of knowing your Louise she'll think "adorable squishums"! And I knew a little girl Louise who was just adorable and polite and fun all around. So for me personally Louise is very adaptable to a young person. I love Marion as the middle name, I just never hear it anymore and it's lovely! And Hazel Marion is a great name too if you're really having qualms about Louise.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, family input can be valuable...but it sounds like yours just doesn't share your taste in names. Which is great! No chance of overlapping cousin names, right?

I think the connection between Hazel and your maiden name is excellent, if you also like the name Hazel. I also think Caroline might be worth a second look. It's more popular than Alice now...but it's holding steady instead of climbing, and definitely isn't so popular that there's likely to be 10 of them in your daughter's class. And Louise and Alice are adorable too.

Trudee said...

I say go with your gut. And your gut has been saying Louise Marion all along. You love the meaning, you love the nicknames and you kept coming back to it even after all those names.

I think everyone wants their family to embrace their name choices as much as they do. Maybe they wouldn't name a child Louise, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. (The world would be very boring if we all liked the same things.)

I say trust your instincts. It seems to 'fit' for you. And, like everyone says, your Louise will redefine how they think of the name.

gail said...

It is a bit funny to me to read that you are worried about Louise possibly being too quirky or Eloise/Louisa being too modern/trendy for you, yet all the while you are very comfortable with Zeke, which to me, falls squarely into each of these categories. This makes me wonder if having a family connection to a name that otherwise reads as trendy or quirky makes it seem less so.......(For the record, I really like Zeke, Louise, and Marion. Each of them are established, underused names.)

The only one of the names under consideration that I wouldn't recommend is Myers. Unlike names such as Alice or Lucy or Penelope, there's no indication of whether it's for a girl or a boy.

Otherwise, all the names are great--easy to spell, easy to pronounce, recognizable, in some instances classic. I'd like to really encourage you to keep Marion in the middle rather than supplanting it with Grace or Elizabeth--while both of those choices are tasteful as well, there are simply droves of girls who have them as mn's.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Please go with Louise!!!! Its Such a great name and it's sad to let your sister ruin it for you. I had a son in April and prior to his birth we got negative reactions to our choices as well. Now that he's here though, everyone loves his name probably because its attached to an adorable baby!

Bryony said...

Ooh, be careful about using Hazel and Grace together. I don't know if you know much about the vlogbrothers or the Nerdfighters (basically a giant movement about "it's okay to be nerdy"), but John Green books are everywhere and they're enormously popular. "The Fault In Our Stars" was published early this year, and details the life of Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is dying of cancer.

It's an amazing book that everyone should read, but the names Hazel and Grace put next to each other create this sort of iconic figure for me (and I'm sure, many other people I know), and I'm not sure that would be the best thing for a baby. (Though she is a remarkable character, and I'm sure John Green would be pleased if he found out about it.)

That said, I love your choice in names and never think of Louise as an old lady -- there was a girl named Louise (sister to Alice, incidentally) at my old primary school I always remember as being really nice to me even though I was four years younger than she was. So that's definitely the first thing I think of.

Jan said...

I would agree that Alice has some buzz now. I like Louise or Hazel, Louise a bit more. Marion or your maiden name for the middle slot.

Anonymous said...

I love Louise Marion or Louise YourMaidenName!

It sounds so wonderful with your last name. Very recognizable, but not common = Perfect!!!

Plus, the nickname Lou or Lulu is to die for.

Alice said...

As a late 1970s-born Alice (when the only Alices were grandmothers), I can say I'm loving that it's got a "buzz" now. Although it might be trending up right now, I do think it's a classic that will continue to rise and fall over time. That said, I'd go with Louise, and I'd stick with Marion as a middle name. I love Louise Marion so much I'd consider stealing it for myself. My other choice would be Penelope. Nell and Nellie are cute nicknames for it as well as Penny.

Anonymous said...

How about Maryam Louise?

jerilyn said...

Go with Louise! Lou or Lulu is adorable and would fit perfectly with Zeke!
We always kept our names a secret because we like old people names and aren't afraid of it! While we may get some raised eyebrows our kids have fabulous names and no one can argue with that :)

Helena said...

I'm so jealous! I love Alice and Louise but our last name starts with an S and makes the whole thing too lispy.

I don't think you can go wrong with either. Or Marion.

About family, they will TOTALLY warm up when you show them the kid. It's one thing to abstractly say "I hate the name XX" and then meet a little baby who is your family and say "nope, still hate that name".

I'm not sharing my girl name with my family because I know they will hate it abstractly. Ha! They will just have to meet her.

vanessa said...

I LOVE Hazel Grace, but there is a very popular young adult novel (The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green) where that is the main character and she is frequently called Hazel Grace. We arent talking Harry Potter or anything but I think it is a novel with staying power. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it--I dont think its at all a negative association, and in fact, Hazel has become, after Hermione, my top "from a book" girls name (wellll OK, among a few others...) but if I were you I'd want to know!
That said, I think Hazel is FABULOUS, because it ties in some beautifully with your maiden name, and beacuse its SO PRETTY, and because Hazel goes so well with Zeke. However! I also think that Louise is great (although I prefer Louisa). Actually I like all of your names...but it does sound like you really love Louise. OH! What about Hazel Louise?

Katie said...

Hi! What great names you have to choose from! Swistle & readers helped me name my daughter Alice 17 months ago. I thought I'd chime in with some of my experience with the name. We chose it because it was the name of my aunt who was very dear to my father and me. We loved the name and the association, but I was worried that someday my teenage daughter would hate me for giving her an old lady name. Luckily for me old lady names are coming back into fashion! Each of my sons had one or two Alices in his class this year! I was actually pleased when I started finding more Alices around town. For us it almost makes us like the name more. But, if that would bother you, maybe you should reconsider it.

Personally, I think Louise is a FANTASTIC name. And, I might add, it makes a lovely sibling set with Alice if you ever decide to go back to it with a potential second girl. In fact, I think it's going on my list now as a potential 4th baby's name!

I agree with Swistle on this that perhaps asking for too many opinions is making the waters a bit murky?

Anonymous said...

Not to throw another name into the mix, but perhaps Marin would be a nice reference to Marion.

Anonymous said...

I love Hazel and Penelope (Penny) with Louise. Hazel and Zeke and Penny and Zeke are great!

Anonymous said...

I like Marion as the first name. Marion Elizabeth sounds great. How about Irene it means peace similar to Jeff and I like names that have tied in meanings. Hazel Irene is a tie to both parents. I also like Louise Marion. Good luck.

Patricia said...

I love Louise. It's a grand name with royal ties. Princess Louise (Louise Caroline Alberta) was a daughter of Queen Victoria, and Louise is also the name of Queen Elizabeth's youngest granddaughter, Lady Louise Windsor (Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary), born in 2003. While not currently in the SSA Top 1000 names, Louise ranks 208 in England. I find the name similar to Charlotte and expect Louise will gain in use in the US too.

Louise Marion Whittaker is an amazing name!

Nedra said...

Your taste in names is very similar to mine (with the exception of Myers). I think all your choices are great. Alice is one of our own top contenders and if my husband could pronounce Louise (for some reason he can only say Louis) it would be too. Louise is the name of a baby that we recently met that my husband has declared is the most adorable baby ever (if only he could pronounce her name!) I don't think it's old-fashioned at all and was surprised to hear it's so uncommon. It feels so classic that I thought it would be more popular.

Laura said...

Louise is lovely. And I adore Lulu or Lou for a middle name. I think it is a name that could be for the "girly-girl" or for the rough and tumble tomboy...yet have staying power through adulthood as a strong, solid name. Love it.

As for names on your list, interestingly Tina Fey's daughters are Alice and Penelope. :) Great naming style!!

Laura said...

Meant to say Lulu or Lou for a NICKNAME. :) My's late here.

the hills said...

i ADORE hazel!!! i can't use it due to my last name but the fact that it's a nod to your maiden?? loooove that!!

Anonymous said...

I love all of your name options. You really can't go wrong here. If you're worried that Louise might be too old lady sounding...what about Louisa? It has the same feel but feels a bit more fresh. That way you still get the adorable nickname options of Lulu or Lou.

nieke said...

Oh man, how I love Alice. I (want to) feel like it is so classic that it's never going to have a popularity surge.

Louise is wonderful for all the reasons you listed. It looks great on paper and I doubt the people who think it's ugly could deny the adorableness of Lou, Lulu or Louie

I don't think you need to go past those two names, but thought I'd throw two names out there that seem like a perfect combinations of two perfect names: The first is Elise, which is rarely used upfront, and is so much nicer and less trendy than Eloise. The other is Lois, even more dated than Louise, but very sweet and unusual with Lo or Lolo as a cute nickname options.

So, how about Elise Marion or Lois Marion?

Anonymous said...

Louise is beautiful and timeless <3

Anonymous said...

I would use Hazel as the first name. 100%. Spunky and feminine. I would not use Grace at all because thei are 50 bajillion of them right now. I like the idea of Hazel Jane Marion. The 2 middle names work really well with yalls first and last name. Good luck. I agree with above. I would just choose what I wanted and family could just deal with it. I did not ask my family's likes or dislikes whe I named my children. My mil went out of her way to tell me how horrid my choice for the youngest was so I just told her we were discussing from then on until she was born and named.

MaryamLouise said...

My name IS Maryam Louise! How funny I saw this here. I am a writer from Louisville, Kentucky. Of course, I have strong opinions that you should use Maryam Louise, ha ha.