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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: If the Ultrasound Says Girl, Do You Need a Boy Name?

Austin writes:
I am 35 weeks pregnant (due 8/31) with our first child and we found out we are having a girl at 16 weeks (it's nice to have an ultrasound tech friend!). This was a blessing because while my husband and I had agreed on a girl's name, Norah, in one of our first baby name conversations five years ago, we were nowhere close to agreement on a boy's name. In fact, talking about potential boy names had become quite a chore. The news that we were having a girl ended that struggle until very recently.

Three events have broken the naming peace:

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law suggested that we should have a boy's name just in case. Ultrasound techs have been wrong before. This got my husband thinking about boy's names all over again. Then about a week ago, my husband found out that his 22-year-old cousin was thought to be a girl all the way until birth, leaving his aunt and uncle to flail for a boy's name moments after his arrival. And yesterday our good friend's cousin gave birth to a baby boy...AFTER they had already spent several thousand dollars on pink baby gear, thinking they were having a girl. These stories make my blood pressure rise!

We think the odds of our baby being a boy are very slim and most of our expensive baby gear is gender-neutral, including nursery decor. We've had several ultrasounds and have been told by four different doctors and techs to expect a girl.  But are we tempting fate if we allow our boy's name feud to linger?  Do we need to have a boy name in our back pocket? I know we are probably way overthinking this, but it would make my hormone-addled brain and my planning-obsessed husband feel better to have a backup plan in case a boy appears at delivery!
Assuming we do need a boy's name, we could really use your help. Our last name is $tephen$on (pronounced like Stevenson) and the baby's middle name will be Lee regardless of sex, which is my husband's and his father's middle name. We plan to use honor names as middle names for all of our children.

Our top choice for a boy was Lucas until a close friend named his son Luca in December. Now it's off the table, sadly.

Potential compromise names that neither of us love or hate:
Elliott (nn. Leo)

Names I like and he has vetoed:

Names he likes and I have vetoed:
William (nn. Liam)
Charles (nn. Charlie)

I tend to be all over the map with respect to naming style preferences for boys; I like the surname-as-first name style, some traditional names, and some trendier names. He tends to be more firmly settled in the traditional name camp. There are names we both like but feel like we can't use because of alliteration with our last name (which makes me nuts!) like Silas and anything ending in -son/sen. We have many other names we agree upon for future lady babies; favorites include Charlotte, Alice, and Gwendolyn, in case that helps generate more ideas.

We've both scoured your blog and the Baby Name Wizard for new ideas but nothing seems to be The Boy Name for both of us! And we find ourselves falling in and out of love with boy names, which is weird since we've had Norah picked out for years and never wavered. Any advice and suggestions you or your readers have would be so appreciated. Thank you!

Here are some reasons to have a boy name AND a girl name ready, even if you're pretty sure you know which one you need:

1. It can be quite fun to say things like, "If I'd been a boy, my name would have been Christopher!"

2. It does very occasionally happen that an ultrasound is wrong, and so it's nice to be prepared.

3. Baby-naming is fun.

Here are some reasons not to:

1. If you do have a boy when you're expecting a girl, that story is SO THRILLING to everyone, you'll have all the excuse and time you need to come up with an alternate name. There would be no need to decide immediately; you'd have days or even weeks. It even becomes part of the fun: "Daddy and I didn't even know you were a boy! We had to go through a baby name book right there in the hospital!"

2. Baby-naming can stop being fun, and start being stressful and difficult---and the odds are strongly in favor of all that stress and difficulty being for nothing. You're describing it as "quite a chore" and "a struggle," and you've had several ultrasounds all with predictions of girl, so it sounds to me that this is where you are right now.

3. Many people find that the name they'd chosen for the opposite sex is no longer one they want to consider when expecting subsequent babies. Deciding on a name now may save you time if you have a boy later---or it might waste a name.

As you might expect, I was VERY KEEN on naming my own babies, and started lists the day the pregnancy test was positive. And yet I waited until I knew if the baby was a boy or a girl before getting serious about choosing a name, and considered that one of the huge benefits of finding out the baby's sex before the birth. For the fun of it, I would draw up little lists of names I might consider if the baby surprised us by being the opposite sex---but I never got into the more difficult and stressful work of making a final decision. It didn't feel worth it, and I soothed myself with the "It will make the story even better" idea.

If you do have a boy, the work you have done so far is plenty: you will still have some deciding to do, but you've given it thought, and you've drawn up some rough lists, and you've become familiar with the other parent's opinions and with the boy name sections of the baby name books. At this point, when it has become a stressful and upsetting chore, it doesn't seem worth the effort of narrowing it down further. If choosing only one name were enough to bring down punishment from Fate, there would be many more stories of birth day surprises than there are.

Name update! Austin writes:
Hi Swistle & Readers!

Thanks for all your help and suggestions for a name in case we had a baby boy. As it turns out (and as we figured), we fretted in vain. Our beautiful daughter arrived nine days late on 9-9-12, healthy and huge (9lbs. 10oz.!). After some last-minute angst over whether to name her Norah-with-an-H or Nora-without-the-H, we settled on Nora Brooke when we saw her (my middle name is Brooke so we kept up the family middle name tradition). You'll be hearing from us again if we have a boy in the future!

Many thanks again,


Erin said...

At first, I saw that you found out at 16 weeks and was all, "Holy cow, pick a boy name!" I know a girl who found out at 16 weeks that she was having a girl. The nursery was pink, the frilly dresses were purchased, and thank goodness they kept the tags on till the 20-week ultrasound because baby Eli would have looked ridiculous in them.

But if you've had 3 ultrasounds since? You're probably safe. If you guys happen to come across a boy name you love, then great, but if it's a source of stress, I'd say let it go and focus on being excited to welcome baby Norah (love that name!).

StephLove said...

We had THE boy and girl name set years before I got pregnant with my first child. First we had a boy and used the boy name. When I got pregnant again we planned to use THE girl name if we had a girl but we struggled to pick another boy name. I was beside myself because I thought it should be as easy as the first name. We had it down to three when we found out we were having a girl. I kept thinking we should make a decision on the boy name just in case, but then my daughter was born 6 weeks premature, before we got around to it. I think we could have picked something from that short list if we'd needed to, though. So this is a long way of saying the list you have is a good enough backup plan.

Jo said...

I think you have enough of a list already. And I would add Lucas back to the top. The chances are slim you need a boy name right now. And I think you could still choose Lucas in this instance as its really not the same name as Luca. Yes it's very close. But it's a different name. I'd rather have a name we loved in back pocket. Then if the next child shows being a boy in ultrasound at that point find a brand new top boy name.

Anonymous said...

Assuming Norah comes along as expected keeping Lucas for a future little boy seems perfectly fine to me, since he will be years younger than Luca and as someone said, not called Luca! I find that sometimes panic brings inspiration, if for some bizarre chance you do have a boy is it going to kill him to be nameless for a few days before you know him and can decide what seems to fit him?

Auntie G said...

Just chiming into say that most stories I have heard about people being surprised after an ultrasound gender reveal are either at least ten years old (u/s technology has gotten a LOT better since then) or they only had one, earlyish, not 100% obvious u/s. You are definitely having a little girl. Congratulations!

hillary said...

I too have a 20-something cousin who the u/s tech said was a boy and turned out to be a girl. But I don't know ANYONE who had that happen in my large circle of acquaintance that includes LOTS of parents of babies and young children. U/S technology is SO much better now. I do know a couple people who were unable to get a good shot of their baby's nethers and so were unsure, but nobody whose tech gave them a firm answer and then turned out to be wrong. Especially if multiple u/s techs and doctors have said girl, you are having a girl. Don't sweat the boy name.

Heidi J said...

I agree with Swistle. As long as you have rough list of boy names you might use if you are surprised, I don't think it's worth the stress of narrowing it down further at this point.

Issas Crazy World said...

At least have a list.

I had a delivery room surprise. A girl when they'd told me after two ultrasounds that it was a boy. Funniest thing ever. Truly. It makes the best story. It's in fact, my daughters favorite story.

However we had no girl name picked. We came up with one when she was a day old.

Anyway...I saw at least think about it. I also tend to tell people, buy one outfit for the opposite sex for photos. One that you leave the tags on and can take back at a later date.

I LOVE Elliott. I'm trying for a baby right now and if it's a boy he will likely be Elliott Charles. Now for me, those were my grandfathers names. But still, I love them. Also Wyatt I adore. Good luck!

Issas Crazy World said...

Um for the people who said it all happened over 10 years ago. My daughter just turned eight. I have a cousin whose 4 year old was also a surprise girl and I have two friends with babies under a year who had delivery surprises. I know it's not common...but it does happen.

Mj said...

I second the "it does still happen" sentiment. I mean, I am sure your ultrasound tech friend is correct, but i have had two acquaintances have opposite gender babies to what ultrasound had said JUST in past EIGHT MONTHS! I know it is 90% accurate, least have fun with boys name ideas! Don't stress it if you can't find one though. If Norah isn't usable, then a boy's name will come. In sOme cultures babies aren't named for quite a while after birth, and as far as registering their name legally, you would have heaps of time.

Mj said...

And Elliot Lee Stevenson is brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Norah for a girl noah for a boy:)

jerilyn said...

We had a boy name and a girl name picked out ahead of time for each pregnancy (except for the last-- didn't have a boy name for our boy!) from the beginning. We have 3 boys and never "kept" our girls names. I didn't mind. I still name future babies and I have my tubes tied. I just love names.

I like Elliot nn Leo- unexpected and cute!

Anonymous said...

I am in the naming babies is fun camp! So, I don't think the problem is: Do we need a boy's name? But: How to make naming a boy more fun?

Everyone is different, but for me it was frustrating that when I brought up baby names that I wouldn't get much out of him. Which meant I had to bring it up again... and again. And it also became a chore for both of us. So, I am a fan of specific tasks. For instance, why don't you both rate these 20 names:

Malcolm - Malcolm Lee Stevenson
Julius - Julius Lee Stevenson
Theodore - Theodore Lee Stevenson
Gavin - Gavin Lee Stevenson
Joaquin - Joaquin Lee Stevenson
August - August Lee Stevenson
Raphael - Raphael Lee Stevenson
Graham - Graham Lee Stevenson
Edgar - Edgar Lee Stevenson
Tobias - Tobias Lee Stevenson
Ezekiel - Ezekiel Lee Stevenson
Hugo - Hugo Lee Stevenson
Leander - Leander Lee Stevenson
Garrett - Garrett Lee Stevenson
Edward - Edward Lee Stevenson
Joshua - Joshua Lee Stevenson
Griffin - Griffin Lee Stevenson
Elijah - Elijah Lee Stevenson
Mathias - Mathias Lee Stevenson
Fabian - Fabian Lee Stevenson

Best case, you both like one, worst case, you've learned something.

PS. Lucas Stevenson may be a bit confusing, because it does sound like Luca Stevenson.

That said, good luck with your baby girl!! Norah is a beautiful name!

SF said...

I suggest the boy names Noah, Nicholas, Jordan, Luke, Elias. Good luck with the baby! :)

Anonymous said...

I also think you will be fine. But since you asked for suggestions.

Isaac Lee - similar sounds as lucas with the s and c. Love it.

Elijah Lee - sounds good with Norah.

Mitchell Lee - good surname that sounds traditional name. Good brother name.

I think you names for boys tend to be on the creative side. Which I love.

Anonymous said...

I think if 4 separate techs have told you you're having a girl, you're pretty safe. Have a few boy names in the back of your mind, and if fate throws you a boy, fate will hopefully also bring one of those names heralding to the surface as his proper name in the moment.