Dear Swistle and Swistle's Readers--
I have been a fan of this blog for years (it was reassuring to discover so many others enjoy discussing names and the pleasures and pressures of naming other human beings!). We are expecting our third--and, given my advanced maternal age, final--child in November (Thanksgiving week!). We do not know the sex of the baby (we did not find out for the others, either) and are really kind of stumped for any names we agree on. Mostly we want a name that fits with the siblings, but we/I may also have too many "rules" that get in the way. Any advice, inspiration, suggestions, reassurances, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
So, here are the details:
Our last name kind of sounds like "Marek" but with an "R";
Husband and I both have (fairly uncommon) names that start with "D" and would like to avoid another "D" name;
Daughters are Annabel and Emmaline (--line, not --leen, nn "Mimi" given to her by her big sister and it has stuck!);
We would rather not repeat "A" or "E" (we find that we put initials on so many things, it is just easier not to repeat);
I would love, for a girl, another 3-syllable name that starts with a vowel but am finding "I," "O," and "U" to be tough letters;
A boy would have the middle names "David Lee" (honor names not, as my husband jokes, a tribute to David Lee Roth);
Both girls have 2 middle names (honor names) and we would do the same for this child, if she's a girl, but we want to know the first name before we start deciding on middles.
Choices currently in the mix:
Beatrice (has been in my top 3 since my first pregnancy but husband is not quite sold, though he is warming up)
Heloise (I am half French, so this spelling makes sense, plus this gets us an "E" name without using the vowel--worried that it is not an option since one of Emmaline's middle names is "Louise")
Mirabel (my mother is bothered that "Mirabelle" is a fruit in French, husband thinks another "bel" is one too many)
Ottoline (husband's middle name is "Otto" but he is *definitely* not sold; I am worried it will lead to lots of teasing but I think the name is very sweet)
Margaret/Marguerite (family name, seems so stern next to Annabel and Emmaline!)
Lorelei (husband's longtime favorite, I am not sure)
Matilda (love "Tillie," not sure of the name in the sib set)
Winifred (I love this name, everyone else thinks I am crazy)
Conrad (has been top contender in each pregnancy, it is the name of my husband's first ancestor to come to the US, but we have two issues: husband prefers "Konrad," which I really don't, and it feels like a great man's name but a tough little boy's name)
Henry (this would've been Emmaline's name if she had been a boy, now it feels strange to use it--as if it is second-hand or something)
Jonathan (I love, husband does not)
Michael (we are lukewarm--is it too plain in the sibling set?)
Roderick (husband says no way, never)
Lawrence (worried "Lawrence `Marek'" sounds like "Lawrence Welk")
Leonard (too easy to tease with? )
William (strong, solid, but maybe too common?)
Owen (family name but very common in our area)
As you can see we really have our work cut out for us! Any feedback is greatly appreciated since we are really unsure. We know that things can change (Emmaline was "Charlotte" for her first five minutes of life until husband and I made eye contact over her little head and shook our heads at the same time--she was definitely an Emmaline/Mimi), but we would love to be going into delivery with some options!
Thank you again for taking the time to consider our plight!
Oh! Oh oh oh! For a girl, I have the three-syllable, I/O/U name for you: Imogen. IMOGEN. Annabel, Emmaline, and Imogen. A, E, I---they're even in order!
Second suggestion: Idalyn. It can be pronounced EYE-dah-lin, or more like Ida Lynn. We know an Eidelyn who goes by Eidey (EYE-dee) and it has grown on me SO MUCH. I like the E-spelling better, but the I-spelling gives you a new initial.
If you're willing to add a syllable, I think Iliana is so pretty. I'm not sure how I'd spell it. Illianna? Ilianna? Illiana? Iliana? Ileanna? In 2011, the Social Security Administration reports 397 new baby girls named Iliana, 89 named Illiana, 49 named Ilianna, 39 named Ilyana, 33 named Illyana, and so on. My own preference, then, would be to go with Iliana, since that appears to be the most-used spelling.
Ottilie (oh-TEEL-lee-ah or oh-till-lee) is similar to Ottoline and perhaps your husband would prefer it; it also gives you the nickname Tillie. It's quite a bit more unusual than your other daughters' names, though.
Moving away from the vowel/syllable-match preference, I suggest Juliette. Annabel, Emmaline, and Juliette.
Or Clarissa. Annabel, Emmaline, and Clarissa.
Or Melody. Annabel, Emmaline, and Melody.
Or Felicity. Annabel, Emmaline, and Felicity.
Or Genevieve. Annabel, Emmaline, and Genevieve.
Or Cecily. Annabel, Emmaline, and Cecily.
Or Violet. Annabel, Emmaline, and Violet.
Or Bianca. Annabel, Emmaline, and Bianca.
Or Fiona. Annabel, Emmaline, and Fiona.
Or Penelope. Annabel, Emmaline, and Penelope.
I think it is fine to use Heloise as a first name even if another daughter has Louise as one of her middle names. Are you pronouncing it with no H sound, like Eloise? I think Hints From Heloise may have made that pronunciation a hard-sell in the United States.
I agree that Margaret seems a little different in style than Annabel and Emmaline, but Marguerite seems to me to have more of their light style---even more so if you use the French-wordplay nickname Daisy. Annabel, Mimi, and Daisy.
I love Lorelei in this sibling set. Annabel, Emmaline, and Lorelei! Very nice. I think Matilda is great, too. I'm picturing Annie, Mimi, and Tillie---so cute!
I like Beatrix even more than Beatrice. Annabel, Emmaline, and Beatrix.
I agree that Mirabel is too many -bel endings, but do you like Miranda? Annabel, Emmaline, and Miranda.
Isabel is also out because of Annabel, but Isadora would work. Annabel, Emmaline, and Isadora.
For a boy, I think Conrad is a great choice. I too would greatly prefer the C spelling, and in fact the K spelling might be a deal-breaker for me. Although---was that the way the ancestor spelled it, with a K? Because that might tip me.
Henry seems so perfect, I feel inclined to pressure you. I understand that feeling of it being almost a handmedown name, but I think that is the sort of feeling people can sometimes spin-talk themselves out of. If you imagine all the children you will have, standing in a little line waiting to be born, and if you imagine thinking to yourself, "Well, if the next baby is a girl, she will be Emmaline; and if instead the next baby is a boy, he will be Henry," and then a little girl steps forward with a little boy behind her---then it is not as if the name Henry evaporated with The Boy Who Never Was, or as if the name was a rejected name, it's just that you thought of his name one line position too early. It was not Henry's turn yet, that's all. (...Is it working?)
I suspect Oliver doesn't work well with the surname, is that right? It's too bad, because I think of it as very similar in style to Henry and to your daughters' names, and it has three syllables and starts with an unused-initial vowel. Annabel, Emmaline, and Oliver.
I like Felix with the sibling names: Annabel, Emmaline, and Felix.
Name update! D. writes:
Dear Swistle and her readers--
First off, let me say thank you so very much for responding to our name questions. Not only did you offer some wonderful possibilities for a boy or girl, but you also proved to my husband that Ottoline and Imogen were, in fact, "real" names that people other than me actually do like! :-) Your responses were thoughtful and helpful and my husband and I both returned regularly to the comments to consider and re-consider some contenders.
In the end, our baby was born on November 21, the night before Thanksgiving. And what a BIG surprise! First of all, he is a boy! Everyone, including my OB, was sure we were having a girl. We even went to the hospital with a pink car seat! His first bath at home was with a pink towel! Second, he was actually BIG--9 lbs, 10 oz, and over 21". He was born after only 5 minutes of pushing; the nurses kept coming by to visit the almost-10-pounder born in 5 minutes and without a c-section. So overall, a big surprise and an even bigger blessing.
We had gone in expecting a Beatrice or Josephine (middle names Augusta Rose, for family members) and were suddenly faced with a boy. We had agreed on Henry and when we saw his size our OB joked that we could go with Hank the Tank as a nickname. I was happy with Henry but my husband, He-of-the-Non-Opinion in naming conversations, declared he wanted a "bigger" name. He wanted our son to have a name that was big but gentle and that made him think of Benjamin. I was not sure, I was kind of dedicated to Henry, so we lived with it a while, tried other names, but it was soon pretty clear that he was our Benjamin, our Big Ben, Gentle Ben, Baby Ben, Benny, and even Jamie. So after all those months of wanting to find a unique yet traditional name, my husband chose the 3rd most popular name in our state, the 2nd most popular in our neighboring state, and a top 30 name nation-wide! And I, more than anyone, am surprised at how much that doesn't bother me; I realized there is a reason popular names are popular--they appeal to many of us, and for good reason! Our only surprise has been the number of people who have asked us if he is named for religious reasons. It never occurred to me that the name was identified more with one faith than another. But everyone seems to like the name, and many people have said "Oh, I have never known a Ben that wasn't a nice guy!" And that is pretty awesome.
So here he is, our beautiful boy, Benjamin David Lee "Marek", at 36 hours old. Thank you so much for your advice and naming inspiration--I continue to read the blog with great interest (and a tiny bit of envy that my baby-naming days are over).
Happy holidays to everyone, a wonderful 2013, and the best of luck and joy to all the expecting parents!