We are expecting our first child, a boy, this January and I am having the hardest time settling/making my peace with a name! We had all sorts of girl names that we loved but boy names are a completely different story . . . honestly, my first thought when we found out the gender was - how will we ever find a name?! And ever since then, I've just been going round and round in my head about it.
So, here are the details: our last name sounds like Bieber (No, "Justin" is not a contender) but is spelled differently and we will be giving the baby my maiden name as a second middle name. My maiden name sounds like Elbrecht (pronounced *very* German, like you're sneezing at the end, not "Elbright"). We both would really like to use family names and would like something uncommon but not weird. Although, to be perfectly honest, I'd be willing to break the family name rule if we found a name that we really loved.
Ok, the lead contender right now is Hartman David, but I keep worrying that Hartman is too strange and/or people hate it. Does it make you think of Cartman from South Park? Is it less weird if he goes by Hart? But I do like that David means beloved and that Hart is close to, well, heart. Goes together, right? Plus, he could always go by David if he really hated Hart.
If we don't use Hartman as the first name, it'll definitely be the second as we're both agreed that we want to honor the person it'll be after. Other possible first names under consideration:
Clark (husband worried about "Clark" being associated with Clark Griswold, I worry that Clark is too "hard" sounding)
Owen (possibly my favorite, although I worry that it is just too popular, and my husband has a mild distaste for it for some reason . . .)
Considered but discarded:
Xavier (my favorite, husband hates)
Wyatt (my second favorite but not a family name and previously claimed by friend)
Richard (hated by current name-holder)
Paul (just no love for it in particular)
Benjamin, Andrew, Joseph (too common)
Lloyd, Vernon, Virgil, Olaf (too weird, also, by this point, we are way back in ye olde family tree)
Although this will be our first babe, we plan to have several more so . . . hopefully they will be girls! (Just for ease of naming, of course.) And, for reference, the girl name we loved was Eloise.
Please, please help!
Oh, I forgot one! I also suggested Calvin in the beginning (because of my love for A Wrinkle in Time and Calvin and Hobbes) and we both thought it acceptable but ultimately haven't pursued it because it's not a family name. Part of me wonders if I just need to let that go since it seems so constraining . . . but then I love the idea of making the name a tie to family history and previous generations.
Reading about how difficult it is to come up with enough family name candidates for even the first child of a hoped-for several, I do think you should consider changing that policy. Or rather, I think you should consider deciding that three family/honor names per child is enough to satisfy that preference, and the fourth name can be one you chose because you liked it. And then it won't matter as much if the family/honor name is one you don't fervently love or is a little unusual or is one that someone else already used, because you can use it as the first of the two middle names and voila! Or if you find you have plenty of family names to choose two different ones for every single girl you have, that will be fine too: the rule would just be "At least one family/honor name, in addition to the two other family names each child will automatically get," instead of "All four names need to be family/honor names."
The name Hartman first makes me think of Phil Hartman, which would be a positive association for me except that I also think right away of his sad death. But it's hard to say what percentage of the population would think the same way, and his murder was fourteen years ago now. It's unlikely the child's peers will make the association, even if a percentage of the peers' parents/teachers do.
I do then think of Cartman. It's unfortunate, because Hartman is a wonderful name. And if I knew a baby named Hartman, I wonder if both associations would quickly vanish? And having multiple associations does tend to diffuse the strength of any one association. And it's an honor name, and "It's a family name" is a very useful thing to say.
When I write out Hartman David Elbrecht Bieber, I notice that it looks like three surnames and one first name. Would you like David Hartman Elbrecht Bieber instead? It seems as if it solves all the problems while keeping all the names. The name David feels common, and was #18 in 2011 according to the Social Security Administration, but so far none of my children have had a David in the classroom. Perhaps many of the children named David are namesakes going by middle names instead? Or perhaps it's that my particular town is David-poor and all the Davids are piling up in other children's classrooms.
For the name Clark, my first thought is "Oh, great fresh surname name!"---the same as I think when I hear of a child named Smith or Miller. My other association is with Clark Kent, and that's a positive one. I don't think of Clark Griswold, but I've never made it all the way through a National Lampoon movie. Paul has watched them repeatedly, so I emailed him at work and asked him "If you heard of a baby named Clark, would you think of Clark Griswold?" He replied: "No, I'd think of Clarks Kent and Gable."
I'd also suggest Grant, which is in the same file drawer of my mind.
Calvin seems like a wonderful option to me. Calvin Hartman Elbrecht Bieber, with the great nickname Cal if you want it. I love it.
If Owen is close-but-not-quite, I suggest Ian---unless that vowel sound is odd with the surname, as I think it would be if it were exactly like Bieber, in which case I suggest Evan or Nolan or Rohan.
Name update! N. writes:
I gave birth to our baby son a few days ago and wanted to write to thank you for your help! We honestly hadn't thought about how much Hartman sounds like a surname previously - and how strange that would be to proceed a name that sounds like a first name (aka Hartman David) - so your advice decided us on using Hartman as a middle. We were going with David Hartman for a long time, but ultimately I was just too uncomfortable with how popular it was and my husband didn't like the nicknames Dave or Davey. Soooo, we went back to the family tree and decided on a male version of Eloise (you'll remember that this was our favorite girl name, and it is also a family/honor name for us) - and landed on Elliott, with the nickname Eli. And we couldn't be happier with the name and our son!