We are expecting our first baby, a little girl, in early December and have yet to settle on a name. In my family, there is a strong tradition of passing along family names; I am a seventh generation Hephzibah, although I go by my middle name. I feel somewhat compelled to pass along Hephzibah, but the baby will be taking my husband's last name, Budzick, which makes for a lot of B and Z sounds. If we don't use Hephzibah, I would like to have some family name connection to my side. Other family names on my side that I've considered for middle names are Catharine and Caroline.First names that are on our list right now are Eloise, Esther, and Nora.Which combinations with the family names would you suggest with our first names, or can you suggest any other first names that might work? I hope you can help. Is there any way to gracefully incorporate Hephzibah?Thank you!
This letter has languished in my inbox while I wring my hands over it. On one hand, I can't advise ditching an 8th-generation name; on the other hand, the zi-bah-bud-zi of Hephzibah Budzick is a significant hurdle. What are the odds that of all the surnames in this world, it would be one that specifically challenged the use of the specific family name?
Well. It would not be the worst trial a child has ever faced. I see less-than-ideal name combinations all the time in credits and class lists. And if she went by a middle name as you do, she could have the family name and yet avoid most of the name awkwardness. In fact, we could maybe even spin the combination as awesome: two Z's! two B's! A very memorable and distinctive name!
Or Hephzibah could be the middle name.
Or is there room to consider not using your husband's surname?
I think it comes down to how you feel about it. I can't tell from the letter if you want to use the name, or if it's only a feeling of obligation to keep up the tradition. Have you been glad to have the name yourself? Do you think you would have felt unhappy if your parents had been the one to drop the tradition?
As Rita pointed out in a comment on another post about naming traditions, all naming traditions eventually get dropped, so it's just a matter of which set of parents drops it. It seems to me that the set of parents to drop it should be the first set that doesn't want to use the name. My in-laws dropped a "since our ancestors came from the old country" naming tradition when they named Paul, and Paul and I were both so very grateful; if they hadn't dropped it, we would have.
It's completely different, though, if you love the naming tradition and WANT to keep it. And it's an ancient name with a wonderful meaning (according to The Oxford Dictionary of First Names: "my delight is in her"---i.e., in the daughter), and it's an important name in your family. Those things seem to me to dwarf the surname issue if you'd like to continue to pass down the name.
If you decide not to use it as the first name, I do think I'd advise using it as the middle. Any of your first name options work with it. I think my favorite is Eloise, since it plays up the repeating Z sound in the three names.
If you decide not to use Hephzibah at all, my favorite combinations are Eloise Caroline, Esther Catherine, and Nora Catherine---but I liked both middle names with Eloise and Esther. (I was more opinionated about Nora because I didn't like the "ora" of Nora with the "aro" of Caroline.)
A few similar first names: Eliza, Louisa, Eleanor.
Name update! K. writes:
I wrote to you for advice a couple of months ago about what to name our baby girl. Well, she arrived (finally) on December 18, healthy and beautiful. I really appreciated your thoughtful response to my particular situation and all of the commenters' opinions as well. I was surprised at the overall positive response to my family name, Hephzibah, and it affirmed my feeling that I really did want to pass it on to my daughter. In the end, we chose it for her middle name, which seemed like the perfect solution. So, watch out world, because Eloise Hephzibah Budzick has arrived!
Thanks so much for your help!