I came across your blog this summer and love the input and insight you and your readers give to expecting parents! I'm 21 weeks along and am hoping you might have to time to help my husband and I agree on a name for our little boy that is due mid-June.
My name is Tiffanie and my husband's name is Ryan. Our last name is Terry.
Finding a girls name was a piece of cake. By the end of the first trimester, and after only discussing names off and on briefly, we had picked out Emmeline Rose. Agreeing on a boys name, however, has been a totally different story. I'm dead set on naming my son after my father whose name is Rex. I've always known I've wanted to honor my father this way, and I also want to pass along a name from my side of the family. My husband is on board, but isn't sure he likes it as the child's first name. His favorite dog growing up was named Rex and he fears having a son with the same name will just be odd.
I've suggested calling our son by his middle name instead of Rex. My husband thinks we should use Rex as a middle name, but now that my dad was diagnosed with cancer this year, I feel even more strongly about Rex being the first name. Maybe I'm just overly emotional because of the pregnancy hormones, but deep down in my heart, I really want Rex as the first name.
Now, getting to our naming issue, we can't find a middle name, which will be the name we'll most likely call our son by, that seems right with Rex. We both don't want a name that can also be mistaken for a last name. My husband gets called Terry Ryan all the time. He would love a name that is a fairly obvious first name. (Although, I never would have thought Ryan would be mistaken for a last name, but it does!)
Rex Harvey is the only contender we currently have and both like. I worry Rex and Harvey are both such "old" and uncommon names that it is just too much. But, I just love the way it sounds!
Other names we have considered, but vetoed:
I'm not too found of using a popular name. I didn't like having to be called Tiffanie D. all through school because there were four other Tiffany's in my class and wouldn't want any of my children to have to do that.
Any help or insight you and your readers could share would be oh-so wonderful! I'm just so overwhelmed with the name game! (also, i apologize for the length of this e-mail)
Because your husband is uncertain about the name Rex, I think it should be the middle name. That's a lovely and significant place for an honor name, and seems like the sensible place for a name you're not planning to use: better to put it in the middle name position, and then maybe find pleasingly that you do occasionally use it with the first name: "Hey, Grady Rex, time for dinner!"
Using Rex as the middle name also sets you up nicely for future children: if you have another child and want to use another honor name but as the middle name this time, it won't seem like a lesser honor. And if your husband thinks of a relative he'd like to honor as the next child's first name, but you don't like the name for a first name, you won't feel like you're stuck returning the favor.
You have your reasons for wanting to use the name as a first name, but a baby's name is a decision for both parents to make. If your husband were insisting on naming the baby after himself or after his own father, or if he were insisting on using another name he'd always wanted to use, I would be reminding you right now that you didn't have to go along with that: just because one parent feels strongly about using a name or naming tradition, that doesn't mean one parent gets to make the decision all on his or her own.
It can help to picture the tables turned: imagine if you were having a girl, and your husband were insisting on naming her after his mother (or grandmother or aunt or sister, if coincidentally you like your mother-in-law's name enough to ruin the example), even though you weren't sure about it. It wouldn't really matter how strongly he felt about it, I would still be saying it was not up to him, and that using the name as a middle name was the perfect way for two people to compromise. Then you can work together on choosing your child's first name, so that it will be special to both of you instead of to only one of you.
If the name Rex were out of the picture, what would your joint name list look like? Are there names that have been vetoed because they didn't work as middle names with Rex? I'd suggest bringing those back into consideration. This may mean starting from scratch, since the rhythm of ____ Rex Terry is quite different than the rhythm of Rex ____ Terry. You may find you suddenly have many more names to choose from.
With a surname that can also be a first name, no name is going to completely prevent the names sometimes getting swapped---but you're right that some names will cause less of a problem than others. Grady and Everett and Dierks can look like surnames, for example, but Milo doesn't as much. The problem is compounded by your wish to find an unusual first name: if I saw "Henry Terry" I wouldn't think it was likely that the name was actually supposed to be Terry Henry, because Henry is a common first name right now and Terry is not. But if I saw "Harvey Terry," I would be less certain: Harvey is a very uncommon name right now, even less common than Terry (according to the Social Security Administration, in 2011 there were 472 new baby boys named Terry and 243 new baby boys named Harvey), so I'd be less certain.
This may mean making a choice between two preferences. Almost every name has a hassle of one sort or another; would you prefer the "Henry T." type of hassle or the "Terry Harvey" type of hassle? Luckily you have one person in your family with each of the two experiences: you can compare your Tiffanie D. experience with your husband's Terry Ryan experience. How often did each issue come up, and how difficult was it to handle? Would either issue be more or less of an issue than the hassle of spelling/pronouncing an unusual name?
If your husband is willing to let you make the decision on the first name, then I think Rex Harvey is a very nice name. Do you both like the sound of the name Harvey Terry, since that's what you would be mostly calling him? Some people don't like repeated endings, and some people like them. If you like it, I'd say you have your name.