Thursday, November 19, 2009

Q&A: My kids' names

from Rachel:
I love hearing how people go about picking their children's names. Are any you've chosen ones you've liked since you were young?

Some girls have lots of dreams about their future families, writing down potential names for their kids, dreaming of fancy dresses or sports games. I never really did, I guess preferring to handle life as it comes. Even after having kids, though I'll occasionally look at a baby name book, I don't keep lists of names I hope to use someday. Each of my children has come with a unique personality and purpose, and we've tried to choose names that will fit them.

All of the names we have for our children have special meaning for one reason or another:

Lillian is named for three of her two great-grandmothers. DH's Grandma Lillian Izola Bartholomew died last year, but she was a wonderful woman.
Lillian's middle name is after my own grandma, who I admired greatly. She died of cancer before I got married, after wearing out her life in service. She has a rather unique and unpopular name (think Zelma or Olga) and once commented that she knew no one would name any of their kids after her. Well, unusual or not, Lillian got her name and I know she also carries on my grandma's tradition of service and love. Of all of our kids, Lillian is the one who always instinctively knows how to serve and help, and I feel that she was aptly named.

Joseph is one that just came with his name. We just knew he was to be named Joseph. It's honestly not my favorite name in the world, but it honors many great men in history and in our family's line, and it just felt right that he should carry it on. His middle name is after his dad.

Michael's name came to me in an unusual way. After Lillian and Joey were born, 18 months apart, I had a really tough time as I suffered through what I later learned was post-partum depression. Soon after I was diagnosed and working towards recovery, I was serving in the temple when I felt the Spirit whisper to me that we would have a son named Michael. In the next few months, because of how difficult life was for me, it took a great amount of my faith and effort to pray for this child to come to our family. But I did so, and I'm so grateful he arrived when he did. He's always kept us entertained.

His middle name reminds him of his role as a loyal friend and companion to his brother close in age. I knew they would be good friends long before they were born (One thing I didn't anticipate, though, was how different they'd be!). It's interesting that while I knew their friendship would be important, I didn't realize that after Michael, at least 8 years would pass before another son would be born, making their relationship as brothers that much more important.

Because we had twins, it was sometimes a question before they were born as to which child would bear which name we'd chosen, but once they were born, it just felt right that each received the name they did.
Allison is about the only child I have whose name was chosen simply because I liked it. It means "noble," which fits well with her twin's name meaning "princess." Her middle name is more meaningful, as she is named after me. It was with some trepidation that I did that, because I wondered as I did why it should be that this child should have my name when none of the others do, including her twin. But the first four years have borne out our decision in a multitude of ways. She, more than all of my children, shares my strong, determined, and sometimes obstinate personality. I was my mother's toughest toddler, and Allison has been mine (and I love her for it!).


Sarah was named both for her ancestors who bore that name, but also for the meaning of the names. Sarah means "princess," and her middle name means "God is gracious." From the moment I found out I was expecting twins, I knew I needed some way to honor the Giver of this special privilege and I found it in Sarah's middle name. God was gracious in blessing us with these two unique souls who came down together for purposes known to Him. A healthy pregnancy and their birth at 38 weeks, small and perfect, were blessings we acknowledge humbly, knowing that not all twins begin life so smoothly.


Eliza Joy was named soon after we found out she was a girl. Eliza was a name we quickly agreed on, and it honors some ancestors. But the middle name was a question for a few weeks. One evening as I attended a Church meeting, I was really struggling. I was exhausted because of the pregnancy, but we were also trying to pack up one household, build a house, and deal with two very trying toddlers. In the midst of my prayers for strength and help, I found myself feeling a surety that Eliza's middle name was to be Joy, and that would be part of her role in our family, to lift us up. That brought me hope in a tough time, and three years later, I thank God often for Eliza's bright, obedient, kind, loving, and joyful personality. She has been my easiest toddler, and I've often said that if I ever needed proof that God loved me, it's right there in that He sent Eliza to me right after the twins. Their personalities are strong and intense and wonderful to watch, but also very trying as a mother to deal with, particularly during their toddler years. Eliza's sweet disposition has brought us great joy and we all adore her.

Harmony was named a year before she was born. I had a feeling one summer night that in a year's time, we would have a baby girl named Harmony. The name has meaning for me more for its peaceful definition, but I've mentioned before that its musical implications made me hope that Harmony would at least respond and enjoy music. She does.
As for #8, I had a profound experience last April where I knew we would have a son named Benjamin. I'm pretty sure this one is he, but should it be a girl, we'll have to start looking through those baby name books and plan on waiting a while for our Benjamin. I'm nearly 16 weeks now, so I should have that exciting ultrasound sometime in the next month.

What made you choose your own children's names? Anyone love or hate their own name or have strong feelings about it?

10 comments:

Jeanette said...

I hope you end up having the baby you think you are going to have after your ultrasound. Because spending months picking a girls name only to end up giving birth to a boy threw us for a loop. We did settle on a name before we left the hospital though. In fact, I had heard the name a few weeks earlier and liked it but thought I was having a girl. I even joked with my husband on the way to the hospital that if it did turn out to be a boy I had the name all picked out. Little did I realize...
All of our kids have been named after a family member, either first or middle name.

alligood said...

I absolutely cannot believe you are 16 weeks! Wow! It will be exciting to see whether Benjamin is on his way to your family.
I think one of the greatest pleasures of having children is choosing their names. We like strong, classic names, and each boy has a middle name that is a family name. We decided to skip the middle name for Audrey because once a girl is married, she has many names! We hope she will use her maiden name as a middle initial if she chooses. The whole naming thing is interesting. When I was pregnant with Jake, I felt that if he was a girl, we should name him 'Hannah'. Obviously, he wasn't Hannah! When we got pregnant with Audrey, I knew right away that if she was a girl, her name wasn't Hannah! I feel like the names fit the children they belong to and I have known when a name was just right. The only difficult child to name was Matthew. I didn't give a ton of thought to his name thinking that once he was born I would just 'know' what he was supposed to be called. We had a short list of names we liked (Matthew wasn't on it, by the way), but when he was born, nothing felt right. We actually took him home without a name. Matthew sort of just happened and while I love his name now, I didn't at first. Matthew means 'gift from God' and now that I know him, I feel certain that he has the right name!

Gin said...

I loved this post, it was very interesting. There are lots of names I cherish for my future children but I'm sure they'll change a thousand times before I actually have those children. I hope you are feeling better with your pregnancy.

swedemom said...

I loved this post! Reading the stories was fascinating. Here are my stories:
1. When I was pregnant with my first, I thought the baby would be a girl. I thought of the perfect name: Brooke Ann. When the ultrasound showed a boy, I had a lot of rethinking to do. Brent wanted to name the baby Trent Alan to follow his family's tradition. That suited me. But then, my grandmother became very ill and passed away. My grandfather was devastated. When we realized that my due date was on my grandfather's 80th birthday, we changed our minds about Trent. We named our baby Walter George after my grandfather. It pleased him so much. And it suits our Walter perfectly.
2. Since we didn't use Trent for the first boy, we used it for our second son. It fits him perfectly because he, more than any of the other children is like his Grandpa Kent.
3. I was pregnant with our 3rd boy in Sweden. We wanted to give him a Swedish name. We came up with the middle name of Anders, but couldn't come up with a name that fit. Eventually, we named him Josef and spelled it the Swedish way.
4. We also wanted to give our daughter a Swedish name, since she was born in Sweden. But finally, my husband said to me, "you know the liklihood of us having another girl is very slim. You should give her the name you've always loved, Brooke Ann."
5. I wanted to give my son a variation of my maiden name for his middle name, so we decided on Christian. We then played around with names until we came up with Jonathan. Jonathan is a name that we all loved, and reminded us of a very good friend from Sweden.

joanna said...

Thanks for answering my question! :)

rachel said...

OOPS! The above comment was from Rachel, sorry

Joy For Your Journey said...

What fun to read about naming your kids!! I had strong feelings about my last three, but not my first two. However, before my daughter even knew she was pregnant, she had an impression she was expecting, it was a girl and her name was Carly. So when she found out she was pregnant, and then that it was a girl, we knew her name had to be Carly as well.

Lisa6Kids said...

I am glad to hear someone else admit that one of their kids names is not really a favorite. AJ's name is Andrew Jeffrey and while it is probably my least favorite of all my kids names I felt that honoring my dad and brother seemed right.
Madeline and Gabriella have no significance to their names other than "we liked them".
Genevieve is the name of the Madeline book characters dog and we loved the name and that it went with our theme of classical French girls names. (Gabriella is Italian but Gabrielle is French so close enough). Ginny's middle name is Audrey and it came from an obsession Gabby had with Audrey Hepburn. Gabby chose it and we loved it. Caleb came from the book Sarah, Plain and Tall. I was SURE he woud turn out to be a redheaded little imp just like the character but he is a blond headed imp instead. LOL His middle name is after Mike's grandfather.
Jillian's name was one we just liked. Her middle name was going to be Havilah. I LOVE that name and I despair that I won't ever use it but we ended up naming her middle name Clementine because I ate so many little oranges while I was pregnant and Mike just loved the name Clementine.
So there it all is.

Jenny said...

I love reading this as well!
1. My first child has a name I didn't expect to use: Isaac. I love it, and he was named for the prophet in the Old Testament. We used Spencer to honor the LDS prophet because he was from our home state.
2. My second child, a girl, has a name my husband always wanted to name his daughter: Elena. He read it in a book growing up and fell in love with it. Luckily I loved it too! Her name means "Light" and we chose Faith for her middle name to remind her to be faithful.
3. My baby boy we named Jamen. It was a name I grew up liking. Both my husband and I had very common names so we wanted something a little different but not completely unusual or super hard to spell. His middle name is Samuel, which we did to remind him of prophets and later found it was a common family name as well.

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