Sunday, April 25, 2010

The name game.

When I got pregnant the first time, we knew what we were going to name our baby before I ever so much as set foot in an OBGYN's office. If it was a girl she would be Charlotte Anne Conran; a boy, William Victor Conran III (or, obviously, Liam for short). That was it. Done. No need to discuss or second guess. Just bring on the baby!

This time around has been totally different. Besides the name Gretchen which Liam stole from our cat and gave to our baby the second we told him I was pregnant, we've been sort of at a loss. I mean, of course I keep an up-to-date list of potential baby names in my head at all times (I am a woman after all), but taking a name off the list and giving it to an actual living breathing human being is really hard to do.

First of all, you want to choose a name you LOVE. And, even though it shouldn't matter what other people think, yada, yada, yada, you kind of want to choose a name that everyone will love. I mean, let's be honest. You don't want to get that look when you introduce your child to someone. Ohhhh. How...interesting. How do you, uh, spell a name like that? At the very least you want a name that you love SO MUCH you can get the look and just not care. You can't be lukewarm about the name of your child.

You also need a name that fits in with your family. No one wants to be the black sheep from birth. These are my kids Claire, Henry, and Krystal. Obviously Krystal is going to feel out of place. And for good reason! You don't name your daughter Krystal when it's perfectly clear she's an Elizabeth. I mean, that's just common sense. So every name we've liked has had to be run up the introduction flag pole: These are my kids Liam and ____. I'm not ashamed to admit I've also practiced signing Christmas cards: Happy Holidays from the Conrans! William, Maggie, Liam and _____.

No wonder the first child is easier to name - there's less to fit in to!

Once we found out this baby is going to be a boy, the stakes got even higher. I mean, talk about pressure! We'd need to find something that would be cute for a baby, tease-proof for a child, cool for a pre-teen/tween/teen/whatever they're called, hot for a college co-ed, and totally versatile for a full grown man. I wanted my son to be able to grow up to be a rock star or a CEO and have a name that would be equally appropriate for both. My original litmus test was, Could this name be elected President of the United States? But Bill pointed out that Barack (Hussein!) Obama put that one to rest once and for all. Still - I wanted to be sure to cover my bases.

So I started making lists and doing research and getting as much input as I possibly could. Everything I saw or read or heard was boiled down and searched for names. Suddenly I knew all the names of the commentators on NPR, all the editors and writers and photographers of the magazines in our home (if you're looking for slightly highbrow but cool and unusual names, check out interior design mags), and all the cast and crew on Nick Jr and PBS Kids. I read through the social security name registry's top 1000 boy names from 2008 not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. I clicked "Wish Again" on the Baby Name Genie name generator again and again and again just hoping my baby's name would magically appear. I re-read the chapter on baby names in Freakonomics. I poured over online lists of popular names and unusual names and famous names and literary names. I had no idea what I was looking for but felt confident that when I found it, I would know.

Finally, I pared down my ridiculously long list of boy names to several I liked and sent it to my sister for approval:
Beckett (Becks for short) - Love this, very cool, love the abbreviation
Oliver (Ollie) - Ditto from above, sounds great with Conran
Finn (like short for Finnegan, Finneas, Finley...?) - Yeah, I like Finn
Oscar - No, not my favorite (...the grouch? ya know)
Killian - Yes, very cool
Kenley - Sounds like a girl's name
Griffin - as in Brian...JK I like this (*Brian is the name my mom suggested - totally random, out of the blue)
Alistair - Ooh, I like that.
August - Um...
Camden (that was one of our favorites before) - LOVE this, totally forgot!
George - No
Julian - Yeah, I like it
Harry (could be short for Harrison or Harold) - Seriously?
Getting my sister's input helped but we were still struggling to nail something down. Then Bill saw his sister for dinner while traveling for work and let her in on some of his personal favorites, Finn and Alistair. She immediately made the connection that Finn could be short for Griffin, their Grandmother's maiden name. After dinner he called to tell me and as soon as I heard it, I knew: that was our baby's name.

I had been loving the name Finn (and, specifically, Finnegan) since long before I got pregnant but was having trouble pulling the trigger. On paper it worked great but felt somehow fraudulent coming from my mouth. It was like I had completely pulled it from thin air. I wanted a name I felt more connected to. Something that made me feel like Yes! This is my child's name. There is no other name that would have made sense.

The fact that a family name could be shortened to a name we already liked gave me the connection I'd been looking for. And I love that Finn is the second half of Griffin (plus an extra N for good measure) just like Liam is the second half of William. Hooray for consistency! I love both Griffin and Finn and feel confident he'll be perfectly suited as a baby, child, teen, young man, president, movie star, revolutionary, etc. Not to mention, we've got great nickname potential. Bill has started calling him Finneus Maximus. I tend toward Finny Finn but am looking forward to busting out a, What up, G? as soon as he's born (and when I pick him up from school, of course). Liam slips once in a while and calls him Finn (soooo sweet) but generally prefers to call him Bird. And once we decide on a middle name, the possibilities will be endless! (We're like 95% sure we know what it will be but I'm thinking it might make a nice surprise...)

But what's even better than all that? Griffin is like the male equivalent for Gretchen! A friend of ours pointed this out and it totally sealed the deal. How could we not name our baby Griffin? It's like we've (sort of) been calling him that all along.

So, there you go - Finn it is!

Photo by Liam.


Callie said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your name!! Love that it has connection and it's uber cool! Can you help us now?? :)

Courtney said...

LOVE it! Totally fits your family!

Annie said...

Great choice! I also like that Griffin is on the classic and traditional side, with Finn being a great modern take on it. We went through the same thing in choosing Lillian's name. It felt like one of our most important pre-parenting decisions! In the end, kind of like you guys, we went with one and lots of things since then seemed to confirm it for us.

Cora White said...

love it and really love how you got there. we do top secret names. You look so adorable all pregnant and glowing.