Name That Baby!

When my due date got closer with my first pregnancy, if people asked us whether we wanted a boy or girl, I gave them the standard answer; I just wanted a baby with a name my husband and I agreed on. By the looks of me, there was no question the baby would be healthy.

I was disappointed to discover that my husband had an opinion about our child’s name. Picking names wasn’t like planning our wedding a few years before, where he let me make all the decisions. I wrongly assumed that his interest in our baby’s name would be similar to his interest in deciding on our wedding colors, flowers, the wedding cake, decorations, registering for gifts, and choosing a china pattern. I thought that I’d get to make the decision by myself. Instead, when I shared the boys’ and girls’ names I liked, my husband hastily vetoed them and suggested names he liked, which I vetoed just as quickly.

He was also very opinionated about names that sounded like a last name or names that he felt belonged to the opposite sex. If it was a boy, he wanted a masculine-sounding, old-fashioned, cowboy name that was easy to spell and pronounce, and wasn’t strange or unheard of. He preferred something legendary, like Augustus, our cowboy hero from Lonesome Dove. “Then we can call ‘im (our baby) Gus for short!” I responded much the same way I’m guessing my mother did when my dad wanted to name me “Buck” if I had been a boy.

One holiday, my sister-in-law read names out of the phone book. That’s when my husband shared another one of his baby-naming opinions. “It needs to be a one-syllable name that I can yell,” for the day when he’d get to chew our baby out for something. My reply was, “We’re not naming a dog or a horse honey!”

As my sister-in-law read off names that fit my husband’s criteria, he would practice hollering them out loud to determine their effectiveness when spoken at a yell. He also rhymed names with all the words that he could think of because his own name became part of a rhyming joke he disliked as a kid.

Furthermore, if it was a boy, my husband said we had to carry on the family naming tradition; making the child’s life miserable with his first and middle name. We didn’t consider naming a boy “Sue” to make him tough, but rather he would go by his middle name and his first name would be the same as my husband’s middle name, which is the name my husband goes by. This was all meant to confuse people—which I’m assuming I’ve been successful doing here—over whether the person in question is the dad or the son, and to give the child a lifetime of headaches when filling out paperwork from always having to clarify his given name and the name that he goes by. All of my husband’s stipulations made it especially difficult to find a boy’s name that we both liked, and not surprisingly, our firstborn was indeed a boy.

You can imagine how happy I was when our baby arrived and I got what I wanted, a healthy (eight pound, eleven ounce) baby. We call him by name, but sometimes we holler.

originally published May 16-22, 2010

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