If you had been a…

If I had been a boy, my name would have been Ryan. I have two younger sisters and they had different boy name options. This struck me as odd when I was younger, because if you like a certain name best, won’t you always? And, if not, isn’t that depressing? Theoretically, it could mean by the time you have your next child, the first child’s name is ‘no longer your favorite,’ to put it diplomatically.

Of course, now that I’ve named babies (and read Swistle…) it makes more sense. Names can be ruled out for all sorts of reasons and once you give a name to your child, the name generally stays your favorite because the child is (one of) your favorite(s).

When I was pregnant with Margaret we didn’t have much trouble with names. We settled on William for a boy and Margaret for a girl pretty quickly. I did go back and forth for a long time as to whether it was mean to saddle my child with an “old lady” name, but ultimately it had already become her name and anything else would have seemed off. Our style, at least for girl names, it completely vintage so I’m happy vintage names have come back into style lately (maybe even before she was born, unbeknownst to us).

Another thing we needed to decide is if we were okay ruling out William by using Margaret. William is my dad’s name and Margaret is my grandma (his mom). It just seemed like a bit too much for a sibling set. Even just using two first-name honor names in our little family seemed a little over the top, let alone honorees who were mother and son. We went ahead and used Margaret – partly because we were having a girl right then and didn’t know if we’d ever have a boy and partly because Margaret is also my middle name, so it tied the baby to my name as well.

If Paul had been a girl, he would have been Abigail. One slight drawback was that it was top 10 in popularity, compared with Margaret at 188. We were worried about the contrast, but felt the names went together well stylistically. Coming up with a boy name was HARD. To me it feels like there are less boy names out there, so for every name there IS you know someone who has it. Or several someones, at least one of whom you don’t like. Plus, almost all of the classic names have nicknames, which we were trying to avoid.

When baby #3 came along, we started slogging through the boy name list again, trying to find something, anything that might work. We’d tentatively decided on George when we found out she was a girl (Eleanor!). Our hesitation with George came from the fact William and Kate had just named the baby prince George and we were worried there would be a spike in popularity. Popular names don’t necessarily scare us, but trendy names do. Would there be a ton of born-in-2013-or-2014 boys named George, then relatively few again? Would our baby be a part of a fad?

I was kind of relieved we never had to make the final call on George, but I’m still kind of sad we’re done naming babies. If we had just one more I think George would be back in contention, since we would be past the potential fad-name stage. It’s funny how I can get sentimental about a process I never much liked. Naming a baby is so stressful.


  1. I would have been named David Elliott. I don’t even know how I remember that, as I know I was told once a long time ago and it was never brought up again. I don’t think we had serious girl names for either of the boys, but I am forever naming girls that will never be born. (that sounds really depressing, doesn’t it?)

  2. When I was a little girl, my favorite name was Samantha. I named all my dolls that name. Flash forward to having a baby boy. We named him Samuel (Sammy). It didn’t dawn on me until much later (like when baby #2 was on the way) that I’d blocked myself from using Samantha. Oops. But Sabrina fits my daughter just perfectly anyway.

  3. I was almost Dominic. I’m glad I’m not.

    I’m going to have to post about this, too, so I don’t write paragraphs and paragraphs in your comments. I think choosing names is so interesting!

  4. If I had been a boy I would have been Taylor Daniel. I was Tara Danielle instead.

    If Eriana had been a boy she would have been Isaac. Probably Isaac Joseph Mark, but we never settled on (a) middle name(s) (Jim has 2 so I wanted a son to also have 2).

    I always find it interesting how names and name ideas change. My little sister would have been Paul Kendal, but instead she is Kendal Leann. Really using that unisex name you liked there, Mom. Yet she named my older sister and I Tana and Tara. So apparently she started branching out in the late 80s/early 90s, and before then she couldn’t be bothered (brother is Austin, born in ’88). Weird.