Baby name consultation: Third baby & third boy + cementing “naming style”

Erin and her husband are expecting their third baby — and third boy! Little Mister joins big brothers:

Dominic Andrew (“we love saint Dominic, it’s a strong name and has strong sounds (starts with a consonant, ends with the hard C/K sound). Andrew is my husbands name and we  liked keeping that in the family in a less formal way than a Jr.”)

Kolbe Jude (“Also a strong name and strong sounding name, after St. Maximilian Kolbe. I love that saint’s story, I love that he is a more recent saint. Jude- St. Jude worked many miracles for us the year leading up to Kolbe’s birth and it was a joy to honor him that way.”)

Both of which I looooove, totally my speed!

Erin writes,

I really like that, although not our intention, we have two saint names with deep Marian devotions AND middle names of original apostles. So, although it isn’t a deal breaker, it would be neat to continue that streak.

Our top choice, and the only name we agree on at the moment is: Oliver (after Oliver Plunkett). I like Oliver, but it is a departure from the way our other names “sound.” And, I’m really uncomfortable having only one name we both like … it feels like settling. Maybe the right middle name would make it fall into place?

We like Oliver Plunkett’s story because in today’s culture it is hard to be a faithful Catholic. We’d like any name-sake to be an example of how to live out the faith when facing persecution or other challenges.”

I love so so much the reasoning behind their love of St. Oliver’s story!

Names Erin likes include:

Xavier
Ignatius
Clement
Sebastian

Names her husband likes include:

Isaac (for St. Isaac Jogues)
Samuel
Fisher (for St. John Fisher)

Names they’ve previously considered but no longer want to use include:

William/Liam
Jeremiah
John Paul
Leo
Phillip

Finally, Erin says,

My own opinion is that our two names thus far have been strong, Catholic names, but nothing too out there. And, we are sort of cementing that pattern with number three– and I’d like to err on the side of slightly more unusual rather than more common.”

Alrighty, so I too love their pattern of first names=”saint’s name with deep Marian devotion” and middles=”names of original apostles”! Though I took a quick look online and couldn’t find anything that explicitly discussed St. Oliver’s Marian devotion, not only am I sure he had one, but I’ve also seen Olivia used to honor Our Lady of the Olives — so they could think of Oliver as a twofer! St. Oliver and Our Lady in one name!

As for middle names for it, I really like Oliver Nathaniel (Bartholomew was called Nathaniel in the Gospel of John), which I think is the most unusual of the remaining apostles’ names … or Oliver Levi (another name for the apostle Matthew) … Oliver James has a very Brit, bookish +feel, which I quite like … Oliver Thomas is solid and handsome … if they wanted to think outside of the original apostles, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas—I love Oliver Matthias, and like Nathaniel, it brings a little more of the unusual that Erin said she’d rather they err on the side of, an obviously biblical sparkle. And if they ventured even further into New Testament territory, something like Oliver Nicodemus would be amazing.

As for new ideas, I know what they mean about their third baby—especially being the same gender as their older two—really cementing their naming style. One of the ways to manage that, if they don’t want to get boxed in for the future, is to use three different styles for each of their three boys, and I actually think Oliver would do that: Dominic has a real Latin-y incense+monastery feel; Kolbe is a surname with a more modern feel; and Oliver’s Irishy and sweet. Going forward, they’d have three different feels to choose from, and good overlap between them.

Finding names that fit a “third category” was one of my goals when coming up with additional name ideas, and I also wanted to find names that I thought would have good overlap between Dominic’s and Kolbe’s styles — I think I have some good ideas. You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity; I also combed my own mental files and came up with:

(1) Roman
In thinking of that “third category” idea, I thought: Dominic is a first name, Kolbe is a surname, what about a name for a “thing”? Roman was the first idea I had in this category— it literally means “a Roman,” and it makes me think of the Pope, the Vatican, and the Church. I really like it with Dominic and Kolbe, and it was even listed as a style match for Dominic in the BNW! One of the down sides of “thing names” is that they tend to sound more like surnames than not, but I think Roman is a really good one because it’s not too surnamey, but having a bit of that feeling also makes it fit nicely with Kolbe. Two other names that I thought could fit in this category, though perhaps not as obvious to the outside world, are Tiber (for the Tiber River in Rome; “crossing the Tiber” is a phrase used by converts to Catholicism; one of our readers named her son Tiber) and Boon(e) (in the sense of “blessing, gift”), both of which I love. (Lots of other ideas here.)

(2) Fulton or Bennett
Beyond the idea of a third category, I loved the idea of finding names that would “straddle” the two styles Erin and her hubs have used already (and of course I’m only calling them “two styles” in order to find other names that fit … they certainly both fit squarely in the “super saintly” category)—so I thought a name that has equal-ish use as a first name and a surname would do so. Fulton was the first idea I had—though it was Fulton Sheen’s mom’s maiden name, everyone knows it as his first name. The other idea was Bennett, which is a medieval form of Benedict, which is how the surname arose—I know a few little Bennetts, and it’s certainly recognizable as a surname as well.

(3) Simon or Gabriel
Finally, I thought another way to manage their styles going forward would be to switch the order of the names—instead of sticking with a really saintly first name and New Testament middle (I’m using “New Testament” rather than “original apostles” in order to include Gabriel, which I think is a great fit for them!), perhaps they could consider their pattern to be “one name from the New Testament, and one that’s really saintly.” To that end, I thought Simon would be a great fit for a first name. It reminds me a lot of Oliver—it has a similar bookish, academic feel, and is of course one of the original twelve. I thought of Simon Peter as a combo being a good one for this family—it brings in that heavy hitting feel of Dominic and Kolbe—and then I thought of Pierce, which is a variant of Peter, so Simon Pierce would really be “Simon Peter,” but Pierce has an added Marian element in that one of our readers said she knows someone who named her son Pierce after the Prophecy of Simeon (“a sword will pierce [Mary’s] heart”). Cool, no? And Gabriel’s a style match for Xavier, Isaac, and Samuel, and so tied with Our Lady through the Annunciation, as well as being a New Testament name.

And those are my ideas for Erin and her husband’s new baby boy! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Dominic and Kolbe, if they end up not going with Oliver?

Birth announcement: Faustina Irene!

I posted a consultation for Cait and her husband on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and she’s let me know her little girl has arrived and been given the gorgeous name … Faustina Irene!

Cait writes,

Faustina Irene was born on Monday, Feb 13, at weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces and 21.5 inches long.  She and I are doing wonderfully.

Thank you for all your name inspirations!  In the end God decided the name for us- on an anniversary trip I was reading the Diary of Saint Faustina out loud to my husband and after a particularly inspiring passage he suggested that we name our baby Faustina.  I wasn’t as sure, but we stopped in a used book store on our trip and while browsing I found one of those 2000 page baby naming books.  Almost jokingly I said a little prayer of, “Okay, God, show me what we should name this baby” and randomly opened the book.  On the very top of the page I opened to was “Faustina”.  So, at the end of the Year of Mercy, we decided to name our baby after the saint so dedicated to telling the world of the Lord’s Divine Mercy.  Irene was decided to bring in the them of “peace” and because Saint Irene is pretty great- being a sister of a pope, maybe our little namesake will inspire some of her brothers to holiness ;).  Attached is a picture of Faustina Irene (we’re not sure if she’ll have a nickname and if so what it will be).”

I love when God makes His will known so clearly! What a great name story! If you remember, Faustina joins big sibs:

Aquinas John Paul
Gabriel Benedict
Magdalena Grace
Maksymilian Paul
Augustine Francis
Socorra Perpetua

Such beautiful names! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Faustina!!

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Faustina Irene

February CatholicMom column up, a Nameberry mention, and thanks for the fun!

I’ll start with the last bit of the post title — thanks for all your great ideas re: a sister for Reverie! That was so fun to read! You all have amazing ideas!

Secondly, our reader Clare, who has an awesome name site of her own (Name News) and is also my Welsh pronunciation expert, had a piece posted on Nameberry a couple days ago in which she mentioned Sancta Nomina — specifically the “Men Who Love Mary” category! If I’m ever remembered for one thing, having it be names for Mary would be one of my very top choices. 😍 Go check out her great post: Who Knew Victor Hugo was a Name Nerd?

Finally, my February CatholicMom column posted yesterday — a slight re-boot of this post from a couple years ago: Names for Miscarried Babies. Miscarriage was on my mind recently because my parish just started a miscarriage ministry and asked me to help with it (and you know I tapped into our reader Mandi’s great resources at A Blog About Miscarriage). I hope this is helpful for anyone who’s mourning a little one.

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Book review: Kate Wicker’s *Getting Past Perfect*

I recently posted a guest post by Kate Wicker (with name ideas for her baby) and a birth announcement, and today I’m thrilled to post a review of her new book!

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Kate Wicker’s forthcoming book, Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, is exactly the book a lot of moms—myself included—need, often. Half memoir, half self-help, it spoke directly to me, which isn’t surprising given that Kate’s often done that for me through the years. She has a really lovely way of wording things, which become little nuggets of wisdom, like from a mom or a big sister, even though, in my case, she’s a peer (we’re the same age, and my oldest is the same age as her oldest).

Not only does she reveal her hard-won insider info that all moms experience and are embarrassed to admit (“there are lots of other days and even weeks when I feel like a total failure when I’m pretty sure I’ve royally screwed up my kids, and they’ll all end up in therapy. Those are the days when I’m in awe of my children’s deep pools of mercy and how eager they are to love imperfect me”), but she frames it all within an understanding of the crosses God asks us to bear, and the assurance that He is right there with us at every step. I loved when she noted that, “God is the only perfect parent there is, and let’s take a look at his children—you and imperfect me, all his offspring who have questioned him, those who crucified his only Son, and then all those who have committed abhorrent acts of genocide, bride burning, and other horrifying crimes of hate. One look at this Father’s broken people, and you’d think he has failed miserably as a parent. So why, then, do we take our own children’s behavior and choices and imperfections as an indictment of our own parenting?”

The ideas of “perfect” and “imperfect” moms and children (but especially moms) are addressed and moved past throughout her whole book—hence the title Getting Past Perfect. Kate says over and over again: you are not everything, and you *are* good enough. You aren’t perfect and you don’t need to be.

I loved how each chapter begins with an “evil earworm” (those nagging, untruthful or half-truthful refrains that get stuck in our heads) and a responding “untarnished truth” based on faith and reality. I loved the “Mom’s Time Out”—a prayer/reflection—at the end of each chapter. I loved that Kate included lots of personal anecdotes and bible quotes throughout, and the reading group guide and additional resources in the back make it a perfect book for individuals or groups. And I really loved this line, which I think sums up Kate’s whole goal: “Dear mamas, imperfect love is still love.” Sometimes—a lot of times—we all need to hear just that.

Kate’s book will be released on March 3, 2017, and is available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the publisher itself (Ave Maria Press).

What goes with Reverie?

I read this dilemma over in the Baby Name Wizard discussion forum with interest — the mom of Reverie is stuck on what to name her second daughter. What a fun name Reverie is! Whimsical and sweet, and I love the nicknames Rev and Revi. But yeah — what do you name Reverie’s sister?

Amazingly, there’s actually a semi-famous little girl named Reverie — daughter of the mom who blogs at Girl’s Gone Child (whose name taste I’ve long been swoony over) — and she’s got two sisters with amazingly perfect names (in my opinion): Fable and Boheme. Fable and Boheme! I know Boheme is sometimes called Bo, and she’s the twin of Reverie — Rev and Bo! 😍 And with Fable — and the nickname possibility Fay/Fae — these three have got to be some of the best named sisters I’ve ever come across. (They also have a brother, Archer.)

But of course the mom in the Baby Name Wizard discussion probably shouldn’t consider Boheme or Fable, given how very *owned* they are (and this coming from a person who doesn’t consider it possible to own a name). Do you agree?

Anyway, I was interested in this list of girl names the parents of Fable, Boheme, and Reverie considered and never used:

Colette
Delphine
Echo
Lark
Cricket
Autumn
Clover
Daisy
Dahlia
Zenith
Belle
Luna
Harbor
Paisley
Blythe
Phoenix
Nova
Aura
Marigold
Azure
Lumina
Meadow
Season
Beatrix
Saffron
Valentine
Zephyr

I have to say, none of them hits me in the same way as Fable, Boheme, and Reverie. Zenith, Zephyr, Echo, and Azure come closest I think, but otherwise I think this list — great as so many of the names are, and some of my favorites — doesn’t really fit with the other three girls’ names’ feminity+unusualness. I’d love to know if you disagree!

Anyway, I’ve been working on a list of names I thought would be a good match to Reverie (from the BNW discussion I quite like Haven, Sonnet, Soleil, and Lumen nicked Lulu!), and came up with the following:

Reine (I met a woman recently named Reine, said like “Wren”)
Thaïs (which I suggested over at the BNW)
Vesper
Hero
Starling
Xanthe
Juniper (maybe)
Charis (maybe)
Phaedra
Briseis (thanks to Mandi at A Blog About Miscarriage for turning me on to this name)
Bronte
Rhiannon

What do you think? What names do you think would fit for a sister for Reverie?

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 4 needs easy biblical and/or saintly name that works with middle name and last name

Boy no. 4Andrea and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and fourth boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

James Giovanni (“I might have picked the name James because I love Jim Halpert from the show the Office 🙂 Also, the church I went to growing up was St. James. The bishop of the church my husband attended growing up was named James, and he really looked up to him — so there are lots of connections. For his middle name, we picked Giovanni — my husband’s middle name is John, so I picked Giovanni as a different form. Also, there is some Italian ethnicity on my mom’s side, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate that, too“)

Dominic Antonio (“Dominic I have just always liked. I love the works of art depicting Mary giving St. Dominic the rosary. Dominic just sounds so Catholic and traditional. We chose Antonio for his middle name, after St. Anthony“)

Rose Eve (“My grandma’s name was Rose, and I thought Rosie would be a cute nickname. Eve I just liked. I love short and simple names. Rose was stillborn and is our family’s saint“)

Joseph David (“We prayed a novena (or a few) for pregnancy and childbirth to St. Joseph. David is after the biblical David, and also my dad“)

Wonderful names, all! I love the Italian influence — it’s so fun to put ethnic names in the middle if you don’t feel comfortable using them for firsts. (Also—I’m DYING over the fact that James’ name might have been inspired by Jim Halpert! Haha! I love him too, he’s definitely one of my favorite characters.)

Andrea writes,

Picking out a baby name has been pretty easy for us in the past, but we are stuck on this one! We have a baby boy on the way, and there aren’t a lot of names jumping out at us — and the names we like we can’t use for one reason or another.”

Their preferences for this baby’s name include:

  • Old Testament or well-known saints name
  • Easy to pronounce/ not confusing for general population 🙂
  • Would like to use Nicholas as a middle name if possible
  • Doesn’t start with J
  • Doesn’t start with A (“if we use Nicholas for a middle name, baby’s initials would be ANL 🙂 “)

Names they like but can’t use for various reasons include:

  • Levi (“our last name starts with L, so it might sound weird..?“)
  • Mark (“we have a nephew Marcus — it’s too similar sounding“)
  • Michael (“we know way too many Michaels“)
  • Daniel (“know too many Daniels“)
  • Stephen (“I like it, but there would be confusion about pronunciation — is it Steven or Stefen?“)
  • Ian (“spouse and I can’t agree on how to pronounce it, we both know people who are named Ian but both pronounce it differently“)
  • Patrick (“I LOVE, but my husband has a brother and a brother-in-law named Patrick. We checked with them, and they said they don’t care if we used the name, so…. I’m tempted! I feel like Patrick goes really well with the names of our children. However, I feel Patrick doesn’t work well with Nicholas as a middle name, though.. do you think so, too?“)
  • Their nephews’ names: Matthew, Jeremy, Leo, Victor, Morgan, Chester, William, Aaron, Jesse, Jonathan, Peter, Marcus
  • Others: Paul, Robert, Gregory, George, Henry, Philip, Albert, Gerard

Finally, Andrea wrote to me again and said,

[My hubs] and I were recently talking about using the name Sullivan for a middle name. It was the last name of one of the bishops in our diocese, and my husband was close with him. I looked up the name meaning of Sullivan, and it is derived from an Irish surname meaning ‘little dark eye.’ My heart kind of melted a little bit when I read that. I think that would be cute — especially since [we] both have brown eyes!!

Okay, first off, I love Sullivan! I completely agree — the meaning is so sweet! And I feel like it really opens up a lot more possibilities for this family — I found Nicholas really hard to find a first name for!

I love their older kiddos’ names! James, Dominic, Rose/Rosie, and Joseph are a wonderful sibset — saintly, classic, and so handsome!

I’m definitely picking up an Italian vibe from the kids’ names — not only because of Giovanni and Antonio being middle names, but also Dominic, Rose, and Joseph are sibling names of several Italian families I know! So I was really interested to see Ian and Patrick on Andrea’s list! I do like that both Patrick and Ian would be a nudge toward James’ name (not that James doesn’t go with Dominic, Rose, and Joseph! I don’t mean that at all, just that it has less of an Italian feel than the others to me … and really, I think Dominic is the name that shifts the set toward Italian. James, Rose, and Joseph would just be lovely saintly names that go well, and Ian and Patrick would fit in well … but Dominic really brings in that Italian flair. Which is funny, because I’ve often argued AGAINST the idea that Dominic is overtly Italian! I did a whole spotlight on it, and how it’s totally fine for non-Italians to use, and included several non-Italian actors that are named Dominic [including some Irish]! So I guess I am more swayed by middle names Giovanni and Antonio than I realized).

Patrick Nicholas is tough … I’ve said it out loud several times and I could really go either way … on the one hand, the end of Patrick and the beginning of Nicholas rhyme (trick and Nick), so that might be kind of weird … on the other hand, I don’t think they sound terrible together! I think I’d support their decision one way or the other. And Patrick Sullivan takes care of that issue altogether.

Andrea and her hubs have a really great list of names they like, and it was really helpful when I was doing my research for them. You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, these are my three ideas for this baby boy (Andrea requested a mini consultation, hence only three ideas) (“three.” You’ll see what I mean):

(1) Vincent
James, Rose, and Joseph are very similar style-wise, and the names suggested by the BNW as similar to them were all the same — Thomas, William, Carl/Charles-type names. So I really wanted to make sure Dominic’s style had a chance to shine a little in my suggestions for them, and when I saw that Vincent was listed as a style match for Dominic, I knew it was a great idea. Like their other kiddos’ names, it’s super saintly and classic, and I think it fits in really well with James, Rose, and Joseph, while being a really nice match for Dominic as well. I think both Vincent Nicholas and Vincent Sullivan sound fine.

(2) Timothy
Timothy was 100% inspired by Patrick — when I saw it listed as a style match for Patrick, I knew I had to suggest it, since it’s also a biblical name. Then I discovered it’s also a match for Stephen and Nicholas! Timothy Nicholas isn’t terrible; Timothy Sullivan is awesome.

(3) Samuel, Gabriel
I love both of these names for this family for different reasons. Samuel is a match for Rose and Joseph, and the nickname Sam is always amazing. Gabriel has more of Dominic’s feel to me, which I love, while also being biblical, and I always point to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as an example of how it can be considered Irishy. I’m not sure I love either of them with Nicholas, but Sullivan feels really good with both of them (and I don’t hate them with Nicholas). My only hesitation with them is that they end in L, and some people don’t care for first names ending in the same letter their last name begins with. I personally don’t mind, especially if they’ll usually use a nickname (Sam(my) L___ and Gabe L___ both sound great).

(Bonus) Andrew
This is the name that was one of my finalists until I remembered they didn’t want an A name. BUT with Sullivan in the mix, I’m throwing Andrew back in! It hits their preferred criteria — biblical as well as well-known saint; easy to pronounce/not confusing. I initially also loved it because I thought it sounded the best with Nicholas of all my ideas! Oops! But I love Andrew Sullivan too.

And those are my ideas for Andrea’s newest little guy! What do you all think? What would you suggest for a little brother to James, Dominic, Rose, and Joseph, with the middle name Nicholas or Sullivan and last name that begins with L?

How to deal with uncommon names becoming more popular

Paige posted this interesting question to my FB wall:

Silly question. Any tips on how to get over the agitation that comes when you’ve chosen a name for your child that was unique and it starts to gain popularity? I don’t like nicknames so that’s out.”

First off, not a silly question at all! We all know what being a namiac does to a person. 😉

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question since Paige asked it. It was smart of her to say nicknames aren’t really her thing, because otherwise I do think that could be a good way to manage the downfalls of a popular name (or a name that’s more popular than one would like). And I’m actually realizing just now that I don’t know Paige’s situation — whether she’s expecting a baby and has already decided on a name, or if she has an already-born child whose name is becoming more popular. My thoughts would be different for each situation, so I’ll address each one separately.

If you’re expecting a baby, and have already decided on a name, and are now having a really hard time with the fact that it’s becoming more popular, I would definitely seriously think of changing the name. Before the baby has arrived, anything goes! If it’s a name that’s important to you — a family name, for example, or a favorite saint, or the best friend you promised when you were six that you’d name your first child after — then maybe looking for an unusual variant of it would do the trick. Sean instead of John, that kind of thing. It might also be helpful to remember that things that really really bother you when you’re pregnant might mean very little to non-pregnant you, so if, for example, your husband really wants to stick with the name that you’ve already agreed upon even though you’re having agita over it, and there’s just no changing his mind, there’s a chance that after the baby’s here and all the intensity has calmed down and life has regained some normalcy, it won’t seem so bad to you after all. Especially since babies very often immediately own their names and all of a sudden you can’t imagine your little one having any other name in the world, even if there ends up being two others with the same name in his/her Kindergarten class.

If the baby’s already born and named, you could still think of changing the name (depending on how old he/she is). The rules about such things varies from state to state, but I’m pretty sure they all have a grace period after the birth during which you can change the name on the birth certificate without too much fuss. If the child’s older — old enough to know and recognize his/her name — that’s a different story. If you’re in the situation where the name absolutely can’t be changed, and nicknames aren’t a great option, I would encourage you to think about why you chose the name in the first place. Certainly sometimes a big part of the reason you like a name is because it’s uncommon, but there are lots of uncommon names that you didn’t choose, so what was it about this one that made it special? What qualities (besides uncommonness) did you love? Can you add further amazing qualities to it even now, in hindsight, like finding an amazing saint with the name that you can fall in love with? I’ve often found that reminding myself (over and over if needed, accompanied by lots of Hail Marys) of the good characteristics and blessings of a challenging thing in my life helps my heart soften toward that thing.

Finally, no matter what the situation is (pre- or post-birth+naming), it’s also helpful to remember that names can come zooming out of nowhere and become huge hits overnight if a certain blockbuster book or movie with an uncommonly named hero enters the country’s consciousness. On the flip side, names can immediately drop like a rock due to widespread negative associations (just think of all the sweet little girls who were lovingly given the name Isis before the name had the association it now does). So knowing that you can’t ever guarantee what will happen to the name you’ve so carefully and lovingly chosen can provide a real measure of freedom to just choose a name you like — a name whose sparkly bits you’ll always be able to remember, no matter how popular it becomes.

These also might be helpful, regarding the popularity of names today not being the same as the popularity of names in the past: This great comment from our very own grace and Even the Top 10 Is Not Necessarily the Kiss of Death by Swistle. Also these, on naming regret: Naming regret by me and An Account of Baby Name Regret by Swistle.

What do you all think about Paige’s question? Do you think my thoughts are spot on or totally off base? Have you experienced this, and how did you handle it? What other advice would you offer to Paige or anyone else with this struggle?