Happy Feast of the Ascension y’all!! 😀 I’m delighted to mark this holy day with a consultation for a mama who, like me, has six boys!
Susan, from the blog Sole Searching Mama (so clever!), and her husband Steve expect their seventh baby any day (she’s taking prayer requests to offer during her labor and delivery, so be sure to send her your special intentions!). They don’t know if the baby’s a boy or a girl, and I know she feels similarly to me in that another boy would be as happily welcomed as a baby girl, but of course it’s so fun to wonder if a Little Miss is about to make her debut after allllll those brothers!
Those brothers are the handsomely named:
Benedict Steven Robert
Andrew Simon Joseph
George Patrick Thomas
Henry James Augustine
Charles Gabriel Francis
Joseph William Karol
I love each combo — so saintly! So masculine!
“Our “method” for choosing names is usually the same. We begin tossing around names of saints we love, and family names are also considered. Then, we pray about it, discuss, discuss, discuss, and then eventually a name comes together that we both mutually KNOW is the one.”
I love how she articulated their process — it’s similar to my own, and I’m sure a lot of you do this too!
They’re pretty well set on boy name ideas (though they’re open to hearing more, so I included a few ideas below) — it’s the girl name that’s a stumper! Susan says,
“I’m probably hyper-fixated on the girl name, and need not be, since given our present circumstances, the likelihood of us having a girl is slim. But, the Lord may surprise us yet!“
Names they’ve considered include:
And names they like but can’t use include:
I had so much fun working on this! With big families, it can sometimes feel like all the new ground has been long broken, but coming up with names for a girl after having all and many boys (or vice versa) is so new and different.
I wanted to comment quickly on the names Susan and her hubs like/have considered:
Gianna, Magdalene, Zelie, Ave, and Therese all have, to me, that Catholicky Catholic feel of Benedict’s first name and the middles Maximilian, Kolbe, Vianney, Augustine, Gabriel, and Karol, while Emma, Maris, and Clare are a little less obvious, more like the other boys’ first names. I like seeing that — it gives me a good sense of where their taste is. Emma is especially telling, since it’s really not obviously saintly (though it is, indeed, saintly).
So 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 book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research and my own mental files, these are my ideas for a little girl for Susan and Steve:
I probably would have ended up putting Gemma on the list of suggestions for them anyway, but when I read that they like both Gianna and Emma it was immediately clear to me that Gemma is an awesome choice for them! I love that it’s like Gianna and Emma put together, and St. Gemma Galgani is a great patron for a little girl. Another fun tidbit is that when I was looking up St. Emma, I came across a different St. Gemma—St. Gemma of Goriano—who’s also known as Emma! And her feast day is Mary 12, so close to Susan’s due date! The name is Italian in origin, meaning “gem,” which is also a great meaning for a little girl’s name to have, but it has a lot of use in England, which gives it a really English feel too, similar to Benedict, George, Henry, and Charles. (For example, see the British actress Gemma Jones, who’s been in films like Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Harry Potter movies, and Sense and Sensibility. Abby at Appellation Mountain also did an awesome spotlight.)
(2) Stella or Maristella
My next idea for them—and the first one I scribbled down when I was first reading Susan’s email—is Stella, totally inspired by Maris on their list. Though Maris has the lovely meaning “of the sea” and refers to Our Lady, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), I think its meaning is almost completely diluted for those who aren’t familiar with it. Niles’ wife on Frasier was Maris, and when I hear it on its own, that’s what I think of. (Maybe most people are more refined than me? I hope! 😀 ) But if they were to put Maris together with Stella, as in Maristella (as this mom did, gorgeous!), then I think its meaning is more obvious. Maristella would be gorgeous for them, and is a bit like Magdalene from their list in terms of length and appearance, but I kind of like the trimmer Stella a bit more for them, especially if they did Stella Maris (first name + middle name). (Stellamaris is also a possibility.) (I don’t suppose Stella comes across as obviously Marian any more than Maris does, but for some reason it seems to me that it does.)
(3) Lucia or Lucy
Lucia was listed as a style match in the BNW for Gianna and Lucy was listed as a match for Henry, Charles/Charlie, and Emma, so I think either one (or Lucia nicknamed Lucy) would be a great idea for Susan and Steve.
Margaret is the third in the classic, regal girls’ names trio: Elizabeth, Katherine, and Margaret. There are lots of Sts. Margaret to choose from, and lots of sweet, traditional nickname options, like Maggie, Meg and Peg, Maisie and Daisy, Greta, and Rita.
(5) Anna or Annabel(le)
One of the things I love about looking names up in the BNW is writing down the matches for each name on the parents’ list and then looking for names that show up in more than one of those list of matches. Anna was a big hit for this family, being listed as similar in style/feel/popularity to Katherine, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Emma. I love the name Anna, and you all know St. Anne is Sancta Nomina’s patroness, so I love giving her lots of name love. There are so many pretty variants, like Ann(e), Hannah, Anya, and Annika, and mashups like Annelise/Anneliese and Annabeth that would allow for Anne and Elizabeth together in one name.
I know I’ve talked a lot recently about Annabel, which is a new love of mine — I love that it looks like an Anna name and could be considered so if desired, but actually has different roots: it seems it is, in origin, a variant of Amabel, which arose in Scotland in the Middle Ages … Amabel is a variant of Amabilis, which means “lovable” and was the name of a male saint, but it’s also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable; amiable=lovable). How cool is that?? The spelling Annabelle makes it a bit frillier and looks more like Anna + belle (belle=beautiful), which is another nice layer of meaning.
Huh. But actually, now that I think about it … is Anna too similar to Andrew? I personally think that with so many children, and Andrew being #2 and this new baby being #7, it’s not that big a deal. But it is something Susan and Steve would have to think about and make their own decision about.
(6) Rosa or Rosemary or Rosanna
I love the sweet and spunky Rosa—it’s such a lovely name for a girl, and the nickname Rosie/Rosey is to die for. But I also love Rosemary for this family—to me, it’s one of those obviously Catholic names, and I kind of love that a little Rosemary would have her own herb. It can still take Rosie/Rosey as a nickname, or Romy, which is traditional as well. (Ooh, I just thought of Rosanna too—I love that! It gets in the Anna from above without any potential Andrew/Anna issue, and the Rose bit, which is Marian and lovely.)
There were a couple other names for girls I thought of that in the end I just didn’t think made the cut for my suggestions, for one reason or another, but I thought I’d list them just in case: Christiana, Leonie, Edith, Adelaide, Felicity, and Elodie.
Even though Susan and Steve are set with a boy’s name, they said they were open to hearing more ideas, so I came up with a few that really seemed to fit the style of their other boys’ names:
(1) Edmund or Edward
Edmund is a style match for Benedict and Therese and a nod to awesome St. Edmund Campion (also, Narnia!). Edward was actually a better match for this family, according to the BNW, being listed as similar to George, Henry, Charles, Joseph, and Elizabeth (wow!). St. Edward the Confessor is a particular fave of mine.
This was totally inspired by Zelie, being her dear hubby’s name, and totally fits with the other boys.
I feel like there aren’t too many heavy-hitting Catholic names for boys that they haven’t already used, but Dominic is one. It’s similar to Benedict with that monastery/incense feel (which I love), and I think it fits in really well with the other boys.
Luke is such a solid boy’s name, and I consider it to be a Marian name as well, as his gospel is the most Marian and contains her beautiful Magnificat.
Leo has a really similar feel as Benedict and Dominic to me, and he’s a Pope St. the Great like JP2. So cool!
And those are all my ideas for Susan and Steve! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Boy No. 7 or Girl No. 1?