I had the great pleasure of posting a birth announcement for reader Isabelle’s second boy two years ago, and she’s let me know that she’s had a third baby — a little girl! She’s been given the gorgeous names Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!
“So, we have two boys (you posted a birth announcement for our second, Gabriel Nicolas Peter, our eldest is Jude René Marc) and for both of them, the names were fairly easy to find. I had liked Gabriel since I was a teenager, and always intended to use it, but by the time I got pregnant with my first I was feeling more “Jude”. My husband was happy either way, and we pretended to ourselves for a while like we hadn’t decided (we totally had, we never seriously considered any alternative).
When we found out our second was a boy too, Gabriel was the obvious choice, and again although we told ourselves we were considering other options, we really weren’t. All the while, our girl name was all chosen and waiting for a future girl: Alice. But two months after Gabriel was born, my cousin had gorgeous twin girls: Madeleine and Alice.
Fast forward a few months and I am pregnant again. And we’re stumped. A few boys names are swimming about (Nicolas? Can we use a middle name as a subsequent sibling’s given name? Methink we can) but for girls, it was getting complicated fast. I suggested we go for Alice anyway, but it felt a bit too soon. We loved Juliette, but Jude-Gabriel-Juliette felt a bit repetitive, so again, we felt we needed a few more names in the middle before using Juliette. That’s when I contacted you about consultations, but we decided to wait to find out the gender and then ask you if we were still stumped.
We discovered we were expecting a girl shortly afterwards, and my husband (who normally leaves me to talk names at him) was suddenly pushing for Virginia, he’s grandmother’s name (with the intention of nicknaming her “Ginny”, like his grandmother was). Whilst I really liked Ginny, I didn’t want Virginia, or use a nickname as a given name (I’m helpful like that). Besides, Ginny broke our rule (We’re a French-English couple, so we really try to choose names which are the same, or near enough in both languages – Jude was a stretch for the French since it is vanishingly rare as a French given name, people are much more likely to use the “Thadée” form to honour that apostle, but Jude is in the Bible so we went for it).
My long-suffering husband then offered Genevieve as another way to get to Ginny and still honour his grandmother, and whilst I love the sound of it in English, and it is spelled exactly the same way (with added accent in French) I couldn’t really get over the “middle-aged woman” feel the name has for me (due to when the name was popular in France). So stumped again.
I was starting to remind him that you offered a very handy service for people in our situation, when, in a totally unrelated instance of spousal awesomeness, my husband took me to Vienna for a little getaway just the two (and a half) of us. So here I am, on the train from the airport, doing what any self-respecting former PhD candidate in history would do, reading up on the history of Vienna and the Habsburg family, when suddenly, in a random paragraph about the Holy Roman Empire, I come across saint Matilda (she’s awesome). And that’s it. My husband is fully on board (although he pretends like he still favours Elisabeth for a few days), but he wants to spell it the French way, but pronounce it the English way when we speak in English (so, spelled “Mathilde”, pronounced “Matilda”). I’m ok with that. We decide the middle names will be the grandmothers (Agnes and Julia) job done.
Except, not quite.
Plot twist: giantly pregnant by then and extremely overdue, I am given a date for my induction: 9 July. Simon’s sister’s birthday. His sister passed away at just sixteen – she had a brain tumour. Feeling like we can’t just ignore the coincidence, we think of ways to honour Hannah in our little girl’s name and decide to just add a third middle name, even though Simon’s other sister already used “Hannah” as a middle name for her daughter.
Plot twist again: the induction is pushed back to the 10th. What do we do? Without the same birthday, Simon doesn’t feel right about copying his niece’s middle name (I have no such qualms, but then I come from a giant Catholic family where repeats are a fact of life). So I push for Hannah’s middle name, Frances. (I am a big fan of Saint Frances of Rome, and was planning on using “Francesca” as a future middle name – as soon as the grandmothers had been dutifully honoured (another French thing here, people almost always honour family members with middle names, so grandparents would take offence)).
And that was finally that (well, after the quickest, most ridiculously eventful labour).
Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances. Born in 45 minutes on 10 July 2017. All the names, all the saints.”
Can you believe that story?! Amazing! And I love love love all of Mathilde’s names!!
Congratulations to Isabelle and her husband and big brothers Jude and Gabriel, and happy birthday Baby Mathilde!!
Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances