Baby name consultant: Middle name for Lucia’s sister

Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage and her husband are expecting their sixth (second born) baby! Their older daughter on earth is:

Lucia Rose

And their babies in heaven are:

Francis Michael
Julian Gabriel
Adrienne Rafael
Christian Michael

(Mandi blogged about all her babies’ names here, including explanations, which is helpful when coming up with suggestions.)

She writes,

I’m looking for some help with a middle name … We aren’t going to find out whether we are having a boy or girl, but we have a boy’s name already chosen … We also have chosen the first name for a little girl, Cecilia, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a middle name I like with it. Our daughter’s name is Lucia Rose … I love her middle name for a few reasons — it’s a family name, a Saint name, very traditional and I like that it’s short coming after a several syllable first name. I’d love to find something similar for Cecilia (and in fact, I’ve thought quite a bit about just using Rose again), particularly a one syllable name, but I haven’t found anything I particularly like. Cecilia is a family name, so I don’t necessarily need the middle name to have a family link but I can’t seem to find any one syllable girls names that I like even remotely as well as I love Rose. Anne doesn’t seem to work because Cecilia ends in an A, I’m not a fan of Ruth or May or Jane or virtue names like Grace, Faith, or Hope. And I really don’t like more modern or trendy names like Elle. (So maybe I just don’t like anything?) I’d love if I found a Marian name or a name with a significant meaning, but I’m not sure that there is one that will fit our needs. Just for reference, two of the middle names we do like are Paloma and Miriam (we LOVE Miriam because it means “wished-for child” and this little one is coming after four miscarriages in a row) but they both seem too lengthy coming after the already lengthy Cecilia.”

I just sigh and swoon over sisters Lucia and Cecilia, so lovely!

This was an interesting dilemma, because so many of the names I thought of as I was reading Mandi’s email turned out to be unusable per the end of her email!

First off, I don’t hate the idea of possibly using Rose again as the middle. As I posted about recently here and here, it’s a common (or not uncommon) tradition for all the girls in a family to have Mary as part of their name, for example, or for all the girls to have Mom’s maiden name as a middle, that kind of thing — sisters having the same middle is totally normal and not that unusual. It’s kind of a nice link between them, and Rose is like an updated Mary — still Marian, but not Mary. Cecilia Rose is beautiful.

I did come up with a bunch of other ideas though, in case Mandi and her husband really don’t want to repeat Rose:

(1) Pearl
This is hands down my favorite option for them. I feel like Pearl used to have a really old lady feel, but I’ve been seeing it more and more recently on little girls, as both firsts and middles (I mean, not so much that one needs to shy away because of trendiness! Just that it’s losing its old lady image), and I wrote a while ago about how it can be Marian, so I love it for this family! Lucia Rose and Cecilia Pearl. Really beautiful!

(2) Normal one-syllable names
I’m calling them “normal” because they’re just that:

  • Kate — I often love just Kate in the middle
  • Beth — Beth could also honor any Elizabeths Mandi may know/love
  • Claire — I like that Cecilia Claire would have the initials C.C.!
  • Joan — Mandi said she didn’t like Jane, I wondered if Joan would be different enough?
  • Jude — A super feminine first name like Cecilia would pair well with the usually more masculine Jude

(3) More offbeat one-syllable names
Here are the ideas that might seem a little crazy, or a little cool (some may be too modern/trendy feeling for Mandi and her husband’s taste?):

  • Fleur — I really like this option. It’s literally “flower,” which is a cool connection with Rose, and the fleur-de-lys is a Marian symbol too!
  • Nan — Mandi mentioned Anne not working because of Cecilia ending in -a … if she really wanted Anne, Nan is a variant
  • Quinn — Ven. Edel Quinn has been showing up kind of a lot recently (I wrote a bit about her here), and I know another Catholic family that used Quinn as a middle in her honor
  • Belle — it means “beautiful,” and is so much less common than its sister Bella, especially in the middle. Lovely!
  • Reine — French for “queen,” which makes it Marian! I would say “rain,” but behindthename says it’s pronounced “ren,” which I also quite like …
  • Wren — … so I thought I’d suggest Wren as well, in the off chance wrens are meaningful to Mandi and/or her husband. I like the sound of it with Cecilia
  • Tess — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Tess as a middle name, which makes it kind of a cool spunky choice. It would be great for any Theresa they might want to honor
  • Sage — maybe too much “s” with Cecilia? But I read that the herb sage has been referred to as “Mary’s shawl.” The meaning of “wise” is also pretty great
  • Mair — a Welsh form of Mary. I would say it like it’s spelled, like “mare,” but behindthename says “mier,” which could also be cool
  • Mim — I know a Miriam who goes by Mimsey, so I thought — maybe Mim? One syllable for Miriam?

(4) A couple two-syllable options
Wait! Don’t disregard my two-syllable ideas just yet! Two came to mind that I thought sounded really nice with Cecilia and had great meaning and weren’t overly long (as far as two syllable names go):

  • Mercy — the Year of Mercy is starting soon, and the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Mercy are amazing connections. Cecilia Mercy?
  • Caeli/Coeli — this is definitely one of those put-it-in-the-middle names that no one would know what to do with otherwise, but it’s so lovely and Catholic and Marian. I say CHAY-lee, but I know of a girl from a super Catholic family named this and they say KAY-lee. And again, I love the C.C. initials! Cecilia Caeli?

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What preferably one-syllable middle names would you suggest for Mandi and her husband to pair with Cecilia?

Repeating names

Yesterday’s post about the Campos-Duffy family prompted me to look more into what people think about repeating names among siblings. If you remember, they used Pilar (one of my fave Marian names!) as a middle name for three of their girls, and Margarita as a middle for one girl and a first name for another. I’m just noticing too that they used Jack as a middle and John-Paul as a first (it’s the John connection that I’m finding interesting between them).

I think the majority opinion is that names shouldn’t be repeated? Grace (Camp Patton) once said, “Simon came up with Xavier as the middle name and I wish we’d saved that for a first name because I love that name as well.” In the Name Lady’s Can I Recycle a Middle Name post she describes it as “not an ideal situation,” though she also acknowledges that it’s not “totally out of bounds,” and “In fact, quite a few parents give in and reuse older kids’ middle names. You never know it, because they carefully avoid mentioning their children’s middle names at all.” (I would find that so hard! I love each firstname-middlename combo my hubs and I came up with for our boys — I’d hate to feel like I had to “carefully avoid mentioning their … middle names at all”!)

I know a few people who gave multiple children the same middle name — one family gave all the girls the middle name Marie, and two other families I know gave two daughters the middle name Catherine (but not all the daughters). There does seem to be a difference between giving all your children, or all your children of the same gender, the same middle name vs. only giving some children the same name and not the others.

The mumsnet thread Would you reuse a middle name as a subsequent childs first name? brought up several potential issues with reusing names — both using one child’s first name as another’s middle, and even repeating first names:

  • “many people have said to me that in the future DD1 may resent the fact that DD2 “took” part of her name. Or DD2 may resent being “named after” DD1″
  • “I personally wouldn’t do it, although the middle name we’re about to use is gorgeous and I would love to use it as first name, but I don’t want to hold it in reserve in case I don’t end up having another child to use it on!”
  • “I know a guy who is named (first name, middle name, surname) after his older brother who died from SIDS! That’s V weird!” and “I do know a boy who has the same name as his brother, who was stillborn sad and I know somebody who is pg who already have a DD but they are expecting a DS, and they are going to give him the same middle name as their DD’s middle name!”

I was particularly intrigued by the second bulletpoint — I think a lot of people might load up all their fave names at the front end of their family because of not knowing how many they’ll have of one gender — or how many kids they’ll be blessed with overall — and not wanting to miss out on using a beloved name.

Regarding the third bulletpoint, in the old days reuse of names from older deceased child to younger sibling seems to have been somewhat common. Genealogy.com says that,

Up until this century, parents could usually count on one third of their children not surviving. If a child died, the name was often used again. If a baby died, the next child of the same sex would often be given the same name. When checking birth records, you should never stop when you find the name you are looking for. You should continue for a few more years, because the first child could have died and your ancestor could have been the second child in the family with that name. If an older child died, a younger one would often be named for him or her. If you see George in the 1850 census as a six year old and then in the 1860 census as an eight year old, it may mean the first one died shortly after the 1850 census was taken.”

And we’ve seen how at least one Catholic royal family reused names with abandon, and not necessarily because of infant/child death.

I’m not sure what I think about the first bulletpoint. Probably that kids (big and little, adult and not) get in a huff about a million things that parents don’t think they will, and don’t get upset about things parents were sure they would … if I’d chosen to do this with names, my approach would probably just be to be sure to always positively talk about the choice we’d made — make a big deal about how wonderfully meaningful it was meant to be and a choice given in love — so at least if the kids hated it later, they would know it wasn’t done to upset them. And then pray for the best!

I’m also thinking that sometimes, as with one of the families I know that used Catherine as a middle name for two of their daughters, the reasons for using it were different each time — which then sort of makes it like two different names being used: one daughter was named after St. Catherine of Siena, and the other was named after Grandma Catherine. I myself would have used the name once and been pleased with the double honor, but that’s just my personal preference — I can definitely see it seeming like two different names in this scenario, even though it looks and sounds the same. It kind of ties into what Abby wrote in one of my favorite of her posts, The Secret Meaning of Names:

Some of the best names have backstories that are unique to the family in question. Mallory doesn’t mean sorrowful if your parents met in Mallory, Indiana. Then it means “small town where my parents met.” And if your parents happened to meet there because it was a dark and stormy night, and your mom had a flat tire and the repair shop was closed and your dad just happened to be in town for a meeting and suddenly, there they were nursing coffee at the Mallory Diner just one seat apart … well, then your name means “serendipity, twist of fate.””

And it ties into what I wrote in my Nameberry post Good-Intention Baby Naming: “The intention behind the bestowing of the name can be as important—or more so—than the name’s actual origin or meaning or other specifics.”

In the case of the Campos-Duffys, their repeating of names is so exuberant — one of you used the word “confident,” which was so great — that it really strikes me as not that strange at all. And the gorgeousness and saintliness of the names they chose makes me think of that royal names post — each one is sort of decadent and fabulous, really beautiful choices.

What do you all think? Would you (have you?) use one child’s middle name for another’s first name? What about other types of repeating — using the same middle name for all the children, or all one gender, or the names of lost babies (miscarried/stillborn/died when they were older) being given to younger siblings?

A few things before we *gasp* leave on vacation

I’m terribly sorry for neglecting you all yesterday! I meant to post and the day just got away from me. If you can believe it, especially after my St. Anne’s Shrine post in which I emphatically declared that traveling with little ones is very low on my list of things that I’m willing to do, I am getting us all ready to go away for a week with my parents, siblings, their spouses, and their kiddos. We leave tomorrow. I know.

We’ve never done anything like this before, but the opportunity to be all together for a whole week — which hasn’t happened in at least … seven years? I think? Maybe longer? was certainly not something to be passed up. My boys will be seeing the ocean for the first time, which we’re all excited about, and hanging out with their cousins (also all boys), which we’re all excited about too. We’re staying in one big house (all twenty of us) that has a washer and dryer and kitchen, so I’m actually not stressing too much about it at all. I feel like I really don’t have to do much more than I had to do for the overnight we did at my mother-in-law’s house last weekend. Maybe a few more clothes? I’ll let you know next week if I was right. 😉

In the meantime, I wanted to assure you that I will have a consultation posted on Monday — WordPress has the handy feature of deciding when posts post, so I’ll write it up before I leave and schedule it to post Monday morning. I don’t know if I’ll have internet access or not — I’m assuming I will, at least occasionally — which only means that I might not be able to approve comments from people who have never commented before, and that I’m not planning any posts for next week.

But I’ll be back with a vengeance after that! Hopefully I’ll have spotted some great names or had some great name conversations (my sisters and sisters-in-law are good like that) that I can tell you about, and there are some upcoming births I’m excited about (Jenny Uebbing I’m looking at you!), and a couple other things I want to blog about, so August will be fun.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And I’ll leave you with this, which is exactly the kind of thing I thought I’d find when I was writing my middle names article for CatholicMom.com (I didn’t find it though, and Barb only tweeted this to me after my article posted). I’m fascinated by this — have any of you had this experience or know someone who has?

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Reading round-up (middle name edition)

I was asking you all about middle names (here and here and your comments were so helpful and interesting!) because I wanted to write about them for my July CatholicMom.com column — it turned out to be a much bigger animal than I expected! My column will be posted on Wednesday — I’ll post the link here when it’s up — and I’ll be interested to see what you all think.

In the meantime, I came across some really interesting articles while trying to do some “quick” research of what I thought was a fairly straightforward topic:

Why Do We Have Middle Names? which provides a brief intro to the history of middle names in America.

Despite the warning at the top of the page that “This article has multiple issues” I found the Wiki article on middle names to be helpful as well, and the list it provided of famous people who go by their middle names especially interesting.

Also fascinating was this one, about middle initials that don’t stand for anything, and middle initials/names that have been entirely made up: The Quick 10: People With Fake Middle Initials.

In Why Bother With a Middle Name? by the Name Lady, I liked this bit particularly:

In some cases, middle names can perform clear functions. Families with common surnames rely on them to help distinguish their children at school or on legal forms. Middle names can also serve religious roles, such as linking the child to a saint as a role model for a godly life.

For other families, the middle name is a chance to honor personal connections. Some use the middle name slot to pass on a family surname, or pay homage a relative or personal hero. Others use it to reflect their children’s cultural heritage. For instance, American families of Chinese ancestry may choose an English first name and a Chinese middle name for a child.

And then there’s simply style. A middle name can make the full composition sound elegant for formal occasions. It can be a place to play, to experiment with a more daring and unconventional choice than you’d choose for a first name, or send a kind of secret message to your child. And some parents just love names and don’t want to stop at only one!

In other words, middle names serve all of the many, many roles that names in general serve, except identification. If you don’t value any of those roles, you can skip the middle name altogether…but don’t expect your child to thank you for it. Necessary or not, middle names have become so standard in the United States that kids without them can feel slighted.”

The comments on this post provided some good insight as well.

I’m always super interested in personal experience, so I liked this from the Catholic Answers forums: Does your child not have a middle name?

This was not entirely on the topic I hoped for (only the first paragraph or so was about names), but I loved it anyway: What That Middle Initial In My Dad’s Name Could Mean. I can’t get it to load right now (?), but there was a fascinating bit about (if I remember correctly) the bishop’s dad’s middle initial being “H” but there being confusion over what it stood for. One document said Henry, another said Harry, and his baptismal certificate said Hieronymus, which is Latin for Jerome … so maybe his middle initial was actually J? Fascinating, and a lovely tribute to his dad.

I thought this was surprisingly well written for someone who’s not a name writer: What’s In a Name? It includes a list of “naming features that might cause confusion” given that “Most Americans have three names: given-middle-family (which are called “first-middle-last” ). This means most officials and and clerical information-takers in the United States expect clients, patients, and customers to follow this pattern. When internationals present their unique names, the Americans are flummoxed because there are standard boxes to fill in, but the names don’t cooperate. Additionally, sometimes American names can create problems.” He also provides a list of do’s and don’t’s regarding others’ names, which I thought was quite good.

This is for more of a chuckle at the question asked than for the information provided: Do Catholic people have middle names? I think the asker was totally genuine and unsure, but calling us “Catholic people” and wording the question as “do they have to go through confirmation or something to get one? I don’t think they have middle names on their birth certificates” suggested a somewhat benevolent kind of other-ness about us that’s not something I usually find being assigned to me. (I mean, I often [almost always?] feel different from those I interact with because of my faith [likely a lot of you too, right?], but not in the way this article made me feel — almost like we’re a curiosity.) The answers are fine, and the one about Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox naming practices was quite interesting. (It would be great for the asker to stumble upon our little community here — she’d learn everything she’s ever wanted to know about Catholic naming practices! 😀 )

This was probably my favorite of all the articles I read: The power and peril of the middle name. It was both cheeky and informative, a really interesting read. It mentions the name “Gideon Oliver,” which I immediately fell in love with as an amazing combo (though I have zero knowledge of George Osborne, the Brit politician/current First Secretary of State who was named Gideon Oliver Osborne at birth, so perhaps it would be unwise to give a child his exact original first and middle names without researching what kind of man/politician he is? Just in case). (Nicknamey me also immediately went to the possibility of “Geo” as a nickname for “Gideon Oliver” … love it!) And whatever you think of our President, this quote attributed to him made me laugh out loud:

I got my first name from my father, and I got my middle name from someone who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president.”

(Barack Hussein Obama, in case you couldn’t remember his middle name.)

Finally, if any of you hold any sway with the SSA, can you please request that they start keeping track of middle names?? I think they’d be at least as revealing as first names, if not even more so, and likely a more diverse list as well.

This has been an interesting subject to research and learn more about this week! Please feel free to continue adding your stories/experiences, I love reading them all!