It was with great relish and glee that I purchased a baby name book from a large high street bookshop this week (after browsing what seemed like hundreds). My uncle has also just given me a second hand first name Oxford dictionary that he had unearthed from somewhere – it's about 25 years old and it's quite incredible just how different the definitions of names are put between the two texts.
Anyway, for fear of sounding like a geek, I shall move on. P and I had already been bandying about different names and weren't getting anywhere with agreeing – our (shared) opinion being that just because we can both agree that we "don't mind" a name, it doesn't make it the right one. We've currently got a shortlist of about seven to ten names (and finding out the sex of the baby has certainly helped). Some names we both like on a particular day, then the next, one of us may wake up and loathe it and insist it comes off the list. Some very close friends of ours who had their baby a few months ago told us that the name they chose was on and off their list a dozen times. In fact, it was actually off the list when she was born and suddenly they both realized that it was the right one.
We can agree on one thing, however – we have decided not to share this shortlist with anyone. There are a number of reasons for this – we want naming our child to be our decision and ours alone, with no outside influence, no matter how well meaning. When you tell people of your possible names, they will always give you their opinion on them. You can often get, "Oh, my old boss was called Oliver – he was horrid to me and I had to resign because of him!" or, "Egbert - that's quite an old-fashioned name isn't it? Do you think he'll get teased at school?" or even (the family classic guilt manoeuvere), "Your great uncle Cecil died last year, remember, he should be honoured by this generation..." (hint, not so subtle hint!).
Despite all best intentions, when you "put it out there" you cannot help but be influenced by the opinions of others, and before you know it, once you do decide on the name of this precious person coming into your world, you don't really ever know if you made that decision based solely on what you, the baby's parents thought, believed and wanted.
Another good reason for not telling is in order to avoid awkward social situations. Recently some mates of ours who were great friends were both having babies within weeks of each other. One couple had revealed their chosen name fairly early on in the pregnancies, meaning the other couple was forced to face the fact that they both wanted the same name for their little girl. The first couple to have their baby (which earlier than expected) were gracious enough to bow out and chose another, equally lovely name for their daughter. So it all ended up for the best, but did cause no small amount of heartache and uncomfortable moments all the same.
Naming a person is a massive responsibility – it's a special gift from the child's loving parents, and one that should be bestowed with the utmost care and dignity, and never ever clouded by the agendas of others. I'm hopeful that P and I will make the right decision, but if we don't, we may not know until the child is old enough (and hopefully assertive enough) to change it – at least we won't be able to blame anyone else for it if he does!
Did you decide to reveal your baby's name before she or he was born? What difficulties did you face in making your decision?