There's a book listing 10,000 baby names sitting on my bedside table. It's been there for weeks, daring me to find a good name for my baby who's due in a few months' time. Only no matter how hard I try, how much I want to, I just can't bear it. When I was pregnant with our now two-year-old, my husband and I spent months giddily coming up with lists and Googling our favourites for fun. At the time it was a game, a dream come true.
Although we found boys' names harder than girls', we gave our baby boy the two we loved best.
Now, at 27 weeks pregnant, the magic of baby naming has disappeared as quickly as my waistline.
What I wouldn't give to relive the feelings of wonder and excitement that came with naming our son.
The trouble is going through that baby names book again feels like reading the dictionary. For the second time.
Trawling through the seemingly endless alphabetical lists of names makes my eyes cross with boredom because, let's face it, they're the same lists I went through three years ago.
Why would I like the names I rejected now any more than I did then?
That's where our problems lie - our son got our favourite boys' names. Sure, if it's a girl we've got some ready to go but if it's a boy...well, we're in trouble. And so is our new baby.
Yet somehow there are parents of three, four or more children who come up with first and middle names they love every single time. Frankly, I'm amazed by them. Surely after the first couple of kids they must just be doing the baby names book equivalent of sticking a pin in a map? Or am I missing a trick?
Maybe I'm too fussy. I've got some baby naming commandments that could be holding me back.
A baby name shall not be used if:
1. It reminds me or my husband of anyone we know or once knew.
3. It's currently one of the most popular names in the country.
5. It starts with the same letter as my husband's surname.
6. It could spark a dodgy nickname for the poor mite.
7. It sounds different when said in my husband's accent (English) to mine (Canadian).
That's all reasonable...right?
After all, your child's name is important. And with one survey finding that 54 per cent of parents regret what they called their baby, the task feels even more daunting.
OK, I admit, the rules do mean we have to count out some lovely names. Ones we might even have chosen if only they'd started with the right letter or hadn't been the name of an old school friend my husband hasn't seen in decades.
But are we so wrong to want our child to have a name that sounds good and doesn't conjure up memories of some kid in primary school who used to eat dirt?
Amy, mum to twins and a pre-schooler – all girls – had to relax her rules. "We spent ages whittling down to a shortlist of four for the twins then each picked our favourite," she says. "I always loved a name that wasn't on my husband's list because he'd once had a fling with a girl of the same name! By the time we were expecting again, he'd realised the baby would make whatever name she had her own, so my favourite was on the list and we used it."
Becky has two boys and a girl, and she agrees that her options were narrowed when she came to naming her younger son. "It was the only boys' name left that we both really loved," she says. "All of our kids' middle names are family names."
Using family names is, of course, an option. But we didn't do that for our son and now, if we choose just one, I feel like we risk upsetting one side of the family.
The fact is, whatever baby name we choose, we're never going to be able to please both ourselves and other people. I've always felt that if someone else doesn't like our child's name, that's their problem.
But it seems some disagree. A quick browse of online forums warns me against choosing a 'marmite' name. Yikes. Adding that rule to the list might be enough to start off my Braxton Hicks again.
Which leaves me with, what? Frantically searching the credits at the end of every telly show for a name we hadn't considered? Clicking on an online baby name generator and crossing my fingers?
I really don't know.
Hopefully, some time in the next few weeks my hormones will take over and force me to come up with some lovely names. Or if we have a boy, we'll be hit by an epiphany in time to register the birth.
Above all, our baby's name will have to feel right. Which, in the end, leaves me with only one rule – we have to fall in love with the name. Because our second child shouldn't have to have a second-rate name.
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