How we picked a name for our baby
Max was always going to be a Max.
And when I say always, I don’t just mean, “since before he was born,” I mean, “Since before there was even the slightest possibility of him being born.” Because, yes, even back when we were 100% sure we would never have children, Terry and I used to occasionally have conversations about what we’d name those children we weren’t going to have. Er, please tell me we’re not alone in this?
OK, I’m going to just pretend you all agreed with me there. Moving on…
So, we’d chat about what we’d call our non-existent children, and, when it came to boys names, there was only ever one real contender: Max.
Well, I’d love to be able to tell you there was some interesting or amusing story connected to this name (My own name, for instance, was inspired by my mum’s friend’s dog. Which, OK, isn’t particularly interesting or amusing either, granted, but it does always make me smile when I introduce myself to someone and they instantly look at my hair and then go, “I bet I know how you got THAT name!” Um, no, I bet you DON’T, actually…), but honestly, we just liked the sound of it. So, yes, this has been another fascinating and insightful post from me, then, for sure. Bet you’re glad you clicked the link to THIS one!
All joking aside, though, while the main reason we picked Max’s name was just pure instinct – It was just The One for both of us, really – once I got pregnant, and picking a name became an actual Thing We Would Have to Do, as opposed to just a fun game, we figured we should at least consider some other names, so we spent a good few months debating the various merits of every single name we could think of, and actually reading the opening and closing credits on TV shows for once. (Seriously, I think most of our discussions about names were inspired by the names of Key Grips or Production Assistants on the shows we watched. Top tip for you there.)
We still just kept coming back to Max, though: and, honestly, there was never really any other serious contender. (Mostly because Terry outright vetoed ‘Orlando’. GAH.) So we thought about it some more, and decided that it definitely met the very lose criteria we’d set for choosing our baby’s name. We liked that it was a cute name for a baby, but also a cool name for a teenager or grownup. We liked that it couldn’t be shortened: we did have a brief flirtation with using a longer version, but Terry pointed out that my choice – ‘Maxim’ – is the name of a popular lad’s mag here in the UK (I was thinking of Maxim de Winter, from Rebecca, obviously…), and I pointed out that his choice – Maximus – would probably set the poor child up for a lifetime’s worth of teasing, so Max it was. We liked that it couldn’t easily be mis-spelt, or mis-pronounced, and this was a really important one for Terry: his surname is ‘Miaoulis’, and he’s spent his entire life having to spell and pronounced it for people (Only for them to still always refer to him as “Mr My-oolis’ …), and he was adamant that, if the baby was going to have a difficult second name, the least we could do would be to give him an easy first name.
So Max it was: from long before I was even pregnant, really. I’ve always thought that picking a name for another person must be one of the hardest jobs EVER, but, for us, it was actually surprisingly easy. Only, however, because we had a boy. Because, the fact is, we might have had a boy’s name lined up forever, but when it came to picking a potential name for a girl, we were absolutely lost. We must have spent absolutely hours discussing this in the first half of my pregnancy, and by the time we headed in for the 20 week scan, at which you can sometimes find out the baby’s sex, we were STILL no closer to having even the slightest idea what we’d call a girl. Nothing seemed right to us: or, actually, that’s not quite true – there were a couple of names we liked, but there was always some kind of issue that made us reluctant to use them.
For instance, we both absolutely love the name Ava – and, at the risk of sounding like a tragic hipster, we’ve loved it for years now: since long before it became really popular. It DID, however, become really popular: it’s been in the UK’s top 10 most popular baby names for years now, and I can’t seem to leave the house without hearing someone yell, “Ava! Stop doing that!” at their child, which was kind of heartbreaking for me, really. I mean, I know it might sound silly to discount a name purely on the grounds of it being popular, and we weren’t holding out for something totally unique (We obviously realise that ‘Max’ is fairly popular, too, but we don’t hear it too often here, so we were fine with that…), but Ava is just SO popular that we didn’t feel we could do it.
Which left us with a bit of a problem (Well, I mean, it didn’t really, because I was always 100% sure I’d have a boy, anyway. Didn’t stop me obsessing over girl’s name way, WAY more than was even remotely necessary, though…), because there really weren’t ANY other names we both agreed on. I, for instance, love French names like Elodie or Amélie, both of which Terry instantly vetoed on the grounds that they don’t sound nearly as pretty in a broad Scots accent, and would probably be frequently mispronounced. He, meanwhile, was holding out for a Greek name, like Athena, or… just anything Greek, basically. Honestly, I think if I’d suggested we just call the baby ‘Greece’, he’d probably have been fine with that. I wasn’t keen on any of the names he came up with, though, and he also vetoed ‘Aurelia’, ‘Aurora’ (Which, yes, also very popular right now…) and ‘Arielle’ (Hey, guess which letter I like girl’s names to begin with?). So we ended up with a complete impasse – and there we stayed.
By the time we headed into hospital for the twenty week scan, at which you can sometimes choose to find out the baby’s sex, we were still no closer to choosing a girl’s name: and, honestly, if Max had been a girl, I’m pretty sure he’d still be known as ‘The Baby Without a Name’ to this day. He was, however, a boy: which, although we genuinely didn’t have a preference, was actually quite a relief, name-wise, at least.
What I realised from all of this, though, is that there really aren’t many names out there – either male or female – that I really, really LOVE. There are plenty I LIKE, but honestly, while Max’s name ended up being a pretty easy decision for us, if he’d turned out to be twins, I suspect we’d have just had to call them Max I and Max II – THAT’S how indecisive we were about it, and how difficult I think it is to choose something so important for another person.
How did you do it, I wonder? How did you go about picking a name for your children – and how easy did you find it?