Thursday, December 10, 2009

What's in a name?

Earlier this week, Mr Bibliosaur and I picked out our baby names. I know it's still pretty early, but I wanted to be able to find out the gender at our big ultrasound next week and immediately have some idea of what we wanted to call them. Even if those names should change in the next few months, I wanted to be able to start calling them by name, like Divasaur.

So I popped down to our local public library, borrowed every baby name book they had, searched websites for hours on end (I highly recommend The Baby Name Wizard, Nymbler, and Baby Center), and started drawing up massive lists of favorite names. And then I ran into a stumbling block. Mr Bibliosaur wasn't interested. At all.

I was bewildered. How could he not care what we name our children?!? Eventually I realized that it wasn't that he didn't care (far from it!), but that the method I was using to find names - reading thick books full of tens of thousands of names and making long lists - didn't work for him. We were both frustrated because he thought it was a horrible, mind-numbing task and I wanted him to be as involved in this process as I was.

And then, as I sat looking at him one night, I realized something: he's not a list maker. I am. He's not an analyzer. I am. For me, it's not a task to sit and read every single one of the 25,000+ names in a baby book. I've been fascinated by names and their meanings ever since I was a small child - I used to regularly sit and read my mother's battered copy of The Best Baby Name Book in the Whole World for literally hours on end. Mr Bibliosaur, on the other hand? Not so much. I'd squeezed a few preferences out of him, but nothing approaching the list I'd created (which I was also having difficulty getting him to cull).

So I got a pack of index cards, and I made four piles of names: two piles for girls, two piles for boys. One pile was of names that we liked as first names for girls, while the second was of names we preferred as middle names. I did the same with the last two piles for boys' names, although for simplicity's sake I'll just show the girls:

I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but the first names (top) were actually written in a different shade of blue than the middle names (bottom). That gives you some kind of insight into my personality, lol!

Because I'm overly organized, I also looked up each name on the Social Security's list of baby names, noting how popular it was in 2008. We were hoping to avoid anything in the top 100 - I grew up with a very common name, and I'd prefer that our kids wouldn't have to be So-and-So #5 in a classroom. We did have a few names that were higher on the list than I'd have liked, but for the most part we were drawn toward less popular names anyway (including a surprising amount that weren't even in the top thousand in the last nine years).

Mr Bibliosaur watched me the entire time with a bemused look on his face. He always knew I was drawn to organization - I work in a library, after all - but this seemed a bit extreme, even for me. And then I gave him the piles of cards, and explained my plan. Clearly Mr Bibliosaur needed something physical to work with, instead of just a vague list of names on a page. So I was giving him something he could touch.

The middle names were spread into rows, and then you took one of the first name cards and held it next to each middle name as you went down the row, checking to see if it worked with any of the middle name choices.

And lo and behold - it actually WORKED! The cards gave Mr Bibliosaur something to interact with and made the names seem a lot more real. They also swiftly helped us figure out which combinations did and did not work it was a lot of fun to shout and play-wrestle over the cards when the other person used a veto and flicked one of your names off the table!

The piles got shorter:

And shorter:

And shorter:

 Until eventually there were just a few names left in each pile:

That's when it got hard. By this stage we were both pretty attached to our favorite names, and it took a fair amount of negotiation to thin the cards any further. We weeded out a few of the last stragglers by looking up their meanings - some we liked and others were just blah, so we kept our favorites and flicked the rest.

And in one evening, we narrowed our list from nearly one hundred names to just six. Three for boys, three for girls - so we're not quite there yet, as we need to get it down to just two for each. And as I said earlier, I'm fully aware that these names could still change - we could go through the rest of this pregnancy completely set on something, then suddenly change our minds at the last minute. But we're a lot closer than we were, and I'm a lot happier now knowing that the odds are good that when we have our big ultrasound in a week, we'll have something to call our babies. 

So what did we pick? Well...we're not telling just yet. But I will say that they're not any of the names you can see on the cards in these photos. :)


  1. I TOTALLY did the SS thing too! I think our son's name ended up being in the 80s. But as soon as we was born, all these people started telling us about kids they know with the same name. Ugh, whatever. I LOVE his name and I know NO one else with his middle name so for school we can just hyphenate it. My husband was into the chart making more than me though: he had us rank our name list (57 for boys, 42 names for girls), giving each name a 1-4 (1 being love, 4 being hate) and he did the same, then combined the two into some chart aaaaaaand I got lost. Lol.

    We ended up finally narrowing the names down to 3 boy names, 5 girl names when we went to the hospital (didn't know the sex ahead of time).

    Good luck! :-)

    *from SITS

  2. Of course I can't find the link now, but there's a site called something like The REAL Baby Name Rankings where a woman added up all the spelling variants and reranked, so e.g. Aiden, Ayden, Aedin, etc. are all counted as the same name. It's quite useful if you're concerned about picking a name that's too popular!

  3. My husband choose the name for our first child, and my mother in law choose the name of my daughter. I love both names my children have. The names really fit!

    I love your system by the way...and I see you are a December baby too. Mine was yesterday.

  4. Love it! You're just as Type A as I am. Luckily we only had two names chosen for a girl and at the end of the day it just seemed right to name her after our mothers. That said, I love some of the names you were considering... cannot wait to see what won! A few more days until your BIG U/S! Woot!

  5. Wow... you're like... my hero... thanks for your lengthy description! I might have to pick up some index cards on the way home...
    -michelle =)

  6. Wow! Very thorough. I did the index card thing with our wedding seating plan and at first, Mr. Pharmasuar, thought I was a bit crazy. Then actually got into it!

    So exciting to have your names already before the big ultrasound! Congrats!

  7. Your organization is freaking amazing!! I am so impressed by it. Why didn't WE think of that!?

    Cannot wait for the "big reveal".

  8. You are too funny!!! Btw, have you seen the REAL Baby Name List? I took different spellings of the same name and added them up. It changes the numbers slightly. I only went to the top 50 with it, but it might give you an idea of how popular a name really is. :)