Ooooh, what about…

We decided to take a break from the debates this time around and go for something most parents (most people, really) love to talk about: Names. Where do they come from? Why did you/would you choose them? Come read our stories and share yours.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the newest installment of our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a little while). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Today’s question: How did you pick your kid’s name?

The Salgados: I love Lucy

It never occurred to me that we might actually have to pick a girl name. I was convinced I was a mother of boys and always would be, but the ultrasound said otherwise. Jorge walked around in a fog the next few days, “A girl, really? A girl!” like I was carrying an alien or something.

“How about we name her Peace?” I suggested. I really, honest-to-god, loved the idea.

“Ummm, no.” he said, along with our two young sons who were five and two at the time.

I was mildly devastated but kept looking at the baby name book. I kicked around Jamie for a while, but the only Jamie I had known was kind of mean and was, well, very easy with the boys and such. Name association kills all the good ones.

“Lila, Linda, Lucy…” I read aloud through the list.

“Stop! Lucy, I love Lucy!” Josiah, our oldest yelled. We laughed and kept going but the seed had been planted in his five-year-old heart, even our toddler was on board. Every name conversation after included a lobbying session by the shorties.

My due date was just a week away and we still had not decided on a name. The next day I was feeling particularly tired and weird. I called my midwife that evening to fill her in on the strange feelings, a sort of heads up that I might need her in the next few days. I didn’t think too much more about it. Jorge brought home take out barbeque and Napoleon Dynamite for a quiet Friday night. Forty-five minutes into the movie I realized I was having a very hard time concentrating on Pedro for President.

Duh, maybe it was because I was having regular contractions?

IMG_8515Everything was kind of a fast blur after that. We called our midwife who was on her way as we had planned to have a homebirth. A friend quickly came over to help while I paced and Jorge cleaned out the birthing tub. Before I knew it, I was on my hands and knees starting to think this baby was not going to wait for any midwife or a water birth. Our friend took this as a sign to take our boys to the neighbors, except they weren’t home. The midwife came and just seven minutes later the boys walked into the room just as I caught their new sister. (Yes, I caught her by myself; it was like the biggest, bad ass moment of my life.)

Their eyes wide as saucers and happy to be there, Jorge hugged them both and very spontaneously said, “Well guys, what’s her name?”

“Lucy!” They shouted at the same time.

She was never a Peace; it is almost laughable now. There was nothing peaceful about the birth, the baby, or our lives since that day. It was a perfect beginning and introduction to Lucy, who embodies the meaning of her name which is “light.” Chalk up one more to the shorties who always seem to go straight to the heart of knowing.

lucy joy-ness

The Catrows: A big name for our little man

When choosing names after I found out I was pregnant, Jackson was the only boy name suggested or even thought of. We simply always knew that if we ever had a son, his named would be Jackson. Case closed, no argument from either side (for once).

And when our child revealed his boy bits at birth (we opted to not find out the sex beforehand), Jackson became his name. Well, his full first name… which he is rarely called. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Aside from loving how the name sounded, it also had a good connotation for us. It’s no a secret that we love living in the South. Sure, there are horrible things in its history, but it’s who we are and it’s where we’ve chosen to live. So, I guess here’s where I’m saying that our son is kind of, somewhat, indirectly named after Stonewall Jackson. Wait, hear me out…

Stonewall Jackson was known for being a bold leader with unshakable determination. And he was also a liiiiiittle quirky. (For example, did you know that he preferred to eat standing up and loved to munch on lemons?) We loved that, and, in a way, hoped that our kid would have some of those qualities. When we combined that significance with the fact that we liked it and it went well with our last name, Jackson ended up being a good fit.

Conveniently, the name Jackson also sounded great when paired with the name Ross. Ross, as you may know, is my husband’s first name. It also happens to be his father’s middle name and his paternal grandmother’s maiden name, one that she got from her father who brought it with him on a boat across the ocean when he left Scotland.

So, now we have Jackson Ross, a little guy whose name serves as a nod to the place we love, a statement of our hopes for him, and an effort to honor our family’s heritage.

The funny thing is, despite all of the meaning wrapped up in his first and middle names, we actually call him by his initials: JR.

You might have noticed that there are tons of Jacksons around these days. Jack (which we went with for the first couple days after he was born) is also becoming more popular. Basically, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be tons of other Jacksons/Jacks running around the school playground with ours. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with sharing a name, but we both have fairly uncommon names and liked being “the only one” while growing up.

So, we ended up going with JR. Sure, it’s kind of a hassle at times. In fact, inquiries of “What’s your son’s name?” get an automatic “His-name-is-JR-it-stands-for-Jackson-Ross” from me just to save time.

But the name suits him. To us, JR sounds like someone you’d want to hang out with and someone you can count on; it’s solid, down-to-earth, but a little different. That’s exactly the kind of guy we hope our son turns out to be.

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Ok, your turn

Tell us what names you gave your kids and why…

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Patience Salgado

16 comments on Ooooh, what about…

  1. So our experience was quite different. One that even involved, surprisingly, a few irritated family members.

    We both agreed that we wanted to find out if our first child was going to be a boy or girl. There was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to know. I can’t say it prepares you anymore for actually having a baby, but at least you can daydream with a little more clarity. So at the 20 week mark we got the “I can’t guarantee anything, but I am 99% certain you are having a boy!”.

    We grinned like goofballs for the days following that and after throwing names around and wondering what the meanings were, we hit the book store to acquire the requisite baby name book. We didn’t want to get too crazy about it, but over then next months we kept a list of the names we liked and tossed them back and forth in hopes that one would eventually stick. So what happened? Nothing stuck.

    August showed up and when our brand new baby boy arrived on the 14th, we had no name ready to go for him. Knowing a few people that had been in this position, I knew that we weren’t in a terribly uncommon predicament, but I also knew that I would be asked what his name was like a thousand times in the next 24 hours or so. Within 12 hours the Vital Statistics lady called our room and promptly demanded his name. I told her we did have it settled yet and that we would have to call her later. She let me know that we had until 2pm that day (Friday). I remember thinking “Damn, is this what it’s coming down to? Hurry up and pick a name so the lady can do her paperwork before she goes home?”. So 2pm came around and we got another call. We STILL were not certain of his name. Luckily the Vital Statistics lady was nice about it and told us to deal with someone else over the weekend.

    As this is happening, every call to my cell phone included the now dreaded question. The pressure continually grew around this topic. I remember getting somewhat rude texts from my sister, giving me a hard time for not having a name. Then there was my mom, who ended up telling me that us not having a name yet was kinda strange. We really got this off to a good start didn’t we?

    So now our baby boy is 24 hours old and we decide on Cole for his first name. We even called him Cole for the next 12 hours and told a couple if people. But for a first name, we decided it just didn’t work for him. Somehow, by the end of our stay, Isaac was sticking and we really loved the meaning. So Cole moved to the middle and his name was complete. Isaac Cole (God Smiles or He will laugh and Promise are the meanings).

    I can’t say the journey of discovering Isaac’s name was anything pleasant, but the end result was worth every bit of the pressure and every minute of thought put in to picking his name.

  2. Our oldest is Leanna Ruth. Named after both of her grandmothers, Dixie Leah and Shirley Anne. Her middle name is the middle of her (still living) great-grandmother Marjorie Ruth.

    Next was Sarah Christine. Sarah, because my father always liked that name and never got to use it (though, he did tease one of my cousins by calling her that all the time). Christine is my wife’s middle name, though she never goes by Jennifer, just Christi.

    Last, but certainly not least, is Cooper George. Cooper was just a name I always liked, and George after my father. He died when I was seven, and I always wanted to name a son after him.

  3. I love these stories!

    I love, love, love the name George. I hope it makes a comeback, as a first name even.

  4. My wife and I don’t have kids yet, but I have a pretty cool story about my name!

    I’ll try and keep it short.
    My mother was going through a divorce and got pregnant by the man she was seeing. She decided to leave said boyfriend and return to her soon-to-be ex-husband. Part of that was getting the baby (me) terminated as it was still early enough in the pregnancy to do it legally in our home state. So, while waiting in the lobby for her name to be called, she swears that she felt the calling of G-d to walk out of the clinic and pursue a life with my father (her then boyfriend). Her being previously irreligious this was quite a change of pace.

    So, when I was born, she named me Matthew Blake.
    Matthew means “gift from G-d” and Blake means “Black, or bleak”.
    So the story goes that I was a gift from G-d in a bleak time in her life.
    And I’ve been a horror ever since :)

  5. That story is so intense, I can’t even handle it.

  6. I have a couple of rules of thumb that I apply to kids’ names. First, and I know it sounds pretentious, but always try out the name with a title in front of it; if it sounds classically acceptable, then that’s a good start. Second, do a Google search on what your child’s name will be, just to be sure that other people in the historical record with that name weren’t serial killers. :)

    For both of our sons, we used a first name that wasn’t “family” at all…my dad’s side of the family is shot through with men all having the same name, so we went to the opposite extreme. However, the middle names were definitely family names, honoring in particular one of my grandfathers and my brother-in-law.

  7. Jennifer C. on said:

    One of my favorite books is Mister God, This is Anna, and from my teenage years I wanted to name a boy “Fynn.” Once I got pregnant for the first time, I got a not-just-no-but-hell-no from my husband, so I had to shelve the dream. We tossed names around, but as I’m a Jennifer (boo hiss) and he has a Nascar name, we couldn’t agree on anything. I finally suggested Jonah, because it’s a familiar name, not in the top 100, and easy to spell, but it’s not Noah. He liked it, I liked it, and so we had a Jonah. My mom still called him “Noah” for the first week of his life, not that we tease her about that or anything. His middle name is my father’s first name; two of my siblings have children and each of them has a child with that middle name as well.
    The second time, Fynn got shot down again, so I thought about my husband’s family connections. His mother’s name is Judy, so we picked Jude as a first name. Jude’s middle name is my husband’s stepmother’s family name.
    Coincidentally (we’re not the Duggars), we all wound up as J’s, so everything gets three initials instead of two.

  8. Although there is an internal debate as to how we picked our son’s first name, I’ll give you my version since I’m writing the comment. Our three year old, Emerson, is named after Ralph Waldo Emerson. A man who used words like nobody’s business. Anyone who has the quote, sometimes a scream is better than a thesis’ is all right in my book! Plus it’s different without being too different and our other choice was Waldo.
    Our six-month-old daughter, Nora, is named after the main character of one of the first feminist plays, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, written in the 1890s. Although the Nora of the play eventually leaves her husband and children to find herself (breaks out of the doll’s house) which we hope our Nora will not have to do, we do hope that she is strong and brave and true to herself even when her ideas and identity doesn’t fit within the norms of society we live in today.

  9. I’m pregnant with our first and we’ve decided to keep the name a surprise until he’s born, so I can’t share that name with you (though I’ve almost slipped so many times and I love the name so much that it’s hard not to share it, but I know it will be so much fun to have a big reveal the day he’s born).

    But I will tell about the name I was almost given because it’s pretty funny and I’m so glad my parents decided against it. For a long time they were set on Wendy Macdonald Ellis. Can you imagine the ridicule I would’ve endured for being named after two fast food restaurants? This was before Wendy’s was around, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to my parents and Macdonald is a family name. Instead, they switched gears totally and went with Jennifer Christine, which of course seems to fit because it’s the name I’ve had all my life. There are a bajillion Jennifer’s out there which gets old, but I still like it better than Wendy.

  10. It’s weird to write about baby names when we don’t have kids and don’t have any plans to have one. That said, if we ever have a baby girl we already know what her name would be.

    We we got our first cat(yes, we have multiple, :-/ ) we were brainstorming names and figured out such a good girl name that we couldn’t use it on her. She is a great cat(with a great name, Audrey) but this name was a little too family special. The name is Grace Morgan. Grace was my grandmother’s first name and Morgan is Alicia’s grandmother’s married name. It honors both sides of our families and sounds good with our last name. So, if there ever is an accidental pregnancy over here and we have a girl you will get to meet Grace Morgan Farrell.

    But we have no decided name if said accidental baby would end up a boy although I suspect he would be named after one of our brothers.

  11. Thanks for the wonderful stories!

    When I was very HUGE and pregnant, we were trying to decide on names and had some difficulty coming to agreement on one. For a girl, the name he wanted was shared by too many kids I had taught and the name that I wanted was too common for his liking. We had no idea about a boy’s name but had plenty of suggestions from friends-you know, first names that rhyme with your last name and other sarcastic play-on-words kinds of names. Real funny.
    Anyway, what we did know was that we wanted a name that was easy to spell, easy to pronounce but not too common-strong and with a sense of independence-we could only come to an agreement on a girl’s name but still no boy’s.
    A few weeks later, our beautiful 10 pound daughter was born and to our surprise, our labor and delivery nurse had the same name we had chosen-Kate Elizabeth.
    Kate is such a fitting name for her-she’s often asked if it’s short for something longer-nope, it’s independent-just like we hope she will be. She’s doing a pretty good job so far. We’re super lucky and so grateful for her.

  12. We’re pregnant with our first, and settling on a name for this child is going to be interesting! It’s still too early to know what we’re having (we will find out, though), so we’re tossing around both boy and girl names. I like the idea of using family names, but, to be honest, I’m finding that I don’t really care for most of the family names on my husband’s side! (I mean, really, I can’t name my son Gene or Willard.) I think we’ll end up with a combination of probably one family name (a boy will definitely have David as his middle name, both my father’s and my grandfather’s name) and one name we choose from somewhere out there. That way there’s a bit of tradition and a bit of newness.

    Something I’ve found cute is girlfriends who want to know if you’ve thought about names, and then are sure to tell you, “Oh, we already know what we’re naming our kids… a boy is XXX and a girl is XXX.” I can’t help but think there’s a little bit of “Listen, friend, we’ve already got the monopoly on those names, don’t pick them, okay?” :) Which is fine. If we had decided on something I’d probably be spreading the word of our ownership as well. :)

  13. MidloMama on said:

    Tip for the to-be-parents: If you’re picking a name that is anywhere not in the “mainstream”, wait until after the baby is already here to announce it. That way people will have a harder time mocking it. When you’re pregnant they feel they can change your mind.

    My kid has the same first name as his father, and the middle name Lawrence, since it was my maiden name. I didn’t like it as a first name because I hate “Larry” as a nickname. Although I read in a book “Lex” can be short for Lawrence, my husband vetoed naming our kid after a Superman villain.

  14. ketilave on said:

    I did not realise until baby #3 that we had picked a Celtic name and Hebrew/Jewish name for each of our kids. Somehow we had just melded our lives (we found out a full 7 days after our wedding we were pregnant with #1).
    Baby#1 was a boy and so we carried our girl name. When we were pregnant a second time we already had her name – easy. A boy name we tussled with. Finally we had the perfect boy name but we did not need to use it we had our first girl, and then a girl and then another girl.
    We had 4 kids, (3 girls and a boy) some horrible pregnancies and some crazy births – VBACS, homebirths and the “leave the home birth because the energy is wrong” birth (oh and I am SO not hippy and have the shoes to prove it!).
    So, just before baby #4 turns 1 I tell my husband, ” I want one more.” He thinks I am crazy and so I suggest we go talk to our midwife so she can moderate. I tell them, “I know pregnancies are hard, I know I am sick, I know I am not the nicest person in the world but I have carried this name I.C. with me for 5 years. He won’t let go.” The response from my midwife, “he is already here. We have one in my family with that name.” The response from my husband, “how can you guarantee the sex of the baby?” My response, “He is calling to me”

    2 weeks later I am pregnant. 9 months later I am denying labour until a friend says,” please call I don’t want to deliver a baby.” True to form I interrupt my midwife’s family time. Literally, they all groan, “not her again”
    And, shortly after my midwife arrived so did our son #5.

    I held back naming him. Dear midwife had saif IC is already here. But I was committed to that name. I KNEW he was coming before I was even pregnant. I looked at him and said, “welcome to our insanity I.C.”

    The birth had been great and our midwife asked if we were ok. The kids were with us, and we had great friends and family around us so we sent her home to have dinner with her family.

    They called from their dinner table and said, “it is only appropriate that you name your son I.C.”

  15. OK, I’ll chime in. As a solo parent, the naming was up to me. I always planned to name a girl Caroline because I hail from North Carolina and my father and brother are both Charles. The international adoption community advocates for keeping the name at adoption as some part of the child’s name, so middle names were chosen for me.
    For my second daughter, I wanted to choose a name from my mother’s side of the family, which was tricky, as I am already named for her two sisters, her mother’s name was Maude, and she did not want me to choose her name. When I suggested he father’s middle name, she nixed it because we have a cousin with that name (as if there would be confusion between the two, four decades apart, with different last names!). We started with another masculine family name, but friends advised that an Asian-American in Richmond might regret being saddled with such, so back to Mom I went. Sample exchange: “I had an aunt called Lillian.” “Mom, every-other Chinese girl gets named Lily. Did you like her?” “Not particularly.” Finally we settled on Elizabeth, which sounds on par with Caroline, and was the name of my mother’s father’s baby sister who did not live to adulthood (slightly bad karma, but what can you do? My mom was dying). We decided we’d call her Betsy, easier to say and spell and nicely alluding to Mom’s name, Betty. They didn’t get to meet, so it’s nice to tell Betsy her grandmother chose her name.

  16. Laura on said:

    The name given to our only son was a joke that stayed in our hearts. My grandmother always called peple by there given names. No nicknames. when i introduced my husband as (IKE) she said she was glad to meet Issac. We laugh and forgot all about it ,until pregnant. when it came time to name Our son we chose the joke name because it came from someone who taught us to respect names. We ended up spelling it wrong. Its not how its spelled its the orligin of the name that matters.

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