The Perfect Name Will Find Your Baby (Part 1): My Daughter’s Name

Fiona Dawn's birth announcement.

Perhaps naming my kids was a bit of an ego trip for me. I admit it. I had to keep reminding myself that my kids are human beings, not fashion accessories. But why not have some fun naming your kids as long as you don’t saddle your kids with a name that’s difficult to bear? What’s considered “difficult to bear” varies from person to person of course.

As for me, my tastes are mildly fanciful, maybe a bit of what some baby name gurus call, “hipster.” I will say that neither of my kids got my first choice name.

My other half hates most of my names, and has toned down my “craziness” a bit. In 15 years, our kids will either thank him or tell him, “Hey Dad, why did you have to rain on Mom’s naming parade? I could have had a cool name.”

In an ideal world I would have five kids named: Felicity, Sylvie, Ione, Linus and Hugh.  I also really love Cecily, but feel it is too similar to both Felicity and Sylvie to be in the same sibling set. While I don’t plan any more kids, I still like to imagine having twins named either Felicity and Cecilia or Cecily and Louisa with a younger brother named Hugh. Or boy/girl twins, Hugh and Cecily.

At my age, I should have outgrown fantasy families, but I haven’t and thus I have a name blog. Where else can I share my little make-believe families with perfectly harmonious, fashion-forward names? Alas, with me real-life rarely imitates my fantasy.

When finally faced with the task of naming a real kid, I was surprised to find out my husband, Rob, was a lot more opinionated than my fantasy husband from 15 years earlier. Also, growing up with a one-syllable, three letter last name, I never envisioned I would have a five-syllable, 12-letter married name to contend with.

Suddenly I learned fate had intervened and my children’s names found them; they both got names that fit them, names which were not my fantasy names.

As a teenager, my fantasy daughter was named Felicity. I was hesitant to initially commit to Felicity (in my someday future) because I knew a girl in high school named Felicity. But then at graduation I learned she had my same middle name, the middle name I hoped to pass on to my future daughter.

I had a eureka moment! Someone thought Felicity flowed well enough with my middle name. Plus, I realized by the time I had a daughter, many years would go by without any contact with this Felicity from high school.

I got a little nervous when the show Felicity hit the air, concerned the name would get trendy. But that never happened! I became more convinced Felicity was the name for my daughter!

Until. I mentioned Felicity to Rob before I even became pregnant. I’m not even sure we were married yet when I told him our daughter would be Felicity. His reaction was, “Yuck. Oh no she won’t…”

I considered holding my ground and then I said Felicity with our bear of a last name. I began to re-think Felicity for our daughter. Oh sad day.

People suggested Felicia and Felice as alternatives, but they weren’t the same. The “Fel” part of the name wasn’t what appealed to me, but rather the rhythm of the “icity” part.

We named our daughter Fiona which was very loosely inspired by Felicity. I was surprised Rob agreed to it and I’m not sure he would have if he hadn’t known a real-life Fiona when he was a kid, back when the name was truly rare.

I picked Fiona thinking I was picking something artsy and exotic, but still wearable for a little girl or a grown woman. After I picked the name, I started hearing it everywhere and was a little concerned it might be an up-and-coming name, and found the Freakonomics predictions which fueled my fear.

Of course there are more important things to worry about than inadvertently naming my daughter the next Jennifer, but I’m weird like that. I have resigned myself to the fact that my daughter’s name is only 5-10 years ahead of its time instead of 20-30 years ahead of its time.

Yes, I really am a name snob.

Most importantly, Fiona probably won’t care whether or not her name is unique. She seems to like her name. Fiona also goes well enough with my middle name and our last name.

At least my daughter got my fantasy middle name, Dawn, which is my middle name and my Mom’s middle name. (As a bonus, Dawn also happens to be Rob’s sister’s name.) And my own Mom has said she likes the name Felicity, but Fiona doesn’t look like a Felicity, she looks like a Fiona.

Naming my daughter didn’t have anything at all to do with me, and everything to do with my daughter. The perfect name had found my baby!

Three years later I had a similar experience when my son’s name had found him. I will share that story next time.

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