After welcoming our second son last summer, I am done having babies. For many women, this decision comes with a lot of emotional weight. But I have known for many years that two was our number, and I embraced every moment of pregnancy and newborn life, knowing it was my last time experiencing those things as a mother.
Many people ask me if I regret not having one more to get a girl. (It is 2024; why do people still ask this?) No, I do not regret not having another baby, thinking I’d get a girl.
But what I cannot get over is that I am done naming babies.
My baby name lists started early, as evidenced by my elementary school diaries my mom keeps finding around her house 25 years later.
Later, I began writing for fun and went to great lengths to name my characters, even if no one would ever read those stories but me.
Then, the Sims computer game craze hit. How long would it take me to name a Sims character? Too long.
I also have a long-standing discussion with my mother and sister about celebrity baby names. I strongly believe celebrities can get away with naming their babies names that are a little “out there,” and I love hearing what they choose.
When I found out I was pregnant in 2019, my name lists for a real-life, actual human baby began almost immediately. We did not find out what we were having, and having two lists going was definitely the hardest part for me about not finding out the gender.
For our girls’ list, I kept saying I wanted a name that could be the main character name of a kids’ book about a spunky and ambitious girl, you know, like Junie B. Jones or Harriet the Spy. We quickly settled on the name Eliza – it just felt quirky and determined to me. Just like that, our girls’ list was complete.
Naming a baby boy was another story. My husband and I joined “Kinder,” an app that lets you and your partner swipe left or right on names and cultivate a list. After we had completed their huge list over several days, we only had one name in common, and when we saw what it was, it just didn’t fit.
I obsessed over our boys’ list for months. I poured over the Reddit page r/namenerds, where you search a name and they have told you the good, bad and ugly about every detail of a name that you never would have thought of. We finally settled on Dawson, a combination of my love for teen drama shows, and Jack Dawson, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic.
We kept our final names secret from everyone, including our families. I definitely suggest this to everyone naming a baby. After we had decided, I did not want to hear anyone’s opinions on it, good or bad. The names were ours.
I’ll never forget the moment I heard Dawson’s name said out loud. I was in a haze of drugs from my unscheduled emergency C-section. My husband was next to me as our son was born. After the doctor let my husband tell me we had a boy, I instructed him to follow our baby as they moved him to the area where they cleaned him up and weighed him.
As my husband was walking away, I heard the nurse ask: “What is his name?”
“Dawson,” my husband replied. And that is when I started crying happy tears. A real name for our real baby.
With our second baby, we kept Eliza as our girls’ name. I am not even sure we even added to the list. Eliza was our girl, for sure.
For boys’ names, I felt strongly that our new name needed to sound good with our first son’s. I do not think sibling names need to be matchy-matchy, but I do believe they need to sound like they came from the same parents naming them both.
After several stops-and-starts on boys’ names, we landed on Everett in the final months of my pregnancy.
And since the day Everett was born, his name fits him perfectly. How did I ever imagine naming him anything else?
Every now and then, I still click on articles about baby name trends. Dawson and Everett both sometimes appear as “up-and-coming” names, “throwback names,” or, in one particularly interesting article, as “cowboy names.”
I finally unfollowed the Reddit page r/namenerds, although I still look every now and then to see what the discussions are like.
My baby name lists will just be in my phone notes forever, never needing to make a final decision again. I am done naming babies.
And as for Eliza, our girls’ name we kept secret from almost everyone for four entire years? My husband and I have decided one day, we will get a dog and have to name her Eliza.