Early on in the pregnancy with our three year old, I felt free to discuss the names we were thinking about with others. I got; "Ooooooh... I HATE that name.... and here's why...." Then a treatise on why that was absolutely the worst name anyone ever thought of in the history of mankind would follow.

I've always been amazed by people with the cojones to make comments like that to someone - especially a stranger. I mean, when you meet someone new for the first time and she says her name is Monica* your first response is never to suck air through your teeth and say, "sssss... Monica is such a... common name, isn't it?". But I can't tell you the number of times someone in line at the Post Office would say, "What will you name the baby?" and then comment on exactly why they couldn't allow me, a perfect stranger, to go forward with whatever abnormally wrong name I was thinking about at the time and how it was wrong, Wrong, WRONG and no one has ever been wronger, Wrongy McWrongster.

My brother was always quick with whatever mean-spirited nickname kids in school would come up with to tease and demean her. I think he never quite got over having his named rhymed to a body part when he was in first grade:
"If you name her Anna, they will say 'Anna Banana'."
"If you name her Stella, they will yell, 'Hey Steeeeeelllaaaaa!'"
"If you name her Madge, they will say, 'Hey where's your Palmolive? You're soaking in it!'"

Yeah, some of his protests were a bit out there, but if you ever want to know how some bratty kid will eventually make fun of a name you're considering, my brother is the person to ask. The problem is, he can think of a silly kids' taunt for literally any name. He's even got one for my name - and my name doesn't rhyme with anything. So there weren't really any names that would pass muster with him. His opinion didn't deter us from any of the names we considered back then, but it did give us wholly new inappropriate nicknames for our kid. Bonus.

My mother just had ideas of her own and preferred flowers:
"Well, that's okay, I guess, but wouldn't you rather name her Lily Rose? Or how about Daisy? I love Daisy. Oooo... Amaryllis! Knifophia? ....Clematis?"

Friends had more visceral responses:
"Oooooo, I knew a girl named Julia in grade school.... I HATED that girl. She was mean. So I can't stand that name now."

Strangers in the grocery store also amazingly had opinions on what we should name our unborn child:
"Oh... Eileen? Tsk... I wouldn't go with that... too much like the serial killer Aileen Wourmos."

I finally figured out that names should simply not be discussed until it was all official. After weeks of grief, we made a blanket policy that we would not discuss possible names with anyone. ANYONE. No matter how close or far removed they were from our family. It was a bigger secret than the Manhattan Project. That was one piece of advice I gave to Monica when she was expecting: don't tell anyone the name. Not even me. I trust myself no further than I can throw me.

We didn't really settle on a name until a few days after The Dormouse was born. Until that time, we called the baby Spot and Rover whenever my mother tried to weasel the name we were actually thinking about out of us. This irritated her to no end and made me smile. I'm evil that way. But after the second day in the hospital, when the nurse came in for the fifth time with the birth certificate and a pen and my doctor announced, "You know after four days, all unnamed babies go home with me.", we decided that it was time to declare to the world what the name would be.

We had narrowed it down to several that we liked before heading to the hospital, but even then hadn't been able fully decide ourselves. I know it sounds weird, but with our first child we knew what her name was before she was born. She told us. I can't describe it so I won't try, but we were both confident that that was what she wanted her name to be. The Dormouse gave us no such assurances and if she knew her name, she wasn't telling. I was learning toward one or two, but completely without confidence about any of them. Once I met her, I pretty much immediately knew what her name should be, but hesitated because I knew it would be a source of consternation with friends and family. Ultimately, I tried to talk myself out of it but couldn't. It means something to me and I will be able to talk to her when she's older about why we chose that name for her and hopefully she will carry the strength I find in that name with her as she grows and makes choices in her life. I hope she'll be as proud of it as I am.

Once it was on the birth certificate, we figured people had to stop complaining about the name because now it wasn't just a random name, it was The Baby's Name. But even then, it was an if-y thing and we endured well-wishers who kept reminding us that we could still change the baby's name legally up until a year after birth. Did you know that? I did not.

My mother still isn't fond of it, and prefers to call The Dormouse by a version of her middle name. Which I think is great. One of the reasons we chose the names we chose was so that she would have options of what she wanted to use without having to resort to being called Julie A, to distinguish her from Julie B and Julie C in her kindergarten classroom. There aren't a lot of easy nicknames for her first name, but her middle name lends itself to all kinds of shortened versions and diminutives, all of which I like and use. I figure when she's older, she can chose the one she wants and have her friends call her that. It shouldn't affect us at home much anyway, because we more often used the pet names that float around in our house: porkchop, cita, dormouse, mug, goofball, kid, ratgirl... etc. (Yes, she will have a thick skin by the time she goes to public school.)

Since the last baby was Spot, we are calling this new baby Speck. We have learned our lesson and won't be sharing any of the names we are thinking about with any of our family until it's official on the birth certificate. Just don't ask.

*names used in this post are for the example only and none are actual names we were considering... please do not be offended if this is your name. Unless it's Monica - cause everyone hates Monica, right?