The Minefield of Baby Names

Naming babies is an absolute minefield. You have so many memories attached to names. So, when it comes to naming your own 2 people’s ideas can immediately clash. Many of our conversations went like this:

No ex-boyfriends/girlfriends

Nope not that – she was absolute cow bag to me at school

Not that either – it’s too popular now!

And also, there are names that seem to fit adults: hello Keith, hello Gary. Also, Garys are dying out. Poor Gary.

When we first started thinking about having children way back in 2014, I knew the exact names I wanted for a girl: Georgia Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a family name and I absolutely loved the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison. I was absolutely set on these names…. until Educating Yorkshire came out and we realised that a West Yorkshire accent could mangle nearly any name (and I say that as a Yorkshire lass!) The final straw was a charming girl on that programme called Georgia said that “she may have stood on a boy’s head”. Name thoroughly out of the window at that point.

When I was pregnant with Alexandra, we had a white board full of names. Some family names and some brand-new ones. We didn’t know what we were having so we needed a list of names for both. I’m not actually sure where Alexandra came from. The only real-life Alexandra we knew at that point is very much known as Alex. I think Andrew had mentioned it in passing and on the way to hospital just before our world fell apart I said that I didn’t really hate the name and that’s how it kind of stuck in our heads so when we were asked if we had a name for her; that’s when we said “Alexandra”. The meaning of her name is “defender of man” and as we decided to donate her heart valves and tissue, it turned out to be pretty apt.

Naming Ophelia was a completely different ball game. After the pain of losing Alexandra we knew that we wanted to continue with giving our babies new names i.e. ones that hadn’t been used before in our families (that we knew of). We found out that Ophelia was going to be a girl as I felt that I didn’t have enough time with Alexandra as “her”. We had to hit name lists hard as we were floundering a bit. Andrew found the name Ophelia and I wasn’t really sure for the longest time. About 4 weeks before we were due to have her, I read that her name means “to heal or to help” and that’s what sold it for me.

And now how to name baby no.3?! We’ve struck on 2 accidental themes: Shakespeare characters and Greek names. Apparently, Alexandra is a bit part in Anthony and Cleopatra and Ophelia has a great big speech about flowers in Hamlet. Incidentally, Andrew got his choice on the first 2 so now it was my turn.

I decided to go down the Greek theme and start looking up names and whittled it down to 4:

Penelope – I was very much into The Big Bang Theory when it first came out. Despite my thinking I was a Penny when it came to Andrew and his friends, they pointed out that I’m very much a Bernadette and he’s my Wolowitz. My friend’s Mum is a Penny and she’s such an earth mother. Strong start I felt. Update: I recently went to Ophelia’s open evening for school and overheard a Mum telling the teacher that her daughter preferred to be known as “Penny” so clearly this name is increasing in popularity!

Pandora – I love the Adrian Mole books and even though Pandora was always just out of reach for our hopeless hero, I liked that fact she always had a goal and worked relentlessly to get it. Andrew hated this name. Vetoed. Adrienne was also vetoed. Adrian Mole just wasn’t going to give us a name to use.

Daphne – Andrew’s family are huge fans of Frasier and I liked another name with a “ph” making an eff sound type name. I also liked the water nymph theme as despite not doing it any near enough, I love swimming and being near the sea.

Ariadne – Now I thought this one had legs: the Cretan goddess of fertility. We love going on holiday to Crete and when you’ve had nearly 2 years of unexplained secondary infertility, then having a word with all deities doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. In Greek mythology, Ariadne leads Theseus out of the maze and helps him defeat the Minotaur. Ariadne leading us out of the maze of infertility? I checked with our friend who has an actual PhD in Classics to double check there wasn’t something dodgy etymology wise with the name… all clear on that front. I just needed to get Andrew on board as he was veering towards Daphne…..

So we were down to 3 names….. my friend’s husband is Greek and I asked her to get an opinion. He said option 3…. He sadly died as a result of an incredibly rare brain tumour In November 2020 and well, you can’t deny a dying man so that’s what sealed it for me. Now his wife the lovely Steph will have to correct me if I remembered it the wrong way round (highly likely!)

So as we all know, we ended up with a Daphne….only for Bridgerton to come out and have a main character called Daphne….

When we’re out and about and inevitably get cooed over in the shops, her name is always remarked upon by how lovely it is and that they haven’t met a Daphne. This is always helped by the fact that Daphne has a winning smile just like her big sister.

We’ve always tried to go for names that aren’t popular but with the best will in the world this might not always work out – my parents went for Claire as it can’t be shortened, they hadn’t taught a bad Claire up until that point (secondary school teachers) and they thought it wasn’t popular. I ended up being one of at least 6 Claires in my year and it was one of the most popular names of the 1980s!

Just goes to show that in most things, the best laid plans of mice and men….

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