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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby Girl Wilkerson

Laura writes:
Since I realized I was pregnant while reading your blog, it only seems fitting for you to help me name my baby girl. I am due October 16. I really thought I'd settle on a name as soon as I found out the baby's sex, but here I am at 37 weeks and our list keeps getting longer. The baby's last name will be Wilkerson, but I tend to prefer Italian or Italian-sounding first names since I kept my (very Italian) last name and I want both sides represented in her name. The middle name doesn't have to be Italian, it just has to flow well with her first and last (and not lead to offensive initials, something my husband's parents didn't consider). Here is the list of names we came up with:

Giana Rafaela (Does this name work? My dad's name is Ralph so I thought I'd try it out - I like it best with Giana but I'm not sure if it's too much or not)
Zaira Jane
Sabrina Eve (Open to other middle names)
Lucia Isabella
Adriana (Looking for a middle name that flows like Marie...but any suggestions are welcome)

I'd like some middle name feedback where indicated, and (if possible), a poll on just the first names, and a poll on the first / middle combinations (one per first name - pick your favorite if you suggest more than one). Which name do you like best?

Thank you so much for your help!

How much do I love Giana Rafaela? HOW MUCH? A LOT, that's how much. Beautiful. Oooo, I want so much to put it with YOUR last name. Imagine THAT lovely rhythm! But it's lovely with Wilkerson too. I don't think it's too much: Giana is an unusual but easy first name, and you can call her Gigi if you want to. CUTE.

But you have a ton of good choices here---I can see why you're having trouble narrowing it down. Have you tried some of the Narrowing Down tricks? Like, pretend you've decided on one name. Say to each other convincingly, "That's it. That's the name." Then see how you feel. Disappointed? Sorry not to be using another name? Satisfied and happy? This helped me to narrow down my girl name when I had a list that included everything from Margaret to Magnolia: I found that one name appealed to me greatly, but not when I thought of actually choosing it for an actual baby---and another name I thought maybe I shouldn't choose (in my case, because it was too unusual) ended up ripping my heart out when I thought of not using it.

Another good trick is to think of what you might like to name future children, and see which of your current names go best with that style.

Another trick is for you and the other parent to both make lists ranking the names. It doesn't have to be 1-5 (though it CAN be)----you can do it like this, for example:

Giana 1
Lucia 2
Sabrina 3
Adriana 3
Zaira 4

And maybe the other parent's list would look like this:

Giana 1
Zaira 1
Adriana 2
Sabrina 2
Lucia 3

And then you can see where your tastes intersect most.

And here is my most useful trick: which one seems like My Baby? Picture your baby daughter in your arms, and picture each name on her. Which name makes you feel a rush of MY BABY? I have some names I LOVE but they DON'T sound to me like "My Baby"---they sound like Someone Else's Baby whose name I LOVE.

I don't shrink back from using a lot of syllables in a name ANYWAY, but I think Italian names sound particularly beautiful when they're long. Seven syllables for Giana Rafaela seems PERFECT to me. So then a name like Sabrina Eve is just a little disappointing. I would lean more toward Sabrina Gabriella. Sabrina Mirella. Sabrina Gianna. Sabrina Elena. Sabrina Luciana. Sabrina Bianca.

Same for Adriana: the Adriana Marie sort of rhythm is so pretty (Adriana Nicole, Adriana Celeste, Adriana Clarisse, Adriana Corinne, Adriana Elise, Adriana Louise), but I want less French, more ITALIAN. Adriana Valentina. Adriana Rafaela. Adriana Caterina. Adriana Isabella. Adriana Marietta. Adriana Marilena. Oh so pretty!

Well, and yet I like Zaira Jane just the way it is, so go figure.

Okay, let's have a poll! [Poll closed; see results below.] The poll will be for the first names, and anyone who has a middle name preference to go with their first-name choice can leave it in the comments. I don't even KNOW what I'm going to vote for---I thought I liked Giana best, but then I kind of talked myself into all the others with the middle name stuff.

Poll results (216 votes total):
Giana: 129 votes, roughly 60%
Zaria: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Sabrina: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Lucia: 39 votes, roughly 18%
Adriana: 21 votes, roughly 10%

Name update 12-19-2009! Laura writes:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my email - your advice was just what I needed! You made me realize that my tendency to pair a long first name with a short middle (and vice versa) was limiting my possibilities. I also really liked your advice about whether the name felt like it belonged to "My Baby". As much as I loved the name Giana Rafaela in theory, it wasn't My Baby's name...but Adriana Rafaela is, and it's perfect! Our happy, healthy, beautiful little girl was born at 1:09 pm on October 14, 2009, and she had a name by 1:15. Thanks again for all of your help!


Clare said...

I LOVE the name Rafaella. If I have a daughter, that name is on my list. Rafaella Lucia, in fact, so that's my suggestion!

Gianna -- I like, but only with the Italian pronunciation Jonna. Gee-Anna sets my teeth on edge.

Christine said...

Yes, Clare! YES. The Gee-anna kills me. But pronounced the Italian way I think it is lovely. Also as an aside, Giovanna in Italian is JO-vanna, not Gee-o. Now that I've stepped off my guinea soap-box...

I do love Rafaella. Love. If you like Adriana, you might also Arianna or Viviana. But I think you already have a list of names. I think that Giana Rafaella is lovely and works with your last name.

Anonymous said...

If Laura feels the same way about pronunciation as Clare and Christina do, she should be prepared for people like to me to butcher it left and right. (Clustering the vowels into one syllable is not instinctual...though I'd be much more likely to get it right on Giovanna, perhaps because it is more common and I've heard it more often.)

If that is an issue, I'd recommend one of her other choices, which are all straightforward in pronunciation (at least I think!). My favorite is Zaira.

Anonymous said...

Yea for Italian names!

I like Gianna and Giulianna (Julianna).

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Giana Rafaela is beautiful. But I honestly think all of the options are beautiful, so you can't go wrong!

Adriana is a personal favourite name of mine, but I'd be using it with a Polish connection (my long-time boyfriend is Polish); it's one of those names that is on many different cultures lists of names, I think. Definitely a beautiful name, and would be my second choice for you after Giana.

Deniselle said...

I love Adriana Celeste. Those are two names that I think are very attractive, classical and lovely together.

Giana Rafaela is also very nice, and I like the idea of honoring the grandfather. So those are my two favorites. Adriana Celeste goes slightly better with the English last name, in my opinion.

mayberry said...

I also have the pronunciation issue with Lucia. Loo-sha? Loo-see-a? Loo-chee-a (the real Italian way)? A shame, because otherwise I love this name.

Anonymous said...

Rafaela is completely gorgeous! It's one of my favorites. :) Giana Rafaela is a beautiful name. Definitely go for it!

Frazzled Mom said...

Sometimes it's best to go with your first instincts. I feel you have a nice name with Giana Rafaela - my only hesitation would be that I'm not sure it goes well with the English sounding last name, but it's not a real big deal.

I'm in sort of an opposite situation from yours. I'm a German/English/Scottish/Iris mutt with a long Italian married last name and I prefer English and Scottish names. I ended up naming my daughter Fiona, and it seems workable with my last name. The problem now is that I’m expecting #2 in March and finding another English / Scottish name that goes with Fiona and the long Italian last name and also pleases my husband who has been much pickier this time, has been a challenge.

Coincidently Fiona has a little friend named Gianna who has an English sounding last name - so it's all good.

Laura said...

Thanks for all of the great feedback, everyone! Since pronunciation seems to be a theme today, could you please help with Swistle's suggestion of Marilena for a middle name? I love the way it looks with Adriana, but since the post went up, I have heard 4 different suggestions on how it would be pronounced.

Scarlett said...

I'd say it Mahr-i-LEH-nuh

Mechi said...

I'm torn between Giana Rafaela and Zaira Jane. I love them both. Too bad you aren't having twins! :) I don't particularly care for any of the others.
And in terms of pronunciation, if you live in the United States, everyone's going to be pronouncing it Gee-ah-nah, no matter what you say. So if you don't like the way that sounds, don't go for it. Don't doom your daughter to a lifetime of having to tell people how to pronounce her name (and spell it, for that matter, because if its pronounced Joh-nah, people are going to spell it Johnna). I've been explaining and spelling since I can remember, and its not fun.
I'd also like to suggest, if you're brave, a double middle with Giana Zaira Rafaela. I know its three of the same endings, and that usually sounds awful (like Madeleine Caroline Adeline) but I don't think that in this case, it sounds bad, because they are very different beginnings. That way you can include Zaira too!

Good luck!

Mechi said...

Oh, and as for Marilena, I hate the way it sounds in english. I love it when I slip into spanish and say it Marr (rolling r's, like the word for ocean in spanish) ee lehh naaahh
with a total spanish accent. but pronounced the same way in english it sounds icky.

Katie V. said...

Great names! I really like Gianna Rafaela. Mirella and Bianca are also great. Oh, and Lucia (prn Loo-CHEE-uh)

One of my fave Italian names that I never hear used is: Tiziana. I think it is lovely and unique.

Tiziana Pearl
Tiziana Rafaela
Tiziana Mirella

Any choice from your list would be great though :)

Anonymous said...

Giana and Rafaela are NOT Italian names!
Gianna and Raffaella are the correct versions of these two names.

Erin said...

I'm a fan of Zaira Jane - so cool. Giana and Rafaela are nice, together I don't love them as much. I have always loved Lucia with the Italian pronunciation, but if you are going for something easy to explain, I think Adriana is your name. Adriana Celeste, as the above poster suggested, is quite nice, and I also like Adriana Noelle. I think a french middle with a different ending sounds awesome, personally, and goes a little better with your last name. Good luck!

BTW, do you like Gabriella at all?

Anonymous said...

I get mahr-ih-LAY-na from Marilena. I think it's super pretty with Adriana.

Swistle said...

I've been thinking of it in my head as "Mare-ih-LAY-nuh"---but then again, I also say "Gee-AH-nah," so what do I know?

Laura said...

The single letters in Giana and Rafaela are just a personal preference, I am not a fan of double letters :) This was actually something I didn't realize until I started the baby-naming process. I never knew I almost exclusively like names that end in "a" either. I'm glad that a lot of you don't seem to think that it's a problem to have a first and middle name with the same ending, these are great suggestions!

Anonymous said...

Giana is 'winning' the poll by a landslide, but which pronunciation is winning? We've been told that the correct pronunciation is "JOH-nah", but that the name will be pronounced by many as "gee-ANN-uh". It might be more helpful to the parents if there were a second poll specifying exactly which pronunciation readers are voting on.

I voted for Lucia -- same problem there: I was sort of thinking Loo-CHEE-uh while also wondering if Loo-CEE-uh is what the parents intend.

It seems to me that if an Italian name is sought, any such name should be pronounced the Italian way.

MAmanda said...

Giana is beautiful. Though when I read Swistle's suggestion of Caterina, I just swooned. Giana Caterina, maybe? But I also love the idea of honoring your father, so Caterina Rafaela? Oh, never mind, I don't think I've ever heard an Italian name that wasn't lovely. You can't go wrong.