I hope that you and your intrepid readers may have some input and suggestions for my husband and me. We are expecting our first child, a girl, on June 27. We decided not to discuss her name with any family or friends, but sometimes feel like we’re going in circles, since it’s just the two of us thinking about this.
If we could name her anything, we would probably name her Katherine. We both love this name, plus it is my maternal grandmother’s name. Unfortunately, however, our only niece is already Catherine, so it’s out.
Our leading contender (for months now) is Margaret. Margaret was my great-grandmother (Katherine’s mother), and was also my husband’s paternal grandmother. One of the things we like about Margaret, independent of any family history (a family tie isn’t a must for us), are the nicknames. We love the nickname Maisie, and also like Maggie. I can imagine a little girl and a woman with these names, plus she can use her full name if she wants something with less whimsy as she gets older. My reservations are: one, that I like, but don’t love, the sound of the name Margaret; and two, that I am worried that Maisie may become too popular, although I don’t yet know any actual children with this name. For what it’s worth, we live in San Francisco.
Other names I like include: Hannah (my husband is not wild about Hannah and thinks it is too popular), Elizabeth (but I have at least three friends with daughters named Elizabeth, nn Ellie x2, Libby – too common), and Fiona (my husband tends to think this is too proper, or something).
Her middle name will be Audrey, for my husband’s mother who recently died. Audrey is not an option for the first name, not because we don’t like it, but because my husband’s mother never liked her own name. Our last name is Brown.
I'll start by getting two small things out of the way. The first being that even if your mother-in-law didn't like her name, you can still use it in the first-name slot. If she were still alive I'd agree not to use it as the first name because I'd wonder if she might even cringe a little to hear her own disliked name on a granddaughter, and of course you'd want to honor not only her but also her dislike of her name. But because she's NOT alive, the name is in her honor alone and you can use it as the first name if you like it. Well, unless she made you promise not to or something. It's a beautiful name.
And the second thing being that I think two cousins with the same name is sweet---even if the families are close and spend a lot of time together---and I think it leads to cute inter-family nicknames (such as calling one girl "See Catherine" and the other "Kay Katherine," which then gets shortened to Cee-cee and Kay or WHATEVER). I think it's significantly less confusing than father/son naming where the mail and phone calls and records get mixed up. But I know/understand a lot of people would prefer not to duplicate names, so I'm just noting this before moving on.
Taking those two things together, my first suggestion is Audrey Katherine Brown. Do you like how I just dismissed THREE of your specifications (that Audrey be the middle name; that Audrey not be the first name; that Katherine not be used) to come up with that? Probably next I will be giving you boy name suggestions and changing your surname!
I think the name Margaret is such a great and flexible name: old and traditional and dignified, a can't-be-wrong classic, but with some of the cutest nicknames EVER. Greta, Maisie, Meg, Maggie, Daisy! My primary worry with the nickname Maisie is the popular children's book/television character Maisy Mouse. Maisy Mouse removed the name from my consideration list just as thoroughly as another mouse removed the name Mickey. It's a positive association, but such a STRONG one. Definitely it's not a universal deal-breaker, but it's the kind of thing I like to think about beforehand when I'm considering a name.
As a childhood Little Women enthusiast, I'm leaning toward suggesting you use Daisy. [Edit for clarity: I mean Meg's daughter, also named Margaret, whom they called Daisy. Amusing: I didn't even think of Margaret/Meg herself. Hee!] (Plus, if it were my daughter I would then love love LOVE to buy her things that had daisies on them, like outfits and room decor and so forth.) As a childhood A Wrinkle in Time enthusiast, I'm leaning toward suggesting you use Meg. (I was especially charmed by the way her dad called her Megawatt.) Well, probably if you choose Margaret, one nickname or another will emerge as most RIGHT for her once she's born.
Hannah and Elizabeth do both seem too common with a common surname. I love the name Fiona; I think it sounds British, but in a sassy as well as proper way. A name that has a similar sound while being more in the Hannah/Elizabeth category is Felicity. Felicity Brown is wonderful. If you like nicknames, there's Fliss and Lissy and Flip. Two downsides: Felicity Audrey doesn't flow as well as it could, and also she'd have initials that spell FAB (it's a positive word, but I mention it in case you don't like initials that spell things).
Another name I like for you is Beatrix. I don't generally like first/last name alliteration so I don't know why this one appeals, but it just DOES: Beatrix Audrey Brown. Nicknames: Bea, Bee, Trixie. I've heard people say Trixie has hooker/stripper associations for them, but doesn't it seem too cute and sweet for a hooker or stripper? It lacks the SULTRINESS I would expect. It sounds to me more like a sweet little fairy, like Tinkerbell. Also, pardon my bringing this up in polite company, but how many of us are firsthand familiar with common names for hookers and strippers? (And if any of you are, would you make me a chart? Because that would be super-useful info! It's the only section I can think of that's missing from The Baby Name Wizard.)
So! To sum up! If I were you I would first run it by my niece's parents to make sure it wouldn't upset them, and then I'd use Katherine Audrey Brown: it's the name you both like best. Second choice Audrey Katherine Brown, given that your mother-in-law is no longer on the scene to dislike the sound of her own name, and everyone else likes it. Third choice Margaret Audrey Brown, with a wait-and-see on the nickname. Next choice, Felicity Audrey Brown, which I love even though it's not as smooth with the middle name as would be ideal. Next after that, Beatrix Audrey Brown, which I think has sass as well as adorableness (I would use Bee as the nickname).
What do the rest of you think? Lots of fun things to have opinions on in this one!
Name update 08-02-2010! Laura writes:
I am happy to announce the birth of our daughter, Margaret Audrey, on June 21. I loved your and your readers' comments and suggestions (yes, even the sidebar stemming from Trixie!). After she was born, Margaret just seemed "right" and I think we call her Margaret a little more often than Maisy. My reservations about the name are gone.
Our new quandary is how to spell Maisy. I had thought Maisie, but in practice we have found it easiest to explain "like Daisy, but with an M" to those unfamiliar with the name. Saying "like Daisy, but with an M and an IE on the end" just seems silly. We'll see... For now, our daughter's nickname shares a spelling with that nice little mouse!
Many thanks again!