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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Baby Girl Brown

Laura writes:
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.

Thank you!

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!


AmyRobynne said...

Aww, if by freak chance my currently-gestating child turns out to be a girl after all, we'll probably name her Audrey. And Margaret was on the list.

I was set to name my first son Jackson after my beloved (still alive at 92 today) grandfather. Grandpa's full name is Jackson Kenneth, but he's gone by Ken for most of his life because he dislikes Jackson. He got wind of this plan and told my mom that he hope I would change my mind because it's such an awful name. I've never heard him say anything negative about anything, so his hate for the name was pretty clear. I decided that if he felt that strongly about it, we'd do something else. The baby ended up as Peter Kenneth (I didn't love Kenneth enough to make it a first name). Peterson is my maiden name, so Peter's sort of a nod in that direction. Even if the mom is dead, I can see respecting her wishes and not using it as a first name, especially if she bad-mouthed it to everyone all her life and they have negative connotations of it too.

As for same-named cousins, my husband has a first cousin named Peter but we didn't think much of going with the duplicate name. He lived across the country, his parents lived 5 hours away, whatever. Within 6 months, the parents moved into town and he moved back and shared a house with my husband's sister for a year so we saw him all the time. He wasn't too happy about becoming Big Peter while my guy was Little Peter. If we'd known how often we'd seen him, we probably would still have gone with the name, but it would have factored into our decision. I think first cousins who are often together with the same name would be awkward. It's easier with 25 years splitting the Peters in our family.

M.Amanda said...

It sound like you have similar taste in names as I do and we have some of the same issues. My daughter is Catherine. Elizabeth is high on my love list, but my niece is Elizabeth (sometimes Beth). Even though I was fairly sure our daughter would be mostly Libby, I didn't like the idea of the confusion it could cause. Elizabeth was intended to be mostly Beth, but all but a few exclusively call her Elizabeth. No guarantees that wouldn't happen with my child and get very confusing, so we went with Catherine, who is known mostly as Kate.

There is another Catherine in the family, but she is 60-ish and goes exclusively by Cathy, so no confusion, but a sweet tribute. As awesome as the name is, with young ones sharing the name I'd advise you stay away from it.

Margaret is also high on my list for many of the same reasons - classic, but not overly popular and many nickname possibilities. Also, extra points for a family name. I'd go with this one. In my opinion, it's so hard to tell where naming trends will go that you may as well just go with what you like unless you actually see the name quickly climbing the SSA list.

Others on my list you might like: Teresa (Tessa)
Caroline (Carrie, Carly)
Lauren (Laurie)
Eleanor (you already know some Ellies, but what about Nora?)

beyond said...

I love Katherine and Margaret and Fiona. What great names! Some others you might like:
Carolyn Audrey Brown; Penelope Brown (love!)
Good luck!

Meg said...

Hey Swistle, I think you got Little Woman mixed up... the character is Meg in that. Don't know the other book so maybe you just switched them?

Meg said...

I'm a Margaret nn Meg and I LOVE my name.

That being said, I agree with Swistle that just because a cousin has the name Catherine doesn't mean you can't use Katherine if it's The. One.

Swistle said...

AmyRobynne- OMG, they actually use "BIG PETER" and "LITTLE PETER"!!!!???? AHA HA HA HA HA!!! ANY man would be cranky about that---at least if he were the Little one!

Meg- Oh, I should have been clear which Meg I meant, since, dur!, of course, the main Meg! I was thinking of when Meg has a daughter and they name her Margaret but call her Daisy, and that was the first time I knew Daisy was a traditional nickname for Margaret. (They name the boy John after his dad but call him Demi.)

Meg said...

I TOTALLY forgot about that. Right you are!

Leslie said...

I would go with Margaret. It is one of my absolutely favorite names; it's gorgeous, strong, and has a wealth of fantastic nicknames. The family connections on both sides are wonderful, too. If you're not sure you love it, I suppose that's a different story, but for me, it has everything a perfect name should have. For what it's worth, I don't see Maisie becoming AT ALL popular in my area (Midwest US), and I think it's a darling nickname.

Plus, Margaret Audrey Brown? Stunning!

Alison aka Baby B said...

Unless comment moderation is on, I think my comment was eaten by the internet!

OK, a quick synopsis of that comment, in case it was lost in the ether:

If the cousins will see each a lot, I'd stick with avoiding Katherine. Being Katherine B. (versus Katherine M., Katherine W.) is no fun in class. Sharing your name at home would be a bigger bummer. I share my name with a step-cousin and it is mildly annoying (Which one? Me or her? That sort of thing). Nothing too bad, but still, something to consider.

I love Margaret! The Maisie/Maisy Mouse association didn't come up for me, and I know a lot of children's TV. Perhaps Maisy Mouse is not as popular here in CA? I also like Beatrix, and nn Trixie only brings up Speed Racer for me.

Other names:
Abigail Brown, nn Abby or Gail
Dorothy Brown, nn Dot
Edith Brown, nn Edie (Ee-dee)
Lenore Brown, nn Lee or Nora

Also: Marilla, nn Rilla, or just Rilla. I read the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery and I LOVED the name Rilla.

Christine said...

Oh Margaret is a lovely name for you guys! I also like Fiona and the suggestion of Beatrice. And will throw in Dorothy (nn. Dottie or Dot) too. I love Dorothy but the husband has vetoed it. I also like that unlike a lot of other classic names that I love (Stella, Isabella, Sofia) it doesn't seem like it's rising too much in popularity.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Margaret Audrey!!!
Katherine is too confusing and I think you should respect the original Audrey's wishes, it doesn't sound like you love love love it either.
I like all the nickname possibilities with Margaret.

Abby@AppMtn said...

Have you considered Marguerite? It's French, and a bit much for some last names, but it would dress up Brown nicely.

Maisie is a fabulous nickname, and Margaret/Marguerite grows up nicely.

Even if Maisie catches on like wildfire, your daughter can always take another option from the many possible shortforms - Margo, Greta ...

I know what you mean about not loving Margaret. It's a family name for us, too - should we ever use it, we'll probably go with Marguerite even though we're not even a little French. :)

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note, but I think Trixie is the name of the little girl in the popular Mo Willem's book Knufflebunny. And she's definitely not a hooker. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the Trixie as a hooker just comes from Trixster, or turning tricks, so shes Trixie...etc. I'm not saying if I met a little girl called trixie I would think of a hooker, but I sort of get why the connotation is there. Anyway, Bee Brown is kinda fun if you were going that route, but it sounds to me like Margaret Audrey is your best choice!

EmJay said...

Just a note about the name Fiona. I have considered it for my own girls, but worry about the connection with Princess Fiona in Shrek. I'm not sure if it is a good or bad connection, but it is there to consider.

mamabear023 said...

I grew up with a Margaret with the nn Margie (mar-gee)...I was surprised to not see it mentioned as a possibly nick-name...maybe it is just "given"...but I still thought I'd point it out.

Kit said...

I love Margaret, nn. Maisie. Although the Maisy Mouse books are the only place I've ever heard the name used, I wouldn't let that be a deal-breaker. It's not like you're naming her Dora.

StephLove said...

I like all the names under consideration but Margaret best for you. It just seems to have the most factors going for it.

If you want more options I like Sarah Audrey Brown (maybe too popular, but pretty). Or how about Diana Audrey Brown?

Meg said...

I have to respond to the person who said Marguerite. My name was legally Marguerite when I was a kid and I changed it in my mid 20s. No one can spell it (heck, I could read at 4 but couldn't spell it till I was 8), people think that you've spelled Margaret wrong, it was terrible. Even using a nick name. My personal opinion is to pass on Marguerite.

Megz said...

If you like Margaret but don't love it, then how about Marjorie?

Personally, growing up as a Margaret everybody would give me nicknames whether I liked it or not: Maggie, Marg, Margy, Maggot, Margo, Mog, Moppet. I hated them all and the only one I ever liked was Meg (which no one called me and I had to ASK them to call me it).

I wouldn't worry about popularity issues for Maisie but it definitely reminds me of Maisy Mouse. While you may not have heard of it much, the kids she will hang out with may have, so you may find her getting called Maisy Mouse at school.

So my vote would be for Marjorie Audrey Brown.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Ok, do you seriously want a list of common stripper/hooker names? My mom was a striper for 20 years and my sister & I always hung out backstage with the "girls", so I know a lot of the more popular names the ladies go/went by (some really were born with these names but some chose them). Not to say that these names are inherently "trashy" or anything. Just that a whole lot of Strippers love these names, for real.

The name Candy was always popular. So was Cherry, Angel, & Roxy. We knew a boatload of Ravens and TONS of Heavens. Tawny was pretty big in the '80s, & Barbie has always been common. Lots of Ambers, so many redheads were Gingers, there were loads of Crystal/Krystals, & quite a few Diamonds. Many gals went by Destiny, many more by Summer (usually with Heat added on). Lola was big in Vegas, & Star was big everywhere. There were lots & lots of ladies called Paradise through the years, and Lacy was especially popular in the '90s for some reason. One name that's gained a lot of ground in Stripperdom lately is Blaze. I knew a few Trixies, but there were many more Brandy/Brandi girls about.

Swistle said...

Anon- EXCELLENT STUFF. There should seriously be a baby name list for this kind of thing. If Laura Wattenberg puts out a new edition of The Baby Name Wizard (and I'm already panting for one---she could put one out every year and I'd still be desperate), I'm going to suggest that as a new section!

Anonymous said...

Laura, I'm so sorry that your request for help with naming your baby girl has descended into discussing stripper names. What a disappointment it must be to see this among the responses when the kind of name you're looking for is totally opposite to that 'style'. I hope everyone will get back to the topic - Laura's dilemma about loving the name Katherine, but not having that option due to their only niece being called Catherine and their interest in other classic names like Margaret, Hannah and Elizabeth.

Swistle said...

Anonymous 7:38- Oh, FTLOG.

R said...

@Swistle - LOL!! and I fully agree - Laura is getting lots of feedback, one off-topic comment doesn't seem all that bad... besides - the people want to know!

@everyone else :) - I'm in MI and have no idea who Maisy Mouse is... of course my daughter is only 17 months old and watches almost no TV (is it a TV character or a character in a book?) and most of her books (of which she has TONS) are Dr. Suess, Sandra Boynton and learning colors, numbers, shapes etc... so I don't get that connection... personal opinion though - I wanted to name daughter Maggie - so it is one of my favorites... I love the sound of Margaret Audrey!! also love Meg & Mags as nicknames...

Patricia said...

I understand why you love the name Katherine. That was the only name my husband and I considered for our first daughter -- he wanted Katherine -- for him, a family name of at least 3 generations, and I wanted Catherine, just because it was my most favorite name. We were lucky that our daughter Catherine was the first grandchild in both our families, so no problem with the name being taken. If a few years later one of our siblings had asked if they could name their daughter Katherine, I'm not sure what I would have said. I know I would have been disappointed that there might be a cousin with the same name and would have hated my daughter's name being altered within the family to "C-Catherine" or anything else.

And while I think it's wonderful that you want to name your daughter after your husband's mother, I think you're right not to consider Audrey as the first name since she didn't care for her name. I think it diminishes the honor if you don't respect what you believe would have been her wishes about this. Were she still with you, it sounds like she would have discouraged you from calling your baby Audrey, while she may have been pleased that you want to include her name as the middle name.

So you've moved on to other names, and I think Margaret Audrey Brown would be just perfect for your daughter. Margaret is similar in style and history to Katherine and is a family name in both of your families, and although you say that isn't a must for you, it's certainly a bonus. I would look no further and just think about what nickname (if any) you want to use.

I like Maisie (it may be used someday in my family as a nn for a Mabel) and think it's darling for a little girl, but not so much for a woman. However, she could use Margaret as an adult.

I slightly prefer Meg/Meggie/Maggie because I think Maggie works better for an adult than Maisie, yet is still very energetic for a young girl. I would probably use Maggie.

Greta is another nice option that ties in very well with the given name Margaret. I would consider that as well.

Best wishes!

M.Amanda said...

I'd say that a whole separate post warning of the dangers of "stripper names" would be interesting, but Anonymous seems to have covered it pretty well. I'm surprised by the mention of Amber and no mention of Angel. So many people think they are being cute, but end up giving their children names that connote unflattering images.

Also, in my suggestions above, I listed Lauren, but now realize that would be just as confusing considering the mother is Laura. How about Jocelyn?

Annika said...

Margaret was our second girl name choice both times (not second choice, just the second name, if that makes any sense)--but first we had a boy and then we had a Grace. I think it is a GREAT name, and would have called her Maggie or Meg.

There is a prostitute named Trixie on the HBO show Deadwood, but I sincerely doubt that the contemporaries of any little girls born this year will know that.

I would not give first cousins the same name. My favorite boy name on earth is Thomas, and my SIL used it for her second son. (I fell in love with the idea of using it after Sam was born. I wanted Sammy and Tommy so bad!) So it only made it onto my list the second time as a middle name--which you could do with Katherine, but I think Audrey is perfect for that slot, for all the reasons you listed.

Safire said...

I have to chime in on this one, because my name is Catherine and my cousin's name is...Katherine! No joke here. Now granted, my cousin came into our family when I was about 3 years old and she was 6. We still love having the same name. Everyone calls me Catherine and her Kathy so there is no confusion over our names (she also came with the nickname). Now when we were teenagers, another girl was added to the cousin pile (the first girl of MANY boys, my cousin and I had been the only girls for years) and my aunt only wanted to name the little girl, Catherine! Well, she compromised and named her Caitlin, which is a form of Catherine. Then about a year later, another girl joined us in the mix! She was named Kaylie, which is also another form of Katherine. So it's just us 4 girls, all sporting the same name, albeit different variations. And we LOVE it.

So maybe you can look at alternate forms of Catherine (there are many) to use? Beyond Caitlin, Kaylie:

Those are the ones I like. Good luck in your decision!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about this mouse, but I certainly associate Maisie with "Macy" as in Macy Grey. That seems hipster to me...not nearly as classic as Margaret is generally taken, but not a bad connotation at all.

Anonymous said...