This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Baby Girl Francis, Sister to Edward Russell

Stephanie writes:
Hi Swistle! I am a long-time reader (both blogs!), only part-time commenter, I'm afraid. I am hoping you can lend some advice on our current naming pickle.

So, the basics: my name is Stephanie and my husband is Taylor, our last name is Francis. We have a 2 year old son named Edward Russell--he was named before we even got married because of the immediate need to cure my husband of his thoughts of getting a junior. :) Edward is my husband's first name,my father-in-law's name (he goes by Eddie), and his father's name. My FIL is a junior, but I wanted to kiss my MIL every time we went through the first boy naming thoughts that she didn't make my husband a third--Taylor is his mother's maiden name (and quite useful as a name to go by, since his father was already Eddie). Our son's middle name is my father's name (and his father's name) so it's a neat, round about 4th generational thing for both names. Our son goes by Edward because I liked Ward and my husband liked Ed and neither of us could stand the other's choice, so Edward it is. When we "need" a nickname, we go with E.

I'm currently 15 weeks (I KNOW, plenty of time!) and we just found out that this one is a girl which has thrown me for many a loop, one of which being that I loved our boy name. LOVED it. It was Nathaniel Jack--Nathaniel is a name that my husband and I have loved for a long time, one of those rare finds where we both like the full name and the nickname, Nate, and it also happens to have been my husband's grandfather's name. Jack is my maternal grandfather's name and my maternal uncle's name, and also we both like that name very much. It would have made my mother very happy to have her side honored (she's sensitive to that sort of thing). Oh well, maybe next time!

Anyway, now we know it's a girl and now we have a slight naming predicament. I have always thought my first daughter would get my middle name, Katherine, which was passed down from my mom (she was named after both of her grandmothers). (You can tell, we are really big into family names around here.)

For first names for a girl, I want to honor a close friend's mother who passed away several years ago. This is actually my husband's best friend's mom, with whom I worked after college and she really just had a big impact on my personally and professionally. So her name was Caroline and we are planning to ask our friend for permission to use the name for our daughter--we are fairly confident he will say yes. I had always thought Caroline Katherine, but a few weeks ago I started un-warming to that combination.

Now that we are having "real" discussions about this, my husband reveals that he just really does not like the name Caroline itself. He doesn't like that it doesn't have any easy or good nicknames (he also doesn't like it because it's too close to our alma mater's rival university--Carolina--which is, yes, a pretty petty reason, though I do understand his point). Also, I'm really unsettled on Katherine as a middle name if Caroline is the first name. It just doesn't flow to me anymore.

So if we use Caroline as a first name, do you have any nickname suggestions and middle name suggestions? There are ZERO family names we would want as a middle name. His family has really terrible female names (think Hilda Pearl and the like) and there's just nothing we both like on my side. My paternal grandma's name is Ruth and I thought that was pretty, but a) he doesn't really like Ruth, b) my sister has already "claimed" it (and I don't feel strongly enough to fight over it) and c) my mom would be upset if my dad's side got honored again before/over hers. (Seriously, this is a true issue. I know. Trust me. But it it is.)

On the slim chance that our friend tells us he would prefer we didn't use Caroline, our backup name is Rebekah (nn Bekah). My husband LOVES it. LOVES. IT. I like it very much, and his love for that name is so strong that I do not have a desire to push back against it since I also like the name very much. I am not crazy about that spelling, but my husband STRONGLY prefers (he REALLY LOVES THIS NAME) this spelling to the more common Rebecca. My biggest contention with the spelling is just that it's NOT the most common and so it's likely she would have to correct people frequently. However, it's certainly an ACCEPTED spelling and doesn't look made up, so I'm okay with it. Again, he feels so strongly about it, I don't feel compelled to fight this battle.

If we used Rebekah, I do think Katherine goes well/okay with it. I'm happier with that flow than Caroline Katherine.

The other possibility that I thought of yesterday is the compromise Rebekah Caroline. I actually think that is prettier than Rebekah Katherine. Anyway, my concerns/issues--both pro and con--for this "compromise" name are: 1. I do so love the name Caroline itself. I think it's beautiful. 2. It would pretty much give both my husband and me what we want, although him moreso--I really want to honor Caroline and he loves (have I mentioned that he LOVES THAT NAME? It's kind of weird, actually.) the name Rebekah. 3. My mom. As mentioned, she is sensitive. I worry that she will be upset/get offended if I don't use Katherine or some other family name from her side. 4. I don't want to "shove" Caroline to the middle name--is that "honoring" enough? I don't know if that question makes sense, but hopefully you know what I mean. 5. On the other hand, if we use Caroline as the middle name, that does give a little more room to our friends to also use that name either as first or middle (to clarify: I don't know that they want to at all).

Anyway, this is a very long question now with lots of extra information and questions along the way. Nicknames/middle names for Caroline? What do you think about Rebekah Katherine versus Rebekah Caroline? What do you think about just skipping Caroline as a first name and doing the "compromise name"?

My husband just deployed for 6 months (so he will not be here for the birth! Hurray!) (That was a sarcastic "hurray" lest you or anyone think I am ACTUALLY excited about my husband missing the birth of our first daughter.) so we are at a little disadvantage in that we can't say the names aloud to each other and such, but we are both very much "get it sorted out" people which is why we want to get this name settled rather early on. So we can move on to more important things like surviving the next 6 months. :)

Thanks so much for your consideration and help!

Is it important that Katherine be the middle name, or could it instead be the first name? It goes so beautifully with Edward, and has such nice nickname possibilities. Then Caroline could go in the middle name slot, which is a nice place for a name that has significance but one of the parents doesn't like it enough to use it as a first name. Katherine Caroline Francis.

If Katherine should be in the middle name slot, though, then I would drop the name of the husband's best friend's mother LONG before I would drop the name that came down through your family. There are other ways to honor important people in our lives, so although you greatly respected your former co-worker, I don't think it's as crucial that you show it with your daughter's name.

Or perhaps just not with THIS daughter's name: another possibility is to save Caroline for a possible future daughter's middle name. The middle name slot is still considered a large honor, and in fact in many situations I think it works better. This idea does mean risking it not being used at all, since you might not have a second daughter---but it's my favorite option here, because I think the struggle to use the name Caroline is the main issue tangling up this current child's name.

So where are we? We have eliminated Caroline as a first name because your husband doesn't like it (unless nicknames such as Caro, Cary, and Cara would change his mind), which also relieves us of the task of finding middle names other than Katherine to go with it. And I'm strongly advocating against giving up the long-standing family name in favor of the friend's mother / co-worker name, which means we don't need to find first names to go with the middle name Caroline. This leaves us with ______ Katherine Francis.

I think Rebekah Katherine is wonderful (I love the repeating K), and meets all the preferences. It uses a family name from your mother's side; it uses part of your name you've always thought you'd use for your first daughter; it uses a first name you both like; it's wonderful with Edward Russell. And it gives you something to look forward to with the next child either way: if it's a boy, you can use Nathaniel; if it's a girl, you can use the middle name Caroline (or perhaps by then your husband will have warmed to it: Edward, Rebekah, and Caroline is a wonderful sibling group).

Name update! Stephanie writes:
I wrote a loooooong time back for help naming our baby girl (Rebekah; Caroline versus Katherine for middle name, essentially). Rebekah Caroline was born 2/24/12 (what a lovely birthdate for number nerds like us!) at 8 pounds, 5 ounces (the exact weight as her brother!) and 20 inches long. I really appreciated everyone's input and the discussion from the post. I ended up actually bringing up the Katherine versus Caroline issue with my mom and it turns out that Rebekah is actually a down-the-line family name on her side, so we went with Caroline for the middle since I felt like I wasn't "dissing" her or her family as much knowing that my daughter would have a family name no matter what. My husband got to come home early from Afghanistan to be here for the birth, which was the best thing ever. She is a fantastic baby and a great snuggler and just the most delicious thing ever. I have a very difficult time not devouring her daily. Thanks again to you and your readers for your input and help!


StephLove said...

I think Swistle really untied the knot at the heart of this one and I like both Katherine Caroline and Rebekah Katherine as potential solutions.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I agree 100%. It seems really critical in this case to preserve the family naming tradition. So I think Rebekah Katherine (which I LOVE - so strong and beautiful) would be an amazing choice, or, if your husband warms to Caroline, Caroline Katherine would be lovely too.

P.S. Another possible nickname for Caroline: Carly.

Anonymous said...

Just for reference, my name is Rebecca, and I frequently get asked how to spell it, so your daughter may not have much trouble with Rebekah.

Emily S. said...

Swistle hit the nail on the head. Great job! Rebekah Katherine or Katherine Caroline! My advice... wait until at least the 8 month mark before asking about using Caroline... You never know if you'll change your mind and you don't want to hurt their feelings if you decide not to.

Jessica said...

I love the suggestion of using Katherine as the first name. Both Katherine Caroline and Katherine Rebekah are great, though, since your husband likes Rebekah so much I might save it to use as the first name for potential second girl.

vanessa steck said...

It seems to me that if your husband LOVES Rebekah that much and you also love it, albeit not quite as much, it would be a great first name. And I agree with Swistle--seems far better to honor than Katherine than Caroline (or at least more important). Rebekah Katherine Francis is really nice. You could also do 2 middles, but that seems a bit heavy with these names--Rebekah Katherine Caroline Francis just feels overly long.

Another Erin of the 80s said...

I may just be making things more complicated with these suggestions:
1) if y'all are the type to like nicknames and want to go with a Caroline/Katherine combo you can always call her k-k (Kay Kay) or Ci-Ci even though you are doing a c and a k which is something that would bother me for some reason (starting one with a c and one with a k even though it is same sound)
2) every Caroline that I ever knew was nicknamed Lonnie (lawn-ee). Not sure if that would even be an option.
3) I love rebekah Katherine with Edward. I like "matching" the k from Katherine with the k in rebekah. When put together, using the "k spelling" of rebekah seems like the best choice

The Mrs. said...

Rebekah Katherine Francis gets my vote. It is classic, refined, and is your husband's favorite name! What more could a daughter ask for? Think of the beaming smile on her face when she says, "My daddy just LOVES my name." Precious!

Best wishes to you and your growing family... especially since you and your husband will be apart for your daughter's birth. Hoping everything goes smoothly for you and Edward at home and him on tour. Thank you for your sacrifice as a military wife.

Frazzled Mom said...

You already alluded to this possibility, and you know your friend better than any of us, but I would not discredit the possibility that your friend might want to use Caroline to honor his mother in the near or distant future. You may not mind that you and your friend have daughters with the same name, but then again you might. Personally, for that very reason, if I used Caroline at all, I would us it as a middle name, because I wouldn't mind if my friend and I had daughters with the same middle name or my daughter's middle name was my friend's daughter's first name, but I WOULD mind if my daughter and my friend's daughter had the same first name. And since you are seriously considering naming your daughter after this friend's Mom, in your shoes, I would assume this person and their children would be in my family's life for a long time.

Normally I don't think people who are not expecting have any right to claim dibs on a name, but in the case of honoring a family member, I would make an exception. I think your friend has dibs on Caroline even though he may be years away from having children and might not use Caroline if he ever had a daughter.

I believe Rebekah Katherine is the perfect name for your daughter. I don't normally like to make people feel obligated into picking a name to appease a spouse, but in this situation, you like Rebekah enough, and your husband is being deployed. It sort of gives me warm and fuzzy feelings to imagine your husband looking forward to his return home to meet his daughter with the name he really loves. In this situation, based on my limited knowledge, Rebekah just feels like the name meant for this daughter.

Patricia said...

For all the reasons Swistle gave, I'm in favor of Rebekah Katherine. It's a beautiful name and Bekah is a lovely short form. And most of all, it will make your mom so happy that your daughter has Katherine in her name too. Caroline is a fine name, but three generations of names that include Katherine trumps that for me. (Our first daughter is named Catherine Rebecca, both family names.)

Trudee said...

I know that everyone is pushing Rebekah Katherine, but you said yourself that you prefer Rebekah Caroline. You love Caroline, it gives you and your husband what you both want (to varying degrees of course) and you think the combination is prettier. The only issue then really seems to be your mother. To me, it really comes down to whether you can handle it if your mother is offended that you didn't use Katherine. I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't make important decisions simply based on what you think you're expected to do. I don't know your situation, but I would go for what I loved in this case. And my impression is that you love Rebekah Caroline, so I say go for it.

Marjorie said...

My sister is Caroline Aimee (french spelling of Amy meaning "Love"). We call her Carol for short, mostly she goes by Caroline which is such a pretty classic name. I like Caroline Katherine too. Flows fine for me.

Bella said...

I would consider Katherine rebekah for the name or Carly as a nn for Caroline.

Leigh said...

I also think that Rebekah Katherine is the best choice...but having said that, a friend of mine has a Caroline that she calls Callie. :o)