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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: A Sibling Group Containing Loss

Danielle writes:
I am currently at 31 weeks and 3 days into my pregnancy with our 4th child. After 13 weeks of bed rest, we are hoping Baby Girl "_alone" will stay put 6 more weeks, making her grand appearance in late March (due April 16th). We are having an extremely difficult time deciding on a name for this sweet girl due to an unexpected journey to becoming a family.

We lost our first daughter, Finley Grace, in April of 2007 when I was 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Then, we lost our second daughter, Caroline Grace, in February of 2008 when I was 24 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Words cannot describe how blessed we felt to successfully welcome our precious boy, Crosby Fox, into this world in December of 2008. What a miracle he is!

I love everything about Crosby, including his name. Crosby is my grandmother's maiden name and Fox is my mother's-in-law maiden name. I thought of it as a boy's name when we were pregnant with Finley. It was the only name I ever really considered using during my 18+ weeks of bed rest with him. Now that we have had the privilege of loving him for 3 years, we love his name more than ever and think it fits him perfectly.

Caroline (my mother is Carolyn) was always my first choice for a daughter, yet, we did not use it with our firstborn. Caught off guard and with little time to process what happened, we used Finley paired with Grace for her name. Finley was a name I liked but didn't care for it with Caroline. We used Grace, not only because of it's meaning, but also because it fit with most names we had considered. While we knew we would name our second daughter Caroline as soon as we learned her gender, we did not decide on Grace as her middle name until she was born and passed away. It seemed fitting to give Caroline the same middle name as her big sister.

Herein lies the dilemma. Maybe I have set the bar to high in naming this baby girl but I want to love her name as much as I do her brother's. I would also like to honor her big sisters in some way if we can find a name we both love. Grace, Gracen, Graycen, and Gracie are beautiful names. I am having a hard time deciding if it is her name. Should I worry it could be hard for her to carry her sisters' name as she grows to understand the circumstances surrounding their short lives? Would she feel hurt if her name did not include them in some way? Just a few of the questions with no sure answers that I have running through my mind to further complicate the situation!

Here are some of the names we have considered:

Jane Claire (Claire is the middle name of my MIL, SIL, and husband's grandmother; would probably be a double name but love it on it's own)

Gracie Jane (probably a double name)

Gracie Blue (not because of Beyonce, but because my son refers to her as "Blueberry")

Lucy Grace (my MIL is Lucy, might be hard having 2 Lucys…)

Vivienne (Vivie)

Evelyn (Evie)



Layla (family name)

Although it is by no means a must, I like double names and could easily pair Grace with most of the options listed above. I also love Jane and think it could work for a middle name as well. I find myself stuck in a rut with this handful of names and would feel the need to explore more options.

These are names we like but can't use because of close family and friends:


In thinking of a sibling set, I am not totally sure about using another name with an "ie" or "y" sound. I really love the flow of Crosby and Jane Claire but feel bad that it does not "honor" the girls in any way.

We are so torn over Baby Girl "_alone's" name. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

This is a difficult issue, and one in which I think it might be a helpful exercise for us to think of the situation from two angles: one in which there are four children in the sibling group, and one in which there are two.

Thinking of the sibling group as having four members, I don't think she would feel hurt that her name didn't include her sisters' names. I think the stickier issue is whether, symbolically-speaking, she might have trouble with the opposite. Your son's name doesn't honor his sisters; if now your daughter's name does, it may convey the feeling that she is a replacement for them, or that her life must compensate for their loss. If they had lived, she would not be named after them, and this seems to me an important point: using them as namesakes emphasizes their deaths. Using The Baby Name Wizard's "Would I want this name myself?" test, I answer no: I would not want to explain that I was named for sisters who died before I was born. I would want to choose a different way to honor them.

However: your first two daughters both have the middle name Grace, and if you were writing asking about that, I would certainly recommend continuing that with a third: I think it's a sweet idea to have sisters or mothers/daughters sharing a middle name. This may give you the honoring/namesake effect you'd like, while including your third daughter in the sibling group with her sisters just as it would have if her two sisters were still alive---and without needing to use her name to memorialize them. And if I imagine being the third daughter, I think I would like sharing that name with them, and perhaps continuing the tradition later on for a daughter of my own.

Thinking now of the group of two siblings, I see that Crosby Fox has two honor names. If you were writing to me and you mentioned only him, I would suggest going a similar route for for his sister---though I would also assure you that many people use honor names for a firstborn and not for later siblings, and so it would be fine not to.

I think Lucy would fit the situation beautifully, if you did want to use an honor name. One of my children has the same name as his grandfather, and it has never caused more than a flicker of momentary confusion: very few people need to refer to both by their first names, and it's rare that the name is used in a context where it could mean either one. Crosby Fox and Lucy Grace: both honor names, and they work well in both the sibling group of two and the sibling group of four.

Claire is another family option on your list. Because Claire Grace is a little choppy (though I don't think it's a deal-breaker), and because you like Cora but can't use it, I suggest Clara. Crosby Fox and Clara Grace. Or there's Clarissa: Crosby Fox and Clarissa Grace. But changing the name does diminish the family-name tie, so these are more "If you like Claire/Cora, maybe you'd like..." suggestions rather than "Use a family name" suggestions.

Or Layla works beautifully just as it is: Crosby Fox and Layla Grace.

Or you could use Jane Claire (which sounds like it's your current favorite, and I love it too) as the first name, and perhaps having Grace as the middle name would alleviate the feeling that it should be an honor name. It seems a little choppy to have three 1-syllable names in a row, but I think other considerations easily trump that one. And now that I think of it, the first name would be two syllables, not one: it would be more as if it were Janeclaire Grace _alone.

Looking at your list, the name Violet comes to mind. Crosby Fox and Violet Grace.

Another is Genevieve, with the nicknames Gigi (from the first/middle initials) or Evie. Crosby Fox and Genevieve Grace.

Lucy and Celia make me think of Cecily. Crosby Fox and Cecily Grace.

Your description of how blessed/privileged you feel to have Crosby made me think of the name Felicity, which means happiness and luck. Crosby Fox and Felicity Grace.

Name update!  Danielle writes:
There were so many factors I was trying to weigh before I could confidently decide on a name for our third daughter. It was not until I was admitted and in labor that we finally made our decision!

I am thrilled to announce Jane Claire _alone was born on April 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm.  She weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.  She is absolutely perfect and completely healthy.  Crosby Fox is maddly in LOVE with his baby sister!  I was amazed that I was able to carry her for 38 whole weeks!!  What a blessing!  And to make the story even sweeter, we brought her home on her oldest sister's (Finley Grace) birthday!!  We literally came full circle.  It gives me chill bumps to think of it even today...

I appreciated each and every comment our story received.  It was extremely helpful to hear from those who had lost siblings.  It gave us new insight as to how our daughter may/may not feel regarding carrying on her sisters' name, "Grace". The comments also helped release any guilt I may have had for deciding not to carry on the name "Grace".  I feel confident had we chosen to use the name "Grace", our daughter would know she was in no way seen as a replacement for her sisters.  Finley and Caroline are a part of our family that we never want to forget.  We talk of them often.  Their foot prints are framed on our mantle and their shadow boxes hang on the wall.  Our conversations aren't morbid or sad. We just want Crosby and Jane Claire to know about their sisters and how their brief lives impacted so many.  Ultimately, we chose to use "Jane Claire" because no other names seemed like "her" name.  Every other name we considered just didn't feel right!



plantingoaks said...

I agree with swistle. I would not want to be named after my sibling if they were alive, and I don't think that them passing changes that.

Three shared middle names is a more neutral case. If it is very meaningful to you, I don't think it would be a bad thing necessarily, but I don't think you should feel compelled to continue it either. I don't think having a name unique from her siblings will cause your daughter to feel left out.

Personally, I very much prefer Claire as a middle name. Jane and Grace are names I like as well, it just feels that Grace has a bit too much baggage in this situation (and I have always personally felt wary of using it myself on the chance that the child would grow up clumsy and resent the irony).

Another name I think of in the same vein as Grace, and Jane is Rose.

I'm also a big fan of Cecily, which I think works very well with your son's name. Maybe Cecily Claire or Cecily Blue? The connection to your son is very sweet, and while Beyonce is trendy now, nobody will remember in a few years.

StephLove said...

I like the Grace in the middle for you: Clara Grace, Layla Grace or Lucy Grace.

StephLove said...

Another thought: If you want to use Jane Claire as a double name with another middle, Jane-Claire Grace makes it clear what's the first name and what's the middle name.

vanessa said...

I have a hyphenated first name, although because it is long (Vanessa-Sarah) I use just the first name. However, as the PP said, using a hyphen here might make things a lot easier--Jane-Claire (actually I would spell it Jane-Clare, which just looks better to me ;) Grace is really nice. Jane-Clare Grace. I like it.

My general OCD ness makes me want to push you to use an F name, because the pattern has been Finley, Caroline, Crosby, and....
so I'd be very tempted to use F. Swistle's suggestion of Felicity is great. Felicity Grace, although that is VERY close to Finley Grace. But I'm not sure if that matters, because you wouldn't be saying both full names together very often. (also, Fliss is the cutest nickname possibly ever). I also think Felicity Jane is lovely. Or you could do a double middle name--Felicity Grace-Jane? Something like that?

well. I seem to have written rather a LOT, here. Please let us know!

Anonymous said...

I agree with swistle that it may not be best to use Grace or a variation of Grace as a first name. I like her point that if they had lived this girl would not be named after them, so using the name in a way emphasizes their death. I think it could be a hard thing for a little girl to live with. I do like the idea of continuing the theme of grace as a middle name. Another idea would be to use a name that means grace so it's a more subtle tie. Anne, Anna and Hannah mean grace, I think any of those could work as a first or middle name. There are many more names that mean grace, those are just some i can think of off the top of my head.. But, of the suggestions I love Lucy Grace with Crosby, love Claire, and Felicity too! I think those would all be great!

Annie said...

I love Jane Claire, too, and am also submitting an especially fond vote for Vivienne from your list :)

A thought that occurred to me as far as honoring your two sweet daughters in this little girl's name is using another virtue or emotion name in the middle name slot that represents how you are feeling during this pregnancy. Hope or Joy might be options, but of course it's so personal based upon your thoughts. That way she would know part of her name was inspired by her two big sisters, but the feelings you had while expecting her were all because of her as an individual.

Anonymous said...

I am part of a sibset with a missing member. There is so much pressure to live for the other who didn't... never implied by our parents, but felt nonetheless... I would strongly advise against using Grace. Baby girl "alone" will never forget her sisters. Celebrate the joy of her, or the luck. Please tell her that you value her for more than just filling the void her sisters left.

Anonymous said...

To break up the choppiness of Jane Claire Grace, you could use Clara-Jane Grace. But perhaps that lessens the namesake for you? I also like the pp's suggestion of an F name. Crosby & Caroline and Finley & F_. Faith could work & would mirror her sister's middle name Grace. I like Swistle's suggestion of Felicity but worry it might be too close to Finley in sound-maybe Felice or Felicia? You mentioned Cora, so maybe Flora? Flora makes me think of Fiona--or Fern?

Annie said...

I love Jane Claire, too, and am also submitting an especially fond vote for Vivienne from your list :)

A thought that occurred to me as far as honoring your two sweet daughters in this little girl's name is using another virtue or emotion name in the middle name slot that represents how you are feeling during this pregnancy. Hope or Joy might be options, but of course it's so personal based upon your thoughts. That way she would know part of her name was inspired by her two big sisters, but the feelings you had while expecting her were all because of her as an individual.

Annie said...
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Anonymous said...

Danielle!!! How fun to pull up this website and read a post from a friend!! (This is the second time that's happened to me. KG wrote here for help with Finn's name.)

I was just about to call and check in on you and Baby Girl. Let me know if you need another Chicken Pot Pie. :) I hate that your bedrest has continued but am SO THANKFUL that you and Baby Girl are doing well. Praying for at least 6 more weeks of "staying put" :)

OK--back to names. First of all, I want to say that you and your hubby do a FABULOUS job of honoring Finley and Caroline. I love the many ways you do that. They will always be a part of your family and you guys do a beautiful job of honoring them throughout the year. I say that because I don't want you to put pressure on yourself or Baby Girl when you already do a beautiful job of honoring their lives. Baby Girl will be able to participate in those same traditions, just like her big brother does.

To Swistle's point of Crosby not being named after them, I think it would be better for Baby Girl to not share their name but share in the family traditions of honoring them like the rest of you do now. That would help her not feel an unintentional burden of replacing or living for them. I have not walked your journey, so I can only offer an outsiders perspective/opinion. I see you doing a fabulous job of loving ALL your babies.

I love that Finley and Caroline share a middle name. I wonder if Crosby and Baby Girl could do the same? Or maybe share a similar kind of name. Are there any other maiden names in your family that you could use? (yours or your moms?) Then Crosby and Baby Girl could have that bond of family maiden names as middle names. Just a thought.

I love the names you suggested! You are a GREAT namer! I can't wait to hear what you decide.....and I REALLY can't wait to meet this precious girl!!!

Mainly, I just want to encourage you to not feel pressured to "do more". You truly do honor your first two daughters so well!!!

Love you, friend!!


Gail said...

Well, my suggestion is Vivienne Claire. I'm not sure it solves any of the issues on the table, I simply love it and think it's a great match for Crosby Fox. Which, btw, is just an awesome name.

I, too am part of a sibset with a missing member, in my case a baby brother who came before me and only lived two months. I feel close to him in ways difficult to describe, that don't necessarily make sense. He had a beautiful name, but one very different from either my own or my other brother's. I like that we each have a unique name chosen just for us. I guess I'm saying that what's intended in honoring is to facilitate or create the possibility of intimate remembrance, and what facilitated this in my family was the memories that were shared about my brother's life and his passing, especially by our mother.

The very best to you and your family.....

Anonymous said...

An acquaintance lost her daughter several years ago. She had another baby girl recently, and gave her a name that referred to her lost daughter. When I heard it, my reaction was alarm and concern: it felt wrong, and caused me to wonder things I wouldn't otherwise have wondered about.

The shared middle name Grace wouldn't give me that same feeling, but it's close. Anything more than that (such as putting Grace in the first name, and/or any talk about "honoring her sisters") does give me that feeling: concern for the parents, and concern for the new baby.

Erin said...

I usually just lurk around here, but actually had something to say! : )

If you wanted to use a double name with Grace, and love the name Jane, I may have a suggestion. While Jane Grace sounds a bit choppy, what about Jania (Jane-uh) Grace? Or Jania Clarie Grace that way it isn't 3 one syllable names. I really like the way it sounds, personally! I also like Swistle's suggestion of Genevieve Grace. Or Geneva Grace, and you could still use the nickname Evie you like from Evelyn. Also, I really like Cecily Grace.

Good luck on naming your new little blessing!

Annie said...

I posted a comment earlier, and even though I rarely comment here (mainly because I'm apparently part robot and always have a hard time passing the word verification test :]), I'm back for a second comment! It occurred to me that you've already established a middle name "tradition" with your first three...they're all "word" names! So following up to my comment about maybe using a virtue or emotion name, I also love the idea of using ANY word name. Whether it's a virtue/emotion, or a word name like Dove or Ruby or Rose or Blue, she would have a connection to a naming tradition shared by her sisters AND her brother. And since Blue is already in your list of contenders (with a super sweet story to go with it!), I'm adding a vote for that name :) And I'm also going to readdress my fondness for Vivienne for you...Vivie Blue is super sweet!

Anonymous said...

I hate to make your naming dilemmas any more complicated, but I'm just wondering whether you're considering or planning to have any more children after Baby Girl. I just thought that thinking about that might provide some clarity as to how to or whether to use Grace in some capacity.

Also I wanted to suggest Fiona as a possibility. Since Crosby and Caroline start with C, Finley could be honoured with another F name, and I hadn't seen the spunky, strong Fiona suggested yet. Fiona Vivienne, Fiona Claire, Fiona Jane, Fiona Grace - all lovely, I think.

Also, there are many Lucy variants that might appeal to you to honour Lucy without repeating her name exactly - Lucia, Luciana, Lucienne, Lucille.

Wishing you well!

Angela said...

I share a middle name with the sister who passed away before I was born, and I always felt that it was a special connection between myself and her, and even between myself and my parents because of it. (Like a previous poster mentioned, it's hard to explain how I feel close to someone who died before I was born, but I really do). My parents confided the circumstances of her birth to me and took me to visit her grave when I was a teenager.

I also have a set of cousins in which all three of the girls have the same middle name as their mother, and they all love it and want to continue the tradition in their families.

So I say that you should definitely use Grace for a middle name, both to honor your lost daughters and to create a special connection between all the girls.

Mary said...

I like the idea of using another virtue name for your daughter that expresses your joy over her birth, which would still link her with her sisters. On the other hand, your son's name is not related to the girls' names so why then 'put' that on your daughter to be, just because she's a girl? For that reason I like the idea of another word name to connect all four siblings together.

I especially like the suggestions of Vivienne Claire, and Vivienne Blue.

I also like

Evelyn Bliss, Layla Sunrise (a bit too hippy maybe?), Vivienne Amity, Jane Claire Reverie,

Nicole Trager said...

I am with the majority here, dont use Grace or a variation in the first spot because your boy doesnt honor his sisters either. I think using Grace in the middle is a good option or going with just family names. I do really like the suggestion of Clara-Jane Grace. Good luck

Ariane said...
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Anonymouse said...

I love the idea of honoring the sisters and it does not seem creepy to me at all nor does it feel like it would be burdening this baby girl with something additional. I think it is a sweet connection point.

I also adore the double name Gracie Claire.

If you didn't do something with Grace, it does seem like using an "F" name would make sense since you have Finley, Caroline and Crosby Fox.

Faith Claire is a great FC double name that also pulls in a virtue name that isn't Grace and that I imagine would be applicable to your family/journey. I also love Farrah for an F name.

Sally said...

Have you considered the name Graciela? I knew a lovely girl from South America with that name; when she said it it sounded like Grace-ella. (I think the American pronounciation would probably end up sounding more like gracie-ella, maybe not the sound you're going for!) The simple Grace is of course stunning, too.

Sally said...

I also think Felicity would be perfect for a first name - this little girl's birth will certainly be a most happy and joyous occasion.

Anonymous said...

1. Use Grace as a middle name - it's a nice way of connecting your daughters.

2. Avoid a hyphenated first name as, inevitably, she will either only be called by the first name or her name will sound clunky.

3. My favourites are:
Celia Grace
Claire Grace
Evelyn Grace (which is pronounced EV-lin where I'm from but might be more like EVE-lin where you're from so you could get away with the nickname 'Evie')
Felicity Grace

Anonymous said...

Most 'Anne/Anna' names derive from Hannah or Channah, meaning 'grace'. Some especially appealing variations could be Hana (also Arabic for bliss), Nancy or Anushka. Amara (Igbo), Lavanya (Indian) and Thalia (Greek) also mean grace.

Amber said...

What about Lucia (Loo see uh) Grace or Lucia Claire and then you have the option of calling her Lucy?