So, I am getting rather pregnant now and will be having this baby around September 26th. (And that is a pretty solid date, as I am being induced for all sorts of medical reasons.) Once upon a time, when I was first pregnant years and years ago, my husband and I struck a bargain. If the baby was a girl, I got 51% of the naming decision and if it was a boy, he got 51%. And then the next baby, the "loser" got 51% regardless of sex. Well, the first named baby ended up being a girl, so I chose the name Elizabeth Rose. (Our last name is Gabriel, by the way. I am Jen and he is Matt. And yes, we were both born in 1981, how did you guess?) Elizabeth is my sister's middle name and Rose was Matt's grandmother's first name. So Elizabeth's name is two honor names but (ahem, don't tell my sister this), those are mainly just names we liked and then we were like "oh, isn't that convenient!"
Anyway, this time it is Matt's turn to put in 51% of the vote. (The 51% can sound misleading, it's just kind of that person's job to come up with a name to which the 49% stakeholder says "oh, I love that name too!") This baby is a boy. And we are stuck. We could name a girl in about fifteen minutes but we have been working on this boy's name since MARCH and aren't really much further. (I'm high risk, so I've been ultrasounded about a million times and have known it is a boy since twelve weeks. There is no doubt that it is a boy since this has been confirmed a good dozen times.)
Matt's first choice for a name is John. And I love the name John. (Also, it is Matt's middle name, which I think makes it extra great.) Except for one thing...the way it sounds when it is said out loud. Which is a pretty big thing for a name. It just sounds too short to me. And I've felt this way for a long time, as we have an acquaintance with a baby named John and every time she calls him, my brain says "and where is the rest of your name, kid?" So my feelings on this aren't likely to change. Matt does not like Jonathan as a second option, mainly based on spelling. And his feelings haven't changed since I first suggested that months ago.
Probably my front runner name right now is Andrew John. Neither of us like the nickname Andy (AT ALL), but one thing I have learned with having an Elizabeth is that we have pretty good control over nicknames, at least so far. She's never called Beth or Liz or anything like that, mainly because Matt and I don't use any of those. My dad had a short spell of calling her Lizzie, but since no one else used it or really encouraged it, Elizabeth it is. (She's actually called Dibits a lot of the time because that is how she first pronounced Elizabeth herself as she was learning to talk and it stuck.) So if we went with Andrew, he would be called Andrew or Drew. Matt actually likes Drew quite a lot. But he's not totally sold on Andrew and also feels like he wants to hold John in reserve in case we have another boy at any point.
Other names we have considered, in no particular order:
Kevin (we actually named our marriage project babies Kevin and Nicole, back in high school economics class. Matt and Jen: Naming Pretend Babies since 1998 and Can't Do It For Real)
Steven (we like it but we both hate the nickname Steve and there's not a lot you can do about that one)
Joseph (again, hate the nickname Joe or Joey)
We also love the name Michael and would probably use that without even thinking about it...but that is Matt's youngest brother's name and we already have a Michael. I'm totally anti juniors and I would never use a repeat name of a close family member. I would use a middle name (obviously, as we did) or a distant relative that we never see, but we see Mike quite a lot. (Also, Robert, but we have a very close friend Rob that lives near us that Matt sees on a daily basis. So no.)
Now, for my second naming dilemma. Last year, we had a late term loss of a little boy we named Luke. We discovered that he was dead before we discovered that he was a boy (I wasn't high risk yet, so no ultrasounds every week), so we literally named him in a few minutes, in tears, after he was delivered. I've felt bad ever since that he never got a middle name. I would like to give him one now, but it would be just for us. We wouldn't be going back and changing his official name on anything. I don't really have any ideas for his middle name (and it hurts to think about it too hard). I'd like something that sounds good with Luke and maybe has some kind of meaning. So if you have any good ideas here, I would be grateful.
Now, go forth and name my baby!
I am gnashing my teeth, GNASHING THEM, over the John situation. John is one of my top favorite boy names, and you are SO CLOSE to using it, and "Elizabeth and John" is wonderful, and so I WANT to tell you that you DO NOT feel the way you do about the spoken-aloud version---but you have seen it happen on an in-person John, and so I agree with you (reluctantly, SULLENLY, agree with you) that it sounds like that's not going to work out. (Gnash gnash.) (Would it help if you could call him Jonty as a nickname? Or is that the same spelling issue as Jonathan?) (And you could call him Baby John until John didn't seem so short anymore!) (GNASH.)
Another John option is to give him a double name---either by actually giving him two first names or by calling him by first and middle. It gives you John, while also giving you a longer name to say.
May I suggest the pseudonym I've grown very fond of with the name Elizabeth? I call my twins Elizabeth and Edward as their blog names, and my mom and I have over the years found that now we almost wish I HAD named them Elizabeth and Edward: we find the names so appealing together and separately. Edward Gabriel.
If Edward is close-but-not-quite, I love the name Edmund.
Instead of Kevin or Steven, perhaps Evan or Ian.
I love Henry from your list. We almost used it for our youngest boy, but then another name took the lead so I contented myself by using it as his blog name. Henry Gabriel. Maybe Henry Michael or Henry Robert or Henry Tyler? Or, the middle name position is the perfect place for a love-the-name-but-hate-the-nickname name: a Henry Joseph or a Henry Steven completely avoids Joe/Steve.
Now. Brace yourself, because I want to push you to use a name on my "Why Won't People OBEY Me?" list (also on that list: John, Karl, Louise). It's a bit of a hard-sell name, but it goes beautifully with the names on your list. It's George. GEORGE. Let it sink in. Think of George Clooney, perhaps.
George Gabriel. It's one syllable like John, but it takes longer to say. Possible downside: would it bother you that the initial sounds were two different pronunciations of the letter G? Another possible downside: a little tricky to find a middle name. George Michael is out. George John is choppy. George Robert, George Steven, George Joseph---nothing clicks into place, quite. I looked up George Clooney's middle name, and it's Timothy; that does work well! Maybe something else with more than two syllables: George Nathaniel, George Everett, George Oliver, George Zachary---yes, I think the key might be to go for more syllables.
I like Everett and Oliver as first name options, too. Everett Gabriel, Oliver Gabriel.
James is another "one-syllable but may feel longer" option. James Tyler Gabriel, James Henry Gabriel, James Michael Gabriel.
I think a Benjamin would make an adorable little brother for an Elizabeth. Benjamin Gabriel; Elizabeth and Benjamin. Nickname issues to consider, though.
Or Nicholas. Again with nickname issues.
Or Owen would be sweet, and no natural nicknames.
For Luke, I suggest the middle name Matthew, after his father. Luke Matthew Gabriel.
Or if your maiden name would work, then he would have his own name, then a name from his mother, then a name from his father.
Or I might use the opportunity to honor an important male family member. It might be too painful for a living family member to be honored in this way (my first suggestion may be too painful for your husband), but perhaps a grandfather or great-grandfather or great-uncle.
For a meaning name, some baby name books say Geoffrey/Jeffrey means "peace" or "God's peace." The Oxford Dictionary of First Names says the name Noah means "rest" or "to comfort"; the name Solomon means "peace"; and the name Wilfred means "a hope for peace."
Name update! Jen writes:
Greetings, Swistle and Baby Namers!
Our baby was born on September 26, with me arriving at the hospital in strong labor ten minutes before my scheduled check-in time for my induction. So the induction became a moot point and Ryan Matthew was born safely and alive, two hours later, at exactly 6:00pm!
Thank you for all your naming advice. A few weeks before he was born, I demanded three finalist names from my husband. Then we both said “Ryan? Hmm. Yes. Ryan.” And after lots of jokes about giving him the middle name Brian, we chose Matthew since Matt likes namesakes and would like to have one, if it weren’t a deal breaker for me. One of item of note- many of them names suggested both by you and by the commenters were names we either considered and dropped (close friends or similar reasons) or names of close family members. (Both Matt’s brothers’ first and middle names were suggested.) So obviously you are very good at matching our naming style!
Here is Ryan’s birth announcement and a picture of him with his big sister!