I really love your blog and have been following it since I was pregnant with my son. My husband and I are expecting our second child, a girl, at the end of Oct. this year. We're having a difficult time coming up with a name. My husband's name Michael Ferreira and my name is Jennifer Dai-Ferreira. We've decided on a Vietnamese middle name to pay tribute to my heritage. The middle name will be "An" pronounced like the name "Ann". It means peace in Vietnamese. We have a 3 year old son named Nicolas Vi Ferreira. His middle name is also Vietnamese and means vitality or strength. It was also the name of my great grandfather.
My husband and I are considering the following names for our baby girl:MadeleinePenelopeGiselleSophie
My favourite is Giselle but I don't think it works with the middle name 'An'. I'm considering adding another middle name before An but I'm afraid it may be too cumbersome.
As for the name Madeleine, I'm afraid it may sound too old fashion and I don't like the nickname 'Maddy'. I would prefer 'Leni'.
I like the name Penelope but I'm not in love with it.
I also like the name Sophie but I'm not sure it's a name that could carry her from childhood into adulthood.
Since both my name and my husband's name are so common, we would like to give our daughter a less common name. There were always at least two other Jennifer's in my class growning up.
Lastly, I want to give her a name that will withstand the test of time and will serve her well wherever her life and career takes her.
Any suggestions would be welcomed!
If it's important to avoid common names, Madeleine and Sophie are both probably out. The Social Security Administration lists Sophie as the 51st most popular girl name in the United States---but Sofia is the 19th, and Sophia is number one. And adding up the various spellings of Madeleine, Madeline, Madalyn, Madelyn, Madilyn, etc., brings that right into the Top Ten.
Madeleine, furthermore, can feel like it's in a group with the other Maddy/Addy names (Madison, Addison, Adelyn, etc.), which may make it feel even more common than Sophie/Sophia/Sofia: a classroom with only one Madeleine but also a Madison, and Addison, and an Adelyn may feel similar to a classroom with two or three Jennifers. This feeling could be significantly reduced if she goes by Leni---but I think that nickname might be a hard-sell for a public so accustomed to the Madeleine/Maddy combination, a bit like trying to get a Jennifer called anything but Jen or Jenny: possible, but challenging.
The good news about the names' popularity means that Madeleine definitely doesn't sound old-fashioned right now, and Sophie will definitely be considered a childhood-to-adulthood name (though you could also use Sophia and nickname her Sophie). And since the current #1 most popular girl name in the United States is only used about 1/3rd or 1/4th as much as the name Jennifer was in its #1-status prime, perhaps neither one is so common it needs to be ruled out.
Penelope is less common but is currently doing a bit of a race up in popularity; it's hard to know where that will end up. Penelope An is adorable, however, and Penelope is currently only the 169th most popular girl name. For perspective, the Social Security Administration reports than in 2011 there were 28,980 baby girls named Sophia/Sofia, and another 4,690 named Sophie, but only 1,847 named Penelope.
I think your favorite is also great, and that Giselle An Ferreira works just fine. The name Giselle is slightly more common than the name Penelope (there were 2,030 new baby girls named Giselle in 2011), but it feels LESS common because it's been doing less leaping-and-bounding up the charts. It has been rising, perhaps because of the currently popular -elle ending, but seems to have tapered off for now.
If you had a back-up choice for the middle name, Gillian/Jillian or Gianna would be similar options. Ooo, or Geneva or Genevieve or Georgia or Josephine or Annabel! Or Gemma or Noelle or Lena. And I always think of Fiona when I'm considering Sophia, but I'm not sure how well that goes with the surname.