“BRAHNwyn!” he said incredulously. “BRAHNwyn?”
“Well, when you say it like that, it doesn’t sound very pretty,” I pouted.
Granted, Bronwyn was a guilty pleasure. I didn’t really expect my husband to go along with it as the given name for any daughter we might have. But must his voice take on that grating nasal edge when he said it out loud? He sounded like a goose honking.
No more than eight weeks up the duff, I was still newly pregnant when Hubs and I began discussing potential baby names for our unborn child. I had just informed him that I really liked the name Bronwyn Rose for a girl, but admitted that with the last name of Alexander, I was worried about her initials spelling “bra.”
“That’s your only concern about the name Bronwyn?!” Hubs asked in amazement. Then he looked down at our former Basset Hound, Grace, sleeping soundly on her bed in the family room. The Brown Hound we called her.
“Brownwyn!” he announced ceremoniously, before glancing up at the television where we were half-watching Braveheart. “Brownwyn Grace Bravehound. That could be her official name if we ever entered her in a dog show!”
And that was the end of Bronwyn Rose as a potential baby name.
I have a slight obsession with baby names. Even now it continues, despite being decidedly one and done. Which is why whenever I attempt to fulfill my baby name fix these days, Hubs tells me to head to go to Build-A-Bear.
“You get to name your bears, complete with birth certificate,” he reasoned. “So, go ahead – knock yourself out!”
Don’t think I haven’t considered it.
Oddly enough, my moniker mania does not transcend genders, as the only name I ever considered for a son was Harris Edward – Harris being my maiden name and Edward being that of my husband’s father and late grandfather.
When it came to girl names, however, I was out of control. The possibilities seemed endless and I was determined to explore them all. I could – and sometimes did – spend hours on Nameberry pouring over their delightfully eclectic name lists. I compared assorted first and middle name combinations in various fonts – Gabriola being my favorite – as well as my own handwriting. I even hand-addressed an envelope to my unborn child.
My tastes were specific and discerning. I liked the classics, but with a vintage twist. Any name that made the cut had to be strong, but elegant; feminine, but not frilly. And the flow from first to middle to last had to be pitch perfect.
Trendy names were automatically out due to my desire to be unique (but not weird). And thus I grudgingly said goodbye to Isabel, Ava, Audrey, and Amelia right off the bat. Sniff.
By contrast, I turned my nose up altogether at made-up names and “kre8tyv” spellings. I also wasn’t a fan of nicknames. In short, I was a baby name snob.
Meanwhile, my husband had but one criterion: As a teacher, he was happy with any name that didn’t dredge up unpleasant memories of current or former students.
When we learned that we would indeed be having a girl, my naming frenzy reached a fever pitch and I spent my gestation period peppering my poor husband with various name combos. At any given point prior to her birth, my daughter bore the monikers listed below. Names that I will now never use. Sniff, sniff.
An early favorite, Carys means “love” while Rose was my mother’s middle name prior to marriage. And while it went the way of the dodo on our name list, I still love it so.
A tribute to my two grandmothers, Mildred and Clarine, this one was vehemently nixed by Hubs as sounding “too old lady-ish.” Plus, it was a nickname. And I had rules about nicknames. Very strict rules.
And yet I still think it’s cute as a button.
This one was a contender, as we alternated back and forth between Kathryn Jane, which utilized the initials from each of our first names, and Katherine Harris, which incorporated both my maiden name and my monogram. The spellings differed because I felt the former better suited the charmingly vintage Jane, while the latter paired well with the stronger-sounding Harris.
Because I took such things very seriously.
This one is notable only because my rather opinionated mother later informed me that she was glad we hadn’t chosen it, as it reminded her of Clarabelle the Cow. Huh? Actually, never mind – some things are just better left unquestioned.
(FYI to any parents of an Annabel: I still adore it and this is precisely why we kept mum on any and all name choices until after the birth certificate had been signed.)
Late in my third trimester, panic set in as I began second-guessing our – at that point – very firm name choice, convinced as I was that our daughter should be named after my native homeland. And also my mother.
It passed within a week.
Another guilty pleasure, this one existed only in my mind as I could never quite bring myself to broach it with my husband. I simply knew it would elicit either a giant eye roll, hysterical laughter, or a sarcastic quip about how we’re not nearly hipster enough to pull off such a feat, nor British, nor do I pen tales about a cute little cotton-tailed bunny.
Other names bandied about as I incubated my tiny human included Eloise, Elisabeth, Eleanor, Evelyn, Iris, Adelaide, Lyla, Caroline, and especially Charlotte - the only name that ever truly threatened to usurp our initial favorite. We didn’t even have a middle name selected for it (although I was partial to Charlotte Genevieve). We just loved it as is. Simple. Classic. Charlotte.
In the end, though, we stuck with the name that kept emerging as our favorite from the very beginning. A name that so perfectly suits our daughter that I can no longer imagine her as anyone else. Evoking vintage charm and a bit of old Hollywood glamour, it seems a natural fit with her porcelain skin and pin curl waves. Whether she was destined for it or simply grew into it, I cannot say, but she embodies its meaning: Alive, lively, and full of life.
Her middle name was inspired by a two-word note from my husband following an earlier miscarriage. Have faith, it said. And only one month after our loss, I learned I was pregnant. Again.
Thus, Vivian Faith Alexander came to be. Although in this space, she will forever be known as Lil’ Bit.
And before she came into this world, Hubs and I actually did make a trip to Build-A-Bear. Together. To fashion for our little girl a special friend in the form of a brown teddy bear.
We named him Brownwyn.
Is there a story behind your child’s name?