What’s in a Name?


Have you ever experienced baby-name regret to the point where you’d try to change your baby’s name? I recall having doubts about our name choice for my second son, Caden, as soon as we picked it and all the way up to and immediately after the hospital representative typed his birth certificate and social security number application. I particularly doubted his middle name, Aaron, which I picked in the hospital, from a name book, as the birth certificate lady was coming down the hall. Talk about pressured! But once we decided and began calling him his name, it fit. We don’t use middle name all that often, anyhow, and end up calling him “KK” as the first-name-middle-name combo that signals he’s in trouble.

With my first, I never had any doubts, although many around me did. In fact, I spent the last 3-4 months of my pregnancy trying to convince family (and some friends) that it was a fine name. He was actually named about four years before he was conceived. His name is after a character in the movie “Great Expectations” (starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow). Hawke’s character is named “Finn,” short for Finnegan. My husband (then boyfriend) said at the time that if we ever had a son he wanted to name him Finnegan and call him “Finn.” I have to admit I wasn’t sold right away. But it grew on me and four years later when we were pregnant and found out it was a boy, there was never any doubt or discussion about his name — from us anyway. My family didn’t like it at first. They said Finnegan was too much like Phenergan, the anti-nausea medicine. But once he was born and they met little Finn, they said the name was perfect and that it suited him well. To this day we get lots of positive comments on his name, probably because it’s so different.

Names are a big deal though. I remember a girl in high school who didn’t want her full name read at graduation, per the school’s tradition, because she hated her first name so much. I had been in school with her six years and didn’t know until then that Beth’s real name was actually Olivia.

We tried to set our boys up with options so if at some point in life they don’t like their name or a version thereof they have a few choices. Finn, for example, can go by Finn, Finnegan, Charles (his middle name), F.C. (his initials), Finney, Finn-Finn, Chuck, Chaz, Charlie …. Caden can shorten to Cade or he could use Aaron, “KK,” or “Caden A” as my mom likes to call him.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — Juliet in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”

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