Naming a baby is hard.
I've named every doll or stuffed animal I've ever owned (and am still the proud owner of Jennifer, Kimberly, and possibly Lisa, who reside in a box. somewhere.) I used to play school (mostly by myself) and pretend to be the teacher. I had an old log book where I'd have full names listed for my 32 students. I selected the names for each of our pets.
I've always loved names. I like letters and I like seeing how things look and sound and flow. I have the name book that my mom used to select my name and my brother's name. I like seeing what she highlighted but didn't end up picking.
Like most girls who were born in the 70s, I knew (know) my fair share of Jennifers, Melissas, and Sarahs. Even though I didn't have a top 10 name, it was common enough and I loathed being "Twirl LastInitial" in school. My name is unisex and it was a pain to be "theGirlTwirl" in class. My mom spelled my name in a less common way, and so I had that to correct that as well. On one of my name plates (you know, the things taped to the desk) my teacher added an extra letter to the end of my name and when I corrected her, she colored over the letter and made it into a house. I liked that even less than my last initial.
I used to want to change my name (to, um, Morgan Fairchild, which I thought sounded lovely even though I had no idea who she was at the time.) I have since legally added the extra letter to my name to make it the most common spelling. I like how it looks now and I correct people much less frequently.
I think about these things a lot when considering a name for my daughter. I'm committed to the most common spelling of any name and roll my eyes at the "creative" spellers (so sorry mom, I know you thought it was pretty!) Among my top 20 names, there was only one gender neutral name. Would she care if she ran into a boy with the same name? I used the SSA list as a starting point for name gathering and, much to the irritation of helpful-name-suggesters, have refused to consider anything in the top 20. Would she care if she had to use her last initial? I've pored over popularity ratings and trends for each name I've considered, trying to determine if what I'm thinking of will become "the next jennifer/madison/emily."
P thinks I'm nuts. I took the top 1000 for 2006 and began eliminating. I whittled the list down to 50 or so before I let P begin eliminating. He got us down to 20. From there, I've had a list on the fridge since we found out she was a girl. I've liked mulling over the possibilities. People ask if we have a name yet and seem surprised when I tell them that I'm just enjoying the process of choosing. They usually smile at me and say, "you have time" or "well, some people don't decide until the baby is born" or something like that because they don't believe me that I don't want to rush the decision.
I've let P do most of the crossing off since the original list was mine to begin with. I think we're down to three now. As much as I've enjoyed thinking about this, I'm ready to have a name selected. I'm feeling a little panicked that there isn't one clear winner standing out yet. I know it works for some people, but I don't want to take a list into the delivery room with me. But I want to love what we pick and so I'm second-guessing myself on the final three. I want it to be right.
If I loved one of them, wouldn't I know? Or is it something you can grow into?
I could totally ramble on about this for many more paragraphs (initials! nicknames! my love affair with the letter A!) than you'd probably care to read. I may have already. I really ought to just. stop. typing.
Ridiculously obvious conclusion of the day: The reality of naming a human is much more complicated than naming a doll or a pet or an imaginary classroom of students.