How we chose a baby name

28 Aug
Photo by Giant Ginkgo

Choosing a baby name was a lot harder work than I ever imagined. We had a heck of a time agreeing on anything. I’m a list kind of person, so I constantly had a running selection of names to choose from. Invariably, I would run them past Hubby and he would say, “Are you kidding?” He was a master of coming up with some (bizarre) way the name would most certainly be ridiculed, or totally lame reasons he personally hated a particular name. Like: “There was a Lyla in my first grade class who picked her nose all the time.” Right.

Then, we were making a 20 hour drive to Florida and had plenty of time to talk. We went over my current list, but those names were quickly eliminated. At that point, we just started throwing out names. We eventually got totally silly and just started shouting out non-name nouns like “Treetop” and “Moss” (Hey – it works for celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow!)

Somewhere in our random stream-of-consciousness silliness, one of us started trying to think of German names/things. We both studied for a semester in Germany, love the country, and our last name is of German origin. After vetoing names like Heinz, Friedrich, Olga, & Gretl, one of us suggested the name of the city where we studied and lived, “Jena.” It’s pronounced “YAY-nah” for all of you non-German speakers, but whenever friends see our scrapbooks or souvenirs, they pronounce it “Gina” or “Jenna.” I think one of us joked that if we named her “Jena” everyone would just call her Jenna, and we both looked at each other in stunned silence. Hubby said, “I like that!” and I said, “Me too!”

We looked it up in our baby name book, which told us it means “One who loves peace. The fair one.” That cinched it for us. No more discussion necessary. Her middle name is “Grace” after my grandmother.

Just for the record, the boy’s name we decided on was Erik Karl. We weren’t as in love with it as we were our girl’s name, so everything worked out perfectly. Oh, and – No… we had no idea that this is the name of the famous author/illustrator for “The Hungry Caterpillar” and numerous others, until a friend pointed it out. Ha!

Take a minute to let me know how you chose the names for your kids in the comments section. Did you flip a coin? Daddy chose a “boy” name and Mommy chose a “girl” name? I’d love to hear about it.


Posted by on August 28, 2008 in Jenna


11 responses to “How we chose a baby name

  1. Mama Ginger Tree

    August 28, 2008 at 5:16 am

    When I was pregnant with my twins, we didn’t want to know the sex. After much, much discussion (and list making!) we went to the hospital with two boy names and two girl names. My criteria was easy to spell and pronounce and their wouldn’t be five other kids with the same name in their class.

    The names we picked were ones we both thought were unique. Since my husband is East Indian, we picked Indian middle names for all our kids.

    It’s a good thing our third child came out a boy, because we had used up all our favorite girl names on the twin girls and could not agree on a name for another girl. A boy was no problem though, we already had two contenders.

  2. anymommy

    August 28, 2008 at 5:16 am

    That is a fantastic story. We named our oldest son after the bar where my little sister bartended during college. No lie. We loved the name, but that’s really where we first heard it. Garrett’s in Georgetown (D.C.) It’s a total dive. Hopefully, he won’t be hanging out in his namesake in 15 years instead of studying.

  3. psychmamma

    August 28, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    MGT –

    I guess that means your good to go for one more boy….. Ha! šŸ™‚

    AnyMommy –

    I LOVE the name Garrett! You KNOW that he’ll have to go there to check it out when he hears the story (and is hopefully of age). We’ll just hope that it’s not at the expense of studies. Because, of course, WE would NEVER do that…….. ahem.

  4. Emily

    August 29, 2008 at 12:33 am

    What a cool story, and so funny too! I was laughing at your “moss” and “tree” sentence. Love that. My husband and I are the same way. I had a phenomenal list and he kept throwing them out…”No, mmmm, not that one, I knew a guy with that name…etc” – He’s a teacher too, so anytime he heard a name of one of his students, it was gone. And, that seemed like it was just about every one.
    We finally agreed on Logan for my son when we watched X-men. I loved it and he did too. It made me laugh…I personally think he keeps hoping I’ll add “Rocky” to the list. šŸ™‚

  5. denise @ EatPlayLove

    August 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Aah, our journey to our daughters names is waaaay longer than a comment.

    But, No Name, is off of i-70 in colorado, I wonder if every state has a No-Name?

  6. Insta-Mom

    August 30, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Jenna was on my shortlist for girl names, but the Hubs has a cousin named Jenna. And it’s not like I ended up with any girls anyway.

  7. Danette

    August 31, 2008 at 2:32 am

    What a great story! We actually had a boy name and a girl name picked out long before I got pg. When we found out we were having twin boys, we were scrambling to find another boy name that with it!

    We went through the same thing having trouble agreeing on names, and dh threw out some unusual ones like Jett (which I totally like but doesn’t go w/ our last name), and Hammer (don’t ask, I have no idea where he came up with that one but I shot it down).

    With our third we still had our girl name, but we had a hard time coming up w/ a boy name. Turns out we were having a boy, and it took us until just a short time before he was born to finally agree on a name.

    It’s funny, b/c now their names totally fit them and I can’t imagine any of them named anything else šŸ™‚

  8. psychmamma

    August 31, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Emily –

    I love the name Logan! That was one on my list that Hubby threw out for some reason.

    Denise –

    Thanks for the No Name “head-up.” I just pulled the pic from Flickr because it worked so well with my story! Would love to hear your story about your girls’ names someday. Maybe you’ll blog about it…..Hint, hint, wink, wink.

    Insta-Mom –

    Just one more way that we are so eerily similar……. šŸ˜‰

    Danette –

    Thanks for sharing! Three boys equals one busy mama, I bet!

  9. jess

    August 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    my son’s name is jacob. he was easy to name – my husband (at the time…but that’s another story…) and i always knew he’d be jacob.

    when i was pregnant with my daughter, her name was a major dilemma. first of all, i didn’t want a daughter. i had wanted another son. as horrible as that sounds, i just didn’t feel i could handle a daughter. of course i wouldn’t change her at ALL today, but…

    my husband wanted to name her naomi. no offense to any of you naomis out there, but i do not like that name at all. i didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but i couldn’t imagine naming my daughter naomi. this made me hope even MORE that she would be a boy!

    finally, i managed to talk him out of naomi. after going through 4.3 million baby names, we sort of settled on mallory. only i wanted to spell it malori.

    about 2 weeks before my due date, i knew i couldn’t name my daughter mallory. i just didn’t know WHAT to name her. i was discussing it with my husband – and really he was just sick of this whole “what are we going to name the baby” discussion… but i had remembered a name i had seen on television. in the first season of survivor, there was a girl named jenna. and i said to my husband – what do you think about jenna? and his face lit up and he said, “i love that!” and so did i. two days later (or so) i went into labor and jenna was born – but our parents all thought she was mallory. they were surprised when they got to the hospital and learned we had named her jenna.

    it was meant to be. she LOOKS like a jenna. šŸ™‚

  10. psychmamma

    August 31, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Jess –

    We don’t run across very many other Jenna’s either! It sounds like you had even more of a challenge choosing a name than we did. We feel the same way about Jenna being the perfect name for our little gal. It just seems to fit. Thanks for sharing your story!

  11. DC

    September 23, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Our daughter is also named Jenna. It was the only name on which my husband and I could both agree! It is perfect for our little girl.

    Interestingly, it also means “small bird,” “dark-haired beauty” or “paradise,” depending on the language.

    Some baby name books and sites will also tell you it is a shortened form of “Jennifer,” but is is actually its own name with its own meaning.

    When my daughter started school, there was actually another Jenna in her class! It seems to be getting more popular, yet I still have a hard time finding keepsakes and toys with her name on them– they have all the “Jennifers” and “Jennys” you could want, but usually no Jenna.


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