Baby Name Regrets

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Baby names and regret? Yikes. I’m not sure I would have ever thought it was possible to regret—or at least have second thoughts—about your baby’s name, but Pamela Druckerman discusses in her book Bringing Up Bébé her inner turmoil after naming her twins (boys, fraternal).

We settle on Joel—whom we’ll only ever call Joey—and Leo, who defies all attempts at nicknames. …Amazingly, I still find time to be neurotic. I’m obsessed with the idea that we’ve given the boys the wrong names, and that I should go back to the town hall and switch them. I spend my few leisure minutes ruminating on this. …Before the little ceremony [circumcision], I confess to the mohel that I fear I’ve given the boys the wrong names and that I may need to switch them. He doesn’t offer me any spiritual advice. But being French, he explains that the bureaucracy I’d need to go through to do this would be a labyrinthine and excruciating. Somehow this information, plus the consecration of the circumcisions, erases my doubt. After the ceremony, I never worry about their names again.

Now that I reread this passage, I don’t know whether Druckerman means she wanted to flip flop her twins’ names (Joey becomes Leo and Leo becomes Joey) or if she means she wanted to give them completely different names. I can find the humor in the situation: the self-admitted neurotic nature of this obsession. Been there and done that postpartum!

I can’t help to wonder, though, have any other parents regretted or had second thoughts on the name they gave their baby? What would you do about it—change it legally, call them by a nickname? Would you ever admit it? Do you have a “friend” who has experienced this? (Wink!)

Baby Naming: Happy Names According to Penny Marshall’s Mom


I read Penny Marshall’s (whose full name is actually Carole Penny Marshall) memoir, My Mother Was Nuts a few years back. Her explanation of her and her siblings’ names caught my attention:

If you notice, our names all have double letters and end in a Y. Pronouncing them, as my mother once explained, made you smile. Gar-REE. Ron-KNEE. Pen-KNEE. They were happy names, she said. Other names, such as Susan, Paula, and Katherine, were flat. To her, they were sad names. ‘And Penny,’ my mother wrote in my baby book, ‘is always ready for a hardy laugh.’

When it came to naming her own daughter, Penny Marshall landed on Tracy, the name of a girl she had liked from camp. “Tracy was a happy name, as my mother would have said,” Penny writes.

I’ll admit, this stuck with me. For my own children, I tended to lean towards heritage names, but I’m also drawn to emotive names. Out of the two options I uttered to my husband right before my son’s birth, we ended up using the happier of the two names. To me, it just makes sense to have a happy name.

How about you? Does Penny Marshall’s mom’s reasoning make sense to you? Would you choose a name for your baby just because it sounded happy?