Choosing a Baby Name Can be a Royal Pain

It’s difficult business choosing a name for someone you've never met, let alone making sure the name suits the surname and opens doors to a successful life. This is how we did it.
The British royal family welcomed Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, a name steeped in history and tradition- it’s not like Wills and Kate had unlimited options for naming her royal highness.
And it got me thinking, for the rest of us plebs options are infinite. I wonder would it be easier if we had a limited pool to choose from? Just like royalty!
Matt and I know couples who disagreed for months over names and friends who went into the hospital to give birth with a long list to narrow down, among other priorities.
It’s difficult business choosing a name for someone you've never met, let alone making sure the name suits the surname and opens doors to a successful life. Not sure how naming a kid 'Hashtag' would be anything but a roadblock?
Luckily Matt and I agreed on our name options easily. We were going to use traditional family names for a boy and I loved Ella for a girl. Well, as you know things took a different turn.

I convinced myself I was having a boy but when I found out the opposite was true- I became concerned with how trendy my girl's name choice had become. I can only imagine the parent's of all the 'Charlotte's' collectively gritting their teeth as the Royal Princess' name was announced. Now they must mentally prepare for a massive spike in what is already a popular name, as a friend of mine said, "there are going to be millions of them!"

In recent years the name 'Charlotte' has decreased in popularity the UK (from the fourth most popular in 2000 to 24th in 2013) but it has shot up American charts (from 298th in 2000, to 11th in 2013.) 'Charlotte' is already the number one girl's name in Australia.

I’ve always liked having a unique-ish name and I wanted my little girl to experience that same, special feeling of being the only “whoever” in the room.
Over the years however there are a few things I've come to dislike about my own name though it's meaning, 'the break of day,' is beautiful- it sounds a lot like 'Doh,' or 'Duh' in other languages.

Ironically the most frustrating place to pronounce my given name is in the English-speaking country of Australia, my adopted home. People have spelled my name, Dauun, Done, Don.... Matt tells me to pronounce it "Dorn," but I just can't bring myself to do that.

Before becoming a mother, I collected a list of requirements for my future child’s name- to prevent any of the same grievances I have.

My Non-Negotiable Name Criteria:
  1. More than one syllable (which helps with point number 2)
  2. Must sound good in other languages
  3. No awful Aussie nickname (they will stick an o, y or ie after ANY name) *late addition
  4. No double letter initials (I was Dawn Denecke for most of my life, DD)
  5. Different but classic (no Apple's or Siri's for me)
The evening of our 20-week scan (gender confirmation day) I told Matt that I wanted to choose another name for our girl. We had a quick discussion and looked at a bunch of names online, then he suggested Lavinia which comes from a song we both love.
"Can we do that?' I asked him. I LOVED it because it was so out there, so old, and so perfect.
"We can do whatever we want," he replied.

'Lavinia,' it will always remind me of our European honeymoon since I had the song on our traveling mix. And it gets better- the traditional nickname for Lavinia is Vinnie (Matt’s Dad is Vince and my Grandfather’s middle name was Vincent) a nickname I could not only live with, but love.

Lit Nerd Bonus: the name comes from Roman literature, a character in Virgil’s Aeneid which I studied in school.

Virgil's 'Lavinia' was a strong character, described as the 'Mother of Rome,' she was so loved by her husband that he named the city after her, Lavinium. My beloved Shakespeare had a character called Lavinia too but she was tragic so we won't mention her.

This name choice has proved to be quite versatile already, some of our Lavinia's aunties started calling her 'Vin'- which is cute and funky. And when you ask my daughter what her name is she says “Nee.” She can never be upset about a lack of options.

As for the middle name, I will always wish I went with something a bit more simple but my husband adores the name Florence (he has a little thing for Florence Welsh.) I think it went better with Ella but it's all good-we went to Florence on our honeymoon so that’s cool. (And for those of you who know, I still have to rename my bicycle which Matt named Florence a few years ago.) If our Vin-bug hates her middle name she can blame Dad, but she won’t because she adores him.

And speaking of Lavinia's Dad, his name was actually David for the first few days of his life before he became Matthew. My name came from outer-space, my poor Mom was super groggy before her cesarean and doesn't remember adamantly telling my Father and Grandmother to name me Dawn if I happened to be a girl.

And so we have Lavinia Florence. A big name for a little girl with a huge personality. Nailed it.

Did you have a difficult time choosing your children's names? Do you have any regrets? What's your name story?

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6 comments on “Choosing a Baby Name Can be a Royal Pain”

  1. Oh, I LOVE the name Lavinia! It's beautifully old/classic but without a hint of daggy and not remotely overused. Perfect!
    When I was pregnant my partner announced that if the baby was a boy, he would be called Thomas. I disagreed and said I wanted to choose something a little further down the 'top 100' list, but he insisted it would be Thomas as he had made a promise to his best friend (Thomas) when they were nine years old that he would name his first son after him. And a promise is a promise! Sadly, my partner died just a few weeks later and as much as I was not (still not!) keen on the name, I knew I had to honour his wish. And so I have a Thomas. He will probably have his last initial tacked onto the end of his name for his entire schooling in order to distinguish him form all the other Thomas', but he has a pretty good story if anyone asks how he got his name. Unlike me. My mother named me after a beauty queen. [hangs head in shame!]

  2. Tarnya- thank you for sharing your story! I’m so sorry to hear about your partners passing and I think you did absolutely the right thing to honor his nine-year-old wish. Thomas was actually our boys name choice too! My Father’s name is Thomas and my brother and brother-in-law have it as a middle name. I think at the end of the day why we chose the names we do is just as important as the names themselves. x

  3. My nearly 8 year old is George and I think considering the young prince he might become on of many with that name. Our 4th was originally called Louis - but nobody could pronounce or spell it and our surname is a very tricky Danish name. The poor kids would've been constantly spelling both names. Just before he hit 4 weeks (thankfully before it was officially registered. Being the 4th kid everything happens in its own good time), my husband signed Louis' name Louise on his sisters birthday card (he had come off night shift to be fair) and that was it for me. Louis was Felix for a day, then finally named (and registered) Rupert. I also have an Arthur and an Ingrid!

  4. My husband and I had several names picked out, but couldn't agree. It finally came down to Eben (which he wanted) and Evan (which I wanted). I was on the phone w/my Mom discussing it and she said, "Did you say Ethan?" And I said, no, but I love that. My husband did too. I checked the baby list for the year prior and it was 54th in popularity, so I thought we were safe as the only three Ethans I could think of were Ethan Hawke, Ethan Allan and Ethan Frome (yes, I was an English major). So we went with Ethan and wouldn't you know, it exploded. From the previous year we named him and it was 54th, it jumped to something like #10 in his birth year. By the time he was in 3rd grade, it was the 3rd most popular boys' name. There were three Ethans in his kindergarten class and they've remained with him, not to mention every Y team he's been on etc. His last name starts with a T so all through grade school, he was nicknamed/designated as E.T. to differentiate him. He still gets called that--even by us--though at 16 he's not so crazy about it. All things considered, I still LOVE the name Ethan--and his middle name is Miles--so I think we got a very classic name, so I don't think I could change even knowing what I know now. I just don't like it if people think we were following a trend when we named him Ethan. Of course, I still call him Bubby and probably always will (mostly because it makes him so mad. 🙂

  5. All very cool and classic names! Sorry about George- the darn royals have to mess it up for everyone. One of my close friends has a Charlotte my daughters age- she's going to be one of's going to be the next Jane!

  6. I love the name Ethan- popular or not! My brother is also an E.T. And we used to call him that as well. It's our duty to tease our kids right? Phone home!

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