My husband and I are expecting our first child- a girl, in October. He is pretty insistent that we not name her until she arrives but I want to at least have a solid short list of names going in. Our last name is very similar to Niemen.
Had the baby been a boy he would have been named Charles Gray with the nickname Arlo. Charles after my deceased father, Gray is a family name on my husband’s side. I love the idea of naming the baby after my dad but I really don’t love the options for girls. I do like Charlotte but my husband does not and there are tons of them in my neighborhood.
This brings us to Catherine, my paternal grandmother’s name. Paired with my husband’s grandmother’s name of Jeanne for a middle name it gives our daughter the family names of two amazing women and my father’s initials. The problem is a nickname- the typical options are taken by family (except CJ which I do not like at all) so we are leaning towards Wren/Reine (they would be pronounced the same). Thoughts on this nickname and the spelling options would be helpful since we are sort of at an impasse on the spelling.
The next name we both really like is Mavi (pronounced Mah-vee) it has no family significance but we both like it a lot. My main worry is she won’t have a more traditional name to fall back on if she finds it a bit too unique. I am also worried about needing to defend/explain this choice to people. My husband is adamantly opposed to Maeve or Mavis.
After those two names we are just stuck, which would be fine but I am not sure either one is perfect. Other names we have discussed:
Some of my favorites that he doesn’t care for:
Juliette- he vetoed because he knows to many people with this or a similar name
Vivienne nn Vivi
Louisa nn Lulu
Basically we came up with this list months ago and we keep just re-vetoing the same names and we haven’t been able to add any good contenders. Both of us want something slightly less common, but I prefer getting there via nickname with a more traditional option if she wants it. We both seem to be drawn to names that end in vowel sounds or other soft sounds.
We would love to hear your thoughts on Wren vs. Reine, if Mavi is too out there and to get a few more name options to ponder.
Thank you so much for any help you can offer!
The problem of how to spell the nickname from the ending syllable of Catherine reminds me of the problem of how to spell the nickname from the ending syllables of Mattea. It may have to be the sort of nickname that’s verbal but not written; or the kind the starts out as verbal and then you let the spelling develop on its own. The exception, I think, is if you want Wren: I consider that its own name, with its own strong image—so if you want Wren specifically, I think you should start early with it.
I don’t think I’d spell it Reine. I could only figure out how you wanted it pronounced by the alternate spelling Wren. If I encountered that spelling and were trying to figure it out, I might try rine (rhyming it with wine) or pronouncing it like the word rain/reign/rein, but I don’t think I’d ever get to a short-E sound.
Another possibility is to spell the name Cathryn and spell the nickname Ryn or Rynn, evoking Lyn/Lynn—but I much prefer the spelling Catherine (especially if that’s the family spelling), to the point of suggesting spelling the nickname Ryn/Rynn even with the Catherine spelling. I prefer Rynn anyway: Ryn makes me wonder if it’s supposed to rhyme with wine, as well as giving me a slight Ayn Rand feeling. Rynn makes the most pronunciation sense to me, and is no further from the spelling of the full than than Wren/Reine. It does take you from the Ren sound to a Rin sound, though. If you want the short-E sound, I think I’d spell it Renn or Wren.
I have one more nickname option to suggest, though it’s a real reach. I came to it when considering C.N. instead of C.J.—and that made me think of the name Sienna. C.N.-ah.
I think that if you don’t want to defend/explain it, Mavi is probably not the right choice for your family. It’s almost completely unused in the United States (5 new baby girls given the name in 2013), so endless requests for information will be part of the package deal of that name. People will want to know why you used it, where you came up with the idea of it. Spelling and pronunciation will be significant recurring issues.
Looking at your lists, one question I have is whether sibling-name coordination is one of your preferences. There is a wide assortment of styles here, from Emily (very popular and familiar) to Orla (virtually unused in the United States); from Ellis (unisex, used more often for boys in the United States) to Vivienne (very feminine). If you do like sibling names to coordinate, one exercise that can help narrow down your style is to imagine a group of children instead of just one. Picture the kids gathered around the table for dinner, or sitting in the living room reading books: do Catherine and Violet seem more like Your Family? or do you feel more at home imagining Astrid and Piper?
Actually, I’m having trouble even doing this exercise, because the style spread is so wide: I usually prefer to make a group of three siblings, but had trouble even finding two.
It might help us to return to your boy-name choice for guidance. Charles is a very traditional, classic, familiar name, and also a family name for you; but Arlo is a contemporary, unusual, non-intuitive nickname for it. Perhaps THAT is the style that would best suit the two of you: traditional/family names with unusual nicknames. This gives you everything you want: family names, unusual names—AND a more traditional name to fall back on, if the children turn out to prefer that.