My sister introduced me to your blog when I was pregnant for the first time about 2.5 years ago and I’ve been following ever since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reconsidered my approval for a name after hearing you suggest it. You have a way of making me think twice about names I would have otherwise bypassed – which is why I’m writing to you now.
My husband and I are due with our second in October. We already have a sweet and funny toddler named Jacob (usually call him Jake or Jakey) and we found out we’re having a girl this time!
We have two front-runner names that we love: Clara and Alana. Clara is a loose nod to my maiden name, Sincl@ir. We like both names because they aren’t overly popular right now – unlike Jacob – and they are names that have existed for years. We also clearly have an affinity for names that end in “A”.
Here is where our issues begin. We are struggling to choose between the two, and we are really struggling with a middle name for Clara. If we pick Alana she will be Alana Claire. If we pick Clara we have considered Clara Rose (both of our paternal grandmothers are Rose) but that feels like I’m leaving out my maternal grandmother (Ruth) who passed just a few years ago. I would love to honor my sister Stephanie who does not have children, but I’m not loving the flow of “Clara Stephanie.” My other sister, Courtney, honored my mother, Gayl, by giving her daughter the middle name “Abigail”. I’ll save you the pain of listing all of my extended family members.
I’m less focused on my husband’s side only because Jacob’s middle name is a family name on his side so I’d love to honor my side this time. If I were having another boy, we’d have probably used Stephen (my dad) as the middle.
Do you have any tips for finding a honor/meaningful middle-name when there isn’t an obvious choice? And how do we choose between two names we love!!? Do you support coin-flipping? Should we let our elderly social security volunteer at the hospital choose? ;) Help!
Clara Rose seems perfect to me: both of you having paternal grandmothers named Rose is such a fun coincidence and makes it nearly irresistible to me, as well as qualifying it for the title of The Obvious Choice. Not including your other grandmother doesn’t seem like an argument against the name, since it applies to every name except Ruth—and if you went with Clara Ruth, you’d be leaving out your grandmother Rose. Unless you’re open to using Clara Stephanie Rose Courtney Ruth, you’re not going to pack everyone in there and that’s perfectly normal and okay.
I do also like Clara Ruth, very much.
And I like the sound of Clara Stephanie, too. I find the more I say it, the more I like to say it. I also like that it is more clearly an honor name: Rose is a common middle name right now, so I wouldn’t necessarily guess that it was in honor of anyone; but if I heard a Clara Stephanie, I’d think, “I’ll bet she’s named for an aunt!,” and I’d find a casual way to ask if you had any sisters. You could count it as a double honor name if your sister was named for your dad (or even if she wasn’t).
Are you planning to have more children? I am asking not only to be nosy, but also to wonder if using Alana Claire would rule out using Clara for a possible future daughter. It is very hard to make this kind of decision: I agonized over whether we should give Henry our two favorite boy names—we were pretty sure he was our last baby, but what if we had another boy later and were sorry to have used both names up? It’s especially tricky because if we DID have another boy at this point, I’m not sure we’d still want to use that name we were worried about “wasting.” (To be fair to Past Swistle, it’s ten years later now: at the two-year point I still would have wanted the name.)
If you’re not planning any more children, though, Clara Alana is another option. I don’t always like an -a/A- combination, but I do in this case—and I rarely mind it with a first/middle anyway.
If you’re not planning more children and you decide on Alana as the first name, I like Alana Sincl@ir. I am heart-eyed over mothers being able to use their maiden names in their children’s names, and yours is such a pretty one.
I also support coin-flipping, or putting a poll on Facebook for your family/friends to take, or asking strangers at the grocery store (or on a name blog!) what they think, or any other fun games you might think of. If nothing else, this sort of thing can help you see where your actual preferences lie: are you rooting for one name over the other in a poll, or are you saying “…how about best two out of three” when the coin falls? These things can provide such useful information. Or, if you find you really don’t have a preference, then you know you can use either one; perhaps you’ll want to take both names to the hospital and decide once you see her.
I wanted to thank you for your naming help this summer and give you a name update for our little girl.
When we wrote, we had been deciding between two names:
1. Clara + unknown middle name, and
2. Alana Claire
Your response, and your readers, made us feel like Clara Stephanie (middle name after my sister) was the perfect choice. But, about a month after I wrote my cousin had a baby girl and named her Clare. We hemmed and hawed for several weeks, and ultimately decided that we were uncomfortable with two very similarly named children who would only be 3 months apart. This cousin is the only one on my maternal side, and ironically, my sister’s daughter already shares a name with Clare’s dog-sibling. So it was just too close.
The loss of the name Clara also made my husband and I realize that although Alana Claire was a definite 2nd runner in the name game, it didn’t feel like the one.
So, we bought more name books and started over. After another month of deliberation in the Longest Naming of a Child Ever, we are happy to share that our daughter, Alex@ndra Claire “Allie” joined our family on October 11.
Thank you for all of your help! We were really grateful for your assistance and excited to read every comment that came in.