Baby Boy Schm@lz, Brother to June

Dear Swistle,

Send help! I’m suddenly in a panic about the name we have chosen for our son, due December 1. The name we have chosen (and told our families) is George, but I woke up this morning and suddenly I don’t feel like this is our baby’s name. I still really like the name, I just know if it is MY baby’s name. Our last name is Schm@lz and George feels like a tongue twister when said aloud with our German surname. George was my husband’s suggestion early in our pregnancy and when I approached him today with my second thoughts, he told me he suggested George as a joke! And then convinced me to like it because it is a family name. (WHAT?! Clearly another letter to another column.) George is a family name from my husband’s side and his parents are very pleased we’ve chosen George.

Our daughter’s name is June, chosen years before we ever started our family. I don’t feel like I could ever love a name as much as I love June. She is our beautiful, much anticipated & prayed for daughter who surprised us all by arriving on my birthday, which is June 1. Her name is too serendipitous and meant to be that I don’t know how / if I will ever find that again. This baby boy is a complete surprise and the super planner in me hasn’t had years to obsess over names this time around like I did with June. If June were a boy, her name would have been Teague. I now think maybe THIS baby’s name is Teague, instead of George. I like the name Teague because it is a town in Texas that holds fond memories for us. (We live in Texas.) When we were pregnant with our daughter, we moved into a house on Teague Road, which seemed like a sign that this was our house. I don’t know anyone else named Teague or George which makes both names appealing.

We may have 1 more child after our son and I feel like siblings named June and George have sealed our fate as a family of J/G names which I am not into. Our runner up for my daughter’s name was Ruby. But also, last time I was pregnant I suggested the name Plum at the 11th hour which in hindsight, was clearly pregnancy hormones talking. I’m grateful now that my husband talked me out of that one. Other boy names we’ve considered are Tate (too easily confused when said aloud with Kade… Tade? Kate?), Levi (another no go) and Holt (I still love it but can’t get my husband on board.) My husband is unsure of Teague, he said its easier for him to decide when he hears the name said aloud by other members of our family. I don’t want to announce another name for our baby to our family only to hear them say it aloud and let my husband decide he’s not into it.

My husband’s name is Kade and my name is Leah. Should I chalk up these second thoughts on a not yet arrived baby’s name to pregnancy hormones or trust my gut that tells me the son I’m carrying isn’t George? I can’t wait & go to the hospital with 2 names. I feel very unsettled carrying a person inside me without a name.

Please help! I will send a photo & update the moment he is earthside & named, I promise!




Is there any advice less helpful than advice it is too late to follow? Nevertheless, because this blog is read by many other people who are or will be in the same shoes, I’m going to lead with that: There are many good reasons not to announce a baby’s name before the baby is born, and this letter illustrates one of them. ESPECIALLY with a family name, where people can feel pleased and honored about the use of a name, and then feel hurt and disappointed when the name is changed.

Now to the advice that is, I hope, usable. I think you are giving yourself wayyyyyyyyyyy too hard a task here. First, you are looking for a name you love as much as your daughter’s name, but of course that is not possible at this stage of the game: her name now represents to you everything that she is, the whole beloved person. One day your son’s name will do the same, but at this point you haven’t yet met him, and a name on its own can’t live up to that goal.

Secondly, the fate/meant-to-be element. I can be no more sure than anyone else about the actual underlying workings of our universe. But I am about as sure as I am of anything in life that the universe does not pre-select one perfect meant-to-be name for each human being and then sadistically leave the parents to frantically scramble through every possible name looking for it OR ELSE. You had a remarkable and unusual string of coincidences surrounding your daughter’s name; you say you don’t know how/if you can ever find that again. What if it’s not your job to make cool things like that happen, and you didn’t do anything to make it happen the first time, either? What if it’s the universe’s job to do cool things like that, and your job to appreciate them when they happen? What if your one and only job here is to choose a name your child will find useful for introductions and homework papers, and let fate figure out if there’s going to be cool stuff involved too?

Names are sounds/letters we use to identify a particular human being. There are people who believe in mystical underpinnings and significances of names, but as I understand such things, if they exist you couldn’t avoid them if you tried. If it were true that there was One Destined Name for your son, and you scoffed and said “Fie on you, universe! We shall choose the name we like and not the one you have destined!,” we all know that story would end with you having inadvertently chosen the name the universe wanted you to choose. If fate exists, then there is no getting around it.

Your responsibility as parents is to choose him a good and useful name. Probably nothing is going to give you the same thrill as your daughter’s name, and that’s absolutely normal and okay at this point; later, when the name has welded to your son’s whole being, it may give you that same thrill—or it may never do so, and that’s also normal and okay. Probably nothing is going to measure up to the string of coincidences surrounding your daughter’s name, and that too is absolutely normal and okay. Did you MAKE all those cool things to happen with June’s name? Did you prevent her from being born until June, and then force her birth on your birthday? You don’t need to force/engineer events this time, either. Maybe you will get lucky and similar things will happen this time, or maybe the universe gave you a little fun treat last time and it’s one per customer.

Okay, it’s time to address the name itself. George is a great name, and a family name too. It’s a little hard to say with the surname, but not at deal-breaking levels. I recommend finding a bunch of names already given to actual people (a yearbook, or credits of a movie or TV show, or acknowledgements in the back of a book, etc.), and seeing how many of them don’t quite go with the surnames; it can be soothing to see how very unnoticeable it is and how very little it matters.

I don’t think siblings named June and George commits you to all J/G names. It helps that they start with different letters.

Teague is also a great name. Either name will give this child a good usable name to live with.

If you don’t want to use George, you don’t have to. You still have about four months to go, so there is plenty of time to think this through. I think part of your panic may be because you already announced it and you feel as if you have to tell people right away that things have changed. I do recommend telling everyone that the name is not in fact yet fully decided, and then don’t make any more absolute/final name-related announcements until the birth: the worst here would be to yank people back and forth about the name. Discussions, sure: go ahead and say you’re considering Teague, if your husband needs to hear other people say it (though be aware it opens the name up for feedback, which can make things more difficult). But even if you absolutely settle on a name and want to let everyone know, leave it loose: “We’re PRETTY settled on ______, but we’re going to wait until we see him to be sure!” That will take some pressure off of you, and I hope make you feel less trapped.

I understand the desire to get this baby named and feel settled about it, but there is no real hurry at this point, and the feeling that it is Important that he be named as soon as possible is going to put you under unnecessary pressure and stress—not great conditions for facilitating big decisions. It’s not weird for him not to have a name yet; many, maybe MOST babies aren’t named yet at this stage of pregnancy. Take your time; sit with both names (and others, too, if you like), and see which one rises to the top.




Name update:

Hi Swistle,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my panicked email about naming our son. I appreciate your sound advice & the input of your thoughtful readers. After much consideration, we decided George wasn’t the name for this baby and Teague D@vid Schm@lz joined our family this week. All of us, especially big sister June, are smitten.


23 thoughts on “Baby Boy Schm@lz, Brother to June

  1. Megan

    I would say that Teague, being a town in Texas, and you living in Texas, would make it a no-go for me. I am not anti-names of places where people live, but it seems a little too on-the-nose. Maybe use Teague as a middle name for George? George Teague S*****?

    As an aside, June and George go really well together, and Ruby is a great third name along with that sibset. I wonder if you could use a third boy name as Holden and then Holt as a nickname? A bit of a stretch, BUT considering people use nicknames that don’t always connect to the letter with the first name (like Faye for Fiona or Libby for Elizabeth) it could work, in my opinion.

    1. Angela

      Actually, Texas is gigantic. I’ve lived here my whole life (Mostly in and around Austin) and never been to a town called Teague! LOL

      1. Ashley

        Agreed! I lived in Texas for 25 years in various parts of the state (El Paso, DFW, Austin) and have never even heard of Teague. While I’d normally agree with this comment, I think in this case Teague is totally usable.

    2. Leah PS

      Megan, yes I absolutely agree with you. I’m not into close to home place names, eg: living in NYC and naming your child Brooklyn. But! Texas is HUGE, I’ve lived here my whole life & never heard of Teague until we spent time there randomly. I think the population is like 3500? (Thanks to the other Texans for weighing in too!!!)

  2. laura

    It sounds like even with your daughter’s name, which is and was perfect, you had a momentary hiccup of doubt leading you to another name (Plum) albeit briefly, which you needed to be convinced out of. I don’t think that this is that situation, but I do think you could think about this idea of George doubt as similar to the Plum scenario in your first pregnancy.

    I will, on the other hand, say that my name through 9 months of my mother’s pregnancy was supposed to be Emily, and at the last minute changed her mind to Laura. My parents still have a beautiful carved wood block E from one of their friends made to commemorate my birth. It was never a problem though. People adjusted, and no one complained.. All this to say, if you do change the name, in less than a year it probably will be a footnote in your family, something along the line of “can you imagine our tiny Teague was almost named George? (Everyone laughs)”

  3. StephLove

    It’s good both of your contenders– George and Teague– have some meaning for you, a family name, a special place. That ties them to June, which also has meaning. I think the advice to start gently backpedalling now is good if you want to give people a chance to adjust to the idea of a change, while you ponder it some more.

    If you’re looking for input on the names themselves, my vote is for Teague. I associate George with the Bush family and in Texas that association might be stronger. For some people it will be a positive, for others the exact opposite.

  4. TheFirstA

    I’ll be honest, your surname is a hard one. It just doesn’t sound great on its own, so I wouldn’t be too fussed about how it sounds with any first names. Some surnames are just like that.

    I do not think you are locked into G/J names if you don’t want to be.

    You are holding yourself to way too high of a standard. This baby’s name does not need to be perfect. You do not need a perfect string of events to fall into place to “prove” this is the perfect name. Maybe the name is George, maybe it’s Teague and maybe it’s something else. My advice is to STOP thinking about names. Make an announcement that George is still under consideration, but you’re not 100% settled on it yet. Then go do something fun & not name related for a couple of weeks. You need to relax and maybe some time away will help you come back to the name decision with a fresh perspective. You still have 4 months to decide, taking a week or 2 off still leaves you with plenty of time.

  5. Ashley

    I feel compelled to comment because I had a similar situation with my first pregnancy. Before I even got pregnant, my husband and I had agreed that Julian would be our name for a boy. We both loved it, it was meaningful to us. But then when I was 5 months pregnant I suddenly had a very strong gut feeling that Julian was NOT the baby’s name. My husband thought I was crazy, but I explained to him that Julian is a nice name, and might be the name for a future baby, but it’s not the name of THIS baby.
    Fortunately, in our case we hadn’t shared the name yet, so it was easy to go back to the drawing board and pick a new name. My son is 5 years old now and definitely not a Julian, so we made the right choice. I think if you are starting to feel that this baby’s name is Teague, then that may very well be the case.

    As for Teague sharing the name with a Texas town, I think you are totally fine. Normally I agree with the poster who said not to use a place name if you live in/near that place, but I lived all around Texas for 25 years and have never even heard of Teague. It must be small and not very well-known, so I think it’s usable as a name for sure.

    One other note: The name Holt Schm@lz makes me think “Hulk Smash”. That may or may not appeal (I know my son would love having a name that made everyone think of the Incredible Hulk :-)) but it’s something to consider if you’re going to put the name Holt back in the running.

    1. Heidi J

      Teague is indeed a very small town. I grew up in Texas and had family friends who lived in Teague, so I’m familiar with it, but it is certainly not a well known town.

  6. Ashley

    Oh, one thing I noticed upon re-reading your letter: do you currently still live on Teague Road? If so, it might cause some confusion to have a kid named Teague who lives on Teague, but even then I wouldn’t say it has to be off the table if it’s meaningful for you. My best friend in college was a Kimberly who grew up on Kimberly street. Her parents actually named her for the street name because they liked it so much. It was an amusing story, but not really an issue.

  7. Laura

    Once again, Swistle gives great advice/therapy- George is a wonderful name, and I like it better with June than Teague. My first child, I felt very strongly that her name was Beatrice. The universe sent me signs in books and clothes and pictures that she was to be named Beatrice. With my second, I felt very strongly that her name was Lavinia, but my husband didn’t like the name. He did like Lydia, however, and I decide it was ok. It didn’t feel like her name (to me), however, until she was a few months old. Now I can’t imagine any other name for her. This is all normal; not every name screams out “I’m it!”

  8. Shannon

    If your husband wants to hear the name spoken aloud before deciding, would it suffice to workshop it with random people who aren’t family members? That seems like a better alternative to actually seeking family feedback on the name. If not, and if what your husband really needs is his family’s stamp of approval before making a decision that should belong to the two of you, then you may need to address that as a question separate from the one of choosing a name. But it sounds like he would just enjoy having his family’s support/excitement start buzzing around the name, which is nice but risky for the exact reason illustrated by the George situation!

    Personally, I like the sound of Teague Schm@lz better than the sound of George Schm@lz, and you don’t mention why you eliminated Levi but I like that (or any other multisyllabic name) even better!

  9. beep

    I really struggled over the name of my third child, after just knowing the “prefect” name for my first before conception and easily choosing the name for my second. When we named #3, I was still unsure but didn’t have any better idea. However, now at 20 months, I LOVE her name as much as my others’ and feel it suits her perfectly. I hope even if you never get to “perfect” you can trust that one day you too may LOVE what starts out as just a pretty-good but not-too-sure name.

  10. liz

    If Teague isn’t right either, what about Teagan? (I know three boys/men and two girls/women named Teagan)

    Are there other family names that are jumping out at you?

    Personally, I love George with June, and I love Ruby with both of them.

  11. Ash

    I came to chime in because Teague is on my running boy name list. I don’t personally know any Teague’s either and only heard it used a year ago when I was introduced to a woman whose son was named Teague (he was just an infant). I thought it sounded unique and uncommon which is definitely my naming style. With that being said, I actually like George with June better than I do Teague with June being that George and June are such classic and timeless names whereas Teague as I said is more of a unique name. I also like George for the fact that it is a family name but it is a little interesting to say when said with your last name. As Swistle mentioned, I think it’s really hard to find that perfect name after you’ve named your first child! I do know a man named Tate and he’s very handsome! He’s the only Tate I’ve ever come cross and is a name I would consider as a middle name. I do love your thought of Holt and think the sound of George Holt sounds like such an awesome and strong name! While it doesn’t sound like you’re up for using another “J” name, I’m going to suggest the name of Jensen!! Good luck, can’t wait to hear what you decide come December!

    1. Leah PS

      Ash, we have such similar naming styles! My husband’s best friend & roommate from college is named Tate & there were so many times their names got mixed up. Instead of Kade and Tate it came out “Are Tade and Kate coming?” I worry about that with father & son. Jensen is such a great suggestion BUT! Jensen is my best friend’s maiden name and she claimed it long ago for her child. Totally get it. For fun, other names on my list that have been vetoed or are unusable for whatever reason: West, Cormac, Perla, Conaway, Beau, Isla, Maude, Callen, Colt, Georgia, Liv, Wyatt, Wheeler.

  12. Andrea

    Oh the agony of naming babies!!!!!!!! It will all come together in time. Trust me–I named eight. Some were just plain harder to name than others and while I agree with Swistle that not all babies have one destined perfect name, i do think that certain names don’t go with certain babies. Trust your instinct, Mama! You’ll find the right name.

  13. juniperjones

    I like George best and would never think you’re stuck to J/G names – more that you might want another one syllable name. I would keep it as George to family but know in your head/share with your husband that you can have an out at birth if you want to change it – people will deal, no need to go there now in my opinion.

  14. sandra

    George is lovely..but like Holt which I also think is amazing I find them hard to say with your surname…with Holt it’s the repeating -ol- sound but I’m not really sure what it is with George.
    If you love it go for it.
    I think Teague is great as well..
    As far as finding the “perfect” name I have never met anyone and heard their name and thought “that name isn’t right on them” – certainly there are names I’m not enamoured with (Harper for example) but I personally think a name is how we identify people we know not the other way round..
    Weeks or months sometimes after you give your baby a name, the mere thought or mention of that word conjures up an image of that baby

  15. Maree

    I don’t think J and G necessarily lock you in to a theme. How would you feel about two siblings named Katherine and Christopher, would it bother you? If not you are good to go with George if you want.

    Are you ok with having George in the middle? If so then I think that should satisfy family obligations, they might be disappointed for a moment but once they fall in love with the baby the name will be secondary to that.

    You have a while before December. I fretted constantly over names so I get it but perhaps put a pin in it for a fortnight and then come back to it. That should give you enough time to decide if this is hormones talking or cold feet.

    BTW – the name nerd in me is wanting you to use the name Decker or Declan just for the Dec_ember aspect to match June.

  16. Clare

    I have a George so am completely biased but I’d highly recommend the name. I like that it’s timeless and classless, George can be whoever he wants to be whether that’s a judge or a truck driver. Do you think you’ve gone off it a bit because everyone else is so keen on it? I’m naturally contrary by nature and don’t like it if I feel like I’ve lost control over a situation. I think it’s a great idea to tell everyone that the name isn’t settled. You never know, once you do that he might suddenly feel like a George.

  17. Leah PS

    Oh my gosh, Swistle posting my question & all this great feedback has MADE MY DAY! Thanks y’all! Naming this baby is H.A.R.D. My husband & I have agreed to give it a break & casually try out Teague between the 2 of us for a little while.


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