Naming the Princess Charlie.
August 10, 2009

In naming Charlotte, I felt like a fraud.

Donald and I decided on her name long before we hopped in the sack sans condom.  It was a name he picked out of thin air, a name I rather liked, and BOOM! just like that, we had a girl’s name ready.

Within minutes of our daughter’s birth, one of the pediatric nurses in the delivery room asked my husband if we had a name picked out.  Charlotte, he said.  Her name is Charlotte.

That’s a beautiful name, the nurse replied.  Beautiful.

And that was that.  One minute, I was writhing in pain.  The next minute, I had a daughter and her name was Charlotte.

Just not a name that I could say out loud.  So I didn’t.  For the first few days, I could not address my baby by her name.  Charlotte.  Every time I looked at her, I just…couldn’t. say. it.  Nurses came into my room to check my vitals or help me hobble to the bathroom where I promptly dumped so much blood that it looked like someone had died in there, and every time they asked how Charlotte was doing.

I’d look around the room like Charlotte?  Who’s Charlotte?  What Charlotte?  There’s no Charlotte here.

And so, at first, I would look at my child and think WHO AM I to pick a name for her?  What if it’s the wrong name?  What if the name I choose isn’t good enough for her?  What if she hates the name?  And how did I come about this great power, was there some sort of administrative oversight involved?

There isn’t much to say about this; I just don’t want to forget how it felt to look at my child and think “WHO ARE YOU?“  It took a couple weeks before I felt less like a fraud and more like a mother, more able to address my daughter by the name that we gave her.  Now I whisper it to her while she sleeps.  Charlotte.  A beautiful name for my beautiful girl.

*** A few people have asked how to pronounce Charlotte’s middle name.  Anaïs has Hebrew, French, Latin, and Catalan roots.  It means “grace,“ and it is pronounced ah-nah-eece.

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  1. By Gracia Fraile on August 10, 2009

    In catalan we write it Anaís. I have my grandmother’s names and although some people don’t like naming kids after family, I love it. However, my mom hated it from the begining (oh, I also share my name with her) but since it was my dad who got to do all the paperwork, he insisted that he was naming me Gracia María (it means grace as well!)
    If I have a girl I’ll face the problem of wanting to name her after my moma nd my grandma but not after myself :(

  2. By Kathleen on August 10, 2009

    It feels like that at first, but like you have realized, after a while it is like, “How could you NOT have been named such. You simply ARE Charlotte.“ Which is a beautiful name:)

  3. By Lauren on August 10, 2009

    “Charlie” is a ridiculously cute nickname, if you decide to go that route.

  4. By C @ Kid Things on August 10, 2009

    I felt the same. With all 3 of my kids. It’s like saying their name out loud makes it/them/everything real. It took a good week or two until I could say it out loud at random. Now, I’m known to yell their names without hesitation.

  5. By aimee on August 10, 2009

    I had serious doubts for about a month that we had chosen the wrong name. I came up with all sorts of crazy baby nicknames (Iike Stinky). Soon, of course, he was completely a Lucas.

  6. By Beth in SF on August 10, 2009

    We had a name picked out the day we came home from finding out it was a boy.  And we called him that name all through the rest of the pregnancy.  Then when he was finally out, it was so hard to call him that name.  I felt like that name was for the baby in my uterus, this baby needs a new name.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was the same baby and that I had made a new person in that there uterus.  Took me a few weeks to get used to the idea, but yeah, I did.

  7. By Beth in SF on August 10, 2009

    P.S. I totally agree with Kathleen above, the time comes when you can’t imagine the kiddo being named anything else at all.

  8. By tracey on August 10, 2009

    I cried for 2 weeks after naming my son “justin” I don’t know why, but it didn’t sound the way I thought it would once it was attached to his face. Now, of course, he couldn’t be anyone OTHER than “Justin” . But I understand.

  9. By Elizabeth Mackey on August 10, 2009

    I felt the exact same way with both girls!! It is so odd at first to call them by the name you give them.

  10. By Jena Simms on August 10, 2009

    What an interesting thought…
    Your mind works so differently than mine, I think this is why I love reading your blog.
    Charlotte, your mama is one silly gal!

  11. By Brittany at Mommy Words on August 10, 2009

    We knew Sophia’s name from before she was born and it all made sense but with Miles we had trouble picking a name and right up to the last minute thought about changing it.  But now I can’t imagine him having any other name, considering he is totally the Birth of Cool.  I love Charlotte’s whole name!

  12. By Melissaand3boys on August 10, 2009

    After my first chlld was born I had a very similar thing happen.  We had named him Nicholas, but for some reason I kept thinking Benjamin which wasn’t even on the list!  But of course in a couple of weeks he was all Nicholas and every variation of Nicholas.

    I don’t really remember this after my twins were born.  I didn’t think as much after they were born.  I was more exhausted, more on autopilot, and since they were twins the focus was more on which is Jacob and which is Marcus?

  13. By Tatiana on August 10, 2009

    I know how you feel.  I called my daughter “the baby” for the few weeks before she was born, and very often after she arrived.  It was almost as if by calling her Maia, I claimed her, made her real, made her OURS… and although I thought I was ready for that responsibility, it was still overwhelming.  Maia was a baby in my mind, not a baby in my arms.  Now I say it to her all the time :)

  14. By Rebecca on August 10, 2009

    We didn’t decide on our son’s name until about 2 weeks before he was born, and I felt exactly the same as you for the first few weeks, until he finally seemed to BE Nicholas.  But it still took months for me until it seemed totally natural to call his name.  Maybe it’s because we had such a difficult time deciding on his name? 

    I’ve never heard this described by anyone else before, but I think you nailed it; that’s why I enjoy reading your blog.  Even if I don’t agree with everything you say (which I certainly don’t), you do express it very well.

  15. By HoboBaby on August 10, 2009

    I felt the exact same way for weeks after Avelyn was born.  I loved her name but really, who names their kid Avelyn? Where did it come from? How do I handle everyone’s “oh…. that’s different” after I tell them her name.  Plus it felt weird, like I was waiting for HER to me what her name was.  Eventually I just kept saying it and I fell in love all over again.  No other name is right for her :)

  16. By Goddess in Progress on August 10, 2009

    I felt similarly after my kids were born. We had their names picked out for a while, but it took weeks (months?) for me to feel comfortable actually calling them by the names I gave them. Weird, huh?

  17. By erin on August 10, 2009

    I felt the same way with Hannah at first.  Still do sometimes.  It is an awesome responsibility, I think. 

    I really wanted a name like Eleanor or Caitlin, that could be all sorts of nicknames so she could “choose” her own name later and “change” it if she wanted.  She could be Caty as a little girl, and Lynn later, and then Cate as an adult, etc.  Or Ellie or El or Ella or Lena or Lenore or Nora or Lenny or Norrie.

    Brian has now decided that he is tired of Hannah’s name and wants to change it!

    By the way, you never said what her first name would have been if she was a boy?

  18. By Cate Subrosa on August 11, 2009

    A belated happy birthday to you!

    I love her name. 5 weeks from having my own daughter, I feel weird about naming her too. It’s such a big thing!

    I never knew you pronounced Anais that way over there… here we say it an-NAY. (Both beautiful!)

  19. By WaltzInExile on August 11, 2009

    We, too, named our daughter long before the pregnancy that produced her.  I should clarify: Goat Daddy didn’t really get any say in the matter.  Not because I’m a shrew, but because her name came from the same voice in my head that told me to marry the man, so he doesn’t argue with the voice.
    Her name is a little different, though, and I had more than a few qualms about having chosen it for her, especially when people would say “Her name is Bennett...?  Hunh….“ 
    Bennett (Marie) is now 4, though, and she LOVES her name.  Sometimes when she meets someone new and they ask her a question (that isn’t “What’s your name?“), her answer is simply “I am Bennett.“ As if it’s more than her name, it’s self-explanatory, and all-encompassing.  As if it’s her essence.  And I can’t articulate it any better than she can, but I suspect she’s right: in some elemental way, that’s who. she. is.
    I bet Charlotte/ Princess Charlie will feel the same way about her name :)

  20. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on August 12, 2009

    When you put it that way, it really is a big responsibility - the whole choosing a name thing.  I’m glad you and Donald chose wisely because Charlotte is such a beautiful name for a beautiful baby.

  21. By April on August 16, 2009

    both my boys were just called ‘baby’ for several weeks after they were born… for the very same reason.  and then,  all of the sudden, they WERE casey and jonathan :-)

  22. By Charlotte Geary on November 10, 2009

    I’ve spent the last few hours reading every entry of your blog, and wiping away an unexpected stream of tears as I got to the part when Charlotte arrived.  Your family is gorgeous, especially when described in your gifted voice. I absorb every word.

    I wanted to chime in here about her name.  It’s my name, too.  I’ve loved my name my whole life.  I don’t even have a nickname, really, because Charlie and Char don’t seem to fit me.  Lottie is out of the question.  I’m Charlotte, and love it.  I hope your Charlotte will grow up to love the name that has always meant so much to me.





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