Becoming a parent for the first time is hard — no one needs me to remind them. And really, anytime you’re having a baby, whether it’s your first or your fourth, there are some parts the experience that can be a challenge no matter what.
Choosing the name of your baby is sometimes one of those challenging experiences, and the wrong name can result in baby name regret.
I’ll never forget the night I made my husband stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, rattling off boy names for our soon-to-be-born child. I had been convinced that the baby was a girl (we didn’t find out ahead of time), and after spending weeks going through every female name that Bob Dylan had ever sung, I was pretty sure we had our choice figured out.
But then, alas! It occurred to me that the child could be a boy after all!
It turned out that my husband and I could not, would not, meet in the middle for a boy’s name. It had been hard enough to get him on board for my girl name choices, and naming a boy proved impossible. Luckily for us, the name that he tossed out at the very last minute turned out the be the perfect one, which we realized after our kid was born.
Unfortunately for another first-time mom, she did not have this kind of experience. In fact, she doesn’t like her baby’s name. At all.
Much like my own husband and I, this mom says that it all started because she and her husband just couldn’t agree on a name. In the end, she explained on Reddit that she just gave up:
“My husband and I couldn’t agree on a name. I liked a lot of names but he didn’t like any of the names on my list. He didn’t have a list of names. He was stuck on one single name he liked ( that I didn’t like.) I kept throwing out suggestions until the day we left the hospital. In the end I let him have his name.”
Sadly, she really doesn’t like the name. Not even a little bit:
“It breaks my heart that I don’t like my baby’s name. I regret giving in. I wish I would have been willing to leave the hospital without a name. I know we can change his name but we would just be trading a name that I don’t like for a name that my husband doesn’t like.”
She reached out online to find out if other parents had also disliked their child’s name but then grew to love it.
“I guess I’m wondering if anyone out there didn’t like their baby’s name and grew to like it over time. Or if anyone has been in a similar position. I just don’t want to be sad over this forever.”
It’s not unusual for family members to have big reactions to the name a couple chooses for their baby. Laura Dunphy wrote on Nameberry about the reaction that her own mother had to her daughter’s name, Sophie Mireille:
“Leave it to my mother to put an end to my glee. As we sat chatting around the dinner table one night, she mentioned that a family friend’s daughter, Zoe, was being called Zozo. I scrunched my face and asked, ‘Zozo? What kind of a nickname is that? It’s not even shorter than the original name.’ To which my mother replied, ‘I don’t think you should be saying anything about anyone’s name.'”
Surprised by her mother’s reaction, she pushed for an explanation: “I asked for an explanation, only to be informed that Mireille was not a real name. I believe my mother’s exact words were, ‘It’s horrible. We hate it.’ My father nodded in solemn agreement. Apparently at some point over the course of the previous decade, I’d mentioned the name Sophie Madeline, and my parents had gotten attached to their vision of a fantasy granddaughter. As in, one with a name they had heard of before.”
And Evonne Lack wrote on BabyCenter about how it feels when total strangers hate your baby’s name: “Do people’s reactions bother you because you love your baby’s name and wish they did too? Or are they tapping into your own misgivings? (If that’s the case, find out what you can do about your baby name regret.)”
And with that last sentence, Evonne really taps into what’s going on here: baby name regret. The mom who originally posted this question is definitely not alone! A lot of moms have spoken about regretting the name that they ended up choosing for their child. Sometimes it’s because the name doesn’t really suit the kid, but other times it’s just because it’s not a name that they like.
Whatever the reason, other parents can definitely respond to having baby name regret. If you can’t change the name, or if your partner won’t agree to it, there are options. One is coming up with a nickname that you like a lot better, and that makes sense in the context of what the baby is named.
Of course, if you can change it, plenty of people say to do so before the baby learns it. One person responded to the original poster on Reddit that their family has been through this situation, and it’s not great: “My brother in law and his wife named their daughter something totally out there and he wishes they had changed it before she got old enough to learn it. Actually our whole family wishes they had changed it because the poor kid sticks out like a sore thumb in this giant Irish catholic family full of normal ‘WASPy’ names. It is really unfortunate. Hubby needs to give in and figure something else out.”
Another person said that the mom should get “2 votes” when it comes to baby names:
“Dude you’re the mama who had to give freaking birth. You’re husband needs to give a little. My husband didn’t like one of the names I picked but he said “You’re doing all the work here, so your vote gets 2 and mine gets 1.”
It made me actually appreciate him so much more. And then with our 2nd kid I let him name the baby almost completely, middle name and all, and I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I wanted to give it to him because of how awesome he was the first time.”
The mom eventually updated her post and said that she and her husband talked about it, and they’re just going to change their baby’s name. “I talked to my husband about my calling him Wesley. He said if I really want that to be his name we should just get it changed. I think we’re going to change it. He’s only 2 weeks old so hopefully it will just be an interesting story someday. Thanks for all your help and advice.”
So it sounds like in this case of baby name regret, everyone wins.