Thursday, 19 March 2015

35 Weeks' Pregnant - A Rose by Any Other Name - Naming your baby

Until you have a baby, the only things you have had the responsibility to name have been your cuddly toys and your pets (and perhaps your own - or someone else’s private parts).When I named my cat, my main concern was picking something that wouldn't make me look ridiculous when I was calling for it in the street - and in much the same way, what you call your child holds the same weighty liability.

People are desperate to know what you are going to call your child - from friends and family to absolute strangers. None are more interested than my Mother. And I use the word 'interested' loosely. She was less interested, more obsessed, asking us at every opportunity.

"What are you calling MY Grandchild? Don't call them something ridiculous! You won't will you? You wouldn't call them anything they would get teased about would you? I don't want MY Grandchild to be teased. What you want is Henry for a boy- a good solid name. Or Isabel for a girl. You need something that sounds posh ... but not too posh ... interesting ... but not too interesting ...something that will sound good when they are very young ... and something that will sound good when they are very old ...something in fashion ... but not too trendy ... MY Grandchild must be fashionable ...something easy to spell of course... you don't want them to have to spell out their name every time they say it ... you want something that makes them sound pretty .... or handsome ....yet serious ... and of course .... fun".

Oh is that all mother? That sounds easy. No pressure then. Didn't realise it was up to you - but thanks for taking the decision out of my hands.

And then there was my Grandmother who explained she had something for me from The Times newspaper. She then presented me with a list from said newspaper of 'popular baby names (in 2013) from the 40s and 50s'. "There you go" she said as she passed me the small slip of paper "Good, English names there." She emphasised the word 'English' several times throughout the conversation. Lovely names were on the list, names like Harry and George - and Ava and Rose - but I felt the pressure pressing down on me. 

Worse still was 'the face' when we suggested names we might like. We would say "We think we like Aiden" and people wouldn't say anything negative they would just immediately make a face that either said "mmmm... I don't think so" or "No" or "You HAVE to be kidding?" And they do not care if they are hurting your feelings. Of course, Grandma is at the age where she isn't too concerned about hurting anyone's feelings so she would leave out 'the face' and squall "Oh Lord no! You can't call him that! Use the list, use the list!"

Strangers in shops want to know what you are going to call your child and will do 'the face' with no qualms about insulting your choice. But the worst culprit is my Mother - unfortunately. As she has waited thirty years for the child I suppose she feels it is her right to choose the name and veto all names that are not specifically to her liking.

In one shop where a retail assistant asked what I was to call my child, and I said we had not decided yet, the lady said "My daughter has just had a son and she has called him 'Joaquin'.

"OH NO," my mother shrieked "YOU CAN'T CALL A CHILD THAT!". without giving the slightest thought to whether she was offending anyone. She then started listing names she disliked, very loudly, in front of the queue of customers and the row of retail assistants, without considering for one second that any of those people
a/ Had children with those names
b/ Were in fact called those names themselves

There are specific chat rooms and forums you can go on to gain prospective on names for your son and daughter where you will see hundreds of women writing:

"What do you think of Fenella? Does it go well with Arabella? What name goes well with Felix and Sebastian? We need a first name that sits well with the surname Humphreys - what do you think? My mother hates Isaac - what's your opinion? What do you think of Kate with a C? What do you think of John without an 'H'? Which of these would you choose? Henry, Harry, Hugo or Horatio?" The decision of what to label your offspring is obviously one that people all over the world are fretting about.

At 20 weeks pregnant, we were to find out the sex of the baby! As my mother had waited ever so patiently for a grandchild, we wanted to reward her by telling her the gender in a novel way. I had an idea to bake two sets of cup cake - one with pink sponge and one with blue sponge - to present to her after our scan.

After two breakdowns, my poor partner trotting to and from the local supermarket numerous times, and several batches of bad green cup cakes, we had successfully made up a tin of lovely cup cakes - 3 blue and 3 pink disguised by white butter icing and sprinkles. I then penned a note that read:

"There's a bun in the oven, just over 4 months left to bake, It is all very exciting, so let's celebrate with cake. We are having a baby, we are taking the plunge, boy or girl though? The answer is in the sponge!"

My partner and I discussed the scan and which gender we thought 'it' would be and, as he chowed down on a slightly raw green cupcake, we both agreed that we really hoped it would be a girl because we had decided on a lovely girl's name - and had been calling the bump 'she' and 'her' for weeks. If it was a boy we had no idea what we were going to do as every boy's name we had heard just didn't 'fit' us or feel right. Besides, the pink cup cakes looked much much better than the blue ones.

It was fitting, therefore, that the Nurse announced to us "It's a boy"!

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