The other night, I dreamt I gave birth to a baby girl and didn’t have a name for her! In all my life, it never occurred to me how unnerving that situation might be. For a name aficionado like me, this kind of dream is a veritable nightmare! It’s certainly not the kind of horrifying dream that simulates life-threatening situations á là killer clowns and snakes, but the nightmare where one realizes “I forgot to study for my big exam!” or worse, “I missed my test!” I’ve graduated from university and been out of school almost a year, and I still frequently experience that type of nightmare. It’s the Hermione Granger mindset where expulsion sounds worse than death because nothing is more important than one’s studies.
As far as fears go, the fear of having a baby and no name for him/her probably sounds really weird to anyone who isn’t a name-lover. But I can tell you that it terrifies me even if I never have children, because if it doesn’t happen to me, chances are decent that it will happen to someone else. I can think of any number of reasons why parents might not have a name ready when their children are born:
- Mom doesn’t find out she’s pregnant until she’s in labor. Scary, but it happens frequently enough that there’s a TV series about it! If you’re wondering how a pregnancy can go unnoticed for so long…
- Someone stole your favorite name. Whether they were a knowing or inadvertent thief, you might be labeled a copycat if you name your baby Clara Marie *after* they use it first, even if you decided on it first.
- You and your partner have different tastes in names, and still can’t compromise. No matter how much you try to convince him, he still hates the name Ivy and wants to name her Madison, which you hate!
- A loved-one passes away suddenly. Do you use honor them or stick to the name for which you originally planned?
- Baby arrives and your chosen name just doesn’t seem to suit them.
- The news stations are covering a major crime/tragedy, and the perp bears the name you wanted for your baby.
Point is, there are a lot of reasons why someone might not have a name for baby right away. You can’t prevent all eventualities, but you can prepare.
I suggest creating a list of names you’d use even before you might be pregnant. Discuss names with your significant other, even if you don’t necessarily want to have children – talking about names is fun, and maybe you’ll have pets! Make sure to have back-ups handy in case of name-thieves and other unseen circumstances. Thankfully, most name websites are free to use (which is also why studying baby names is such an inexpensive hobby compared to, say, reenacting)!
I remember little of my dreams, and this one wasn’t very different. The only name I remember hearing was “Charlotte,” though I was probably thinking about “Hermione” too. I don’t know why my dream-self had a baby with no name, but I suspect it was a combination of reasons 1 and 3. One thing is certain to me, though – not knowing you’re pregnant until labor is a far more terrifying prospect than not having a name!
What do you think? Do you agree with my points and suggestions, or would you add anything? And to my fellow name-enthusiasts: have you ever had this nightmare?
3 thoughts on “A Namer’s Nightmare”
I imagine this is somewhat akin to the irony of a writer being at a loss for words. But really it’s because the writer knows so many words that the writer will insist on choosing just the very perfect one that encapsulates and best portrays the desired meaning. What if you know too many names and origins and meanings that you can’t place your finger on just the right one. Or you find out your SO had a childhood bully or a nasty boss who had your dream name. Or, like my brother, you were expecting a girl the entire time and had a girl’s name picked out and then here comes a boy and now you’ve got to think of a new one. That’s how Erika became Jericho. Hahah.
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“The irony of a writer being at a loss for words” – absolutely! I forgot about the possibility of having a different-gendered baby than expected.
By the way, I love that they got Jericho from Erika and didn’t just use Eric…creativity, yay! But doesn’t that mean that your brother’s name is rather close to yours? (Or is Jericho your nephew?)
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Jericho is my brother. And yes, it can get confusing sometimes. All of the boys on my father’s side have J names. My one cousin is Jero, and my other is Jed (short for Joseph Edward).Hahah.
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