Hi Duana,

I'm excited to be writing to you! My husband and I are expecting our first, a girl due in early April.

We've had boys names picked out for a while. His top pick was Lincoln, to be called Link and mine was Archer. We also agreed on a backup name of Flynn and resolved to meet the baby to see which of these three (all of which we like and agree on) would suit the baby. Middle name was a toss up between the first-time grandpa's names of either David or Stanford.

However, as I'm sure you've heard a million times by now, we found out that it was a girl and have been stuck ever since. The names that we've been tossing around but haven't quite felt right for either of us are: Parker, Piper, Sloane, Andie, Rory and Lyra. My top pick is Lyra, but combined with a for sure middle name of Louise (a far-reaching family tradition that I love) and our last name, that also starts with an L, I feel like it would be WAY too much alliteration. His top so far has been Rory, with a full name of Aurora (we both enjoy Rory and Aurora is growing on us, but it's still feeling not quite right). We both liked Andie, but I would like a longer name for her to also be able to use and my pick of Andromeda hasn't flown at all.

In order to make this slightly more impossible, I am a kindergarten teacher in a great, but incredibly hipster, neighbourhood. Therefore, I see the trends as soon as they register. Any kids that I've taught are names that are immediately off the table for me. Also, because of the neighbourhood, I see a lot of unique names and therefore have to decide to fit in slightly with a "different" name or go a little more mainstream.

As an aside, I have asked my five-year-old students what I should name the baby and have received some stellar suggestions - Boys names included Snowflake and Pictures. Girls names included Laiera, Clea and Ariel.

My husband and I also have the added burden(?) of having unique - or at least uniquely spelled - names. We've both had to spell our first names our entire lives, as they often get misheard. Also, combined with our last name, we are usually the first hit on Google. Is this something to consider when naming our daughter? 

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Thank you!


Before we get to some of the fun things in this letter, of which there are many, I think you should take note of the fact that you’ve just started the next hipster-performance-coffee-table-book trend: You know ‘Mortified’ or ‘Grown Ups Read Things They Wrote As Kids’ or similar concepts? I feel like you can go ahead and trademark ‘5-year-olds Name Babies.” I don’t think it needs to be cute and precious but I do think I would actually totally consider a child named ‘Pictures’.

The next fun thing is that no, nobody ever says ‘we’re having a girl and what do we do now’; it’s always the other way around. For that matter, people never have boys’ names as pinpointed as you do, so this is an unusual circumstance….made even more interesting by the fact that I LOVE ALLITERATION.

Why are people anti alliteration? I know it’s not for everyone and it’s definitely not for all the time. But it’s like being redheaded. Not every family has one, and certainly not everyone in a family with a redhead is a redhead, but if you get to be that special someone, you can carry that around with you. 

I find it rare that it doesn’t work. Lyra Louise Lastname sounds great, and let’s be honest (and you’ve heard me say this before) she’s going to be called Lyra Lastname, which works, or occasionally, for fun or lecturing, Lyra Louise. You’re never going to say Lyra Louise Lastname after you write the birth-announcement email. Think about it, Lincoln Lastname wasn’t going to be a problem, right?

The simplest solution is to put in another middle name -- with Louise, not instead of it. “Lyra Jean-Louise”, “Lyra Louise Claire Lastname”, “Lyra Mary Louise Lastname”. Lyra is short enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re waiting forever to get to the end of the name, and you get the names you love. But if you decided against it, I could totally understand the Rory and Aurora love, so what do you think isn’t landing with you?

I wonder if it’s the ‘formalness’ of Aurora, since your other names are short and crisp and you’re so attracted to Andie. But since you’re not using it, and your proposal of Andromeda (Yes! Please!) means you don’t want Andrea (which I support… sorry Andrea, but your name is currently in a dated spot), I think what you want is a name that’s effortlessly short but feminine, easy but stylish, and doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be a nickname repping a ‘real’ name.

I think about something that ends in the ‘e’ sound without trying or being shortened—Eleni or Naomi, or Esme, if I were stretching it. Nameberry suggests people who like Naomi might like Allegra, and that’s got nothing to do with names you’ve suggested but also has your style written all over it. What about Talia, or, using Piper as a jumping-off point, the lovely Pilar?

(PS. One of my ‘Teen Stars You Love!’ books I ordered from Scholastic told me that Staci Keanan’s sister was named Pilar, and even then it set off my 10-year-old radar: “People who name a child Staci do not name the other one Pilar”. If you’ve been wondering about this since you first had a pull-out poster from Big Bop magazine, turns out Staci Keanan’s real name is Anastasia, of course. Mystery solved, more satisfactorily than 10-year-old me anticipated.)

Finally, you know I don’t always walk down the male-names-for-girls too much but something suggested this to me – what about Spencer? If you’re into teen actors after the anecdote above, years ago the show South of Nowhere had a lead teenage girl character called Spencer, and it totally, utterly worked. Seeing Parker and Piper and Sloane on your list made me think that one might fit your specifications. (Lainey: I LOVE Spencer for a girl. DO it!)

I really don’t know which way you’re going to go or even which way I want you to. I think Lyra and alliteration are amazing, but if you don’t choose them, you have so many other options. I am mystified and excited. Let me know!