Hi Duana,

We are hoping you can help us. We are expecting our second child and will not be finding out the gender. Boy's name is set. For girls, we are struggling between two right now.

We both love Louisa. It sounds classic but fresh at the same time and is underused. I also think it lends itself to cute nicknames for a child but is a lovely adult name as well. I also think it goes better with our son's name, Waylon Scott.

The other name we love is Celestina (pronounced the Italian way, CHEL-ess-tee-nuh). This is my great-grandmother's name, the matriarch of the family, and she was awesome. She died when I was 13 and I still miss her. The problem is, it's such a mouthful and I don't like the nicknames it lends itself to. Chelsea? Hate. Tina? Hate. Essie? Meh. CeCe? *shrug*

Tell me your opinions on these names, or if there's another one that might fit our style that we're missing. Middle name will be Annabelle after my mother-in-law. My husband would love Annabelle for a first name, but now that it's a top 100 name in the US, I'm turned off. I would really like to avoid the top 100, because as a Jessica of the 1980s/90s, it just sucks to always have someone else with your name.


Let’s start with the easy stuff and get harder. You’re right, Annabelle is lovely, it’s also on an upswing. I don’t think any name is ever going to hit maximum density the way Jessica did, and I think it’s much more likely to have someone “sometimes” at one set of swimming lessons or in your third year of softball. What we have to remember about the top 100 is that in the past, the first 30 names were used much, much more than the next 70 on the list, but that now, it’s more likely that any given name is found on one in 100 kids. Maybe. After the top 20.

So with regard to Louisa, it’s a really perfect choice because it’s familiar, but not common. It hits your sweet spot and you like it better. Lovely name! You think it goes with Waylon. So…it should be a short letter, right?

Except you wouldn’t have sent me a much longer paragraph on Celestina if you didn’t like it somehow, and on some level like it better. So let’s talk about this.  Celestina. There’s a familial reason for it, it’s unusual, and you love your great grandmother. So why do you need a nickname for it? I don’t think Celestina is so long, no longer really than Veronica or Penelope, syllable-wise and why would you go ahead and name her something so wonderful and unusual, and then not use it?   Embrace Celestina as her full name! 

Now of course, if you really can’t stomach it either way, if neither feels right, then I will say there are some names that fall into a similar category. Melina comes to mind, and is just offbeat enough to pair nicely with Waylon. Or maybe Adele? It doesn’t have the same “a” ending but somehow it seems like it might be your aesthetic. Waylon and Adele?

It seems to me you really want to call her Celestina and have reasons for it, you just somehow feel like it’s not “cool” to do so.  It’s cool. I bless you. Go forward. Let me know!