DUANA we need help.

My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years and currently have zero kids. My 30th birthday is in August 2017 (he will be 29) and we are looking towards that as a soft opening date for the baby-making-factory (TMI?). At this point, we are planning on only having one child...having a second child isn't completely out of the question, but sticking with the idea of one feels much more manageable for both of us at this point. It does, however, mean we may only get one shot at a name!

We have two names we like if this yet-to-be-conceived baby is a girl: June and Louise (in that order, I think). We were married in June, and Louise is a bit of a family name, and both feel sweet and classic without being overused. They also lend themselves easily to cute nicknames (Junie or Lou) but they could totally be Supreme Court Justices. Middle names are hazier. I think we've settled on June Rebekah (middle name in honor of my BFF), but no clear winner for Louise. Maybe no middle name? That's fine, right??

Boy names are where we struggle! Henry is really the only one we feel more-than-neutral about, but I can't tell if it's "classic" in a good way or in an overused/boring way. My mother had a grandfather named Henry she always spoke very fondly of, and in looking back through family names for ideas that was the only inspiration we found.

What if our one child is a boy?? I need more solid options here.

MORE DETAILS: There does not have to be any family/personal significance for the name, it's just one tool we've used to get ideas and it's ended up working out. My husband's name is Zachary, and our last name is Lapaquette (pronounced like "lah-pah-KET"). I want to like the actual NAME we choose, and not rely on the nicknames that may be associated with it or having the kid go by a middle name. I don't want any names that feel too try-hard or trendy, and I feel like you're totally on that same page, so I hope you can help us brainstorm!


P.S. - PLEASE send any feedback you have about the girls names as well. Since I'm not pregnant and therefore not completely emotionally set on them, there's no better time than now to find out that June Rebekah is actually the name of some serial murderer I haven't heard of.

P.P.S. - I look forward to using any winning names not assigned to children on the many puppies I plan to raise throughout my life. Current pup is named Davey, after Sookie's first son in Gilmore Girls, because you can name a dog something cutesy and not worry about it impacting his judicial career.


Well, listen, this letter is full of all kinds of hypotheticals, and usually those are hard to work with, but because there are just about no limits in this letter, let’s go for broke!

You may, indeed, only have one kid, or you might be like, “This is amazing, let’s have six!” I don’t usually say stuff like that because what do I, or anyone else, know about your life? But seeing as you’re so flexible—nobody ever sends me their favourite, carefully chosen name and then says ‘but only if you say it’s ok’—let’s go for broke… maybe you’ll have one. Maybe you’ll have five!

Scenario 1: You have one. Girl.

In theory, this is all sorted out. June or Louise, both of which are nice names that, I agree, don’t feel overused. Here’s the key - if you have friends who have kids or are poised to do so, you must ask what their kids’ friends are named. It may be that you have a pocket of Junes or Louises in your region that would make you feel differently about things, so while I give them the popularity all-clear, your neck of the woods, or the brothers and sisters of the friends of your friends (I should use that for the title of a novel) may tell a different story. 

For me, personally, June is a bit more cute and dated – maybe left over from June Cleaver, maybe Benny and Joon—but not in a ‘don’t use it’ way, just one that feels more antique. Louise, on the other hand, feels spanking-fresh to me, given that its most recent pop-culture owner was the willfully-unacademic-yet-not-unintelligent Louise on Gilmore Girls, who, let’s be honest, was kind of a fresh take on ‘boy crazy’. (The same, I’m afraid, cannot be said for Madeleine.)

No serial killers called June Rebekah that I can think of, but if it matters or you decide to consolidate, I originally thought you were going to name a daughter, if you had one and only one, June Louise, which is still lovely, but which, to me, seems like a pointed ‘turn’ on Jean Louise, which is of course the real name of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. Nothing wrong with that, and I’ve said I think Jean is about ready for a comeback (sidebar: can we do boys named Jem? I bet they can in Australia/New Zealand…), but just so you know, that would be my first thought.

Oh, and to answer your question about ‘maybe no middle name’ for Louise, and whether that’s OK… this is a topic on which people are divided. When I was researching for my book, most people who had middle names had a strange sort of affection for them, even if the names were sort of embarrassingly old-fashioned. On the other hand, people who didn’t have middle names largely thought middle names were kind of dumb and useless, fraction-wise, let’s say 5/7 of them.

So you can go without a middle if you want, and Louise is a strong name and can stand on its own, and I hear you that other names you love can be spent on puppies—but on the other hand, you may as well pile on names you love on a person. First of all I don’t mind Louise Rebekah, but if you do, what about Louise Annabeth or Louise Penelope or Louise Odessa?

Scenario Two: You have one. Boy.

OK so yes. Unlike June and Louise, Henry is HAPPENING… in the sense that everyone and their brother (literally, in some families) got the message that ‘old-fashioned-names’ are the fashionable choice, and then throw out ‘unattractive’ ones like Wilbur and ‘old-seeming’ names like George, and land on perfectly-turned-and-simple Henry, except for the substantial portion who choose ‘Charlie’ instead. 

Depending on where you are, Henry falls somewhere between #20 and #35, though it’s less popular in Ireland and Scotland than England, for example. Chances are good that you know, or will know, a Henry… even if he’s a few years older or younger than yours.

Yeah? So? The answers to those two rhetorical questions are entirely up to you. Henry is a classic name that can be found throughout history, and is not akin to naming your daughter Jessica in 1991 in terms of being a hugely ‘trendy’ name. However, it’s not going to be singular, or elicit what I’ve been inclined to call ‘the tiny pause’, where people are so impressed with your name choices.

If the tiny pause is what you want, you could consider other easy-to-say names that are still rare: Leland, or August, or my beloved Walter, or something definitively different like Ogden, or Ambrose, or another of my favourites, Enoch. If all of these feel way too weird, how about Damon or Harvey or Ezra or Victor?

Scenario Three: You have more than one. Or twins. Or…

...I think, in this situation, we have you covered? Let me know what you think. And yeah, start your…processors. Or whatever is the euphemism of your choice. Let us know!