It’s actually fairly early on in my pregnancy (don’t tell Lainey, I feel like she wouldn’t approve and would worry I’m jinxing it, judging by how we couldn’t talk about Baby Wales for a while), but I’ve been so sick this time around - and now I know why, we found out today we’re having twins (!) - that pondering names is a very welcome distraction.

Our first son’s name is Sullivan. Which I love. I love it so much that although I’m dying to know your opinion of it (usually I really agree with your name analysis), I won’t mind if you don’t care for it. We chose it because it isn’t common, but it still felt classic.

I feel pretty certain we’ll have more boys, but really, no matter what we end up with, I’m at a loss. We can’t come across anything we like as well (I love Sawyer and Dexter for boys, and we’re keen on Auden for a girl, but nothing is sticking like Sullivan did). The whole last-name-as-first –which we had loved- suddenly seems like quite an obstacle. Do we do another last-name-as-first? Two more last-names-as-firsts? Do we have to? Should we definitely not? I’d really like our kids’ names to go well together, but now I’m worried that we’re going to sound like we’re calling a law firm or mortgage company to dinner each night. Eeeek!

Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you! G


Superstitions aside, congratulations! You hit the baby-naming jackpot, in the sense of not having to narrow it down to one name plus a bonus. This is only good news and I hope that you’re feeling relatively good.

But I can see the twin pressure is one thing, and then doubled because you have a precedent set already by a great older-brother name. Sullivan is great, not knowing your last name, and it will stand alone regardless of his younger siblings’ names.

I think going for more surnames here as a rule is going to cause you more trouble than it’s worth. If you love them regardless, that’s one thing –  feel free. Sullivan, Sawyer and Auden, for example – yes, sure, kind of law-firm – but also the same degree of familiarity for all, the same degree of gender-neutrality, and the "S"es match, as well as the "n" endings.

But – you said they’re not sticking for you in the same way.

So my first, most prominent piece of advice is to do whatever. If they wind up being called Sullivan, Vanessa, and Otto, well,  those are your kids. I do think that, especially with three, two of whom are going to "go together" anyway, you need to free yourself a little – especially if there’s a possibility you might have more afterwards.

So I think the key here is style profile – you want to choose a name with the same amount of overall sophistication as Sullivan.   Luckily, that’s a large list. I’m leaning heavier on the boy side because you are too -  but if these turn out to be two (well, four) X-chromosomes we can definitely revisit.

Off the top of my head, some longer names come into play. Finnegan is too close to Sullivan, maybe, but Phineas might not be. Duncan? (Dexter and Duncan, if you’re feeling matchy?) How about Eamonn? It’s the latest about-to-be-mass-consumed Irish/Gaelic name, but you can get in just under the wire if you grab it now.

Elliot comes up a lot and it’s already in a lot of use, but it could be useful here in terms of being a style match. Thaddeus? Would you consider Rafferty? One resource I have says that a good companion name for Sullivan is Gallagher, which …it’s a lot of syllables. Is it for you?

To supplement with a couple of girl names – I feel this is a situation that cries out for Sloane, even if Sloane has become, well, Sloaney. Other stylish ones that don’t scream feminissima? How about Deirdre?  Delaney? Is Tatum Sullivan’s sister?

I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface here, and so I invite you – specifically you, G -  to send me a followup with more preferences or vetoes or information about what these twins are packing down there so we can go another round. If you want.