Hi Duana, 

After struggling for 5 years with infertility, and getting science involved, we had our daughter Marigold Delphine last year. For us, there was a lot to like and reasons of ‘right fit’ for choosing Marigold (one being a tradition in my family to do a derivative of Maria/Mary for girls, another was how it goes with her father’s last name.) Delphine was our other fave, particularly my husband’s – so we went with both, in that order, as we wanted a middle name for her. We never thought we’d get the chance to have another, let alone another girl. 

Well fast forward and lo and behold, I am surprise pregnant again, without any special help like last time. It is a freaking miracle. We went back to our names list and, well, we are still stuck on Delphine (possibly pairing it as Delphine Marie). Is this a bad idea? Using our first daughter’s middle name as our 2nd’s first? I never thought our first would get a lot of mileage out of her middle name, as it wouldn’t be used much. My husband just really loves the name, and I sort of feel I got more my way with Marigold. Is it weird and I am I too tired and hormonal to put the kibosh on this? Should we go back to the drawing board to get more creative? Thank you!


Hey! Delighted to be able to have your letter as proof that miracles do still happen every now and again, even if it’s created a problem (albeit a good kind of problem) you never expected to have. Like I said earlier today, I will take everything I can get.

Basically what you have here is what will henceforth be called “The Mendes-Gosling Paradox”, wherein, when faced with two children of the same sex, the parents realized they used up their #2 favourite in the middle of the first name. Eva Mendes explains a bit more here, but though she indicates it was her grandmother’s name and that name repetition is somewhat common in Latin culture, what it really comes down to is that was the name they loved the best. So they used it. 

It’s kind of simple when explained that way, right? There’s a lot more that could be said, but ultimately, they loved it, so they used it. When I read your letter, especially the part about never picturing yourselves having another child at all, I can see the rationale for just going with your favourite. “The name so nice they used it twice.”  The way I see it, you have three options. 

Option one, the argument to use Delphine, is laid out above. You love it, you didn’t realize you were going to love it so much more than anything else, and the opportunity to name someone else is a total surprise. I’m not generally in the habit of endorsing this kind of thing, but under the current circumstances, the argument for using it again becomes somewhat compelling. 

The argument against, of course, is that there are so many glorious and incredible names out there that you’d be leaving on the table! So many that would be in line with your style, and allow you to keep Marigold Delphine as the frankly, completely gorgeous name it already is, while also giving your second daughter something that’s totally her own. Because that’s my concern here – not that you’re ‘taking’ the middle name from Marigold, but the opposite: that baby Delphine might think ‘well, she had it first’. 

Obviously people who read this column a lot won’t be surprised that my first inclination is to suggest the similar ‘Daphne’ but it’s not just because it shares similar sounds to Delphine (though that doesn’t hurt). Instead, I started thinking about how fun it could be if the girls’ initials were MD and DM – Daphne Maria would work really well, as would Daphne Marieke. But if it’s not it for you, you might like the Greek name Despina, or maybe Daria or, outside of the ‘D’ sphere, maybe something like Celeste or the absolutely gorgeous Paloma. Marigold and Paloma is just about worthy of fainting over… or maybe something like Ramona or Cressida or Ingrid? 

If none of these are it, and if you just can’t find a name that comes close to the one you love, then there is a third, somewhat nuclear option. One that I might get a lot of grumpy emails about, but that might be the key in your case. 

Go ahead and name your second daughter Delphine – and while you’re at the registry office, give Marigold a new middle name. 

I know. I know! Sacrelige! That’s an already named child and an already established birth certificate! And besides, they go so well together! I don’t disagree with any of the above points, and I really do think it’s a beautiful name as is, AND I believe there are enough comparable beauties that you don’t need to re-use Delphine. Honestly. But if you absolutely cannot convince yourselves of anything besides looking at your two little girls, Marigold and Delphine, and nothing else will do, then changing Marigold’s middle name might be the path of least resistance. After all, you were the one who said you didn’t think she’d get much mileage out of it, right? For the record, I wouldn’t recommend this if she were old enough to remember her middle name, or if she’s the particularly precocious kind of 1-year-old who already knows her middle name and phone number or whatever. But if it’s not going to hurt anyone, it might be the unconventional option that hurts you guys the least. 

I often say I don’t know how things are going to turn out, but my prediction is that you’re going to find a name you love as much as Marigold Delphine and that this will be a hilarious story about the time you considered using it twice. That said, I can’t be sure – and I’m not necessarily mad at any outcome. 

But I AM extremely curious. Please let us know!