I have forever been infatuated with names, I love how much they say with so little. I have kept a list of names for years - not necessarily for potential children, but simply because I appreciate them. Now, faced with naming an actual human I'm coming up completely blank. 

We have two weeks until the arrival of our sex-unknown babe and name panic is definitely setting in. Will we be those parents that have an unnamed child for weeks? At 38 weeks pregnant I’ve got a breech babe and am now faced with the decision of what type of delivery I’ll have - and a planned c-section essentially gobbles up potential weeks of name decision making!

Boys names have been our biggest struggle. For a time my partner and I were both quite taken with Florian, with each of us having our spells of thinking it’s not the one. I’m currently on team Florian, though my partner - who came up with the name in the first place - confessed it’s not really for him and he has always liked Florence better anyways. Florence is growing on me, though I’m curious if you know any other names in this wheelhouse?

Other boys names we’ve considered are Forrest, Jussi, Augustus, Ever (too close to babe’s last name Evans). My brothers came up with Acre and I don’t hate it. All these to say I’m not feeling like any are our child’s name. 

I want a name that is “known” and pronounceable, though at the same time unique to our little one. I’m being slightly ridiculous, I know. I have a dear friend who reminds me of this every day, though I can’t help thinking the name is out there! 

Now when it comes to a baby girl my big burning question is - Can we name our daughter Poet? My partner lobbed this one out there very early in my pregnancy and it has stuck. I could give you a list of reasons that this name is special and dear to our hearts, though I know these will mean nothing when our daughter is applying for her first job, being introduced in a boardroom, or having her name announced at the Olympics. So lay it on me straight. Other girls names we like are Ingrid, Imogen, and Winifred.

Thank you so much for your time in advance. We’re open to any and all advice and suggestions at this point!

If all else fails, babe will just be called Lou. The in-utero name we’ve been using for the last 8 months. 

Off to stand on my head!

So how’s the headstand working out for you? 

I have always thought the concept of people who are clearly not in labour telling people in labour what to do is a little bit nuts – but I’m sort of going to violate that concept by saying that while I don’t think you should panic, you probably do need to focus. That is, I’m reading along, nodding at all the familiar parts of not knowing if you’ve ‘met’ the right name, how best to choose, and then, the names you’re choosing between are, frankly, all over the map. No wonder you’re feeling stressed! You’re open to nature names, word names, old names and new, from every different corner of the name galaxy… I think we can find a way to make this work. 

So first of all, Florian. I like it, but understand how your first romance with a name can sometimes suddenly wither; you spend too much time with it and start idly looking for the problems with it, though I confess I can’t see many, given that it’s on trend ending in ‘n’, it has so many similarities to current favourites like Adrian and Julian, and you love the ‘f’ sound.

But if you don’t choose it, Florence is not the answer. Not for your son. 

Recently I addressed the concept of gendered names and whether it’s changing – why we need to have gendered names at all, and why we get so up in arms when the ‘appropriate’ gender for a name is somehow questioned. It’s an ongoing discussion, but I think giving a boy a name that is known not only as a ‘girl’s’ name but that is part of a revival of flowy, romantic names that belonged to our grandparents is not the best way to start equalizing names.

It’s possible you didn’t know Florence was a girl’s name – or rather, the feminine spelling; Florent is the male version, but it’s got a French pronunciation – Flo-RAWN(t)—and saying it ‘Florent’, as in the English Florence, is going to be misheard as Florence to begin with. That said, one of the first alternatives I thought of here was Laurent – same deal, the male version is Law-RAWN(t), not to be confused with the feminine ‘Laurence’ (same pronunciation with the ‘s’ sound at the end), or the anglicized Lawrence. But – do either of these appeal? Laurent has the advantage of not having a sound-alike beyond Lauren (and don’t get me started on Lawren vs. Lorne or we’ll be here all day, I seem to remember this being a problem on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman of all things). 

But I think Forrest is a nice second choice here, since it shares a lot of sounds and feelings with Florian and Florence – and then when I started to think of Augustus, I realized that what you love is a lot of ‘S’ sounds! Lawrence, Forrest, Augustus, Jussi – all of your names seem to fall into this category… with the exception of Ever, which you’ve eliminated, and Acre, which I’m going to assume was a bit desperate, not because it’s so crazy a name, but because it has nothing to do with any of your other boy choices (though if you told me it was a family name and spelled it Aiker, I would totally buy your story). 

And I have to give you props - as much as I’m raising my eyebrows a bit at the sheer random factor of your name collection, I do feel like they all fall into just about the same category in terms of familiarity. They do all feel like names you know but don’t hear that often. So given that – a penchant for ‘s’ sounds and names you know but don’t feel overloaded by, you could also consider Tobias, Gus (you don’t strike me as nickname people, but you might want to use Gus on its own), Demetrius, Thaddeus, Cyrus, Darius, or Julius… as well as August or Ernest. Is any of this ringing a bell for you? 

As for a girl named Poet – you know what I’m going to say here. Of course you can choose it and use it, and it’s not really that different from a name like Piper or Holly or other names that are also ‘just’ nouns… but, as you’ve already guessed, there are people who view the very idea of poets – or Poets – as being too airy and froufy for words, so give her Winifred or Imogen or Ingrid too, so that she can use those if she wants to, understanding that she probably will at various times.

The other thing with a name like Poet, of course, is that if you happen to have three more children you’re going to be annoyed with having to have similarly styled names for the other three. You could almost do it with some of the names you’ve listed – Poet and Forrest would be great-named siblings – but then what? Maybe Jussi could be number three, but you’ll be frustrated, and so will your children, if they’re named Poet and Forrest and Jussi and Beth. It might set up a precedent that would be difficult to keep up. 

I think the key here is to trust yourself. You have some really great names that you like and that I think are great choices but you’re just getting mixed up because you’re including every name up to the kitchen sink. But you’re going to be able to have this kid confident in the knowledge that you are, in fact, equipped with not just one great name but several. 

Now go name that child! You got this!