Hi Duana,

I've considered emailing you twice before (with my first two babies), but felt certain enough in my love for them so never pulled the trigger. Their names are Gavin and Ivy, two names which I still adore, even when I'm screaming them at top volume across the park or up the stairs. For my third, gender yet to be revealed, I can't really return to the pile of rejected names for the above kids (it feels like recycling lacking virtue), so we've started an entirely fresh new list.


I like British-ish and/or turn of the century, which I'm sure you can tell, as those names seem to pair better with my husband's very unpronounceable Ukranian surname while nodding my Brit background. And I get a thrill seeing names drop in the popularity list—that has helped seal the deal before. We're pretty settled on Gemma and Desmond—unless there's something I'm missing? The other considerations for round three are Violet (but too popular), Wren, Penelope, Stella, Scarlett. For boys, we like Leon, Quentin, and Harrison.

Middle name will be mine, Frances/Francis, as I didn't change my name when I married my husband and just suddenly realized that I should infuse a bit of my namesake somewhere (didn't occur to me with the first two, ha!).

Anyway, appreciate your insight as always. Show your Work is getting me through lately--please keep it going!



How is it that I spend more time than ever before in constant contact with people? Between the group chats, DMs, and our parents’ increasing comfort with Facebook and Zoom, I’m literally talking to people every minute of the day, which is saying something because that was already my M.O. before the world ended. 

Yet I’m still starved for contact. I even tried to chat up my kid’s teacher when she called, as though I’m not smack in the middle of her 20-parent call list, so obviously I’m still excited by the novelty of humans… any humans, even if they surprise FaceTime so I wind up ‘casually’ holding my hair back so nobody can see how desperately it needs attention. 

Is that what’s going on with you, K? Like, don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to hear from you and I’m really charmed by your names, both present and prospective, but… you’re set. Aren’t you? Like, did I misinterpret the line “we’re pretty settled on Gemma and Desmond”? I know you said ‘unless we’re missing anything’, but do you think you are? 


To my mind, both names have a comfortable rarity, some Brit-appeal (which I also see with Gavin and Ivy) and an unidentifiable ‘it’ factor that, honestly, I don’t see as much in the rest of your name lists; they’re nice alternatives, but not as good as Gemma and Desmond, and none fit as well with Gavin and Ivy. 

So… are you just stockpiling? Looking for alternatives to your alternatives? Or are you somehow not quite as certain about them as you were with your first two? Hell, if you just wanted to write to me, that’s okay too, I love it! I just don’t want you to stress yourself unnecessarily. 

But just for giggles, let me give you a few alternatives in case it turns out you’re having surprise quints or something…

I will say that my only real objection to your list of girls’ names is that they’re much more popular than Ivy or Gemma. Stylistically, I have no objection, and if we were having this conversation ten years ago, most would be slam dunks (though the Scarlett craze was happening by then, I think.) So to go down in popularity we have to go a bit further afield – how about Imogen or Willa or Daphne or Phoebe or Helen? As we know, I’m incapable of feeling objective about Daphne, but popularity and style wise it’s right in line with all the others, and Helen or Phoebe are as beautifully spare and faintly Brit-o-phile. Celia? Adele? Gwynne? 


I have fewer popularity objections to Leon, Quentin, and Harrison, except that Desmond is just somehow special-er, but I appreciate a planner’s over-the-top plans, believe me. Other feel-alikes you might consider are Louis or Victor or Marcus or Lionel – I’d include Calvin or Donovan if they didn’t have similar endings to Gavin. Maybe you’d like Walter or Lawrence or the neglected, but very awesome, Rupert? 

Am I shouting into the wind? Am I missing some key element here? You have such great names, and alternatives to keep you going well into the future if you decide kids 4, 5, and 6 are on the horizon someday. In short, K, at the risk of sounding pander-y, you’ve showed *your* work here, and you can absolutely go forward with my blessing, and/or the knowledge that I was happy to hang out, because I absolutely was, and I’m feeling great about whomever’s arriving to your family this week. 

Let us know!