Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting twins this month and I'm so tired this pregnancy that I cannot find the brain power to choose names I like. Or rather, to choose names both my husband and I agree on, or to convince him of the best names :) 

We don't know the babies' genders. So that means we need to choose up to 8 names (2 first girls' names, 2 middle names, 2 first boys' names, and their middle names). It is hard work.

We have a daughter already, Celeste Lucia. My husband is Irish, and we chose Celeste to honour my Canadian heritage. We love that it works in English and French. We expected the twins' names to likewise follow suit, French names that work in English - but our list so far is a little more international that that. 

We have a solid list of about 5 of our favourite girls names (Lena, pronounced Lay-na, Mara, Romi, Gwen, and Naomi). Middle names will likely be Margot and/or Isla. Lena and Mara are our top two, except if we have 2 girls, we won't use both since they are too similar, so we know we'll have to choose between them, which sucks because they are both so beautiful. If we choose Mara, then both Isla and Margot sound too alliterative for a middle name.

But we can't agree on boys names. My faves are his least favourite, and vice versa. From early on, I have absolutely adored Remi and fought hard for it (although if we have B/G twins, we can't combine it with Romi for the girl). My husband at first said it was "too French", although I argue there is no accent or special pronunciation needed. I think he's just not feeling it. It's begrudgingly 6th on his list. FYI the middle names will likely be Syme and/or Ruairi.

We both like Raphael, or Rafael, or Rafe but wonder if it's too many syllables for our Irish 4 syllable last name, but to be honest, it just doesn't quite feel like "the one". Other contenders I like are Hayden, Nico, Rhys, Stefan, Eli, and Levi, and his are Clyde, Alec, Ellis, Otis, and Ezra. We both like all these names, but to different degrees. But none feel right yet. Stefan was a recent addition to the list we are both kind of simmering on, and Eli was an old favourite of mine that he vetod that has since come back on the list, along with Levi. So there's potential for us to agree on those ones.

So, other than agreeing on potential boy names, we also have the conundrum of which combinations to use if we have boy/girl twins, that will still fit with Celeste.

With time running out, and my brain power going even faster, I worry that these twins will come and we'll end up naming them Jamie and Cersei. Please help me avoid doing that.

Thank you!


Onnnne thing at a time. This is preposterous of me to say, obviously, because you have many many things in the air, but let’s just lay down a couple of ground rules, okay? 

You have it here. You already have your kids’ names in your hand, in one way or another, so I would discourage you from tearing up every book, play, and random book of poetry in search of some unknown gem. 

Because you already know your style, and what you like – it’s just that instead of making you feel confident in choosing some, you are hoarding allll of the names just in case! You’re hanging onto a bajillion names as life rafts ‘just in case’, and it’s clouding your vision. Quit it! Don’t undermine yourself – give yourself the space to do this right! 

I love, for example, that you have two middle names that will work for all of your girls’ names – but you have to trust that now. You have a concern about how they go with Mara? That’s okay, because you have at least three other first names that you can sub in. You can, for example, extend Gwen to Gwendolyn, or go with Elena as a middle, or think about Romilly… you’re going to be okay. I promise. 

And – you’re not as far apart as you think on the boy’s names, by a long shot. But in order to get 

Eli and Ellis and Otis and Ezra and Levi  -- they all live in very similar places, so I’m going to wager you’ll come down to using just one of ALL of them, two at the very, very most. My first thought was that Elias is the perfect place to live between Eli and Ellis, especially because it allows for Eli as a nickname.  Also, Nico and Alec have a lot of similar properties. There’s one hard sound followed by a number of soft ones, which also lines up with Celeste Lucia and with your girls’ names. 

I think your guiding principle here should be to throw out any names that neither of you can absolutely get behind. I’m sorry to tell you that this means Remi is out – ‘begrudgingly added’ is not going to get over the hump to ‘joyfully given to a child who absolutely suits it’ when you have all of these other great names in the wings.  But don’t worry. That means you can also throw out at least one from his list – my gut says it’s going to be Clyde, based on the sounds that are unlike most of the others you have, and that it hasn’t gotten any attention paid it in your letter! 

And I most definitely don’t think you should eliminate any names because they ‘might be too long’ with a long surname. If they’re long, they’re long! They’re still each great names, and nobody is going to sweat over saying seven total syllables in a first-and-last, I promise you! 

So – now we play. And YES, I’m going to be fast and loose with some of the names you designated as first vs. second, partly to see how you react. Ready? 

Celeste Lucia and her siblings…

Mara Gwendolyn and Elias Ruairi 
Naomi Margot and Levi Syme
Romi Isla and Raphael Rhys 

…how are we doing? You can see what I’m doing here, right? You have a lot of Rs in contention, for example. If you don’t like alliteration, maybe time to let a few of them go, because your combinations will be interrupted. Or, if you don’t like me extending Gwen to ‘Gwendolyn’, or think Romi Isla sounds like it needs an extra syllable (I tend to agree here) then you see what work needs to be done. 

Moving on… 

Hayden Ruairi and Eli Syme
Ellis Ruairi and Raphael Syme
Levi Syme and Nico Ruiari 

Anything hitting here? If not, let’s start mixing them up more… 

Levi Alec and Ellis Syme 
Ezra Ruairi and Stefan Rhys 
Otis Hayden and Levi Rafael

…see what I mean about the Elis and Ellises and Levis and Otises?  You only need one of these names. Similarly, if Ruairi is the likelier middle name if you only need one, get rid of all those R first names, you know? 

“No, screw you, I don’t want to!” Okay, good, then there’s your answer. If you want to keep some of your R names in contention, Ruairi is no longer one of the middle names. The longer you hang onto ‘possible possibilities’ the more likely it is you’re tying yourself in knots, you know? 

Lena Margot and Naomi Isla
Gwen(dolyn) Isla and Mara Romilly
Romi Gwendolyn and Naomi Lena 

Look, this is starting to become clear to me the further down the line of names we walk. This is a poker game – you have to play some hands, you can’t just hang onto all the cards forever, you know? 

Case in point:  If Lena and Mara can’t go together – and I understand why that is --  then by definition they can’t be your top two, you know? In the event of two daughters you won’t use them both as first names, and in the event of one daughter… one is going to win out. You won’t get clearer on that by waiting until the babies in question arrive! 

My gut would say that you go in with ONE girl name and ONE boy name as a do-or-die. If you have G/B twins, great, you’re done! If not – you sub in your second-choice names in either situation. Do NOT entertain the idea of “oh but if we only have one boy we’d use a #2 boys’ name as the middle and….”  Stop that. Madness lies that way. You can do this…

But it means you have to start making cuts. You can’t use all the names, so assume you won’t need them. Cut them free! It will clear your mind immeasurably, and you’ll feel much, much clearer with only one name for each gender to worry about. 

…now, if you find yourself lying awake fantasizing about the one name that didn’t make the cut? That’s who you tap in for a surprise B/B or G/G combination. 

Trust me. Trust you. Trust these twins of yours – and let us know!