Hi Duana!
I am pregnant with my second child, a boy, due in mid-February. We are nameless, but with two possibilities that are at extreme ends of the spectrum. I had at one time been really invested in the name River, but I’m conflicted for two reasons, one big and one small. 

The small reason is that I’m not sure that name fits with our daughter, who is Miriam, nicknamed Mimi. Those two names don’t really scream “siblings” when you consider that pair in writing or out loud, but I can move past that.
The bigger reason is that over a dinner conversation with friends and family, the group was talking about an acquaintance, also pregnant, who planned on naming her son Summit. To which my husband contributes, “Yeah, and she (me!) likes the name River. What a dumb name.” Laughter and mockery ensue. Cut to present day, where my husband has conveniently forgotten that and is pushing the name River so hard for our son. This likely speaks to my pride more than anything else, but I have always felt that naming a child was a private, intimate thing and I was/am never one to discuss potential names (I understand the irony of writing to you, and possibly having this letter appear on the interwebs) or even ask others what they are considering naming their children; I felt it was nosy and disrespectful. So when he shared a name I really liked, in a spirit of derision, it really soured it for me. I don’t think I can get past that, knowing that everyone has already passed judgment and sh*t on the name. But now it’s the only name my husband will consider. Should I just get over it and go with the original choice? I know our friends and family will love our little boy no matter what he’s named, but that conversation left a bad taste in my mouth.
I also really like the name Ezra, but I have reservations based on its current popularity. I don’t know any Ezras (although my daughter is still too young for pre-k so I have yet to truly take the temperature of our community) and other baby boys I know have fairly straightforward, classical names: Jack, Ben, Sean, Christian. Ezra flows very well with our last name (a traditional Jewish tribal surname), but it just feels like a runner-up to my original River, now spoiled (maybe?).
So there you have it – two very disparate names, no closer to choosing one, and uncertain if I should spend these last few weeks working on my ability to suck it up and stick with River. Honestly, at this point I’m open to just about anything as I feel totally directionless!
Thank you in advance for your help!


Well, I hope you’re feeling really good as your son is almost here – and it’s hard to distinguish between what’s regular nervous energy, and what’s a real misgiving that you need to deal with, so I’m trying to keep that in my mind as I answer this letter. 

First of all, I should say that while the circumstances are different, this isn’t the first time by far that I’ve heard of someone floating a name all “Isn’t that ridiculous?”, even though it’s a name they were actually kind of considering. Sandbagging isn’t necessarily the most emotionally confident move, but it makes sense, in a way – you protect your ego if everyone thinks it’s ridiculous. 

Or I guess, in your case, your husband protected one of your egos. 

I’m so sorry this happened to you, because I’m sure you felt very alone, and because I can see that an experience like this would change your feelings on the name, maybe irrevocably. Like you might wonder whether people were laughing about the name behind your back – even though River is a great name (and for the record, so is Summit), you want to have unbridled joy. 

I think the crux of your letter comes right in the middle, in these sentences: 

“I don’t think I can get past that, knowing that everyone has already passed judgment and sh*t on the name. But now it’s the only name my husband will consider.”

I bet longtime readers will know my opinion here, but: 

If the name is not the one you love, for whatever reason, then it’s not the name for your child. “The only name my husband will consider” implies that he’s rejecting all the other suggestions you may be making, but if River feels too tainted for you, then you need to let him know it’s off the table, if that’s the way you feel. 

I know we’re down to the 11th hour now, but if he gets that into his head, what would be the name you both would choose? If River was clearly not an option, would it be Ezra? It’s another of my favourites, and it’s different enough from the current popular boys’ names that I don’t think there is a real risk of running into a bunch of them, so I’m a huge supporter. 

But only you know if it feels like a winner, a name you can both love and be proud of, or whether it’s the ‘runner up’, and you’ll secretly wish for River. And you’ll only really know how you feel about it if you take River off the table – at least for awhile. 

If you decide to come back to it, that’s a sign that it’s bigger for you than just the hurt of that one dinner’s rejection. If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you ‘didn’t love it enough’ or that you’re too concerned with people’s opinions – it just means you’ve decided you prefer a name that doesn’t come with baggage, which is completely okay. 

I have consciously avoided suggesting any other name, because I don’t think this is what it’s about – but if you get to the point where neither of these is the one, it’s okay to open up to something new, to take a while to make a decision, or to tell your husband the two of you need to come up with new choices.  

Overall, a name is something for a kid’s whole life, and no matter what you choose, this story will get further and further in the background the farther you get from that fateful dinner. I don’t know what you’re ultimately going to choose, but I know ‘sucking it up’ should never be what you’re most focused on when choosing the name you’re going to say for the rest of both your lives. 

Ultimately, though, you’re going to be so overwhelmed with the complicated joy of your new little boy that you’re going to know with much more certainly which way you want to go, and I can’t wait to find out what it is!