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Baby NameNapping

By Amalah

Oh Amy I need help!

There is a bit of a backstory to this, but I will try to keep it short. My husband and I moved to a new city a few months ago. The only family either of us has over here is my husband’s Aunt and Uncle. They have been a great support, and after trying for a baby for ages they finally got pregnant.


I am so happy for them, but I am pregnant too! We kept it a secret for as long as possible, and only told the family a month ago. She is due in Nov and I am due early next year. Apart from stealing her “allthingsbaby” limelight by being the 4th generation and therefore giving the gift of GREAT grandchildren (instead of hers which would be just grandchildren) I am also 10 years younger. This doesn’t affect me in any way, but her having no family of her own I think this affects her somewhat.

I am trying to be as nice as possible, and keeping her in the spotlight as this is clearly what she wants. We had dinner with them over the weekend and we have just found out their choice of baby names. They are not finding out what they are having, so they have a boy’s name and a girl’s name all picked out.

My husband and I have also been picking out names. I am having a girl, and I have a girl’s name that I have loved since I was old enough to want kids. Hubby loves the name too, and it is the one thing that we can actually agree on.

Our problem is that the Aunt has also chosen that name as her girl’s name. I have never said anything to her about the name, as I didn’t want anyone to steal it. But it seems that she has come up with the name all on her own. I actually thought they were talking about my baby names, and that my husband must of told her our choices.

I was shocked to hear her speak it, and really sad when she told us it was her girl’s name. Now I know they only have a 50% chance of having a girl, but they are going to keep the name for their next baby. I don’t know what to do.

As she is going to keep the name, and didn’t know I wanted it it seems really spiteful to name my baby that name. But at the same time I can’t just throw it out the window. It’s a name I love and a name my husband loves! But I don’t want to cause a rift in my husband’s family. He told me that the decision is up to me as I am doing all the work with carrying the baby.

But I don’t know! Please please help. Your ideas and suggestions are VERY welcome!


Well. So. (And other assorted filler words that I compulsively type while I’m trying to organize my many sundry opinions.)

Let’s see…

1) You did not discuss baby names with her. You did not disclose your choice of name, you did not “call” the name in any way.

2) It’s a name you’ve “always loved,” but not one you have any kind of real “claim” to — like it being your mother’s or grandmother’s name, something with real family meaning and importance.

3) She is having her baby first.

Unfortunately, I think you have to cede the name over, at this point. This isn’t a case of someone “stealing” your name, as I’m sure you know — more like an unfortunate coincidence. The thing is, hundreds or thousands or even hundreds of thousands of other expectant couples have ALSO probably come up with “your” name this year. We may try our best to pick something in that sweet spot of “not too popular but not too weird” sweet spot, but so does everybody else. Usually by the time you realize you’ve chosen a more common name than you thought (preeeeeeschoooooool), it rarely ends up being as important as you thought it was when you were pregnant. It sucks that the overlap is already happening, before your daughter is even here, and especially when it’s happening within your immediate family, where there are sort-of imaginary rules about no doubling-up on names. (Although my OB-GYN used to tell me that he and his two brothers all have sons named David, because they all just really liked the name David, and nobody apparently gives a crap, not even David, Dave and Davey.)

(Also, if you want to laugh, go do some baby-names message-board Googling and read the postings from ENRAGED pregnant women ranting about their names being “stolen.” Oh, honey, when you’re talking about super-ultra-duper popular names like “Jayden” and “Emma,” nobody’s really stealing anything.)

You can absolutely, certainly talk to her. Tell her that her girl’s name was indeed the one you already picked out. Laugh about it, bond over your mutual good taste. Ask if she has a boy, if she would be really, really offended if you used the name. Are there possibilities for different nicknames, perhaps, if you both have girls? What about as a middle name, just since you’re so very attached to it? It can’t hurt to at least have the conversation — maybe they’ve thought of another possibility and are waffling between two names after all. Maybe she’s not as “protective” of her potential baby names as some women. But if she says that no, it is “her” name, she’s sorry, even if she has a boy…I do think you’re out of luck, and at that point ABSOLUTELY need to back away from the name.

Remove all the stuff about her being older and the infertility and the thunder-stealing: you guys could be twin sisters expecting babies a few months apart and my answer would still be the same. IT SUCKS. I KNOW. I told very, very few people our name choices ahead of time, and it never occurred to me that the secrecy could have completely backfired like it has for you. If, say, you did tell her your name choice and she used it when her baby was born before yours…well, that’s flat-out stealing and you would have every right to be completely livid about it. But…she’ll probably think the same about you, if she has a boy and you go ahead and use the name she announced without talking to her. As this situation stands now…unless a conversation with her leads to some other agreed-upon compromise, I think you and your husband need to head back to the name drawing board and come up with something else.

My husband, Jason, and I had names picked out before I got pregnant too — names I loved (and still love!) and was just oh-so-sure that they were The Names for our hypothetical son and/or daughter. And then I got pregnant and both names were just…wrong, somehow. Because we came up with those names for that hypothetical baby, and now we were having a real baby and he needed his own real name, chosen for him. We kept The Name We Always Adored as our backup for both of the boys, all the way to the delivery room, and neither one of them ended up with it.

So think about it this way, if it helps with the letting go: That name you’ve always loved was a name from another time, from before your daughter existed, from before your plans for having your daughter even existed. Now she’s real and she’s on her way and you have the chance to pick out a name just. For. Her. You can do it, and her name will be lovely and perfect, and probably waaaay better than her cousin’s.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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