Prev Next

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.

smackdown_babynametheft.png

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!

Sincerely,
Confused.

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.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
bethany actually
Guest

Personally, I’ve never understood the whole “You STOLE my name!” drama, or why cousins in the same family can’t have the same names. I have a Great-Uncle Bill, two Uncle Bills, and two cousins named Bill. It’s never bothered anyone in the least, as far as I know. If someone loved my daughter’s name and wanted to use it, it really wouldn’t bother me a bit. Maybe your husband’s aunt will feel the same way, you never know till you ask her!

Lauri
Guest

I had this same situation, but I was the older Aunt in the story. My daughter was coming home in Nov, adopted from Russia, My niece was due with her second daughter in April. Anyone who knows me, knows I have always wanted to name my future daughter Olivia…we had a slim shot of getting a girl in the first place. We did not choose a gender. My niece ended up naming her daughter the same thing. It has caused unspoken friction in the family. I don’t feel I should have conceded…after-all my daughter was coming home first and was… Read more »

Bitts
Guest
Bitts

Excellent advice, Amy. Probably not what Confused wanted to hear, but right on, all the same. I would say pass on the name regardless of how the conversation with Aunt goes. She will be shocked and hurt (rightly or wrongly) but if she’s polite, she will probably try to let you use the name in some way. Please don’t. Let her have the name 100% and just chalk it up, even if she has a boy this time around. The thing about kids’ names is, even though you AGONIZE about them before they are born, regardless of what you pick,… Read more »

Brenda
Guest

My grandfather was Matthew the IV and named none of his four sons Matthew. However, in the next generation it was a free-for-all on Matthews. My cousin in Matthew. My brother is Matthew. Then my sister had the gall to marry a Matthew. By the way, all of them go by “Matt”. Amazingly, no one seems to hate each other due to the convergence of Matthews. I would talk it out with your aunt and uncle. And then hit the baby books again — there are a million and one fantastic baby names. Surely you can find two you like.… Read more »

Jess
Guest
Jess

Yes the whole situation sucks. But I really don’t get what the big deal is. Its YOUR baby. Name him/her what ever you like. Yeah they might have the same name but they’re still going to grow up and become unique people.

Jessica
Guest

I completely agree with Amy on this one. I think since she didn’t “steal” your name on purpose, you can’t “steal” it back if they end up having a boy. I would ask her, if they end up having a boy, if she minds if you use it. Maybe it would help to ask while you guys are staring at her new beautiful son (mama hormones and all that…). It is entirely possible that even if they save the name for a future child, they won’t use it. They may have another boy or they may have found a new… Read more »

Joceline
Guest
Joceline

Great advice. I agree that you run waaaaay too strong of a risk of creating dissension in the family, and very few things are worth that. If you really feel like you can have a light-hearted conversation with your aunt about the name, go for it. If you feel iffy about it, I wouldn’t even bring it up, not until after both babies are born and named, and then you truly can joke. If it helps at all, we named our son a name that my husband LOVED, but I initially said “no way!” to. Over time, it grew on… Read more »

Kristin
Guest
Kristin

I agree with Amy. Especially if you didn’t speak up the minute she said it was the name she picked out. Maybe if you said something right away, you could have “laid claim” a bit more to the name. Now it will only look like you are the “name stealer” whether or not you actually came up with the name first. Good Luck!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I know the name thing seems like the BIGGEST DEAL IN THE WORLD while you’re pregnant, but somehow once the baby is here it becomes totally unimportant. Follow Amy’s advice. Whatever name you end up picking for your daughter will soon make the name you were going to pick completely wrong.
Good luck, and congratulations!

Vicki
Guest
Vicki

On one side of my family, all the men are named George, Mike or Jim. ALL OF THEM. Including the men that my female cousins married. It’s bizarre and mostly unplanned and sort of in relation to the plethora of Italian juniors and fate but really, it’s not a big deal. And has become a family joke and sort of a badge of honor. I totally agree with Amy. I understand NOT wanting to have that conversation because if you have it and she says no, absolutely not, you cannot have my girl name, then well … you cannot have… Read more »

KateP
Guest
KateP

There is a good chance that if her baby is a boy, she will abondon the shared name, even for subsequent children. EVERYONE was convinced that my son was a girl. Not in an “Oh my God, we painted the nursery pink” kind of way, but to the point that when he was delivered via csection and my husband came around the drape to tell me it was a boy, I asked him to check again. That said, we were set on the name Emily. Needless to say, we didn’t name our son Emily, and I can’t imagine naming our… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

Oh, I disagree on this one. I think you have the right to name your baby whatever you want! I have both a brother and a cousin named Matt, and it has never caused any drama between my mom and aunt that I know of. When we’re together for family functions, the younger Matt often gets called ‘Little Matt’ (they are about 8 years apart in age), but it’s used as a family endearment.

Wallydraigle
Guest

For once, I disagree. Well, kind of. I think the letter writer can name her baby any name she wants to without breaking any kind of rules, etiquette or otherwise. However, sometimes, for the sake of family harmony, we don’t do everything that we have a right to do even when we really, really want it. While I don’t think the Aunt has the exclusive right to any name, and I don’t think anyone can legitimately call dibs on a name, I think it would be understandable if this hurt her a little. So, no, I don’t think it would… Read more »

Lori
Guest
Lori

I have a sh*tload of “Hazels” and “Myrtles” as aunts. On both sides of the family. No one cared. I think people were a lot less territorial back then, walking uphill both ways in the snow to school as they did and wrestling over the lone bean in the pot of soup. My daughter is Elizabeth Rose, called “Rosie” because it FIT her better (but I needed those brownie points by giving her my mother’s first name. SCORE!) ALL her female cousins, on BOTH sides, have Elizabeth as a middle name. No one minds at all. I was astonished to… Read more »

kaelak
Guest
kaelak

For once in the 5 years I’ve been reading Amalah, I disagree. There are probably more people in this world than you two who have chosen this name, and I just don’t see any issue with two or more kids having the same name.

Mel
Guest

Funny story – while my cousin was pregnant we bought a male puppy and named him Daly – which we picked out of a song. When I told my cousin what the name was (about 2 months later) her jaw seriously dropped to the floor and said that was their girls name pick and it was a family name (spelling and all) and would she mind if she used the same name. I didn’t mind at all of course, although I’m sure she must’ve struggled with it. How random was that! Thankfully they had a boy – crisis averted. Good… Read more »

Suzy Q
Guest
Suzy Q

Am I the only one who is dying to know what this super-special name is that you’ve picked out? Don’t worry, though. I can’t steal it; I don’t have a uterus anymore. Or any plans to adopt.
In any event, once she’s 14, your daughter will absolutely HATE whatever you name her, so there is always that to look forward to.
I say name her Ezra and be done with it!

Jaymee
Guest
Jaymee

I am curious where one goes to purchase a name. There are a few names that I really like, and I want to make sure that when it comes time for my husband and I to have a second child that NOBODY in the entire world uses one of those names. I mean how could I possibly name my child something knowing that someone else may have the same name? OK, so I’m being sarcastic here. You cannot own a persons name just as you should not try to claim a name and tell others they can’t use it. I… Read more »

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

I have to disagree with Amy on this one. It is ultimately up to you to decide what to name your baby. I don’t believe anyone has the right to claim a name. Look, your daughter will have this name for the rest of her life! Please choose whatever name you want for your child.

Kimmers
Guest

Oh, my god, I am also DYING to know what the name was!

Sarah Ashley
Guest
Sarah Ashley

Well I think the advice given is valid if that’s how you want to see it, however is irrelevant since it’s just your decision what name you want your child to have. I see no reason why the two children can’t have the same name. They would probably just go by first-and-middle-names when they are at family get togethers. As the first responder mentioned there are a ton of Bills in her family – same thing here! There are at least 6 I can think of. And they are all Bill, not Billy, Will, William etc. All just plain ‘ole… Read more »

Annie
Guest
Annie

I “lost” one of my favorite baby names when my sister-in-law gave the name to her daughter. Neither of us had spoken about our plans for names, and she had the baby first. I was really upset initially, but my husband and I went back to the baby books and found new names. Now, years later, our kids names are perfect for them. I adore my neice, and (even though it was hard at first) I like the fact that she happens to have one of my favorite names.

Cristin
Guest
Cristin

When my Mom was 7 months pregant with me, one of her close friends from church had a baby girl, and what do you think happened? She named her daughter Megan, which my parents had carefully picked out for me. So I was named Cristin (yes, weird gaelic spelling and all) and I don’t think I could ever be a “Megan.” I am so NOT “Megan.” My Mom got over it but guess what she named my little sister 2 years later? Yup, “Megan.” I guess enough time had elapsed?? Anyway, I guess I agree with Amy that any name… Read more »

Greta
Guest
Greta

I agree with Amy. Give it up and find something better and cooler. Like Greta for example. Ha.

AJ
Guest

Amy, I’m a long-time follower and huge fan. HUGE. But I disagree big time on this one. Previous commenter, Wallydraigle, summed up my thoughts perfectly. While I think the niece has EVERY right to use the name, I could see where keeping peace in the family might need to come first (especially if this is a close family where the cousins would grow up together). My advice to Confused: First, I’d suggest starting over on the baby name hunt and see if there is anything that you and your husband might actually love more at this point in time. If… Read more »

AJ
Guest

Okay, I’m going to shut up after this one. Promise. 🙂
I guess the thing I just can’t get over is the opinion that you should have to give up a name you’ve adored for years and want to use for your daughter simply because your husband’s aunt mentioned it before you at dinner one night. I just can’t see giving up a dream because she said it aloud first.

Trout Towers
Guest

A friend of my husband’s asked if we’d mind if he and his wife named their daughter the same name as our two year old. I had never even met his wife, and didn’t think it was a big deal. Since then, I’ve become best friends with his wife and the two girls are also very good friends. They LOVE having the same name, and we use the first and middle names when we’re all together. Which is a treat since they both have family middle names.

tadpoledrain
Guest
tadpoledrain

I haven’t read all the comments, but here’s my 2 cents: 1. Regardless of what you decide about naming your baby, talk to your aunt, and let her know you were planning on using the name. If she has a girl too, well, that’s tricky (see #2 below). If she has a boy? I say you get the girl’s name, absolutely. (But you must must must have the discussion with her in advance.) She may never have another baby. She may have 17 more babies, all of them boys. She may have another baby, a girl, and, like Amy said,… Read more »

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

It’s easy to say “it’s no big deal if the kids have the same name” and it should NOT be a big deal. I have cousins with the same name, my husband has a cousin with his exact name, nobody is offended. BUT it depends a lot on the personality of the people involved. What shouldn’t be a big deal may start WW3 if the aunt is that type, you know? Especially when it’s taken her this long to get pregnant, she may be super sensitive about all-things-baby and feel she has a bigger “right” to her own way having… Read more »

olivia
Guest
olivia

@Bitts, I totally agree that after a while the name fits the baby. We named our daughter after both our mothers, and for the first couple of weeks I wondered if we made the right decision. Was she really an X? But it wasn’t long before she was X and no other name would have worked. And to throw out my opinion, I don’t know where on the scale of popularity Confused’s name is, but Olivia has been in the top 10 for how many years? If the name is in the top 10 or 20 then you shouldn’t be… Read more »

olivia
Guest
olivia

Okay, I just finished reading the comments. @Sarah Ashley, I should have just said my daughter’s name is Victoria 😉 So far we are still calling her that, but I am drawn to the nickname Vicki.

Lisa
Guest

My grandfather’s sister is named JoAlice. She married a man named JoeBob. They named their first son JoeBob, Jr. (whom we call Joe Jr. — how Kennedy of us!). They eventually had a daughter, my cousin Beth, who named her second son, yeah you guessed it, Joe.
Add to that mix all the Michaels, Johns, and Davids you get in a large Irish Catholic family, and you can see why a couple of little girl cousins with the same name won’t matter a hill of beans.

Diane
Guest
Diane

Sorry Amy, but I disagree.
That is your baby and you have the right to name her whatever you want. They will grow up and be individuals. Its a name, not a possession.
Sure, tell the Aunt that you are naming your daughter that so she is not blindsided, but just explain that you had chosen it long before. And laugh about your mutual great taste in names.

Sarah in LA
Guest
Sarah in LA

I’ve got to disagree with you on this one, Amy. I don’t think she should automatically have to give up the name she’s chosen for her baby. I also think it’s so silly that people “lay claim” to names but I know it happens A LOT. Confused, whatever you decide to do, you should discuss it with your aunt. Just tell her the situation and let her know how you are feeling. She may surprise you….or maybe not, but at least you’re not holding those feelings in and letting them fester. That’s never good. I’m facing another dilemma: what should… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

I hate duplicate names. In the big wide world, fine, but within a family? Hate it. Plenty of people feel differently, obv. But if the kids are going to be around each other all the time, I think they should have their own names. (Don’t like juniors, either, same reason.) But – as an older mom who dealt with infertility for years, I think the niece should talk to the aunt. I hoped and hoped I would be able to have the two kids I always wanted, but I always knew that might not be the case. At the very… Read more »

Ann E. Mouse
Guest
Ann E. Mouse

I disagree. The first baby to arrive gets the name. If Auntie has a boy, she doesn’t get to call the girl’s name for next time (unless it is a deceased relative’s name which has special meaning). There might not be a next time. Or she could have 12 boys. It’s not like Niece-in-law heard the name and went “I love that, I must have it.” She should have said, omigosh, that’s our girl name, too, but with a different middle. My sisters-in-law were pregnant at the same time and both came up with a girl name that honored both… Read more »

olivia
Guest
olivia

@Sarah in LA, would your husband be amenable to allowing Grandma to call your children by an easy to pronounce nickname?
My mom “jokes” that we need to name our kids something easy, not something from my husband’s Nigerian language. It wasn’t an issue for our daughter, but if we have a son we will just give her an easy nickname to use.

Christine
Guest
Christine

Tough call, but since Confused didn’t even mention to Aunt that she was planning on using the name, all’s fair in the naming game. That’s why I have always mentioned names we’re seriously considering, and my sister has made her claim to one name too, and they’re not evening planning to have kids for 4 or 5 years. But if you truely love a name and plan to use it, claim it. Or else risk loosing it.

Adelas (Della)
Guest

In case you aren’t overloaded yet, I wanted to link you to even more comments over at the similar post on DesignHerMomma’s site (no longer valid) commented over there, with my point essentially being, can you perhaps do the same official name but come up with a different nickname for everyday use? Jonathan becomes Joe or Nate instead of Jon. Emmanuel becomes Em, or even Noah (ok it’s a stretch but nuel KINDA sounds like noah, right?) instead of Manny. In my family we have a plethora of Pauls and Linda’s, by birth and marriage. We have two Jonathans, two… Read more »

Ariella
Guest
Ariella

Wow, I guess I must be from a different planet. There’s no “claim” to a name. If the OP wants to use the name, then she should use it. It may be a little confusing at family gatherings, but who cares?

HHF
Guest
HHF

I too had a name I carried with me over several decades as THE NAME. It was sweet, elegant, fun, everything I wanted for a daughter-Lucy. And then I fell in love and married a man with the last name Furr. Lucy Furr-not going to tempt fate naming a child that! So we needed to find a new name. My middle name was an old family name, but never used as a first name-it’s beautiful, old-fashioned, sounded very original and unique. After several years, we had our first child and named her Isabella. And now what is the fastest rising… Read more »

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

If you love the name, use it. Talk it over with her first and tell her you have had your heart set on that name and plan to use it. No one can claim rights to any name, it is absurd. As a mother a soon to be four, if I loved, 100% loved a name ans knew someone in my family or a friend was going to use it also, I would tell her my love for that name and how I had planned on that name as well, and thats it. You shouldn’t settle for second best because… Read more »

Becki
Guest
Becki

You are SO wrong in this case. One should be able to name one’s own baby the cherished name one picked out regardless of how many little Beauregards there are in a family! They will be two different little people. How in the HECK can you claim a NAME?????????????? My childhood BFF stole my baby name – ON PURPOSE! AAnd YES I was miffed. But I do not own the copyright on it!!! I still named my daughter the cherished name and am so glad I did. and then . two years later. . our good friends used the same… Read more »

Lauri
Guest

I don’t think the issue is with claiming a name… but more so respect. It is obvious you can’t own or claim a name… but I think one should really consider if this name is that important and it can cause a riff in families… but life goes on

girlrobot
Guest

wow, I just stumbled upon your blog through my “recommended feeds” in google reader. I LOVE your advice. Every post I’ve read has been so insightful! I have sort of a similar situation going on. I have a girl name picked out and I recently found out my older sister has the same girl name picked out for her future daughter! Neither of us are pregnant though so we’ll deal with it when the time comes I guess. This post has made me feel better about having to “concede” the name if I end up having to though. 🙂