Naming a Baby

People have commented on my name all my life. Sure, it gets misspelled frequently (I got an insurance letter yesterday with it spelled “Jansenn”) and for some reason people who didn’t learn to read phonetically often pronounce it “Janice.”

But I’m also always the only person with that name around, I never have to use an initial after my name and generally once someone learns my name, they don’t forget it.

So there was no question that my children would not be getting names that were in the top ten most popular names.

My criteria was as follows:

  1. Never been in the top 1000 most popular names on the Social Security website
  2. Be easy to pronounce from the spelling
  3. Not have a made-up spelling
  4. Preferably be a last name

Ella’s real name fit all those criteria (in fact, a student at one of my elementary schools last year had her name as a last name).

We picked it out four or five years ago and have never grown tired of it. I think I was the one who suggested it and Bart immediately agreed that it was a keeper. Once we found out she was a girl, the naming debate was over, although we did have some discussion about a middle name (we had originally decided to give her my middle name, but then I started having second thoughts. Eventually, we ended up sticking with my middle name for her middle name).

And the reason I don’t use her real name on the blog is partially for safety reasons and in larger part because I want to keep her out of the clutches of Google.

When you Google my name, my blog is the first result. That’s fine with me since I’ve written everything on this site. But Ella doesn’t have a say (at least not now) in what I write here and I don’t want her life to be that easily accessible to anyone who can type a name into a search engine.

If she wants to write about herself someday and use her real name, that’s her decision. But it’s not a decision I want to make for her.

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  1. I always loved having a unique name as a kid too (even though I always had to repeat it at least once when introducing myself), and that is definitely one of the criteria for naming our children. I'd be interested in the story behind the way/reason your family chooses last names for first names. I've wondered if they're family names, and if so, how you got so lucky to have last names suitable as first names in your family!

  2. I love that you chose a unique name for her. And I think your decision to keep her name private from the internet is so smart! She will thank you later.

  3. Yep, you guys did a great job on her name. When Bart told us what it was, I instantly loved it and SO I want you guys to name our baby too, please, since we can't seem to think of anything we love.

  4. My only problem with this now is that I'm dying to know her name!

    I'm on board with the unique name idea. Mine full name is often misspelled and it's annoying but it's who I am. Once I get married in July, my last name will be super unique and as far as the internet is concerned, I'll be the first one! Ha!

  5. And I totally understand why you don't use her real name. I guess I'll just have to wait till she's old enough to host her own blog to find out what it is! (incidentally, your first name is a common Dutch last name. So that's nice.)

    I grew up with a really Dutch name (both first and last) in the US, and it was cool sometimes, and a pain in others. It's cool when people remember you, it's not so cool when you're in line in Starbucks and have to repeat it three million times. And it was weird when we moved to the Netherlands and I didn't have a unique name anymore.

  6. Her name is perfect. When I first heard it and saw a picture of her, my first thought was simply, "Yes!" I love it.

    I also love that you use "Enna" for her. I wondered if it had anything to do with the book. I liked that one too.

  7. I so appreciate your decision to keep Enna's real name off the blog. That makes sense. But of course I am dying of curiosity!

    I too grew up with a fairly uncommon name, at least among people of my generation. My big issue is that it's very close in sound and spelling to another not-so-common name… And so people call me THAT all the time. (Like being named Stefan and having people call you Steven.) GAH. Drives me up a wall.

  8. How does one access the top 1000 social security names…is there a website you go searching through? I think unique is a great way to go and it totally fits with your family. I don't even know what your daughter's name is but I sure love Enna. She'll always be Enna to me b/c my only access to you is through blogging. Haha.

  9. I recently came across Enna's real name on a list of name suggestions for boys! I was so startled because it sounds quite girly to me.

    If you want to be able to share her beautiful name with your blog readers without making it Googleable, maybe you could share it in an image? Like write it down and take a picture of it?

  10. I am all about less common names as well… although I mostly settle for it no longer being in the top three hundred currently. I like old names mostly (which sadly is coming back… oh well).

    Thank you for not liking weird spellings.

    As a side note, I've always wondered if I say your name right since I've never actually met you or heard people who know you personally say it. Good to know the phonetic pronunciation is correct!

  11. I think a unique name is a good thing too. When I was younger, I was always the only one with my name. It has gotten more popular, though still isn't super high on the lists, I think.

    Enna is a lucky lady!

  12. Merrick made me laugh.

    As you know, our new daughter has a very common name, but a) it's spelled right and b) it's pronounced as you'd expect. The Pirate is lobbying for us to change it to "Abby" though.

  13. But I'm so curious! What if I take a blood oath? Is this like Rumpelstiltskin? If we guess it will you spin us a room of gold?

  14. Our criteria for names is basically the same! Too bad Cohen's name showed up on the top 1000 list for the year he was born, but it wasn't there when we named him. Hurley was on the list in 1948 or something, so I was okay with that.

    I think I've said it before, but I really like her name, as well as her blog name!

  15. Safety is always an issue. "But Enna doesn't have a say…" So true.

    Using a nickname or alias is a great idea for most people. When I married, I took my husband's fairly uncommon last name. Yet, I can't use my real name (even if you might know it) because there are now six(!) of us with the same first and last name just in my "area of interest".

    We gave our children "different" first names but with common spellings.

    Our last name is pronounced exactly like it is spelled, but almost no one says (or spells) it correctly.

  16. I totally agree names are such a big deal. And a part of me wonders how much is it really us as parents or them as a little spirit that get to really choose their name. I think names are such a powerful thing. We go through this whole life with it and into the next. And everyone will know us as our name. That our name will be a part of identity like the color of our eyes or our height. So good job with the Enna I think it is so cute. And I love your name because it is true you never forget it! PS have you ever got "what's your name?" "Janssen" "no what is your first name" "That is my first name" "Then what is your last name?" That is the story of my life!!! I was wondering if you ever had that happen to you.

  17. PS I don't know her real name but I like Enna (just wanted to clarify, I think I made it sound weird when I wrote it before).

  18. I love that Enna, like her parents, has a unique name! I'm so curious about it, of course, but I think you are spot on with keeping her name private. Very wise!

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