Sunday, 5 October 2014

Naming a new human

It's been exactly a week since the birth. Our new addition is one week old: still brand new.

This brand new human being is ours to care for, protect, and... name. Lots of thought has gone into her name, and I thought I'd share how we came to it; just so you know though, I won't use her actual name in this post as it's in the public domain. If you know us, you know her name.

We chose her name (and a boy's name) almost as soon as we knew we were expecting. Choosing the baby's name was one of the very first things we could do for her, one of our first acts of parental decision making. In choosing the two names - a boy's and a girl's - we started off with some practical considerations:

  • We needed to like the meaning of a name.
    I personally find 'flower' names for girls pretty meaningless - my own name means 'Lily' - so pretty names like Rose, Violet, Hazel were eliminated. Some Biblical names also carry meanings I didn't want to put on my child: who knew that Mary meant 'bitter'?
  • The name had to be fit for an adult.
    Obviously, you think? Yet sometimes people don't seem to think about the fact that their cute baby has to grow up with this name and one day introduce themselves in a professional capacity as, say, "Buddy Bear Oliver" (that's chef Jamie Oliver's son)...
  • The name couldn't be overly common.
    Looking at lists like 'Top 10 favourite baby names' only served to help us eliminate those we wouldn't use! I went to primary school with five Thomases in my class of 25 kids. That's not what we wanted our child to experience.
  • But, it needed to be common enough that people would know how to spell it.
    As someone who always has to spell my own first name, I was keen to ensure that our child wouldn't have an outlandish name and end up having to spell it out every time they met someone new.
  • Lastly, the name had to work in German and in English.
    Since my first language is German, our child will grow up bilingual and I think it's important that she can use her name the same way in both languages. Therefore, names with English meanings such as Joy or Hope, as well as names that would change significantly from one language to the next such as George / Georg were off the menu.

Any names we were considering had to fit all the above criteria - and I'll admit, that left a rather short list! After all those were checked, it came down to what names we liked the sound and meaning of the most.

Our chosen name

Our daughter's name means Hope. Her middle name is Joy. These are two key qualities we want to anchor in her, build into her very identity with the deepest of foundations. We want her to know the hope we have in Christ, be rooted and established in it; we want her to know the faith that is the substance of things hoped for. May she never experience despair, which is the absence of hope, no matter how difficult her circumstances in life.

And Joy... from hope comes a deep inner joy that is not the same, but much deeper, than mere happiness. We want her to live a joyous life. We want her to be curious, to enjoy the world as she gets to know it, and to radiate a deep peace rooted in joy.

When I was pregnant, my greatest prayer each day was that I would enjoy my child, not just love him or her but genuinely enjoy being with them, knowing them, being their mother. That prayer has even now been answered in an amazing way, much more than I expected or even hoped for. I never thought I would enjoy a small baby as much as I am. I thought I'd get through the hard first few weeks that everyone has warned me about - sore nipples (yes, but within reason), constant feedings, changings, crying, winding, sleeping. All that is there, but what I wasn't expecting was just how much I would enjoy spending time with this baby! All the tasks just enable me to enjoy the quiet moments... times where she lies quietly on my chest, or looks at my face, or falls into a food coma towards the end of a feed looking like a drunken sailor.

This child is a blessing already.