Naming our little girl, however, was harder. So many names had been whizzing around my head for a daughter since I was a little girl – but suddenly I didn’t want any of them. Stanley would’ve been ‘Edie’, but after he went through a (very irritating) stage of watching the UK kids show Balamory when he was a toddler, I couldn’t think about the name without thinking of Edie McCreedy dancing around my TV screen. Wilfred would’ve been ‘Ivy’ – and whilst I still loved it, I didn’t feel like it flowed that well when you said the three names of the children together.
So we were back to the drawing board. I wanted something pretty, but not too flowery. I wanted something that worked equally well if she turned out to be an actress or a prime minister. But most importantly, it had to go with her brother’s names.
Choosing my children’s names has never been about the trend for ‘all things vintage’. I am aware that old-fashioned names like Stanley, Alfie, Archie, Freddie etc are ‘on trend’ at the moment and climbing up the baby name charts, but it’s never been about that for me. It’s been about choosing names that are very British, unique enough to be the only one in the class at school, and easy to spell and pronounce (given that we live in a part of the world that is so culturally diverse). I LOVE the boy’s names and I think we nailed those requirements – I’ve never regretted either of the name choices for a second, so I know we got it right.
And I wanted the same for our daughter.
I had a few more unique names on my list, including Ottilie and Delilah, but my husband wasn’t so keen. I went through a few weeks of really loving ‘Dot’ (Stan, Wilf and Dot are so cute together), but we would’ve wanted her official name to be Dorothy or Dorothea – and neither of us were convinced on those. I loved Ada, Elsie, Thea, Bess, and Florence (Florrie), but we either had close friends who’d used those names for their children or decided they weren’t quite right for a variety of reasons.
So it came down to two names – Mabel and Beatrix. We just needed to work out which way to put them. Would she be Mabel Beatrix – or Beatrix Mabel? I loved both and kept changing my mind. Mabel was my favourite, but I liked the way that Beatrix could be shortened to Bea. I also liked the tie-in with the Beatrix Potter anniversary this year. But still, I kept coming back to Mabel – just so pretty, still fairly unique, but not too flowery either.
It was pretty and sweet for a little girl, but she could be prime minister with that name. We were 99% sure.
Then something sealed it. Our friends back home – some of our very closest – had a little girl and called her Beatrice. So that was that. Our little girl would definitely be Mabel Beatrix – and as fate would have it, we’d still have a little Bea in our life (my husband is now her godfather, as her mother is one of Mabel’s godmothers).
So it was Mabel.
I told a few close friends in Dubai to test it out, but otherwise it was a top secret (I love announcing a name and didn’t want to spoil that moment). Those friends that knew told me they loved it. Just before her birth, we told our midwife and she loved it so much she nearly jumped around the room. So we felt even more confident that we’d made the right choice.
Her due date arrived and she was finally born – and as we said her name for the first time earthside, testing out the way it sounded as we gazed into her eyes, it just seemed right.
Since her birth, a few people have asked me if we’ll shorten it. I don’t think we will officially, but part of the reason I love the name is that if combines two of my all-time favourite girl’s names of May and Belle. I’ve already started calling her ‘My Belle’ occasionally, so maybe that will happen. My husband often says Mayby Baby, so maybe she’ll get that moniker too while she’s little. But I think that most the time at least, she’ll just be Mabel – and with just two syllables, I don’t think it’s much of a hassle to say her full name.
We just love it – and I know we always will.