When I was pregnant with my second baby, I thought it was incredibly important that the name I chose sat beautifully with the name of first. As I sat there stroking my bump and pondering the subject, I had wonderful visions of strangers approaching me to ask their names, before proudly replying “Stanley and Wilfred” – or when they were older “Stan and Wilf”. Yes, they sounded quite perfect together and I couldn’t wait to speak the two names in partnership.
Fast forward 6 months and I have been asked their names a grand total of zero times. This is mainly because I have only spent time with people who already know the names of my children, so I haven’t had the chance to blurt it out. Perhaps I will the chance when they are older and I call them downstairs for dinner (another wonderful vision as we don’t even own an upstairs), yelling their names in unison: “STANLEY! WILFRED! DINNER TIME!” But in reality, I know that I will probably just yell BOYS! and wait for them to appear.
So really, choosing two names that work perfectly together doesn’t really matter so much.
On their own, however, I do think names are very important. Rewind back to my first pregnancy and I was very keen for our son to be named something strong, traditional, and fairly unique. Back in 2011 (I know it wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like it to me as I have barely slept since), the name ‘Stanley’ was at number 80 in the Top 100 Baby Names in the UK. I didn’t know any Stanleys myself, but I knew of the existence of several through friends.
The epiphany came when I was working in London for three days with colleagues Eleanor and Astrid. I had found out I was pregnant on the first morning and the other two had no idea – but whilst sat having a break over tea in a posh hotel, the conversation turned to baby names. Eleanor told me that her son had a friend at nursery called “Stan” – and I loved it instantly. That conversation sealed that tiny little developing embryo’s fate as Stanley.
I was nervous that people wouldn’t like the name and had moments of doubt, saying it over and over again out loud like a mad woman and wondering if we should re-consult the Top 10, but I’m very glad we stuck to our guns as the name couldn’t suit our cheeky Stanley any better (of course, I’d think that if he was named Fred, Jack, or Stardust too).
Skip to 2014 and Stanley has crept up to 74 – in fact, since he’s been born, two other friends on my Facebook feed have given their son the same name. I like to think I’m a trendsetter, but the truth is that names travel quicker than the speed of light so it only takes a few births to send a name shooting back up the list.
Having named one child after an old man (after all, Stanley was at its most popular in 1924), I needed another little old man – and Wilfred was in my mind since I’d heard about the birth of another little Wilfred back in 2012 (see, I steal names too). Despite it being far more unique at number 293 in the UK, I didn’t have any doubts at all this time. It just worked.
Maybe it’s because my children look suspiciously like old men when they are born, but the beauty of naming a child is that they seem to suit their name the minute they arrive in the world. Both times I have welcomed my screaming little newborns by saying their names out loud as they are placed on my chest: “Hello Stanley!” ‘Hello Wilfred”. And with that, it was done.
If you want to check out how popular a name is for your soon-to-be bundle (or fancy seeing how your child’s name is doing on the popularity front), you can check out this clever website http://names.darkgreener.com/ that tracks a name’s progress on the popularity front in the UK from 1996 onwards.
How did you choose names for your little people? I would love to hear what you chose and how the names were inspired!