When you find out you’re having twins, your baby-naming duties get more than doubly complicated. The moment my husband and I saw that second jellybean on the ultrasound, some of our plans went out the window. Since then, we’ve learned about many challenges and much confusion over twin names–some before naming our daughters, and some after.
Nameberry has already touched on several of the pitfalls of naming multiples: the matchy-matchy names, the rhymes, the names so different that anyone they meet will think one kid got the “good” name. The following are some more of the surprises that parents of multiples encounter.
Equal weight: If you’re into the meanings of names, finding comparable names for your kids can be challenging. In childhood, my friend Craig was taunted by his sister Cynthia. “I’m named after a goddess,” she told him, “and you’re named after a rock.” They’re not even twins. Thinking about that made us decide against giving one of our twins a mythological name and the other the name of a flower.
Initial difficulties: Cute as it may seem to name your kids with the same first letter, it can cause problems. I have heard twin moms say that their insurance tried to deny claims as double-billing, based on the first initial and birth date. And if originality is important to you, limiting yourself to one letter may backfire. I know three different moms who named their twin daughters Hayley and Hannah (with spelling variations).
“Which one is the boy?”: Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples. Many well-meaning people will simply assume that one of your kids is male and the other female. Gender-ambiguous names, such as last-names-as-first-names, add to the confusion. If you’re naming your boys Cooper and Edison, brace yourself for compliments about your “daughter’s” long eyelashes. Which one they call the daughter will vary.
They can’t even tell the names apart: Have you ever heard a restaurant hostess call “Denise,” only to have a peeved-looking Dennis stand up? Not everybody is good at phonetic spelling. To many of the people your kids will encounter in life, Casey and Cassie look like the same name. Your children will almost certainly share a birthdate, and if they’re same-sex, they may look a lot alike…it’s better if at least their names are different.
Sometimes they run together: At some point, any parent will scroll partway through the names of their kids, their spouse, and a pet or two before arriving at the one for the child they’re addressing. This happens to twin parents more often. If you name your kids Chester and Easton, it’s a matter of time before somebody calls the latter “Cheeseton.”
Their middle name is “and”: You probably try on entire names, running from the first through the middle the last. Say you’re having two girls. “Erica” is a meaningful name with a nice Nordic ring to it, and so is “Danica.” String their two names together, though–as will happen from birth through high school graduation–and you get “Eric and Annica.” Look for names that don’t just sound good together, but sound good with an “and” in-between.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast set of rules. My husband and I concentrated hard on these first two ideas before choosing two celestial names: fiery, angelic Serafina (Fina for short); and serpentine Tanith, goddess of the moon and stars. The names suit them beautifully, and we wouldn’t change them for the world. That said, some of the other points raised here come from the puzzled looks we’ve seen on grownup’s faces when we introduce our children.
Some of these things may matter to you, and some may not. They’re just issues that come into play with twins more than with other siblings. It’s good to start thinking about twin names early on. Once the two bundles of joy arrive, you’ll have enough on your minds (not to mention your hands).