How To Break Through Baby Name Indecision
My husband and I are both what we like to call, euphemistically, “decisionally challenged.” I’ve been known to become paralyzed when faced with the cereal aisle in the supermarket. He won’t commit to a vacation destination until we’ve looked at a map and exhaustively researched all continents. So it came as no surprise to anyone that two days after our daughter was born we still hadn’t chosen a name.
Sure we had discussed the topic endlessly during the forty weeks of my pregnancy, had read Beyond Ava & Aiden out loud to each other, had plenty of time to come to a mutually agreeable option, but somehow the only thing that had stuck was a nickname. Pippi. Short for pipsqueak. Cute, but I wasn’t putting that on a birth certificate.
In our defense, we were working with too many restrictions. My husband is of Indian descent and was born and raised in London. I’m a Jew from New York. It turned out we had very different ears when it came to names. Oddly, he was into initials–think, EJ, CJ–which to me were more appropriate for a boy growing up on a farm in the Midwest, not a biracial girl being raised in London. Ironically, despite being the American in the couple, I tended towards names popular in England—think Grace, Amelia, Cecilia.
Add to the problems created by our differing ears and accents the fact that I wanted to honor my late mother, Elizabeth, with an E name (or if we got desperate, I was willing to go for an L for Liz). In my novels, I had already used a couple of my favorite E names (Emily, Ellie) for my main characters, so those were off the table. One more rule, as if we didn’t have enough already: both of us thought it would be nice if the name had an Indian feel to it.
Of course, the first name that we came across that we both loved—Skylar (spelled Skylar if I had my choice, Sklyer, if my husband had his way) — fit none of our criteria. Not Indian. Not an E or an L name. Every family member from both sides was unimpressed, and yet, we were in complete agreement, a rare thing in a decisionally-challenged couple. We were decided…until we weren’t.
Yes, I knew the golden rule of never telling people the name you pick until after the baby is born, but I figured that didn’t apply to the lady who was selling me a cell-phone. So what if she had a friend in the sixth grade named Skylar who she hated? There was no way she could ruin the name for me, right? Wrong. Her response when I said I was naming my still in-utero daughter Skylar?: “Great name. When I was a stripper, I wanted to use that as my stripping name, but one of the other dancers got there first.”
So Skyler wasn’t only a stripper name, but a popular stripper name? Crap. I pictured my baby dancing diaper-less on a pole. Name officially ruined. Back to the drawing board.
We both loved Skye instead, but that seemed a bit too hippie for her to take through life. And then one day, trolling on the internet, we found an E name that neither of us had ever heard before on a random list of Indian baby names: Elili. Hmm. Elili Skye. E name. Check. Indian sounding. Check. Interesting and different and not altered by our different ears, since neither of us had ever heard it before? Check. Had we found a name for our daughter? Maybe.
My husband’s parents, the ones rooting for an Indian name, were not thrilled. They too had never heard it , and weren’t so convinced that it was Indian after all. (“It’s definitely not Panjabi,” they said.) My family, too, wasn’t in love. “E-Lilly?” my dad asked, “Like E-mail?” “No,” I corrected him, “‘Eh-Lilly’ like ‘E-lizabeth’ but with Lily instead of the ‘Lizabeth.’” Weird seemed to be the general consensus.
And yet, two days after our daughter was born, when she screamed like crazy whenever we changed her diaper, when she seemed to have more fight in her than such a tiny package would allow, we decided she could handle a weird name, one that other people might stumble over and ask us to repeat. Because it was beautiful and complex and we loved it, just like her. And thus she became Elili Skye Flore.
When we finally announced our decision to our families, the reaction was unanimous, proving once and for all that our decisionally challenged-ness was completely genetic: “Think about it a little more. What’s the rush?”
Julie Buxbaum, today’s guest blogger, is the author of the novel THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, which has been optioned to film by Twentieth Century Fox with Anne Hathaway set to star. Her newest book, AFTER YOU, hits stores in paperback June 1st.
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Carolyn Arianna Said
on June 2nd, 2010 at 12:59 am
Elili Skye Flore – I love it, love it, LOVE IT! That is such a beautiful and unique name! Bravo!
Charlotte Vera Said
on June 2nd, 2010 at 3:41 am
I giggled for five minutes over this blog and read it out loud to my husband and sister-in-law — great story! It’s a lovely name, and quite unique too. I grew up in India, but have never come across Elili before. It definitely sounds more South Indian to me than North. (I just looked it up and it appears to be Tamil, meaning beautiful. Correct me if I’m wrong.)
on June 2nd, 2010 at 9:02 am
Wow, Elili Skye Flore is absolutely divine! Do you call her Lili for short? Do you know the meaning?
I actually went to school with an Indian girl named Skye. It was the English equivalent of an Indian name she never revealed to anyone. It suit her so well because she had big beautiful sky blue eyes that were very pronounced against her dark brown skin. It just fit her to a T.
on June 2nd, 2010 at 9:08 am
Elili is perfect! It’s a beautiful, unique name. Hooray for you!
on June 2nd, 2010 at 10:47 am
That is a beautiful name!
I’m going to buy your book now, just to meet your characters!;)
Julie Buxbaum Said
on June 2nd, 2010 at 11:17 am
Thanks everyone for the kind words about the name! Charlotte, I didn’t know it was Tamil, so thanks for that info. We did know it meant beautiful, but we weren’t sure of the language. Incidentally, it’s also a Polynesian name, and means periwinkle, oddly enough. And Bella, thanks so much for buying AFTER YOU. Please drop me an email at juliebux (at) gmail.com and let me know what you think.
on June 2nd, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Skyler is for boys imo. Glad you went with Skye instead, with an “e” at the end to make it feminine rather than the masculine Sky
on June 2nd, 2010 at 3:47 pm
I never thought of one form as more masculine than the other… a boy I knew in college was named Skye Frontier (really!).
on June 2nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm
I think that is a lovely name!!
My husband and I are also what I like to call “diplomatic” and we struggled intensely with naming all 3 of our children so far. Their names were going to be –
For various reasons, they turned out to be
In the case of my twins (Lila and Isaac) I did the dreaded telling people about the names and getting talked out of them. Sigh. I still love Phoebe and Finn.
Emmy Jo Said
on June 2nd, 2010 at 3:52 pm
We had a really hard time naming our son as well. (I, like you, have a hard time making a final decision on anything.) We went to the hospital with three names (Julius, Elliot, and Wesley), hoping he’d look like one of them when he was born. Well, he didn’t. He looked like a Michael, but I didn’t want to call my son Michael. Because our son was rushed to the NICU at birth, my husband saw him before I was able to and came back to my recovery room announcing that he was an Elliot. I tried to like Elliot for a few days, but it didn’t seem to fit him. Four days after his birth, when we were scheduled to leave the hospital, I broke down in tears and said that I didn’t think he was an Elliot. My husband agreed, and we ended up settling on Julius.
He is four months old now, and I still sometimes wonder if we picked the “right” name.
Jacob G. Said
on June 2nd, 2010 at 8:36 pm
I’m sold. I was in the E-Lilly camp before and just didn’t get it. (Josh never told me the full story) I love it. You’ll be my first call if I ever decide to grow up and have kids. 🙂
on June 2nd, 2010 at 8:37 pm
Actual strippers usually have very ordinary names. The one I know of is named Patti but calls herself Morgan on the stage. If it’s a trendy baby name it’s probably also a stripper name.
on June 5th, 2010 at 4:41 pm
Really interesting story. Flore is her second middle name then? Kudos to picking such an extraordinary yet beautiful name. And I got to say I also think you’ve got a great surname. If you’ve ever been to Germany I’m sure it made people smile (buxbaum = box tree)
Carrie Groothuis Muhlstein Said
on June 21st, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Julie, my husband and I are going crazy right now trying to come up with a name for our second son. In my search for any helpful hints online, I came across this piece of yours. We have a lot of time to ponder still, but it helps to know that I’m not the only one so overwhelmed by this very important task! Hope you and Elili are doing well (I happen to LOVE the name!)
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