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How I Named My Baby: Clementine Mary Maddalena

How I Named My Baby: Clementine Mary Maddalena

Caitlin Hutcheon, a childbirth educator, and her partner Drew, a US Marine, live in Maryland with their son, Harbor, and daughter Clementine, who was born last April.

Below, we talk to Caitlin about how she and Drew chose the baby name Clementine Mary Maddalena for their little girl.

How long did it take you to decide on a name?

A few months at the beginning of the pregnancy, but I have been thinking about baby names for 20+ years!

It slowly dawned on me that I had to go with my favorite name even if it didn’t fit the qualifications that I was setting. I like uncommon names and Clementine doesn’t really fit the bill.

What strategies did you use to narrow down your name choices?

We told more people the name this time around to practice how it felt. I love our son Harbor’s name, but sometimes people mishear it as Harper so it was nice confidently saying Clementine and not worrying people would mishear it.

Did you ask anyone for advice about baby names?

Yes, my friend Bizzie gave me the confidence to use two middle names. I also took a name blogger’s advice to just pick your favorite name despite popularity.

What name did you hate to let go of?

I had always thought I’d name a daughter Onnolee but realized after I had Harbor that I wanted a name that was clearly pronounced the way it was spelled. I worried people would hear Onnolee as Annalee.

What would your younger self have liked to name the baby?

In middle school, I liked Lexi and Elizabeth. Since becoming a name nerd as an adult I have always loved Clementine but didn’t think I’d ever use it because it seemed too trendy.

What would your baby be named if it was totally up to you? If it was up to your partner?

My partner Drew has veto power but defers to me. I've had hard pregnancies and hyperemesis, so he knows I get the last say. Drew is a golf fan — he liked Calloway and MacKenzie after Alister MacKenzie, the golf course designer. Our son’s middle name is Alister after him.

How do you feel about your own name and how did that influence your choice?

My experience with my own name definitely influenced my choice because I didn’t enjoy being among so many Caitlins growing up. I placed a big priority on choosing a less trendy name. Clementine is much trendier than I’d usually be comfortable with.

Did your feelings about any of the names on your list shift over time?

Clementine's two middle names are after our grandmothers Mary and Maddalin. I like honoring someone or something in the middle spot, but initially wasn't sure about using both names.

My feelings shifted when I realized that I probably wouldn’t have any more kids so we might as well use my favorite first name and honor both grandmothers for the middle names.

Was it important to choose a name that ‘matched’ your baby’s older siblings’ — or future siblings’ — names?

Not really!

What would your baby be named if it was the opposite gender?

I find boy names more exciting to think about. Stowe or Asa or Silas.

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

Alistair, Hudson, Wilder, and Lachlan.

What was your biggest fear related to baby names?

That my cousin would use the same name a month earlier for his baby!

Did you experience ‘name regret’ at any point?

Yes, I sometimes regret two middle names because they make us sound more religious than we intended. People sometimes hear it as Mary Magdalene. But I’m glad I could honor multiple family members. 

What was the most surprising part of the baby name process? 

It surprised me how many people asked us what her nickname was going to be. I didn’t set out with prescribed nicknames and thought it was funny how often we got asked that question as if the name was too long and needed to be shortened. I like the full name, but we also call her Clem and Clemmie.  I will always introduce her to people as Clementine though.

What advice would you give someone just starting the baby name process?

Do your research. Likely you could think a name is uncommon and it’s not. Check out the Social Security stats on the name to see how it’s trending.

Thank you so much, Caitlin!

For the chance to participate in How I Named My Baby, please email sophie@nameberry.com

About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top baby name trends of 2021, baby name synesthesia, and the top names in each state. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.