How I Named My Baby: Esme Virginia

How I Named My Baby: Esme Virginia

Bailey Carroll, who works in healthcare technology, and Jon Wakelin, a strategy consultant, live in Lexington, Massachusetts with their two daughters: Louisa Wu "Lulu", and Esme Virginia Wu.

Esme was born on November 25, 2022. Below, we speak to Bailey about how she and Jon named their little girl.

Tell me how you named Esme!

I’ve always loved the way Esme sounds. I brought it up for our first daughter, but my husband wasn’t into it for whatever reason. When we got pregnant the second time, I was thinking about names before we even knew the gender. I said to Jon, “If it is a girl, I really feel in my gut that this is an Esme.”

It really was a gut feeling, which is funny because with Louisa it was an intellectual process where I was scouring Nameberry looking into meanings. It feels like both of their names chose us — they were the right fits for our family.

After we decided on it, I realized that Mei Mei means little sister in Mandarin. I'm half Chinese on my mom’s side, and we’re very close to that side of the family. My mom’s middle name is Yuen-Mei, so it’s also part of her name. We love finding connections like this in our daughter’s names.

What connections are in Louisa’s name?

One of the reasons we chose Louisa is because we love the cute nickname Lulu. We realized that Lulu means “pearl”, and my first name is actually Margaret, which also means “pearl”. I go by my middle name, Bailey, but I was named Margaret after my grandmother, who was very close to us.

My husband's name is Jon, my father's name is Adams and my brother's name is Quincy, so we have Jon Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams’ wife was named Louisa, but we didn’t realize this until after our daughter was born.

We love that Louisa means “renowned warrior”. Her middle name is Wu — that's my Chinese family's last name and my second middle name. The Wu women are very strong.

Did you choose Chinese names for your daughters?

When I was born, my grandmother gave me my Chinese name, but she passed away before Louisa and Esme were born.

We had her younger brother, who is 95 years old, name Louisa. And then we chose a variation of Louisa's name for Esme. Louisa’s Chinese name is 伍永珍 (Wu Yongzhen), meaning “forever treasure”, and Esme’s is 伍永爱 (Wu Yongai), meaning “forever loved”.

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

Growing up, I loved the name Bailey. I always got compliments on it. It was unique enough, but not confusing.

My full name is Margaret Bailey Wu Carroll. Before I became an adult and understood all of the paperwork and administrative aspects that come along with it, I made my life very difficult in terms of signing accounts and documents under different variations of my name.

When we gave our daughters their names, I wanted them to be more straightforward. I wasn't going to do the going by their middle name route. Even my parents are sorry about that!

With Esme, we decided to throw in a fourth name last minute. I really struggled with that decision, especially since Louisa only has three names. Jon’s mother is named Virginia, so she’s Esme Virginia, which we just fell in love with. We also wanted to pass down Wu, so she wasn’t left out of the Wu women legacy.

What names did you like when you were younger?

I have a distinct memory of waiting for piano class to start and talking with my mom about the name Madison or McKenzie or McKenna — names that were so popular back then! I thought they were so cool.

I also remember making fun of vintage or old people names, which is funny because both of my girls’ names have the vintage or grandma name aesthetic.

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

We live outside of Boston, which is more historical and traditional, so we don’t get a ton of super unique names. There are a ton of Ella/Elle/Ellie/Bella/Belle variations in our area, and the most popular boy names I’ve been hearing are Jack, Harry, Charlie, Teddy, James, and Tate.

The other ones that stand out to me are Vivian, Otis, Margot, Oliver, and Ezra. One of my good friends named her daughter Layla.

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

How much easier it was the second time around for us — maybe because we had found our groove and knew what we both liked and didn’t like.

There was way more vetoing going on for Louisa’s name, and our finalists for her were all over the place — we were considering Penelope and Sienna for a long time, which feel very different to me! With our second child, we were working within our structure already.

The second time around was a lot easier for us. It really did feel like that gut decision, but it almost felt like our parenting gut had been developed already from being parents. Tapping into that area felt a lot more natural and easier. Baby naming can be a very intellectual process, but you have to balance that with going with your gut.

How did you decorate the girls’ rooms?

There are lots of colors and prints! Lulu has a set of light pink curtains in her room, and Esme has them in French blue. They also have rugs in bold floral prints.

For Esme, I got a panda decal to put up over the crib because I didn't want to hang anything right over her. I’ve always loved pandas, and it’s great for babies because it’s black and white. Esme will stare and coo at it!

Lulu moved into a house-shaped floor bed that my husband actually built for her, and she has a name flag hanging above it. Esme will get an art piece of some kind to honor her name when her father builds her bed in a few years.

What are the cool things for parents and kids to do in your area?

There’s a big family social group called Lexfun that organizes a lot of different activities and events.

There are some great farms nearby, and we have a membership to the Mass Audubon network. We go to the Franklin Park Zoo and Stoneham Zoo, and Boston has a great aquarium.

But my favorite thing to do as a parent is tap into the simple things in life. Lulu and I go on muffin dates in the town center, and I teach her how to order a muffin and pay for it. I recently taught her how to eat soup dumplings at a local Chinese restaurant — we’re definitely a foodie fam!

Lexington is known for its history with the Revolutionary War, which the girls will learn about as they get older. There are always tour groups going through the town center with people dressed up in full regalia. And they do the reenactment of the Revolutionary War on Patriots Day.

Patriots Day is a really big day in this town. There's the battle road where Paul Revere rode to warn the British were coming and it has the historical landmarks, which is really cool. I hope Lulu and Esme grow up with a strong sense of that history and connection to where they're from.

Bailey's (and Esme's) Favorite Things

Artipoppe Carrier

I was trying to hold off on buying the Artipoppe, but now I'm obsessed.

Pipette Baby Lotion

Pipette Wipes

I love all of the Pipette products!

Coterie Diapers

We're very into the no tox/low tox lifestyle.

Baby Bjorn Bouncer

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Thank you so much, Bailey!

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About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top 2020s names, Gen Z names, and cottagecore baby names. 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.

Sophie Kihm's articles on names have run on People, Today, The Huffington Post, and more. She has been quoted as a name expert by The Washington Post, People, The Huffington Post, and more. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at Sophie lives in Chicago.