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How I Named My Baby: Reagan Annalise

June 24, 2020 Sophie Kihm
baby name reagan

Tabatha Harner Cooper and her husband Andy are teachers living in East Tennessee. Last June they welcomed their first child — a daughter named Reagan Annalise.

Here, Tabatha talks to us about how she and Andy chose the baby name Reagan Annalise for their little girl.

baby name reagan

When did you know you found “The Name”?

My husband and I spent many evenings sharing names back and forth. When I suggested Reagan and the fact that it meant “little ruler” my husband’s face really lit up. He was adamant that we take a few names to the delivery room so that we could decide her name once we met her. However, he started referring to her as “Reagan” just so we could “try it out” but the more we said it, the more we knew that there wouldn’t be a better fit for our first-born baby.

How many names did you take into the delivery room?

We had one other name, Roslyn Michelle, just in case Reagan didn’t feel right for her.

Whose baby name opinions influenced you the most?

Technically, my mother. My interest in the history of baby names began when I was in middle school. As an only child, I was interested in knowing what other names my mom liked had I ever had any siblings. I always knew my name would have been Benjamin Edward if I was a boy, but what about other girl names? I vividly remember standing in our back yard and her answering, “Lakin, Hailey, and Reagan” For the next 20 years, Reagan would be a name that stuck with me. I loved how the name resonated, the meaning, and that it sounded strong.

Is your baby named after anyone?

Yes! Reagan is the first grandchild born to all four grandparents. My father’s middle name is Ray. His paternal grandfather was Ray and his maternal grandfather anglicized his Dutch name from Wybrant to Raymond. The name Reagan felt like a nod to my dad and his family. The name Annalise honors both of our mothers. My mother’s name is Deana (pronounced DeeAnna) and my mother-in-law’s middle name is Ann (which is a family name on her side). Then she has the same last name as my father-in-law, therefore she carries little pieces of all four grandparents.

What name did you hate to let go of?

I’ve always been a sucker for the name India. I grew up on an Air Force base so our neighbors came and went all the time. One neighbor named India always stuck out to me. I thought she was beautiful with long brown hair and big brown eyes. Plus, she was so kind! It made me fall in love with the name. I always imagined a person named India to be warm and soulful. The name India has also been used in European royal families…which is a subject I like to study from time to time. However, India just didn’t seem like a good fit based on where we live. My husband wasn’t a fan because he felt like people wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

baby name reagan

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

My name is Tabatha, which I’ve always loved. Mainly because it’s a name that’s been around for a long time, yet, you don’t come across too many Tabitha/Tabathas. There was also a fun family connection in that my Uncle Darren received his name when my grandmother heard it being used on the television show “Bewitched”. People always asked me if I could wiggle my nose like Tabitha from Bewitched. From a young age, I thought my name was fun. I wanted that for my baby too. A name that felt familiar yet wasn’t used often, and had a family connection.

Did you decide on middle names before the first name, or vice versa?

It was important for me to include a family name in the middle name position. I wrote down a list of family names that could be used. We picked her first name and then started pairing it with family names to see what sounded right. Oddly enough, Annalise wasn’t even on the list of family names! I just always like it and then made the connection that both our mothers had “Ann” in their name. I crossed my fingers that it had a positive meaning and when we saw it meant “gracious” we knew it was a home run. Reagan Annalise…our gracious ruler!

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

Tyson Andrew

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

The names in our social circle vary widely in styles. From the classic perennials Elizabeth, Vivian, Luke, Charlotte and David; to the modern-day favorites Jackson, Braylon, Grayson, Kennedy, Knox, Rylee, and Colton; to the timeless hidden gems Verity, Alton, Pierce, and Grady. They all have something in common — all but two children have a first name or middle name that honor their parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.

What was your biggest fear related to baby names?

My biggest fear was choosing a name that wouldn’t “grow” well. As Reagan gets older, I want her name to always fit who she is. I felt like Reagan and Annalise offered nicknames that she could choose to use should she decide she didn’t want to go by Reagan.

Did you share your baby’s name before she was born?

We did not. My husband really liked the idea of being able to meet her first…to have that moment where we could say, “Hello Baby Girl, your name is Reagan Annalise.” We also felt that her name would be so special to her grandparents that we wanted to tell them all at the same time that their grandchild was named after them. And, frankly, it kept us from receiving unsolicited advice for a name that was so meaningful to us. It was hard to keep it a secret, but I love the way we were able to share her name.

Have any unexpected nicknames come up for your baby?

She lovingly gets called Sweet Baby Rea, Rea of Sunshine, and Roo.

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

My best advice would be not to let the names of the children in your social circle influence your choice too much. If there is a name that you truly love, but someone else has “taken” it for their baby, just use it. One of my best friends shares the same name as me and it hasn’t been an issue. Recently, a friend asked if she could also name her baby girl, Reagan. I took it as a compliment and was happy to “share”!

Thank you so much, Tabatha!

About the author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. 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.

View all of Sophie Kihm's articles

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