How I Named My Baby: Willamina Joy

How I Named My Baby: Willamina Joy

Jeanette, a producer on The Rachael Ray Show, and Jimmy, live in Bergen County, New Jersey with their two children: James Joseph IV and Willamina Joy.

Their daughter Willamina was born on November 28, 2022. Here, we chat with Jeanette about how she and Jimmy named their little girl.

Tell me Willamina's name story!

My son has a legacy name, so I wanted to be more creative this time. I was digging very deep. We had lost our beloved cat Waffles, who passed within days of us hearing Willamina’s heartbeat. It felt transcendent, like our girl had sent us a girl.

My name is Jeanette and my husband’s name is Jimmy. My mom was the original Kris Kardashian — everyone in my family has J names. The people in my life had been like, “You have to give her a name with a J!” I didn’t feel that pull!

I had in the back of my head that I was looking for W names. I’m not Jewish, but I really like the tradition of carrying over the initial to honor someone who has passed. I did consult with a few of my Jewish friends because I didn’t want it to be offensive by honoring my cat. But they all thought it was really sweet — Waffles was 14 when she passed, so she was a big part of our life for a long time.

Jimmy was on board, but he didn’t love a lot of W names. We were going down lists and lists and lists but couldn’t find anything. My husband and I are very opposing when it comes to names. I’d rather name my children with my friends, because we all like fun, creative names!

Jimmy and I were sitting on the couch one day, watching the David Letterman show where he interviews people. We watched the episode with Billie Eilish and both looked at each other and said, “Billie is adorable”. I love a gender-neutral name for a girl — a little bit of a resume mystery! We started googling full names for Billie and Willamina popped up, the way we spell it. I couldn’t let go of it.

How about her middle name, Joy?

My mom was born on Christmas, and my grandma named her Joy — she would have been Nicholas if she was a boy. But I was going to use Joy as the middle name regardless of our baby’s sex. It’s a word name, and you can’t say it without feeling joy. And my mom is really special to me. We honored my husband’s side so strongly with his name, I wanted to honor my family.

What other names did you consider?

We were finishing Schitt’s Creek when my son was born, and the name Twila is so pretty and celestial. But my friends told me that people would think I’m a crazy Schitt’s Creek fan!

The other name I really liked was Darla. It has a connection to The Little Rascals, but I think the reference is fading. I love how it’s related to the word “darling”.

My grandmother’s name was Josephine, so that would have been the one if we chose a J name. But it wasn’t really ever on the table.

The name Jimmy was gunning for was Marigold! He’s not normally that ethereal, I was surprised. He loved the nickname Goldie. My boss has the last name Goldman and goes by Goldie.

Did you think of boy names?

The boy name that I’m sad I’ll never get to use is Tate. With James, it wasn’t that my husband really wanted to name the baby after himself, just that we both really liked the name James. I advocated for it more than he did!

But since our son is James, we decided that if we had another son we would use Tate. James and Tate sound really cute together. And I love Tater as a nickname! I suggest it to all of my friends who are having boys.

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

My friends with boys stick to the classics. There are a lot of boys named Charles or Charlie. Noah is nonstop. People are still really going for it!

My son just started preschool, so we know a lot more names. There's a Bridget, Stella, and Lillian. We know a few Lilys and a ton of Rivers still, equally for boys and girls. The name that gets me in my son’s class is Ansel. I love that! I don’t know the parents very well, but I know I am not cool enough to have an Ansel.

We live in Northern New Jersey, so there are lots of Italian names like Gia and Luca.

I’m always the friend that my friends trust with sharing their baby names. I like all names. If you’re going to name your kid Mary, I’m so happy for you. If you’re going to name your kid Staple — awesome. If that’s the name that’s going to bring you joy, then go for it. The weirder the better.

It’s your right as a parent, and your kid is going to fill that personality. One of my kids has a name that’s more on the ethereal, creative side, and the other has the most classic name in the history of boy names. We run the gamut!

Did you have any big fears related to baby names?

As someone named Jeanette, I was a little worried about spelling. When I go to Starbucks, my name is always spelled Janet. Always. No one calls me Jeanette — I get Janet, Janelle, Jeanne. It’s really not that hard!

I dug hard on the spellings because I didn’t want Wilhelmina. As much as the spelling is beautiful, I feel like it’s one people get stuck on. I couldn’t get past reading it as wil-HELL-mina. We were between Willamina and Willamena, and it seemed like Willamina was a bit more popular.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting the baby name process?

Be as creative as possible. Fill the space with everything you want your child to be and anything that you want to put out into the world. It’s such an honor and cool privilege to name somebody, so do what you want to do and don’t listen to anyone else.

How would you describe your style beyond baby names?

Modern meets ethereal. We have an old home, but with lots of midcentury modern touches. It’s classic but comfortable.

Did you pass down anything special to Willamina?

All of her brother’s things. I try to live in a not-so-gendered space. I hate the pink and baby blue.

What is your favorite gift you received for Willamina?

All the gifts we’ve been given are really sweet and thoughtful. There have been lots of food gifts — we haven’t made dinner once! Everyone in the neighborhood is watching out for us.

Having a baby in 2022 versus 2020 has been really nice. there’s been a lot more community, which I didn’t experience when I had James during COVID, and everyone was scared of each other.

What are the cool things for parents and kids to do where you live?

There’s a really sweet local county zoo at Van Saun Park. They do a lovely Christmas thing. It’s an easy quick afternoon — we go once a week in the summer.

Abma's farm in Wyckoff is another inexpensive outing. They give you crackers and the kids can feed the animals.

We like to go into Hoboken from time to time. There are some great parks — Elysian Park has epic views of the city.

In the summer, there’s an awesome lake-pool at Graydon Park. It’s super Americana — a classic fun watering hole that the kids love.

When we’re feeling exceptionally energetic we’ll go into the city and go to a museum. We’re really only 20 minutes outside the city but you have to get the stroller and everything. James loves the Museum of Natural History.

Jeanette's (and Willamina's) Favorite Things

KYTE BABY sleep sack

It’s really worth the $50. I’ve gone through many sizes — James is still in one!


I’ve been living by this because everyone’s been sick this fall.

Swaddle blankets

I’m a traditionalist — I like sweet soft blankets in pretty colors and patterns.

Clementine quilt

Grubhub gift card

I think this is *the* gift you can give a parent because let me tell you, they don’t need more 0-3 pink clothes.

Click here to see the entire How I Named My Baby Shopping Guide or check out the Nameberry Amazon Store to see all products recommended in How I Named My Baby.

Thank you so much, Jeanette!

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About the Author

Sophie Kihm

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.