How I Named My Baby: Yani Rose

How I Named My Baby: Yani Rose

Style blogger Desiree Marcano and her husband Eduardo Alonzo live in North Carolina. Their daughter Yani Rose was born on November 4, 2021.

We talked to Desiree about how she and Eduardo named their little girl.

Tell me Yani’s name story!

The name is derived from my mom's name, Yaniere. She would always joke and tell me and my sister that one of us had to name our kid Yani. And I always said no!

Finally, it came to the point where my husband and I were ready to start a family. When we were talking about names we were like, “Our girl name is Yani.”

We loved the combination Yani Rose. Rose comes from Eduardo’s mom's name, Rosalinda. We shortened both our mothers' names to have Yani Rose Alonzo.

I discovered it's actually unisex in other countries. When I just researched Yani, there were names of men and women from all over the place that had that name — that made me love it even more.

Nobody has said it wrong, which makes me happy too. I was a high school teacher for five years and I know the importance of pronouncing a name correctly and how much it creates value in a child to be called the right name. When I was picking Yani’s name, I didn't want her to constantly have to struggle and correct people.

I love her name. I've put it on everything. She has so many blankets and backpacks and anything you could think of. I'm like, “Yes, monogram at all!”

What do you know about your mom’s name, Yaniere?

My grandma named my mom Yaniere because of a popular novela — Spanish soap opera — called Yaniere.

No one could ever pronounce my mom's name when she was in school. She was raised in Brooklyn in an immigrant family — my grandmother spoke Spanish. When my mom was six years old, my grandma went to school and told the secretary, “I'm here to pick up Yaniere.” The secretary said, “We don't have her at the school.”

Come to find out, my mom told everybody in her first-grade class that her name was Jenny because my grandma called her Yani for short. She was going by Jennifer and Jenny with all the American kids.

She loves her name now, and people tell her it’s beautiful all the time. At home she’s Yaniere, but when we go out shopping, she uses Jenny. She owns a preschool, and when she talks to parents, she’s known as Miss Jennifer. It’s who she still is. When she was growing up, nobody cared to get ethnic names right.

Yaniere is hard to pronounce when you see it written. The -ere is at the end is very Spanish. We roll our tongues when we say it, so it gets butchered. It’s a story that I can't wait to tell my daughter when she's older. I believe in carrying those stories of our family and our life.

It definitely plays a part in my mother's identity, how she is a Puerto Rican and she's also an American and she literally has two different names depending on what the situation is. I hope with my daughter and the simplification of that name, that she is a Puerto Rican Mexican American, and she doesn't have to change her name. All those things can be one person, rather than separate.

What names were you considering for a boy?

I'm very certain of my boy name — it won't change. David Eduardo Alonzo. David comes from my father's middle name and Eduardo is my husband's middle name, but he goes by that as his first name. His name is Francisco Eduardo.

I would call my son David, but I’d expect my husband's family to call him Eduardo. My husband has three brothers, and two of them go by their middle names. In Mexican culture, middle names carry over from family members.

In Mexico, Lalo is a nickname for Eduardo. So my husband’s family nickname is Lalo. Eduardo’s dad is Lalo, and growing up, my husband was Lalito. Our son might also go by that!

The culture in Puerto Rico is European, African, and Taino Indian. My husband’s family is Lebanese and Mexican, and he has Aztec heritage on his dad’s side. When our families get together, the features and colors are all over the place. It’s so nice to have that fusion of cultures, and that's why I liked the name David Eduardo, because it came from our fathers.

What’s on the list for a second girl?

Right now, we have Brooklyn. My mom is from Brooklyn, and that's where my husband proposed to me. It's our favorite city. So that's on the table, but I don't know how his family would pronounce that with their Spanish accent.

Ava is a family name. I love my sister's name, Alondra. It’s a very Puerto Rican choice. My mom found it from a novela. There was like a popular one, and the little girl's name was Alondra. It’s also a bird name.

Did you share Yani’s name before she was born?

I probably should have surprised my family because it would've been cooler, but I was so excited to be pregnant. My family is extremely close — the Kardashians kind of closeness. So I just blurted it out right away!

My mom started crying, she was so excited. My, mother-in-law absolutely loved it. I did a gender reveal where I popped the thing and it lets out like the cornstarch color. It went pink and we all said right away, “Oh my God, it's Yani.”

What do you think of your name, and how did it influence your choice?

I loved having a unique name growing up that people didn't see all the time. But naturally, you focus on the things you don't like. I didn't like that my name is French and I'm not French. My parents raised me to be such a proud Puerto Rican that I was like, “Why didn't you give me a Puerto Rican name?”

I’m Desiree Nicole Marcano, and nowhere in my name can you tell I’m Puerto Rican. That’s why I chose Yani for my daughter.

Growing up, it wasn't cool to have an uncommon name. I didn't even like my own name because I was like, “Who is going to take a Desiree seriously?” All my friends had more serious names like Danielle, and I couldn’t picture an adult Desiree.

When my mom would talk to us about Yani, I couldn't picture it on an adult. But now, now it's so cool to have a name that has a story. My name didn't come from anybody in my family.

My mom's story was that she just heard the name Desiree and loved it. For my daughter, I wanted to have a name with meaning. The fact that it comes from my mom and my husband's mother is so special. And I love the idea that that's what she could tell people growing up.

Did you have any big fears related to baby names?

I was nervous that people would call her Yanni instead of Yani, but hasn't happened yet.

I truly do believe that the name you give your child plays a part and who they become. My mom has owned a preschool for over 10 years and has been in childcare forever. I've literally seen children become what their names are.

I feel like when people meet me, they're like, “You're definitely a Desiree.” The name is kind of bubbly. I'm pretty bubbly with like a touch of spicy.

That's exactly what I envision for a Yani Rose. I see her being fun-loving, outgoing and cute. It's a cute name! Already at six months, she has a sense of humor and is daring. She is not scared of anything. She does not cry out of fear. She plays with dogs, she doesn't care about heights. I wanted to give her a name with the characteristics in my head that I wanted her to be.

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

Write it down. Keep a list and don't cross anything off. Keep playing with them in your head, over and over again. Even say it out loud!

This sounds silly but say it almost like you’re calling a dog. I was like, “Come on, Yani!”

When you pick one, stick with it. If you're going back and forth a little bit too much, it can be overwhelming. And pregnancy is already overwhelming enough! If the one definitive thing that you have is the name, then you've got something.

How would you describe your style beyond baby names?

My style outside of baby names is fun. I like to have a good time. Even with fashion, which is my form of expression, I like it to be fun and interesting to look at, with pops of color.

I think that plays a part in why we chose Yani. I’m a fashionable person and I wanted my child to have a fashionable name.

Yani’s nursery has a beautiful wooden name sign. I went with burnt orange and yellow colors. I'm an Aquarius, and I don't like to do anything cookie cutter, so I would not go with the pinks and purples and stuff like that.

Did you pass down anything special to Yani?

I wear this gold necklace that’s going to be passed down. It's the tiniest little gold nameplate, and it says Yani. When she's of age to wear this, and it's not a choking hazard anymore, it will be hers.

Because she has my mom's name, my mom has a bunch of little rings for her. Puerto Ricans — we deck ourselves out with gold jewelry. So Yani has a lot of little trinkets that are already personalized, that she'll be inheriting.

What is your favorite gift you received for Yani?

It’s a book from my sister. It’s going to be a kind of diary where she writes letters to Yani about events that Yani is too young to remember. She bought it the second she found out I was pregnant and has written in it for every major milestone, starting with me telling her I was pregnant.

What are the hip things for North Carolina parents to do with their kids?

People love to go to parks. Everybody's outdoorsy here. There’s so much to do in North Carolina. Every weekend families are packing their stuff up to go for like a little weekend getaway.

I live in the middle, right outside of Raleigh. We’re two hours away from the beach and two hours away from the mountains. Yani has already been to the beach twice. Our goal is to purchase a place there because we would love to take her to visit all the time and make memories at the beach.

This is a very family-friendly area, which is why we chose to stay here. There are always markets on the weekends, parks to go to, or free plays or readings at the library. There are a million things to do. And I can't wait to do them with my daughter.

I've taken her to the art museum too. She just takes it all in. I want her to experience everything! That’s how my mom raised me.

Thank you so much, Desiree!

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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.