Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's in a name?

When I tell people the name we've chosen for our daughter, I usually get the same question: "How did you come up with that???" Since nothing is simple, and I tend to debate decisions and life choices until I'm blue in the face, I figured I would explain here. There's a verrry long story about how we came up with her sweet little name (okay, I'm biased, but I love it).

The whole thing started in the summer of 2010, when I was pregnant with Jack. At the time, we did not know what we were having, and we had no intentions of finding out. We were only about 6 weeks along, but for some reason, I wanted to decide on names right away. We had pretty much already decided on Jack if it was a boy. Jack was my favorite boy name by far, and I liked the idea that Jack was a nickname for Jon (my darling husband's name). Jon didn't want to go so far as to name our baby directly after him, so I felt like Jack was the perfect compromise. I still feel like Jack Benjamin was the most perfect choice for our little boy.

When it came to choosing a girl's name, it wasn't that simple. I had some very specific criteria to ensure that we found the perfect name for her. You see, as an Audra, my name was mispronounced my entire life. I actually have a strong aversion to people calling me Audrey by accident because of my childhood. But now I love my name because it is unique, but not unheard of or strange (well, I don't think it's strange). But for my daughter, the name had to have the following criteria, otherwise it was off the list:

1. Had to be nicknameable. You can't really shorten Audra, and I was often of my friends who could shorten their names or have cute pet names. Alexandra could be Alex. Katherine could be Katie. Tiffany could be Tiff. And so on.

2. Preferably 3 syllables. Sounds so weird, but since our last name is only 3 letters, I wanted our babies to have longer first and middle names to balance out the shortness of our last name.

3. Sounds adult-like, but could be a child's name (or have a nickname that's cute as a child). This one was huge for me. There are some names that I think are so adorable, but when I think about our daughter being a lawyer, doctor, or CEO, I feel like Buffy Cupcake won't be taken as seriously.

4. Had to be unique but not weird. It had to be in the top 500 names, but not in the top 250 according to the Social Security Administration. Again, sounds SO weird, but I don't want her going her whole life with people thinking she had a made-up name. I also didn't want her to have 17 classmates with the same name. She's unique ;-)

So, as you can see, naming a daughter turned into rocket science.

One of the names Jon & I both really liked was Emma. I have loved that name since Rachel named her baby Emma on Friends. Yep, I'm susceptible to pop culture, and I'm okay with it. However, Emma just didn't fit criteria number 3. It's adorable for a little girl, but I was afraid that she wouldn't like it as an adult. I mentioned this to my sis-in-law Kenny (who is actually a Mackenzie) and she said "Well, what about Emerson and just call her Emma??"

Jaw hit the floor. I knew at that very moment I was meant to have a daughter named Emerson.

Not only did Emerson fit all of the aforementioned criteria, but I just fell in love with it. I knew I had to do my due diligence, and look at my all name options, but in the back of my mind I knew that if this little one was a girl, that would be her name.

Well, fate intervened, and we were blessed with a little boy who we did not get to take home. I am so proud that our first child was given the name we chose. I can't imagine a better one. If we have another son some day, which I hope we do, it will be so hard to come up with a name I love as much as Jack Benjamin, but I'm sure we'll work it out.

So fast forward to April 16, 2011... the day I found out I was pregnant again. Somehow, Jon knew from day one that this baby was going to be a little sister. He was absolutely positive. I had an inkling too, but I was afraid to be wrong so I held off on the predictions for awhile.

At our 13 week appointment, the doctor said she was 99% sure the baby was a girl. We couldn't believe how early we were able to find out, but we were so elated! I think mentally it has been easier for me to prepare for a little girl; in a way it has helped to remind me that Emerson is not "replacing" Jack. She is a wonderful, beautiful blessing that came into our lives sooner than we expected; she is the baby sister that Jack would have had no matter what.

It's funny though... I haven't once called her Emma. She's referred to as Emerson most of the time, or Em, M&M, Baby Girl, Pretty Girl, Love Muffin, Snugglekin, Sweetheart, and alot of other embarrassing nicknames. But now that she's here, and that's her name, I can't imagine her as anything else. I hope when she's older that she loves it as much as we do.

So, long story short.... don't ever ask me to make a major decision for you. It might be awhile.


  1. I love it! we had a lot of the same criteria for our baby's name -- I love nicknames too! I love the nickname Emmie for Emerson (but I'm biased because that's what we call my friends daughter, haha). Love the story and the sweet photo!

  2. I totally agree on all of your criteria!! I was also subject to the sorry you don't get a nickname which was sad! I love her name and I am loving seeing all of your updates! You are such an awesome Mommy! <3

  3. I love her name & I like your criteria too! I don't think it's weird, there are certain things that have to be thought about before naming anything :) I think Emerson is a perfect name for baby girl!

  4. Love the story of her name! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to remember this for our next time around!

  5. Damnit, Aunt Kenny wins again ;)

  6. People who can't pronouce the name Audra apparently did not grow up watching The Big Valley. I know I am dating myself....