on choosing our children’s names…

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June 13 2018-7

today i’m sharing how we chose all of our little ones’ names (no, we didn’t name samson after the regina spektor song!), thoughts on baby names in general, middle names, nicknames… the works! this can be such a fun topic, but it’s also so personal! there is definitely not one way to go about picking a name or naming a baby and that’s what makes the whole ordeal so fascinating. i love hearing stories of how people come up with names, or the significance and meaning behind theirs. did you know i was supposed to be named ruth and my parents switched it to naomi last minute?! and did you know that i tried to have people start calling me by both my first and middle name in college, naomi megan?! i don’t even remember why i tried that but no one took me seriously and it never stuck. it actually backfired completely and got shortened to nay by a few professors and teachers and also nay nay by friends around that same time. jokes on me i guess!

so let’s back up a little before we get into the names josh and i chose for our children. because maybe it’s just me, but in the months leading up to each of our children’s births, the topic of what we were going to name our children always stressed me out a little. it wasn’t that i didn’t have a long list of names i loved, or that josh and i couldn’t agree on names together (about 70%–okay maybe more like 50%– of the time we’d be on the same page with names), it was more so that naming another human being felt like such a big responsibility to be assigned when this was a tiny little human i barely knew.

a name shapes so much of who you are, who you’ll become in many regards as well. i know people with more playful names who have said it’s been harder for them to be taken more seriously as they are now grown working professionals and i’ve heard others with more unique names to pronounce or spell share how it’s been an constant hassle in their everyday to have to keep reminding people how to say or spell their name. not that any of that should ever stop you from choosing a name you love, it’s just interesting to hear how names can be perceived by those around you as well as yourself. something else that truly fascinates me when it comes to picking out a name for your baby is that everyone seems to have an opinion on the name! from a grandparent to a stranger on the street, it’s crazy how people can really take it to heart. we decided before eleanor was born not to share any of the names we were considering with friends or family until after the baby arrived. my reasoning here was that i felt like people couldn’t really be like, “hmmm. i don’t like that one” after the birth certificate had been signed and you have an adorable little baby face to go with the name! ….unless of course you’re in our family, because funny side story– that rule didn’t seem stop a few of our family members who called josh and me minutes after we arrived home from the hospital with one of our new little ones to tell us we should change the name (they even said they’d taken a poll from their friends over the past few hours since we had first called them to share the name with them and their friends agreed with them that it wasn’t a good name). true story! that was a fun first day home from the hospital! oh, family! (ps. we didn’t change the name.)

June 13 2018-3

eleanor

a name both josh and i loved seperately before we were ever together. a name with a royal heritage. the famous queen eleanor of aquitaine was the most powerful woman in europe during her time, a ruler of important lands, the mother of kings and queens herself. i loved this because we felt that this name for our own eleanor doesn’t just connect her to a distant queen here on earth but will hopefully remind her of her true royal heritage in heaven, that her royal birthright is divine, her inheritance one from heavenly parents, and that her potential is that to be a queen in heaven.

ironically, it was my top baby girl name for years before she arrived. but when we got to the hospital, it wasn’t on my list of top 5 girl names anymore, although it had remained on josh’s short list of top names. then there was this special moment maybe only 30 or 60 seconds after her birth, where i was looking at her as she was placed on the scale a few feet away from the operating table where i was as the nurses cleaned her and began the series of routine tests.  i started to go through the list of my top 5 names in my head while looking at her and each one was a definite no. then i swear she looked directly at me and it felt like the room hit pause while our eyes locked for what felt like several minutes even though it probably was only a second or two. it was such a powerful moment. and i knew she was eleanor. as though i’d known her my entire life as eleanor. once we were wheeled into the recovery room and left alone for the first time as a family of three, i had her craddled in my arms as josh leaned over us from the side of the bed hugging us both. i hadn’t shared with him my experience in the operating room yet which is why it was such a sweet and special moment while holding me and gazing down at her, he whispered “eleanor.”

June 13 2018June 13 2018-2

samson

a name of strength, it comes from the story of samson in the old testament of the bible.  people usually recall and only focus on the parts of the story where samson was a strong final judge of israel who slayed a lion and killed a thousand men and loved a woman named delilah but had his hair shaved and then lost his strength and was blinded and imprisoned. but what josh and i love most about the story was that samson’s strength wasn’t his own but rather came from God. his power came from making and keeping a covenant (or promise) made with god and he lost this strength when he proudly forgot that his gift was from the Lord. in the end, he is humbled, then pleads to God in prayer, and the Lord returns his strength. i hope that our very own samson will always know that ultimate strength and power come from remembering God, making and keeping promises with him and humbling ourselves before him in prayer.
and while we did not name samson after regina spektor’s song, i don’t mind that the song is a really beautiful one. :) and while our six year old mister samson has proven to have some serious physical strength already in his life (this kid enjoys doing 20-25 push ups in incredible form each day), he has the sweetest spirit about him and his long sincere prayers to his heavenly father around the dinner table or in his bed at night make my heart melt. i love my strong little samson.

June 13 2018-4 June 13 2018-5

conrad

the name conrad has an old german origin that comes from two words meaning “bold” or “brave” and “counsel” or “counselor.”  we think it’s kinda cool if our son will be audacious, brave, confident, wise, and encouraging as a “bold counselor!” the name conrad is given and used by many kings and emperors in europe, including king conrad who knew queen eleanor. :)
josh and i knew conrad would be conrad before we even saw him. josh found the name while reading long lists of names looking for inspiration, and when he mentioned it, it was a name we both loved instantaneously while i was still pregnant. in fact, it was the only name we brought with us to the hospital because we loved it so much and fortunately when we first saw him, it fit! something else i love about the name is that it has the word “rad” in it. which means something is really cool, but in a more subtle way. like being crazy awesome, but not having to work for it. i don’t know, but i feel like that is straight up our conrad. the raddest kid around!

rex

both of our boys share the middle name, rex. it means “king” in latin. we chose rex so that our sons would be reminded that they, as spiritually begotten sons of heavenly parents, have thrones awaiting them in the kingdom of God and can be kings in heaven. after giving this middle name to samson, we chose to give it to conrad as well so that he would be bonded and connected to his brother samson, so that when each of them sees or hears his shared middle name, he will think of its inspiring meaning and remember his brother and how they are connected.

June 13 2018-6

beatrice

beatrice means she who makes happy, someone who brings happiness or joy or blessings or who brings about good things (the name comes from the latin beāta which could be translated as blessed). we chose this name for beatrice with the hope that she will bring joy and goodness into this life, that she will have the power and desire to honor her name through good works. during our first few days together in the hospital, before we had firmly decided on the names, beatrice smiled so many times. in her sleep, while feeding, while being held. it was crazy, but she just kept smiling. and it felt so fitting, to name her as a bringer of happiness. it’s only been two months since her arrival, but she’s for sure living up to the joy factor. it wasn’t a main reason for choosing the name, but beatrice is also a name used by several queens and royalty so it goes well with her siblings’ names, too.

madalena

we named madalena after the woman in the new testament of the bible who knew Jesus, mary magdalene (in english). the spelling “madalena” is the portuguese version of the name and the same as the italian version which just has 2 d’s instead of 1. i have always loved the story of mary magdalene in the scriptures. she was the disciple who first saw the resurrected Lord, and i absolutely love that our Savior came to her first. as a woman, that has always meant so much to me. she was a witness to the most important events of humanity, both the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. while i wish more of her story was documented, the parts that are written and preserved are so very beautiful. and it was so very evident that she LOVED her savior, her “rabboni” or master. and josh and i hope our own madalena will have this charitable love and intimate affection for jesus and eventually know like mary magdalene knew that he is the Son of God.

on middle names…
as for middle names for our girls, we chose not to give either of them one. i know i am old fashioned in this sense, but i really hope that maybe someday if my daughters do choose to marry and want to take on a new last name, that they’ll keep “davis” as their new middle name, so they still feel a bond with where they came from. in my own personal experience when i was getting married, i found it so complicated to keep my maiden name. i ended up having too many names because i already had a middle name, and i had to do a legal name change to take on “davis” as my last name if i wanted to also keep my maiden name in the middle. in new york, i could drop my maiden last name and keep my first given middle name, or hyphenate my two last names bringing them together, which i didn’t like. my middle name “megan” had no significance to me at the time, and the thought of parting with my maiden last name was so sad since it was such a huge part of who i was.  i wanted to take josh’s last name to solidify our new family unit, but i just didn’t want to part entirely with my maiden last name. so i had to do a lot of legal work to drop my original middle name and take my maiden name as my new middle name. it might be different depending on where you live, but it was such a headache here in new york to do this change. anyway, that’s when i decided right then and there that i wouldn’t make it as complicated for my future daughters if i had any. i don’t think they’ll miss having a middle name for now. and i feel like it’s kind of strong and special to have just their first and last name at the moment. :) and also, to be super clear, i don’t think there is only one way to go about taking on a new last name if one is deciding to.  josh has a friend from college and she and her husband actually combined both of their last names and came up with a new family name entirely which i’ve always thought that was a cool way to do it. i don’t think there is only one way to keep a family connection or maintain family unity through a name. just through my headache of an experience, i wanted to at least make the option easier for my girls if they ever want to do it like me someday.
on nicknames…
when we named eleanor, we went through all the possible nickname scenarios to make sure we were cool with them. elle, ella, ellie, norah… and while we didn’t mind of any of them, she just felt like eleanor from day one so we never called her by anything else. josh is a believer that you should name someone what you want them to be called. like, name them the nickname if that’s what they’ll be known as. it’s so different for everyone, but for us, we decided to go this route.  although i do admit, there was a moment in the hospital with our new baby girls where i was like, if they ever want to start a band together, how cool would the band name “madbea” be?! they could be known as “mad” and “bea”. haha, i think i was still on a lot of drugs and painkillers though when this was running through my mind!
on choosing a name….
while it might feel heavy to be assigned the task of naming someone for the rest of their lives, we have loved the experience and the ways it has brought josh and me together. our older three children were actually really involved in the name process with us while choosing names for the baby girls and i loved some of our conversations and discussions around names as a family. i think at the end of the day, it’s so very personal how you go about the process and what you choose to do. josh and i have looked at sooooo many names (there are great apps and books where you can narrow searches based on the first initial or by region or country, etc etc.). there would be weeks during my pregnancies where we’d be really into it and other times during those 9 months where we just had to put it all away and not discuss any names for a few weeks at a time. but eventually, when you see your baby and try out a name, one always starts to fit. at least in our experience.  i can’t imagine my children being called by another now. she is absolutely our beautiful eleanor. he is without a doubt my mister samson. and that for sure is our little conrad. and then with our new baby girls… she is most definitely my joy bringing beatrice, with that smile that already eats up the entire bottom half of her little face. and the one with the piercing blue eyes and calmest demeanor, she is and always has been our madalena.
  1. the entire article was so touching at so many levels. thank you for sharing your beautiful personal experience. you kids are adoooorable <3

  2. Your children’s names are just perfect and I love the royal tie both here on earth and to their heavenly home! Thank you for sharing such a strong testimony with this post.

  3. Sophie from France

    I love to read how you chose each names of your kids. This so much resonates to me, as I really put a lot of thoughts behind the names of my 3 littles ones. Just as you, I think it is a quite important “mission” that we have as a parent when deciding on a name for a whole life…

    First I also didn’t want any funny, hype name or unpronounceable name, thinking about their future professional. So we stayed quite classical in our choices (and I must confess I did practice in front of my mirror how “professionnaly credible” the name was…).

    We also didn’t want names with possible nicknames (although they all ended up getting some from their friends… but I always told them that as long as they are fine with these nicknames that was OK, but they should also let the people know in case they don’t like it). We always call them with their full name.

    Then I was quite keen to chose “old/ancient” names, that are not heard so often anymore, so that they don’t end up with 4 school mates with their same name. I wanted them to feel sort of unique.

    I didn’t select the names specifically on their significations or link to history, but still I ensured that their meaning was not contradicting the values that we wanted to transmit to our kids and the characters we were hoping for them to reflect and develop.

    So what we did first was to look in our family trees and look at the names of our great-grandparents and before. I also love the idea that they would carry with them a piece of our family history.
    This is how we ended up with Gabriel, Madeleine (the French version of Madalena :-)) and Suzanne – all 3 being quite ancient in France, although since we chose them they now become more and more used… looks like we initiated a trend :-) ) and all of them having been worn by members of our family in the past.

    I also wanted the names to fit with both a “playful” character and a wise character, as I sometimes feel some names sound too wise and wanted my kids to be able to inspire some fun around them also. (I also did “practice” my choices :-) ) – not sure I manage to express my meaning and intention here very well.

    Other crazy things I did when chosing names:
    – writing them: I wanted to feel good with their writing, as I love writing. So I tested the curves, the letters, the initial, etc
    – checking if there was an existing song with their names and what the lyrics were about

    Same as you: we never shared our list of names before the birth (we even didn’t know the genders before the birth) so that our family and friends and others don’t get a chance to criticize or influence.
    Finally, despite we came with a preferred name at the maternity, I always “checked” that this name was fitting well our newborn when meeting her/him for the first time.

    As for middle-names, in my family the trend is to give 2 other names which are usually the names of the grandmothers or grandfathers or persons close to our heart, so that they always carry them with them and then pass it to their family as well and continue the memory chain :-) but in France we don’t use our middle names (2nd and 3rd ones) a lot – some use them sometimes when they are not happy with their initial one. But changing name is quite complicated process in France…

    Sorry for this long email (and thanks for having read it if you were able to stay tuned all long), I actually had never realised all what was going on in my head during these steps !!! )
    :-))))

    all the very best to your nice “no-longer-little” family
    with love from France

  4. Casey Huggins

    I love this post so much! I completely agree with you. My husband was named John Andrew but his parents call him Andy. It is such a hassle anytime he has to sign a document, go to an interview, things like that.. So in seeing him go through that we decided to just name our kids what we were going to call them.

  5. Sophie from France

    it looks like my comment was too long and probably got rejected at some end…
    nevermind, it was quite cool and fun for me to go through the brainstorm I had on all our family names, I hadn’t realised there was so much.
    I had hoped to share it with you but I can understand it was a bit too long…

    Love from France !

  6. Sadie

    Naming someone is a huge responsibility. My husband and I were on our honeymoon in Iceland when we saw our future baby’s name on a list of early Viking names. There it was, waiting for us. It meant a lot to give her such an ancient name, one that exists in most nations because it’s so old, one that names a saint.

    Thanks for sharing!
    xo
    Sadie

  7. Kelleyn

    What a beautiful story on how you choose names for your children. We almost named our daughter Beata which is a very popular name in Germany where my husband is from, but when we looked at our daughter we knew that wasn’t her name. She is an Adelaide who was also a Queen in Italy. We choose strong names for our children because we had read that they will be more confident and successful in life if they have a strong name. Our oldest Harris name comes from the name Haris which means Vigilant Watchman/Lion/God or Lord. The second we named Winston comes from the name of Joy which he has totally lived up to his name, but is also the name of Winston Churchill who as you know was a strong British leader and he also stuck up for the Mormons in England saying they were the best of English society. Roman our third son is named after the great Roman empire and he needed to be strong like that because he was born with a heart condition. Then as I mentioned came Adelaide who was a Queen and number 5 is Avery and which is not a very strong name, but it fits her and her middle name is Elizabeth which means Oath of God. Last was Ivy means Faithfulness and brings thoughts of something strong and persistent. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Rory

    Could you explain what you mean by “remind her of her true royal heritage in heaven, that her royal birthright is divine, her inheritance one from heavenly parents, and that her potential is that potential is that to be a queen in heaven”? I am thinking this is related to your faith but as a job-Mormon, I am curious and would like to know more.

  9. tooenthusiastic

    it’s cool that conrad has “rad” in it but it also has “con” so i hope he turns out to be more rad than con ;)

  10. Jess.

    I keep hoping (not that it’s my place to hope!) that you will use “Gaga” as a “collective” name for the twins, since Samson didn’t get his way with the baby naming. I think you do such a lovely job naming all of your sweetest babies. And raising them to be so loving. xox

  11. Sarah

    Love the post!!just wanted to share that i changed my name in nyc when I got married and it was super easy to make my maiden name into my new middle name. The guy at the SS office just said so, which do you want to be your middle name—or you can keep both? My understanding is that to add an entirely new name in the mix is hard , but if you are getting married, it is (or was in 2009) simple to make your maiden name your new middle hname.

  12. Haley

    I love knowing why people choose names. It is such an intimidating and fun task. I love the meanings behind your kids names, and they all have a lovely connection. I also have an Eleanor, named after my grandmother. I love that it means “shining light” and she really is a beam of light.

  13. Jenn

    I wanted to name my daughter Nora after her great grandmother. However, when I met my daughter the name didn’t fit. We spent over 24 hours thinking of a name. My husband created the name Solin Grey. Solin pronounced: So-Lynn. And this name is SO fitting for our unique little girl!

  14. Irene

    Loved loved this post!this is your essence that captivates so much!
    Here in Spain we don’t use middle names unless it is a “composed” name, for example, María Jesús (Mary Jesus) as my mother. And on the other hand, se use both father’s and mother’s surnames!
    Hugs for all your fabulous family!
    Irene (meaning peace in ancient Greek)

  15. Emilia

    I’m really disappointed at how sexist your reasoning for omitting middle names when it comes to your female children is. I’ve been following your blog since you were pregnant with Eleanor, and I originally thought it was cool and different that she was just “Eleanor Davis”, although I was curious as to why you gave the boy’s middle names and not the girls. To learn that the reason is so she can take a man’s name later in life and make Davis her middle name just seems so backwards. What if she doesn’t want to take a man’s name? What if she doesn’t marry? What if she chooses to marry a woman? Alternatively, what if your boy’s wanted to take the last name of their future spouse, should they marry? While of course it is your choice and it is a personal decision, it’s unfortunate that the reasoning behind it is rooted in sexism, especially given the current state of our country.

  16. Rose J.

    Really love how y’all chose the names for your kids. I didn’t give any of my girls middle names, only my son. so it’s okay. I agree with you on the whole middle name thing hoping they keep their family name as jorgensen goes on for generations and generations especially in the church! They truly are royalty!

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Lucy

    I have been a follower of this blog for almost five years now, and for the best part I find your posts delightful. However, I do think it’s unfortunate that you denied your daughters the luxury of a middle name on the assumptions of their adulthood. This seems like a lot of assumptions to place on infants by assuming that: a) They’ll get married b) They’ll marry men c) They’ll want to subscribe to a sexist tradition that originated when women were their husband’s property.