Kareen Madian, mom of one
I over-share. It’s a trait I’ve had my entire life. So when I was pregnant with my son and people asked if my husband and I had a name picked out, I didn’t think twice about telling them that Max, short for Maximilian, was our top choice.
Why wouldn’t I share that information? I don’t own the name. I don’t care if you want to use it, too. I didn’t trademark it, so you wouldn’t be stealing. Would I have been bothered if someone I knew used the same name? Nope. Names are fair game. They’re for everybody; you will not be the first or the last person to use it.
And while Max was our favourite pick, we weren’t averse to the idea that another name could come in like a dark horse and steal our hearts. By opening up the name discussion with family, friends and my local barista, the opportunity to unearth different and unique options grew exponentially. On top of that, I love hearing about what other people are considering naming their future children; I find it exciting to be part of that important decision. And since I love discussing names, I would never want to deny others that same joy.
Make no mistake—we got a lot of opinions when it came to our name choice. For one thing, it was apparently too popular. “Do you really want him to be one of three Maxes in his class?” asked at least a few friends. Sure, why not? They could all get together and form a band.
The fact is, nothing anyone could say was going to dissuade us from using the name we loved (and finally agreed on, after plenty of debate). We were just that confident in our choice. Why wait? So people could be “surprised” when he was born? Nah. Not a priority for me. Sharing the name of my future child as soon as we decided on it was more fun for me than surprising people after the birth would have been.
I only had one kid, but if the subject of baby names comes up, I still tell people the ones I would use if I had any more children. And—shocker—I don’t care what they think about those, either.
Derek Malcolm, dad of one
Way back in the fancy-free days of childless bliss, the lads and I were tucked into our usual dingy booth at the back of our even dingier local pub. The topic of conversation: baby names?! Not the usual dude fare, I know, but one of us had just announced he was expecting a child, and we were going around the table, trying to guess what name he and his wife had chosen. He squirmed a bit and tried to remain poker-faced. And then, before I even knew it was a thing, he muttered, “We’re not sharing.” The table erupted in boos. Coasters and crumpled napkins were thrown.
I didn’t think of that night until years later, when my wife and I were faced with the same decision of telling or not telling. It was a no-brainer. We weren’t going to share.
For one thing, keeping our name choices between us was fun. It was our own secret project, and we were giddy about it. We couldn’t wait for the arrival of our little girl, and we wanted to make sure she had a name that meant something to all of us. We made lists. Then lists of lists. We texted ideas at all hours. It was a personal endeavour that brought us closer together, so we wanted to keep it for ourselves.
And we wanted the name to be a surprise. You’re introducing a new human to the world. We’ve all seen The Lion King—raise that kid up for all the animals to see and declare, proudly, “Simba!” Plus, the peanut gallery can’t opine on the name once there’s a miniature person attached to it.
Lastly, my wife and I chose not to share our baby’s name with anyone because until we both laid eyes on our newborn girl, we hadn’t actually made up our minds. Our half-dozen lists had yielded two finalists we both loved—Evie and Abby—but we couldn’t decide. And because we hadn’t shared, we weren’t locked in. We left it all up to whichever name felt right at the moment my wife held her for the first time. One look was all it took, and we knew we had our Abby. The only thing left to do was shout it from the mountaintop.
A version of this article appeared in our May 2016 issue with the headline, "Should you reveal your baby’s name before the birth?," p. 88.