My husband and I have six kids. If naming babies were an Olympic sport, I’m pretty sure I’d get a medal place
When we had our first daughter in 2001, choosing her name literally took 5 minutes. My husband suggested Juliet. I loved it immediately but suggested the longer French version, Juliette, because I thought it made a better balance with our short, somewhat masculine-feeling last name. He agreed.
Her middle name was chosen before I was ever even knocked up. In 1998, I was visiting Ireland when a bomb blast in the Northern Ireland city of Omagh claimed the lives of 29 people. One of those souls was that of a little girl named Maura. I made a silent and personal vow to use that name if I were ever to have a baby girl. Also, Maura is the Irish form of Mary and we are Catholic, so it was especially precious to me. We never looked back or second guessed our choice of Juliette Maura.
A couple of years later, we found ourselves expecting again- another wee girl. I struggled a little bit with this one. Juliette is such feminine name that I felt we needed something equally girly. After tossing around Rachel and Charlotte, we decided on Bella. Not Isabella, just Bella. Then, however, I wanted to balance that out with a spunky middle name. Ryan is a family surname and I thought that sounded kind of cool with Bella. My husband didn’t have many suggestions or objections this go round, so Bella Ryan joined us in 2003.
Fast forward two years and baby girl number three needed a name. At this point, I wanted to cry. Finding yet another name for a girl that my husband and I both agreed on felt overwhelming. My husband’s idea of input involved thumbs sideways or thumbs down. No suggestions, really, just “meh” or “I hate that name with all my heart.” Again, I felt kind of trapped by having chosen two very feminine names for our first two daughters. This time I wanted something that would “fit” but wouldn’t necessarily be expected. I read somewhere that Mia is a diminutive of Mary. It didn’t fit perfectly with Juliette and Bella but it also didn’t feel completely random like, say, McKenzie would have. I’d always loved the name Sloane but was never brave enough to use it in a first name spot. I was willing to go for it as a middle name and that’s daughter number three: Mia Sloane.
Another two years went by (notice a pattern?) and this time, it was a boy. Hurrah! Husband had all kinds of opinions and suggestions with this kid. Crazy ones, y’all. His top pick? Magnus. Second? Thor. Third? Wulf (with those two little dots over the ‘u’. I don’t even know what those dots are called so I’m certainly not naming a kid something that requires those things).
Now, I don’t hate Magnus or Thor. I think they’re quite handsome, in fact. Just on someone else’s son. Like, someone with Viking heritage or a couple who are cool enough to be able to name a kid ‘Thor’ with absolutely no apologies. We are not that couple. Plus, we live in Georgia. You don’t hear those names around here. Ever.
For the first time in our baby naming history, we had an honest-to-God argument about a name for our child.
I wanted to include my husband in this process as I always had, but I just couldn’t imagine calling a child any of the names he suggested. Exasperated, I asked him to write down six names, different names, that he’d consider. At the top of the list was Leo. That was a name I’d never, ever considered and I fell in love with it immediately. The best part, though, was that Leo Magnus sounded so badass. Like a superhero, almost. Magnus as a first name, I couldn’t swallow. Leo Magnus, however, felt pretty perfect. Boom. Done.