Since announcing my pregnancy 36 weeks ago, there’s one comment people have been making that’s about as annoying as my currently swollen ankles.
No, it’s not “oh my god are you carrying twins in there?”. No, it’s not a whole lot of unsolicited parenting advice. No, it’s not the observation that “your baby might be born on Christmas day like Jesus.” It’s not even the whole “get sleep now because you’ll never sleep again” schtick.
It’s the bagsing, or claiming, of baby names.
After joyously announcing my pregnancy to my closest friends over dinner one night, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. It had been a long, emotional slog trying to see those two little blue lines on the stick.
After one year of failed attempts and almost four months on fertility drugs, at 34, Chris and I were finally getting the baby we’d been envisioning for a decade!
Among the “I’m so happy for you” comments and overjoyed squeals was one reaction that deflated my mood like a balloon. (Post continues after gallery.)
“Ooh, have you picked out your names yet?” my friend Carol, who’s been with her boyfriend for two years, chimed in.
“Not really at this stage,” I said – even though, yes, I’ll admit I had thought of several I liked.
Without missing a beat she added: “I’m definitely going to call my baby Sophia. Michael and I have always loved it. I’ve always wanted to call a girl Sophia.”
I didn’t quite know how to react. Sophia is a gorgeous name, and to be honest, it’s one I’d always liked too. Should I have said that straight up? Probably.
Instead I smiled: “That’s a lovely name.”
The conversation quickly moved on and I forgot about it. (Post continues after audio.)
But as my belly grew and I could feel the little life within me start to thrive, Carol’s comments kept coming.
At a lunch when I was around 16 weeks pregnant, my friends were commenting on how my belly had ‘popped’ and how I was positively glowing. (Which was kind of them – the glow was sweat and I was feeling heavy and sluggish.)
Again, Carol brought up my name selection.
I decided to say it was going to be a “surprise” to avoid having to hear how she had dibs on the name Sophia, but that attempt proved futile.
“Mike and I were talking about potentially trying to get pregnant in a couple of years,” she started.
“We’d both love a girl. We’d definitely call it Sophia if it was, it’s such a beautiful name.”
Argh, there she was again - stamping her footprints all over her territory.
The third interrogation happened during a phone call Carol made to me after I shared the ultrasound picture from my 21-week scan in our What’s App group chat.
I loved that she called to find out about how the scan went, I was really flattered she cared.
But then the inevitable happened: “So did you find out the sex?”
“No, Chris wanted to but I persuaded him not to - we’re going to keep it a surprise.”
“Oh damn! Would make it so much easier to figure out what name you’re going to call it! Any progress there?”
I explained to her that we were going to keep the names a surprise, and that we did have some definites on the list in an attempt to prevent the Sophia Situation again. (Post continues after gallery.)
There was radio silence before she flat out asked:
“Okay, well is one of them Sophia by any chance?”
I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what to say so I responded ‘no’. I guess her badgering had worked - she won the name game. The name Sophia is hers and hers only. Despite the fact that she’s nowhere near pregnant and only thinking about trying to get pregnant in two years' time.
Carol’s not the only one who’s subtly slipped their baby name into conversation.
A cousin who’s already got two children took 10 minutes to explain to me why “Jacob” is the name she’ll choose if she has another child and it’s a boy. It was the name of her great grandfather who she greatly admired.
A very newly pregnant work colleague holed me up in the kitchen recently to tell me her Set In Stone baby names and then pointed out that wouldn’t it be awkward if we had the same names? Ha ha ha…
Considering we’ve got zero mutual friends, I didn’t see her point but nodded along politely before making my escape to the bathroom.
While I’ve still got a month before I meet the little human growing inside me face to face, one thing is for sure: I’ll be calling it whatever Chris and I want. The old adage ‘first in, best dressed’ applies here, in my opinion.
To all those people who bail up pregnant women to talk through the names of their future children (when a) it remains unclear as to whether you’ll ever even have children, or b) that lovely girl's name you’ve shotgunned is rendered unusable after you give birth to five boys) here’s a newsflash for you: We know what you’re doing. It’s very obvious to us. You are not subtle. Please stop.
As to whether I’ll call my child Sophia if it’s a girl? Probably not. It’s been tainted.
Can you 'claim' a baby name?