Monday, October 12, 2009

An Alec by any other name.

I love hearing stories about the process people go through to name their children. Few things are so big, so permanent, so impactful on their children's lives as the name they choose. We had an easy time with Michaela and Jenna: somehow we found girls' names just more flexible. When we found out we were having a boy, we agonized for months about names and combinations.

Of course we had a girl's name picked out before I was even pregnant with Alec, a name that we had always considered for each of the pregnancies and just never used. We were going to name the baby Brooke Gracelin if it was a girl: we both love the name Brooke, and the name Grace (and because it was through the grace of God that Dan agreed to have another baby) and the "lin" was to honor my mom Linda. Jenna's middle name is Alicia, after Dan's deceased mom Alice and Michaela's middle name is Elizabeth, after my grandmother Else.

So we struggled through all the name books and the only names Dan would agree to were Christopher, Matthew (which we were going to name Jenna if she were a boy), John, and David. For 3/4 of the pregnancy, I planned on naming the baby David John and even started thinking of him as just David. But then at about 34 weeks, I got cold feet. David is a great name, beautiful and strong and regal and biblical, but do you know how many people named David there are in the world?? Lots. And I just couldn't wrap my head around the whole "Dave" nickname. Or Davey. And I wasn't sure it went exactly with Michaela and Jenna.

So then we looked at alternatives. We considered James and Jamie. I pushed for Andrew and got nowhere. We thought about John as a first name. I lobbied for Jake. At one point, I said, "Let's name him John and call him Jake!" and Dan replied, "How about we name him Arthur and call him Christopher!" And despite my PROOF in the baby name book that Jake is a nickname for John, he didn't see the connection and refused to consider it. I offered Holden, Hayden, Roman, Marco and Rocco, though I honestly couldn't imagine my father saying, "My grandson's name is Marco (or Roman)" with a straight face. And I figured my German grandmother would roll in her grave having a great grandson named Rocco Libutti.

And then one day, while looking through the Baby Name Wizard book, I was reading the suggested sibling names for Michaela and Jenna and came across Alec. "I could do Alec," Dan said, and I almost fell off my chair. "Really?" I asked. "Because I kind of like Alec, too." So I held onto that and lived with it for a little while.

In the end, Dan gave me final naming responsibility with a strong rejection clause: I could pick the final name but he could nix any one he didn't like. In the final weeks, I was torn between Alec John and Derek John. Derek was the name we had picked out for Michaela if she was a boy and had never really gotten out of our system. But Alec seemed fresh and unusual but not weird; everyone has heard of Alec (thank you very much, Mr. Baldwin and 30 Rock) but I don't know anyone named Alec. (Side note: we actually considered all of the Baldwin boys' names just for good measure.) (Additional side note: My friend Jen just reminded me via facebook that Alec is the name of Judd Nelson's character in the movie St. Elmo's Fire, one of my all time favorite teenage angst movies. I bet Jen and I rented that movie and watched it a million times during our high school years and cried every time. I loved Judd Nelson in the movie. Hmmm... interesting.)

John was a given for any name we picked out. My paternal grandmother had five brothers, named Sherwood, Kendall, Guy, King, and John, aka "Those Handsome Hazelton Boys"as they were described to me by a woman who knew them growing up, and I am not kidding when I tell you that every male child in our family has one of the five names as their first or middle name. Dan and I always loved the name John for its quiet strength and simplicity, and I was NOT going to be the first person in my family to break the tradition. So our Alec John is named for all the other Johns in our family, whom I am quite fond of.

We are two and a half weeks in with Mr. Alec, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how few times I have had to say, "No, Alec with a c... like Alec Baldwin." Most people seem to get it on the first try. We don't really have any nicknames for him yet, though we do occasionally call him D'Brick because we called him D'Brickashaw during the whole pregnancy. To make a long story short, Dan and I were so riddled with anxiety that 1) we were actually having another baby and 2) something would go horribly wrong that we thought of the most ridiculous name to call the baby we could think of to help lighten our mood. And on the NY Jets is a player named D'Brickashaw Furgeson. We told a few people about our little joke and our friend Tom offered to buy beer for Dan for the rest of his life if we went through with it and actually named him D'Brickashaw Libutti. Which of course we did not, despite the tempting offer.

But we do still call Alec D'Brick, especially now that we have him and see how solidly built he is.


Mark, Carrie, and Luke Winterhoff said...

This is a great post for Alec to read some day when he is old enough to understand all of the love, time, and care that went into choosing his PERFECT name! Great job in putting this into writing now while it is still fresh in your mind, and before time could subtly change the details in your memory about the process. My favorite is still the Rocco part... makes me smile every time!

Anonymous said...

Your dad laughed so hard at this post! I was just so touched about the possible girl name! Your children are so lucky to be loved so much by you and Danny. God blessed them mightily. Love, Mommie and Daddy

Anonymous said...

Kids have NO idea how we parents agonize over their names! I love the process you went through....and the outstanding result! Love, LW

Anonymous said...

I read this post to your grandma Hope from my iPhone when we were sitting at lunch at the funeral last week. She enjoyed the remeberence of her fily and, of course, all the pictures. She is a good sport about squinting into my phone screen but I know she looks forward to some photos she can put on the fridge.