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What’s in a (Baby) Name?

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When Inspiration Strikes

April Groom, a music teacher in Atlanta, was using a highlighter to mark top contenders in name books when something caught her eye -- the CD collection of her partner Victor, also a music teacher.

She had heard of other parents using Miles (after Miles Davis) but wanted to be original, picking Coltrane to honor another jazz great (John Coltrane).

"Good thing [he was a boy] because it was the only name we agreed on!" she says.

Melanie Davis and her husband Brian looked to their family tree. While visiting Brian's parents one weekend, Brian's father mentioned Preston, his grandfather's name. Melanie and Brian looked at each other and smiled -- they had found their son's name.

Eve Chen admits that she named her baby girl Evyn after the "Rock Band" avatar she made up for herself. Most people think her daughter Evyn's name is a mix of her first name, Eve, and her husband's name, Aaron. "I say it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks as long as you like the name and you're not setting your child up for teasing down the line," she says.

A name can even spark a ritual that you can share with your child. Joanne Rendell, a novelist in New York City, named her son Benny after her favorite Mexican restaurant in the East Village, Benny's Burritos. "I ate there all the time when I was pregnant, and now it's my son's favorite place to eat," she says. 

Baby Naming Remorse

For some couples, the baby name discussion can lead to heated conversations.

Maria Lijoi, a mother of two, recalls how her husband Tom nixed every name she proposed, including Stella, her favorite, because he'd feel like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire every time their daughter misbehaved.

"I almost resorted to playing the 'I'm the one who has to deal with being pregnant, can't you just let me have the name I want' card but thought better of guilting him into a name he didn't like," she says.

Tom created a spreadsheet to list acceptable first and middle name combinations before they settled on Alexandra Jane and Caitlin Ava. "We did wait until we saw both girls to make sure it fit," Maria says.

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