A Charlotte by any other name

What happens if you and your friend love the same name? Does the person who gives birth first “win”?

As a child I would write lists of my favourite girls’ names; as a direct reflection of my personal interests (for example, Liesl and Brigitta) they are slightly cringeworthy to look back on now. Male names, even Austrian ones, never seemed to be quite as interesting. Later on, surnames became more of an issue – that is, the all-important surnames of boys and whether they were acceptable to take in marriage. I once briefly dated someone with the last name of Dickstein; it didn’t last!

Some years ago, before I’d even met Mr Cath, my friend Sophie and I discussed names we liked. I can’t remember who mentioned the name Charlotte first, but we swiftly realised we both had the same favourite name. The idea that we could nickname our daughters Charlie and Lottie was quashed when we both expressed a preference for Lottie. Disaster! At the time, we laughed it off as the idea of having children was still reasonably distant. Incidentally, when Sophie and I first made friends with each other and two other girls on our course, we realised each of us “was” a girl from Sex and the City. With her fabulous Julia Roberts-esque hair, Sophie was Carrie, and I was… Charlotte! (I won’t tell you who Samantha is).

satc

We still miss you, SATC!

Once I’d met the man who was to become my husband and the possibility of children became real, I started thinking about baby names in earnest again, especially girls’ names. Over the years I was hoping Sophie had forgotten about Charlotte, but after congratulating me on my pregnancy, she immediately mentioned it. I explained that I hadn’t discussed the name with Mr Cath yet and there was a possibility he might dislike it. Thus further dilemmas emerge. Even if he loves the name, it is now somehow linked to Sophie and although we have equal rights over it, as would anyone, is it really “her” name? I don’t imagine Sophie and I would fall out over this but would she resent me if I took Lottie? I’m worried about threatening a decade of friendship.

Although I will always love the name, deep down I know the answers to these questions. The name will now be forever associated with Sophie/Sex and the City and while this is not in itself a negative thing, I would prefer to choose a name together with Mr Cath, rather than one I’d thought up before we’d even met. It’s our baby after all, a fifty-fifty partnership!

There were also three final straws: firstly, out of the blue, my sister announced she liked the name Charlotte but not Lottie. It was as if she read my mind and didn’t like what she found there! Weird. Secondly, during a discussion about the Royal Baby, it transpired that Charlotte is one of the bookies’ favourites. Imagine calling our daughter Charlotte and then a week or two later the little Princess is given the same name… everyone would think we copied them!

The most final of all final straws was Sophie’s announcement of her own pregnancy! She is due five weeks after me, so if I’m two weeks late, and she is three weeks early, there is a good chance she could beat me to it after all. I can’t deal with that sort of pressure!

Baby names are definitely lots of fun to think about, but I believe they can be over-analysed and could do with being put in perspective. If a name is truly a mistake, it can be changed during the first year. There are plenty more girls’ names out there and I could always refer back to my childhood lists for inspiration. The other Von Trapp girls had some brilliant names too. Finally, our baby might well be a boy, which would certainly make life a lot easier!

Further Reading

My best discovery has been the baby names list on the US Social Security website, which I found by accident while sorting out a tax issue. I forgot about my tax as I browsed the massive statistics, which include the top 1000 names for every year since 1880. 1880! Some real classics there… and did you know that Edgar and Clifford were once registered in the top 1000 girls’ names, and the top boys’ names included Katherine and Mary? You can even access every name used beyond the top 1000 (five times or more in one year) by clicking on PDFs. Scroll to the end and you’ll see some spectacular spellings and inventions. One of my favourite sections is popular twin names. Rhyming names such as “Haylee and Kaylee” are prevalent. Really? “Heaven and Nevaeh” was a top 10 pairing and “London and Paris” was in the top 20. Amazing!

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