My husband and I opted to not find out the gender of our child–best surprise ever! Pre-pregnancy I would have thought that coming up with short lists of baby names would be a pleasant marital task. Uh, no! I am retroactively happy that the Pastor who married us did NOT during our premarital counseling session ask, “So if you have a boy, what names do you like?”. If that had been the case perhaps that trip down the aisle would never have happened 😉
bickered discussed baby names for the entire 9 months and it was staggering that someone whom I’d known for 11 years, been romantically involved with for 5 years (two of which as husband and wife) and I could have such oppositional views about names! I won’t burden you with the exhaustive list of unused names other than we both had compiled long lists we were ready to passionately defend which contained NO overlap with the other person’s list 😉 Our lists of girls names although heavily debated weren’t as problematic as the boy names (we didn’t utterly loathe the other person’s girl names).
Finally to rein in our girl name picks I came up with a fun equation to assist in narrowing it down. My husband’s name is Jeff. My first name is Elisabeth. Our last name is Foley. So I decided if we picked out a name that began with a “J” and used Elisabeth as a middle name it would be a way of honoring both of us. I would be recognized through the middle name and the initials would spell out ‘JEF’. A little corny? Absolutely. But it was an invaluable tool in whittling down our name lists. We ended up with Julia–we had agreed that we preferred classic, traditional names but didn’t want something that was super common and overused. Additionally I am a huge admirer of Julia Child–she didn’t learn to cook until she was 40 years old! As I was giving birth to my first child at the youthful age of 41 I liked the reminder that it is “never too late”.
Boys names were awful. Jeff was a passionate advocate of Phil Foley which I knew I absolutely could not live with. I was equally passionate about the name Jack Foley which my husband hated. Ultimately we decided to rely on the equation we used for the girl name–and came up with James Edward Foley. James was my paternal grandfather’s name (and my dad and brother’s middle name and it also is a name in Jeff’s family as well as he has an uncle James) Edward is Jeff’s dad’s middle name. I cannot describe the relief I felt when we finally had both names locked and loaded! I was eager to relax and enjoy my finally month or so of pregnancy. Well, as much as one can enjoy oneself while waddling around carrying 30+ extra pounds, wearing house shoes in public over swollen feet, and using the bathroom every fifteen minutes 😉 My relaxation was short lived, a couple days after we had decided upon James as the name I heard a long sigh emanate from my husband’s home office. I immediately asked what was wrong as we were both concerned that he would be assigned an out of town project at the tail end of my pregnancy (he is an electrical engineer). Fortunately, he was able to work locally as my due date approached. No the sigh had nothing to do with work and unfortunately had everything to do with the name we had selected for a boy. He asked me if I read the news to which I replied no. ISIS had just executed a journalist named James Foley. Let me be clear our first thoughts were with the family and friends of the murdered James Foley. But it was obviously not good news for us–I just couldn’t picture holding my brand new baby boy and not picturing the horrible ISIS slaughter. So we spent the rest of my pregnancy scrambling for an alternate pick and continuing to not agree. And yes, we checked into the hospital still unsure what we would do if we had a boy. Would we stick with our ISIS tainted name? Would we choose a completely different name? Luckily we’ll never know because :
Julia Elisabeth Foley
My name is Elisabeth Leigh. My mom’s favorite childhood book was ‘Little Women’ and her favorite character was Beth. She wanted to name me Elizabeth but decided to make it a little more unusual by substituting an ‘s’ in place of the ‘z’. She had hoped my nickname would be Beth but I opted to use my full name until high school at which point I went by Liz (with a z not an s). My mom’s middle name is Lee so she decided to pass that along to me but again with a different spelling. My brother is Benjamin James. I don’t think there was any big story about the Benjamin–just a name they liked. As I already mentioned James is a name that is prevalent in my family. Please take a moment to appreciate my brother in I in all of our 1970s plaid glory 😉