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And Facebook Makes Three


Today’s post slays me. It’s actually about wedding planning (or really, the under-discussed art of relationship planning, ha). But it’s also about exes, the stalking power of Facebook, reconciling our past with our future, and the insanity of doodling your future children’s names on a notebook in high school (or is that just me?). And NO I’m not going to tell you what names I doodled, because of course I’m worried you might steal them (the fact that David hates them is neither here nor there). So now I give you Katie, and her Someday Baby.

And Facebook Makes Three | A Practical Wedding

When you are planning a wedding, it’s all about your past. Yes, it’s also about your future with your partner, but really it’s a celebration of the time spent with your chosen partner, the love that’s grown between you, and toasting the partnership that you’ve cultivated.

And since weddings are inherently past-driven, it is guaranteed that you will think about your exes. It’s just natural. And not even in a “What might have been?” way, but more as a reflection on how this wedding is a culmination of all of the lessons learned in your romantic life up until this point. But there is a downside to all of this philosophical introspection. It is called “The Facebook.” (I can hear about half of you out there reading this saying out loud, “Oooohh, I know where this is going…” It’s like a horror movie; even if you don’t know how it’s going to happen, you know it ain’t gonna be pretty.)

I was on The Facebook earlier this week and happened to see a post about my ex-boyfriend, who I dated long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: college). We don’t speak, but we have a couple mutual friends, so it’s not uncommon to see him pop up every so often. So, I saw a photo of him and noticed, hey, there’s a baby in it. Now, I know what you’re thinking—”Oh, God, no!”—but I already know for a fact that he a) is married; b) has a son; and c) still wears high-waisted pants like a ’90s sitcom dad. Good for him, on all counts.

“Oh, that’s nice,” I thought, “He’s had another baby!” Owning my stalkerish impulses, I clicked on the album. (“Don’t open that door! Don’t go up those stairs! Idiot!!!”) I scrolled through the photos, stopping on one of a dark-haired, pink little bundle in a car seat. “Aww, a baby girl!” (“Turn back!”) And then I read the caption: (“Don’t do it!!!“) “Sophia Rose*___, born on ___. Welcome to the world!”

No way. The air sucked right out of me. No way. He did not just name his baby girl that name. (“AHHHHH!!!!!!”) He stole my name. Not my actual name, mind you. The name that I picked out for my daughter. But not my real daughter—my Someday Baby.

That name belonged to my hypothetical, non-existent daughter that would someday be in my life. The one who would have green eyes, love Bruce Springsteen, and go to Barnard. The one I told my friends about when we sat around the college bar after studying for exams, drinking $5 martinis, sharing our hopes for a future that was light years away. And always wrapped in the guise of an annoyingly repetitive question, “You know what would be a great name for a baby?” The years just solidified my conviction that this was, in fact, a great name. Except that great name now belonged to an actual, real baby that was his—and not mine.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I had the urge to Facebook message him—no, pick up the phone and call him so that I could yell at him. Of course, I knew that I could not actually call up this guy so I could yell at him for a baby name. That’s just crazy. You know what’s not crazy? Texting your fiancé that your ex-boyfriend stole your baby name. Totally not crazy. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So, guess who popped up on Facebook today? My ex. With a new baby. It’s a girl. Named Sophia ROSE.

Him: Whoa!!! What are/were the odds?

Me: I am so mad, I can’t even stand it—he had to go and ruin that name!

Him: Well, you certainly can be angry, but it is a very popular name lately, so if we like it and have occasion to use it later, nobody’s going to think it odd.

Me: I will know! I WILL KNOW! He’s ruined it for our baby!

Him: I’m sorry it’s ruined your day—but it won’t spoil the baby, I promise.

Me: NO! This is wrong! It’s not fair, I demand restitution!

I have to give props to my fiancé for handling my (slight?) meltdown so coolly. He immediately recognized and validated my feelings, while also making it clear that I was being a total lunatic. From the way that I was acting, you would think that my ex took a time machine into the future, Terminator-style, and axe-murdered my first-born daughter (bastard!).

Now, practically speaking, I know that there is about a 0.00002% chance of my ex actually remembering that I liked this name. We haven’t spoken in years. In that time, there have been other romantic interests and partners, law schools, and new cities and people. The chances of him remembering this are slim to “Yeah, right.”

And it is, in fact, just a name. As my fiancé pointed out, it’s a popular one (#1 on the “Hot Baby Names List of 2011″). And even though it is uber creepy that he picked, not one, but both names that I adored, my friend Becky pointed out, “Hey, it’s so popular, this could be the universe’s way of telling you to pick another name.” My own first name is insanely popular for my generation, to the extent that when I was younger you could yell it on the playground and about ten different little heads would turn and their voices would chorus back at you, à la Children of the Corn, “Ye-e-es?” I didn’t want that for our kid.

But—it was my name. Even if it wasn’t unique, I picked it independently—and now I felt like I couldn’t use it because my ex-boyfriend already used it! In the subsequent days, as I complained to each of my friends, every indignant declaration involved putting my hand melodramatically across my face and declaring, “He stole MY NAME!” This wasn’t about our previous relationship—I didn’t want him back, I didn’t want his life, I didn’t want his Sophia Rose. I wanted my Sophia Rose. And that’s when I realized it: it wasn’t about my ex—and it wasn’t about my fiancé either. It was about me.

Over time, this idea, this Someday Baby had taken on a misty form—faint but tangible—that represented my hopes and dreams for my future family. Naming my Someday Baby in my mind was an unspoken promise to myself to live out those dreams and contemplate my expectations for being a future mother and parenting partner.

But taking it upon myself to assign this name—any name—to our kids just wasn’t fair to my fiancé. Kids are a testament to a family’s love and commitment, and the decision to name them should be a family’s decision. When I’m truly honest with myself, I know deep down that Sophia Rose wasn’t automatically the endgame. If and when we find ourselves expecting our Someday Baby, my fiancé and I will take the time to think of names that we want to honor our children. Maybe it will be the names I picked out so long ago, but odds are, it also could also be some crazy Dutch or Shakespearean name. But it’s a decision that we’ll make together.

Or if we’re broke, we’ll auction off the naming rights on eBay. (I kid.) (Maybe.)

So, in the end, it’s not about the name (duh). It’s about me letting go of the fantasy and meeting the reality, face-to-face, like a grown-up. It’s about looking back on my ex as a person, as an event, as a link in the chain that led up to finding my guy, a very puzzled but patient man. I don’t know if there’s an exact name for that, but I do know how it feels: it feels right.

*My fiancé pointed out that, even though it’s really popular, it’s probably not a good idea to put the real baby’s name on the internetz because, as I said, this post is about me. So names have been changed to protect the innocent and the adorable!

Photo by Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)

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  • ProjectWed

    I cannot relate to the baby-name-stealing, but am glad to hear that FB ex-stalking during wedding planing is “normal.” I actually spent a little time worrying that my FB stalking meant that I wasn’t over my ex. (Which is complete malarkey!)

    Now that I am happily on the other-side of the wedding, my FB ex-stalking dissipated as naturally as morning mist in the mountains! Enjoy the guilty pleasure. And extra points to any fiance who understands!!

  • One More Sara

    I know this isn’t the main point of the post, but naming a baby is HARD SH*T. I mean, the kid is stuck with it forEVER. And we are deciding it before we even met him/her? HARD! My name is Sara and I grew up introducing myself as “Sara, without an H,” or I would automatically include my last initial/name. (One week while working at camp we had SEVEN (7) Sara(h)’s on staff.) I wanted my kid to have a name that wasn’t too weird, wasn’t too popular (anything on the top 20 was off the list), and most importantly, one he wouldn’t have to spell out to people all the time. Well joke’s on me, bc after my partner and I picked a perfectly-normal-but-not-too-popular name, we decided to live in another (not-English-speaking) country. And here, the name we chose is straight up WEIRD. Half of my partner’s family can’t pronounce it. I suspect he is going to spend his school years spelling his name out loud and having it butchered by teachers on the first day of school. Oops.

    To any international couples about to have kids: maybe ask a couple friends/family members from each country to read potential names out loud. You might be surprised that some names can be so hard to pronounce.

    • jules

      What about having a last name that is very recognizably culture specific, and living in a different culture. Do you make the first name match the last name? or do you make it a name that will work out better in the culture you are living in?

      As a kid (a sometimes cruel kid at that) we would mock those children with foreign sounding names with local last names for “putting on airs”. It wasn’t very common to see multicultural families where we lived. If I could spare my kids of that one bit of bullying, I’ll take it. They’ll probably have to deal with all other sorts of bullying, but this one I feel like I CAN control and I feel like I already racked up negative karma points for that bit of childish discrimination of my past. :/

      • One More Sara

        In our case, we are a bilingual family, but our cultures (Dutch/American) aren’t drastically different. American names are also on the rise here, so I don’t think he’ll be bullied for it (I hope). And, he is a citizen of both countries, so I think it makes sense that his name reflects that. I think when kids might run into trouble is when parents borrow culture-specific names when the child is not a member of that culture.

        What I have thought about is that for our next child, we will probably choose another American name (after it passes a pronunciation test of course), because it would be weird to have our first child with such an American name and the second with a super Dutch name. Our son’s name is Kyle, and for example if we have a girl next, it would make more sense (to us) to name her something like Macy (American) than Saskia (Dutch). (Is it weird that I used Macy as an example bc I already know my partner hates it? I have a real name in mind for our non-existent daughter, but I don’t want internet people to steal it.)

      • SarahToo

        As nice as it would be to be able to fully trouble shoot all aspects of our child’s life and nip any potential bully-fodder in the bud (like ‘funny’ names) it seems to me that kids will pick up on anything ‘different’ about a child and potentially use it to torment the heck out of them. I had a perfectly ordinary name, so they chose to bully me because I liked to read books instead of play sports (the only acceptable passtime in the tiny town I lived in). I also got teased for having small (ie non-existent) boobs. If I’d been an early bloomer I probably would have been teased for having big boobs. Seems to me that rather than working our butts off trying to find the ultimate Tease-Proof Name (likely impossible anyway) a good strategy might be to work on teaching our kids to have strong senses of (non-cruel) humour, emotional resilience, respect for difference, and empathy for others. That way, if they do get teased in a bullying kind of way they might be less likely to feel soul-crushingly hurt by it, and they will hopefully be less likely to bully others, and more likely to intervene when they see bullying happening.

    • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

      Good point! I purposely wanted a not Russian name since the rest of H’s name is super Russian. Now I’m scared to say her name on the Internet in case it becomes popular, so I’ll just say that her name spoken by a Russian is similar to Gary. Oh well. No regrets though!

      • Catherine B

        I weirdly remember your baby’s (super-cute) name from your graduate (?) post. I won’t steal it though!

    • Sara

      As another No-H-Sara, I completely feel your pain. I have never worked/lived/been anywhere where there wasn’t at least one other Sarah around. I even moved to Egypt to teach aboard – another Sarah there. She loved it though and inisisted on being referred to as Sarah Red. I have also been referred to as the ‘good Sara’ in friend circle situations :) I don’t even bother correcting mispellings anymore. My uncle still spells it Sarah.

      My aunt always says she likes my name because it so short, you can’t butcher it with nicknames. Which, I guess…yay? Ha.

      • One More Sara

        Ha! I was always jealous of my sisters (Katherine and Elizabeth) bc they could choose a nickname. All I could do was Sar. Also, my mom wanted popular names for us bc hers wasn’t popular and she could never find those novelty pens or key chains with her name on it.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    Oh the name games. I have known for so long how I want someday baby to be called. The boy also loves the name. It is not even that big of a secret. My sister also loves that name… and we joke that I chose it first, we’ll see what happens.
    Anyhow, even if there are many names, it is hard to let go of the past, of fantasy’s you’ve had for so long.
    I loved this post.

  • http://www.lilredsbasket.com Stephanie J

    A note on FB stalking: Either don’t do it at all or do it so well that you don’t accidentally hit “subscribe” or “like” when your fat little finger innocently scrolls through their open profiles…

    *blush*

    • BB

      If you click “like” again, it goes away. :)

      • http://www.lilredsbasket.com Stephanie J

        Yes, but when a week goes by before you realize you clicked ‘like,’ the damage has been done. Haha!

        • Stephanie

          You can’t beat what I did, my boyfriend’s brother and his girlfriend broke up, I was surfing facebook with my bf account (hadn’t noticed, shame on you shared ipad) and I accidentally liked the separation notice !!!!!!! Epic Fail (yes I undid it the next second but it still send a message to the person, what a shame).

  • BB

    This post was awesome! It made me laugh and nod in agreement but also contained some really honest and important self-reflection. You have a fantastic writing style and did a great job digging through your feelings to find the truth and grow from the experience. I could really relate to the section where you mentioned your fiance simultaneously validating you and telling you how ridiculous you were being; I am also marrying a partner adept at this art, lol.

  • Anonymous for This!

    My ex-boyfriend (who ripped my heart out and destroyed me for All Other Men for a full two years) stole our baby name and gave it to the son he had with the woman he cheated on me with who destroyed our engagement. Even better? He called me 2 seconds after his son was born to tell me that he would always love me and it was a way to honor me and the future we would never have–he could always pretend, at some level, that his son was OURS.

    Um. Yeah. Dodged a bullet there!

    • Shiri

      Oh. My. God.

      That’s some serious crazy-town right there. Major bullet dodge. (and, also, you win for insane exes for the day)

      • Jashshea

        (and, also, you win for insane exes for the day)

        Hopefully.

        • Shiri

          Ha. True!

    • meg

      Whattttttt?

      • Anonymous for This!

        I know! Reading those few sentences 17 years later is kind of an out of body experience!

    • Adi

      Holy. Shit.

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      What?!?!? That is straight up insane!

  • Kess

    Oh man, facebook stalking is always problematic. I don’t actually have any ex’s, but my SO has one that I happen to be facebook friends with. It’s dangerous!

    Little things like the fact that she got married before my SO and I got engaged (in the time we had spent dating, she had dated 2 or 3 people before finding her husband), or she moved practically to my hometown were really, really big deals when I just shouldn’t have known about them!

    It’s one of those inadequacy things that just keeps on giving. Oh, she graduated before me? He would be so much better with her than me (despite the fact that she was a year older). She’s got an R&D job, well he would obviously be better off with her! She got a cat? Well, I’m allergic to cats and he would probably totally rather be with her!

    I still haven’t been able to force myself to unfriend her, but facebook is a freaking minefield!

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      Hide her from the feed, Kess! Hide her away where she might as well be unfriended except she won’t know it.

    • One More Sara

      oh gosh. Please unfriend her!! I’ve had the same problem unfriending ex-type-people (in that I want to know, but I don’t want to want to know). And once you bite the bullet and do it, you probably won’t even notice a difference, except that you don’t get upset every time you log on.

    • rys

      “One of those inadequacy things that just keeps on giving.” So true, in terms of both exes and prospects. That time when you’re not dating anyone but interested in someone whose relationship status is ambiguous and you want to stalk and figure it out, thus creating spirals of anxiety….I wouldn’t know anything about that. Oh, The Facebook, so useful and so damaging all at once.

    • Anonymous

      Kess, I totally get where you are coming from. While I don’t fb stalk my own exes (very often), I was absolutely obsessed with my fiancé’s ex. We met through mutual friends, so I knew of my fiancé and his ex when they were a couple. I developped a huge girl-crush on her, because I thought she was uber cool. So I didn’t understand how he could then turn around and date me.

      What I needed to realize was how much this was hurting my relationship. It took my fiancé a long time to get over his ex, and it was hurtful to him that I kept bringing her up.

      Eventually, I had a little epiphany. I realized how rarely I think of my exes and how little they affect me emotionally when I do. Then I was able to believe my fiancé when he said he didn’t think of her that way anymore. I realized that, even if I was constantly comparing myself to her, he wasn’t.

      Ultimately, my fb stalking had to do with my own insecurities. I had to believe that I was worthy of (and cool enough for!) his love. And then her hold on me lessened considerably. (Not that I don’t like to check her instagram now and then to see her awesome makeup skills and enviable vintage wardrobe)

      • Corrie

        Omg, Liam. Yes. I’ve loved that name for years too, but now I know 3 people who have all recently had babies that they named Liam. Not that I’m anywhere near ready to have a kid right now, but it annoys me anyway.

    • Ann

      I can totally relate. I never facebook-stalk my own exes but my fiance’s ex that he dated for 6 years and lived with for 2.5 years is another story. I went through a period right after my fiance and I moved in together when I felt threatened and inadequate because she and my fiance were together for so long and shared so much history. Clicking through photos of them together on holidays, family vacations, etc., on my fiance’s brother’s facebook profile was not a healthy reaction, to say the least. I just have to remind myself that they broke up for a reason, just like I broke up with my exes for a reason, and my fiance and I are in the process of building our life together. Oh facebook…

      • Elena

        I had the same problem. My husband had been married before. He spent 10 years with that girl and since some of his relatives and friends are both hers and mine facebook friends, she sometimes pops up as my suggested friend. I think it took me close to a year to stop looking over her pictures, their pictures together, etc. I can totally understand the feeling “oh she’s into such and such, I’m not, but maybe my guy liked that about her”. I think one thing that helped me get over it is to think about myself and my own exes. The fact that I got over them, no matter how many awesome qualities they might have had, encouraged me to believe that my guy got over his ex as well. It’s ok that they have pictures together and he looks happy. I do have those pictures too from my own past. I cherish the memory, but it doesn’t affect my present relationship.

      • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

        Oof, yes on the history-jealousy. I still have this nagging feeling that it’s not FAIR that my gent’s ex knew him for so long and got to see/experience things with him for years before I met him. It makes no sense, but it’s there.

  • Granola

    This whole essay is adorable. My husband and I are in the early stages of legitimate baby planning and I get a twinge of jealousy whenever I see the new babies of friends and family on the internet. I immediately feel guilty, because I am really happy for them, but also a little envious too.

    Also, on the naming front, I was all over Liam as a boy’s name years ago. Then my cousin had a son and named him Liam, and my sister’s boss, and then everyone else in the world. So that dream died hard – I feel your pain.

    As an aside, there’s a good section in the book freakonomics on the popularity of baby names and how uncanny it is that everyone sort of independently likes the same name at the same time and it’s really difficult to avoid.

    • Caroline

      Seriously. A nice unusual baby name was a big goal my parents had in naming my sister. Do you know how many Laurens were in her pre-school class? 4! (It was a pretty small preschool too.)

      • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

        After never ever EVER hearing of anyone in real life with my baby’s name, except for one 60-something lady at work, now, at 20 months, I just saw a friend of a friend’s baby with the same name. Gasp!

      • Lauren

        Being a Lauren sucks. That is all.

      • Laura

        I ended up with at least three Lauras and more Laurens in my school growing up. My coworkers at my last job also alternated between calling me “Laura” and “Lauren,” no matter how frequently I signed my emails to everyone with my full correct name.

  • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

    I love that you referenced the Facebook. The article made me extra happy.

  • Ris

    Oh my freain’ gosh. Your stand-in baby name is my ACTUAL favorite baby name! Both of them! Is it bad that I got a little stabby when I read it published here for all to steal? Haha just kidding… but seriously, Internet. I’ve already called it.

    • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

      A friend of mine is due next month with a girl that they’re naming Sophia Rose.

    • Alicia

      My BF’s niece’s name is Sophia Rose. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the “Jessica Marie” of the next generation (i.e. excessively common).

      • http://www.twitter.com/babyinabar Shotgun Shirley

        Olivia Rose was on our very short list until it turned out both were super duper popular.

      • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

        We picked Jessica for my 10 month old baby in part to name her after my grandma and in part because we figured that name had long ago crested and it should hopefully be rare-ish amongst babies her age. We shall see!

      • jess

        I’m a Jessica Marie, and lord i hated. I graduated high school with 4 other Jessica’s and 2 boys named Jesse. Then I started working, and there was 4 girls named Jessica in my 40 person department. Luckily, the other three moved on and i’m the last Jessica standing:)

  • Shiri

    This was brilliant, and funny. I have my own Someday Baby (and I got really annoyed when I found out my SIL’s cat had one of her names, but nevermind that) and your figuring out of why the Someday Baby is important is so right on that it just helped me understand my own. Thank you for that!

    ETA: your fiance sounds really, really awesome.

  • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

    OK, I have the craziest baby name-stealing story ever.

    A friend of mine has a female cousin who was pregnant. They decided to name the baby after her husband’s grandmother maiden name. I don’t remember the exact name, but let’s say it was something like Baudelaire. It was an unusual name that had personal meaning to them. Well, the female cousin’s male cousin was also married to a woman who was pregnant. They were due around the same time. The other cousin had their baby first…and named her Baudelaire.

    How messed up is that?!? You take someone else’s family name, and name your baby that just because you think it sounds cool. I would lose. my. sh**. on someone if they did that.

    • Adi

      WTF. That is awful!! That would be the start of a fued for me.

  • http://townhousetohome.wordpress.com adria

    mmhm. My sister stole my baby name for her daughter. I hadn’t ever told anyone what I wanted to name my baby, but all of a sudden she went from “We have no good name ideas.” to “I think we figured it out and it’s going to be ____” and be bawling in my apartment, alone, single, at what should have been my baby. Or something. It was totally irrational, but very real and really raw feeling.

    After some time, like you, I realized that perhaps I should focus on finding a baby daddy and then getting pregnant and then, after realizing what the sex of the baby is, choosing a name for said child.

    but still.

    • http://txtingmrdarcy.wordpress.com Brooke

      I want to “EXACTLY” allll over this post… My cousin stole not one…. not two… but THREE of my baby names. These names have since become insanely popular (Ava and Jordan were among them), but it didn’t make it any easier at the time when I felt like my own Someday Baby had gotten screwed. Just because their reproductive timing was better than mine… but it was so unfair! I must say though, having your ex steal your names takes the cake.

      You have my real sympathy… and my relief that someone else out there GETS. IT. Fabulous post.

  • Lisa

    I’m friends with the guy I lost my virginity to on The Facebook. Seeing his posts validate for me that I am so glad he didn’t end up as “the one”, even though my broken hearted, sobbing, college-aged self believed so. No sign of a significant other, oh and you still play beer pong and flip cup on the reg? Awesome, dude.

    • Laura

      Lolz. So awesome. Ah, the manchildren. Major bullet dodged.

    • Practically Anonymous Guy Today

      One day out of nowhere, I had a “new reply” notification on an ancient blog I’d long abandoned. Since it was spam, I figured I’d log in and delete it. Well, once I logged in, I saw a recent post by my long-thought “one” of some time ago. I couldn’t help myself as I clicked through to read it (“for old time’s sake”, I said).

      Turns out, it was a wheelbarrow moment.* I could never have been the guy for her, as a _guy_ is not for her. In one transcendent moment, almost a decade of my life suddenly reinterpreted itself. I think I had psychological whiplash from that, as I was a bit fuzzy-headed for a day or two. On the positive side, I suppose I’m now completely immune to what ifs on at that (apparently vastly dysfunctional) relationship. :)

      *Wheelbarrow Moment: In “The Princess Bride”, upon finding out they *did* have a wheelbarrow, Westley asks, “Well, why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?” So, a “wheelbarrow moment” is one of those times when you discover some very useful information that had to that point been omitted.

      • Kelly

        LOVE “wheelbarrow moment”.

        • Kh_tas

          Sorry accidental comment report

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    My sister and I are the end of the line, surname wise. My father was the last male in the family. When I married, I took my husband’s name. My sister’s not sure where she stands yet on the name-changing thing, so she may change hers when she gets married, she may not. But we’ve both mentioned we’d like to name one of our Someday Babies with our maiden/surname. It’s not worth fighting over, though, so if she really wants it, she can have it, and I’ll stick in in as a middle name somewhere (afterall, it’s now my second middle name, legally!)

  • Emily

    My college boyfriend and I had talked about two names (one boy, one girl) while we were dating, but I found that the names died away with the relationship. Years later, I learned (through Facebook stalking of course) that his brother had two children (one boy, one girl) and used both names. I wonder how he feels about it; if he remembers they were OUR names, or if they’ve changed meanings now that the names have come to represent his ACTUAL niece and nephew. I hope it’s the latter…most of the time.

  • Alicia

    I love this post so much because I’ve always been afraid of *MY* names becoming popular and not being able to use them. I’ve had names chosen for my future, hypothetical-but-still-nonexistent children for at least 10 years, and yes, I actually still want to use them today. (They are family names.) I won’t even lie — every year when the “most popular baby names” list comes out, I check it to make sure *MY* names are nowhere near the top. (Mind you, I am still years away from having children. And let’s not get into the fact that I have to, you know, agree on names with my spouse. I already know I will cry a boatload of tears if he does not like them.) So yeah…glad to know I am not exactly alone in my name neuroticism.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      My mother picked my name when she was 15 years old. She made it a condition of marriage with my father – that the first daughter was named Morgan. He accepted and here I am.

      But then, my dad always did call my mother “she who must be obeyed” so I’m sure the name clause wasn’t the only agreement they reached…

  • Adi

    I have never been happier to have deleted my Facebook. Hurrah!

    • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      I have never been happier to have never had one! (Have .. have … had … okay yep that seems right). I know that totally sounds like a humblebrag but I’ve just always had this weird introvert complex about Facebook being totally terrifying, weighed against the conviction that I SHOULD be on it because the rest of the world is all inviting each other to fabulous events and liking each other’s witty statuses and I am missing out. I’m realizing that maybe I don’t need the extra opportunity to obsess over stuff I probably obsess too much about already. Whew!

  • Catherine B

    Man I love all these stories! I have recently done some facebook stalking of the ex’s baby. Lucky for me he picked a name I associate more closely with adult beverages than babies.

    However, apparently my future brother-in-law has “claimed” my fiance’s name, which is our top pick (also their dad’s name). The race is on! or something, mostly just amusing really… or annoying, depending on the day.

    • Cat

      Or you could do what happened to FH….
      He is the oldest cousin on his Mom’s side, the next oldest cousin (2 or 3 years younger)….. Same first name!
      He is almost 30 and is still referred to as Big Name and cousin is Little Name. SMH

  • Laura

    Am I the only one who read this and thought, “Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve stalked *my* ex(es) on the Fbook, let me just take a real quick peek…”?

    For me, at least, that little urge usually results in a schadenfreudian sense of self-satisfaction. Followed by just a bit of self-disappointment. Oh well, Fbook, you win again.

    • One More Sara

      Guilty.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      lol, my two ex’s – one I am actively friends with now, and the other requested me ages ago, when I refused because I suspected then-boyfriend (now DH) would not be overly impressed. I requested him back a while back out of curiosity, but he is either never on there or hasn’t accepted. I really dont mind either way :)
      But yeah, was tempted to go see if anything public has appeared on ex #2s page. Must.Not.

  • mari

    What about mourning for the Someday Baby Names that are no longer appropriate? In high school whenever I named my someday babies I assumed their Someday Daddy would be Latino, like me, and be able to pronounce names like Gerardo, Antonia or Ana Sophia without making me cringe. Now I find myself engaged to a handsome, wonderful, caring but very white and not at all Latino man (who almost failed high school Spanish.)

    Now our babies will have English names that my grandparents can barely say & frankly just hearing my mom say Ryan is hysterical… Rrrrrryan.

    • Caroline

      What about finding Latino names that are easier to pronounce? Or giving the kids two names, one Anglo, one Latino?
      That’s what we’re thinking of giving the kids: one Hebrew name, one easier to pronounce name. It gives them a choice of which name to go by as adults. (I’d say that it gives them a choice between a highly unusual, culturally identified name, and a mainstream one, but the English names we love are pretty weird. Especially one of the boy’s names, which is not so much American as it is a pronounceable anglicized version of a name from my fiancé’s German heritage.) They need a Hebrew name for religious purposes, but I would also like it to be part of their legal, daily use names.

      • http://www.mollyeverafter.com/ Molly

        Agreed. Maria is universally pronounceable and not super ethnic, for example.

    • Laura

      This is the exact reason my name ended up being Laura and not Elizabeth. And as a kid, I always loved how I had “two names” because of the different pronunciations. There are lots of names that work with both languages!

  • anon for this

    There is one, singular, boy name that my husband and I both love.

    And his ex has a son with that name.

    We’re going to use it anyway. TAKE THAT, EX.

  • http://travelingroadshow.tumblr.com ANDREA

    Anyone else totally miss the takeaway of this post, and use it as an excuse to look up their exes?

    *hangs head in shame*

  • Erika

    I am just happy to know that other people have picked out baby names before even being pregnant! Also glad that I quit Facebook a year ago so I don’t have to find out if the ex had baby #2 yet (while we’re still trying for baby #1). Not that I’m, uh, competitive or anything.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

    We didn’t know the sex of the baby, and then it was a girl so we named her after my grandma. A few months later a second-ish cousin had a boy and named him a variation of the boy’s name we had chosen – the one we were going to use if we later had a boy. I’m pretty sure we’ve decided that we can use the name anyway, if it happens. I mean, we only see her a few times a year, so it shouldn’t matter too much, right? And we’d be naming him after a relative – and while the name is similar, she names him after a tv show, so we’re not really poaching the name… Or so we tell ourselves.

    Baby names is a surprisingly fraught conversation.

    • One More Sara

      I have two cousins named (E/A)ric. They have the same last name as well. Super confusing. (I also have a half brother named Eric, who named his son Eric Jr.)

  • Sara

    One of my aunts recently started a small skirmish because she wanted to name her dog Maggie. Her reasoning was that Margaret is my middle name, her middle name and her daughter(my goddaughter)’s middle name. Maggie ties it together – I guess?
    Unfortuantely, I have two teenaged cousins named Margaret as well – Maggie and Meggie – which was fun when Meggie was born. The dog thing was ridiculous, people were upset and taking sides. Its been a year, and most people are over it but I think Maggie-the-girl’s mom is still kinda upset.

    Also, was is a retread of when my brother Pete was little and my grandparents had a dog named Pete (on accident, they didn’t name it). So we had Pete-the-dog and Pete-the-boy.

    Names in my family are just silly. And clearly, we’re dog-with-human-names people so its been ruining names for people for a while.

    • KB

      This reminds me of that part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, at the end:

      Sean Connery to Harrison Ford: “Come along, Junior!”
      Sallah: “What is this Junior?”
      Sean Connery: “Henry Jones, Junior – that’s his name.”
      Harrison Ford: “Daaad, I prefer Indiana.”
      Sean Connery: “We named the dog Indiana!”
      Sallah: “You…are named after the DOG??”
      Harrison Ford: “I loved that dog…”

  • Ashleyn

    Since my older brother started having kids pretty early on, I lived in fear that he would steal one of the family names that I had picked out for my hypothetical baby. Luckily he didn’t, and they’ve decided to stop at three, so I’m safe.

    However, he did name his daughter Emma Marie after two of our great aunts that we were close to as kids, and I feel really sad for her that there are about a billion little girls around her age named that.

    Funny side note, Emma and Marie adored us, but didn’t get along with each other AT ALL. I kind of think it’s nice that now their names are united forever in my niece.

    Baby names are hard, but I find them so fascinating!

  • Lauren

    When I was finishing college I stress-planned my wedding. Now that I’m real-planning my wedding, I’m stress-planning my Maybe Baby(ies). But, I have been really into names for a long time (using my third naming app in search of the perfect one, for example) so it’s not too weird.

    The only problem is my fiancé HATES all the names I love. He’d be OK with Mary or something plain, but dislikes stuff like Magdiel, which I like. As a Lauren in a sea of Laurens, it’s rough.

  • Catherine B

    Is it terrible that I just cringed reading the hairpiece post comments when I realized that “our” baby girl name is a character on Downton Abbey? Maybe I should start watching the show so I know these things…

    • One More Sara

      I wonder if sometimes tv shows/movies/other pop culture influences have a delayed reaction in popular baby names. Remember way back when Carrie Bradshaw dated Aiden? And now it seems 1 of 5 (American) baby boys is named Aiden? And come to think about it, Charlotte has become really popular as well…

      • Catherine B

        They must, right? Not necessarily the headline names, Carrie, not so much, but the myriad others enter our collective name-bank.

        And of course, popular “literature” as well… Isabella for example. Hermione doesn’t seem to have taken off, but I did just see someone who named her daughter Ginny.

  • Shannon

    Oh man, facebook. My ex got pregnant less than a year after we broke up, with the guy she left me for, and when she announced it was going to be a girl I was really preemptively angry that she might choose the name that I loved that we had discussed together, or some variation of it! She hadn’t even announced the name yet, and I was already annoyed, which I could rationally realize made no sense, but I couldn’t stop feeling it.

    In the end she chose one we had discussed but one which I hadn’t been really attached to, so all is well. (For some reason I wasn’t as attached to the boys’ names we discussed, so it would have been okay if she had used one of those, somehow).

    There were certainly some complicated emotions that had little to do with the name, mainly around the idea that I still am not looking to have kids for a while and she, who hadn’t even wanted them when we first got together, was suddenly ready. As well as major relief that I, being gay, would likely never be in the ‘surprise! you’re pregnant!’ situation!

  • natalie

    The Facebook is uber dangerous!! While I was engaged to my husband, I had a little stalking problem. I definitely stalked his exes before we got engaged, but then it really got out of control after he proposed. I wanted to know what made me so special compared to all of the girls he dated before, since they have better careers, boobs, more money, etc. And then I figured out one day during our engagement that comparing myself to all of these women was really affecting my mental health in a measurable, concrete way. I was miserable. And I am still one of those hypocrites that screams ‘I HATE FACEBOOK!’ And I’m still on it, logging in all the time and sharing every stupid Instagram. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ has become my mantra in regards to The Facebook. I have had to create real boundaries for myself; without them, the ‘fear of missing out’ consumes me and sends me into spirals of jealousy, even of people I care about. Very embarrassing to admit, but it’s very true, and I am working on NOT comparing myself to anyone, especially women that my husband dated in the past.

  • Jennifer

    Oh name drama… I have two cousins named Michael… that was MAJOR family drama!

    As for me…
    For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to name my first daughter after my grandmother (first and middle names). Then, I married a man whose sister has the same first name as my grandma… so he’s (understandably) a bit weirded out by the idea of having a daughter with the same name as his sister.
    So… I thought I’d switch the names around and name our “someday daughter”, Grandma’s middle name followed by Grandma’s first name. (That combo is also my aunt’s name… but she’s cool and we only see her a few times a year, so neither of us mind.) Then, my husband’s brother and his wife named one of their twin daughters will a very similar name (think “Ella” versus “Ellen”).
    At this point… I still want to honor my grandma, who I am very close to, but I’m not sure how to pull it off! I’m sure we’ll figure something out when the time comes though. :)

  • Anonanonanon

    I had the exact same thing happen to me! I was with my ex for about 2 years nearly a decade ago and we had hypothetically talked about awesome baby names. I fell in love with the name Adelaide because I had read a kickass book with the heroine having that name and the kicker being that my ex was from the city Adelaide.

    A few months ago, I was astonished to see (on The Facebook) that he and his wife had named their new baby girl Adelaide! I was outraged…. but I also recognized that he kind of had more rights to it than I did. Fortunately that name has become increasingly more common in the last ten years so I’m not even that keen on it anymore, it was just kind of a shocker to see that baby with the name you chose with her father!

  • Anne

    Baby names, exes, Facebook. Via The Facebook, I learned a college boyfriend had just had twin boys. They had named one of them Gunther*. Which is all well and good, but back when I knew him, my ex had named his penis Gunther. I’m giggling even as I write this.

    *unusual name changed to another unusual name to protect the innocent

    • Laura

      Hahahahahahaha! You might consider thanking him for giving you the best story to tell at cocktail parties.

  • Sharon

    I win. My college ex will likely be my fiance’s best man. ;)

  • AnotherCourtney

    My father-in-law stole my someday baby’s name. Not by giving it to a child (thank goodness!), but by using it as his pet name for his new, much-younger girlfriend. That might be bad enough, but then he announced that he had the name tattooed on a part of his body that is covered by a speedo. The name is ruined forever, even though that girlfriend will probably be long gone by the time we have a baby.

    • KEA1

      oh good heavens. I thought that the ex (in the posts way upthread) who called right when his kid was born to say he was using the name to remind him of the ex-girlfriend/poster was batshit insane. But then I read the post about the name of an ex’s kid also being the (former, I hope) pet name of the ex’s penis. AND THEN I read your story. And I’m not sure which of the three I think is most insane! I hope you’ll be able to find great names for any future babies, regardless of how long super-young girlfriend remains (ahem) under your FIL’s speedo. ={

  • http://realfoodnw.com Liz

    Just before my ex and I went through our divorce we were on the cusp of trying to make the Someday Baby and Real Baby, so naturally we talked about names, a lot. As we were dividing the stuff of the relationship and taking the last personal jabs we can by suddenly having an attachment to things we never fancied before, I feared that she would lay some claim to the names. I even seriously thought about making her sign a documents severing her claim to any of the names we had discussed, but specifically the family name I know I will use someday. I was willing to hold the cutlery hostage for the sake of the Someday Baby’s name.

    Your story hit home, and really made me realize that those names (and the cutlery) were chosen in a life that I willing walked/ran away from and, with the exception of the family name, represent a life I don’t want. Now, as I’m building a new life with the love-of-my-life we get to dream about names that will fit OUR Someday Baby.

    Thank you.

  • hampton

    Minus “the facebook” I had pretty much the exact scenario play out a few years ago. except I am still friends with my ex, and his new lady, and see them fairly often. We were at the wedding of mutual friends and New Lady (she’s not that new anymore, but ya know) was 7ish months along at that point, and I overheard him say casually “We are flirting with the names X and Y….” and my head exploded. Sure, X or Y, I guess I could have gotten over, but X **AND** Y? WHAT THE HELL?!?! He and I never had “what if, maybe someday…” conversations, so he has never even heard me say those names out loud. It was just a disgusting freakish coincidence. Damn the collective consciousness! I can laugh about it now but at the time, it was really upsetting and it took quite a while to figure out why I felt that way. The occasional messy feelings crop up regarding my ex now and then, but I know that even if he would have given me a baby X Y of my own, he couldn’t have ever given me the other things I really needed from him. I guess sometimes the universe has to emotionally kick you in the nuts to remind you of these things.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    My Someday-Baby names changed so much after we got married. I found the list I’d written and we aren’t even talking about any of those names.

    I don’t have as much self-control as you. Or maybe I’m just a bit more vindictive. But I blocked an ex or two just to keep them from randomly popping up like that. Crazy social networks letting dead things hang on for far too long. :)

  • Amy

    Thank you again, APW, for making my secret personal neurosis seem less weird.

    (I haven’t had the baby names talk with my partner, but I definitely have a favourite boy and girl name and every year I hear how they’re getting more and more popular and I’m like “No! Go away other people!”)

  • pixie_moxie

    Oh My God, Everything about this post, intro and all. Laughing so hard eating my lunch! I have been here, thank you for capturing it so well. Awesome.

    I had a list that I kept in my bookshelf, I still add too it (not the original). Never mind, my husband hates half of them.

  • energyanddisease

    I’ve seen the list of my boyfriend and his ex-wife’s Someday Baby names (ranked and weighted, he kept the Excel sheet), and they were mostly terribly WASPy (she was, he and I are not). He sees no problem with wanting to reuse them for his and my Someday Baby, especially one name he’s always been attached to (which is way up in popularity these days), but I’m really sensitive to feeling like a secondhand second-place bad replacement, and using any of them would just make me feel icky.

  • http://sadiesadiemarriedlady.com Sadie

    My ex-husband had a baby with the women for whom he left me, and he used one of the two names we had discussed using for our eventual child (whom we never had).