“We should probably choose baby names now, huh?” Chris said as he folded his long, lanky frame into the uncomfortable recliner in my teeny tiny antepartum room.
I stared at him, dumbfounded, from my equally uncomfortable hospital bed. I’d gone into preterm labor just 3 days prior and had spent the last 2 days in a foggy, hot, mag-induced stupor as my doctor tried to stop the labor and get me through my steroid window. I was off mag, but my Benedict Arnold cervix had earned me residency in Purgatory, I mean Antepartum, for the duration of my pregnancy—however long that might be.
Yeah, it might be a good idea to name the three tiny humans who were trying to break their lease before it was up.
The 5-minute discussion that ensued was rather anticlimactic compared to the discussion we’d been having the last 7 months. When we found out we were pregnant, I’d handed Chris two 8-page spreadsheets of names I’d picked out several years earlier when we’d started the try-to-get-pregnant debacle—8 pages of boys’ names and 8 pages of girls’ names. He’d rejected all but three, one of which I’d put on there as a gesture that I acknowledged his juvenile dream of naming a son Duncan Hines. We’d spent the next 28 weeks arguing over who was going to win the latest epic Chris-and-Marcella “battle.”
We decided on first names in 5 minutes. We’d had a girl’s name for years, we chose the only boy’s name we could agree on, and Chris bowed in deference to me on the second boy’s name (I win! I win!). Middle names were slightly more difficult to come by. It took us 4 days before we settled on ones that passed the Yell Test (Do they sound good when yelled with the first name?). Yeah, we don’t do anything normal.
Interestingly, the names we bestowed upon our children have been surprisingly fitting.
James: Baby Names, Bibles, and No-Nonsense
James was the only boy’s name we could agree on. This is mostly because it has a special place in our history as a couple. Chris and I got to know each other really well through a study on the book of James, a book that both of list as one of our favorite books in the Bible. James is a no-nonsense book that addresses how to practically live out the Christian life.
Like the book he’s named for, James sees the world from a different angle—quite literally. As a baby and young toddler, he could often be found playing in a Downward-Facing Dog pose. A few tumbling classes later, and his older toddler years are seeing him do headstands in his bed and over the back end of the couch. We’re not sure what it is about this upside-down position that appeals to him, but it’s become a distinguishing characteristic of his that we look on with fondness.
Also signature to James is his attention to conditionalities. If we didn’t follow good practice for reflux babies by monitoring how much he ate and burping him regularly, then we found ourselves and the surface we were sitting on covered in the entire contents of the bottle we’d just let him slurp down. If playmates don’t abide by his own personal code of conduct during play, then everyone within yelling distance finds their ears ringing from his grating wails. While James marches to the beat of his own drummer, we at least know what that beat is most of the time.
Caleb: Baby Names, Concessions, and Spirit
Chris gave in to me on this one. Caleb and Xander were my top boy name choices, and while he could stomach Caleb, Xander didn’t pass even an eighth of a muster. In the Old Testament (Num 13-14), Caleb was one of the 12 spies Moses sent into the Promised Land. While the other spies returned poor reports that struck fear in God’s people, Caleb and Joshua tried to persuade the people that they could conquer the land with God’s help.
Caleb is the “troublemaker” to “blame” for the Tagalongs’ early entrance into the world. His positioning in utero caused me to go into labor, and his sac broke 3 days later. We joke that he was ready and eager to meet the world—regardless of whether his brother and sister were.
And he’s still that way. Caleb is a mover and shaker who always seems to have places to go, things to do, and people to see—at warp speed and as boisterously as possible. He’s a spirited child with a BIG personality, and we are trying our darndest to help him learn to harness and channel it in a positive direction. We didn’t intentionally name him after the notable Biblical man—I simply liked the name—but he’s certainly our brave little conqueror.
Danae: Baby Names, Comics, and Sass
(Note: pronounced like Renee with a D, or Duh-nay)
We’d decided on a girl’s name before we were even married. I’m a fan of the comic strip Non Sequitur, which features the Pyle family, of which Danae is one of two daughters. Danae is the female version of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Precocious, pessimistic, and mischievous, Danae is constantly looking to buck the system.
Our little princess (I use this term loosely) couldn’t have a more perfect namesake. Despite being 3 months premature, Danae has generally hit developmental milestones on par with her actual age. She’s usually ridiculously exuberant, but we don’t say she’s a threenager for nothing! We’ve seen banshee-like meltdowns over things like being given 4 pieces of pineapple instead of 5 or told the socks that are “so special to [her]” aren’t clean. And her mischievousness comes in the form of feistiness. In fact, feisty was the word used to describe her at delivery, and we heard the word again the first time we visited her in the NICU.
Danae’s Snuffleupagus eyelashes and bright, wide smile are deceiving. This girl is all spice and sass, and judging by the way she’s bulldozed her brothers since Day 1, she’ll be able to hang with the boys. That’s why we’ve given her the nickname Sassy Pants.
Fitting Baby Names
As an English weenie who deals with—or dealt with—words on a daily basis, giving my children the right names was very important to me. I wanted their names to embody them and be part of their unique identities. Judging by what we’ve seen the last few years, Chris and I accomplished just that.