Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Business of Baby Naming

I really do think I missed my calling. I should've been a professional baby namer. I'd show up at the expectant couple's home, light some candles, burn some incense, spread maple syrup on the prego belly, while chanting some nonsense words I got from a Steve Martin movie. All that voodoo uhuhmulmahey crap would just be for show, of course, because I've got this whole baby-naming business down to a science.

When I was pregnant, my husband and I made a list of possible baby names that adhered to a strict set of rules:

1. No cross-gender names.
That meant names like Chris, Bobby and Billy Jo were right out.

2. No hard to spell or pronounce names.
I didn't want my daughter correcting people for the rest of her life, I'm sure she will have better things to do on her way to becoming the first Olympic-medal-winning doctor turned rock-star to be elected President.

3. No names in the Top 50 Baby Names.
My kid was not going to be Emma #6 or Izzy #12 in her kindergarten class.

When it came time to actually give birth to this politically-blessed medical and musical genius, we brought the list to the hospital. We looked at our gorgeous girl. She had big cheeks, a small chin and a perfect bow of a mouth. "She looks like a 1920's beauty queen!" I exclaimed. Sadly, none of the names on our list fit that description. I quickly added Betty, Daisy and Alma to the list. But...did they fit my rules? I wasn't sure. I was still in an epidural haze, and a bit shell shocked from the whole perfectly-healthy-baby with a cleft palate thing.

There was pressure. The people down at City Hall were calling. What was her name? We still didn't know. I told my sister, "I need a 1920's name." She blurted out, "Like Zelda." Yes, just like that...only that was a name that had been left off the list because it was too close to the name of a popular video game that her father and I liked to play. Namely, Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda. Still, it fit. It fit the rules and my brand new little flapper's amazingly beautiful face. (Beautiful, but not perfect...she was born with little red stork bites, one of them right above her lip that looked oddly like a little red Hitler mustache.)

So, on the day we were leaving, breast-pumps were being brought in. The scare of jaundice, and our week long NICU stay and subsequent Pierre Robin diagnosis (the small Betty-Boop chin would be part of THAT) was hanging there...just in the distance, like a cloud of dust kicked up by a rival motorcycle gang. So, there we were, in the cramped, cluttered hospital room...hoping to go home...not sure if we could...and City Hall called. Had we come up with a name? I glanced at my husband, who was on his cell phone with my mother. "Yes," I said. "We're naming her Zelda."

"What?!" My husband said. (I don't know what he was complaining about. He's lucky she wasn't a boy. I might have said, Adolf.)

And the rest is history. So. Maybe it isn't a science. And maybe my rules aren't all that. How did you come up with your favorite baby name?