Oh baby, the fun I could have had

Oh baby, the fun I could have had

Tomorrow is the first ultrasound for this pregnancy and Melanie and I were discussing baby names. We’re not old-fashioned in the sense that we like to find out the sex of the baby if possible. It makes both of us feel better to be able to put a name on the baby and stop called it “it”. I know that’s not everyone’s choice and that’s okay.

Anyway, we’ve been pretty much set on Benedict Joseph as a boy’s name since Isabella was in the womb. In addition to the obvious connection to our present pope, it’s also the middle name of Melanie’s dad. (Melanie says he wouldn’t want a child to have his first name; he’s not that fond of it I guess.)

It’s the girls’ names that are the sticking point. Sophia Marie has the lead, but there’s a snag. Sophia is a popular name. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, Sophia was the ninth most popular name for girls in 2006. Of course, Isabella was fourth. I suppose the issue is that we’d like to avoid the children ending up as one among a sea of other kids the same age, all with the same name.

The next 30 years of saying that line would have been hilarious.

So we’re trying to think of alternatives, mostly by thinking of favored saints. Theresa is a logical choice—St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Theresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) all make a connection to us in varied ways, plus Melanie’s sister is named Theresa. Unfortunately, so is Isabella’s 2-year-old cousin who would be another Theresa Bettinelli. Two girls named Theresa Bettinelli born within a few years of each other is a recipe for confusion down the line. No, Theresa/Therese will have to be a middle name.

Then we went down the list of female saints, chuckling at the most unusual—Perpetua, Scholastica, Antigone—which are fine names, of course. (I just know that someone reading this right now named their child Scholastica and is preparing to write a withering comment; Look, naming your child Scholastica or one of the others takes a kind of confidence we don’t share. It’s okay.)

“How about ‘Lucy’?” I asked.

“Hmm, Lucia, Santa Lucia,” Melanie says thoughtfully. “I like it.”

Then I say, in my best Ricky Ricardo accent, “Lucy! You got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

“Absolutely not!” says Melanie, with the set of her jaw that says this debate is over before it began. “I knew there was a reason I wouldn’t want that name.”

Dang! Me and my poor impulse control. The next 30 years of saying that line would have been hilarious. Well, to me at least.

I think we’ll get over the “Sophia is popular” thing and stick with it. After all, Sophia was the wife of Jack Aubrey in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, as well as Jack’s first command, HMS Sophie in “Master and Commander”. Works for me.

  • I don’t have children and none on the horizon (since I’m not married), but I LOVE the name, “Perpetua.” As long as it’s pronounced, “per-pet’-ua” and not “perpetchua.” What would be hard though is that so many people have a tendency to shorten other people’s names to nicknames, and there really aren’t any attractive sounding nicknames for Perpetua, that I can think of!

  • We decided that we would not name any of our children after any one alive on either side. My husband’s family is full of common names. Going to a cousin’s party can be downright confusing because nearly everyone there has one of only about 7 names (and how many Bills, Toms, Joes, and Bobs does an family need?  How many Sarahs, JoAnns, and Maries?  And if we named them ‘after’ one side, the other would gripe and be insulted. Who needs that nonsense!  (I’ve noticed that where children are concerned, some grandparents can be downright childish – and I don’t doubt that would have been the case with ours!)

    Our girls:

    Genevieve Renee
    Lucinda RoseMarie
    Kateri Therese
    Miriam Elizabeth

    I wanted a Guenevere, but my husband objected to that – no adulterous queen honored in our family! So she is named after a wonderful Saint instead!

    Lucinda was the name of my husband’s great grandmother; Rosemarie was one of my great grandmothers. 

    I like old fashioned names, almost lyrical sounding to me.  And our last name is only four letters long – so a longer first name is nicer.

    Liam Joseph
    Austin Francis
    Nicholas Stephen
    Jonathan Gabriel

    Most of them have first names long enough that they never get the ‘full name’ when I’m angry! Just the full first name!

    And my youngest two, Nicholas and Jonathan, are both growing up thinking their middle names are “NO!”

  • I’m not crazy about “Sophia Marie”.  It has a sing-song quality with those repeating accented “i” vowels. 

    Offhand, I think Carla Rose Bettinelli would be pretty good, evoking (among others) the late Pope and St. Therese.

    Lucy actually wouldn’t be a bad choice either, inasmuch as Sr. Lucia of Fatima will probably be a Blessed before too long.

  • Oh: sorry to double-comment, but here’s a bit more.  “Benedict Joseph Bettinelli” is practically a tongue-twister. 

    Did you have St Benedict Joseph Labre in mind?  I think he’s quite popular around Boston, somehow.  On the other hand, Fr. Groeschel was in town a few years ago talking about St Benedict Joseph as a patron for the families of mentally ill persons, since he appears to have suffered from mental illness himself.

  • About 9 years ago when our fourth child was due, we had chosen Monica Elizabeth for a girl.  Can you guess what famous Monica was in the news back then?
    Maybe that’s why the name came in at #105.

    We went with it anyway figuring none of her generation would make the association.  Now she has quite a devotion to St. Monica.

  • Ah, you demonstrate here why my husband and I never release any potential baby names until the baby is born and named.  We don’t want to invite commentary on our choices!

  • St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians and church music (I am sure she will bring much joy to both of you).  In addition, Celilia Bartoli (coloratura mezzo-soprano) is one of the most beautiful women in the world! (my opinion).  God Bless and may it be a healthy child.
    My kids:
    Angela Marie
    Erika Maria

  • If we have another (unlikely, all things considered), I swore a girl would be Mary. My daughter went to preschool with 5 Sophias (I name I love btw), a few Katrinas/Katerinas, but not one Mary or Elizabeth. She’d be unique.

  • Having a common name isn’t so bad. You just learn to stop and think about it rather than turning around every time you hear your name.

    My friend, whose little brother is named John, likes to joke that “Every family could use another john.”

    I have seriously considered naming one of my hypothetical sons Athanasius, but I don’t think I’ll have the guts to actually do it. Maybe as a middle name.

  • My second daughter’s name is Lucy, and I’m quite fond of it (and her). At the time (9 years ago), we thought it was that right combination of not weird/uncommon/saintly that we go for.

    However, in our Catholic homeschool group (about 70 families), I think there are 3-4 different Lucy’s! I still love the name, I just was hoping it would be more uncommon.

    (Since we’re not “I Love Lucy” fans, we’ve never been tempted to pull out any lines from the show).

  • Bernie: Cecilia is lovely, but she has a 9-month-old cousin with the same name. Too close, unfortunately.

    Sarah: Yes, it is a good illustration of the reason for such discretion.

    RC: No, as I said, Benedict was chosen primarily for association with Melanie’s dad and secondarily for connection to the Pope.

  • Our youngest daughter is a Lucia.  Great stories to share about Saint Lucia, and (as pointed out above) Sr. Lucia of Fatima as well!

    At one point we were thinking about Luke as a boy’s name, until my wife realized I’d spend the rest of my life telling him in my best Vader voice, “Luke, I am your father”

  • Having been exposed to to many liberals I guess I can’t get past the fact that they all use Sophia for God, for Wisdom, for the “feminine” god……..Then there is the gnostic side.


    Normally I would never say anything about someone’s name for a child other than a certain person I know who named their child’s middle name Danger, but you did ask.

  • Well, here’s my concern: notice that “Benedict Joseph” puts the phonemes “-ct J-” next to each other.  It’s a difficult combo: an unvoiced dental “t”, next to the voiced dental “d” sound that starts the English “J”.  Just try to pronounce the combo a few times, and I think you’ll recognize it’s not easy.  People will constantly be dropping the “t”: “Benedic Joseph” or else they’re try to articulate it and hit a log jam.

    On the other hand, “Joseph Benedict Bettinelli” would be OK; it flows; it’s pronounceable. 

    Man, I know I’m offending you by finding fault with your choice of baby names, especially with you two being English majors, but I do have your kid’s best interest at heart!

  • While Sophia has often be co-opted by liberals and gnostics, it still well attested in the early Church fathers.

    RC: Do you really think, as a Bostonian living in the Boston area, I need to worry about letters being dropped? It’s happening no matter what.

    For another thing, the only time the two names are going to be said together is when his mother is calling him down to do his chores.

    Benedict Bettinelli is very close to Bernardo Bettinelli, which his great-grandfather and eight uncles have as their name.

    Anyway it looks like it’s moot anyway for now.

  • I don’t hear ‘Anne’ too often. Lots of saints with that name (or a variation thereof, i.e. Anna), and it means ‘gracious one’—a lovely quality into which to grow. Anne Therese or Anna Teresa, maybe?

  • No Christine Marie’s out there anymore?  Or Christina Maria’s?  Now that would flow very nicely with Bettinelli!

  • And let’s not forget the great church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople—now a museum in Istanbul, of course.  Divine Wisdom?  That’s a good name.  I’m not married and have no children, but I have nieces named Madeline and Morgan.

  • Evidently there was also a St. Sophia in early Rome, whose three daughters, Faith, Hope and Love, were martyred in front of her eyes after refusing to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. She was allowed to bury their bodies and then died herself soon after. Even though she did not suffer physically, she is known as a martyr because of her endurance in the face of her daughters’ suffering.

    Information and a beautiful icon from this Greek Orthodox site.

    That’s a story to inspire a little girl!

  • Hi Dom,

    Ric and his wife Jane are having a baby girl at the end of October and guess what name they picked out when they found out they were pregnant??  Sophia Marie…. How funny is that??  Good luck to both you and Melanie. 

    Debbie (Misener) Macomber

  • My wife and I bickered over the name of No. 5. She wanted Emily and I wanted Monica. We compromised walking into the hospital, where she delivered a Theresa Rose. Now we could not imagine any other name for her!

  • Dom,

    Whatever you do, please stick with an Italian name – I love the melting pot, but it just grates on the ears to hear names like Sean Gomez or Pedro Schwartz or Franklin Genovese –


    Girl –

    Giovanna Paula
    Ismeralda(you gotta love the alliteration)
    Regina Maria

    Boy –

    Lucca (remember the Godfather – “Lucca Bazzi sleeps with the fishes”)

  • An interesting perspective, Sean, but not one we share. After all, while my name is Italian, I’m also French, Russian, and small portions of English and Scottish, while Melanie is the whole melting pot of English, Scottish, Irish, American Indian, and a whole bunch more.

    While aesthetics are a consideration, they are not our sole concern. Frankly, having had an Italian name that most people have problems saying and/or spelling which usually gets shortened down anyway, I don’t think there’s an enduring value.

  • Sophia’s a great and noble name, sturdy for both a little girl and a grown woman.  Our Sophia Leilani, age two is now called The Dopher, the Dingle Doo, Nophie Nophie, and dozens more.  Just don’t spell it Sofia, cuz that’s how them wops spell it, er, what I meant was, koff koff.

  • I am not experienced in choosing a name, I do not even have a wife.  However, I do believe that a name is very important in one’s life and the discernment that goes into it is quite special. 

    I was thinking of the many scripture passages where God speaks to us and how he is the one that knows us before we are born.  Especially in Jeremiah and Ps139, “…before I you were formed in the womb, I knew you.”  Perhaps before you pick a name and pray on it, ask God what name he has chosen for him or her. 

    In the end, I know that this child will be born to too very loving parents that will nurture him/her to grow in God’s graces.  May God bless you and your child!

  • We’ve already got a niece named Catherine. And I’m not a fan of repeating names within immediate family just to keep the confusion down. That’s one reason it’s so hard to find names, this baby will be grandchild #15 on Dom’s side of the family, so many of the names I’d like have already been snapped up.

  • WRT repeating names, in my experience (it has happened several times over in our family, with grandkids numbering over 30, great-grandkids up to over 20 now).  Confusion was never a problem, and it would be a shame to not use a name you really wanted for that reason alone – the cousins may end up living on opposite sides of the country!

  • It’s not only the issue of confusion. Dom’s family has plenty of repeating names. His father is also Domenico and we have a nephew Domenic as well. I have a brother-in-law and nephew both named Peter, a sister and a niece named Theresa, not to mention that among his extended family there are half a dozen Bernardos and multiple Francescas, etc. But it’s more a matter of personal taste. I don’t like the idea of repetition and it’s a silly prejudice, I know. But I can’t get over it. I was always proud growing up of being the only Melanie that I knew. I like the idea of a name being unique. I can’t quite bring myself to re-use a name. And the cousins may end up living on opposite sides of the country at some later date. As of now, we all live within an hour of each other and get together about once a month, sometimes more.