December 14, 2020
How 31 Moms We Admire Picked Baby Names

A name tells a story that becomes a piece of us, and sharing that story can bring joy and meaning to our loved ones and friends. Picking a baby name often makes for a good story, too. From honoring a loved one to a subtle nod to your heritage. Was it a complete compromise? Alliteration? A coin flip in the hospital? Did you tell people before? 

 

We asked moms we love to share their journeys to the finding "the one", in the hopes that we can inspire others to find the name that's right for them.  We laughed, we cried, we remembered loved ones. Enjoy!

 

Tara Campbell Lussier
Co-Founder, Arrow Birth
DC Metro
4 kids, ages 11, 11, 8, and 6


Tara Lussier and family

  • Lyon (11) A family name, every male on my maternal side has had it as a middle name, I've known since high school it would be the name of my first-born son.
  • Poet (11) We found out prenatally that we were having boy/girl twins - I read that Soleil Moon Frye had a daughter named Poet and the name instantly struck me like lightning, I knew immediately. I also thought 'Poet and Lyon' were perfect for unique twins' names.
  • Hopalong ("Hoppy", 8) I lost my Dad unexpectedly — when we found out Hoppy was a boy my husband instantly suggested to name him after my Dad, whose lifelong nickname was "Hop". In 1950 at the ripe age of three, my Dad climbed a tree and refused to come down until my Grandparents called him 'Hopalong Cassidy' (a popular wild west hero in the '50s). So 'Hopalong' it was, and 'Hoppy' for short.
  • Henry Atlas Blue (6), I liked Atlas Wilde honoring my love of traveling and literature but my hubby was not a fan. After his birth, my Mom brought the older kids home to meet the new baby and asked what the baby's name was. We said we didn't know yet and she replied with "Well, the kids and I named him, he's Henry." We said “OK, sounds good.” We added Atlas and Blue and called him our Baby Blue - after four kids in five years we were done. :) Blue was for the gorgeous September blue sky we enjoyed walking around our town in labor with him, we laughed, we cried, and it was just the most joyous birth for our last baby.

 

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Shakira Pollard
Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
Washington, DC
3 kids, 2 years and 4 month old twins

 

Shakira Pollard family

  • I wanted to honor old family traditions and establish new ones to cherish and pass on to future generations. My husband’s name is Alton Brooks Pollard, IV and he uses his middle name socially and professionally. Both Alton Jr. and Alton III are still with us. When we first became pregnant with a viable fetus we had been married 8 yrs already. Brooks didn’t want to continue his family’s paternal naming tradition, but I encouraged him to reconsider because I’m a sucker for tradition. We both came up with a list of ten baby boy names and pared the list down to three. He had permission to select a name from this list of three for our son. When I awakened from my c-section I learned that my son’s name was Alton Brooks Pollard, V….lol. We affectionately call him “Quint” since he is the 5th.
  • When I was three months pregnant with Quint I lost my mother and step-grandmother in an auto accident, the day before Mother’s day returning from vacation. I was not on the trip with them because I was pregnant and I was trying to conserve my time off for Maternity Leave later in the year. It was such a difficult time to be pregnant. Twenty-two months later we welcomed girl and boy twins. To honor my deceased parents, Crystal Hudson and Hassan Fardan, we used their names as the babies’ middle names. Our daughter is Jade Crystal-Michelle and our youngest son is Miles Hassan.
  • My hope is to adopt a 4th child later on and we will be certain to give that child our family surname.

 

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Shari Stamps
Founder, Navigating Parenthood
California
3 kids, aged 1, 3 and 9

 Shari Stamps family

  • Savannah (9): We couldn’t agree on a name at all — I wanted names like Persephone and my husband liked names that were everywhere. One day we looked up at the name of the training room in which we were taking our hospital birth class in and finally found a name we could agree on: Savannah.
  • River (3): I really wanted to name him Phoenix or Ocean but we eventually settled on a name my mom suggested, River. I won that naming battle!
  • Nora (1): We wanted to incorporate a bit of my mom’s family names to honor her since River’s middle name is my dad’s first name. Nora was my grandma’s sister’s name and also my husband’s grandma’s name so we were able to honor both families. Her middle name is Noelle because she was almost born on Christmas.

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Laura Siegel
Fashion, Sales Strategy and Execution
Delray Beach, FL
2 kids aged 8 and 6

 

Siegel Family

  • Copper (8): My husband is a trained chef. Our wedding registry included all the copper pots and pans because they are the best heat conductor. In our West Village rental apartment, he changed all the door knobs and light fixtures to copper. Why? Copper is anti-microbial. When we were pregnant I added Copper to our list of baby names since he loved everything Copper! He grabbed it!
  • Harlow (6): We announced to my family we were pregnant with our 2nd child at a NYC restaurant, named Harlow. It was chic, old world Hollywood glam. I did have another name I was holding onto tightly until the delivery room. I told my mother both names just before giving birth. She cried when I mentioned Harlow, and the name had been my husband’s favorite - so it was settled just an hour before she was born!

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Elissa Friedman
Film Producer
Los Angeles, CA
2 kids, Greta 3, Finn 3 months

 

Elissa Friedman family

  • When naming Greta, both my husband and I wanted to honor our grandmothers. My Grandmother’s name was Loretta and my husband’s grandmother’s name was Gertrude. My husband suggested we combine the names so of course my immediate thought was, “Gloretta?” He was not thinking Gloretta but Greta!

 

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Nicole Pearl Kaplan
On-air beauty and lifestyle expert, Founder of The Beauty Girl
Chicago
3 kids, aged 9, 7 and 3

 Nicole Kaplan family

  • Rex Parker Kaplan (9): We were reading a baby book on our baby moon. We heard the name Rex. It means king/regal in Latin and we were sold. Irony is that he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6 and now his nickname is King Rex because he really has had to rise to the occasion. Middle name is Parker: We were engaged in Central Park in NYC.
  • Jasper Will Kaplan (7): I was at the hospital in the delivery room. I said to my sisters and husband who were in the room, “I think I feel the head.” My sister basically delivered Jasper because he literally fell out of me and there was no doctor in the room. We called him Jasper with the nickname of Jaz because his delivery was so spontaneous like Jazz music. His middle name is Will because he willed his way out of me and was born on Shakespeare’s birthday— my husband and I are both writers.
  • Hazel Pearl Dee Kaplan (3): Hazel is the name we always loved, after two boys we finally got to use it. “Pearl” is my maiden name and she has the second middle name “Dee” which is after my sister’s husband who passed away in his 40s from Scleroderma disease.

 

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Kamini Patel
Owner and Founder of Aarika's Closet
San Jose, CA
2 kids, Ages 11 and 8

Patel Family
In our Indian culture, names are traditionally picked based on the child's sun/star sign. I was born and raised in California and my name was butchered all the time, everyday. I never ever spoke up or corrected anyone up until my late 20s. It was always embarrassing when my name was said wrong...but never did I feel I could say what the correct pronunciation was without feeling I was being difficult. When I was picking names for my first daughter, my husband and I agreed we would find something that was Indian as we wanted to share our roots/heritage, has a great meaning, and was easy to pronounce for non-South Asians. We didn't know the gender of our baby so we created a Google Spreadsheet (I still have it!) with girls and boys names that were Indian and then we both shared names with colleagues by just spelling them on a board or paper and hearing others pronounce it. We had a lot of names but the one we went with that was easiest to pronounce was - Riya - beautiful, graceful, singer. The name is pronounced 'Ree-a' and we thought it would be easy but nope...people still mispronounce her name, even her own doctor and nurses. For our second child, we went through a similar process and also didn't know the gender but decided that no matter how easy the pronunciation was to us someone will always mispronounce it. So we went with something that had a deeper meaning for us - Aarohi - ascending, progressive.

We realized that our culture and language is a big part of our children's identity and the thought we put into naming our kids is so deep. It's the first action that parents take which has a permanent effect on the child's life. We are all unique individuals and our names are one of those ways to share your individuality. I teach my girls to be proud of their name and to correct people when they mispronounce it. It's tough but it creates a type of confidence in you and strength in you that will break barriers.

I recently decided to launch a new product in my online boutique to honor the names we are given: Personalized Name and Meaning T-shirt available for mommies and kids.  Our names are given to us with so much thought and meaning. It's time to share it with the world. Shop here:
Kids Personalized Name & Meaning Tee
Women's Personalized Name & Meaning Tee

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Leah Fink
Life Coach w Antoinette Beauchamp Coaching
Brooklyn, NY
2 kids, Sammy 7, Sydney 3

Leah and Thelma

Leah Fink Family

  • The nanny who raised me, Thelma, was one of my favorite people on earth. She became sick and then passed away when I was pregnant with my second. I knew immediately that she'd be named for this force of nature with a heart of gold who has such an important part in my life. That's how we came up with Sydney Thelma, and I smile every time I say her name.

 

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Stefanie Schoen
Consultant and Blogger, Schoen Retail Consulting and TheStyleSafari
Marin County, California
2 kids, Marina Remy, 2.5 and Liam Desi, 5 months

 

Stefanie Schoen family

  • Boy names are tough! In my (non-religious) side of the family all the men have either William or Robert in their name, but my husband is Jewish and in Jewish culture you don’t name a baby after a living loved one. My husband wanted to incorporate a D or David as both of his grandfather’s names were David. We liked Liam because it was a fresh take on William and didn’t break any naming rules. BUT- here’s the kicker. Out of nowhere I had a dream one night that we named our son Desi, and my husband and I just really liked it as a cute middle name with a ‘D’ to honor the Davids. After Liam Desi was born, my husband’s mother asked us 'how we knew?'. ‘How did we know what?” we said. “How did you know that your grandfather's name wasn’t really David, but that it was Desiduero before he emigrated to the United States, and everyone called him Desi for short?” !!!

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Stef Tousignant
Author, The Middle of the Night Book and Blog Parent Differently
2 Kids, River Lawson Gamble (12) and Cortland Edward Gamble (8)

 Stef Tousignant family

  • Overwhelmed with the endless possibilities and decided we needed a rule to follow, so we chose the initials of each of our fathers. We decided to keep their middle names and go with a fun and more creative first name. Then in the future, if for any reason they wanted to go with a conservative name they would have a fallback!

 

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Dr. Jane Shomof
Founder, Bloome, Inc
Los Angeles, CA (but operate virtually)
3 kids ages 9, 6 and 3

 

Jane Shomoff family

  • Levi (9 years old): My husband's background is Israeli and mine is Russian. In Hebrew, Lev means "heart" and Lev in Russian means "lion," and also the last two letters of his name are the first two letters of my maiden name! Lots of reasons for choosing "Levi" for our amazing son!
  • Lily (6 years old) was a name we had thought about for a girl for a long time. Before we were parents, my husband and I saw a beautiful video of the making of a statue in the shape of a lily flower in Israel. When the flower was open, it would resemble a star of David and we discovered that a White Lily was the possible origin for this beautiful symbol of Judaism.
  • Elle (3 years old) was chosen for a pretty funny reason. When I was pregnant, everybody would ask me if I would give our 3rd child an "L name" because our first two names started with an L. We thought the name Elle was a really special strong name and although didn't start with an L, was a different kind of L name! In fact my son was really confused about the spelling because he was convinced that her name should just be spelled "L" rather than "Elle."

 

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Kelsey Searles
Occupation/ Company: Co-Founder, MiliMili
Los Angeles
2 kids, Remy Charlotte (3.5), and Michael McKinnon (11mo)


Kelsey Searles

  • Remy Charlotte: My husband and I couldn’t agree on girl names for the first 8 months of my pregnancy. We drew up name lists and compared notes each night, and nothing struck a mutual chord. Then one evening a Google news article popped up on his phone: “Top 10 French names you hadn't thought of for your baby,” and Remy was number 7. So, in summary, Google named my kid.
  • Michael McKinnon: My husband is the 3rd Michael M Searles in his family, so before we were even married it was a foregone conclusion that if we had a boy, it would be a Michael. Actually, even if we had a girl as our 2nd kid, Mike was gunning to name them Michael. But each Mike in the family has a different middle name, so that one was up for grabs. Just had to start with an M. Mike's choices for that were... colorful. MaxiBillion was a leading favorite. MacGyver, Maverick, Musk, and Magnum, also topped his list. (Basically he was hoping I birthed an 80s TV hero.) But luckily we both liked my Mom's maiden name, McKinnon, and went with that instead.


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Erin O’Connor
Professor at New York University and co-founder Scientific Mommy 
2 children ages 12 years and 8 months

 

Erin O'connor Family

 

  • Our second daughter is adopted, and we chose her name Hailey with her biological parents. They have a family tradition of their children all having H as the first letter of their name. Before Hailey’s birth I was working one morning and thought of the name Hailey. I later checked my messages and her biological grandmother had left one saying she too had came up with the name Hailey. So without a doubt our little Hailey has her name.

 

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Alyson McNair
Founder & President, Perfect, Inc.
Alexandria, VA
2 children ages 4 and 5

 

Alyson Mcnair family 

  • Aaron Devoe McNair 2nd: My husband wanted to honor his father who’s still alive. I thought this was not smart because if his father wanted a junior, he would have named my husband Aaron and not Daniel. S, I fought the idea until I couldn’t fight it any more.
  • Amir Grayson McNair: My mother, whose name starts with A, named me and my siblings with A (her name starts with A) so I figured we can keep the tradition. I considered naming him Andre after my brother. My husband hated the name so I talked to my brother and he agreed with my husband — go figure! My brother said I should name him Grayson (after Robin in Batman). That didn’t flow with my A theme so Grayson became his middle name and my husband picked the name Amir. They are the Priest and Prince and they are inseparable. My oldest takes being a big brother very seriously!

 

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Barbara Gonzales
Founder, G Force PR
Denver, CO
2 daughters: Lila, 11 and Stella, 9

 

  • As a young adult, I knew that if I ever had a girl, I'd want to name her after my favorite person in the world - my grandma Ruth, who passed away during my senior year of college. While her legal name was Lila Ruth, she went by Ruth. I'd planned to name my daughter Lila because I liked the idea of honoring her in a more subtle way that was obvious only to the people who were fortunate enough to know her best. Fast forward several years later, when I meet the man who was to become my husband - and his mother's name is also Lila! Spelled the same way. I knew it was meant to be. So we named her Lila Rae. Lila after my grandmother and my husband's mother. Rae is my mother's middle name, so she is honored, too.

 

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Eram Siddiqui
Founder and CEO of Hudson+Bleecker
NYC
2 kids, ages 5 and 8 months

 

  • After several pregnancy losses, I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility in 2014. We welcomed our son Raif in Oct 2015. His name means kind, compassionate and tender hearted and he truly represents all of those qualities!
  • 15 months after we welcomed Raif, I lost my father to a sudden illness and followed by 3 consecutive pregnancy losses (lost a heartbeat on one of the babies, hospitalized with another loss). We needed light after so much darkness. We were blessed to welcome our baby girl, Inara (pronounced In-na-ra) which literally means "illumination, enlightenment, to bring light into darkness" in Arabic. We welcomed Inara in March of this year and she is the light of our family, the one who brought light to all of us.



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Jennifer Han
Account Executive @ Twilio
New York City
1 kid, 6 years old

 

Jennifer Han family

  • My son’s name is Miles William Han. We both wanted a name that was not incredibly common, but also not so rare that you only hear it once in a lifetime. Given these loose parameters, we scoured baby name websites and said names back and forth to one another for months. We knew we wanted a very traditional, multi-syllable name for the middle name to balance this out. Then, one day, he found the name Miles. We were both in the Army at the time, and I loved the connection to the Latin root meaning “soldier.” We paired that with William for “protector,” projecting a little boy who would be strong and brave but also walk through life with a genuine regard for others. Perhaps my favorite pet of this story is that it’s private — upon hearing his name, people rarely suspect a deeper meaning. Knowing my son’s personality, though, I like to think we projected many of his positive qualities through the meaning of his names.

 

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Nikki Elkins
Co-owner of Clover Baby & Kids
Philadelphia metro area
3 kids; 5 , 2 and 2

 

Nikki Elkins family

  • Reid Samuel (Reid in honor of my mom Ronna; Samuel in honor of my husband's grandfather Seymour)
  • Addison Rae (Addison in honor of my husband's aunt Audrey; Rae in honor of my mom)
  • Evan Joseph (Evan in honor of my grandmother Ethel; Joseph in honor of my grandfather John)
  • Naming children after family members who have passed is a custom in Jewish culture. Specifically, our family has always used the first initial of a first name. My mom is honored through my son's first name, plus, the first initials of my three children (Reid, Addison and Evan) spell out RAE, which was my mom's middle name.

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Jessica Rodas
Psychotherapist/Jessica Moskowitz, LCSW-R
New York City
2 kids, 5 and 2 1/2


Jessica Rodas family

  • Ezra Irving Rodas (5): I'm Jewish and my husband is a native New Yorker and second generation Salvadorian. I felt strongly about a Hebrew name but also wanted to keep with the Ashkenazi tradition of naming after someone who had passed away. I found and loved the name Ezra looking through a baby name book; my husband didn’t like it, but didn’t outright veto it either. I also wanted to name after my paternal grandfather, Irving. When I was 6 months pregnant we took a trip to iconic New York writer, Washington Irving's house. During our visit, my husband suggested we name our son Irving after both Washington Irving and my grandfather. I said absolutely not. I did not like Irving for a first name. I again brought up the name Ezra. He thought about it and said how about Ezra Irving. And that's when we decided on our son's name. Both of us were happy and felt the name was meaningful to each of us.
  • Samara Rey Rodas (2.5): Again, I wanted a Hebrew name and we wanted to keep with the Jewish tradition of naming after someone. We both loved the name Samara. It wasn't such a common name (also something important to us when naming both children) but we had heard it because it was a close friend's sister's name. It was also Hebrew, or so we thought. Three months later when planning our daughter's baby naming our Rabbi informed us it is not actually a Hebrew name. We're still unsure as we've heard various opinions on this. What was nice about this surprise was that for our daughter's baby naming we instead gave her the Hebrew name Gila, after my Uncle Gary who we were close to and had passed away. My daughter's middle name, Rey, is after my husband's maternal grandfather. Again we both felt the names reflected who we each were and fully agreed we were happy with them.

 

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Ali Levine 
Ali Levine Design - freelance, tv personality, podcaster, fashion & life style expert
Los Angeles
2 - 2 1/2 and 6 months


Ali Levine Family

  • Amelia (2.5): Named after my grandmother, who was my very best friend till the day she left this earth. I tell my daughter about her all the time and she constantly points to pics of her and shouts, “Dodo!” which was her nickname from me and I still refer to her by this special name even now with her on the other side.
  • Amelia is also my confirmation name. The name is very special to me and I actually had to fight my CCD class to use Amelia as well. When I got pregnant, I knew she was a girl before we actually knew because I knew my grandmother would send her to me. Her name has such power and strength and beauty to it: whenever I say my daughter’s name I feel a heavenly feeling, a true happiness and light, and that my grandmother is a part of my family and me always.
  • Arley (6 months): Arley means promise in Hebrew. She was born during the pandemic, and on top of that there were riots all over breaking out that day and actual hour she was born. I knew she brought the promise of a beautiful new world. All these babies being born right now into our new world are, I believe. They are a part of our new earth. Arley chose this time to be here and she is such a zen baby and beautiful soul and a true gift in this time.

 

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Megan Harper
Head of Product Growth at Tinybeans + Red Tricycle and accidental influencer at @girlgonechildinnyc
New York, NY
3 kids: All of our kids have "on paper names" and "nicknames"

 Megan Harper Family

  • Henry Delano Harper aka Huck: I loved Henry Harper because he is the judge who frees Santa on Miracle on 34th street. My husband was terrified people would call him Hank so we gave him a nickname of Huck to avoid it. He came out 10 lbs at 38 weeks so maybe we should have named him Hoss.
  • Griffin Belle Harper aka Gigi: Griffin has always been my favorite girl's name. My son had just turned two when she was born and called her Gigi. It stuck and she has no idea who Griffin is.
  • Celeste Monroe Harper aka Goldie: My husband got to name baby #3. I was worried Celeste was a stripper's name but after a few late nights of binge-watching 'Big Little Lies' I was onboard. My son hated the name and called her Goldie in my belly. Celeste is like celestial and stars are gold so we went with it. She's now almost two and only goes by Goldie.

 

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Nora Mansour
Founder, Norani Baby 
Los Angeles
2 kids, age 1 & 3

 Nora Mansour Family

  • Ayah (3) and Alana (1): After my husband and I got married we did what cheesy newlyweds do, come up with our future baby names. Well, our journey to parenthood ended up being very difficult. After years of trying to conceive, 6 failed IUIs, 7 rounds of IVF, gestational diabetes, a rare bleeding disorder our first rainbow baby was born. At that point we felt like we couldn’t go with our picked name and had to go with a name that really had a meaning for us at that moment so we sat in the hospital after giving birth and spent the next two days brainstorming. What helped us is the fact that we both agreed that our baby was a miracle. We took the term miracle and started looking for what miracle means in different languages. We came across the name “Ayah” which is Arabic for miracle. That was our name, we just knew it and felt it in our hearts. We didn’t just disregard our chosen baby name because we loved it so much so we named our second rainbow baby “Alana”.

 

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Lacy Pica Nugent
Copywriter and Owner, PicaNuge Productions
Hoboken, NJ
3 kids, 5, 3, and 5 days old

The Nugent Family

  • Antoinette Maria Nugent, we call her Netta. She is named after my Dad's Italian mother and Dad's sister who was extremely special to me and passed away from cancer when I was 26 years old. I almost told an NYC cab driver but held back.
  • Lucille McNicholas Nugent, we call her Mickey. She is named after my husband Tony's living Aunt who is like a mother to him (he calls her Mom 1A) and never had kids. McNicholas is my mom's maiden name and is named after my grandfather, who was my husband and my last living grandparent.
  • James Leo Nugent, we call him James. He is named after my husband's grandfather James Leo. But Leo is significant to us because St. Leo's in Little Italy in Baltimore, MD was where we got married, two sets of our grandparents got married, and both girls were baptized. This summer, my grandfather Bud McNicholas (who Mickey is named after) was deteriorating from dementia. He went into the hospital for his third fall in one week and miraculously they let me see him. I told him the name of the baby there. He died on Sept 6 and at his funeral was where I told my mom and her family that he was the only one who knew James' name.

 

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Christy MacGregor
Chief Parent Officer & General Counsel at Colugo
Philadelphia
3 kids (4-year-old twins and a 21-month-old) + expecting baby #4!

 

Iobst/ MacGregor Family

  • Fred and Larkin (4 year old twins): I needed to do IVF to get pregnant and before we did the transfer that resulted in our twins, I was pushing to transfer 2 embryos. My husband, Ted, agreed if I promised that we’d name one of the babies Frederick if we had a boy. Lucky for us, both embryos stuck and we named our son Frederick. We call him Fritz because I couldn’t deal with the rhyming “Fred” and “Ted.” We named our daughter Larkin to honor my best friend since childhood whose middle name is Lark. (When she turned 3, my daughter announced to us that she was to be called “Lark” from then on after we read her Quick as a Cricket and she heard the line: “Happy as a Lark.”).
  • Each of our twins has two 2 middle names: Frederick August Iobst and Larkin Scott Iobst. “August” because I liked it and “Scott” for my brother. “Iobst” is Ted’s last name. We gave our kiddos my last name because it’s always annoyed Ted that people either can’t pronounce or misspell his last name.
  • Our third baby is Henry Goodwin Iobst. We both loved the nickname “Win,” but couldn’t think of how to get there. Ted thought of “Goodwin” on an overseas flight to Asia when he was up overnight. Turns out, “Goodwin” derives from the Scottish “guidwe’en” which means a good-hearted person who is fun to be around. Our youngest has certainly lived up to that name and he was “Win” from the start. It's funny - we both also loved the name Henry but always thought we'd do a nickname at first and leave it to him to switch to "Henry" if he wants to when he's older.
  • We haven’t decided on baby #4’s name yet - I’m due in May so we have some time and we haven't decided if we'll learn the sex in advance.

 

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Zabina Bhasin, MD
Founder, In Kidz and Co-Founder and COO, Chai Mommas

 

Zabina Basin Family

I am a Sikh American. My name, like all names, has a story behind it. The story of my name is the result of some real canter in my family. You will understand as we go along.

My mom experienced fertility issues while trying to have kids. After 7 years of struggling, she got pregnant with me naturally, and without IVF intervention. She believes that my conception meant that it was her time to be a mom.
At 7 months pregnant, my mom dreamt that she had a daughter. Not only was that special for her because it revealed my gender, but the dream brought me my name Zabina.


Zabina is a name of Islamic descent. It means Princess and refers to a kind of cat-like elegance and grace. In the Sikh Religion, when a child is born, we give thanks to God, and we open our Granth Shaib (Our Bible). The first letter that is read when giving thanks is the letter the child's name should start with. Mom said my name was a letter that was pronounced as 'Z,' which was perfect because my name in her dream started with 'Z.'


The rest of the religious family was not happy about that, especially my Daddha ( paternal grandfather). He fought her on the name because it sounded Arabic/Islamic. My mom did not care and said we should be proud to interchange names in different religions and cultures and not be prejudiced against using them.


My super momma was even fightin
g for equality and culture, even before I was born.


Then came my turn. I became pregnant, and I, too, was going to have a daughter. Since I had already been taught that as individuals we are more similar than different, our differences make us unique, and those differences do not separate us, I was ready to carry on the tradition. I knew I could name my kids anything I wanted; it did not have to be a Sikh/Indian Name. I wanted to have more meaning behind my kids' names; for example, I came up with their meanings first, and then I looked for their names.


I knew I wanted to name my daughter for Strength. I began searching for names, and I remember with perfect clarity the night my husband and I found her name. I was seven months pregnant as well and just googled names that mean Strength, and this beautiful name Swahili name came up, and it was IMARA.


Zane's name was even more ironic; I got pregnant when Imara was 10 months old. It was a surprise for us, and my husband (who is not religious) said he is God's Gift.


And that was it; we looked up names that mean God's gifts, and would you know it, Zane's name is Israeli.


Without trying, we have been creating a home for our children to learn about other cultures, and it all began with their names. We are all born into a culture or race, but that does not mean we cannot diversify our homes.


We need to teach the generations ahead of us that we are all one people and much more alike than different.

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Elvira Kalviste
Owner of Elvira Kalviste Photography
Brooklyn, NY
1 son, 8 months old

 

Elvira Kalviste Family

  • Our son's name is Leon Roman. Originally, I was set on finding a unique name that stands out and has some deep meaning and a possible connection to our Nordic/Eastern European roots. But as I started looking through baby names I realized I wanted my son to have a name that's easily pronounced and universal. I was always drawn to specific sounds of letters L and N so when I saw Leon I was instantly in love with that name. It has both soft qualities in the way it is pronounced and simultaneously symbolizes grandeur/courage/power in many cultures. Roman on the other hand is the oldest last name on my maternal side of the family which we thought would be a good compromise as a middle name since we agreed for Leon to have his father's last name. Overall, we discussed names a few times and Leon Roman just felt right every time we came up with other options so we didn't overthink it and went with our gut:)

 

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Danielle Fried-Dorman
Owner, Huntresstalent 
Westfield, NJ
2 kids, Laila Elise age 3, Colette Victoria - newborn

 Danielle Fried family

  • Colette Victoria (newborn): We were 50/50 on a name when we got to the hospital, but wanted to meet her first before we decided on a name. We were either going to do Stella Violet or Colette Victoria and call her Coco for a nickname. After she was born, we decided on Stella Violet, we announced the name and then two days later, we realized she just didn't seem like a Stella and I couldn't stick with that name. We had the paperwork changed while in the hospital and named her Colette, Coco, Victoria Dorman. We decided on Victoria as a middle name after my husband's grandpa who passed away a few years ago. He was a Holocaust survivor and survived the majority of the war in a variety of concentration camps in Austria and Poland.
  • Laila Elise(3): Our first daughter, who's middle name is Elise is after my husband's grandma, Ellen, who was also a Holocaust survivor. Grandma Ellen survived Auschwitz, her story is here if you are interested, it's absolutely fascinating. 

 

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Yvette J Needham
Founder, Chief Experience Officer - Creative Business Consulting
2 Sons- Jonathan Jr (13) & Josiah (11)

Jonathan
Josiah
  • I am laughing as I am typing this story. I was in high school when I met their dad at a friend's house- junior year. At that time, he was dating someone. They introduced him as Jay, and when I asked him what his real name was ....he said "Jonathan". I was very intrigued because I hadn't heard his name before. I was so amazed, I said "Oh wow, if I have a son, I will name him Jonathan." - Not knowing we would date months later, go to prom and have a son 2.5 years later and name him, Jonathan Jr.
  • Fast forward, we were pregnant again- with another boy. Lol. Yay Me! I did not find out until I was 4 months pregnant. But the cool part was I was working at a daycare and there was a toddler name, Josiah. He was very smart! My coworker and I were so impressed that we started teaching him how to read and multiply, he was only 3. One night, I had a dream about a gold crown and I couldn't figure out why. So, one Saturday night my friend had a tattoo party and the tattoo artist drew a star with a crown hanging off the top of it.... writing my sons' initials "JLP".... Keep in mind, I did not know I was pregnant. But I knew the crown had some significance so I told the artist to go ahead and tat me. Once, I found out I was expecting another boy, I couldn't figure out a name. I started looking up names, I came across Josiah, a biblical name in which he became a king at the age of 8. I started reading more into the power of his name. Twenty-two months after having Jonathan, I gave birth to Josiah.
  • Fun fact: If you look in the bible you will see Jonathan in there too, he is known for being a loyal friend. God was so intentional with their names.

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Jessica Olson
Cofounder Wren & Amber
2 kids

 

Jessica Olson family

  • Our daughter's name is Wren Amber the namesake of our children’s clothing brand. Wren is my middle name. My mother loved it from a novel she read and the heroine was named Wren. She wanted to name me Wren, but in 1980 it was far too progressive for my dad to agree to it, so I was named the most popular name in the 80s, Jessica ha…Jessica Wren. At least Shakespeare created it ;) ha ha. Amber is my mother’s name and I wanted to incorporate my mom so we chose Wren Amber. My mother and I started our small business inspired by my daughter and her first grand baby, so naturally we named our brand after her :)
  • Our son’s name is special too! Campbell Douglas. We wanted to honor my husband’s grandfather, the late great music icon Glen Campbell! So we named our son after his great grandfather to carry on his legacy. Douglas is my husband’s father’s middle name and we wanted to incorporate that side of the family as well. Here’s a fun article that People magazine did when he was born! 

 

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Shera Lee
Founder, Mad Moisture Beauty
1 daughter

Shera family


We didn’t have a name for baby girl throughout the whole pregnancy. People were throwing names at us left and right and nothing was really resonating with us. We'd settled on a name, Nola, because it's been a magical city for us and where she was conceived, and said that we'd wait until she was born to ask her if she liked it and to see if it was a fit.

A week before she was born, she came to me in a dream and asked me how the "name thing" was going. I told her about Nola and she squished her nose up about it. She said, "It's ok if that's all you can think of..." So I'm like, well what do you have in mind then little miss? And she gave me the letters: N-A-L-I-Y-A. I woke up and sent the letters in a text to my husband and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I asked my husband what he made of the pronunciation because I was having a hard time figuring it out. Was is said Na-lie-ah (rhymes with Mariah). He shook his head, nope, it's Na-lee-ya. And hearing it sent a chill through my body and I knew it was her name. I did some research online and found that it's a little abundant city in India, which was pretty cool to learn. It just so happened that she was born on Nov 13th, the same day my grandfather passed away. When she came to tell me her name, she did so in his old room, sitting in his old chair. I know he guided her to us, that they've met, and that she was meant to be here (we'd been trying for 8 years!) Ultimately, we didn't name our daughter, we waited for her to tell us what her name was. :)

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Luz Mack
Admin Specialist/ Weill Cornell
Bronx NY
3 kids (Andrea 14, Chloe 10, and baby Tony )

 

Luz Mack Family

 

 

 

Before I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, I had a very special dream about her name and wrote it down so I never forgot the entire experience.

I thought back on a dream I'd had two years earlier. It had paved a new road between my mother and me. I remember that dream as if it was yesterday; it had been so real to me. I don't think I could ever forget it. While it had come to me as a dream, I was sure it was a vision of something that had been awaiting me.

My grandmother, who I called Mama Luz, came to me in this dream. She had always come to me in dreams after she'd passed away. She watches over me. She always has, and death didn’t change that one bit.

I still remember her piercing eyes looking directly at me that night. She looked absolutely radiant dressed all in white with a beautiful glow about her.

Mama Luz loved children. She loved them so much that she could always be seen with at least one kid hanging on to her skirt as she held another in her arms. I smiled thinking about that. My mother always made fun of the fact that Mama Luz had 11 children of her own and still helped raise other people's children.

I often overheard people in my family say “those were different women from different times” when they talked about her. It made sense. I had never heard of women caring for other people's children as if they were their own. Mama Luz was different. Everyone knew that she was very giving of herself.

I remembered all this as I thought back on the dream I'd had about her that night a few years ago. She had stood before me holding a baby in her arms as I slept in my bed. The little angel was beautiful. She was a chubby child with fair skin and rosy cheeks. Her soft black hair adorned her angelic face, as some of her soft tufts of hair sat right above her long lashes. A cute white bow held up part of her hair while the rest fell flawlessly. Her eyes were very intriguing. They looked almost oriental due to the almond shape of her big brown eyes. Her white dress reminded me of fluffy clouds.

A cold chill made my body tremble as I remembered my grandmother staring at the little angel, and then me. Mama Luz's wrinkled hands had held the little girl tightly as if she'd been worried that she might fall out of her hands. I stared at them not understanding what was going on.

I laid there in bed staring at them as they stared at each other and back at me.

“Luchy, wake up,” Mama Luz said as she smiled.

Her voice sounded so tender. I could not believe she stood before me. When she repeated herself I felt a pang of pain. I had missed her greatly.

“Luchy, this is your daughter,” she said indicating that she meant the child in her arms. “I am taking care of her until she is ready to come to you.”

Mama Luz took a step closer. I felt awed by their presence and so sat up in bed to listen more intently.

“One more thing. Her name is very special. It will be Andrea,” she said.

But Mama Luz, I don’t like that name, I thought to myself.

She must have read my thoughts because she responded saying “Luchy! Her name will be Andrea and you will find out why soon.”

Then they disappeared as if they had never been there. I eased into a more comfortable position on the bed as I searched around the room. There was no sign of them anywhere. I laid my head back down on my pillow and cradled myself to sleep. I must be dreaming foolishness, I thought as I fell back asleep.

The next day, I remember visiting my mother’s home to tell her about what had happened. Annie, my mother, stood silent as I described the little girl and everything that had happened during Mama Luz's dream visit.

My mom is a fair-skinned, green-eyed, slim and very well-mannered woman who was in her early 50’s at the time. I got the impression that she was not really listening as she rummaged through a magazine.

“Mom, how can I have a fair-skinned little girl? I am dark…Oh! You should hear the best part, mom! Mama Luz said that the baby’s name should be Andrea.”

Her eyes widened when I mentioned the name Andrea. She stopped looking at the magazine. I got her attention!

“Luchy, Mama Luz told you her name should be Andrea?”

Her eyes explored my own searching for something I didn't understand.

I felt a big lump form in my throat. It felt as if I had forgotten how to swallow. My mom unconsciously looked down at her arms as she often did when she was scared because the hairs there stood on end. She hugged herself and slowly tried to comb the hair down with her fingers...

“Yes, Mom. She said her name has to be Andrea.”

She looked down.

“She speaks to you in dreams? How did you know this?” she asked. “The only people who know this are Mama Luz and a family member who is still on the island.”

I knew right away that she meant the Dominican Republic when she had mentioned the “island”.

“I know you did not hear it from any other family member because it was never something that anyone spoke about.”

“What??? What are you talking about, mom?”

“Luchy, the only other person who knows this is your great aunt, Nidia.”

“Tía and I have never spoken about the dream...”

“That’s not what I meant but let me explain.”

Her eyes began to wander around the room as she gathered her thoughts.

“When Mama Luz was pregnant with me it was customary to name your unborn child after a saint. In November it is Saint Andres' birthday. Your grandmother was a devout catholic and wanted to name me Andrea after Saint Andres.

I gasped for air as what she had just told me began to sink in. Our eyes met and held as she started to continue her story.

“One particular morning, Mama Luz went to her sister Nidia's house to tell her the name she wanted for her unborn child. I had obviously not been born yet but to my understanding, Nidia did not approve of the name. Mama Luz did not want to displease anyone so she picked the name that your Tía Nidia suggested. On the day I was born she went before a judge to give me my name, Annania. The way you get a birth certificate is by going before a judge and sharing the baby’s name. The judge must have heard her wrong because he wrote my name down Namianna instead. I knew she was displeased with the fact that she did not get to give me the name she wanted and hated it more that the judge didn’t even get the name Annania right.”

“Mom, why didn't she pick the name she had wanted for you?

“I don’t know but I do know that she hated my name. I know that she was displeased with the entire process. This dream of yours is very real and I believe that she spoke to you.”

My mother was right. I feel that I gave my grandmother Mama Luz her wish and it was so meaningful to our family.

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