Meghan writes: Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. We appreciated the feedback that Caroline went well with Emma Jeanne, and that made our decision easy. We debated her middle name a lot. It was Jane, then Rose, then Jo, and finally Joy. It’s the perfect choice!
We named our daughter after my husband’s great-grandmother, Imogene. Mostly. I’d always liked the name Emma, and we really didn’t agree on many names. We knew Emma was popular at the time, but thought it wouldn’t bother us.
Now? It probably does bother me a little. I call her “Emma Jeanne” a lot because I feel like there’s so often another Emma.
Now we’re expecting another daughter in May. If this baby was a boy, he would’ve been Peter James, possibly called PJ. (That was our boy name for Emma Jeanne, too.) I like the way that the name is one everybody knows, but not the kind of name you hear everywhere. Peter is a family name from my side.
We don’t feel like we need to pick a family name, but we keep coming back to them.
Right now we sort of agree on Caroline, because there are Carols in both families, but I’m not sure if it’s too different from Emma Jeanne?
Also, we realized that my husband and I both have J middle names, just like Emma Jeanne, and like we would use for our (maybe future) son. Should we use a J middle name for this baby, too?
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Dear Meghan –
Congratulations on your new daughter!
A few things jump out at me:
First, you’ve used a family name already. And you have more family names on your possibilities list. But it’s tough for us to guess what other gems – or candidates for reinvention – might be on your family tree. (Emma Jeanne for Imogene is brilliant!) So I wonder if any names we suggest will fall flat, simply because they lack that connection.
Second, a sister for Emma is a little different than a sister for Emma Jeanne. Not dramatically so. Caroline matches both! But, as you say, Emma is a little more common than you’d like. So we’re really looking for names that match Emma Jeanne better … but would a second double name feel too coordinated?
Lastly, I think another J middle makes sense if you’d like to continue. And, of course, it’s an easy practice to let go if, should no J name feel quite right. Trying to find a family first and a J middle initial feels a little like solving a riddle, where only a very few names could possibly satisfy. If that’s fun and meaningful to your family, then go for it! But if it feels burdensome or impossible? Let go of whatever part isn’t working.
CAROLINE: THE NAME TO BEAT
As I mentioned above, I think Caroline is perfect with Emma – two traditional, Top 100 choices. And because Caroline is longer, it feels very compatible with Emma Jeanne, too.
The fact that it’s a family name checks another box. But I wonder if that’s a potential negative, too? After all, should you have a third daughter, it might leave you feeling like a family name is a must. And that pressure can be so frustrating.
So while I think Caroline is perfection, let’s look at some other options, too.
MORE NAMES FOR EMMA JEANNE’S SISTER
Anna Jane, Anna Jewel, Anna Josephine – If double names appeal, then Emma Jeanne and Anna Something could work really nicely. There are bunch of potential J middles. Anna Josephine could be Anna Jo, but I think Anna Jewel – a mix of the traditional and the unexpected – might be perfection.
Charlotte – It’s a little less obvious, but Charlotte is another form of Charles … just like Carol and Caroline. Would Charlotte appeal more and/or feel like just as much of a nod to those Carols? Of course, Charlotte is closer in popularity to Emma, so perhaps that’s a consideration, too.
Eliza – I think Eliza stands up nicely to Emma Jeanne, no middle name required.
Josephine – I mentioned Josephine with Anna, but I like it as a sister name for Emma Jeanne, too. You might not use a J middle with Josephine, but everyone still has a J in their name somewhere, right?
Lily – It’s not especially common in the US, but English parents are wild about double names beginning with Lily: Lily-Rose and Lily-Mae are the biggies.
Lucy – I think Lucy works beautifully with Emma. It could be a double name – Lucy Josephine might be Lucy Jo, for example. It’s classic, spirited, and not too popular.
Mary – The original double name starter. Mary Anne, Mary Jane, Mary Beth … And while we sometimes perceive Mary as too common, the reality is that Mary is fresh and surprising for a girl born today. Marie and Maria could be options, too.
Rosalie, Rose – I’m less certain of a Rose double name, but I think Emma Jeanne and Rosie are adorable together. Or choose Rosalie. It sounds a little like a double name, so it matches well with Emma Jeanne … but could still be Rosalie June (Or Joy or Jo or …)
A few of these have already come up, but June, Joy, Juniper, Jo/Josephine, and Jane feel like obvious J name options.
Overall, my favorite is Rosalie. Emma Jeanne and Rosalie sound like sisters. But you might also end up with, say, Emma Jeanne and Rosalie “Rosie” June if your daughters really crave matching first-middle names. So I think it could be the best of all possible worlds.
If not Rosalie, I love Lucy! (No pun intended.) Lucy Jane or Lucy Josephine could be a double name … or not.
But I’m still not sure any of these names top Caroline, which feels like a tailor-made sister for Emma Jeanne.