Name Help: First Baby, No Clue!Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Jess writes:

My boyfriend and I are expecting our first child in a few weeks. It is a complete surprise, and while we’re happy about it, I feel behind on EVERYTHING. That’s probably because I’m a planner, and this pregnancy has messed with all of my ideas about what it would be like … someday.

I have a list of names I like: Isaac, Owen, Rowan, Axel, Beckett, Beau, and a few others. He doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion about it, and no name stands out as better than the rest. In fact, this list is today’s list. It was different a month ago, and could change completely again.

His only request is that we use his grandfather’s name, Patrick, as our son’s middle name. We won’t get married until summer, but the baby will have his last name, which sounds almost like Lawrence, but is spelled differently.


Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Dear Jess –

A new baby, a new husband – it’s a lot! No wonder you’ve got decision fatigue when it comes to choosing a name.

It’s not unusual for one partner to be far more interested in names than the other. And while I don’t like to stereotype, very often it works like this: the mom-to-be suggests. The dad vetoes. Or maybe shrugs noncommittally.

Neither response is helpful.

And as a planner, I feel your pain. My husband sometimes shrugs off decisions that I’m mulling over because they’re too far in the future for him to feel any urgency. But it doesn’t change the fact that they’re occupying space in my brain now.

So instead of talking about names, could you talk about strategies?

I’m convinced that one of the reasons picking names is tough is that there’s no framework. When we rent an apartment or buy a house, there are things to consider: price, neighborhood, distance to work or school, and so on. But a name lacks those objective measures. Nancy’s Baby Names has some great tools that might help.

Or maybe a spreadsheet isn’t the answer. Would your boyfriend agree to something like this?

  • He picks three (or two) names he can live with from your long list, and you choose the final.
  • OR you pick three (or two) and he decides on the final.
  • You make a long list of names you’re both willing to consider, then rank them independently. When you’re finished, look to see where there’s overlap.
  • Or maybe you take all of the names you agree on, and draw a finalist from a hat. (You don’t have to stick with the first name you draw, of course, but it will start a conversation.)

Now, back to your current list.

I’d rule out Isaac, because Isaac Patrick is I.P. I don’t believe in worrying overmuch about teasing potential, but that one strikes me as awkward.

Owen, Rowan, Axel, and Beckett work fine, though I’m not wild about any of them with Patrick Lawrence. I’d say that Beau Patrick Lawrence is my favorite.

A few more names that might appeal:

Everett – Just like Beckett, but I think that extra syllable in Everett sounds better with Patrick Lawrence.

Finn – Is Finn Patrick too Irish? I don’t hear Finn as shamrock green these days – it strikes me as modern and nicely Americana.

Julian – Close to Owen and Rowan, but again, adding an extra syllable might increase the name’s overall appeal.

Kai – It reminds me of Beau, but while Beau leans slightly Southern, Kai feels more international. Nothing wrong with either style, just another option to consider.

Theo – You seem drawn to the long ‘o’ sound in Owen and Rowan and Beau. Would you consider an -o ending name? Leo, Milo, and Arlo all have a strong ‘l’ sound that might conflict with Lawrence, but Theo could be perfect.

I could go on … and on! But I’m curious to hear what others have to say, both about names and about how to encourage reluctant partners to engage in the naming process!

Readers, what would you suggest to Jess? And how did you handle a partner who wasn’t into naming the baby?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I LOVE Owen Patrick Lawrence!!! That’d by far be my first choice. It sounds so friendly, lovely, and handsome. Beau is great, too. I like the suggestions of Everett and Theo as well! I like the alliteration of Leo Lawrence, but I know that’s not for everyone. 🙂 Patrick as the first sounds really nice, too. And Isaac wouldn’t bother me, especially since P is the middle initial – but I know that’s a subjective thing. I don’t mind most initial problems.

    I would also suggest Charles. Charles Patrick Lawrence is classic, sturdy, handsome. And Charlie is friendly and fun and feels like it has a similar vibe to most of the names on your list. But I actually think Charles nicknamed Huck would be better for you guys. Charles Patrick Lawrence, Huck Lawrence – it feels perfect to me.

    Good luck and congratulations!