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!
I’m pregnant with my third child, a sister for William and Edward.
For both boys, we would have used the name Hattie Elisabeth after my beloved grandmother and great-grandmother.
I have loved that name for as long as I can remember, and luckily my husband agreed (especially since he doesn’t like many (any!) other girl names).
Two years ago, his sister named her third daughter Harriet. She sometimes calls her Hattie as a nickname. All of her daughters have formal names and nicknames, and they go by both.
I figured it was off the table for us. But when I found out this baby was a girl, I became so sad thinking that our daughter wouldn’t be Hattie as we had always dreamed.
My husband still wants to use the name. He says it’s not actually Harriet’s given name, no one “owns” a name, and we only see his sister and children a couple times a year. I convinced him to ask her about it. While she was nice in her response, she hopes we look elsewhere.
So we are trying, but struggling.
I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure out if I’m a terrible person if we indeed go ahead with it.
I would not care if the tables were turned, but I know some people are very territorial about names.
Thank you so much in advance!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Hi Sara –
This might be controversial but … I think you should name your daughter Hattie Elisabeth.
And then I think you should brace for potential family drama.
GOOD REASONS TO NAME YOUR DAUGHTER HATTIE
If it were important to you that your daughter’s name be unique within your family, you’d have no choice – your niece is named, and that cannot be undone.
Except you don’t mind sharing.
And it’s easy to see it the opposite way. Your sister-in-law used your all-time top name, the name that you’d planned since your first pregnancy – or even earlier.
If there were simply a name you loved, I might encourage you to consider alternatives.
But it’s also a name that connects your daughter to her mother’s family – her great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. That’s powerful.
And it’s a name that your husband loves equally, which adds even more weight to the name.
You’ll love your daughter no matter what name you choose, and you’ll grow to love her name, too.
But it’s a sacrifice for you to choose something other than Hattie, and it’s not clear to me that you need to make it.
RELATIONSHIPS MATTER MORE THAN NAMES
Questions like this come up all the time. My guiding principle is that relationships matter more than names.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be guided by your loved ones’ wishes.
Everything in your message suggests that you’re taking the high road. You could insist that she’s at fault, and defend yourself. Except that’s not what you’re saying at all. You and your husband have gone out of your way to be thoughtful and sensitive about the potential conflict.
That’s what matters.
I can appreciate your sister-in-law’s feelings, as I imagine she chose Harriet partially because it wasn’t very common and didn’t want her daughter to share.
And yet … names repeat.
It might be the tiniest bit confusing at family holidays. Or maybe your daughters will both adore sharing a name with a cousin.
SO NOW WHAT?
The internet may very well tell you that a) you’re a horrible person and b) my advice is terrible.
Your sister-in-law might be less than thrilled. It might be a sore point for years to come.
But … that goes both ways! You might feel resentful for years to come, too.
Is it worth using your long-time favorite, richly meaningful name, even if it means your sister-in-law possibly holds a grudge?
Because you can control the name you give your daughter. But you cannot control your sister-in-law’s reaction. That’s tough, because no one wants to make the birth of a baby a contentious moment.
If you can live with her reaction – and any potential damage to your relationship – then I’d proceed. And to be clear, you’re not at all a bad person if that’s the way you feel.
Because it sounds like your daughter’s name is already Hattie Elisabeth … even if it would be easier if you could find something you liked instead!
Okay, readers … am I off-base on this one? How would you react if you were the sister-in-law … or the mom-to-be?