Sasha LilyMy name is Courtney and this is the story about my daughter who is now eight months old. Her name is Sasha Lily.

I had a girl’s name picked out years before I even got pregnant.Adelaide Helena. It’s so completely regal and seems like she could be a character in Canterbury Tales or a busty role-playing woman at the yearly Renaissance Festival. I was dead set and often found myself doodling the name Adelaide on pieces of paper absentmindedly. The boy name that I had picked out was Oscar Seamus, but that became irrelevant.

I found myself pregnant about three years before I was planning on trying to conceive a first child, and for the first few weeks, I thought of the baby as Adelaide. I tried it out with her last name, Adelaide Brown. It sounded good enough, but suddenly I couldn’t get past the ‘laide’ at the end of the sentence (it means ‘ugly’ in French.) Then I thought my boyfriend wouldn’t like it. Then I thought it sounded too weird. Then I didn’t think it sounded like my baby. Then I just plain didn’t like it at all.

So I went months without a baby name picked out. If you combined all of the hours that I spent on baby name websites reading and re-reading the top 1000 lists (I wouldn’t pick anything in the top 100 names for 2009), editing my favorites, asking questions on message boards, tossing and turning in bed trying out different combinations, trying to convince myself that Violet Brown didn’t sound too bad.. it would probably equal out to an entire week without sleeping.

My criteria were difficult to work with. Her last name, Brown, limited my first names to nothing with one syllable, nothing that is a noun, nothing that is a color, nothing that could be an adjective, nothing starting with B. As her middle name, I was dead set on Alanna to honor her late paternal grandfather, Alan, because I thought it would be extremely important to my boyfriend even though my grandmother, Glenda, had just passed away when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. I changed Alana to Alanna because the word ‘anal’ just stares at me whenever I look at the name. Alanna as a middle name also limited first names to nothing ending in ‘A.’ Between the no color/nature names, and nothing ending in ‘A,’ 3/4ths of my favorites list had been nixed before even consulting with my boyfriend.

Ultimately, I had narrowed down my list for first names when I was about, oh I don’t know, 9 months pregnant:

  • Ivy Alanna (I loved this so much!)
  • Noelle Alanna (Too much ‘L’)
  • Coralie Alanna (Boyfriend pronounced this as Cor-AL-lee.. nixed)
  • Juliette Alanna
  • Lorelei Alanna (also too much ‘L’)

Around the time that I was 36 weeks, my boyfriend suggested a name. “How about Lily?” I was horrified! I have always LOATHED and been disgusted with my first name because it is overly-cutesy, trendy, and over-popular.

Alas, the only two cents that baby daddy had to put in was suggesting a name in the exact popularity slot as my first name. Ugh. Besides that, Lily Alanna was just way too much ‘L’. I seem to have that problem a lot.

While half-way fuming about the only name he suggested and half-way trying to find a way to make it work somehow in her name, I googled lilies to see what they looked like. The first picture that popped up was a beautiful bright orange lily, my late-grandmother’s favorite color and coincidentally the same flower that I had picked off of her casket at her funeral before we buried her. It made me cry.

As I thought about it, all of the perks to the name Lily kept flowing. My 9-year old sister had suggested lily, my boyfriend had suggested lily, Lily is also a Harry Potter name, it’s a nature name, and it would balance out whatever crazy first name I eventually would pick, assuming my boyfriend would let me.

Lily became her middle name and a whole new universe of first names opened up to me! Mostly just names ending in a: Tabitha, Cora, Nora, Matilda, Alaia, Isla, Cambria, Leyna, Nona, Clara, it was mind-boggling. It was also mind boggling to my boyfriend why I couldn’t just picked a ‘regular’ name, as in something in the top 10 most popular.

I have never been a fan of the name Sasha on a girl, but for some reason it jumped out to me and for some reason I knew my boyfriend with his limited taste in names would approve it.

I never talked to him about the name and suddenly at 37 weeks my water broke and the baby was born that night. We sat in the hospital for 2 days without a name because I was too afraid of having Sasha rejected. I worked up the guts and surprisingly, we both agreed on it. Sasha Lily. It isn’t the kind of name that I would like at all. I wouldn’t have picked this. My boyfriend wouldn’t have picked this. I’m convinced that my baby named herself from the womb, because her name fits her to a ‘t!’

Afterwards, I did have name regret. I saw the looks on people’s faces when I announced her name and couldn’t stand the questions like, “So what made you decide on Sasha..?” I went back over my lists thinking about what I should have chosen. Something more common like Audrey, maybe Caroline. Something that actually fits my taste in names. I felt it necessary to add that I don’t really like her name when talking to people about names. I was embarrassed.

I’m finally warming up to it now though. Actually, I love it now. The look on Sasha’s face when she answers to her name makes everything make sense. She picked her own name.

Thank you for sharing, Courtney! You’ve done a great job of illustrating the differences between the names that we love, and the names that we actually use. It can be surprising what a gap exists between the two! And Sasha Lily is a great name – feminine and sparky, unexpected but not in an outlandish way. And what a cutie!

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. Love, love, love the story and the name! Sasha is so cool and strong paired with the pretty and delicate Lily. It’s perfect 🙂

  2. Yay, I love naming stories! Sasha Lily is really pretty, and it’s such a lovely colour in my mind (synasthesia strikes again); it’s a glittery golden yellow! Very few combinations look like that to me, so well done 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing your naming story. I found it very interesting, suspenseful and well written. As for the name Sasha Lily, I like it! It’s pretty and spunky and distinct. Your baby is darling and lucky to have the name that suits her perfectly. Well done!

  4. Your story resonates with me because all the names I thought I liked (or seemed like ones I should like) suddenly just weren’t right at all once I was pregnant. I was entirely flummoxed to find myself, a lover of names, in the position of liking so few of them! You did a great job with Sasha Lily’s name, and I bet you’re right that she chose it herself.

  5. Very interesting story. I like Lily, though can’t say the same for Sasha. Having lived in Europe for several years, I associate the name with only boys.

    1. While Sasha can be a nn for Alexander and is well-known in Europe as such, I think Sasha sounds very feminine to many (most?) Americans and works better as a girls’ name here. Also, having a first-daughter called Sasha (her given name is Natasha) adds to Sasha’s female image and association for Americans. Last year 933 American baby girls were named Sasha (ranking at 344 in the SSA Top 1000 baby names for 2010), while only 30 boys received the name.

      1. Thanks for having my back, Patricia. :p Exactly the kind of comments that gave me name regret. PS her dad is half Russian.

  6. Great story — thanks for sharing! It’s funny how we can grow out of a name we’ve loved for years. Congratulations on your little girl and her beautiful name!

  7. Thanks so much sharing. It’s so hard to come up with a name when you’re working with the opinions of two people, the memories and associations of so many names from both of your pasts, and, of course, the popularity issue. I’ve had similar name regret occasionally with my new baby, but it was the only one we could agree on. (We had the added difficulty of accommodating 2 cultural backgrounds and 2 languages) I did the same thing you did with scrounging around websites, lists, books, etc. (only to have him veto everything!) My daughter is only 2 months old, but already she is embodying the name, and I know that in no time we’ll be unable to imagine her as anything else.

  8. Sasha was on my list, too. I love that name! I also love Nora, Clara, and Isla. I think your choices were all good ones and the end result is so pretty.