Today’s Reader Baby Name Story comes to us courtesy of Fran, the mother to four beautifully named children.
But this is the story of her youngest – the most difficult to name!
My daughter’s name is Lenora Marguerite Rose but generally she just goes by Lena. She is a little sister to Genevieve Katherine Alice (Neve), Oliver Benjamin Henry (Ollie) and Tobias Alexander James (Toby).
Out of all my children she was easily the hardest to name. Usually we have something picked out in advance but this time her full name wasn’t chosen until a few days before she was born.
We wanted a name we both liked with an easy day-to-day nickname, nothing too popular and something that vaguely went with her brothers and sister. She also needed two, preferably family, middle names.
We try and consult as few people as possible when choosing a name, just because past experience has sadly taught me that you can never please everyone. As her middle name is a variant of my sister’s name, I consulted her and my mother to make sure they didn’t have a problem with me using it. Her second middle name, Rose, came from a suggestion that Neve made.
Lena went through probably a dozen names over a five or six month period, everything from Russian choices to honor my husband’s Russian heritage to hard to pronounce Irish names. Most of them were vetoed by one of us.
About a week before she was born I heard the story of my husband’s great-grandmother, a really strong Russian lady named Yelena, who went by Lena when she reached the US. (I must have heard it before but I just can’t be certain.) When I heard this I had the ‘wow’ moment. It was a name that was steeped in family history and had the added bonus of not being overly common but still perfectly recognizable.
Although it went nicely with her siblings nicknames (Neve, Ollie, Toby and Lena), Yelena didn’t really fit for us as a formal name.
It was several baby name books (and my husband’s classics/literature degree!) that got us a list of names that could be used as a formal name for Lena. His favorites were Eleanor and Helena, but my English high school was full of girls named Eleanor and Helen and I couldn’t really get behind either one of them.
Lenora ended up being a compromise choice to avoid my most hated nickname (Ellie) but still close to and different enough from Eleanor to be liked by both of us.
I’m not quite sure what Lena ‘officially’ means but it’s never really been important. I do sometimes think that maybe I should have put something a little more common on her birth certificate but that’s a very rare occurrence. She likes the fact that she is the only one in her school with her name and so do I. 🙂
Fran, thank you! I love your kids’ names, and they go so nicely together. It’s great the way you took a name with tons of personal meaning and tailored it to fit a 21st century girl.