“Yes, you can. You’re the first patient who’s ever asked me that,” my OB said. “But yes, you can leave without a name for her.”
And so we did. We bundled up our yet-to-be-named Baby Girl and headed home.
It wasn’t like we hadn’t been thinking about names.
I had been carefully combing through my oversized baby name books ever since we found out baby No. 2 was a girl, like her big sister. My husband and I each created a list of our favorite names, and it quickly became a game of Battleship as we torpedoed each other’s preferred names:
Sounds too much like Daughter No. 1’s name.
You really like that name? Straight from that ’80s song, huh? No.
I’ve never liked that name. Just meh.
There was a girl in my seventh-grade class with that name, and she was horrible. Veto.
My husband and I picked apart each other’s lists until we were down to three final contenders, but I couldn’t seem to cast the final deciding vote. It wasn’t so much feeling indecisive, but rather, wanting to be 150% sure that I loved the name we’d chosen for our Baby Girl. I’m an exhauster like that (yes, it’s exhausting), and I wanted to let those three names marinate for a little longer.
So we waited. And my baby kept baking, kicking me in the ribs, and making me pee on myself every time I sneezed.
As she did, I practiced saying her potential names out loud, even shouting them at the park to my imaginary future toddler. Still no clear winner. The three names were deadlocked for first.
I looked up the meanings and origins of the final three, hoping for guidance there, maybe some deep connection to our heritage or a meaning I felt inexplicably connected to. Again, no clear winner; none of them were secretly whispering “Pick me! Pick me!” much to my disappointment.
With my due date drawing closer, we opted for the wait-until-we-see-her-and-then-we’ll-know-the-name approach. I knew we’d look down at our beautiful Baby Girl and say: “Yes, she was meant to have this name, she looks like an [insert chosen name here].”
Except that did not happen, not by a long shot.
I went into labor over a week early, and I was not prepared in any sense of the word — not for labor, not to give her a name. Baby Girl’s birth was fast and furious, which remains her temperament much to this day. An hour and half after my labor started, we sat together, staring at our beautiful, pink, wrinkled baby whose strong, unending cry indicated that she would be known, no matter what her name would be.
“Does she look like a [Name Choice No. 1]? Or maybe a [Name Choice No. 2]? Or what about a [Name Choice No. 582, which we hadn’t discussed in months]? I know we haven’t talked about [Name Choice No. 582] in a while, but I also still like it…” I asked my husband, expectantly. “She looks like a new baby. She looks like whatever we’re going to name her,” he replied (un)helpfully.
So yeah, we were getting nowhere at all.
After two sleepless nights in the hospital, it was coming-home day. I had carefully picked out her little coming-home outfit weeks earlier, we had the carseat installed and ready to go, but we were still missing one thing: a name.
I felt the panic rise. We needed a name. What was the name? We couldn’t leave the hospital without a name. What if we picked the wrong name? I shouted to myself, as I sat in a haze of hormones and sleep deprivation.
But guess what?
Those people, those naming know-it-alls? They’re wrong.
You can, in fact, leave the hospital without a name for your baby.
When my doctor confirmed as much to us, I silently rejoiced, feeling the pressure to pick a name (temporarily) lifted from my shoulders. I had time.
I had 14 days, to be exact, before I had to turn in her birth certificate paperwork to the hospital administration office. Two whole weeks — a baby-naming eternity, if you will. And I was determined to get out of baby-naming purgatory as soon as possible.
Settled at home with Baby Girl, my mom, my sisters, and I would stare at Baby Girl and try out names. “Baby Girl, do you like [Name Choice No. 1]?” Baby Girl responded with some projectile spit-up. “Baby Girl, should we name you [Name Choice No. 3]?” She gave us a slow-motion blink and yawn. We watched her movements like tea leaves, half-joking and half-serious, in an effort to see if she had any preference. But no dice, she was completely ignoring our quest and doing her normal newborn things. The nerve.
Finally, after three days at home, I was sure. I knew it. Baby Girl had a name, and I was ready to announce it to the world — to our families, on social media, or to anyone who even glanced our way in the coffee shop or grocery store. I knew that we had picked the right one for her.
Our Baby Girl was Baby Girl no more, and I was so glad we took our time in picking her perfect name. I wanted to be sure, and I was.
So my unsolicited advice if you don’t have that name picked out? Take Baby Girl or Baby Boy home, and then decide. You can’t rush things like names. And that’s okay.
P.S. Baby Girl No. 2 became Molly. Baby Girl No. 3 became Emily. Then, in the surprise of mother lode of surprises, they were followed by our triplet girls, Baby Girls No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6. Let’s just say we broke our five-day nameless streak when we had with Baby Girl No. 2 because picking three names? That’s a whole other level of hard.