Parents Change Baby's Name When They Discover No One Can Pronounce It

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Couple takes action after deciding they don’t like their baby’s name

Naming a child is serious business. Even more serious? Changing the kid’s name once you realize you don’t like it.

According to Today, that’s what one couple did, three months after their daughter was born, when they decided that the name they’d initially chosen wasn’t quite right.

Carri Kessler and her husband thought they’d nailed it. It felt perfect to them, and they both agreed on it. And finding a name both you and your spouse like is not an easy task.

But they quickly started having second thoughts. No one seemed to be able to say the name right, starting with the nurse in the delivery room. Suddenly, they had cold feet, and started wondering whether they wanted to saddle their daughter with a difficult name for the rest of her life.

The name they chose? Ottilie.

“I have a friend in the U.K. named Ottilie and it’s beautiful, and ever since I heard that name I’ve wanted to use it,” said Kessler.

Think you know how to pronounce Ottilie? Well you’re wrong. (Probably.) It’s OTT-til-lee. When Americans pronounce it, it sounds like “Oddily,” according to Kessler.

“No one could remember it and no one could pronounce it,” Kessler says. “I was like, ‘If you say it with a British accent, it sounds really good!’ And people said, ‘But you’re from Maryland.'”

Ouch. Sick burn.

I can relate, a little. My wife and I had a hell of a time finding a name we agreed on, and while we ultimately did, and it’s not crazy unique, people still occasionally get the pronunciation wrong. On one hand, that’s their problem. On the other, we would never want our kid’s name to be a burden. And neither do the Kesslers.

It takes guts to reverse a decision as momentous as naming your child. Not only was it a little embarrassing to admit your mistake, suddenly you’re back at square one: having to come up with yet another name for your kid.

This isn’t actually that shocking, as it turns out. “I think it’s something that happens more often now than it did a generation ago,” says Pamela Redmond Satran, co-founder of baby name site Nameberry.

Writer Kelcey Kintner knows that firsthand. She pulled the same name-switch shortly after her daughter was born, and wrote about it on her blog, “The Mama Bird Diaries.” For Kintner, just a few weeks with her daughter convinced her the original name didn’t fit, so she swapped it out.

The process must be stressful, but the anxiety of having to change the name paled in comparison to regretting the choice ten years down the line. Instead of saddling their daughter with a name no one could easily figure out, the Kesslers felt it was best to bite the bullet and change it. Which was probably better for everybody.

“We were like, ‘This is so exciting, we can rename her!'” she says. “All we did was talk about names. Is she this? Is she that? I felt like she was anything simple that wouldn’t give me anxiety.”

They ended up going with Margot, which is much more straightforward that Ottilie. (At least I think it is. You pronounce the T, right? Does anyone have Carri Kessler’s email? I’m gonna ask her.)

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