By any other name

Choosing a name for a baby is a daunting task for any expectant parent. After all, it’s the one constant that will stay with a person from the day they’re born until the day they die. It’s the first thing we usually share about ourselves. It’s what we answer to. It’s who we are.
So, hey, moms and dads-to-be…no pressure.
Baby naming is an especially difficult obligation for teachers, like myself. You don’t want your child’s first name to be followed by an initial, so you stay away from anything too common or too trendy. You want your child to stand out. At the same time, you don’t want to choose a name that’s weird or hard to pronounce.
It must be a name that sounds good whispered or hollered. It must look good on paper. It earns bonus points for carrying special meaning, like a virtue or a nod to cultural heritage. And it MUST blissfully coexist with your last name (which is why, despite it being one of my favorite places on Earth, there will never be a Kerry Barberry).
If you’re me, a saint’s name must reside between the first and the last. And, of course, the initials can’t spell out anything crass or embarrassing.
Finally, it has to work well with sibling’s names. In my case, there are three older brothers on the line. Which means that my list of boys’ names was a short and slim as a piece of gum. And every bit as sticky.
Fortunately, I’m having a little girl (I found out my baby’s gender for the first time ever back in March), so the debate between Christopher, Sean, Anthony, and Vincent rests.  I contemplated the girls’ names I conjured up for each of my previous pregnancies – Magdolyn (Maggie for short), Lillian (my grandmother’s name), Hope, Grace, and a slew of other whimsies – but decided that this little girl needed a name of her own, rather than one set aside for the daughters I imagined, who ultimately became my sons.  
I’m still not sure exactly how I stumbled upon her name. (She won’t be carrying on a legacy, like Frank, who is named after my grandfather.)  I know there’s an Irish pub in St. Louis that my husband once visited with a similar name, but I’m pretty sure it came from one of my visits to a “Baby Names of Ireland” website.
When I found out that the name Teagan can mean “beautiful” or “little poet,” I fell in love. (I also decided it would be cute to call her “Sweet Tea” for short.) Just as I did with my current youngest, Leo, I began to imagine her when I settled on the name. It was the next-to-the-last piece to the puzzle within me. Now, all I need is to see her face.
The middle name was a point of contention. Patrick’s not crazy about the names Brigid or Kateri, who are two of my favorite saints, but we ultimately settled on Rose, especially after I read up on St. Rose of Lima. It’s a classic, feminine name that will help diminish telemarketer’s confusion when they call to speak to a victim, er, prospective customer, with a quasi-androgynous name.
I was initially going to keep the name a secret, like I did with Leo, but on the night I found out I was having a girl, I immediately ordered some gorgeous fabric from England with teapots and roses on it, along with a teacup-embellished hat and some rose headbands. Coincidentally, my neighbor gave me a Beleek teacup. I knew then that I had to share Teagan Rose’s name with the world…or else I’d burst.

So, I assembled some clues in a box and had my family guess her name on Easter. Most people got Rose right away, but few were familiar with the name Teagan. Once they saw it all spelled out in Scrabble letters, they were happy to learn a little more about the special person who will be joining us sometime around July 9th.
Yesterday, my beloved coworkers hosted a lovely shower for me and Teagan. The gifts were adorable (I never thought I’d love pink so much), the food was delicious, the decorations were gorgeous, and the company was splendid. But, the most special thing was seeing her name on a beautiful cake baked by my wonderful friend, Gina. At that moment, I knew for sure that this is really happening! I’m going to have a daughter!


Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.