The Drama Involved In Naming Your Child


I was reeling with laughter, a few days ago, as my husband told me the story of his friend’s wife, who was angry with her sister-in-law. Ask me over what? She had stolen their unborn baby’s name. I was surprised at this wife’s reason to go on the offensive over a ‘simple’ matter of name.

However, come to think of it, I would be too. And it is no simple matter at all, this is like a major responsibility parents have towards their kids, to give them, not only a good solid name, but one that is meaningful too, as it would stick with them as long as they live.

This friend of my husband has been TTC since I have known him, which is over 8 years. Incidentally, so was his sister, who had been married, even long before he was. However, last year, God blessed both brother and sister with BFPs, but in the mean time, they had bonded over their fertility challenge, as it was just the two siblings, in the middle of four kids, who were having this challenge.

After the initial closed mouths, the sisters by marriage had begun to share their journey. They were literally TTC buddies, and when their BFPs happened within months of each other, they proceeded to become preggy buddies. Around them, everyone was happy for their good success in this area.

Not long ago, the sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and then she was given the name that her sister-in-law had told her they were considering giving their child, who was also a girl, by the way. All her pregnancy hormones were all over the place, when she heard the name called as the first name of the baby.

All of a sudden, her TTC and pregnancy buddy became just her husband’s sister who had stolen her baby’s name, and she gave her husband a hard time because of that, using every opportunity to remind him that his sister stole their baby’s name, and lamenting how they have to start another name search, so close to her delivery date.

My husband was wondering why it was such a big deal, and I looked at him and told him that, to that pregnant woman, it was the real deal! After my mirth, I had to explain that it was not the fact that the kids would have the same name that mattered, but that it was a name the sister-in-law might not have thought of, if she hadn’t heard from her brother’s wife, and that was plain stealing in her books.

It reminded me of the argument that had ensued between my landlady and her older daughter, who had gotten married around the same time I did. Her mom had been trying to prepare her mind for marriage, and it had gotten to the matter of child naming, and she had told her the name a child bears is the strict purview of its father to come up with it.

Her daughter immediately rejected such notion. She told her mom, “See, on that matter, my husband and I will sit down and we will look for names, and find ones that make meaning to the two of us, not just him alone, and we will give the best to our child. Just because you did it like that in your own time, does not mean I will do it like that in my own time.” That was the end of their discussion on that particular subject matter.

I mean, this was an extremely devout Muslim lady, at whose wedding the word, submission (to her husband) was said like every two minutes. I was amazed, and you know what? They now have two girls, and I can tell you, I definitely see her hand in the names those babies bear. Some cute, uncommon Islamic names, they certainly are.

In my own case, I had no input in the naming of our first twins, and that was because their Dad had chosen both their first and middle names, which reflected their mixed heritage, or rather his mixed heritage; half Ibo, half Yoruba, so the kids have their first names as Igbo, and the middle names are Yoruba names. It was fine with me. The truth was, I had no names to give them.

But everyone else had names to give them; from my mom to my dad, to my uncles in the village (you know how news of twins travels fast), my father-in-law had his own Islamic names, Yoruba names, everyone literally came with their names. Of course, we wrote them all down, and called the children by those names when they were named, but I can’t even remember half of the names now.

However, by the second time around, I had names. I would not have forgone the opportunity to name the babies, who made sure I knew what being pregnant was really like. I had one name for the boy, and two names for the madam, who played hide and seek with me.

I even called them those names, right from when I was pregnant. They were Yoruba names that rhymed, fitting for twins. And I wanted those names on their birth certificates, but, as usual, my DH had his standard mixture of Igbo names and Yoruba names for first and middle names.

I wasn’t happy about that at all, and I let it be known, as I called them by the names I had given them for almost the first six months of their lives, and I still do, but sadly, they are not on their birth certificates. Incidentally, the younger twins only had three and four names each given to them. All the people who named their older ones, were not as enthusiastic the second time around, which worked just fine for me!

On the other hand, I have always liked the way my parents filled my birth certificate. It only has my first name and surname. When I started to ask about my other names, my mother gave me a notebook, where all the other names I had been given were documented, along with all the other details of my birth.

I looked through and settled on my baptismal name as my middle name for most of my Primary and post-Primary education, and then I decided I wanted a solid Yoruba name, so I changed again, and I’m stuck with that, unless I want to do yet another public declaration of change of name, which I don’t fancy.

As I said earlier, the names we give our child is one of the earliest responsibilities we have towards that child, and we ought to do it well. And on a lighter note, I think, it’s a form of compliment, when someone steal’s your name, or your baby’s name, even if it’s that of your unborn child. Don’t you think so? It shows you have great taste in choosing a name, enough for someone to steal.

Godspeed to the babies, come soon!


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  1. I have a long list of names already written down. Most of them were from me since we have been TTCing for some years now. Although hubby has 2 names that he wants. I guess we will choose one name each when the time finally arrives.
    The stealing of names in almost normal in our society. I have friends that stole names from me. I wasn’t so happy about it but the good thing is that I have a long list of names so no stress.
    My mum was so lucky that she was the one that gave me my first name since she had been TTCing for 14 years before I finally came along.

  2. You don’t say @Oyefunke. 14 years!!! God bless her soul and yours too. May He make your desires come to pass shortly.

    Hope its not your favourite names that your friends are ‘stealing’ sha. Godspeed to you and baby dust.

  3. That was a very thoughtful piece. I will be mad too if someone i shared the name of my unborn baby with “steals” the name and give to her baby. Most especially that it took me a while to realize the dream of motherhood and coupled with the fact that the lady in question was once ttcing. I think the lady ( who stole ) baby’s name was insensitive.


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