Why I Wanted to Change My Daughter's Name

I can't imagine her with any other name. When my daughter was about 3 days old, I had a full-blown change of heart about her name. And by change of heart, I mean that I realized I hated the name and cried about it to anyone who would listen. The name in question: Nora. We'd toyed with a bunch of options throughout my pregnancy and had narrowed it down to Nora and Charlotte. Within minutes of seeing her, we knew that she was not a Charlotte, and so she became Nora Jane.

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We loved the name, and all was well until two days later when the cards and gifts started rolling in and I saw it in print: N-O-R-A. The name looked so weird to me. Flat. Strange. Foreign. I don't mean to offend any Noras out there. (In fact, the only Noras I know are totally awesome, which is another reason why I loved the name.) But it sounded off to me, too old-lady, unfeminine. And the more I said it, the odder it became. You know how that happens with a word you say over and over? I honestly felt that I'd made a terrible mistake, but one I couldn't remedy. Or could I?

I called my sisters and asked them if they thought it would be crazy to change her name. "Do you like it? Do you really like it? But do you love it like it or are you just saying that?" They tried to talk me off the ledge (and they both genuinely love loved the name), but I was determined to unravel. The thing is, I have historically been indecisive, so this wasn't all that shocking. I've been known to order something at dinner and then chase down the waiter to switch to a different dish. I hate this about myself, and yet, at 35, I haven't quite kicked the habit. In this case, I didn't have a different, better name I wanted to swap in, though I did consider just calling her Jane. I sound like a crazy person, right? My mind flashed back to my mother's reaction when I was about seven months pregnant and I'd told her that Nick and I loved the name Nora. ("Nora?!" she'd asked, unable to hide her shock.) My father's first impression was equally unsupportive. ("Huh?!" I think he'd said.) I thought of "Nora" the Explorer and cringed.

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For a good few days I obsessed over the name and let it cloud my otherwise very happy postbirth mood. I remember sitting in the parking lot of my son's preschool crying tears of regret while my husband ran in to get Alex. One of the other moms came by, and I quickly dried my face. "Didn't you just have a baby?" she asked incredulously. "Yup," I said. "Three days ago, but I feel great and I wanted to get out." I'm sure she saw my red eyes and thought I was in some postpartum freak-out when it was actually just the typical panic-inducing second-guessing that I subject myself to from time to time. My poor husband, who has to endure my second-guessing shenanigans more often than he'd like, humored me for about a minute; then he told me that he loved the name and it was a great name and I needed to get over myself — immediately.

It took another day or so, but then as quickly as it came on, it passed. Seriously, it had to be the postpartum hormones (new moms can be a little cray cray). I knew that I loved the name, and I haven't looked back since. (My parents, who were dubious at first, also have come to adore the name.) And Nora is such a Nora. Spirited, precocious, funny, tough-as-nails, and super cool. A perfect fit. In fact, I love her name so much that it's adding extra pressure to naming my next daughter. That's the real issue here: I'm now seven months pregnant with my third child, another girl. Needless to say, I'm anxious about picking a good name. We have a few ideas (you can read the list), but nothing has stuck. And I really want to be sure about it because, well, you get what I'm dealing with.

Has anyone else had this happen? Did you ever second-guess your kid's name? Anyone ever change it? Oh, and did you see this crazy name-changing story?