17 February 2011

Name Narrative: Bay

Every baby needs a name. I've always been fascinated by names and have been keeping notebooks full of name lists for my 24,396 future children since I was about 8 years old. It is the past time I remember most when I think back to sleepovers with my friends and cousins. I also own at least 16 name books and have a whole folder on my computer of baby name websites that I frequent, all of which came in handy when naming my daughter. My favorites of those sites are in the links section on the left.

So, yes, I am slightly crazy and that's why I plan to post about names on here every so often: My baby's only 4 months old and I already have the next two named so I have to live vicariously through others for now. If you want to be featured in a name narrative post, just click on the email icon on the right side of the page or write an email to and I'll send you survey questions.

Bay Horse

Bay Leaf

 Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos

Here's the short version of how we I came up with Bay's name:

Several years ago, I was reading the book The Cheap Date Guide to Style

when I noticed the author's name, Bay Garnett. I can't believe I hadn't considered it as a name before [I'm frequently drawn to word names] but from then on, it just stuck. I asked S [I think we'd been dating a few months or so at the time] if he liked the name for a girl and he said yes. Almost immediately, he decided that it was his favorite name ever for a girl, which got annoying fast. When I would suggest other perfectly good names and he would react as if I had physically assaulted our then-nonexistent daughter named Bay. Add Bay Buchanan's [her real name is Angela] appearances on Fox News and my husband's conservative politics and that was it: No other girl name would do.
Bay Buchanan

The final choice was up to me, though, so I continued to add and subtract other names from my [ever-expanding] list. When I was pregnant and we were adamant about not finding out the sex, it didn't get any easier. I had narrowed the name down to several first/ middle combinations for boys and girls and made mock-ups of birth announcements for each.

My main concern was that Bay sounded too much like a nickname, not formal enough and I wanted her to have at least one other option if Bay didn't fit her. There are not many longer forms and I didn't really like any of them at first.

The only one that really stuck out to me was Bayard. I did a little research and found a civil rights activist, a street in New York's Chinatown, a family of politicians, and several horses [my childhood horse, Shiny, was actually a Bay]. None of those associations did anything to deter me from using the name, in fact, I went from hating the sound to loving it in a couple of weeks.

Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin
Bayard Street, New York City

Another concern that came up was with sibling names. Our boy name was Wolf [it's a name that we both loved before discovering it was my great-uncle's name] and I didn't want them to sound like Beowulf together. I also didn't know if I wanted to trap myself into a nature or surname theme. I don't really care about the nature thing but I think that all of the more feminine first names I like sound too informal as siblings to Bayard. Luckily, I am drawn to surnames that can be shortened to feminine nicknames so I am slowly letting go of the names-that-could-have-been.

As if those things weren't reason enough to end our girl name search, S absolutely despises the names Liesel and Carolina [care-oh-LEE-nuh, he says he "can't pronounce it that way"], which I'll even admit is too exotic for our child to pull off. Our list really did just narrow itself down to the name Bay at the end, even though I wasn't totally committed to it. Once the day [and ridiculously fast labor/ birth] came and we found out she is a girl, we didn't really hesitate to put her name on the birth certificate. I haven't ever regretted it and we receive compliments on her name all the time, but I still don't think it would seem odd if we'd named her Liesel or Margaret instead.

Liesl from The Sound of Music

Karolina Kurkova Is Pregnant!
Supermodel Karolina Kurkova

And so we have our little Bay, whose name seems to fit her perfectly!

Click on these links to read my requested posts about Bayard and Wolf on Appellation Mountain [probably my favorite baby name blog ever].


  1. GREAT post!! We chose a somewhat different name for our son (Forrest) and also have never regretted it! It does have a family tie to it but when it came down to it we chose it because we really loved it! We had the name picked out long before we even started trying to have a baby! Some people will comment that it is from "Forrest Gump" or "Forrest Griffen" (UFC fighter) but I ignore those comments and for the most part people say they love how unique it is!

  2. I love Forrest! Maybe it's because I pay more attention to names than most people, but it doesn't seem weird or unusual to me. I picture an actual forest [must be the nature name thing I can't shake] when I hear it.

    I don't watch UFC but I don't think the Forrest Gump thing is a big deal, either. I'm sure it won't have that connotation with his generation, anyway. Oh and apparently F is THE up-and-coming initial so you I think you're ahead of the trend!

  3. Thanks!!! Yeah I don't think his generation will give any reference to Forrest Gump either! =)
    Thanks again!!

  4. Um, I too have notebooks with lists of names. I love names. I asked my husband about names (and babies too) very early on in our relationship. It's just something totally normal for me to think about.

    Just in case this far into your blog I didn't realize how awesome you are, I have now.

    Names. Vegan. Natural. Sameish age. The only thing missing is a baby on my end (soon?!)

    So I have to ask, can we please be besties??

  5. I think we need to. I just looked at your blog- my husband went to college in Virginia, his parents went to WVU, and he wants us to move back to DC [he worked there in politics for a few years before moving back to OK] so maybe someday we will be in the same city!