Fortunately, Sandy had a very easy pregnancy, particularly for a woman in her forties. Not to diminish the amount of work it was for her, but she and the baby were in good health throughout, and the baby went to full term, for which we were very grateful. One of the fun challenges during that time was the process of choosing a name for our baby. Since we’d decided to not learn its gender in advance, we needed to be ready with boy and girl names.
A month ago I was in India, where my friend, Vikas, told me that his wife is also pregnant, due in just a few weeks. The tradition in his culture of West Bengal is to wait until the baby is several weeks old to name her. I thought that sounded like such a fine idea. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know your child a bit before making that decision? As great as that sounded, Sandy and I decided we’d stick to our own culture’s norms and name the child at birth.
We started by gathering every name under the sun – I bought a bunch of name books. Sandy had lists of names she was fond of that she’d compiled and kept, dating back to the mid-eighties. We discussed our favorites and made more lists. Nothing stood out that strongly, but over time we began to compile our short list in a journal. Time passed. We remodeled the house. Suddenly the due date was a week away and we got down to business.
We whittled our lists down to two sets of first and middle names per gender:
- Elsie Evelyn Nelson Brown
- Daisy Eloise Nelson Brown
- Nelson Leroy Brown
- Clayton Christopher Nelson Brown
We then thought it best to let the baby be born and see if one name or the other fit him or her better.
And that’s what happened. Elsie came into the world at 3:50 a.m. on January 11. Her mother and father were not in their very best decision-making forms after a rather lengthy birthing ordeal, but there we were faced with a very important decision. And it became clear within minutes that we were looking at Elsie Evelyn. Interestingly, Daisy was the frontrunner of the girl names for months. Daisy is a family name on the Brown side, she being my father’s grandmother. We both liked it a lot, but found ourselves in complete agreement, when the moment came, that our little girl was Elsie Evelyn.
Elsie gets her first name from Sandy’s great aunt, Elsie. Sandy remembers Aunt Elsie fondly as a woman who loved all her nieces and nephews dearly, often bringing them small gifts from her international travels. Once, as the story goes, Elsie wrote to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and offered her advice of a political nature. Not only did Eleanor take Elsie’s advice, but personally wrote her to kindly thank her for taking the trouble.
Elsie’s middle name, Evelyn, honors my late mother, Margaret Evelyn Cullen Brown. Mother went by Evelyn, even though it was her middle name.
One fascinating story already has come up regarding the naming of Elsie Evelyn, and that from Elaine and Fred Nordby, relatives of Sandy’s from Red Deer, Canada. It seems that Fred is the keeper of one branch of the family tree, and when Elaine and Fred heard the news of our little Elsie, they added her to their genealogy lists. Of course, they quickly spotted Sandy’s great aunt Elsie as a name match. They also noticed right away that Aunt Elsie’s middle name was Evelyn: Elsie Evelyn Wik Johnson.
We had no idea. But now we feel certain that we’ve given our Elsie Evelyn just the right name.
Here are a few photos taken right before we left the hospital on Sunday.