A Baby by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet: The tough decision of what to name our "Baby Girl"

{Note: If you haven't already read Baby Girl's birth story, you might want to read it before reading below.}

It's no secret that Jonathan and I struggled for nine months to decide on a name for our second child, whom we lovingly referred to as "Baby Girl" throughout my pregnancy.  As my belly continued to expand and I approached 30 weeks, we started to panic and asked all of you to help us decide on a name.

It had taken us almost the entire 30 weeks to narrow it down to just two options, Karis Adelyn or Ellie Jane.

When I was in high school, a group of women known as "Karis" came to sing for my youth group. They explained that "karis" means grace.  If you were to read the Bible in ancient Greek {one of the three original languages it was written in}, you would see the word "karis" where you and I read the word "grace" in our Bibles today.  It was then, in 9th grade, that I feel in love with the name and I shared it with my high school sweetheart who thought it was a great name too.  From then on, we always said that if we had a girl we would name her "Karis."

So, when we found out baby #2 was a girl, we naturally began to discuss naming her Karis. Since we'd talked about it for many years, Jonathan thought it was a done deal...but I started doubting if it was right for our actual, in the flesh daughter.  

That's when I went looking  for our old baby name book from when I was pregnant with Brody.  We began the same process we used to name Brody.  He made a list. I made a {mental} list.  We shared our lists. We vetoed the ones we hated. We discussed the potentials.  

But nothing ever struck us both as the perfect name.

Jonathan was still stuck on Karis, and I was, well, not.  I had fallen in love with the name Elle.  I liked the sound of Elle Johnson.  It reminded me of my signature, L. Johnson.  It was my way of naming her after myself without downright naming her after myself.  After all, Brody carries part of Jonathan's name...Jo{nathan} and Brody {Nathan}iel.  

One night, as we sat around the dinner table with my parents and our good friends, Vanessa and Phil, the topic of names came up.  Jonathan and I discussed Karis with everyone and I threw out the name Elle.  My mom and Vanessa jumped at the name Elle because I said I would love her middle to be Jane so that we could call her Ellie Jane.  They thought it was adorable {as did I} but Jonathan protested and it became a heated topic for months to come. 

He finally came around and started discussing it as a potential when I mentioned she would need a proper name...a more formal name from which Elle/Ellie could be derived.  I wasn't fond of Eleanor like my hubby who seemed to only pick out Victorian names.  Elizabeth was too common for my taste...I'm not a big fan of stealing other peoples' names, even in the slightest way.  My parents suggested Eliana {or Ellianna} after watching the ballerina on "So You Think You Can Dance" that season.  Of all the proper names for little Ellie Jane, this one was the one I was fondest of, but it still just didn't feel right.  

It seemed as if everyone around us had an opinion...and they were all very verbal about their choice name.  Jonathan and I both hate to make decisions.  We have what some refer to as "paralysis by analysis."  I find it only natural that we surround ourselves with very opinionated people...friends that can make the decisions so that we don't have to. 

But this was one decision that we couldn't let others make for us, and {to be completely honest} their outspoken opinions only made pulling the trigger more difficult.  So, we were paralyzed.

We were paralyzed right up until the night before we were discharged from the hospital.  The nurse told us it was time to make a decision and fill out the paperwork so that we could take her home.  Even in that "final hour" we were throwing out several different names as we ate P.F.Changs off my hospital tray.  

After stuffing ourselves full of deliciousness, we each grabbed a fortune cookie and eagerly opened them up.  We love to laugh about the ridiculous messages they contain.  Jonathan read his aloud and we laughed.  Then I read mine aloud and we looked at each other. Decision made.

We still firmly don't believe that fortune cookies hold any truth or value whatsoever, but we knew it'd make for a fun story and it helped us to finalize her name.

Karis Adelyn 

Karis {meaning: grace} Adelyn {meaning: noble beauty} 

The next morning we dressed her, snapped a few pictures...

...and drove her home where her big brother was anxiously awaiting her arrival and decorating the house for his baby sister's homecoming.

It wasn't long after we got her home before Brody began to introduce "Baby Girl" {which the poor boy called her for the first several months} to all of his favorite cars and his favorite stuffed animal, Clifford.

So Brody knew her as "Baby Girl" and we were trying our best to get to know her as "Karis" rather than "Baby Girl."  It wasn't easy though and many times we found ourselves still referring to her as "Baby Girl" right along with Brody.  Even friends and family still referred to her as "Baby Girl" many times, despite the birth announcement and numerous conversations about how we settled on a name. 

Month after month flew by and with each passing day it became easier to remember her name was "Karis" and not simply "Baby Girl" anymore.  But, I kept having this nagging feeling inside that we didn't choose the right name.  I mentioned it to Jonathan but he didn't feel the same way.  So, I pushed off my feelings until I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I secretly researched how to change her name, the legal issues involved, the fees, the problems it would create for our little girl, etc.  The more I thought about it, the harder it became for me to look at her as "Karis."  I really can't explain it.  I don't imagine you will understand unless you have walked in similar shoes.  It was just an uneasy feeling. A pit in my stomach that it wasn't her name.  

It took me a long time to get up the nerve to talk about it with Jonathan again. I felt silly, and I was afraid he would think I was out of my mind.  But, there is nothing like an 8 hour road trip to Florida to get something so pressuring off your chest.  I carefully addressed my feelings to him {after dwelling upon them for several hours to the monotonous hum of the car}, explaining the uneasy feeling I just couldn't shake.  He listened with an open heart and asked a few questions once I was done pouring out my heart.  Then, being the sweet man that he is, he explained how I was the mother and should know better than anyone what her true name was.  He agreed to have a trial run with her new name to see how we felt about it. 

She was 4 months old at that point.  We began calling her by her middle name, "Adelyn," whenever we were in the comfort of our home.  For awhile, it felt strange.  For so long she was "Baby Girl," then she was "Karis," and now we were calling her "Adelyn."  I wondered if things would ever feel right. But, it didn't take long before we adjusted to calling her "Adelyn" every time we spoke of her.  

And that is when my heart felt settled. I felt at peace about who she really was meant to be.  I smiled when I thought about her name. Adelyn. It means "noble beauty" and beauty was what I saw when I looked down at her sweet little porcelain doll face.  She was prettier than any of the porcelain dolls my dad gave me each year on my birthday as I was growing up; but something about her pale skin, perfect lips, button nose, and big round eyes reminded me of those dolls I unwrapped each December 7th. 

By the time she was 6 months old, we were announcing the change to family and friends.   

Announcement custom made by Gaia Design Studios

Still beautiful. Still perfect. Still ours. Now Adelyn.

In case you are wondering, I have no regrets in changing her name. She was meant to be an "Adelyn."  Yes, I do wish we had figured it out before we took her home so that we could have made her first name "Adelyn."  I'm sure I would have figured it out had we called her "Karis" while she was in my belly instead of "Baby Girl."  We just never had that trial phase before she was born.

But, no sense in looking back.  She is just one of those kids I said I would never have...you know, the ones who go by their middle name. I guess I should have never said "never."


Maternity Photos by: Capturing Hope Photography
Birth Announcemnt by: Simply to Impress
Name Change Announcement Custom Made by: Gaia Design Studios
Linking up with: Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can't Say


  1. Your little Adelyn is beautiful.

    I love that you sent out new announcements with the name change - they were perfect.

    My husband sometimes plays with the idea of calling our daughter by her middle name. And he does it sometimes. She is nine, so it is a bit late to make a change, but he is convinced that one day she is going to ask people to use the middle name. We will see.

  2. Roxy is a shortened version of her middle name. My mother-in-law warned us against calling her by her middle name, but when we were deciding on a name, we knew we wanted to call her Roxy, short for Roxanne. It just didn't work out for Roxanne to be a first name. Sometimes it just works out that way.

    Adelyn is beautiful and I'm sure she'll love hearing this story when she gets older :)

  3. I think Adelyn is a beautiful name for a beautiful little girl! My daughter's name is actually a shortened version of Abigail, and people constantly told me to just name her Abigail...but we didn't want to, and now I know that big name would never have fit my spunky little girl :)

  4. Adeylin is a beautiful name and it is so sweet to read how you two got together and started searching for a name without any tug-o-war. And who knows when she grows up from which name would she want to be called.

  5. Oh, I love your second announcement! Good for you for going with what felt right!

  6. Too funny!! Kid's never really like their names at some point in their lives and always want to change it! I love that you have the courage to just do it! She is your beautiful little girl!!


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