Friday, 16 May 2014

Does he have a name ?

Our list... Or what I remember of it anyway...

For some strange reason, I've been reading quite a few blogs recently where the authors were either talking about having babies or being pregnant and it gave me the inspiration for this post. Let's be clear though: I am never ever ever having a third child! I'm just reminiscing differences between France and Ireland, especially about babies names...

"Does he have a name ?"

This is the first question the  midwife asked me, shortly after I gave birth to my first son. What an odd question. Of course he had a name! The idea of us, as future parents, not picking a name for our baby was completely crazy. As a matter of fact, I had picked a name long before I even thought of having children, and my only worry was  how to convince the husband it was the perfect one.
In France, the first question you're asked is "What's his/her name", but in Ireland, it's very common for parents not to have names picked before the birth. Sometimes a baby can go days without being named! I'm not kidding. For my 2nd son, I was in the ward, just in front of another mum who hesitated between Emilie or Juliette for her newborn daughter and she was having a little survey in the room... She was still at the maternity by the time I was discharged and poor baby still didn't have a name. I even heard stories about parents picking a name, then looking at the baby and decide it doesn't suit him/her: Naa, she doesn't look like an Emma / Niamh / Sophie... Let's take another 2 weeks before finding something else. It only took us 8 and a half months to come up with that one!! 

Finding out the gender

I think it's even harder for Irish parents to decide on the perfect name, because the majority of them don't want to know the sex of the baby. I was so surprised because in France, when you have your 20 weeks anomaly scan, that's when you get to know the sex, and you have to tell the doctor if you don't want to know. Here, you don't even get a 20-week scan if you have a normal pregnancy, so if you want to find out the sex of the baby, you would have to  go to a private clinic for a "gender scan". And trust me, they're banking on it!  On average it costs about 100 Euros to find out.  
I went to France to get the anomaly scan. I can handle the cultural differences regarding pregnancy and birth in Ireland (and I was extremely happy with the care I received here), but for my peace of mind (and my mum's), I really wanted to have that scan done. Did we  find out the sex of the baby? No. My stubborn husband didn't want to know, so the doctor didn't tell us. I did the same for my second child, but we asked for the gender that time.

Picking the right name
We wanted names that were short, easy to pronounce and write, both in French and English. Our first son is CiarĂ¡n, which goes against everything I just mentioned above, but I just loved that name, and chose it years before I even got pregnant. It's hard to pronounce and write for French people but very common in Ireland so he won't have a hard time with people misspelling his name at school. Our second son is Ethan. Very popular in France, a bit less in Ireland. Little did I know his name would be butchered with the Irish accent. Some people pronounce it  like" Eatin' " !! 
 I believe picking a name is a hard task, especially when you live abroad. If you choose a local name and you go back to your home country, how is it going to be pronounced or spelled? If you choose a name typical of your home country, you'll have the same problems if you stay in your host country when the child starts school...It's hard enough for my husband Fabrice to get his name spelled Febreze half the time, I don't really want to put my kids through that! 

There is no easy answer. I know I chose a local name that I loved, and I may regret if we go back to France one day, so I'd say, go with your heart but weigh the pros and cons before taking a decision, because a name is for life.