Baby Names Evolution- How We Came Up With All 4 Names

I think it’s always fun to hear how people come up with baby names, so I thought it would be cool to share how we came up with all 4 of ours with you.

I actually really dislike naming babies. It’s a lot of pressure! We always end up with names that I love, though. It just takes us a full 9 months to get there.

Even when we’ve had a pretty strong feeling that we like a name from early on, I still never want to tell anyone. We haven’t revealed names, not even a short list we’re considering, until after baby is born. I highly recommend this method if, like me, pregnant rage makes you passionately dislike other people’s unsolicited opinions about all things baby.


Kendall Milam

The first boy’s name we fell in love with when I was pregnant with our first was Eli. We were mostly set on Eli… and then one of Scott’s friends had a boy and named him Eli. We weren’t even super close with them, but it was just… not our name anymore. At 6 months pregnant, we were back to square one. I thought maybe a name starting with a K would be fun. I started rattling off boy names that started with a K, and when I got to Kendall Scott stopped me and declared “That’s the one!”

I wasn’t totally sold on it, and thought we should go into birth with a couple options. I know we had some others picked out, but I honestly can’t remember them now. Right after I had Kendall, someone asked what the name was. I was way too tired to fight it. Scott declared Kendall was it, and we went with that.

I should note that at the time I only knew boys/men named Kendall. I’d heard it was also a girls name, but figured it was like Ryan or Jordan and could go either way. Every now and then Kendall will mention that the only other Kendalls in his school are girls, but it really doesn’t seem to be causing him lasting damage. I can’t imagine calling him anything else.

His middle name is my dad’s mom’s maiden name/his grandparent’s last name. He was raised mostly by his mom’s parents, and his grandfather lived with us for a few years when I was very young. I have lovely memories of Grandpa Milam, and wanted to honor him.


Leyna Lorelei

Before we learned that our first was a boy, I saw the name Leyna in a baby name book- back when people still looked at books with real pages for baby name ideas- and loved it. It was German (and, obviously, my husband’s family- Krause- is German), and meant “little angel.” I tucked it away as a future possibility, and it was all I could like when I was pregnant with her.

I wondered if I should change the spelling to something phonetic, like Laina, but the original German spelling was what spoke to me most.

Again, I know we had at least one other first name option, but I can’t remember what it was.

Her middle name was originally going to be Reese, but, once more, a friend was pregnant with a little girl and announced that they would name her Reese. So I scrapped it and tried to find something that had a little more meaning to us. I loved that Kendall’s middle name had a story behind it.

My pregnancy with Leyna was the first one that I experienced Pica. I craved rocks! I wound up choosing Lorelei because it’s the name of a large, steep rock on the Rhine river in Germany. Doesn’t get more perfect than that.


Lowell Scott

I’ve written about how we got Lowell’s name before, but the short story is I saw it in the credits of Parenthood early on in pregnancy and immediately fell in love with it. I loved it so much I was afraid to offer it up to Scott, afraid he’d veto. Nope. He LOVED it even more. In fact, this is the only time we didn’t have an alternate name picked out- at least for a boy.

This was the only pregnancy we didn’t find out what we were having, so we also had to have girl names. Among our contenders? ELSA. This was July, 2013. Frozen came out a few months later. COULD YOU EVEN IMAGINE? Another name we considered early on? Alexa. OMG. Ultimately, though, we went in thinking we’d name a little girl June Robin. June because… Scott loved it? And I was at a total loss. Robin after a family name on my mom’s side-Robinson.

It was a boy, and we knew immediately he was Lowell. Middle name Scott because, well, that’s his daddy’s name, and we thought he was our last, and I thought it would be nice to give one of them their dad’s name.

Little did we know he’d be Scott’s mini!


Wallace Austin

We unintentionally started a bit of a trend. All the kids had an L or two in their first name, so I liked the idea of continuing that with the 4th.

Early on, I liked the name Adler. Scott was lukewarm about it, but I thought he might come to love it. Then we remembered there’s a personal injury lawyer- Jim Adler- here in Dallas with mega obnoxious commercials, and that kinda spoiled it for us. I did keep it on the list up to the very end, though, and still really like the name minus the association.

Marshall was also up for consideration, and then a friend had a baby early in November and named him Marshall. Again, kept it on the list, but it wasn’t a top contender.

I mentioned Wallace to Scott a few weeks before I went into labor, and he declared it the winner. I still wasn’t sold until I read a common nickname for it is Ace. I don’t want people to call him Wally (unless that’s what he wants), so I wanted another nickname option.

We still call him Wallace almost exclusively, though. We’ll see if he grows into Ace or ends up staying Wallace.

His middle name was the hardest middle name to settle on of all of them. I knew I wanted it to be meaningful to us, and considered names like Truman or Jesse to honor Mizzou, where Scott and I both went to college and met. Scott vetoed both, though, and neither of those sounded good with Wallace.

Finally, about a week before I had him, I offered up Austin, and Scott gave the thumbs up. We technically got married in Bee Caves, TX, but it’s a suburb of Austin, and we’ve always had a soft spot for Austin, TX.

I love looking back at the evolution of naming the kids. If I had to pick names for all 4 before I even had my first, I never would have come up with what we have now. They certainly aren’t the names I used to practice writing in high school – do all 16 year old girls do that?

The older I got, the harder it got to name babies because I simply knew too many people and had too many name associations built up. And I’m not even a teacher!

Tell me about your baby naming evolution!

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  1. We always had one boy name and one girl name picked out and lucked out that our first two were different genders ( Daniel Mark – after our fathers – and Morgan Grace – after my grandmothers). Then we got pregnant with our third and could not decide on anything. We weren’t going to find out gender, but our then 3 year old son latched on to the name Irene (in contention for a middle name) and decided my baby was a girl, so we felt we had to find out gender so there wasn’t huge confusion for him – turned out to be a boy! I knew I wanted Anthony as a middle name, for my brother a,d grandfather. We went through a lot of family names and finally settled on Andrew after my husband’s uncle. Baby naming is hard, especially since we really tried to limit ourselves to family names. If there is a baby number 4 in the cards, things could get interesting!

  2. Son #1 was the only child that got a name off of the high school “baby names ” list. He is Braden Scott. Son #2 was to be Cale McKenzie…my granny kept asking why I’d name my kid Kayro…so Brett McKenzie he became. Daughter was to be Rhian Nicole…ex husband vetoed it from the start then we settled on Chaney ReaLynn…only to deliver in November of 2000 with Dick Chaney as the vice presidential candidate…so she is named Kennedy Lynn…we call her Kenni

  3. Names are HARD. We took all 9mos too, every time.

    Daughter 1: Meredith Jaymes. We liked Meredith, and how it sounded with our 1-syllable last name. Considered Kathryn too, but she was Meredith (nn Mere). Middle is after my dad, but with a “y” to feminize it.

    Son: Nolan Curtis. My favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I always loved Nolan, the heroine’s surname. He was nearly Lincoln, which was hubby’s favorite but Nolan fit better and Lincoln was getting trendy. Curtis for my husband’s dad.

    Daughter 2: Felicity Quinn. We just liked Felicity, and the meaning: happy. Middle name (stay with me here) has the prefix “qui” meaning “five.” Her addition made us a family of five–“the happy five.”

    Daughter 3: Beatrice Noel. We struggled to find ANY names we could agree on. I loved Reeve, he liked Eliza or Juliet. We kicked around Kathryn again. Then one day, I woke up and KNEW she was Beatrice, who is my ailing 94-yr-old grandmother I am very close with. Why have I not used it before now?! Her nickname is Bea. My son was disappointed in the idea of another sister so we decided to let him choose the middle. The week before she was born, we had a big snowstorm and I looked up “winter baby names.” Nolan saw Noel and got excited–it started with the same letters as his name! And his favorite band, NSYNC, sings The First Noel ? We chose the masculine spelling since that has been our unintentional trend with the girls–feminine first, masculine middle.

    I love hearing the stories behind baby names! Great post ?

  4. #1 Caroline Grace – I loved the name Grace but couldn’t use that as a first name. Hello Grace Love Joy. Might as well put her middle name as Faith or hope 😛 We found Caroline b/c I loved how classic it was and it didn’t help that my husband and I met on a blind date at Fenway for Game @ of the World Series. “Sweet Caroline….”

    #2 George Willis ~ George has been my go to for ages. It honors my dad, brother, uncles on both sides of family and my grandfather. Willis is my husband’s first name (he goes by his middle) and my father in laws name. I wasn’t entirely crazy about it, I wanted Henry. But I love it now and find so many Henry’s out there so I’m glad we went with Willis. So now we got over the GW Bridge and he gets a good giggle over it.

  5. My sister (Hollie) and I grew up with a family the had 4 children, all with “H” names. We wanted to keep that going, but there aren’t too many options out there without repeating. My first is named Hannah Corinne. The name Hannah works too because she is a woman from the Bible that begged God for a child and it struck a chord with me after we had some fertility issues. Her middle name is a nod to my great grandmother Cora. (3 years later, my sister named her daughter Harper and all 4 of us share the same first and last initials, even though we have different last names!)
    Baby 2 was a boy and I wasn’t really sold on any boy “H” names. I already know several Haydens and my sister had already called dibs on Hunter. Didn’t really care for any others. So we decided it could just be a girl thing in our family. My husband’s best friend growing up passed away when we were in high school and we always knew we liked his middle name, Nathan. Toss that with the family name James (my husband’s middle name, my grandfather’s, uncle’s, cousin’s and my cousin’s son’s first name) and we had a winner. I still wasn’t totally sold on Nathan James, because I really, really liked the name Adam Scott (Scott after my dad), but his initials would have been A.S.S. and that’s just not cool, lol! Now I can’t imagine calling him anything else. Bonus: I didn’t realize I essentially gave my children the same name until I had them tattooed on my wrist. There’s only 1 letter difference in Hannah and Nathan.

  6. Our eldest is Jonathan Daniel, nicknamed Jack. I really wanted to name him after my grandfather’s brother Jack, and I wanted to use my father’s name as his middle name. But, I couldn’t bring myself to put Jack Daniel on a birth certificate. So Jonathan it was. Our youngest is Henry Edward. Henry is a family name many generations back, and Edward is my husband’s brother and his father’s middle name. His uncle Ed lovingly refers to him as H. Edward.

  7. Our first son’s name is Jace Wayne. I liked the name Chase for a boy, my husband liked Jacie for a girl…so we put them together. His middle name was going to be Layne, but my husband’s middle name is Wayne, so we went with it.

    Second son is Weston Koye. My middle name is Kaye, so we just went with my initials and switched up my middle name a bit.

    Third son is Jett Wayde. Again, husband’s initials, and just changed up his middle name a bit. Jett is also a name that I loved when I was pregnant with Jace, so I was SO happy to get to use it!

    Our initials alternate JWL/WKL. Gotta reuse that monogrammed stuff somehow! 😉 Now if I can just convince my husband that we need just ONE more boy…..haha!

  8. We named my son just before we found out his gender. We picked a girl name and a boy name. He’s Quentin Richard. Richard was not negotiable because that was my husbands father’s middle name. We wanted less popular names. If he had been a girl his name would have been Quinn Marie. Quinn because popular right about his birth. I’m glad he was a boy.

    My daughter was also named just before we found out her gender. We chose the name Cordelia as we were just looking around at older girls names. Her middle name Marie is my mom’s middle name. If she was a boy she would have been named Elijah Henry.

  9. Drew Isaiah- husband’s name is Andy (Andrew) which inspired first name. Isaiah from my favorite book of the Bible.

    Owen Anders- just liked the first name, and Anders is from my maiden name Anderson.

    Linnea Ruby- Scandinavian name we’ve both loved forever. Her big brothers picked her middle name completely at random and we were pleasantly surprised!

  10. Our oldest daughter is Sloan Noelle. Her first name is from the character on the tv show entourage! I fell in love with it before my husband and I got married! Middle name was just because it sounded pretty and girlie 🙂

    Our youngest daughter is Rowan Amelia. At first, my husband had vetoed the name before we were even pregnant even though I loved it. So we settled on the name Perrie Elise…until we realized her initials would be PEE ?…plus I never knew how it should be spelled…the name was all wrong!! About a month before she was born hubby brought Rowan back up and said he changed his mind and I knew instantly that was her name!

    Now I want another baby to name after staring at your IG feed ha!

  11. Ours have a bit of a pattern, at first unintentionally but became the tradition by the last. First name is a traditional Norwegian name, spelling and all, as my husband’s family is all Norwegian descent. His grandparents are where we got our first two. Each child had 2 middle names. With our first we could not agree at all what middle name to give him. My husband has a gigantic soft spot for all thing superhero. I love family names. So we settled on one middle name being a superhero tribute and the other one from my side of the family. Well that got interesting by the third child! We have pretty much ruined any chance of their names being spelled right by any one ever the first time.
    First child, our son, our trendsetter, Thorbjorn Parker Neil
    Our first daughter, our easiest to name,
    Solveig Elizabeth Kal-el
    Our last child, the one that got off easy,
    Liv Pepper Aubrey

    Yeah, with their parents names being as common as it gets, they will have something to commiserate about in therapy.

  12. My daughter is Jillian Paige. My favorite name was Claire, but because it rhymes with our last name, it was not an option. Jillian was a name we could both agree on, but my husband wanted it spelled with a G instead of a J, which I said was ridiculous because she would obviously be called Jill. Finally, I emailed him at work one day and told him her name was going to be Jillian Paige, and he replied, “Ok.” Not a super exciting story, but she was aptly named, because she is 100% a Jill. Many people have told me how well her name fits her, which makes me extremely happy.

  13. Love that you considered June as my older daughter is June Lilly. June is the month I was born and I wanted a flower middle name (mine is Rose). My younger daughter is Maggie Pearl. I think we just like Maggie because we could nickname her Magpie. And I didn’t have a flower that flowed with it so I settled on a stone (the month of June’s birthstone). So I have a Junebug and Magpie 🙂

  14. Caroline was a nice, classic Southern name that we could agree on. Grace is my grandma and great-grandmother’s name. So she’s Caroline Grace. Kinda common, but we love it. Denver, though. His is more of a story. Denver Guthrie is my husband’s grandfather’s name. Jay is Jay Denver. His uncle is also a Denver. Jay wanted to name a boy Denver Guthrie. His dad is Donald Jaboy (Jay-boy). I just loved Jay’s dad and joked we would name a boy Denver Jaboy. Well, ya know, little D came at 29weeks and we hadn’t decided. I was high on Magnesium and Morphine in the hospital when they came with the name paperwork. I said ‘Fuck it! Give him ALL THE NAMES!’ So he is Denver Guthrie Jaboy Nolan. My father in law got a kick out of it. He’s no longer with us and I’m so glad it worked out the way it did!

  15. My husband is Hispanic, and I’m Italian. We thought about naming him Thomas since both grandpa’s are named Thomas, and that was going to be his name for a long time, until I decided that name just wasn’t THE ONE. I knew I wanted an Italian boys name, but we didn’t want the typical ones like Dominic, or Giorgio, and I didn’t want his name to sound like he should be on the “Soprano’s”. I was watching “Under the Tuscan Sun” and there is a character named Marcello, and I KNEW that was it. I shared it with my husband, and he loved it too. So Marcello Thomas it was! It worked out well, because Marcello is both Italian and Hispanic, and I still love his name 2 years later and can’t imagine him being named anything else.

  16. With our first son, we were all into things like Harrison and Cohen and but one day I read the name Ronan and knew immediately. That was his name. It’s actually his middle name, but we knew going in we’d call him by his middle name. John is his first name, after my father, but Ronan John didn’t sound as swingy as John Ronan. 😉 Our second we were told would be a boy but I KNEW it was not. I was in Costa Rica, 17weeks pregnant after being told she was a boy and wrote her name into the sand and took a photo of my belly with her name under it. Three weeks later, we were told, in fact, she was a she and that’s my Isla. I loved the name Isla the second I heard it. Audrey is her middle name after Audrey Hepburn – because, well, icon. The only child who doesn’t have a family name. Oops. Third child, a boy, naming him was tough. SO TOUGH. No one could agree on anything. My husband wanted Rex. NO. I wanted Wolf, I wanted Wolf SO MUCH, it had to be WOLF!!!, husband said NO EFFING WAY. One night, at like 38 weeks, we were watching Good Will Hunting and during the credits we saw Stellan Skaarsgard and were both like, “Stellan, YES”. Michael is his middle name after his paternal grandfather. Ironically, Stellan is also the only blue eyed blond child (like his father who is partly Swedish). Last child, a boy. The second that ultrasound wand touched down and the penis was immediately in site, my husband says, “There’s our baby Wolf”. And he is perfect for his name. Wolf William, (William after my grandfather). Sorry so long, I loved naming my babies! Congrats on your beautiful family, Jill. Been following you since Kendall was a baby. 🙂

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