Friday, May 10, 2013

The Name Game

When we decided to name our son "Seamus" I was a little worried that we would get some flack for it.  I was mentally preparing for lots of "You named him what?" type of comments.  Surprisingly though, everybody has thought it is really cool which was a big relief.  I am surprised though, by the number of people that don't know how to pronounce it.  It's pronounced SHAY-mus not C-mus.  I always tell people to think of the name Sean (as in Sean Connery) - the SEA in Gaelic makes the SH sound.

It's so intersting how/why people decide on the names for their children, so here's our story.  It starts way back in 2010 though when we first learned we were pregnant with Madeleine.  We actually had our names picked out almost immediately.

Basically, I loved the name Madeleine Rose.  I actually came up with it when I was a teenager.  Madeleine sort of came from two sources.  First, I love the children's book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.  I love all things French, so a story about a little French orphan girl and her adventures always appealed to me.

Secondly, at some point in my youth, I was watching movies like Young Frankenstein and Clue and fell in love with the actress Madeline Kahn.  I just thought she was so funny and beautiful.  It was around this time that Madeleine went on the list.

I thought that a three syllable first name should have a one syllable middle name.  I chose the name Rose as my confirmation name in high school, and it just clicked - Madeleine Rose.

I played around with the different spellings for a long time (Madeline, Madelyn, Madeleine) and decided I liked the French spelling best.

So, when we found out we were pregnant I told Bill if it was a girl I wanted to name her Madeleine Rose.  I loved it so much, that I didn't even give him a chance to say "yes" or "no" to it.  I basically struck a deal that if he gave me the name, if it was a boy he could name him whatever he wanted.  Bill wanted something very Irish, and chose the name Seamus.  I will admit I wasn't a huge fan at first, but a deal's a deal so I agreed.  I think we might have come up with Alan as the middle name together.  It's my dad's name, and it just sort of fit.

Then we found out it was a girl, and I was so happy I would have my little Madeleine Rose.

We always knew we wanted another child after Madeleine, so we talked a lot about when little Seamus would come.  So, I basically had three years to get used to the idea of the name Seamus, and eventually fell in love with it too.

Incidentally, there were a few other names on the short list for both of them.  I also really liked the names Alice and Agnes for girls, and Liam and Richard for boys.  Bill's girl name was Saoirse (SEER-sha).  I thought it was very pretty, but I was really scared of the spelling.  So, I'm very happy we got a Seamus and not a Saoirse.

We also get asked about nicknames a lot.  I thought for sure we'd call Madeleine, Maddie - but it's just not her.  The few times I've called her Maddie it sounded awkward and forced, so she's always been our Madeleine.  As for Seamus, we do call him Shea quite a bit.

So, there you have it.  That's how our baby names came to be. 


  1. great stories!

    have you watched the madeleine kahn + grover "be my echo" you tube video yet? we are obsessed with it in our house :)

    1. I haven't seen that in ages - it's so cute. I'll have to introduce it to Madeleine. Thanks for the reminder!!