What happens at Rachel’s, stays at Rachel’s


Today I, Ohmommy from Classy Chaos, come to you with a secret that many of my readers do not know. Promise you won’t tell? What happens at Rachel’s, stays at Rachel’s. Okay? Good. She told me I could trust her sweet readers.


I legally changed my daughter’s first name eight weeks after she was born.

Four years ago, I was twenty weeks pregnant with my second child. The husband and I took our one and half year old Jay to the hospital for our ultrasound. We found out we were having a girl. I was thrilled and called my entire family from the hospital bathroom. We came home and I immediately logged onto the Internet and began searching for the most beautiful baby girl name.

We had a list of names and we regrettably tried them out on our family members. I exchanged hundreds of e-mails with my sister who was at the time a Peace Corp rep in Senegal. What do you think of Sofia? How about Kate? I like Madeline. The birth was around the corner and we decided on Olivia. The husband went out to Pottery Barn Kids, purchased the hanging letters for the nursery wall, and spent all of one evening perfectly hanging them. The name looked beautiful on the wall.

A week before the birth I was watching the Discovery Health network where I met a sweet little girl Olivia, who had an incurable life threatening disease. Husband, the baby can’t be an Olivia. This has to be some sign from God. Take down those letters and return them today. Days later our baby girl was born.

We held her and loved her and had no name for her. The hospital would not let us leave without filling out the paperwork and so we sat with our beautiful daughter in our hands and thought. How about Emily, sweet and simple? No, what about Emma? Emma, Emma, EEEEmmmmma, Emma sounds like …. Emma sounds nice. Is she an Emma? The nurse butted in and confirmed that Emma was a good name. So we named our second child Emma and brought her home. We sent out the gorgeous birth announcement from a posh online stationary store and framed a copy in her nursery.

We never really called her Emma at home. She was “baby girl” for weeks. I was torn. Eight weeks passed and my mom called me “You have to go and change her name. Either start calling her Emma, or find out how to change her name. It is OK to legally change your baby’s name.” Wow, I thought, you can actually change someone’s name? Is that acceptable? Won’t people think that I have lost it? Seriously, what will people say?

I started searching online about legally changing a baby’s name. All I could find were the instructions on changing the last name of a child, after paternity was established. I know who my daughter’s father was, I just didn’t know her name.

I called the same downtown phone number of the probate court that handles last name changes and was directed to a mean old lady that thought I was seriously ill. After my tears stopped, she realized that I was not only desperate but very serious. She informed me that you have up to 12 months after the child’s birth to change their name. She also gave me a link to the county’s website with all the appropriate paper work and I immediately scheduled an appointment to meet the judge at probate court the following week.

The next day it was officially Spring outside, the flowers were blooming, the sun was shining, and my husband and I filled out a mound of paperwork to legally change Emma’s name. One of the original names we had picked out for Jay, if he was a girl, was Lola (insert real name here). Somewhere online, I learned that people perceive Lola’s to be either classy and quiet or loud and boisterous. Ah ha, my Lola is a little classy woman – a quiet and calm little baby girl. This is truly the most perfect name for her.

Once we legally changed her name we sent all of our friends and family another birth announcement that I myself crafted, since I shelled out an enormous amount of money for the original announcements. No one really bothered us too much about changing her name. We did go out to Pottery Barn Kids and placed her new name on the wall and it looked amazing! We were in love with our daughter and loved her name.

Now, Lola is not a quiet little woman, she is most definitely a loud and boisterous four year old. We grow more in love with her every day, she has a BIG personality for a little woman. She likes to pretend and play house where she is often found changing the names of her baby dolls. “Mama, I changed the name of Baby Claire. Her name is Baby Elena.” In her perfectly precious room, high above on her antique white bookshelf stand two perfectly framed birth announcements.

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  1. How funny! I always thought you could leave the hospital with a Baby Girl Smith or whatever until you thought of a name. I’m glad my husband and I were able to FINALLY name our son when he was 24 hours old and didn’t have to go through the hassle of changing his name. 🙂

  2. Wow! That really did take some guts. I don’t think a lot of parents would have had the wherewithal to go through with it.

    Just goes to show you . . . you must go with your gut!

  3. Wow! Amazing story… what a lucky girl she is to have a mommy that just KNEW what her perfect name should be, and to actually go after it!

  4. That is such a great story! I would have had a nervous breakdown if I didn’t have the names picked out months and months in advance. I’m a planner through and through. LOL!!

  5. I love that you changed her name. Names are so important. I never knew about the 12 months you have to change it.
    I’ve always thought it crazy that you are expected to name a child before you even have time to get to know him to see who he/she really is.

  6. It USED to be that you could leave the hospital without naming the child. This happened to my mother. She was Baby Girl “Smith” until she was sixteen and took care of NAMING HERSELF. I KID YOU NOT! Of course this was 60 years ago!

    I wish I had known I could have changed my daughter’s name. I love her name. But for A FEW YEARS.. I KEPT SAYING.. Your name should have been —— not ——-. The funny thing now though.. I like her name NOW so much better than the other name.. because the other name became “common!”

  7. I know somebody who left the hospital with her son having the same name for a first and a last name. She wasn’t married to the father, and they wouldn’t let her use the father’s last name, and the baby’s first name was going to be her maiden name (confusing enough) so he left the hospital Jones Jones (insert real name).

    I love that you did change it instead of calling her baby girl…but you do have me a bit curious as to the name that you actually picked out!

  8. so funny!! I can’t imagine what I would change any of our names to should I have a chance.

  9. Ha! I thought I was bad for changing my girl’s name at 5 days. But we had named her Jacqueline (a beautiful, beautiful name) and it did not fit. Not at all. I sobbed until my husband agreed to change it (even though he had just written out all of our birth announcements).

  10. I’ve heard the story of my niece’s naming at the hospital and my sister saying through clenched teeth to my brother-in-law… HER NAME IS MISS A, NOT SAVANNAH… THAT IS A STRIPPER’S NAME (no insult to anyone named Savannah intended, this is a post-partum woman speaking here). Point being, that is entirely too emotional (and hormonal) of a time to be making any lifelong decisions. Good job on having the guts to “correct” what you saw as a mistake… and good to know it can be done.

  11. Being in the process of changing my last name, I think that is too cool! It’s too bad we are supposed to name kids right away before we get a chance to know who they are. I’m very thankful that my kids have “grown” into their names. Truly classy that you knew the name wasn’t right and fixed it!

  12. I’ve started wondering when this story was going to come out after you left a comment about it on my blog a while back.

    That was a perfectly reasonable explanation to change her name and what a story for her while she’s growing up!

  13. so incredible cool of you. really a very cool thing to do. My husband STILL wants to changemy son Jack’s name and he is NINE. Says it is too common. Can you imagine changing it NOW. Wish I had your forthought!

  14. I think it’s fine tha you did that. I know you said you got a lot of publicity and flack for it and I’m kinda surprised – it’s seems perfectly reasonable in some cases…

  15. My babies were both adopted, so the name on their birth certificates meant nothing until their new birth certificates with my husband and me on them as mother and father were issued 6 months after they were placed with us. Gavin was Justin on his certificate and Grant, I don’t even know. Is that sad. It didn’t matter.

    I always think babies grow into their names, but not always, I guess.


  16. I am a big planner, my husband and I have a big list of all the names we want for girls and for boys. And I legally changed my name when I came to this country, it was a hard decision to make and my Mama wasn’t happy at all, but I am happy with it. I’m so happy that you made the decision, it’s one you’ll never regret.

  17. ha! i so didn’t know you could do this!!

    legally josh’s name is Aaron JOshua because gabe panicked and didn’t want his initials to be JAM. but we call him Joshua Aaron. i wish i had known i could have changed it! i SO would have!

  18. What a great story, mama’s just know when something is not right, even the name of thier kids! Glad you were able to change it! have fun in Vegas Rachel, little jealous!

  19. I remember this. And, I’m so glad I’m posting on Thursday. I’d hate to have to follow this one with something real.

  20. That is too, too funny. I remember the first time I read that story…..and she is so much more of a “Lola” (Insert real name here) than an Emma.

  21. How very cute! I named my second daughter Christina, but have been calling her Nina forever. Christina reflects more the time period when she was born – two days before Christmas. Nina fits her more suitingly. She’s my little Nina-Noo.

  22. This is an amazing story! I love it. I am so glad you went ahead and did what was in your heart for her. THE PRESSURE!

  23. Yeah for vacations and Yeah for smart mommies changing kids’ names!

    Gotta be happy with a name, ya know.

  24. I am SO GLAD my husband didn’t know about this when our oldest was born. He hated our daughter’s name for the longest time. But it suits her. And my middle child, the first boy? Oliver. Fits him like a glove.

  25. I love it. I think you were brave to buck tradition and what people think, and go with your heart.

  26. I spent the first two months of my middle child’s life CONVINCED we’d chosen the wrong name. I loved the name, but it didn’t feel like THE name. However, I was sure my hubby would murder me on site if I expressed my concerns so kept quiet and eventually felt the connection between the name and the baby. when he was about six months old, I mentioned to my hubby late one night that I was glad Jared finally felt like a Jared, because I’d spent the first two months positive we’d made the wrong choice. His eyes got huge and he admitted he’d felt the same way. Had we actually communicated with each other, I have no doubt we’d have legally changed his name. On the other side of that now, though, Jared IS a Jared and his name suits him just fine now, and our third baby (also a boy) has the name (Connor) we discussed for the middle one. Fittingly enough, we found a site that said Connor meant “survivor”, and since we also almost miscarried Connor, but he survived the long, traumatic ordeal, it seems to have all worked out in the end.

    I think “Lola” now has a great story to tell, and it seems your story all worked out in the end as well. That was fun and interesting to read

  27. wow… So I have been debating over changing my daughter’s middle name. Her name is Lauren Mackenzie, but I really wanted to name her Lauren Campbell (my mother’s maiden name). I had such a rough time in the hospital after she was born that we just went with Mackenzie…there are times I really wish I went the other route (of course I considered her first name to be Audrey) – I guess I may never be satisfied!
    Good for you to change your daughters name!!!!

  28. I huge heart you my darling one!
    Thank you for sharing this story with our readers!! You never know who’ll you help or touch with this!
    I am so tickled that you showered some of your classiness on my blog! I adore you my darling and I know your kids names and think they’re perfection!

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