I love hearing stories about how baby names are chosen, and lots of people have asked how we named our girls. Madeline Alice is, in our opinion, a perfect name. Chosen for a few reasons – I had always loved the name Madeline, my grandmother was Mary Alice, and Mike had a great-aunt named Madeline. The two names also had literary ties, which Mike and I liked. Madeline (from the book series Madeline) and Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) were both heroines of their stories. Our Madeline Alice was going to be the heroine of her own story, too.

When we found out that our second child was going to be a girl, we had to find another perfect, lyrical name. It helped that we had some guidance from a dream I had before I was pregnant. I just knew that our daughter’s name had to start with an A. Mike and I like old fashioned names, but we also like names where there is a “child” name and an “adult” name, the way she had Madeline and Maddie. We started suggesting names, and on a car ride I tossed out the name Annabel. We both liked it, but couldn’t decide how to spell it. Later we came across the Edgar Allan Poe poem “Annabel Lee,” and we knew we’d found our spelling.

Once we had the first name, we had to agree on a middle name. My brother and I have middle names that honor an aunt and an uncle. My nephews both have middle names honoring a grandfather and great-grandfather. And my five-month-old niece‘s middle name is Madeline. Mike and I wanted to give Annabel a meaningful middle name, but nothing that would be overwhelming – something that, while linking her to her sister, would also be uniquely hers. It was on another car ride that we said Violet. As soon as it was spoken, it was her name.

For the next few months, we kept the name to ourselves, saying it to each other, practicing how it felt and sounded. I would go to Starbucks and tell the Barista my name was Annabel or Annie, or pick up a take out order under the name of Violet. I passed time writing it out by hand, looking at the initials, typing it on my keyboard. We told our family her name, but our friends found out at my baby shower. My doctor found out the day she was born. When my newborn baby was brought over to me for the first time, I looked at her and said, “Hi Annabel, it’s Mommy.”

She has, in our opinion, a perfect name.

Fairy Annabel