For Nick and I, the process of naming our past two children was a grueling and slightly agonizing process. Nick is basically the perfect husband, except for a few little quirks. One of his quirks that drives me absolutely bonkers is how he goes about helping me select our children’s names.
With Isla, I already had a name picked out before I was pregnant; both a girl’s name and a boy’s name. Nick proceeded to shoot them down when we found out I was pregnant. And then for the next NINE MONTHS shot down every single name that I suggested, while not once suggesting a single name of his own. Talk about frustrating… why he picked that time to stop being easygoing I will never know! He does like to tease me and he would poker-faced, calmly say “We don’t need to discuss it. When the baby is born, then I will select a name for it.” He also has the ability to both infuriate me and make me die laughing at the same time!
Anyway, about a week before Isla was born, I was throwing names out at him, and he was shooting them down one by one by one. I threw out Isla, I didn’t like it, but I didn’t think he would either… but he did! He said “I like that.” And then he stuck with it for the next week. I HATED it. The only person I knew with that name was the actress. It didn’t meet any of my naming criteria, and I believe my exact and not-at-all-judgmental words were “I am NOT naming my child after Borat’s baby mama!”
So fast-forward to the delivery room, we had two names we were selecting between. We knew the middle name would be either Elizabeth or Frances after two of our grandmothers. Elizabeth with the other name, Frances with Isla. I wanted the other name and Nick wanted Isla. He just kept insisting she looked like an Isla, and finally I gave in. He is seriously the best husband and he really doesn’t get his heart set on many things or ask for a lot so I figured I would let him have this one.
Anyway my mom walked in and asked what Isla’s name was. We told her and then she asked how Isla’s name was spelled. We told her I-S-L-A. And she said “Oh, that’s like my name!’ My mother’s name is Lisa… so Isla is just the letters of her name rearranged. That of course made it perfect, and I have loved it ever since! How neither Nick nor I realized it before, I will never know. Say what you want about Texas Aggies and their intelligence, but Nick has a masters in structural engineering from Stanford and he didn’t realize it either…
I know already shared part of this story when Isla was born, but it doesn’t hurt to get it all down on paper. Our silly, beautiful girl couldn’t have had any other name, and I am so thankful that I let Nick have his way!
Fast forward to this pregnancy. I already had two names picked out again. David for a boy and Jemma plus another girl’s name for a little girl. This time after nine months, Nick didn’t have any other names even after going through thousands of names, and this time he finally agreed that since he didn’t like any of them better than what I had liked, it would be David for a boy. He did like the other girl’s name better than Jemma, but he let me keep Jemma in the running.
I loved Jemma. It is a derivative of Jemima (obviously we weren’t going to name our child Jemima), who in the Bible was one of the daughters of Job. The Bible tells us that Job’s daughters were the most beautiful in the land and received an inheritance along with their brothers. This was very uncommon in biblical times. Not only were daughters often not named or mentioned in the Bible, they also did NOT receive inheritances. One of my most favorite sermons was on this passage and why the Bible makes an exception for these girls.
According to the sermon, many biblical scholars believe that after all of Job’s trials, one of the things that he learned for the first time, was the great joy and delight that God takes in all things He creates. Take the ostrich – such a stupid bird, she does not care for her young, nor can she fly… but boy when she runs! She laughs at the horse and rider (Job 39:13-18). God loves everything He makes, even the things that seems silly or unimportant. Job learned in his later years to delight in all things God had given him; He doesn’t make mistakes in His creations.
So needless to say… I was pretty stuck on Jemma. But I did NOT like Gemma. I told Nick that it reminded me of “Gumma”. It had to be Jemma with a J or nothing at all. Unfortunately Jemma does not really work with Elizabeth as a middle name with a last name of Wann… I’ll let you work out those initials. So we were going to use a different family name for the middle name – the other girl name we liked also started with a J. Nick however liked Gemma with a ‘G’. He said “Isla is like island and Gemma would be like a gem,” but even with that, he agreed to both being J names.
When Gemma actually came out, she was so tiny. I was expected her to be at least as large as Isla even though she came out about nine days in gestation earlier than Isla. I couldn’t believe she weights a full 13 ounces less than Isla! My first thought was that she reminded me of a tiny, precious jewel… and that’s when it hit me – Gemma with a ‘G’. It was perfect! And it meant we could use the middle name Elizabeth.
This time Nick was not insistent that we use the girl name he preferred. He said “I picked the last one, and if you like Gemma with a ‘G’, then I’m ok with that.” So Gemma was named! And she was less than an hour old, unlike Isla who was probably about 8 hours or so.
And she is a little gem .
So that is the long and long of us naming both of our girls!