Cara and her husband Alex thought they had chosen a unique and meaningful name for their son that no other kid in class would have. Turns out, after doing some Internet searches for “Aiven Gray,” they stumbled upon another baby with the same name. They tracked down Dina (the mama), and the below you’ll find the two musing on their naming coincidence.
Around four years ago I threw out the birth control. My fiancée and I decided to leave it to chance, and while we played family roulette in the din of moonlight, we would throw potential baby names out into the universe. Alex’s family is from Argentina, so he would propose Latino names. I was not familiar with any of them and my frustration grew with each suggestion, which in turn frustrated him with my “cultural insensitivity.”
In truth, he and I wanted to honor our dearly departed family members by naming our children after them, so I think most of his suggestions were made in jest. My father passed away when I was 4 and Alex’s mother passed away when he was 7. We had also both lost our beloved grandmothers somewhat recently. But as much as we loved our bubbes, we thought it only fitting that we should honor our parents first: Alvin and Graciela.
One night, I blurted out, “Aiven Gray.” Alex repeated it a few times to himself, then smiled and agreed, “That’s perfect!” I woke up the next morning and confidently proclaimed that I was going to be pregnant with a boy from our naming celebration a few hours earlier. Alex chuckled. Ten days later I had some slight cramping. I looked at Alex and told him that Aiven Gray was on his way! He was finding a nice cozy spot in my uterine lining to settle in. Once again, Alex did not take me seriously.
A couple of days later, the seventh positive pregnancy test confirmed what I had been saying all along: Aiven Gray was on his way! We got married less than two weeks later and Aiven Gray arrived eight months after that. We love his name. It honors our parents, it’s unique, and it just seemed to fit. Sure, Alex tried to convince me to spell it “Aevyn” to make it more elfish, and I toyed with the idea of spelling it “Grey” to honor my Canadian roots, but I don’t think his name could be more perfect.
Fast forward a few months. My husband lost the link to my Picasa album so he searched for “Aiven Gray” and clicked on the link. As he perused the pictures he felt like he had walked into Bizarro World, “What the —-?! That’s not my family!” He came to me, still incredulous himself, with a declaration I could scarcely believe: “There is another Aiven Gray.”
Sure enough, a sweet little boy was born a bit over a year before my son. In an adjacent state. To another Jewish couple.
We made contact and Aiven’s father and I kept in touch and exchanged pictures for several months. We lost track of each other until last week, which is when I heard from Dina, Aiven’s mother. (That is SO weird to say!)
When we got pregnant with our first, we didn’t find out what we were having. Girls’ names came easily. Like any good pre-teen, I’d obsessed over those since before I could even conceive a child, but I never had a boy’s name in mind. All women have daughters, right? (Says the mom of three boys.)
I always knew I wanted to name my children something unusual, so they could resent me one day. Growing up in a provincial Jewish community, with a traditional Hebrew name, always made me want something different for my own kids. I don’t like being what people expect. So yeah, I’m a rabbi’s daughter, but don’t think my son will be named Yosef or Shlomo. Not happening. Ah, rebelliousness at its finest. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to pick Christian or James (though I considered it!), but it had to be different than every other Josh, Sam, and Harry. We wanted something unique. But not weird.
It’s HARD to think of boys’ names. As with everything parenting and pregnancy-related, people offered their unsolicited opinions: “You have to name boys something mainstream and standard. Like Michael or Jonathan. Otherwise, they’ll get beat up.” Oh, OK. Individuality? That’s reserved for girls, honey. If you’re having a son, you don’t get the luxury of being creative. Great.
I wasn’t having it. I was sure we’d find a name that was different, but tough. You know, because I’d never want little XY to be beat to a pulp on the playground. Months passed, my belly grew, and I became convinced that it held our future son–simply because we still hadn’t come up with a name.
Walking (or more accurately, plodding) home from work one day, it finally came to me. Aiven Gray. We wanted an “A” name in memory of my grandfather, Alex. “Aiden” was soaring in popularity–too generic. But what if we swapped the “d” for a “v” for an unexpected twist? And paired it with Gray, always topping our list for its poetic sound and symbolic meaning.
I broke the news to my husband that I had come up with our “boy name.” I remember telling him to “reserve judgment” and let it “sit with him” for a while. But he loved it immediately. It was elegant, yet strong. Different, but not complicated. And when our beautiful son arrived a few months later, it suited him. Surely no one else would have that name.
At least not for another year…when one evening, my husband calls me into our office to tell me he just got an e-mail from the mom of ANOTHER Aiven Gray. Impossible. Spelled the EXACT SAME WAY? Unheard of. We incredulously perused pictures of an adorable red-headed boy who lived in the neighboring state.
Time, life, and travels have gotten in the way, but plans are finally in the works for Aiven Gray, age 4, and Aiven Gray, age 3, to meet…and get totally confused. And you know what, I have to say to that other couple who had the nerve to come up with the exact same moniker for their son just over a year later?? Hey Cara & Alex, listen up! I love your son’s name.
Dina L. Relles is a lawyer, writer, aspiring doula, and mother of three boys, aged four and under. She has a B.A. in Ethics and Political Philosophy from Brown University and a J.D. from Fordham Law, but mostly she likes to drink coffee and people-watch from her front stoop. You can follow her on Twitter at @DinaLRelles or check out her fledgling blog, Coffee, Kids, and Common Things, at dinarelles.com.