Sunday, May 10, 2009

What's in a name?

For months leading up to Hadley's birth, I worried about what we'd name her. Would we get it just right? After all, her name would be the first indicator of her identity--how would we know what to call her when we didn't even know her? It doesn't help that many of the baby name books warn about the dire consequences of a poorly chosen name, like parents-to-be need any more stress.

Every time we tried out a name, I'd try to think like a mean seven-year-old: What kinds of nicknames would Scrappy the Playground Bully figure out? But more importantly, what kind of legacy would her name give to her? I wanted to tie her to the community of people who love her, who loved her before she took a breath.

Hadley is my godmother's maiden name and her thirtysomething daughter's first name. My godmother, who I still call Aunt Sue, is a vivacious, generous, funny woman; nobody can tell a story like my Aunt Sue. And her Hadley is a warm, happy woman who inherited her mother's quick wit and charm.

Hadley also happens to be the name of Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I don't love the "first wife" bit, but the tie to Hemingway appeals to me, I admit. I really wanted a literary name, but so many writers are angst-filled and tragedy-prone, it's tricky. (For a while I thought about naming our baby Charlotte, but I wondered if people would associate her more with E.B. White's spider than with Charlotte Bronte. And then, of course, we have the problem of Charlotte Bronte's relatively unhappy life...)

Jane is my maternal grandmother's first name. Grandma died in September, a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. She was a gentle spirit who found great joy in her grandchildren. I still remember how she seemed just as excited about our annual Easter egg hunt as the six of us were. She would have been over the moon if she could have met Hadley.

Jason loved the name Hadley Jane from the start...and now that she's here, I can't imagine her being anyone else. Jason refers to her sometimes as "the Hadster," which just makes me think about Saturday Night Live in the '90s ("Hadster, Had-a-rooney, Hadalicious..."--remember that guy?). But she hasn't objected yet.

So once we had Hadley, we needed a name for this blog. I'm a sucker for an alliteration, so I first thought about "Happy with Hadley." But happy just describes a state of being, and we're doing far more than just being. We're dancing and singing and laughing at her funny faces; we're imagining how much fun it will be to take her to the park and read her books and introduce her to our family and friends. Those are all actions, so we needed an adverb. (Nerd Alert, I know, I know.) We're doing all of these things happily, so the blog became "Happily with Hadley."

Two names, one week. We're on a roll.


  1. The most well-written blog post I've read in a while! I love this story and I love Hadley's name. It's just perfect. I'm so glad you started this blog -- I can't wait to see and hear more! -Christine

  2. I'm so glad that you created this blog! However, I'm even more excited about your first post about her name. Everyone has been asking me about her name and I always said, "I don't know!" Well, now I do! I look at her pictures everyday and can't wait to meet my niece in person!! Love you all!!

  3. Yea! I have been checking this site daily and when Jason told me today that you had posted something, I rushed home to get on line! I cannot wait to meet Hadley!! I am so proud of you Hilary and Jason, Hadley is a lucky and blessed girl to have you two as her parents. Love you so much!

  4. a beautiful post and a beautiful name! Can't wait to meet her! Love, Aunt Lydia (or, as my "Scrappy the Playground Bullies" called me: Lyd, Lyds, Eye Lyd, Trash Can Lyd, Luigi...)

  5. Hilary your sweet words made me smile, thank you! She is so blessed to have such wonderful and loving parents. She will love her name as I do and the funny thing is I have a few close friends, like Lynley (remember her), that call me Hadster:) So excited you have a blog so I can follow every step!!! Can't wait to meet her.
    Love to you all!!!

  6. Hadley Jane is a beauty...she got the very best of everyone! You can say what you want about her hair, but those LIPS are to die for!! She won't ever need lipstick or collegen and is sure to give her mommy & daddy great kisses one day.

    I can't wait to meet her, she looks so content and happy, and will forever be a joy to you.
    Love & hugs to you, Aunt Pam

    ps...this is my first time on a blog, what a great place to start!