When you're out and about with a baby, you get lots of attention. One of the first questions most folks ask is, "What's his name?" To which we reply "John Paul", and to which they reply with a variety of fun reactions.
Some folks say, "How beautiful!"
Others say, "Is that biblical or something?"
And others, "Like the Pope?!"
We sure are wearing our Catholicness on our sleeve with a name like that.
While we were pregnant, we decided to not decide on a name for baby. We had a (long) list of names for a boy and another (long) list for a girl and we'd make our name decision once we saw our little one's face for the first time.
In order to make "the list", the names had to be a saint's name, a future saint's name, a derivative of a saint or future saint's name, or a family name. Extra points for saints or to-be saints with cool stories. Also, the name couldn't be too popular. I tend to like traditional names that are a little off the beaten path, but not too far off (i.e. St. Sexburga . . . what?!). And I really like nicknames, so if the name had a good one, I liked it even more. Sometimes I'd even think of the nickname first and try to find a saint's name that matched the nickname. Naming really is a fun game!
You'd think that with all those requirements, we would be able to narrow things down a bit, but GOSH there are a lot of saints and to-be saints out there with wonderfully classy nicknameable names!
I spent a lot of time sorting through names on this alphabetical catalog of all the saints and once I found ones I liked, I'd head on over to the Social Security website to check the popularity of the name in the US over the past 10 years. In order to make the cut, it couldn't be in the top 20, especially if it was a girl's name. I like for girl's names to be even less popular . . . out of the top 100. I was serious about names, folks!
Once a name made my list, I'd bounce it off John and try to imagine calling our child by that name throughout his or her life. I'd occasionally run names by friends or family members, but I found it was best to decide on names just between the two of us, since everyone has naming opinions, and they differ wildly!
Once a name made our list, we worked on pairing it with the perfect middle name, which was typically where the family names came in.
After all that searching, we were hoping the perfect name would become obvious once we laid eyes on our newborn, but were also prepared for our baby to go nameless for a few days if we couldn't decide. :P
All that being said, we were pretty sure if baby was a boy, he'd end up being named for his father: John. The name "John" goes pretty far back on his side of the family. All the first born sons have been named John for at least the past 3 generations, with all the men having different middle names (so there's no Sr., Jr., III). My husband, John, was open to going with a different name on the list if baby didn't look or feel to us like a John, but I could tell he really wanted to honor his family by continuing the family tradition. And I was all for making that happen.
However, I really didn't want two guys going by the same first name in our house, like my husband experienced when he lived under his parents' roof. (When we go over there, there's still confusion whenever someone says "John"!) So that's where more creativity came into play.
Since our baby boy's first name was going to honor John's side of the fam, we figured his middle name should honor my side. As luck would have it, guess what my dad's name is . . . Paul!
So, while at first glance it appears we named John Paul for St. Pope John Paul II, we also named him for both his grandfathers -- John and Paul. How cool is that?
And though his first name is just John, we enjoy calling him John Paul so there's no confusion as to who I'm talking to or about at any given moment. We also like that if he decides he'd rather just go by John some day, he has the option, hence "Paul" as a middle name.
For whatever reason, we also decided he needed a second middle name. I think part of it was because we just like so many names, so we wanted to throw another one in there. And as a former infertile, you have no idea if you'll be able to have more in the future, so I sorta felt like . . . gotta use 'em while we can!
Because we were pretty certain about the name John Paul, it was really the second middle name that we left undecided until after he was born. The two we were deciding between were Fulton, for Blessed Fulton Sheen, who is so awesome and we've both loved for a long time, and Peregrine, patron saint of illness, but more importantly the saint that Pippin from Lord of the Rings was named for. ;) We also toyed with Benedict and Francis, but then we'd be double-Pope-ing our kid, Pio, for St. Padre Pio, and Patrick, because John liked that name at the last second and it sounds good with John Paul.
But once our little man arrived, it was clear he was meant to be John Paul Fulton.
So there you have it . . . the long version of where our little man got such a big name from. :)
And in case you were curious, I'll share all the other names we were considering. Don't be too surprised if we use them (God willing) in the future, but since John Paul's birth, I've already discovered a few more names that I love. I'll keep those newer ones a secret for now. ;)
PS - If you're as name obsessed as I am, check out this Catholic naming blog, Sancta Nomina. She even does naming consultations! Be warned, you can easily get lost in her old posts for hours. :)