For what it is worth, I know a little [name_f]Maia[/name_f], [name_u]Ari[/name_u], and [name_u]Oak[/name_u] and they each wear their name well. I feel that those modern, short, quirky, hippie names definitely work in the real-life context.
That said, it is totally natural to feel differently now that the once far-off prospect of a child has grown more concrete. [name_f]Audrey[/name_f], [name_m]Theodore[/name_m], [name_m]Patrick[/name_m], and [name_f]Cordelia[/name_f] are each wonderful names and while popular, I don’t think there are TOO many of any one of them in the world, so they would make fine choices for a little one.
I didn’t experience the same dramatic shift, but I experienced the same feelings of doubt that are perhaps creating the effect of the shift. I certainly had to interrogate my choices more than before and discover WHY my quirky name choices were still going to be right for me and my real-life child.
I still have one more prospective child I’m looking to name so I do still have the forward momentum and am not only looking at names in hindsight, but I do find it is different being obsessed with names after having actual human children.
For one, all of my choices shifted from infinite possibilities to focus on the sibset cohesiveness and style. I cared about this before but when all the names of the world were ahead of us before our first, things looked a bit different. Now that we have two, it has become even more important to me to have a third name with the “right fit.”
I’m also a LOT less focused on popularity than I once was. I haven’t done a spreadsheet digging into the SSA data since before my first son was born. Probably largely because I no longer have much kid-less time, but also I’m just not that worried about the 47 other children with my potential child’s first name anymore. Avoiding trendy or popular names but finding the right feel and familiarity used to be such a huge focus. I used to worry that my first’s chosen middle name, F3l1x, was way too popular for me to choose, and I would agonize about what else I might put with his first name. Only to come back to the same choice time and time again. Now I don’t give it a second thought, even when we have met two little boys with that first name since he was born. I just don’t care anymore. I still don’t LOVE any top 100 names for either sex, but if I did, I would use it. [name_m]Even[/name_m] names that I feel are trendy, I no longer care about NOT being on the trend bandwagon.
I think that once I’m wholly and truly done naming babies, I will likely have regrets about some of the names that got away. But now that I have named someone and have the feeling of satisfaction of still being in love with that name in every way, so much of the pressure I used to feel has been lifted. I feel I have so much more self-efficacy because of it.