Touchy subject w/ sister-in-law and baby's name

[name]Hi[/name] all,

I thought maybe some of you could shed light on this touchy matter with DH’s family. We are due with our third baby this fall, finally a girl after two boys! We are planning to name her [name]Sylvie[/name], which is both a name we love and which honors DH’s aunt (born [name]Sylvia[/name], goes by [name]Dawn[/name], but I’ll just call her Auntie here–it’s complicated!), who is much-loved by all of us and never had children of her own.

DH’s sister, my sister-in-law, has two boys, a few years older than ours. After she had her second son I asked her what the name would have been if he was a girl. The name was [name]Silver[/name], which was actually the name Auntie’s father (DH and sister-in-law’s late grandfather) wanted to name her (they ended up compromising with [name]Sylvia[/name]). So it was a cool choice of my sister-in-law to want to honor Auntie and also give a nod to her own grandfather. (Sorry if this is getting confusing!).

Flash forward a few years, we were expecting our second child (sex unknown) and we fell in love with the name [name]Sylvie[/name]. We loved it on its own merits first, and then I realized it could honor DH’s Auntie, which added to our connection with the name. I hadn’t forgotten about my sister-in-law’s choice of [name]Silver[/name], but by now it was clear that they were done having kids. She wanted more, but her own husband was adamant that they were done. (He had a vasectomy when their youngest was one or two, I believe.)

[name]Even[/name] though they were done, I wanted to be respectful, and asked my DH to speak to her about our name choice for a girl. He asked her if she would mind if we used [name]Sylvie[/name] for a girl, since her girl’s name had been so similar, and obviously honored the same Auntie. I clearly remember he told me she was okay with it. The matter was soon forgotten about, however, because we had a boy.

So here we are, over three years later. [name]Sister[/name]-in-law’s kids are 9 and 6, ours are 5 and 3, and we’re expecting the first baby girl in the family. Everyone is thrilled, except sister-in-law, who is not attempting to hide her own sadness that she will never have three children, let alone a daughter. She is not being rude or mean about it, just not attempting to hide her disappointment which is I suppose connected to a kind of jealousy (which extends beyond this situation, she’s jealous in other ways of her brother, my DH). In general we don’t really care about her attitude, aside from that fact that some people feel they need to whisper congratulations to us just because she’s in the room!

I am envisioning the moment this baby girl is born and we announce her name to everyone. [name]Sister[/name]-in-law will be happy for us and go through all the motions of celebration, but I wonder what her inner reaction will be. [name]Will[/name] she feel even more resentment towards us because not only did we have a third child and a daughter, but that daughter has a name, [name]Sylvie[/name], that will always remind sister-in-law of the “[name]Silver[/name]” she never had? [name]Will[/name] she be annoyed that we’re honoring the Auntie to whom she likely believes she has a closer relationship than her brother (my DH)?

I’m probably making a bigger deal of this than necessary, but we are so in love with this name that we really don’t want to feel like we can’t use it because of the potential hurt feelings. She’s done having kids, so it shouldn’t be an issue, right? But I see how she’s reacting to our news of having a girl–which is quite immature given her age (close to 40) and the fact that it has nothing to do with her–and I’m anxious about her reaction when she hears the name. I want to be happy about our choice, but this anxiety is taking away from my excitement.

Sorry for the saga…if anyone’s still reading, I’d appreciate your advice, if even just to reassure me that I shouldn’t let it bother me.

Thanks so much!!

First off, the name sylvie is gorgeous!
Next to the problem! I think that if she’s definitely not having more children, then its not as if you’re taking the name away from her. She’s not going to be using it, so it shouldn’t stop you! Why not do something like make her godmother, that way she would have a special connection to this little sylvie?

[name]Hope[/name] all is worked out!

I say use it! You are not using the name she picked. She is not having more kids. Furthermore, she is acting quite immature about this. She s entitled to dissapointment about her situation, but she is casting a dark cloud on…A [name]BABY[/name]. This should be a happy time for the family. She needs to save the bitterness for the privacy of her own home.

[name]Sylvie[/name] is gorgeous! Congratulations.

I think you are sweet to care about her feelings, but this resentment is her issue. This baby is a 100% happy and magical event for your family and you even were nice enough to clear the name beforehand. Eventually the [name]SIL[/name] will have to choose whether she carries around sadness or moves past it and loves her new niece, and it sounds like she has a caring family that will be ready for her new attitude when she is!

Go for it - and beautiful name by the way.

I agree with the previous posts.

  1. [name]Sylvie[/name] is a beautiful name and it’s wonderful that you can honour a beloved aunt.
  2. Your sister in law is not only being immature, she’s also being selfish. It’s unfortunate that she may still want to have a 3rd child, especially a girl, but you and you hubby have nothing to do with that situation.
  3. You are not taking the name from her since she never intended to use [name]Sylvie[/name] in the first place.

Stick to your original intentions and use the name [name]Sylvie[/name]. Hopefully your sil will get over her own grief of not having a daughter, and be able to be happy for you in the end. I liked the suggestion of asking her to be the god mother if that is something you do. Or, if it’s not, but she lives in the same area, perhaps she could be there for the birth. Maybe no in the delivery room, you’d obviously have to decide what would be most comfortable for you and your hubby. But making a point of asking her (personally) to be there, in the room, or in the hospital might make her feel included and remind her know that she will be a special part of your little girl’s life. Does that make sense? …Or does that just play into her bad behaviour? I’m not sure!

I completely agree with everyone else. I think deep down you know this is the perfect name for your baby but you’re looking for reassurance-- you don’t want to hurt your [name]SIL[/name]'s feelings. But really, this is about you. It would be more of an issue if she was going to have more children in the future and still planned on using [name]Silver[/name], but that’s not a possibility for her, so there is no reason that you should hold back on using [name]Sylvie[/name]. It’s a beautiful name with great family ties for you. Your [name]SIL[/name] is jealous now but hopefully she can overcome those feelings and love your little [name]Sylvie[/name]!

Thank you so much, everyone. It’s amazing how objective advice can be so sensible, and in this case, really reassuring. DH kept saying that he didn’t care if his sister felt resentment, that it was our choice and we love the name, etc., but hearing it from you guys is more convincing!

While I also like the idea of having my [name]SIL[/name] play a special role in my daughter’s life, it wouldn’t be as godmother, as we’re not religious. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to create a bond like that, and I imagine (hope?) my [name]SIL[/name] will come around when she meets the baby and realizes that a special relationship is possible. She does live in the same city as us, so little [name]Sylvie[/name] will grow up knowing her very well (and to be fair, [name]SIL[/name] is a wonderful aunt to my boys).

I’m sure I will continue to feel some anxiety, but I know I would have been a little uneasy about any of the names we were considering, for different reasons. I know it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but after putting so much thought into my children’s names, I feel a lot of satisfaction when people respond positively (as they did with my sons’ names). For [name]SIL[/name] to respond in the opposite way would be really upsetting to me, even though I know I shouldn’t care so much.

Thanks again, you guys. I really do appreciate it.

I can see how this is so touchy:/
The root issued it’s she is jealous that shed isn’t the one having the baby, nor wil ever be able to. Most ppl don’t realize the consequences of getting a permanent procedure done. I know you said you aren’t religious, but Ecclesiastes is a neat book of the Bible that sums up life and human nature. Theres a couple verses that mentions things that are never satisfied, and one of them was the empty womb. I know older women who joke about having more babies, because it is in the very heart of women. Ecclesiastes also says often that there is nothing new under the sun. Think of all that has happened while the sun has been dining down on it’s today and thousands of years ago. These are natural feelings for her and for you.
Now on the flip side, everyone has a right to honor whoever they want too. Lets say she actually ended up having a [name]Silver[/name], there is no reason why you couldnt honor the same aunt now with [name]Sylvie[/name]. The issue it’s not with the name, but rather that your baby will remind her of what she never had. Lets face out, this is an issue that wil carry with her for the rest of her life. “What if” is haunting. [name]Every[/name] time a friend has a baby, every time she sees baby items etc. Really, it has nothing to do with you, shes just taking it out on you. It doesn’t matter if you had a boy, or what you name her. She still has to deal with those feelings. I’m sure she will come around and she will learn to live with it. Dont let her disappointments leave you disappointed be by not using thw name you really love. Good luck to you. [name]Hope[/name] this helps

I agree with others that you should use the name since she’s done having kids. I know others have said she’s immature and selfish, and to some extent that’s true, but I really just think in many ways that she’s going through grieving stages - like she lost a child (although not to that extreme). I think it can be hard to understand. I’m not saying she’s justified, but based on the facts that you’re saying she’s not being mean or rude is a sign that she’s hurting and having trouble coping with that. I don’t think she wants to take it out on you, and I’m sure she’s going to love her niece. But I would just try to look at it like she’s grieving the child she never had.

I agree with the pp 2 posters. I am feeling really sad for your [name]SIL[/name] right now. It’s got to be heartbreaking to be at the end of your childbearing years feeling like you were meant to have other children. That said, you should use [name]Sylvie[/name]. She told you to use it, and she would probably feel really awkward and resented by the family if you opted against it to spare her feelings. I think she will come around once the baby is born, especially if you somehow allow her to “share” in this little girl. We are on a baby “break” right now due to a lot of life circumstances, and I always get a little jealous when my friends are having another baby. But it’s usually only during the anticipation and excitement of their pregnancy. Once they have the baby, I’m like, eh…she’s cute but I’m over it. :wink:

I’ve been the [name]SIL[/name] in a similar situation, and while I can’t tell you exactly how your [name]SIL[/name] will react, here’s what happened in my case: Years ago, around the time my husband and I were married, I picked the perfect girl name, [name]Evans[/name] ([name]MIL[/name]'s maiden name), nn [name]Evie[/name]. I never told anyone about it or “claimed” in any way, but I thought it would be perfect to have a little girl and call her [name]Evie[/name]. Two years ago, my husband’s brother’s and his wife announce that they’re pregnant and I get pregnant two months later. But I have a miscarriage. Shortly thereafter, [name]BIL[/name] and [name]SIL[/name] have their ultrasound, find out it’s a girl, and announce the name they’ve chosen for her: [name]Eva[/name]. I’ll be honest. It crushed me. They didn’t know about my love of the name, and the name they chose is similar but not identical, but it felt like the universe was taking delight in rubbing my loss in my face. I was greiving and hurt and pretty much inconsolable. Thankfully, we live in other cities and I didn’t have to attend the baby shower or the birth because that would have been too difficult in my particular situation. Initially, I was distant with the parents and avoided the baby at family gatherings, but to their credit my [name]BIL[/name] and [name]SIL[/name] never made a fuss about it and acted completely oblivious to my behavior. Fast forward to today: I’m pregnant again, and my feelings on the matter are 180 degrees from what they were. I’m happily looking for other girl names and I even am starting to take some interest in my little niece. No, I’m not particularly proud of my feelings at that time becasue I know them to be 100% irrational, but they were a product of what I was going through. The only advice I have is to be patient with your [name]SIL[/name] and hope that she can reconcile her pain at never having a girl of her own. You never know, she may surprise you over time.

I forgot to add, please do use [name]Sylvie[/name]. It’s a wonderful name for all the reasons you state. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity you’ll be the one with regrets and resentment. Plus, you don’t know that your [name]SIL[/name] would’ve had a [name]Silver[/name] even if she had a third child–it could’ve been another boy, or her hubby could have vetoed the name, or she might have changed her mind herself. But do give your [name]SIL[/name] some empathy and some space to deal with this her own way. I think it’s a lovely gesture to invite her to have a special role in your daughter’s life, but don’t be surprised if she declines. She may change her mind later even if she doesn’t want to interact much with the baby at first.

Interesting, Katybug. From what the original poster said, I recognized that the sil was/is grieving and feeling a sense of loss. I suggested that maybe she’d like to be in the hospital when the baby arrives, thinking it would help her recognize that she’s valued, and important in everyone’s lives, including this new baby girl. I guess I never really thought that it would only remind her of what she was never going to have. Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s definitely made me think. (And congratulations on your pregnancy as well!)

Thank you, katybug, for sharing your personal experience, it’s really eye-opening. I absolutely understand and feel compassion for the fact that my [name]SIL[/name] is grieving for the child she will never have, and I agree with all of you that it really is so sad. I had a miscarriage last year, and can very easily put myself in her position, of yearning for a child you will never have. There were several times, between my miscarriage and the five months before I got pregnant with this baby, when I had to level with myself that I may never have another baby. My two kids are a blessing, but I still ached for one more, and to think I wouldn’t have that was heartbreaking.

What’s so upsetting is that my [name]SIL[/name] was vocal about wanting a third baby, but her husband just wouldn’t hear of it. I get would be angry at him, but I feel like she should have fought a harder battle. One of his main reasons was that they only have a three bedroom house. I mean, come on!! My two boys happily share a bedroom! But he came from a family of two kids, and that’s what felt normal to him. She comes from three, and always wanted three or more.

Anyhow, this is all connected to my dilemma. I don’t want to put her in more pain that she’s already in, and hearing the name [name]Sylvie[/name] might trigger an even greater sadness. But like katybug said, maybe all I can do is give her some space and hope she comes around. I know she will love her niece, I’m not worried about that, I just don’t want to be the cause of further depression, which would obviously be a bit of a downer when we should be celebrating a new addition to the family.

Thanks again you guys!