September 18, 2018

Baby Names: Elena the Brave

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We are those weird “Team Green” people that don’t find out the baby’s gender ahead of time.  I admit, I was a little tempted to find out this time around.  But I enjoy not knowing.  That way when people ask me “Do you know what you’re having?” I can respond, “A baby!”

Sometimes it annoys people… and I love it.

When it’s time to go to the hospital we usually plan to  go in with our top 2 girl and top 2 boy names, and then narrow it down after we meet our new baby human.  With all 3 kids I’ve had a “gut feeling” of what we were having  (I’m 3/3!), and I tend to focus more on that list than the other.  This time around my gut said girl, and Elena was pretty much the only name on that list from the very beginning.

August 18th (her due date) is the Feast of St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. Elena is a form of Helena, and it was one of the names on our list from the last pregnancy.  We pronounce it “Eh-lay-na” (Spanish pronunciation), but I’m sure she’ll experience all kinds of mispronunciations.  (Sorry kid.)

The tricky part for us was figuring out her middle name.  For the longest time we settled on Elena Kateri, since St. Kateri has been one of our family’s patron saints.  But as we got closer to the due date it just didn’t feel right.  I still love the name Kateri, and who knows… maybe another Baby Johnston will end up with it.  Kateri just didn’t seem to fit quite right with this baby, so about 2 weeks before the due date we started playing around with other options.

Since her due date was close to a Marian Feast Day, the next option was Elena Marie in honor of the Blessed Mother.  However, after a while that didn’t feel right either.  Don’t get me wrong, Marie is lovely.  It’s my Mom’s middle name…but Marie just felt a little “Catholic generic”? 😊 I’m sure I’ve offended a few people, but I guess what I mean is that Marie just felt like too easy of an option.

By the time we got to the hospital and I was being induced, we still didn’t have a middle name.  August 20th is the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  I suggested the name Claire and for a moment I thought we’d found a winner.  Then we kept saying it out loud…

Hmm.. Elena Claire… E. Claire… éclaire… dessert…. Nah. 😉

We had already decided that the middle name for a boy could be “Bernard”, so I suggested the feminine version BernadetteThis way she can claim both St. Bernard and St. Bernadette/Our Lady of Lourdes patronage!  Once she was born it took about 3 hours for us to make it officially official.

We’re also those weird people that come up with hashtags for our kids. #AlexandriaTheGreat came naturally, as did #SimonTheZealous, since he’s named after Simon the Zealot.  Elena’s moniker was a little more difficult… At first, I thought #ElenaTheIncredible… but that made my husband wince.  When we thought a little more about the meaning of her middle name and whom she was named after, #ElenaTheBrave just made sense.  Bernadette means “brave as a bear”, and both St. Helena and St. Bernard demonstrated what I would call bold and brave lives.

So far our kids have all lived up to their nicknames (especially that Zealous Toddler!).  Considering Elena basically came out of the womb on her own, I’d say she’s already off to a good start!

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