Triplet Tales

What’s in a Name (or Names)

I can honestly say I never in my life expected that I would have to choose names for three babies at once. Three little lives who will be defined by the monikers we choose to assign them. No pressure right? I mean sure, I’m female, seeing that positive pregnancy test wasn’t the first moment in my life where I thought about what I would name my unborn child. I distinctly remember a phase, probably somewhere around the 5th or 6th grade, when all little girls start thinking about boys, and families, when I decided I was having twin girls one day, and they would be named Veronica and Victoria. I definitely was in a phase where more syllables was always better.

I was right about the multiples part back then, if wrong about the gender breakdown and the total number. And so in early December, as we found out that there were three little lives beginning deep in my belly, we started to talk names in the most real kind of way. This was different, not the musings of a young girl who chooses names without the say of a significant other, this was one of many joint, very important decisions Andres and I will make together as we move forward with our family. And he had some ground rules. The first names had to be pronounceable to his side of the family in Mexico. They did not have to be specifically Latin, they just needed to sound okay rolling off the tongue with an accent. As someone who is working to learn Spanish and is proud of our multi-cultural family, I found this to be a great ground rule, and it ultimately caused us to rule out names that we both liked, not just one or the other of us. The second was that we needed to agree. If one of us really didn’t like a name, for whatever reason – it sounded funny in Spanish, it was the name of ex, whatever it was, it immediately was kicked out of the running. I was good with that too. We both had to at least in sync, if not in lock-step.

The book that started it all

In the beginning, from the day we transferred the three little embryos that would become babies A, B & C., we first called them Snipp, Snapp and Snurr. These names came from a children’s book that my mother had when she was little, a Danish story about tow-headed triplet boys who got into all kinds of trouble in each of their adventures. That book was still in her childhood bedroom when my sister and I would visit my grandparents as kids growing up. We would read it every time. It was a favorite for all the cousins who came to stay at their farmhouse. Soon we had positive pregnancy tests and finally a confirmation of triplets at about 7 weeks. Snipp became Baby A, Snapp became Baby B and Snurr became Baby C. We called them by those names for quite a while, not certain all three embryos would even make it to the fetus stage in those first weeks. It’s quite common to lose one or even two before the 12 week mark in a phenomenon called vanishing twin syndrome, where the embryo simply gets absorbed by the others.

By the time we hit 13 weeks and those heart beats were still going strong, it felt like time to really start thinking about names, even though we didn’t yet know genders. We had one middle name picked out for a girl – it was something I had hit on even before we knew we were pregnant. I had a girl’s first name that I really loved and he had one as well. We read too many lists of baby names to count. Sat together at random moments throughout the day and tried names out loud along with Castaño, just to see how they rolled off the tongue. We started a shared list on our phones. Our list of girl names was significantly longer than the list of boy names. Purely based on that, we were sort of hoping two girls were cooking in there.

At 14 weeks, our sonographer was confident enough about the genders and put them in an envelope for our reveal (more about that later – I’ll do a flashback post on it, with the videos). When we knew it was two boys and a girl, the real naming process could start, it was almost impossible to whittle it down until we knew for sure who was in my belly. Our girl name came pretty quickly, as did one first name of a boy. The second took a bit longer, but not much time really, as we tried on names, there was only one other one that we kept coming back to and so we finally decided it was meant to be. The boys’ middle names took longer because we had to get a bit creative. Our naming convention was that the first names should be names that we loved, names that could be pronounced in both English and Spanish, names that might have some meaning to them in regards to our families, but they didn’t have to. For middle names, we wanted them to be meaningful, but not exact names of other members of our immediate family. We wanted derivative names, ones that connected to important people in our lives via their meaning. I really love how we came to their names and I hope they love them as much as we do. And yes, I’m getting to the part where I share them, but you needed the backstory.

Baby A (Boy) aka Snipp aka Liam Ryker
How do you choose which boy is which? Well, Baby A was Snipp, because Snipp comes first in the name line up of Snipp, Snapp and Snurr. Snip became Liam, because they both have an i in the name. At least that’s how we did it. Liam always sits the lowest in my belly. Right now, or at least as of yesterday, his little head was down and his feet up near by belly button. Liam is the second boy name we loved. We tried so many others, because our other boy’s name also starts with an L and we didn’t necessarily want them to have the same initial. But every time we tried a different name, we would just come back to Liam. So we decided it was meant to be. We love the sound of it and since I’ve outgrown my need for a million syllables, especially with a long last name, it really felt perfect. But what about his middle name? Ryker is a Germanic form of the name Richard. Richards is the last name of my maternal grandparents and was my mother’s maiden name. It is a way to honor important family members and still give him a name that is unique.

Violette Szabo

Baby B (Girl) aka Snapp aka Violet Wren
In the years since my sister died, I’ve always known I would want to honor her in some way in the name of my daughter, if I was fortunate enough to have one. I never wanted to use the name Wendy, because that name belongs always to my sister, but I wanted to use something connected to her. Wren came to me randomly one day last fall and I brought it to Andres as a middle name, should the IVF work and should there be a little girl. We used to call my sister Wendybird, and a wren is a small songbird with a name that begins in W. We actually agreed that it was neutral enough to work for a boy’s middle name if we were only to become pregnant with a son. The real challenge might have been if we had two girls and a boy, and then how do you choose which girl gets such an important middle moniker? As luck would have it, we have one little girl and so she gets the honor of carrying on my sister’s memory in a piece of her name. Hopefully, she doesn’t inherit all of Wendy’s willfulness or her colorful sense of adventure, because if she does, we are in for it! And what about her first name? Violet was my pick for a girl, but Andres has grown to love it too. It is actually a family name and appears twice in my mother’s side of my family tree. They are both distant cousins of mine, but Violet Elizabeth was the favorite aunt of my cousin Pam, who is the oldest remaining family member alive over in England. I share a middle name with that Violet. And Violette Bushell Szabo is another cousin, albeit a more famous one. She was a spy for the British during World War II and was killed in action. She has quite a story and I hope she will inspire our Violet to know she can do anything she wants to do.

Baby C (Boy) aka Snurr aka Luka Stefan
Look how perfectly that worked. Snipp had an i in it and Snurr has a u. Luka was the first boy name we both discovered we loved. I think we first talked about it as a name for a baby in an offhand conversation on a trip to Mexico the December before we found out we were pregnant. We both agreed we liked it with a K, not a C. And now, it’s also a bit of a reminder back to my grandmother’s name, Lucille, though that’s not why we chose it. She was tough, but fair, a straight talker who I loved dearly. We knew early on that if there was a boy, he would be named Luka. It was why we fought against the name Liam a bit, not wanting them to match too much, until we decided to stop fighting against something that seemed to have decided itself. Luka’s middle name, Stefan, is for Andres’s mother and grandmother. They are both named Reyna, which is spanish for queen. It was a bit of a hunt to line up a derivative name to honor these two formidable women who raised Andres and mean so much to him, but then we found Stefan, which means crown. It rolled nicely together with Luka and Castaño, and connected our second son to his family as perfectly as we had done with our other two children.

We said the names out loud over and over to each other until we knew they were right. Then we began to share them. I know many people like to wait until the babies are born to share names. Either because they want to see the babies first and make sure the name fits, or because they are concerned that someone might express dislike for a name, thinking they might influence a change before the little one’s arrival. We were not worried about either scenario. We know these are our children’s names and so we joyfully share them with you all. At barely 23 weeks old, they are already our children and we love to call them by name. It helps to connect to so many babies at once, at least for me it does. And it makes us all the more excited to meet them when they arrive this summer.


  • Jen M.

    I finally got around to reading this, and I love the thoughtful way you came up with names! I totally understand the longer name list for girls, because my hope was that I was having twin girls. Ending up with twin boys and choosing names was difficult for me for sure! You and Andres did a great job!