But when the nurse popped in to ask me what name had been chosen, I said, "I like the name Matthew." Fine, said the nurse, that's a nice name for your son. "Oh, no, it's not his name," said I. "I just like the sound of 'Matthew'. Don't you?" It had been a long night.
We got clear after a bit that actually Bartholomew's name was going to be Bartholomew and the nurse asked me to spell it because she couldn't spell it. But neither could I. That morning there seemed to be too many 'o''s.
So Bart started off as Bartholemew and of course, became almost immediately Bart- (though he does have orchid names in both forms: Some plant or two, called "Bart" for friends and Ascocenda Bartholomew Motes for prospective bosses or mothers-in-law.)
It was easy with Alice. "Alice" was a favorite from the start, both the Wonderland bit and the fact that it was less shopworn, (enough with the Sarahs and Rachels!) and for a touch of familial piety. Alice was the name of my mother's beloved sister who died too young. But when I presented my mother with the news, she just said, "Oh, yes." And that was it.
Admittedly, we are English and my mother is the very Anglo-Saxon side, but still. I'd forgotten that when it came to naming children her attitude had always been pretty spacey.
I'd asked her why was my brother called James Harvey. Nobody anywhere in the family was or had ever been a James, let alone a Harvey- a name I'd never even heard, apart from the rabbit. And she said she couldn't remember why "James" but Harvey was the name of the village blacksmith and when the godfather hadn't turned up for the christening, they asked the blacksmith to fill in.
Then there was the question of my name. My mother, having lost her brother when he was twelve and then her beloved Alice, said she didn't believe in God. So, why, said I in my Christopher-Columbus-Age-of-Discovery-years, why was I called Mary Christine?
No-one in the family was a Mary or a Christine. "Why am I named Mother of God and Follower of Christ?"
And my mother said "Um," in the good old English way. She didn't know why.
But I'm just the same: my brother's cat was called Mittens but for the life of me I can't remember why I called my cat Sam.