Monday, December 23, 2013

Baby Name Story: Forest Alexander

Awhile back, I wrote this post on 9 potential names we were considering for our baby boy. In addition to this list we also entertained Asher, Everett and Nathaniel as candidates for our son. After months of indecision, hmmm-hawing, and back and forth debate, we decided on Forest in pretty anti-climactic fashion. One night Jonathan basically looked at me and said, ‘So, Forest?’ and I said, ‘Yea, sure.’, and that was that. Jonathan let me be in charge of picking the middle name and I decided on Alexander pretty immediately. I'm ashamed to say there was no particular meaning behind this. I simply liked the way it sounded paired with Forest, and of course, I love classic, strong, historic, fancy-pants names so it fit all of those criteria. Bailey's middle name (yes my dogs have middle names) is Alessandra so obviously I love all derivatives of Alexander. 

Anyway, back to Forest...Back in July, this is what I wrote as a few of our reasons for loving Forest, and also some of our reservations: 
Pros: I just love ‘Forest’. It’s masculine, yet sensitive all at the same time. It speaks to our love of nature, and subtly refers to our favorite hobby in Scotland: Forest Walks.  No matter how frustrated I can get with living so far from home, I always feel at peace when we load the dogs up in the car for a trek through the forest. This is a word that epitomizes peace and calm to me. 

After the popularity of Forrest Gump, this name basically fell of the face of the earth, dropping off of the US Top 1000 list completely. To me, Forrest Gump isn’t a bad connotation at all. In fact, it’s my favorite movie; Tom Hanks- my favorite actor. So while Forrest/Forest is classic and timeless, it’s basically going unused by the American public right now. Is this our perfect opportunity to scoop it up for ourselves? It does sound really pretty with our last name. Gotta love those repeated R’s! 

Cons: The spelling issue. Even being uncommon, it’s more frequently spelled ‘Forrest’. However, we like the sleeker look of 'Forest' and how it more literally represents the nature vibe. Still, I don’t want my son to have to go through life correcting the spelling of his name. However, in this day and age of ‘creative’ name spelling, is he doomed to that dilemma no matter what we choose?   
There are a few other little tid bits about the significance of 'Forest' that I didn't include in the original post. There was a sort of evolution for Forest to even get on our nomination list in the first place. Those who know me, know that I CANNOT sleep without watching re-runs. I have all of my favorite TV shows on DVD and watch them over and over and over again. One of my favorites is Felicity, and I just love Keri Russell, the actress who plays the title character. 

A few years back, Keri named her baby boy ‘River’ and immediately it struck me as a beautiful name and with our love of the outdoors, I just took to the idea of a nature name. 
Keri and River  SOURCE
At the time, Jonathan and I were just beginning to think about starting a family so names were a fun topic of conversation. I suggested ‘River’ thinking he would love it and instead he instantly shot it down, but mentioned he liked the idea of a nature name as well. I casually floated 'Forest' and he said, ‘yea, I like Forest’. So that’s how our son’s name flippantly made it onto our long list. It's funny how I remember that precise moment.

I’ve always been drawn to ‘F’ and ‘Ph’ names (if we’d had a girl, she would have probably been ‘Fiona’), probably because my beloved grandmother is named ‘Fern’ and so I always associate the sound with her. Plus it’s a first initial that isn’t used too often, so of course that appealed to me. 
My 'MawMaw Fern' with her great grandkids
When we moved to Aberdeen, we first moved into temporary housing by way of an adorable apartment on Forest Avenue. 
Forest Road/Avenue is a beautiful residential street in the heart of our West End neighborhood, which elevated the name even higher for us due to this Aberdonian association. 

And then there were the Forest Walks. Oh, how we love the Scottish Forest Walks in Aberdeenshire! 

We have become mighty spoiled that most of our jogs and dog walks and stroller strolls take place in a beautiful woodland setting. It is the most peaceful place to me, and has always helped me to clear my head and feel an intimacy with the Lord. It was such a large part of our lives in Scotland, including in my daily pregnancy walks, that it seemed right to name our son after this shared family hobby. 

Also, when we were still undecided on a name, I saw this pin on pinterest about words in different languages that had no translation. One of them was a German word (Waldeinsamkeit) that meant ‘the feeling of being  alone in a woods’. 

It was such a beautiful sentiment and for me, that peaceful feeling is instantly conjured up when I think of the Scottish forests . 
That was the moment ‘Forest’ jumped up in the polls for me. 

Still, towards the middle of my third trimester, we still hadn’t reached a consensus. I think we were both holding out until our babymoon to the Isle of Harris to see if ‘Harris’ would steal the show.   

We both loved the island, both for it’s tweed and  heavenly scenery, and had a hard time NOT using it for our boy, but I think we both thought ‘Forest’ portrayed more of the essence of our time in Scotland. 

After the trip, we sat down and discussed our rankings of the final 5. Jonathan’s list went like this: 
4) Asher 
5) Ezra

My list was as follows: 
1) Asher 
2) Forest 
3) Harris 
4) Ezra 
5) Ian

Since Ezra was so low on each of our lists, it was automatically gone. Jonathan admitted that the only reason Ian was his top choice was because it meant ‘Jon’ in Gaelic. I was feeling that it was a bit unfair to name him after Jonathan since he would already carry Jon’s last name, so we agreed not to use ANY family names (or international versions of family names) just to avoid any hurt feelings.  So with Ian off the list, that logically left Forest as the default #1 choice, with Harris in our back pocket in case he came out and just didn’t look or feel like a ‘Forest’. 

Shortly after this decision, we started having concerns about baby boy’s growth. We had 3 growth scans in those final weeks, all showing that his growth had significantly slowed. It could have been a natural result of being housed in the womb of a petite woman, or it could have been something more worrying such as a congenital or chromosomal disorder. We decided that if it turned out to be the latter, his name should be ‘Asher’. Asher was number 1 on my personal list just because of it’s meaning: Happy, most blessed. If something was less than perfect with our son, I wanted his name to be a constant reminder that he was still a blessing and an answered prayer. 

When baby boy finally made his appearance, one of the first questions I asked Jonathan was ‘Is he a ‘Forest’?’ (I couldn’t see him from the operating table) and Jonathan answered affirmatively. 
And after 7 hours straight of fussing after his birth, I knew for sure that he was not the happy baby 'Asher' I had pictured in my head. And I feel like Forest suits him way better than Harris at this point, although I think his personality portrays more of the wildness of the woods rather than the peace and serenity that I was picturing! He is wild and strong and full of energy. 
I recently read this quote in the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson which made me think of the duality of meaning in terms of a 'Forest'. It's been running through my head ever since.:  

"That's how life goes--we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord's. I need to bear this in mind." 

Beautiful! The whole novel is full of gorgeous little quotable nuggets of wisdom if you're in the market for something to read.

We absolutely love his name and have zero buyer’s remorse. Also, the hospital where he was born is part of the Forester Hill Health Campus, so that’s an added tie to Scotland. (Not that I’d want to name him after the hospital after my experience, but it’s still a cool connection.)When we were at the hospital, all the midwives would ask if we’d named him yet and when we replied, ‘Forest’ they all gasped and said in their Scottish accents, ‘That’s lovely! We’ve never had a Forest before.’ That was precisely the reaction we were hoping for. 
We also got quite a few ‘Forrest Gump’ jabs, but they were all in good fun and we played along in good humor. My brother said if he ever has a daughter, he will name her Jenny, and I remarked that she and Forest could be like peas and carrots. My mom can’t wait until he starts running, for the obvious 'Run, Forrest, Run' jokes. 
Lord help him if he's a track star...or a football star...or a ping pong star. My favorite was when we announced his name and a friend asked us if he got a daddy named Forest too (that made me laugh out loud). 
Like I’ve said before, Forrest Gump is my favorite movie of all time and I am flat out obsessed with Tom Hanks, so I don’t mind the association, and think Mr. Gump is actually a pretty worthy namesake. 
So that's the story of how we came to name our beautiful son 'Forest'. 
And that's all I've got to say about that.


  1. Love, love, love this post! And I love the name Forest oh so much. What a great name with so much meaning behind it for you guys and your time in Scotland.

  2. This is lovely. Seems like he was meant to be sweet, dear Forest.

  3. Lovely history behind why you chose his name. Seems like he was meant to be a sweet little Forest :)