February 03, 2006

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Naming names

I've already mentioned that Mrs M is pregnant with our fourth child. Naturally it's a wonderful blessing, but it comes with a dreaded curse: finding a name we can agree upon. Inevitably my favourites are Mrs M's "no ways", and her "must haves" are on my veto list*.

And so, dear reader, this is where you come in. In order to prevent a desperate, last minute brain-storming session en-route to the delivery suite, I am appealing to you to help us in our quest for names. To pre-empt your question, we don't know the sex, so make sure you list both boy and girl names. I already have Simon Junior on the list.

To make it even more interesting, there will be prizes for the best suggestions.

Apropos of babies, it seems appropriate to repost a link to Simon's Abridged Guide to Living with Pregnancy (for Men).

* It is some kind of miracle we've been able to name the first three.


While on things reproductive, The Economist (full article below the jump) explains my recent weight gain:

THE term “couvade syndrome” has been used to describe men who share the symptoms of their mate's pregnancy. (Couvade is a word derived from the French for “to incubate” or “to hatch”.) Symptoms of the syndrome commonly include indigestion, nausea, headaches and weight gain. By and large, such symptoms—in particular, pain during a partner's labour—have been seen as psychosomatic, so that couvade has been put down to an exhausting list of possible causes ranging from anxiety to pseudo-sibling rivalry, identification with the fetus, ambivalence about fatherhood, a statement of paternity and birth envy. [Psychosomatic my arse - have they ever seen the bills for this thing? - Ed.] However, a new study on monkeys hints that when it comes to weight gain, there might be more to couvade than first meets the eye.

Toni Ziegler and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined the behaviour of fathers-to-be in two species of New World monkey—the common marmoset and the cottontop tamarin. They found that the male's weight in both species increased during their mate's pregnancy. The 14 male marmosets went from around 410g at the time of conception of their offspring to 424g when their partners gave birth five months later. The 11 male tamarins went from 556g at conception to 568g at birth six months on. A further 13 male monkeys (six marmosets and seven tamarins), which were not expecting to father offspring, showed no weight gain. The work has just been published in Biology Letters.

What was particularly useful about this study was that the researchers were able to weigh males and females throughout the pregnancy. It turns out that the males did not follow the same pattern of weight gain as pregnant females did, which is what you would expect if the males were eating sympathetically with their mates. In fact, the male monkeys started to pile on the grams far earlier than their mates, while their pregnant partners tended to put on most of their extra weight in the last few months of gestation.

So if the male weight gain is not simply down to sympathetic eating, what is going on? In mammalian species where both the mother and the father care for infants, the behaviour of the father is crucial for the survival of the offspring. In these New World monkeys, the fathers spend as much or even more time caring for infants than the mothers. They need to be prepared to engage in caring for their offspring immediately after the birth, which involves carrying more than one infant. So perhaps the fathers are gaining weight so as to prepare for the energetic costs of caring for their offspring.

What this means for couvade syndrome in human males is not certain, but it does offer the intriguing possibility that the father-to-be might, in his own modest way, be eating for two.

posted by Simon on 02.03.06 at 02:09 PM in the Personal category.


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Yes a happy quandrary to be in, but a quandrary nonetheless. Have you ever seen this list put together by the US Social Security administration on the most popular names in America? Granted, that is not entirely appropriate for an Aussie but there is a great deal of overlap.

The link:


posted by: HK Dave on 02.03.06 at 09:40 PM [permalink]

Simon's a great name. Stella is too. Jack and Rebecca are other favorites.

posted by: terry on 02.04.06 at 02:04 AM [permalink]

Simon I would like to recommend Edmund if he happens to be a boy. I know it sounds obnoxiously British, but I've always had a soft spot for it since reading Eugene O'Neill's "Long days journey into night". Thats not to say I hope your son becomes a dysfunctional alcoholic, but the name has a certain character!

If she happens to be a girl, well I'm not too knowledgeable about this, but the standard Anglo-American fair of Emily, Katherine, or Julia is decent enough. Can't go wrong with any of those, particularly Julia. I will have you know that every woman I have known named Julia since grade school has been beautiful.

posted by: Jing on 02.04.06 at 06:38 AM [permalink]

If I ever have a daughter I'm going to give her one of those cute Chinese double names like Ping Ping or Wei Wei.

posted by: Yobbo on 02.04.06 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

for a girl, i'm fond of carol, lily and victoria

for a boy.... you could do worse than hunter?

posted by: Hunter on 02.04.06 at 10:57 AM [permalink]

How about "Rajan"? It's Sanskrit for prince/king and it is, well, my name. If it is a girl, "Rani" would do (princess/queen). Haha.

posted by: Rajan R on 02.04.06 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Yobbo: "pingping" might sound cute, but someday she'll figure out that in english her name means "duckweed"

posted by: Hunter on 02.04.06 at 11:27 PM [permalink]

Julian and Madelline. Or Lolo for a girl.

posted by: Justin on 02.05.06 at 09:57 AM [permalink]

Rainbow, spelt creatively like so: Reignbeau.

posted by: Spirit Fingers on 02.05.06 at 03:42 PM [permalink]

For a girl, Elannor. For a boy, well, doesn't really matter - JC and PB will take the law into their own hands....

posted by: paul on 02.06.06 at 08:01 AM [permalink]

Congratulations Simon!

I'm the eldest of 4 and I've got to say, it's a great number.

posted by: John Swaine on 02.06.06 at 09:20 AM [permalink]

Thanks for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming.

posted by: Simon on 02.06.06 at 11:42 AM [permalink]

Congratulations to you and your wife!

I think you should name him Mark, in honor of MAJ. Have you checked out his porn site yet? It's a crack-up, and I've been having a good debate with ACB about MAJ, marriage, MAJ, homosexuality, MAJ, Brokeback Mountain, and MAJ. Check out ACBs thread on "Banned in China". She's quite a prudish one I think but I enjoy our discussions anyway.

posted by: roland on 02.06.06 at 12:09 PM [permalink]

I think you should name it after a blogger, since you have posed the question through your blog. May I therefore humbly suggest "fumier" if it's a boy, and "Chakrahongkies" if it is a girl.

posted by: fumier on 02.06.06 at 05:57 PM [permalink]

Mink is good for a girl, she won't have to worry about there being 5 Minks in first grade. If she decides to become a writer or pole dancer, it will work also.

Tancredi is good for a boy, especially if he becomes a fashion model.

I would stay away from Catriona or Raven, which is just over the top

posted by: beautifulatrocities on 02.06.06 at 06:08 PM [permalink]


Since you are staying in Hong Kong now, you should give your daughter or son a Cantonese or Chinese name.

posted by: daco on 02.07.06 at 04:42 AM [permalink]

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