How Kysa Got Her Name
I was about eight months pregnant with my oldest child when crisis hit. I already knew I was expecting a girl, and I’d chosen a name for her (Samantha). One of my closest friends finally came in to town, and wanted to see my ultrasound video that I had of my expected baby.As she watched the video, she started making comments. She’d say things like, “Oh, look, there’s Samantha’s arm!” or “Oh, there’s Samantha’s little mouth!” I wanted to slug her and say, “QUIT CALLING HER THAT!!!!” (read that with a slightly crazed, demonesque voice that pregnant women sometimes have)
I realized that while pregnant rages are quite normal, the fact that I didn’t like someone calling my unborn child by the name I had chosen was probably not a good sign. With that conversation, I realized that while I did love the name Samantha, I didn’t feel it was right for this child. I was in a panic- this baby was coming in less than three weeks, and I had NO IDEA what to name her.
At the time, I worked in a model home. Things were fairly busy, however, I did have a lot of time to reflect on the fact that my poor child was still nameless. This was definitely a sign that I was going to be a terrible mother.
One afternoon, I was at work, obsessing away, when I heard the door to the model home open. In walked my grandfather. This was quite a shock, as he’d been dead for over three years. Once the light was out of my eyes, I realized that while the resemblance was striking, this was actually his brother, who was (obviously) very much alive.
He had heard I was working at this model, and had some questions regarding my mom and her siblings. He is an avid family history researcher, and needed some birth and anniversary dates for our side of the family. I gave him the information he needed, and then said, “Since you’re working on our family history, you must have come across some good names in our family tree. I am looking for suggestions for a girl’s name for this baby.”
He gave me a look like I’d better hurry and come up with something, and FAST (I also was carrying very large, and people were very nervous to be around me that last month; they were terrified I’d drop and give birth at any second). The first suggestion he gave me was terrible, but the second suggestion was “Kaijsa Marie”, from a Swedish branch of the family. I LOVED how the name rolled off the tongue, and asked him to spell it. Hmmm. I didn’t like the spelling. Nobody would ever pronounce or spell “Kaijsa” correctly.
I said goodbye to my great-uncle, and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to anglicize the spelling of Kaijsa. By the time I left work, I’d decided that “Kysa” was going to give her the best chance of easier spelling and pronunciation.
I came home that night, excited to share our baby’s new name with my husband. He was agreeable to to the “Kysa” part, but not the “Marie” part. I have to admit I was a little surprised by that- I thought “Marie” would be the easy part. After a couple days of playing around with names that had the same basic cadence as Marie, we finally agreed upon “Nicole” as the middle name.
People have struggled to pronounce and spell Kysa’s name correctly, and I still get the occasional hairy eyeball and accusation that I made the name up, but when I tell them it’s a Swedish name, and a family name to boot, they tend to shut up. I still love the name, but I do have to admit that Kysa’s siblings all have names that have appeared in the top 50 most popular names at some point or another.