FRANCE: The Trouble With H.

FRANCE: The Trouble With H.

My husband and I are planners by nature; we’ve come to accept that about ourselves and embrace the order that comes from the “best laid plans.” Naming our son was no exception. We carefully planned our first pregnancy, although nature made us wait six months before a faint pink plus sign appeared. With a positive pregnancy test came books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and the infamous “10,000 Baby Names.” Planning for our baby’s name became a fun and exciting way to decompress after a long week.

As my husband flipped through the baby name book, we playfully tossed out names that we loved and hated. I had always envisioned naming a son Jackson, because a.) My name is Jacki and what fun it would be to have a “Jack-son” b.) it was a strong name when pared with our last. However, when a work acquaintance named her future first born son Jaxson, we ditched it and started from scratch. Lucas and Oliver were thrown around as possibilities, as well as a few laughs over others like Jaeger.

Then one day while watching television on yet another Friday night and flipping through the baby name book, my husband turned to me and uttered the perfect name for our baby boy. “What about Halen?” It sounded perfect, our little baby boy Halen.

When Halen was born, our families and friends had a hard time pronouncing it at first, so we found ourselves saying, “Halen, like from Van Halen.” Over time Halen’s name grew on them, my own mother saying one day, “I just can’t imagine Halen by any other name.” For every positive comment, we’d also get a few negative ones too, mostly from strangers. “It sounds like a girl’s name,” or “Did you say Helen?”

And then we found out we were moving to France, where things changed for our Halen completely. (more…)


Jacki, or “MommaExpat,” as she’s known in the Internet community, is a former family therapist turned stay-at-home mom in Paris, France. Jacki is passionate about issues as they relate to mothers and children on both domestic and international scenes, and is a Volunteer Ambassador for the Fistula Foundation. In addition to training for her first half marathon, Jacki can be found learning French in Paris and researching her next big trip. Jacki blogs at H J Underway, a chronicle of her daily life as a non-French speaking mom in France.

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