During the period affectionately known as the Baby Boom, routine amniocentesis and maternal sonograms were still years away. And while the 50s and 60s can claim fame to some of the best music in the history of the universe, its struggling medical practices offered no help to new parents trying to choose a name for their children. That being the case, one would think the prudent thing to do would be to spread your bets equally across two columns of names: one for boys and one for girls. But my parents were so convinced that I was going to be a girl, they put everything on pink and let it ride. When I finally did appear, I was a surprise to everyone—even me. I wasn’t a girl.
Nowadays, new parents can avoid some of the stress of choosing a name by asking for the sex of their new baby weeks or months ahead of his or her arrival. While it does narrow down the naming choices by 50%, it still doesn’t make the task any easier. In Germany, new parents get help from the government by requiring strict conventions that insure that a child’s name is consistent with the baby’s gender. The name can’t be interpreted as being offensive or ridiculous (a practice the United States has yet to embrace) and its spelling must be conventional, probably to avoid any little Adolfs running around Marienplatz in dresses.