The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: A Mystery, Part One

I’d been putting off* commenting about the name Jenna and her husband, Henry Hager, gave their baby girl–until I learned (from a Glamour blog) that Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager was named after her two grandmothers (Margaret Hager and Laura Bush).

Although Jenna and Henry decided to name the baby after their mothers, they made it clear that the baby’s first and middle names were strictly “honorific.” They will call their baby Mila (which they explained was a combination of their mothers’ two names). This reminds me of Uma Thurman, who gave her baby girl five names and then ditched them all for a nickname, Luna.

What do I think of Mila? When people read the name, they may wonder how to pronounce it: ME-la or MILL-la? And when people hear the name, they may wonder how to spell it: Meela or Milla?  Mila is a short form of names like Ludmilla (Russian/Slavic) and Camilla (Italian). Ludmilla means “loved by the people.” Camilla means “young ceremonial attendant.” In short, Mila is a nickname of Russian/Slavic or Italian origin that will be the primary moniker for the granddaughter and great granddaughter of two American presidents named Bush.

It must have taken some guts to name their baby Mila, but the rest of the baby’s name seems like it was cobbled together to gain support from both sides of the family.  The idea of giving a baby girl a name that will be used only on the birth certificate doesn’t make sense to me. Why not name her Camilla “Mila” Hager and be done with it?

Glamour gushed that Margaret Laura “Mila” Bush is “a cute” name. But it comes across to me as a strange political contrivance which offers the baby girl an official name (which will be used on Mila’s driver’s license and and voter registration card)  and an unoffical name which be reserved for everyday use.

My verdict: two thumbs down.

*The reason I put off writing about Margaret Laura Hager is that the name seemed so lackluster. I had no idea why a seemingly spunky young woman like Jenna would agree to such a tame name.  It wasn’t until I learned that Henry’s mother was named Margaret that I began to understand part of Henry and Jenna’s plan.

But there was something I still didn’t get: Laura Margaret sounds a lot better than Margaret Laura (as evidenced by the fact that there are millions of Irish women named Mary Margaret–and very few named Margaret Mary). So why did Jenna and Henry go with the more awkward name order? My guess is that Jenna put her mother’s name second to get Mila (an unusual Russian/Slavic or Italian nickname) rather than Lama (a funny Peruvian-sounding nickname).

(See my second post, in which I pay closer attention to a clue mentioned, but didn’t fully appreciated, in this post.)

7 thoughts on “The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: A Mystery, Part One

  1. This is such a tone-deaf and ridiculous stance on a sweetly traditional yet modern name. I wasn’t shocked to hear that the baby was named after her two grandmothers, seeing as Jenna and her twin are themselves. And as someone who was almost (but vety thankfully not) named Margaret and called Maggie, I love the use of Mila as a portmanteau-style nickname. It’s fresh and very 21st-century sounding, and also not exactly an unheard name here in the States. I’ve met at least three Milas (not to mention Mila Kunis), and each one pronounces it the same way. Frankly, I find the tone of your post to be quite xenophobic and off-putting.

    • Hi MK, Thanks so much for writing about my first Margaret Laura “Mila” post. I wasn’t “shocked to hear that the baby was named after her two grandmothers,” but as I thought about the “cover story” Jenna and Henry sent to the media, I began to wonder what they were “really” up to. I’m pleased to note that you are as unimpressed by the name Margaret as I am.

      I assume you noticed that W’s and Laura’s facebook pages referred to the baby girl as Mila–rather than Margaret Laura. You called me “xenophobic” because I pointed out the irony of the daughter and granddaughter of two American presidents giving her daughter a Russian name. If you read my second post on this subject–in which I do a better job of figuring out what Jenna and Henry were really up to–I think you may find the story as amusing, as I did.

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