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Long Island moms share the stories behind their kids' unique names

What's in a name? For many Long Island parents, the stories behind their children's unique names are often as unique as the names themselves. Some moms and dads choose personal, family names in honor of a loved one, while others take a different approach and go with their favorite TV character's name or a significant place, time or childhood memory. Some parents, instead, opt for more traditional names, but choose them for special reasons.

Here, local parents share the stories that inspired their choices.

Curious how your child's name ranks on Long Island and the latest baby name trends? Check out our searchable database at newsday.com/babynames.

 

January Shea Kropp, 2, Patchogue

January Shea Kropp, 2, from Patchogue
Photo Credit: Marie Kropp

“January was always a special month for us. My husband and I started dating in January, got married in January, moved into our first home in January and had our daughter in January. We were really stuck trying to think of a girl’s name we both agreed on. When we binge-watched “Mad Men,” the name January Jones appeared and it was like a light went off. We fell in love with it, and the meaning behind it. We lived in Queens when I found out I was pregnant, so her middle name is Shea for Shea Stadium.” — Marie Kropp

Kailah Chenault, 3, and Kai Chenault, 1, Fire Island

Kailah Chenault, 3, and Kai Chenault, 1, Ocean
Photo Credit: Lauren Chenault

“My husband comes from a mixed background. We have a huge love for the beach. Our daughter Kailah’s (pronounced Kayla) name is the Hawaiian Native American spelling. Our son Kai’s name means ocean in Hawaiian. We live in Ocean Beach, Fire Island, so our life revolves around the ocean. Both kids love the beach and the water, so it worked out perfectly.” — Lauren Chenault

Oluwafunmilayo Fajolu, 10, and Oluwarotimi Fajolu, 8, Freeport

Oluwarotimi Fajolu, 8, and Oluwafunmilayo Fajolu, 10, from
Photo Credit: Adetoun Fajolu

“I got married later in life, and my first pregnancy was considered ‘high risk.’ I spent more days in the hospital than at home, so we named our daughter Oluwafunmilayo, which means 'God has given me joy' in Nigerian. My son’s pregnancy was easier, still high risk, but not as troublesome as the first. We named him Oluwarotimi, which means 'God is around me'. Nigerians name their children based on their circumstances or life situations. Names are very significant in Nigerian culture because it’s believed that what you name a child will have an effect on the child. Christian families, like mine, name their children to express their appreciation to God. God gave me joy and he is definitely around me. Hence, my children’s names.” — Adetoun Fajolu

Meadow Brooke Joseph, 6 months old, Merrick

Meadow Brooke Joseph, 6 months old, from Merrick
Photo Credit: Christina Joseph

“My daughter’s name is Meadow Brooke. I was raised in Merrick, right off of the Meadowbrook Parkway, and my husband loved  'The Sopranos' (Meadow was the Sopranos' daughter in the series). So we named our daughter after the show and the parkway I’ve driven my entire life. Her name means so much to us and only people in New York would understand the meaning behind it.” — Christina Joseph

Mikail Mammadov, 3, Wantagh

Mikail Mammadov, 3, from Wantagh
Photo Credit: Zhala Jamshidova

“Mikail is a Muslim name for boys, meaning 'name of an angel'. In different cultures, it comes in different modifications: Michael, Mikael, Mikhail. In Hebrew, the meaning of the name Mikael is 'gift from God'. The name was borne in the Bible by one of the seven archangels. We call our son Mika, too. I feel good knowing what his name means. It gives me peace of mind.” — Zhala Jamshidova

Aimei Adcock, 4, Huntington

Aimei Aige, 4, from Huntington
Photo Credit: Maria Adcock

“In the Chinese culture, it’s important for a name to have a good meaning. We chose Ai Mei for our younger daughter. ‘Ai’ in Chinese means 'love' and ‘Mei’ means 'rose'. The meaning together is 'lovely rose'. This was the perfect description. We felt full of love for her, and she was beautiful to us like a rose. We combined the two words into one name, Aimei.” — Maria Adcock

Draven Muraco Bradley, 3, Ronkonkoma

Draven Bradley, 3, from Ronkonkoma
Photo Credit: Stacy Bradley

“Draven is very rare and means 'protector of love and shadows'. His middle name is Muraco, which means 'pale moon' in Native American. We tried to give our children names to show our nationality. My husband is black, Native American and Irish, among other things. Draven is a Gaelic/Irish name.” — Stacy Bradley

Jineva Saint Gerard, 5, Bethpage

Photo Credit: Gina Saint Gerard

"My daughter's name is Jineva, which means 'juniper tree,' and my husband's name begins with the letter 'J.' Geneva is in Switzerland, the place where many important international laws were implemented, and a good fit during these controversial times. The Red Cross was also established in Switzerland. My other daughter's name is Giovanna. We chose an Italian name because my grandparents immigrated here from Italy. I confuse myself with their names being similar." -- Gina Saint Gerard

Zinnia Lyons Nartowicz, 2, Huntington

Zinnia Lyons, 2, Huntington
Photo Credit: KP Media

“My daughter’s name is Zinnia. I was looking at ‘Z’ names because I thought it would be cool for her name to start and end with the letter. My husband also loves flowers, and as I’m severely allergic to them, it was nice for him to always have a little flower in the house. Her middle name, Lyons, is my maiden name.” — Rory Nartowicz

 

Eros Sorrentino, 4, and Tiziano Sorrentino, 2, Huntington

Eros Sorrentino, 4, and Tiziano Sorrentino, 2, from
Photo Credit: Gabriela Sorrentino

“We named our sons after popular Italian/Spanish singer/songwriters Eros Ramazzotti and Tiziano Ferro. My husband is from an Italian background and I’m from a Spanish background. We wanted something different and unique for our kids’ names.” — Gabriela Sorrentino

Jahzara Adaeze Emeli, 11, Baldwin

Jahzara Emeli, 11, from Baldwin
Photo Credit: Nyreedawn Emeli

“The name Jahzara is an Ethiopian name meaning 'a princess who is blessed'. We are not Ethiopian. I was looking up names and fell in love with it. My husband’s family is from Nigeria, and her middle name, Adaeze, was given to her by her paternal grandparents. The name means 'princess/first daughter of the king' in Igbo. I picked her first name before I knew what name her grandparents were going to give her. She is the only girl and has three brothers. In Nigerian culture, names have significant meanings. Nigerians also have a naming ceremony after the baby is born, which shows how important naming a baby is to them.” — Nyreedawn Emeli

Carter Garcia, 5, Huntington Station

Carter Garcia, 5, from Huntington Station.
Photo Credit: Stacy Garcia

“My husband and I have always been huge Mets fans, even before we met. When we started dating, we got a puppy and named her Shea after Shea Stadium. Our second dog we named Yogi after Yogi Berra, who briefly played for the Mets. When our son was born in 2012, we decided to name him Carter, after Mets player Gary Carter. His number was eight. Our son was born on May 8 and weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces at 9:38 p.m. He was delivered in room eight as well. Carter’s little sister named Amelia was also born weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces at 8:08 p.m. in August, the eighth month. So apparently, eight is our family’s lucky number.” — Stacy Garcia

Renesmee Clemens, 4 months old, Farmingdale

Renesmee Clemens, 4 months old, from Farmingdale
Photo Credit: Krista Clemens

“One night my husband and I were watching ‘Twilight Breaking Dawn Part Two,’ and we heard the name Renesmee. He joked around saying that should be our daughter's name. Well, he ended up doing some research and found that the name Esme is derived from the French esme (loved), the past participle of the verb esmer (to love), and Rene means 'reborn'. After, the name just stuck. We fell in love with the uniqueness of the name. Not many others will have this name, and therefore it truly makes our daughter one-of-a-kind.” — Krista Clemens

Luigi Di Talia, 6, Oceanside

Luigi Di Talia, 6, from Oceanside
Photo Credit: Iliana Di Talia

“Luigi was named after his great uncle, a one-of-a-kind man who was taken from us too soon. We wanted to honor him by naming our son after him. They are also so alike. He had a love for cars, especially Mustangs, and so does my son. Luigi was born on the day the Mustang was revealed (April 17). My uncle had a love for model trains and my son is beyond obsessed with train sets. When we researched the meaning of his name, we found out it means 'great warrior'." — Iliana Di Talia

Gloria Monaghan, 6, Port Jefferson

Gloria Monaghan, 6, from Port Jefferson
Photo Credit: Melissa Monaghan

“Six years ago I was going into labor with my second child. I always expected it to be faster than the first, but I wasn’t prepared for how fast. We waited for my in-laws to pick up our son so we could head to the hospital. By the time we parked the car at St. Charles Hospital, I couldn’t walk into the Emergency Department (ED). My husband ran to get a wheelchair and by the time he came back, I was on my hands and knees delivering the baby. My husband caught our daughter as she entered the world. The rest was like watching a TV show. Half a dozen staff ran out to assess us. After I caught my breath, we all had a good laugh. We named her Gloria to acknowledge God for the safe delivery of our daughter. To this day we still go back to St. Charles to take pictures in the parking lot. The best part? On Gloria’s birth certificate, my husband is the attending doctor (my OB deferred the honors to my husband) and place of birth is the ED parking lot. It’s a story we’ll never forget.” — Melissa Monaghan

Atharv Mehtani, 15, Syosset

Atharv Mehtani, 15, from Syosset
Photo Credit: Jyoti Anand

“My son’s name is Atharv. He has been called every possible combination of his name: Art, Arthur, etc. I sometimes tell people the name is close to Arthur, just add a ‘v’ at the end. Atharv is an Indian name from one of the four Hindu Vedas (scriptures). This particular one means knowledge of sciences. The Vedas were written more than 2,000 years ago.” — Jyoti Anand

Aisling Raux, 2, West Babylon

Photo Credit: Kasandra Raux

"My husband is part Irish, and has a lot of Irish pride. He loves everything that deals with Irish history. Originally, we were going to name our daughter Penelope (I fell in love with the name after watching 'Big Bang Theory'). My husband came across the name Aisling (pronounced ash-lynn) two week before she was born. The name is Gaelic and means 'dream.' I had a difficult pregnancy, and Aisling had some health issues, including being born prematurely and needing open heart surgery at eight weeks old. She's healthy now and doesn't need anymore surgeries. Certainly it was a fitting name -- a dream come true after all of our issues. It's always mispronounced and she will never have name on a keychain, but it fits her perfectly." -- Kasandra Raux

Miguel Thomas DeJesus, 5, Floral Park

Miguel DeJesus, 5, from Floral Park
Photo Credit: Stephanie DeJesus

“My husband’s father died when he was 3 years old. My dad died in 1993 when I was 20. Once we found out we were having a boy, we knew we would honor our dads and named him Miguel Thomas. He was born with guardian angels. His name being St. Michael the Archangel, commands the legions of guardian angels. Archangel Michael was the sponsor of police departments and law enforcement agencies around the world. My dad was a sergeant in the NYPD.” — Stephanie DeJesus

Mabel Rain Epifany Flick, 10 months, Farmingdale

Mabel Rain Epifany Flick
Photo Credit: Melissa Flick

“My grandfather hated tattoos. He used to tell his standard stories and would say only people who had tattoos in ‘his day’ were sailors. He said their tattoos always said either ‘death before dishonor’ or ‘true love Mabel.’ He always used Mabel as the example name. I’m not sure why. He died in 2013. We named our daughter Mabel as a nod to him. Her middle name is Rain because she is my rainbow baby, a baby born after an infant loss or miscarriage. I have a 6-year-old daughter and had two second trimester miscarriages between my girls. Her other middle name is Epifany. My great grandmother’s name was Epifania because she born during the week of the Epiphany (little Christmas). Mabel was born Jan. 5, which is the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany.” — Melissa Flick

Pax Davis, 10 weeks old, Huntington Station

Pax Davis, 10 weeks old, from Huntington Station
Photo Credit: Kalina R. Lovell Davis

“I love being the only Kalina most people know so I wanted our baby to have a unique name as well. We had a girl’s name picked out but hadn’t agreed on a boy's name when he was born. My husband starting scrolling through a baby name list when we were in the hospital. He came across the name Pax, which is Latin for 'peace'. We both liked it — it fits his personality so far!” — Kalina R. Lovell Davis

Avanna Sarno, 1, Seaford

Avanna Sarno, 1, from Seaford
Photo Credit: Samantha Aldrich

“I had a stillborn at 32 weeks due to a placental abruption caused by pre-eclampsia that went undiagnosed. Her name was Julianna. Shortly after (about three months), I found out I was pregnant again with my rainbow baby. I had no idea what I wanted to name her because just months before I already used the only name I’ve ever loved on my angel. I decided one day to look up how to say rainbow in other languages. Most of them didn’t make sense to me, until I found Madagascar on the list. In their language, Avana (uh-von-uh) means rainbow. I knew right away that would be my daughter’s name. We decided to change the spelling to Avanna, to honor her older sister in heaven.” — Samantha Aldrich

Blaze DeMott, 2, Ronkonkoma

Blaze DeMott, 2, from Ronkonkoma
Photo Credit: Hayley DeMott

“My maiden name is Blazley. I wanted something unique that would be a nod to my side of the family. When people ask my son's name, we either get raised eyebrows and confused looks, or they love it. It definitely suits him and his personality.” — Hayley DeMott 

June Josephine Noonan, 4, Wantagh

June Noonan, 4, from Wantagh
Photo Credit: Jenna Noonan

“I have three children. My oldest is named June Josephine. She was born in February, contrary to everyone’s initial belief considering her name. We chose June because it’s my mother’s birth month, and it’s also a wonderful time of the year when school comes to an end, summer begins and everyone relaxes a little more. We also watched the movie “Walk the Line,” and after hearing Joaquin Phoenix call Reese Witherspoon “June” about a million times, it pretty much sealed the deal. We chose Josephine as her middle name because I was an English and Literacy major in college and grad school. I am obsessed with the book 'Little Women.' Josephine, or Jo, is the main character in the book, a female ahead of her time. I’m proud of my daughter, her name and all the compliments I receive. I especially love hearing older generations tell me they haven’t heard that name in a very long time." — Jenna Noonan

Rocco Caracciola, 3, Ronkonkoma

Rocco Caracciola, 3, from Ronkonkoma
Photo Credit: Kim Caracciola

“We had two boys when I found out I was pregnant with our third. It was a bit of a shock since my other two were only 1 and 2 years old. I thought the name Rocco was too strong of a name for such a little baby, but I always loved it. Our little Rocco was born on Aug. 31, 2015, weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces. He was six weeks premature. At four weeks old, Rocco became extremely sick. He was in septic shock, suffered two strokes, blood transfusion and emergency intubation for eight days. It was a miracle he survived. At nine months old, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome called Cornelia de Lange (CdLS), which affects him physically, mentally and medically. It’s not an easy life. At three years old, he had seen more than 15 doctors, had multiple procedures and surgeries. Rocco overcomes battles on a daily basis with a smile on his face. So a strong name like Rocco for this little guy was perfect. He is and always will be the foundation of our family.” — Kim Caracciola

Demi Ray Grace Breen, 4, Oakdale

Demi Ray Grace Breen, 4, Oakdale
Photo Credit: Lisa Breen

“My maiden name is Demiray, and after my father passed away when I was 23 years old, I didn’t want to get rid of my last name in honor of him. I decided if I had a daughter I’d name her Demi Ray. When I was five months pregnant with my daughter, my mother-in-law passed away. Her name was Grace, and to honor her, we gave our daughter a second middle name. We also have a 3-year-old son named Killian, after my husband." — Lisa Breen

Liam Licastro, 2, East Meadow

Liam LiCastro, 2, from East Meadow
Photo Credit: Siobhan Licastro

“Liam is our miracle baby. I became pregnant with Liam after a miscarriage in 2015. Everything was going great until I was 21 weeks pregnant and he was trying to come early. I had to have a cervical cerclage to keep the baby in for as long as possible. Before the surgery, the doctors told us to pick a name just in case  he decided to make his way out. We decided on Liam Matthew because Liam means 'strong-willed' and Matthew means 'gift of God'. Liam was born Sept. 14, 2016, and he was perfect in every way. Unfortunately, the day after complications arose. He was rushed to the NICU due to hypoglycemia and jaundice. He spent nine long days in there. While there, we discovered that he had two holes in his heart and a feeding disorder. The holes were closed by six weeks old, thank goodness. But at the age of two, he still has his feeding disorder along with severe acid reflux. My little miracle just wasn’t hitting milestones so the pediatrician sent him for testing. The brain MRI showed that my son was missing part of his brain, a disorder called agenesis of the corpus callosum. The part missing causes delays in speech, mobility and feeding. He doesn’t speak much and he receives early intervention. In April, he was admitted into an intense feeding clinic at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside. He was there for two months and did amazing. When he started, he was shy and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. By the time he graduated, he was fist-pumping people in the hallways and playing baseball with anyone who would play. He brings such happiness to others and still does. St. Mary’s continues to treat Liam four days a week at home. He’s learned sign language so he can communicate with us. He is so brave and is simply the best gift God could have given us.” — Siobhan Licastro

Eastlynn La Macchia, 4, and Braddock La Macchia, 8 months, Babylon Village

Eastlynn LaMacchia, 4, and Braddock La Macchia, 8
Photo Credit: Lisa La Macchia

“My mom’s name was Linda. She passed away in 2005. We wanted to honor her in some way, but didn’t want to use her actual name. My husband and I were watching an old movie with my dad during my pregnancy, and the main character’s name was Eastland. We loved the name but still wanted a piece of my mom. So, we changed it to Eastlynn. We totally made up her name, however, it suits her perfectly. When we had our son, we wanted him to have a unique name too. After much back and forth, I blurted out the name Braddock, and we knew it was right.” — Lisa La Macchia

Mason Buffolino, 5, Wantagh

Mason Buffolino, 5, from Wantagh
Photo Credit: Alison Buffolino

“We named our son Mason because my husband owns a masonry construction company. And, that’s how we met. I worked in the office at a masonry supply company and he would come in to buy from us. Long story short, we started dating and ended up getting married.”  — Alison Buffolino

Noah Sheehy, 3, Bellmore

Noah Sheehy, 3, from Bellmore
Photo Credit: Jennifer Onufrey-Sheehy

“Our daughter was stillborn in 2013, and after another miscarriage following her stillbirth, a short battle with secondary infertility, we didn’t think we would have another child (we have one other son, Dylan, who is 7 years old). That period of my life was filled with such sorrow, despair and heartache. I miraculously got pregnant the old-fashioned way, and found out just a few days before I was to start IVF treatment. From that moment, I said that if the baby was a boy, and he survived, his name would be Noah. In the Bible, Noah saved his family and the animals from the flood, and after the rain stopped, a rainbow appeared. He arrived healthy and safe on Sept. 2, 2015. He truly saved our family from so much sadness and helped the flood of tears we had cried for so long. He is our rainbow, our miracle.” — Jennifer Onufrey-Sheehy

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