Sven Axel

In my family, we all have four letters in our first names. I believe that was my dad's idea. Since my husband goes by Tony, I suggested that we continue the tradition even before we started a family. On my moms side of the family, all her brothers carry two first names, the first one having only one syllable and the second one having two (for example: Karl Erik). I didn't realize this till after we had chosen a name, but I like the idea of keeping that tradition too.

Before we found out if we were having a boy, we easily picked girls first names. The boys names, however, were a challenge. In addition we also disagreed on the last name, as neither of us chose to take each other's when we got married. To me it was important that the name had the right amount of weight to it and was very unique. Since I am a transplant from Denmark it was also important that the name had Danish origin. While we didn't exactly agree on the names or the name combo, we compromised and in the end our son was named Sven Axel.

Growing up there were two Svens that had significant but also a complex influence on my life: The local artist named Sven Dalsgaard, who through his work, opened the world of (conceptual) art to me - and then my dad, a dairy farmer, who still doesn't think much of any kind of art. Besides passing him on the street and in a stairwell a couple of times, I never had any personal engagement with Sven Dalsgaard. I have, however, spent an incredible amount of time looking at his work, which continues to inspire me. I have spent numerous hours in my dad's company, mostly while working manual labor jobs on the farm and having some incredible arguments at the same time. He is a man who stands his ground.

We didn't want our son to be 'little' Sven, or cause any confusion in conversation, so we decided he would be Sven something. We both liked the name Otto and Axel - but in the end I found Otto to be too German sounding. While several people have asked if we are Guns 'N' Roses fans and named him after Axl Rose, that isn't the case. There wasn't a specific Axel in mind. The only one I knew growing up was an older neighbor. He was a very kind man, who always was willing to help my dad out around the farm. He treated me like family and rode his bike almost everywhere. In retrospect, his friendly personality actually reminds me a lot of my husband. Just like Anni and Anthony, Axel also starts with the letter A, a nice parallel to Tony's brother's family, who consists of: Anne, Art, Aiden and Andie.

Like most Danes, we call Sven Axel by his actual name. It annoys me when people assume that it's okay to just call him Sven, Axel or any abbreviation thereof. At the doctor's office a receptionist once called him Seven.

The name Sven means "Young man" or "Young warrior".

-Anni, West Chicago, IL, USA