Did You Change Your Name?

May 10, 2017

did you change your name



Until recently, changing my name was never something I thought a lot about. I grew up in a fairly progressive household, had fairly open minded friends, and once I was in dental school so many women around me weren’t doing it either. Since I didn’t get married till after graduation, I had already been licensed as a dentist under my maiden name and every certificate, diploma and license I had been issued up to that point had my name on it. It not only seemed silly to turn around and change it all, I also held a very special place in my heart for my last name. I mean I added Holland to my name on Facebook, that counts for something right?! 

Not only did I like my last name, I felt very strongly about keeping my culture close. I didn’t want that to get lost and my husband could have cared less either way. He actually suggested I keep my name so we didn’t have to change all my professional paperwork.

Since our son is set to arrive in just a short while, I began thinking about it again. I asked around and my friends are really split on the notion. Some have taken their husbands names and never thought much of it and many of them haven’t and feel very strongly about keeping their maiden names. 

The reason his impending birth has me thinking about this again is because I remember visiting the hospital when my nieces and nephew were born and their little name tags having my sister in laws name on them instead of my brothers. Babies are identified by their mothers name when they’re born and she had never changed hers either. 

No one calls me Mrs.Holland or Shaheen Holland and at work my staff has only ever known me as Dr.Khan, so a part of me can’t imagine going by any other name. At the same time, my son’s last name will now be Holland and I don’t know if it will be confusing. I’ve had friends tell me when they were little and their friends mom’s had different last names they just assumed they were divorced. 

I also deeply wish changing your name wasn’t such a process. I did a few Google searches on the topic and the amount of government agencies I would have to visit in person was discouraging enough! 


I’m curious as to your experience on both ends since I’m really struggling with the decision. Did you change your name after marriage? Did you before you had a baby? Have you had any issues? 




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  1. raziakassam says:

    So I have the same hardship and torn but I decided I wouldn’t change my name until we have kids… so that all paperwork will be done at once instead of twice.. I have also decided that our kids will have my maiden name as their middle name so that its carried on somehow as my dad only has daughters and once we are married our last name would normally be gone.

  2. Emma says:

    I kept my name when I got married – it was (and is) really important to me. We don’t have kids yet, but I’d like to hyphenate our last names for them when we do. If we don’t, they will definitely have my last name as their middle name.

    I don’t think it’s weird that the baby will be identified as your last name when you are in the hospital, even if it isn’t officially their last name. It will still be a part of their identity since it is your last name (and their grandparents’ and cousins’ last name too!) Plus, you will always be the Khan-Holland family!

    I think that it’s really normal for families to have different last names – and the more people do it the more normalized it will be.

    • I agree! I never thought much about it till recently and so many of my girlfriends never changed their names either. I’m also a huge fan of making it their middle name – I think it’s such a nice way to incorporate everyone!

  3. Rachel says:

    ahhh- this is a tough one. Day to day I don’t really think about it, but I am sure there will come a time when Sloane wants to know why my last name is different than hers and her daddy’s. I am pretty locked into my own name because of the business at this point, but I understand the struggle and the thought process. I think it is more common now than it was when we were growing up and that our children might, possibly, not think anything of it. But ultimately- whatever works for you is what matters!

    • Same!!! I don’t even own an office and am still so attached to being Dr.Khan at work. I’m hoping it is more common and won’t be a big deal 🙂 At least you know eventually Sloane’s last name will be Holland when she marries our son!

  4. Candace Hall says:

    Hey Shaheen! This was a rather sticky topic for myself as well. When my husband and I were just dating and even when we were engaged, I was very head strong in the fact that I was NOT changing my name. I loved my name, and like you, it held a lot of meaning to me and my roots, and my connection with my family and my heritage. However, that all somewhat changed the night of our rehearsal. After our rehearsal dinner and before my husband and I parted ways before the big day, he looked at me and asked me in the most serious fashion I had ever seen him be, and he said “are you really not going to take my last name?” for once in my life I was at a loss for words. I could tell that he was obviously upset by the mere thought. I told him that right now that should be the least of our worries and lets discuss when we got back from our honeymoon. So actually one day while on our honeymoon, and lounging on the beach, he brought it back up again. We went back and forth for a while and ultimately I realized that it was more of a pride thing for him, and his perspective was, what if we ever have kids? I don’t want the mother of my child to have a different last name from my children. The moment those words left his mouth it all clicked in my head. So we made the compromise that I would still keep my last name and take his, but without the hyphen. So I am legally, Candace Stevens Hall. So maybe that’s an option you can explore.

    also, when I did mine, the only place I had to physically go was to the social security office and then of course I had to submit for a new passport photo. But everything else I was able to get taken care of online. Now that was 6 years ago, so things could have changed now!

    But best of luck to you! and CONGRATS on the baby! Can’t wait to see pictures!


    • Oh that totally makes sense, I guess if Trevor cared I would think more of it. Since he’s pretty indifferent about it I feel torn! It’s good to know most can be done online because going to government agencies in Chicago literally gives me nightmares. I hope you are doing well and thank you so much – we are getting so excited!!!

  5. Emily says:

    My mother is a doctor and kept her last name, and I literally never noticed it until I was old enough to. She was Dr. Ichikawa at work to all her patients and staff and Mrs. Lewis to all of my friends and other people in the community. I don’t think it would effect your children too much, it literally never affected me! She kept her name for the same reasons you cite, she got her certifications under her maiden name, and culturally her name is significant to her. None of my friends growing up ever asked about it, no one assumed my parents were divorced, everything was fine. I say keep it! And of course there’s no need to correct your sons friends or someone else in the community that calls you Mrs. Holland instead of Dr. Khan 🙂

  6. BSM says:

    My husband and I both kept our last names when we got married. I’m 15 weeks pregnant with our first (a boy, too!), and we are planning on giving him an entirely new last name; it’ll be a combination of both our last names. It was very important to me not to participate in the patrilineal practice of passing on my husband’s last name without taking a hard look at that tradition and asking ourselves, “why?”

    With so many different types of families these days (families with children from previous marriages, families with LGBTQ parents, families helmed by single parents, families with adopted or foster children, etc.), I think it’s fine that everyone in our family will have a different last name*. I’m excited that our son will have a name that reflects both sides of his family and his weird, somewhat non-conformist parents 🙂

    *Our dog also has our combination last name, so her and our son will share a last name 🙂

    • Oh, congrats!!! So excited for you 🙂 That’s so cool, I’ve never thought of it. I’ve had friend mesh their names to create their child’s first name but never thought of the last! I agree, I think ‘traditional’ things have become far less common and it won’t be a huge problem! Also, love that the dog and him will be siblings 🙂

  7. Yelle says:

    I never changed my name. Like you, after graduating and starting my career, I had so many things in my maiden name. We hope to have kids, and I think I will keep my maiden name. I’ve started socially going by my husbands name. Both of my last names are on my FB, and at work my paycheck goes to my maiden name, but my emails go to my married name. I’m known as my husbands name in social circles and at work now, but I’ve never done the paperwork. (I hate paperwork). If it was as easy as checking a box “yes, change my name!” on the marriage license, I would have. But, it is way too time consuming to change every single bill/certificate/etc. Plus, I think “back in the day” when most women changed their names, it was before easier access to higher education, before most women joining the workforce, etc. All of these women coming out of high school never had a bill in their name, so it was easier to change their name legally. For now, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I will socially share a last name with my husband and future kids. If it turns out to bother me in the future that legally my name isn’t the same, then maybe I’ll conquer that paperwork 😉

    • Yea, that’s mostly how I’ve looked at it thus far and the babies arrival had me thinking about it again. I don’t think it will be a huge deal and far more common than it used to be. I totally agree – the paperwork and changing everything I have makes me not want to do it to begin with 🙂

  8. AR says:

    Since there are little comments from the other perspective, I thought I might chime in! I took my husband’s name. He and his dad are the only male siblings, so it was important to him to keep the family name going and for our children to have his last name. Like a lot have said already though, I have a strong cultural connection to my maiden name, and I regret that it is “lost” now. I miss getting the “what nationality is that?”question with my maiden name, and feel a little less tied to my culture. If I had to do it over, I would have at least changed my middle name to my maiden name… which I may still do one day since our daughter has my middle name now! The paperwork really wasn’t that bad at the time, however, now that we have a 4 month old, I can tell you time is much more precious!

    • I totally understand that! I have heard from a lot of women who say that it was important to their husbands and I think if mine cared I would be more inclined to do it. I also think like you said, him and I come from different cultures so it was important for me to keep that but I’m not sure now that our son will be in the mix! Haha, I can only imagine I won’t be having any more free time in the near future!!!

  9. Heidi says:

    I have not changed my last name since, like you, I was professionally known by my maiden name long before I was married. It was odd, at the hospital, to see my last name attached to my son’s wrist, rather than his father’s. But because my last name is so unique (and my husband’s is common), I didn’t have to worry about a baby mixup or anything when they brought him back from the nursery. 🙂 Eventually, before my oldest son realizes we have different last names, I will probably change to my married name to match his and keep my last name as my middle name so that people can still professionally identify me.

    • That’s a great perspective! I’m realizing I don’t need to do it immediately if I do decide to go that route and could always change it in the suture. The thought of standing in line at the DMV with my swollen feet doesn’t sounds super appealing at the moment so I may wait and change it later if I decide to 🙂

  10. TrendyOnABudget says:

    I changed my name after I got married (and after our honeymoon). I so wish the process wasn’t such a pain! But from a professional standpoint, I totally get not changing your last name. For me, it actually made it easier because my first and maiden name was a mouthful 😉