What we chose out of all the baby names

When I converted, I was told I don’t need to change my name at all. But when my husband (my fiancé back then) and I got to the Islamic Department in Selangor for my shahada, I was suddenly asked to come up with a Muslim name. Apparently, the rules for converting to Islam is different depending on which Malaysian state you decided to register at.

It was really frustrating. If it took me more than a year to come up with a name that fits this blog, heck, I definitely needed more time had I known I really had to replace my name. Weeks, at least days, would have done it. But by then, it was too late to back out. I spent 5 long years to decide, carefully weighing the pros and cons, that I want to leave the Catholic Church. And a lack of name can’t stop me.

But then again, I just don’t want to be addressed with just any other names like Nur, Sarah, or Riyanah. I couldn’t care less if they have better meaning than mine. I love what people call me. Not because I think it sounds cool or that it’s uniquely alliterated and all. But I think I either have the personality and character that perfectly suits a “Rio Rose Ribaya” or that it perfectly summarises everything that I am — my strengths, quirks, and weaknesses.

Baby name
Photo by Albu Design

It was then when I realised that a name isn’t just a name. If my life is a blessing from God, then Rio Rose is a gift I got from my parents. It’s invaluable. It must have taken them months to finally put these 2 words together. Did they have an argument about it? They might have gotten the idea easily, but all I know for sure is this: It took 3 long decades of development for me to grow into it, define it, and completely own it. And no one can ever put a price tag on that.

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I keep all these in mind as I think of a baby name with which to call this miracle that’s been kicking the bejesus out of my vital organs in the last few months.

But where to begin, right? There’s just so much pressure trying to name something so precious. Yes, in the end it will all boil down to taste and preference, but it’s not as easy as naming a company with something that you can just replace complete with a new logo if it doesn’t stick in a few years.

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When I was still single, I thought it would be nice to name my future baby with deep Filipino words that sounds really poetic. I liked Alon (which means Wave) or Kidlat (Thunder) for a boy or Tala (Star) for a girl, for example. I was even willing to go all patriotic and call my future daughter Filipinas (a tribute to my country of origin) or Malaya (an homage to my husband’s home country).

But it seems my husband found joy in vetoing every traditional word with both Filipino or Malay meanings that I can think of. He actually preferred legendary names with Indian origins, which I reciprocated with thumbs down.

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At this rate, we’ll never be able to find the perfect one for our baby boy (There goes my big gender reveal, lol!) … unless we resort to using old names with references that’s shared between both Christian and Islamic believers. A hundred names and a thousand ridiculous banters after, we finally agreed to one. Just one!

Baby name
Photo by ABC Baby Art

It’s of Hebrew origin with references in both the Bible and the Quran, and it means “helper” or “the one who gives aid”. Yes, we will be calling our beloved firstborn, Ezra, because he helped us find deeper meaning in our lives.

PS: No pressure, but I hope he grows up to be as talented as Ezra Pound and as handsome as Ezra Miller.

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18 thoughts on “What we chose out of all the baby names

Add yours

  1. I remember when I was in college, I’ve always wanted to call one of my children “Samantha” or “Andrea” and now my first born is named Samantha Noelle ❤️ both are Biblical names btw and we thought it so well! I gotta say you made me love the name Ezra, it’s such an amazing name for a boy! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What happened to the Muslim name you had to give? Did you change it?

    Ezra is such a lovely name! I could just imagine the banter between you and your husband. My husband and I aren’t of the same religion too and it was difficult for us to decide too, although not as difficult as yours.


    1. Had to 😦 I maintained Rio and just added another one that sounded like Rose 😅

      Thanks, glad we’re getting mostly positive feedback about it 🙂 Right now, we’re thinking of a middle name to go with it 😝

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kreona anne is the name of our daughter. My husband chose it. it’s the combination of our names. Karen Anne and ereneo. I have a friend named Ezra but she’s a girl. haha But Thinking of Ezra as a name of a boy still looks cute for me💖


    1. Yeah, maybe it’s only weird in Malaysia. LOL. Me too, Malaya also means “free” in Tagalog and the nickname would be Mya. Too bad, we’re having a boy. 😝 Thanks!


  4. I don’t think people realise how important name can be for our identity. I cried when I changed my surname after marriage and I really wanted to do it – My husband would have been happy if I’d have kept mine or double babarrelled.
    People asked us if we were changing our daughters make after adoption or adding in any middle names but no. Well chnfe her surnane for vsrious reasons and she wants to but her other nameswill stay as they are hers x


    1. I totally agree! Glad you decided to keep your daughter’s original first name cos it may get confusing for them in the future. People tend to focus on the name so much more than identity these days, which it represents. But for legal adoption, it’s understandable to change for legal purposes 🙂 and you’ve been very generous to share it.


      1. Shes 5 so its already a huge part of her.
        If she wanted we would double barrel her surname but it’s for protection as she becomes a teen and has an online presence but also to show she is part of our family.


  5. I love the name Ezra. My parents gave my sister and me Biblical names based on their meanings. I think once we discover the meanings of our names we maybe tend to put a little more effort into living up to that meaning. Thanks for sharing your journey, both through pregnancy and through your conversion.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for appreciating 🙂 Biblical names are strong and deep. They tend to stick, which I love about them. I have a question, though. Does living up to your name’s meaning put some kind of pressure for you?


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