Archive for the 'Motherhood' Category

My Reflections on Childbirth Part 1

I’m sure every mother has her own unforgettable memories of childbirth, for some those memories may be too poignant to revisit (alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal) and we ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to replace their loss with what is better for them. Ameen.

Yet for others those memories can even be quite humorous, well, upon reflection, that is (smiles). When I was expecting my 1st child, I took comfort in having “experienced” mothers giving me advice and sharing their own childbirth stories.

I found one particular story quite endearing because it reveals the true nature of us women. While my friend was experiencing the onset of labor and was about to leave with her husband for the hospital, she started getting emotional and asked her husband for forgiveness for all the wrong that she has done; just in case…

However, when she was in the delivery suite and the pains started to get unbearable, it was a different story altogether. Her husband was assisting her in keeping the face mask in place, so she could breathe in ‘laughing gas’ so as to relieve some of the pain bi ithnillah. She got frustrated ‘cos he wasn’t holding it properly and snapped at him. And to think that she had just wiped her slate clean. Oh well…(smiles)

Alhamdulillah, I myself have 3 fond memories of childbirth, each one special and unique in its own way. Did I really use the word “fond”? I guess you can tell I haven’t given birth in long while. (smiles)

Ok, onto the 1st experience…aaahhh…how can I ever forget my first experience?

First I have to tell you little bit about myself. I consider myself a weakling and am terrified of anything that involves pain.

So when we were in the delivery suite, even before I felt any major pains, I was already pleading for an epidural. Yup, that’s me. (blush) But as Allah had planned the only one qualified to give me an epidural would be a male specialist, so I had to rethink my situation. There was a sweet Muslimah trainee doctor who reassured me that I would be fully covered and that only a little part of my back would be exposed to allow the epidural to be administered. Let’s just say that both my husband and I agreed that I needed some time to think about it.

Meanwhile, I remember my friend advising me to use the face mask and requested for it. I had the face mask but wasn’t using it the right way and had started crying, when the serious, no-nonsense midwife kind of chided me (in a good way, to boost my self-confidence). She taught me how to use the face mask correctly and told me to relax and breathe in the laughing gas whenever I feel a contraction coming. ‘Yes, breathe in…relax, imagine you are entering a garden…’ That helped calm me down a bit, alhamdulillah.

When the midwife stepped away, my husband whispered, “Imagine jannah.” Subhan Allah, what an excellent, timely reminder! And I really did imagine I was entering a garden, but the best garden of all; jannah. And for once in my life I felt I was ready if Allah decided to take my life away right there and then. Afterall isn’t there a hadeeth which states that if a woman died in childbirth, she dies a shaheed (a matyr) ?

But Alhamdulillah Allah has decreed that it was not to be my time yet. In the meanwhile I managed to heed the reminders to make dhikr and before I knew it, it was time for little Asmaa to enter this world. (smiles)

My labor lasted about 3 hours and all in all I can safely say it was a bearable experience, Alhamdulillah. When I hear of the excruciating pain some mothers go through I realise that Allah, out of His infinite mercy has spared me from that pain. However, the impact of this realization did not fully hit me until I was pregnant with my 2nd child, 2 years down the road…

(to be continued insha-Allah)

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A Second Childhood

One of joys of motherhood for me is being given the opportunity me to re-live my childhood through my children. Of course in going through a 2nd childhood (as I like to call it *smiles*) albeit with a grown-up’s perspective, there are setbacks and advantages.

The setbacks though are obvious; years of life has taken its toll and I no longer look at things with a purity and innocence that only a true child is blessed with. But Alhamdulillah my children are my reminders. At times their innocence is amazing, sometimes genuinely amusing and at other times truly humbling; for the simplest words they utter could be packed with so much truth and wisdom. Which is a reminder that at these times I should really be taking down notes!

Another setback is that my need to maintain my credibility as a grown-up has at times stopped me short from being totally and abadonedly childish and silly…well, at least when there’s another grown-up within visible or hearing range. (he,he).

But there are advantages to being a child in adult shoes! It’s like being given another chance to correct the things that I’ve always disliked about my own childhood, being able to do the stuff that I’ve always wanted to do as a child but never got a chance to or simply gaining new childhood experiences;

– like being discerning enough to choose good children’s books for our reading pleasure. I must admit that although I loved to read as a child my reading list is something I would not readily pass on to my children. (more on this topic later, insha-Allah)

– learning tricks I wasn’t able to learn as a child. One of them was to “pump” when I was on the swings, hence I would always need someone to push me. We had learnt in theory how to pump from one of my daughter’s books, and my daughter was able to go real high on the swings all by herself. As for me, before we moved I couldn’t fully “pump” due to reasons of modesty, but now there’s a playground with swings near our new home facing an open field and I’m able to swing to my heart’s content. So this is currently my favourite spot. (smiles).

– learning and loving Science all over again. I realise that like myself, all children are born with a natural love and fascination for the world that Allah has created. As a child, I had always been interested in nature and science, but my interest in science as a subject quickly waned due to the methodical and unimaginative approach taught in secular schools, totally devoid of any connections with the Creator. I strongly feel that Science can only be truly appreciated in the light of Qur’anic verses and insha-Allah this is what I am trying to incorporate into our Science lessons and masha-Allah so far it has been very rewarding; mostly for me!

– Appreciating small discoveries. Yes, their discoveries are my discoveries. A few days ago I was observing my 1 year old son playing in our common backyard. He was fascinated by a dead leaf that was on the sidewalk and went up to it for a closer inspection. When the wind blew he would be sure to step aside, so he’d be out of the leaf’s way. I discovered much to my amusement that to him, it must have seemed like the leaf was alive and moving on its own! And you should have seen the way he was inspecting the leaf, it was simply too cute! He would bend down and place his hands on the ground (much like his sujood position, except with knees and head not touching the ground) and the whole time he was inspecting the leaf he never once touched it (for fear that it’d move I guess). Ha, ha it was just so endearing and cute!

Aaahhh, the wonders of motherhood….or should I say childhood? (smiles)

(PS. This was written slightly less than a year ago…)

Quiet Times

Quiet times; precious and rare indeed in a house full of kids!

After years of living with babies and kids, I have learnt to truly appreciate the value of time; quiet time that is, for the well-being of my heart and mind. Though one may not realise it, we are all in need of that quiet time, a quiet space at a certain point in our daily life to maintain our sanity. Actually it was through reading a children’s book, “The Day of Ahmed’s Secret” that I was reminded of its importance. Of course the writer was a non-Muslim so he missed the most crucial part; ie. quiet times in remembering and connecting with our Creator. “…verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” ( Al-Qur’an Surah Ar-R’ad:28 )

And the beauty of Islam is that Allah, our Creator knows what we need more than us and has graciously granted us ways to achieve these quiet times; ie through our obligatory salah or extra acts of ‘ibadah like dhikr, reading Qur’an etc.

I remember the times during my single days when I would sit and wait for the adhan on the radio (they usually played nasheed close to salah times) and prayed right after. These were my quiet moments and needless to say it was easier to concentrate on salah since there were hardly any distractions or disturbances.

But then marriage and children happened. I remember when I had my 1st baby and for the first time in my life had to experience praying while my baby wailed and wailed away and thereafer scenes like that were not uncommon in our household till this very moment. (smiles). Of course, through experience I have learnt to adjust my prayers around my son’s crying routine, though I’ve yet to be consecutively successful (smiles).

I’ve also learnt that it’s healthy for me to have time alone all by myself, it doesn’t have to be long, even an hour a week is enough, but there should be absolutely no disturbances and I would be free to do whatever I wish. The only options for me right now would be the times my husband would take the children out or for me to go to the masjid and spend some time there all by myself. Alhamdulillah the masjid where we’re at now is a comfortable 20 minute walk away. And yes quiet walks are also included in my list of quiet times and I do enjoy nature walks (smiles).

Interestingly enough, the rare times when I’ve been all alone by myself in the house, it didn’t take long for me to start missing my kids and it was always a joy to see them when they returned. So actually these short moments being away from them really help me to re-charge, rejuvenate and to appreciate being with them all the more. (smiles)

PS. This was written about a year ago, and alhamdulillah things are much better now and crying scenes like those are quite rare. Currently a new challenge awaits me; dealing with sibling rivalry! Nowadays, it seems that there’ll be some moments of relative silence and then a cry; “Mommy, he’s not sharing!” or something of the sort. But alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal, insha-Allah this too like every hardship will pass…(smiles) 

The Rewards of Motherhood

The Prophet salallahu `alayhi wa salam said, “…he who calls to guidance, receives the same reward as those who followed him, without diminishing anything from their rewards.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, all from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah]

The Prophet salallahu `alayhi wa salam also said, “He who established a good sunnah in Islam, he will have the reward of each who apply it after him until the Day of Judgment.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]

I’ve always thought how wonderful it would be, if a person accepted Islam through my efforts or if I was given the opportunity to teach a new Muslimah the salah, certain actions from the sunnah, how to read Qur’an etc. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? ‘Cos it would mean that I would be able to reap the rewards from that person’s deeds, insha-Allah.

Yet I was oblivious to the fact that Allah had indeed granted me that opportunity, the opportunity to gain the rewards from the deeds of new Muslims…new muslims that I, myself had given birth to. It was not until I had my third child that I truly understood and appreciated the rewards that Allah has in store for mothers and for fathers too, insha-Allah.

I guess I had not seen it in that light ‘cos I had always looked upon my role as a mother from another pespective; that it was my duty and my responsibility to teach my children about Islam and to raise them to be practising Muslims and anything less would mean that I had not truly fulfilled my obligations as a mother.

But Alhamdulillah I think I now have a more balanced perspective of motherhood and just thinking about the potential rewards is enough to motivate me to be my children’s main Islamic teacher, well at least until they reach a stage when they would need to learn from someone more knowledgable than me.

Imagine….giving birth to a precious soul and it is through your efforts and nurturing that the child grows up being a Muslim. And every act of worship that the child does, be it salah, reading the Qur’an, or any action from the sunnah was taught by you. Masha-Allah…just imagine the rewards in store for that mother!