he December holidays rolled around as usual and even though the very first week was spent with me being the most ill I have been in quite a few years we managed to make the most of it later in … Continue reading
What 2017 taught me: Be careful what you post on social media! Some people don’t read the post and go with the pic- which resulted in way too many people assuming I was pregnant! Which I am NOT! I am … Continue reading
Another year …another milestone . Be happy. Be happy. Be. Happy. Continue reading
After 3 months I could not imagine taking the medication again. And so we went back to the doctor- who retested us. I explained the problems with the medication and the side effects and she understood. She asked us to change our diet (to low GI although now I feel Paleo or Low carbing would be better alternatives), start exercising and she put us onto a host of various supplements.
We had to give it 6 months before coming back to her. Six. Months!! That feels like an eternity for someone trying to conceive. But I didn’t see any other way. We decided to take a holiday, and that year we visited Egypt. It was one of the most wonderful holidays due to the fact we were busy all the time. Constant tours, and the cruise meant there was little time to drown myself in my pain.
When we retuned I followed the doctors’ orders strictly. But not using any medication to help aid conception felt like I was wasting more time. So I delved into finding natural alternatives for those months. I tried a few tinctures and eventually found a combination of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine that was ordered online. I remind you that this was 2007 when online shopping wasn’t common practice. The package arrived and we started using it immediately. My husband and I were taking up to 8 pills a day. Sometimes more. But I was willing to try anything.
The 6 month mark approached and I dreaded it, knowing I had not conceived in the allocated time. The doctor and it was suggested we see a fertility specialist. I called the offices in Pretoria to set up an appointment in September 2007. From the information I gained through infertility forums, I learnt that an IUI (intrauterine insemination) would be our first step in treatment. And I made peace with it. At least we were getting somewhere.
My family took a trip to Turkey that year. And I asked them to say a special prayer for me at the sacred places they visited. They also had an opportunity to meet with a Shayk/ Holy man in Cyprus- who was known for his inexplicable gifts and healing. They asked (on my behalf) for a prayer I could perform in aiding conception, which he shared.
So we began the prayer ritual daily, kept taking the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, kept doing all the things we were supposed to. And still nothing…
I took a short break to visit my grandmother in Ladysmith and when I got home I had a strange feeling. It was the feeling you get just before you get a period. A dull sort of ache in the lower tummy. So that week I expected my period.
To my surprise it didn’t come. “Great,” I thought to myself, “The cysts are back, so my period is delayed…back to square one.” The meds were now finished and I didn’t see the need to buy more as we were due to see the specialist anyway. The following weekend we spent in Polokwane. Just before leaving we passed a Clicks Pharmacy, and I made a decision to buy a test. It was not to see if I was pregnant. It was to confirm I wasn’t so I could stop tormenting myself. At the cashier, my husband looked at the purchase and immediately asked why I was doing this to myself again. And that he was afraid of the aftermath of tears and emotions. Nevertheless we paid and drove 2 hours home. I decided to test the next morning.
I can’t truly explain what the next morning felt like. I woke up and took the test with my heart pounding. I scolded myself for having hope once again. And prepared for the worst. This time something was different. I squinted for the longest time at this test. There was one solid line in the C panel (control panel) that I’d seen soooo many times before. But in that second section… there was a very, very, very faint line. Barely visible in fact.
I thought I was losing my mind and I had now begun to see things that weren’t there. I took the test to my husband, with shaking hands, woke him up and asked him to look at it. He did. And then looked at me without saying a word. I asked him if he could see a faint second line or if I had officially lost my marbles and started imagining things. He looked at it long and hard, and confirmed I was not insane. I sat on the bed shaking in absolute shock. He jumped up and out of the bed and proceeded to do a victory dance around our little 2 bedroom flat. Finally. It happened. I could not believe it.
My local GP performed blood tests, and found my levels of HCG and progesterone were a little low, she was cautiously optimistic but warned us of the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and sent us off to a gynaecologist immediately – there were no gynae’s in Hoedspruit. So we drove 2 hours to Nelspruit, extremely anxious to find out whether it was an ectopic.
Much to our relief, we had a proper pregnancy, good heartbeat and I was around 7 weeks along. I visited my parents that weekend and while having tea I simply placed the ultrasound picture on the table announcing that we had a little bean. I think it was a surprise to just about everyone!
Nine happy and uneventful months later… Isa made his entrance to the world- with his large eyes that still stare back at us 9 years later.
The thing is, the type of pain a person endures on this journey changes you. I will never forget what it felt like to feel ‘without’ – and every time I meet a women who is trying to conceive , or is married for a number of years and still doesn’t have any children, I give them a squeeze, and say a silent prayer for them. I never ask why. I may tell them that I too have been down this path, and that the Almighty knows best. Perhaps it would do us some good to remember that we don’t know another’s pain and that some sensitivity should be used when it comes to asking personal questions – questions that aren’t any of our business anyway!
Remember that conception is not fully in our control – and questioning someone on when they are going to start a family may feel like their soul is being stabbed – that’s how deep this pain goes. I have most definitely changed through pain… and I guess that’s what pain is meant to do. It helps us grow. No one really makes any great changes to themselves or their lives when everything is rosy. It’s those deep dark moments of loneliness, those smiles that hide the turmoil inside, those tears shed in the quiet of the night, that allow you to open up and take stock of yourself or your life. There’s a Sufi saying that I found very apt I thought I’d share…
“It’s the breaking of the heart that allows the light in”
And I did find the above to be true.
So maybe they don’t need to watch The Lion King repeatedly, maybe I need to spend that time with them- for me. Maybe they don’t need my help and are more capable than I’d like to admit, I help them with homework anyway. Maybe it gives me a sense of fulfilment to cook and feed them. Every.Single.Day…maybe it’s not them needing me…but me that needs them…
And maybe it’s good to be reminded of the sacrifices made just to have them so I can appreciate all that I have been blessed with – my journey in trying to conceive did have a happy ending and for those currently on this journey – I hope yours does too!
I’ve had itchy fingers recently… and it has nothing to do with the mosquitoes buzzing about that we have become very weary off (since there’s been so many malaria cases in Hoedspruit). I actually can’t say if it is itchy fingers or an exploding head which means I need to get the billions of thoughts on my mind out on paper… or PC in this case.
Its been busy, it always is, all mothers can attest to this. It’s difficult to just find a moment of peace to yourself – some free time – you know, to do really important stuff that you have been meaning to get to for the longest time – you know what I’m talking about… like 15 minutes to just be able to scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed without having to answer a barrage of questions from a 3 year old about why Mufasa isn’t waking up after the stampede. Yeah – social media time- that’s a basic human right I think! (Note to self: start a petition to have social media time added as a basic human right).
Free time…. Something I used to have loads of before I had the kids…. And this made me think back to when I actually didn’t have any children. Sure I complain a little…ok a lot. But I think that just comes with the territory. I love them to death, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost myself in them… I still need me- and yeah sometimes I wish I could put myself into ‘time out’ where no one can talk or interact with me, and I’m forced to sit in a corner all by myself to think. As an adult, time out really doesn’t seem like punishment at all.
But there they are… all three of them… needing ….needing to watch The Lion King repeatedly… needing help with homework and projects…needing to eat Every. Single. Day… and needing me… And then I remember how much I needed them. Wait… how much I wanted them.
Having a child did not come easy to us… in fact – it was anything but easy. We enjoyed our time as a young couple and then made the decision that it was time. It was time to start trying for baby. And it was exciting. I mean how difficult could it be to get pregnant – right? Well it turns out it actually wasn’t as easy. I recall giving up my contraceptive pill and waiting for the month to pass. And guess what? My period never came! Wow, that was really quick I thought to myself. I dashed of the pharmacy to purchase a pregnancy test and followed the instructions precisely, eagerly awaiting the 2 line confirmation. But it never came… and my heart dipped. This began a series of monthly tests that all resulted in the same situation… there never were 2 lines. I was ok for a while. I mean, these things take time. And although I wasn’t the most patient person in the world, I just assumed it would happen next month- but it didn’t.
Months went by and eventually a year passed and I had already started to feel something was wrong. I mean women were falling pregnant all around me. EVERY SINGLE couple that was married after me, already had a baby. I had to attend baby showers and weddings and events where the very first question I was asked was the dreaded question – ‘When are you going to have a baby?’ For some reason people, and other women in particular seemed so careless about asking such a personal question. A question that was a deep source of pain for what seemed like forever in my journey of trying to conceive. I always wondered why – why couldn’t they see the pain in my eyes- and if they did- why would the very same question be posed to me the next time they saw me.
I started to become ‘not ok’. I became somewhat of a recluse. Avoiding people. Avoiding family functions. Isolating myself which is totally against who I actually am. I would only talk to my sisters and my husband’s sisters about the pain. I found myself scouring the internet until odd parts of the morning, searching for answers. I joined infertility forums where I could anonymously air my frustrations without fear of judgment. It was unfair. Each month ended in tears. Eventually my sister convinced me to see a doctor. It was in Ramadan that I was diagnosed with Pcos. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. A condition that was absolutely foreign to me. I went crazy googling it and trying to get as much information as possible on the condition. I then saw a second doctor, who told me that by taking the pill I had actually protected my reproductive system and it controlled the cysts, but when I stopped, they basically went crazy. This was why my cycle was so irregular (which I thought was normal), that was why my hair growth increased, and I gained some weight. All the signs were there, but I couldn’t see it because I didn’t know what to look for. She also said I was the most atypical patient she’s seen with pcos, as most were overweight, but I wasn’t.
And then the medicating began. And boy was there loads of medication!! I had to have regular blood tests, and my fear of needles was conquered as I was poked and prodded multiple times a month. It was decided I should try an ovulating inducing medication. This was very popular and many had conceived on this alone. So I tried it. For a full 3 months. The positive was that my cycle regulated to what would be considered normal. The negatives were the unimaginable side effects! Nothing can prepare you for hot flushes at such a young age, in the middle of a Hoedspruit summer. The excessive mood swings. The anger management issues. I had morphed into someone I could barely recognize.
Part two to follow…
I was hoping to be able to blog about my hajj experiences but unfortunately don’t seem to be able to find the time currently. I will do a blog post when I’m home and settled (God willing).
I am however journalling online via my personal facebook page, (Maryam Bibi Osman Aboobaker) as well as via instagram (@mbibz Maryam Bibi Osman Aboobaker)
Please send a friend request should you wish to follow my hajj experiences.
I am all for growth. I am a firm believer that in order to grow, one needs to step out of the comfort zone… so if there is an opportunity presented to me that kind of scares me, I take … Continue reading
So it seems I may be writing again, no promises! This is my ‘therapy’ I guess- a place to get out some of what I feel…
Who would have thought that this tough cookie would have such a rough time with sending Hamzah off to school…definitely not me!
In my experience, sending my first son Isa to school was vastly different to sending the second. At the time Isa was about to start grade one, we had a lot going on. I had given birth to our daughter one week prior to school starting. I had ensured all aspects of school readiness were done before I went off to hospital. I was excited, this was a huge step, a new milestone that was achieved, and I looked forward to the year. I had my parents and younger sister here on his first day of school- so he was left at his classroom by an entourage. I remember still being in pain from my caesarean section, but making sure I went to school that morning. My sister sat holding my six day old baby girl in the car while I walked, slightly hunched over, from the car park to his class. I stayed for a bit and took a few pictures. I recall a lump in my throat, but there were no actual tears- why would there be?? We were about to start a new adventure!
My blog has been inspired greatly by Hamzah’s antics as a toddler- he was and still is my most independent, entertaining, spontaneous and unpredictable child. Hamzah started playschool at two and half years old. Yeah, very early I know! He was an alert child who I unfortunately could not keep up with in terms of need for stimulation. He also begged us daily to go school, as he was already speaking fairly fluently at that time. I remember leaving him at school on his first day, there were no tears from either of us. He walked straight in and onto the playground without any hesitation, and said to the children, “Hello, my name is Hamzah.” I recall his teacher telling me that she had never seen a child settle in so easily and Hamzah grew to have a very close bond with her as he was the ‘baby’ in his class. On his first outing (a game drive) he curled up on her lap and fell asleep safely in her arms on the drive back to school. I will always be grateful that he had received such love from her. Since his very first day, Hamzah had always loved going to school.
I began to notice last year that for some reason I was finding difficult to acknowledge Hamzah’s true age – I am not entirely sure why, but over the last few days I have given it much thought. You see, I have an idea in my mind regarding the type of mother I think I am, and clingy isn’t an attribute I would add to that mental image. So why was sending him off to grade one so different to sending Isa?? I mean my whole plan is to grow these boys to be independent, mindful individuals who confidently make meaningful contributions to their world in some form or another. Well let’s just say I’m starting to rethink the whole ‘independent’ part of my growth plan.
Last year on Hamzah’s sixth birthday I found myself in tears being comforted by his teacher – this of course raised warning bells in my head… this was a joyous occasion, and crying on a birthday was completely foreign to me, but there I was, all ‘snot en trane’ (snots and tears) and I wondered what was going on. Being busy and always having something or the other to attend to- I brushed the incident aside and blamed my hormones for betraying me…
A few weeks later, there was an incident at school that resulted in me being called in at pick time for a quick chat with Hamzah’s teacher- I will have to blog that incident later!
It was then relayed to me that my child had possibly gained knowledge of the ‘birds and the bees’ and that perhaps I should talk to him about it. I sat there in complete horror! Well I was standing in horror, and then requested a chair as I needed to sit down to absorb what I was being told.
I was assured that this is completely normal and it was not a big thing, ( err WHAT??!!) Naturally, being the mother I am, I said to his teacher that I’m sure she was mistaken, as Hamzah has no knowledge on this topic. She explained to me the incident that had occurred and I stopped for a few moments to consider it, but still disagreed with her, insisting that it did not relate directly to him having this type of information. My reasoning being, that he was only six! And that he had only just turned six a few weeks ago, so technically he was still five, and my five year old most definitely had no knowledge of any of this. The teacher giggled, and fortunately knows me very well, so she seemed to over look the absurdity of my explanation, placed her hand on mine, and said, “He knows.” She then went on to say she fully understands that being conservative in this regard, (in the sense that I haven’t openly explained the reproductive system to either of my boys) makes this a little difficult for me to acknowledge. A little?! She hugged me and rubbed my back and sent me (still in shock) on my way…
Being full time at school for the last term of 2016 meant that I didn’t have much time to digest that Hamzah was going off to grade one. I purchased uniforms quite robotically and did not fit them on. Perhaps it was my fear of the feelings I would feel seeing him in his little bush uniform, in any case it was way too busy to during the holidays for me to bother about that. We did a fitting a few days before school started and I was absolutely fine. We had had a wonderful and busy holiday leaving little or no time to talk about the fact that my baby boy was going off to big school. I spent the last two days before school labeling both boys stationery and making sure their bags and boxes were ready.
The day before school started I had a strange feeling; I went in to school to drop off his stationery box and other required items so as to make the first day of school a little easier for all of us. And began to feel waves of emotion walking in. I bumped into Hamzah’s Grade One teacher and as she asked if we were all ready, I mentioned that I wasn’t finding this very easy, or rather, I was finding the whole Hamzah goes to school thing surprisingly difficult! I humorously asked if there was a possibility of keeping a child for another year in Grade R due to his mother not being ready to let him go…
That evening, as I lay out both boys school uniforms many tears were shed. The following morning, Hamzah and Isa were full of smiles; we took pictures and got on our way. But as I reached to take his little school bag out of the car, it all hit me once again. I shared this on my facebook page:
This morning was a surprisingly difficult one, one I didn’t expect to have. Everyone was OK until we got to the car park and that’s when it began. The sad face, teary eyes which turned to crying, the hanging on, tightly gripped hands, dragging of feet, edging reluctantly to the classroom… And then, heartbreakingly, and grinning as he did since he’s woken up, he wriggled his tiny hand out of my tight grip, peeled himself off from my hanging on, and walked in happily. I kneeled down and wiped away My tears that had been falling from the car park, I hugged him until HE let go first, he was smiling confidently, my heart sank, it was time, I continued to drag my feet as I’d done from the car, still edging, reluctantly to the classroom door, with knots in my tummy, it’s time for me to…. Let go… #mumsfirstdayofgrade1
These were my babies- and Hamzah was my baby-baby for the longest time- and perhaps – like most mothers reading this- my heart and mind simply have not caught up with reality just yet.
Ps. For quick, random updates remember to like my facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/iusedtobefunowimamum/
I was recently reminded of my very first Ramadan post and took some time to read and reflect on it. It amazes me how much has changed and yet how much has stayed the same… but even in staying the same, it seems that is still considered progress. This Ramadan I realised more than ever that there are so many different caps we wear as mothers –so many things we need to be– almost all concurrently… Mother. Cook. Teacher. Friend. Confidant . Doctor. Chauffeur. Cheerleader. Coach. Disciplinarian. Caregiver. Informal occupational therapist. Grow(th) Facilitator. You get the idea.
Growth is a by-product of change I would say…and we have!
Much has changed.
We are up by one number in our family as our daughter made her way to us (Finally!) and boy-(err girl?) has she turned things upside down and right side up for me. I am not entirely sure why things are so different with her, perhaps it because she is the daughter I had longed for (that doesn’t seem to look anything like me)…perhaps it is because I am such a different mother to her (patience levels that I never knew I was capable of)…perhaps it’s simply that with age I have become a little more comfortable in my abilities of being a mother (note I said comfortable not confident). Heck my boys seem to be doing ok… I think.
Much has stayed the same.
My boys are still…my boys. A little older, a little more understanding, a little kinder, a little more thoughtful, definitely more challenging, more boisterous but not surprisingly – still batting those long eyelashes, covered in dirt.
Our sehri still consists of me wedging a pillow next to my baba while I tip toe out of the room praying that she doesn’t wake while I’m shovelling spoonfuls of oats down my throat, in an effort to get something in my tummy in case she calls out for me. We still take turns to eat and pray so one of us is always available for her entertainment. I have more company at sehri now as Isa joins me every now and then. He has been very good at fasting, and remembering to not be miserable while doing so. He has made me very proud in the little person he is becoming.
Much has changed.
Our days are fuller, busier, noisier, and taking a nap while fasting is quite the juggling act in terms of time and number of children needing to be fed, and seen to. Iftar… well… Iftar is still an interesting time. Isa remembers and follows the rules fairly well, Lulu (our pet name for Zayyana) has managed to fit in somehow, walking around the table, picking food off each of our plates, ensuring Hamzah gives her whatever it is he is drinking and trying to feed herself, as well as anyone close to her.
Much has stayed the same.
Hamzah is still the entertainer, and boy can he entertain. I am not sure I have heard a child that is able to talk as much as he can. It is as if his mind is racing at 120km p/h and his mouth simply isn’t able to keep up. He just has a lot….A LOT … to say…and this is not limited to Iftar time. It starts from about 6am and continues throughout the day as he fills me in on all the on goings of his day. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about it, and of course I love that he shares so much with me… I’m just not sure why he needs to share all the time…I mean literally all the time. No you don’t understand- let me give you an example: he feels the need to inform me of his bodily functions and that he requires the use of the bathroom as well as what he will be doing in the bathroom, before he even goes in.
Much has changed.
This Ramadan is a little different… it is definitely more inclusive now that the boys understand a little more. Isa has been fasting and I have been trying to teach them a little more this year. My aim is to teach them lessons that can be carried into life regardless of their age, this involves teaching them to be kind, we have a ‘Good deeds’ system going, where every day they are required to perform a small act of kindness. Well almost every day, I’m not superwoman you know 🙂 I have introduced a Sadaqah/Charity jar which we are continuously filling with coins or notes. The plan is that at the end of the month the boys will purchase food items and distribute it themselves to those in need.
We also have an Eid countdown calendar going to get them excited about Eid. This was a very sore point for me. Last year I realised that my children are experiencing a very different Eid in comparison to the Eid’s I enjoyed growing up. The atmosphere was electric, the family would all get together and enjoy tea, cakes, sweets while the children got to stay up way past bedtime in their special ‘Eid pyjamas’. Eid was a celebration of note! So last year I decided that I was going to make it as exciting as possible for them. We made Eid lanterns to decorate our patio; they enjoyed making homemade Eid cards for all the family members. I printed out an Eid Mubarak bunting that they coloured in and hung up on Eid morning. We ensured that every single guest that attended our Eid lunch left with an Eid gift wrapped and decorated by hand, each one individually beautiful. Our cakes had a mini Eid Mubarak bunting and Eid Mubarak tags. The kids had their very own table with personalised party packs- they also helped make up party packs for underprivileged children from a nearby madressah. Yes well, you kind of get the picture… we went Eid crazy! And I have to say… it worked!! The boys remember it so well and began to realise that just as their friends were excited about Christmas/Easter, this was IT for them! And they got two each year! They absolutely revelled in the glory of Eid Day.
And (amongst all the other roles already mentioned) this is just another one for a mother to fill – Good-memory-making-enabler. And that is a universal truth. We all want our children to look back and remember all the wonderful things that made up their childhood. Yeah ok, there may be a memory or two of being chased around the house with a wooden spoon (or rolling pin… or slipper… this is culturally dependant) but I guess there has to be balance- Right?
All of this reflection however, has brought me to a realisation… the realisation that your children will be passionate about the things you are passionate about. They will remember your passion. So have passion. Be passionate. They may be inspired to be as passionate about certain aspects in their own lives. They will remember the time you spent, the hugs and kisses, the sticking and glue-ing and glitter of happy days, the mess that was made, the bright colours, and smells and tastes that fill their minds, and all the fun that was had … and isn’t that exactly what we want? For them to remember their childhood with passion?
What better way to change this world but through them… so …is that not all we actually need to be?
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An awesome (yet truthful) post! I’m sure u will love it as much as me 🙂
Sleep deprivation is only a small part to your wife’s temporary insanity. In the first few months, you may witness a number of breakdowns, meltdowns and shut downs and realistically, the woman you knew may disappear and be replaced with a shuffling husk of a human female for around twelve months. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. She
may also definitely will be suffering from decision fatigue, which will cause her to stare at you like a lobotomised corpse as she processes whether she actually does want another cup of tea.
My husband reckons I flashed a knife at him during a particular meltdown. I can’t remember this and in my defence I was probably just chopping some veg and just so happened to gesticulate the knife in his general direction whilst making a very important point. My husband and I are still together and thankfully he hasn’t got any major scarring. However, I thought…
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