Monday, 15 September 2014

Looking for my Happy as a Mum of Five.

I have been dying to get writing again for days. This post was going to be called “Getting Back into the Swing of Things – or Trying” but as I opened up a fresh word document I wrote the above realising that getting back into the groove of everyday life for me is not just about creating routine, being organised, gaining some control and being productive, although those things are important. It is also about finding the right state of mind to face the world, my workload and the people around me.

My newest little one is 17 days old and the days seem to have flown by at a crazy pace and in a whirl. In that time my youngest sister got married, we carried out the aqeeqah for our baby, the boys went back to school and Little Lady started high school.

In between all of this the baby went for a check up and seemed to have lost weight which along with the jaundice she developed (which all of my children had) meant we had to spend two days in the hospital with her while she underwent light therapy for the jaundice and I expressed bottles of milk to see if perhaps I just wasn't producing enough for her. In the end I agreed to supplement with formula in the short term and the hospital wondered if the original weight recorded for her had been wrong.

The aqeeqah was a simple affair which brought together family which had been estranged for a long time. I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to with the baby and me just out of hospital, so in the end decided family, good friends and good food was enough.

My youngest sister’s wedding was stressful, bitter-sweet, beautiful and in the end everything went well. I have lots of pics to share of all of the days, but I think I’ll let her blog it first before I accidentally post any “big reveals” of outfits.

After all the busyness, we spent the last weekend finding our feet, trying to get some rest and with mum-in-law and the kids recovering from coughs and colds. Today has been the first day I could cook, plan ahead for packed lunches, start putting the house back in order slowly and start thinking about how I can order my days so that everything gets done and everyone is taken care of (including me).

I have found the last few days frustrating, with a constant cycle of feeds, nappies, guests, functions and various aches and pains interspersed with housework, children’s homework, re-establishing bedtimes and morning routines now that school has started and a grumpy toddler who needs lots of attention and reassurance. Over the days it got to me and I started to wonder if I could ever stop feeling tired, sleep deprived, put upon and as if I was not getting anywhere or achieving very much.

I realised that it was not so much the sheer volume of things to do, but my mental state that needed attention. Alhamdulillah I have a capacity for hard work and enduring long days. If Allah (SWT) has blessed me with many responsibilities it is not without the strength to fulfil them. But to find that strength I have to be positive, upbeat and at peace with myself and those around me. The last few days that felt easier said than done with my temper and sadness getting the better of me. This led me to think about why I was feeling this way and what I could do about it.

These are the things that are helping me to lift my mood and feel stronger and happier:

1. Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) – The postnatal period means that I won’t be praying my daily salah for the first 40 days or so. I think this has a massive impact on the way you feel. Losing the five daily conversations with Allah (SWT), using the time to ask for his help and for your needs to be fulfilled and the general peace of prayer which is an oasis of peace in the craziness of everyday life:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” (Ahmad, An-Nasa'i)
Although I can’t pray, something that can be done in almost every situation and at all times is dhikr: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Quran 13:28)”

2. Writing – I find writing and blogging therapeutic, an outlet for my thoughts and an opportunity to be creative. I always feel happier and more willing to do things for everyone else when I have had the chance to do something for myself. I’m hoping eight months of maternity leave will give me lots of opportunities to write and blog, but with five children of different ages, we’ll have to see.

3. Exercise – I have been craving the chance to walk or do some kind of exercise that helps get my energy levels up and helps me to lose the weight I gained following the last two pregnancies. I have found a walking partner in my neighbour and hope to do a couple of miles each day insh’Allah. Should be do-able because I love walking in any weather, but

4. Get out – With two babies and a pram for one, I have been housebound unless I leave the new baby with my mum–in-law and grab what I need and rush home again. This week I am researching prams for two children and also looking at booking driving lessons.

5. Treats – I don’t believe in retail therapy and trying to buy happiness and with five children I am rethinking my finances and will have to learn to budget a lot better than I currently do. Instead I will look at treats that involve relaxation, trips out, time spent with friends and my sisters, special things I can do with my children and time to read. Although I suspect buying chocolate and gorgeous stationary might also sneak in under treats.

6. Life is Short – The local sisters circle is hosted at our house at the moment and was well-attended today. These weekly sessions always leave me refreshed and with food for thought. Today it was mentioned that one day in the next life is like a thousand years in this world. The point was that this world is transitory and when we look back over our lives this time will feel so short. It reminded me not to fill this short life with complaints, dissatisfaction, arguments and ungratefulness. Also when you look at things from this perspective it helps you to be patient as its only regarding pain or sadness for such a short time.

Alhamdulillah, I have had so many kind comments and e-mails and insh’Allah I will answer them over the next few days as I find my feet in between feeds, nappies and still feeling quite sleepy.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Alhamdulillah

After days of stop start contractions and a false alarm, I was blessed with my fifth child, a healthy little girl, last Friday morning at dawn.

I am feeling so very grateful, awed, achey, exhausted and overwhelmed right now.

Alhamdulillah for the blessings of little ones, of helpful family, health, kind neighbours, good friends and this faith which is the only thing that gets us through the hardest times to blessed ones.

Alhamdulillah for that sweet baby smell, for those tiny fingers and those smiles that babies smile in their sleep.  Alhamdulillah for the big kids who help their mum, for mum-in-law who has been holding the front with cooking and cleaning despite her poor health and for sisters who have been fulfilling my to-do lists.

I am so grateful for the kind comments, e-mails, offers of help and encouragement from sisters.  Most of all I am humbled and grateful for your dua's which are so very precious to me.

























I have so much to share and I will start blogging again and answering comments and e-mails soon once I find my feet, things calm down a little and my head stops spinning.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Picture of the Day: 28.08.14 - Eid Gift Swap

Last Eid I participated in an Eid gift swap organised by one of my favourite bloggers - Sister Farhana of Sketched Soul.  I was paired off with a very sweet sister from Singapore.  I sent off my gift but found on Eid that the sister had had to travel to deal with a death in the family and lots of other issues.

She sent her gift out despite this and I received it when I came home from hospital today.  It was the sweetest gesture and her timing was so peerfect.  I loved every single thing she sent me:  a perfect sized make-up bag, yankee candles, a keyring with my initial, some reading (we are both avid bibliophiles), a sparkly pin which matches my outfit for my sisters henna next week and some pretty rosette clips.  








I have seen the pen below in a shop here and have been hankering after it for my filofax but decided it was too indulgent to spend the money, so you can imagine I loved this one.  Also, is it normal to like a paperweight this much - I just love the shape with its smoothed corners and the flower inside.





















May Allah (SWT) remove all of her problems and heartaches and replace them with blessings and happiness insh'Allah for making another sister smile and for taking the time to think about what I would love.

False Alarms and Fatigue

After four children, I didn’t think it could happen to me. I thought I would know by now if I was in labour or not. So after a night of contractions on and off, when I woke up to pains every few minutes, I phoned the hospital and went in with hubby. Except by the time we pulled into car park the pains had stopped. I was mortified we’d be told off for wasting time and sent home, but hubby thought I should go in and get checked anyway now that we were in the hospital.

After checks, the midwife confirmed I was not in labour. She was concerned though at the size of the baby. A second midwife confirmed her worry and then called a Doctor who checked and sent me to have a scan. Whilst waiting for a scan a male technician called the next lady in and hubby started getting cross saying there was no way I was going to be checked by a man. I prayed for someone else because I was not in the mood for a fuss and Alhamdulillah the sweetest hijabi sister ever called me in with a “salaam” to do the ultrasound scan. She confirmed the baby was big. It certainly had a good paunch on it. The other thing I noticed was that it was the spitting image of my husband – much like the previous four had been at birth, what was I expecting?

We took the scan results back to the doctor and she asked us to come in and see thee consultant next week to discuss any interventions that might be required if the baby didn’t arrive before then (I’m due over the weekend). We were then sent home.

I was absolutely shattered by the time I got home with very swollen feet and no energy. I am struggling to relax though because of my youngest sister’s wedding and because I still have things to sort out for that. So after lunch I asked hubby to take me to a neighbouring town centre to look for suits for the boys. I didn’t find what I was looking for, so asked him to drop me off at another town centre nearby. I went through a couple of shops and still didn’t find what I was looking for. After hobbling home with Little Man in tow, I found something reasonable on the internet at a supermarket of all places. Now I just need to find them simple white kurta’s to wear with jeans for the henna because everything I pull out of their wardrobe has shrunk (or maybe they've had another growth spurt).

I just have to sort out Little Ladies wedding outfit, Darlings' and the boy’s shoes, an outfit for my mum-in-law and alterations to all sorts of things (my henna outfit’s shirt, Little Lady’s henna outfit sleeves are way too tight and I still have no idea if my wedding outfit is going to fit after I give birth). I’m going to see what I can manage tomorrow, if I don’t end up in hospital again. To be honest I am losing both the will and energy and might just delegate some things to my sisters and sister-in-law who are always great.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Birthday Treats

It was my birthday yesterday, we don't celebrate birthdays and I've had great fun over the years with the kids trying to work out when my birthday is and never quite managing.

This year they seem to have clocked on and Little Lady made me this card which she got all of the kids to sign. She managed to get my age wrong by an age, but it was one year less than the right number, so who's complaining.











My mum also popped round in the morning with these beautiful scarves.  The one in the middle is from Oasis and a nice warm fabric which is also smart enough for work.  The other two are from Accessorize and the butterfly one is a beautiful lightweight fabric.  The white one is very soft, but I'm not sure I'll be able to wear the skull print.

She also bought me a  pretty charm bracelet and some very pretty sparkly little hoop earrings (which I can't seem to take a decent picture of on my iPhone to save my life).

I was looking something up on the internet, when I saw the graphic below and wondered who shared a birthday with me.  I hovered over the Google image to find out it was for me.  I don't like how connected different sites on the web are and how everything speaks to each other - such as when I look at an item on a shop and then it starts appearing in adverts across other sites.  I think internet companies have become very invasive of our privacy and there is something that feels slightly predatory about the aggressive marketing and sharing of information between sites.  Still, it's a nice little graphic.







Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Italian Noodles

I was rather excited this morning.  Despite my terror of the pain of labour, every time I have a contraction my hopes are up that I might meet my little one soon insh'Allah.  So after about three or four hours of contractions this morning, I was convinced something would happen.  It's also my birthday, so I quite liked the idea of an extra special gift arriving today.

I should be used to this by now, I have been having a few hours of mild, irregular contractions every day or other day for the last two weeks or so, only for them to stop by about mid-morning.  The same happened today.

So to distract myself we had friends over for lunch.  They are a family from Italy who were here for a month which hubby knew through his dawah work.  They are due to go back to Italy tomorrow and we thought it would be nice to break bread with them before they went back.

Hubby asked that I make some kind of non-Pakistani food without chilli, something English - like noodles he suggested.  That had me giggling away all day.  So after an early morning shop, I got down to work.  I ended up making chicken chow mein (because it has noodles), chicken pasta (with a bit of chilli) and macaroni salad.  Hubby invited a few more people from the masjid (the boys teacher and the imam), so I decided to fry chips and wedges to make sure we didn't run out of food.  I added slices of baguette, garlic butter, potato salad, coleslaw and red pepper hummus which everyone really liked (shop bought).

My favourite was a simple salad with a lemony dressing which was the easiest thing to make.

Everyone enjoyed the meal and I enjoyed hanging out with my new friend from Italy.  The kids also made firm friends.













I'm trying not to think about the birth and I'm trying to keep busy so that the time passes.  At least there's plenty of food in the fridge and I won't have to cook tonight.

Picture of the Day: 25.08.14 - Wedding Preparations

Wedding preparations for my little sister Kook's wedding are going at full tilt in my family.  Yesterday we got together to assemble favour boxes and fill them.  Sounds simple.  There were 150 to fold, put together, tape and thread ribbon through and it took four or five of us just over two hours.

We then had to fill them.  We used a traditional mix of almonds, cashews, dried dates, dried apricots, phool makanay (hard little sugary sweets that look like little white clouds),  sugar crystals called mishri (on top in the picture below).
 and sugared almonds.

We laid down a sheet, made a giant pile of the ingredients and mixed them up.  We then filled the boxes and tied the ribbon to shut the boxes.  Most of the hour or so this took was spent trying to stop babies from walking over, spilling and eating the nuts and sweets (although we did pass them some of the raisins)


























The other exciting news was that Kook's wedding dress and henna outfit arrived yesterday.  Absolutely beautiful.  We were bowled over and got her to try them on.  Really loved them.  The package they came in also had both my mum's outfits and henna outfits for Little Lady and the babies which were also absolute show stoppers.

So now I have to sort out the boys outfits, accessories and wait for the baby to arrive to see if my clothes need altering.  We are also getting together again to go through itineries, to-do lists (on Excel of course along with the guest list and budget tracker) and parcel out tasks.  Oh and the parties this weekend - a bridal shower hosted by sister-in-law and a dinner for the ladies hosted by my aunt.  With just the small matter of trying to give birth sometime in between.  Alhamdulillah for family, for blessings and for to do lists.

Picture of the Day: 24.08.14 - Autumn Blooms

The weather has been very wet for the last few days which seems to have benefited my garden.  For one the boy have been inside and not breaking every plant in sight with their footballs and the drenching seems to have made the plants think it is spring.

The garden is a bit of a mess again with weeds everywhere, litter, various balls in the beds and toys all over the space.  I can't bend over yet to fix it, so it's all going to have to wait until after the baby is here and I can blitz it.

In the meantime, it's been lovely to see the splashes of colour emerging again after the boys activities meant that almost every flower was knocked off it's plant despite my shouting at them.

This bright red hibiscus is right outside my living room window and cheers me up no end.




A little florist near me often has miniature roses displayed outside her shop.  I couldn't resist a lilac one but when I planted it, the roses turned a dull pink.  The new ones that have come are lilac again which is nice.




I couldn't get a good clear picture of this bright orange rose bed, this was another one of the miniature roses which caught my eye because of its colour.  Once I planted it, they turned a dirty peach colour, I think it might be something in the soil.  Now the new bud has come up the original fiery shades.




This fuschia was dripping with flowers which all got knocked off by the boys a branch at a time.  The few twigs left still have pretty flowers coming through.








This fuschia had dried up and I thought it was dead.  On the off-chance it might survive I planted it in the back of a bed and forgot about it.  My complicated plan worked and it is full of flowers again.

The tomato plants that have been there all summer are now full of green tomatoes.  A few have turned red, but I suspect that the rest will stay green.  These are nice added to vegetable curries for a slight tang.




I'm itching to get outside and tidy up, but I'm going to have to wait a while yet.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Indoor Children's Activities for the Holidays

On reviewing my goals for 2014 a few weeks ago, I found that one of them was to help the kids have the best summer holidays ever.  When I wrote this down, I hadn't realised I was pregnant.  Now that their holidays are here, I am due to give birth any day now insh'Allah and can't do as much with them as planned.

Instead I have been trying to find things that they can do at home and ways that they can occupy themselves.  Some of these have involved buying them things to do and others involve them finding things to occupy themselves with.

Like kids across the country, my children have gotten into loom bands in a big way - these are colourful little rubber bands that are woven into bracelets.  I thought the novelty would wear off soon and it would be one more toy that every house with children has stashed in the back of a cupboard or in the bin, but the ingenuity children show with these has surprised me.


 Darling trying to help her sister

The boys have both made me bracelets, but it is Little Lady who is really hooked.  She got the girls in her class to help make bracelets in the Palestinian colours to sell to raise money for Gaza (like the one she is wearing below) and they made quite a bit of money.  In the holidays, she made some in the colours of the Pakistani flag to sell on Pakistani Independence Day (14th of August) which is celebrated locally by the Pakistani population by blocking all traffic, hanging around on the street waving flags and making a racket till 2am in the morning.  She sold quite a few and made herself some pocket money (which she later partly spent at a boot fair).




Apart from bracelets, the children have been experimenting with making charms and 3D objects like the lollipop and strawberry below, which my neighbour showed her how to make.







Little Lady is clearly quite proud of her creations, because I found the images above and below on my phone.












Another activity that has kept us busy is scrap-booking.  I had a big collection of lovely emel magazines which I haven't been able to part with.  With another addition to our family imminent insh'Allah, I decided it was time to clear the shelf these lived on and move the children's Islamic books onto instead.

There are a couple of years worth, so we have been doing a few at a time as I cannot sit comfortably for long.  The process involves me checking through from cover to cover to remove any Arabic text that is from the Quran or has the name of Allah (SWT) or our beloved Prophet (saw).  This is put aside where it won't be treated disrespectfully.  Then I get first dibs on images and artwork in the magazines.  I've also been keeping some of the recipe pages to try later.  Little Lady then works her way through and takes any images she would like ( mostly fashion, decor, landscapes, masjids from around the world and art) and sets asides pictures her brothers might want (mainly cars, animals, landscapes and more cars).



This is my stash of beautiful images which I have set aside for now to use for art journalling in my gratitude journal insh'Allah and for an old scrapbook I have that I use for inspiration (or maybe just eye candy)





I bought the boys cheap scrapbooks from Wilkinsons (80p) and glue sticks and Little Lady got a slightly better one from Rymans, same as the one I use.  To compensate, I let the boys choose sketch books.  Gorgeous has been neglecting his  but Little Man has been trying out his watercolour pencils in his (you can tell he has been reading superhero comics from the captions in the picture below).





One of my life-savers this holiday has been books.  Little Lady has always been an avid reader, but over the last year the boys have gotten hooked too, something I am immensely grateful and overjoyed about.  All three joined the summer reading challenge at the local library and the limit of 12 books doesn't seem to be enough for the week, especially for Gorgeous who starts reading before we leave the library and finishes his pile by the end of the day.  







Other things have included trying to establish a routine of salah for Little Man, hubby has been great and takes him to the masjid with him for some of the prayers each day.  It's been a bit more challenging than for Little Lady whose Arabic teacher was very strict about the girls praying their five daily prayers and who just got on with it.  This time there's been more work for me monitoring whether he has actually prayed when his dad isn't there or if he has done his wudhu (ablutions) properly (oh the joy of never ending tales about "muu-um, she/he has to do her wudhu again, I know he/she farted).

Generally they have been occupied with their crafts, reading, bikes and trips to the park.  Every now and again I get a complaint of boredom, which I have been giving short thrift.  I am very clear that it is not my job to entertain my children.  They have to find things they like doing and do them.  I believe if they learn to occupy themselves with their own interests, they will be set for life doing fun, fascinating and productive things.  I can never understand adults who say they are bored when there aren't enough hours in the day to do fun or interesting things and I don't want my children to be like that.

Of course occupying themselves hasn't always meant productive, creative or learning things.  Gorgeous borrowed my spray paints and decided to have fun in the garden , so there are silver and gold patches on the floor and table that sparkle in the sun.  He also borrowed one of his dad's rubber stamps and got stamp-happy in various places around the house (reception carpet, kitchen wall, his white top).  That doesn't include the various things I haven't found out about yet.

There has also been more than enough of this, although there's a bit of a thin line between when they are playing or actually angry with each other: 




When Darling was tiny it used to upset her, but now she is in with the best of them, climbing over her brothers or trying to join in.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Product Review: Ddrops Vitamin D Drops

I have suffered from Vitamin D deficiency since I was expecting Darling almost three years ago now.  Initially I thought that my tiredness and achey legs were just the result of late pregnancy or weight gain or not being fit enough.  It eventually got so bad that I went to the Doctor, who after a blood test prescribed Vitamin D capsules and a year later a Vitamin D injection.

With this pregnancy, I found myself even more drained and exhausted and was diagnosed with low Vitamin D, B12 and iron.  I had to have B12 shots and iron supplements and was also given Vitamin D supplements which helped me to get back on my feet.

When I was asked to review this product, I was just coming to the end of my Vitamin D supplement, so thought it was good timing.  







I was sent three different variations by the Ddrops company to try out: Mum's Ddrops, Ddrops and Baby Ddrops.











I started off by trying out the Mum's Ddrops which come in a small bottle.  This is only partially full because the company use a standard size bottle which they fill with exactly 60 doses.  One drop counts as one dose, which is 10 ug, the daily amount recommended by the UK Department of Health for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

You can add a drop to food or drink or drop it onto a clean surface such as a spoon or your hand and lick off.  The drop is dispensed by turning the bottle upside down and waiting for it to drop out.  I tried shaking it and tapping it on my hand and I was never sure if the dose was the right amount.  Eventually I realised it was best to hold it over the back of my hand and let it drop the right amount out itself.


I can't give a scientific appraisal, but I have felt as if the Mum's Ddrops did give me a boost in energy since I have been using it.  I am also using a general pregnancy supplement which also includes 10ug of Vitamin D and I have no way of disaggregating the effect, but generally I did feel as if the Ddrops were making a difference.




I wouldn't have been sure about buying these because of the cost, but the effect means that I would consider buying these in future, especially as despite the seemingly small bottle, it lasted quite a while.

I have been trying the Baby Ddrops with Darling, again I can't gauge the effect.  The NHS recommends that all babies and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops, which is essentially what my children's advisor has recommended.  Darling seems to like the baby version of the drops and takes them without fuss.

The regular Ddrops I gave to my mum-in-law to try as she is deficient in Vitamin D also.  I asked her if she noticed a difference and she felt that they had been beneficial to her too, with an increase in her energy levels after a few days use.

The vitamin drops are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.  I contacted the company to ask if they have any alcohol in the product and they advised:

"In the production of our products the liquid does come into contact with surfaces that have been washed with ethanol. However we do flush all the equipment to reduce the ethanol down to trace levels and we also discard the first few batches that run through the equipment after this flush. Any alcohol in our products will be below the parts per million level"

Personally I was happy with this as a Muslimah and thought they were quite conscientious in their production process.

I like that the drops don't have any preservatives, artificial colours or colouring and are pretty much tasteless and odourless.  I like it enough that I am planning to replace the review sample when it finishes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

August 2014 Boot Fair Finds

This weekend one of hubby's friends from the masjid wanted to visit a boot fair with his wife and daughter, so he invited me to come with them.  Little Lady was still awake from fajr (dawn prayers), so invited herself along too.

I have only been once or twice this year, so was very keen to go.  We ended up at Dunton Boot Fair which is enormous and also visited Barleylands Boot Fair on the way home which is smaller but my favourite for craft materials, jewellery and children's books and toys.

These are the books we bought, all of these were between 20p and 50p and the kids have been enjoying reading these.





The three fashion books were 20p each, I have bought versions of these for Little Lady before where I have found them discounted and they cost around £5 (on Amazon they cost between £5 and £11).  The little knitting tool was 50p and the Star Wars Story Studio £1.  I try to look for things that keep the kids busy and mean that they have to use their imagination or own initiative.










This was one of my favourite finds.  The box of acrylic paints was 50p (they are £3.99 each in the shop).  The lady then threw in the watercolour paints for free (the smaller tubes).

The pencils are half watercolour pencils and half regular colour pencils.  I love how pristine they are.  I have been wanting to try and learn some simple art with watercolour pencils  (inspired by images like this).




Little Lady took some money of her own and enjoyed doing her own shopping.  This was her haul (bag, fingerless gloves, purses x2, packet of silver loom bands and Jacqueline Wilkinson 2014 planner all 50p, mini Miffy stationary 20p and Tatty Teddy (her favourite) pencil case full of stationary £1).  The snaps she bought for her brothers who then dropped them all over the house.




She also bought this rainbow loom band for £1 as it was a different design than she usually makes.  The little rainbow crystal bracelet came with the sparkly bangle I bought for myself in the image at the bottom, both were £2 together.




The peacock feather locket is a Past Times Art Nouveau range one which was £15 in the shop and which we paid £1 for and Little Lady absolutely loves it.  The ring was 50p.



It was nice to pick up some treats at bargain prices and it means that we'll all have lots to keep us busy and for us to play with.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Keeping Positive during the Last Days of Pregnancy

I'm 38 weeks today and counting down the days to my due date. The last few days have been challenging with strong Braxton Hicks contractions, sleeplessness and quite severe back pain. I’ve been up every hour or so the last few nights and the back pain and my heaviness are messing with my sleep.

I've come to know what all of the small hours look like in my house. At 1am I get up to find the boys have turned the light on again to read after I put them to bed and have to switch it off again. At 2am the bathroom is mine although mum-in-law starts to stir at this time. At 3am she is up for her tahajjud prayer and at 4am the rest of the household stirs for fajr (dawn prayer) and by 5am we are crawling back to bed. At 6am hubby comes back from the masjid and clatter’s around in the kitchen looking for something to eat and by 7am the traffic starts up outside. At 8am, I finally give up and spend the next hour trying to straighten out my sore back and joints so that I can start my day (usually dishes from the night before and the washing I put in at fajr).

I cannot imagine another two weeks of this and I have been reminding myself of the fact that every life has a time to begin and end decreed by Allah (SWT) and that this cannot be changed. This thinking has really helped me to accept my situation and take one day at a time. I am trying to find some good in it, by using the time productively to organise my home, work slowly on my to-do list, spend time hanging out with my children and re-arrange wardrobes and cupboards.

The following hadith has also really helped me:

Narrated by Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him): Salamah – the nurse of Ibraaheem, the son of the Prophet (peace be upon him) – said: O Messenger of Allah, you give glad tidings of all good to the men and you do not give glad tidings to women. He said: “Have your friends put you up to asking this?” She said: Yes, they told me (to ask). He said: “Doesn’t it please one of you that if she is pregnant from her husband and he was pleased with her, she will have a reward like that of one who fasts and prays qiyaam for the sake of Allaah. When her labour starts, neither the people of heaven nor the people of earth know what is hidden for her of delight, and when she gives birth, not one drop of her milk comes out and (her infant) does not suck once, but for each drop and each suck she will have one hasanah, and if he keeps her awake at night she will have a reward like that of freeing seventy slaves for the sake of Allah? O Salamah, do you know who I mean by this? It is the chaste and righteous women who are obedient to their husbands, those who are not ungrateful for kind treatment.” (Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat (7/20); Abu Na’eem in Mu’jam al-Sahaabah (no. 7049); Ibn ‘Asaakir in Tareekh Dimashq (43/347); Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Mawdoo’aat (2/274) and others)

It reminds me to make as much dua for myself and for everyone else during this challenging and vulnerable time and despite not being able to pray as well or as much, this time makes me feel closer to Allah (SWT). I tell myself that this time will be over soon and to make the most of it.

I have also found that when the discomfort or pain gets too much even to lie down comfortably, that dhikr (remembrance of Allah SWT) really helps. I rely on astaghfar (repentance), the third kalimah tamjeed and durood sharif (blessings on our beloved Prophet peace be upon him). I also find that reciting Quran helps me feel better in the morning and I can sleep for a little while.

I am a little worried as our nearest hospital has closed its labour ward and we have to drive 30 minutes to the next one which is very busy and takes the most serious cases in East London (the nearer closure means that the alternative hospital provides local hospital services to a population of 750,000). It also happens to be placed under “special measures” by the Care Quality Commission for previous failings in maternity care. Generally you are discouraged from coming in until your contractions pains are regular and four minutes apart. I had Darling within 20 minutes of reaching hospital, so I am concerned. But I remind myself that I cannot control everything and to trust in what Allah (SWT) has planned for me and this is helping me to let go of my anxieties.

Subhan’Allah this morning I had some interesting “twinges” which looked like something might be happening. Nothing came of it in the end, but just ma me think it could be any day and that I have to make the most of this time before I get even busier alhamdulillah.

His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness ~ Quran 31:14

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked: “Which of the parents have a higher status?” He replied, “The one who for nine months kept you between her two sides (stomach), and then brought you into this world and gave you milk from her breasts.” (Mustadrak al-Wasāil, vol. 2, pg. 628)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The reward of a woman, from the time of pregnancy until birth and breastfeeding, is the same as the reward of one on the path of Allah, and if a woman leaves this world during that time because of the hardship and pains of birth, she has the reward of a martyr.” (Makarim al-Akhlāq, pg. 238).