Sunday 30 September 2012

Starting Maternity Leave

I am now on maternity leave from work and what a relief!  I have had so much on my mind that I was struggling to focus on work.  I finished my secondment with the 2012 Games team a week before my leave started (the team thought my project management skills were brilliant extending as they did to having the baby soon after the Games).  I was due to be back with my regular team for three weeks before my maternity leave began but took two additional weeks of annual leave.  This left me with a week to do a handover to the two people who would be covering my job.  It turned out to be an intense week which thankfully flew by with two-hour handover meetings daily, me creating an enormous file of what my job entails (I made a copy for myself, along with saving all of my logins and various passwords somewhere).  It ended with a team lunch, baby shower from kind colleagues and gifts and flowers.

The gifts below were from a former manager who thought it would be nice to give me something to pamper myself, a very sweet gesture.

I had been so shattered the last few weeks that I was barely fit to function at all let alone work.  The first few days at home made no difference at all, until a good friend suggested I try the pregnancy supplement I recommended to her.  Seriously – the difference overnight was astonishing.  I have my energy and strength back and get through the day with none of the horrible exhaustion I was suffering from before.  I had used the supplement through my previous pregnancies and tried a different one this time, not realising it had much lower doses of most of the nutrients, leaving me low in Vitamin D and Iron for the first time in my life.

I was desperate to be off work, because I wanted to get my house in order and prepare for the baby.  The “nesting” syndrome always kicks in with me big time and sends me slightly crazy.  I have been cleaning and organising the house and stocking up the kitchen.
I have moved my craft stuff downstairs to make a craft area of sorts for myself and reorganised my wardrobes and the children’s room.  I have been clearing out lots of my books to make space and hunting around for baby stuff (I managed to find a Moses basket, bath set and change mat within the value of vouchers which were gifted to me and two places where I can get a free change bag, I’m currently hunting down a pram and hubby found a baby monitor).  I also packed my hospital bags and now I am thinking about Eid preparation as I my due date is around Eid day (25th October).

It’s been strange getting used to being at home all the time.  I am getting used to this space I know share with mum-in-law and with hubby coming and going throughout the day.  I never had to worry about lunches and breakfasts before and I have had to reset the family’s routines for the day – something I am finding very challenging as everyone already had their own little routines and ways  

I was dreading the school run and hubby has helped by doing the morning drop-off and letting me sleep in the morning as I am up every two hours or so during the night.  I do the occasional morning and each afternoon’s pick-up.  I thought I would hate standing around but its growing on me and I made a friend this week.  A niqab-wearing sister approached me and told me she lived across the road from me, I asked if she had just moved in and she said no she had lived there for four years! She too had seen my husband dropping the kids off each morning and wondered what had happened to their mother.  It brought home the fact that I hardly knew many of my neighbours whereas my hubby knows most of the street.

Little Lady also signed me up for a five week henna course organised by the local college at her school, which we will be doing together.  I attended the first session and have been trying to get some practice in.  Little Lady was very excited, but half way through the first session decided it was boring.  I am going to make her stick with it; I just hope I manage to get to the end of the course.

Aside from that one of the main things that is occupying my thoughts is preparing mentally for labour and trying to deal with my fears of how I will be treated.  I plan to go to the local hospital, but will have one more chat with my midwife before I make my final decision.  I am fearful  of who I will end up with helping me at the hospital – someone helpful and supportive or nurses/midwives that are rude, impatient and careless. Part of me feels I have to be strong and refuse to put up with poor care, the other part knows I will be at my most vulnerable – it really is at times like these it helps to have a strong and knowledgeable woman around to fight for you.  Alhamdulillah, I keep telling myself to turn to Allah (SWT) for help and trust that what he has planned for me is what is best for me and this certainly helps settle my fears. 

Fashionista's Wedding Reception: Sparkly Dresses

I loved how the dresses for the wedding turned out.  Fashionista originally wanted to go for hot pink, but took one look at this dress and decided she had found the one.  After hunting all over London (Green Street, Ilford Lane, Southall), she found this in Birmingham.  We made a second trip with her to take a look and it was so sparkly and eye-catching and the embroidery so well done that we were sold as soon as we saw it.

The dress was full on, so the bouquet was kept simple with classic velvety red roses.

We were all decked in tons of sparkly bangles.

Kooks had the biggest, sparkliest accessory for her hijab, which looked fab, but fell off as soon as the guests arrived.

The grooms party was greeted with fresh rose petals (partly raided from mum's garden).

I thought our sis-in-laws jhoomar was ever so pretty (love the red stones and antique colouring in this).

More henna and bling.

Even the smallest, cutest member of our family got in the act with a wispy white dress, pretty bangles and the tiniest little toe-post shoes which kept falling off her feet.

The outfits for us sisters, sis-in-law and mum were all midnight blue.  We all had a splash or hint of red somewhere in homage to the bride. (Below are Shutterbug Sister, Mum, Sis-in-law and Kooks).

Below are Shutterbug Sister and me.  I was worried my abaya would not fit me, but I managed to get in and the enormous hijab helped add coverage too.

Everyone thought that my two boys had the coolest outfits, matching with their dads.  One of my cousins came round in the morning before we left for the venue and created GQ-style quiffs in their hair, which added to the look (that's Little Lady in her red dress running past in the background).

It was a lovely day.  Lots of hard work and running around, but Fashionista was happy as were the grooms family at the welcome we gave them.  There are lots more pics on Kooks blog here.

Fashionista's Wedding Reception: Venue and Food Displays

Fashionista's wedding colours coordinated with her beautiful dress, the traditional red and gold that Punjabi's wear.

Kooky Little Sister had the bright idea of putting pictures of the bride and groom on the table with the guest book, so dashed out the day before the wedding to get pictures printed and find some little frames.

We spent a good few hours filling the little favour boxes with sweets and nuts and trying not to eat the contents a few days before the wedding.

The venue organised this fruit table for us.  I always used to wonder if anyone eats the fruit or if it goes to waste, but this seriously got demolished, everything got eaten or taken away.  We even ended up eating the water melons.

One of the parents of the children Fashionista taught in her Reception class made the cake and cupcakes for her.  She ordered the little models of the bride and groom as keepsakes.

They actually tasted as good as they looked.  We had to park the kids around the table and tell them to stop the other kids (and grown ups) from sneaking cakes until the bride had cut the cake.  Then these got eaten super quick too.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Fashionista's Wedding: The Henna

Two days before the wedding (and on the last night of the dholki nights), Fashionista had her henna done.  The women who did it was amazing and did a beautiful job, working away down the length of the brides arm  all the way to her finger tips.

We organised another henna artists to attend to do the family and guests.

It was lovely getting our henna done by professionals.  I am doing a short henna course with Little Lady at the moment, so who knows - I don't expect to be this good, but would love to get good enough to do family and friends on special occasions.

There are more pics here on Kooky's blog (including one of my chubby, swollen hands!).