I'm having an interesting and busy few days at the moment. I often start my posts that way – with I had an interesting day, or something interesting happened, or something caught my interest. I'm not sure if interesting things happen to me, or if I just find everything interesting.
Anyway, there seems to be a lot happening right now. Last weekend, we hosted a ladies jamaat, or dawah group, over the weekend. So hubby and Little Man stayed for two nights at the masjid, which Little Man just loved and the ladies shared out home. We had halaqa’s (study circles) in the morning. This involved reading aloud from books and also going over our prayer’s (to see if we knew what was obligatory and what was not),smaller surah’s or chapters of the Quran (to check if the tajweed or pronunciation was correct) and memorising some dua’s (prayers).
What I like about the halaqa’s is the attitude that we are all there to learn and that no-one has to feel embarrassed or singled out. Once everyone has had a turn, the person leading the circle will go over the verse or prayer and point out recurring mistakes. I few of us found the same mistake in one of the dua’s that comes at the end of our prayers (mispronouncing one letter, but in Arabic changing one letter can significantly change the meaning of a word or sentence). Little Lady sat in on them and so did my Mum-in-law who started learning Quran later in life and both benefitted. It was strange to see my opinionated, confident Mum-in-law suddenly getting very shy because she was out of her comfort zone. Little Lady on the other hand was very confident and goes to her Quran classes for two hours every evening, so took it in her stride and enjoyed herself.
In the afternoons on both days we had lectures from the masjid with ladies coming from all over the neighbourhood. It was a really nice refresher for our iman (faith) and it was nice to see all of the sisters. They also bought food, lots of it – the best lamb biryani ever, spicy mash potato samosa’s, cream cake so that I wouldn’t have to cook.
Another nice thing about having the ladies there was getting to know them. You often find when ladies sit together they begin to backbite, or gossip or start talking about frivolous things. These women were amazing, they had come for dawah (teaching the faith) and they spoke about the faith at every turn. One old lady particularly found an affectionate place in my heart. She seems so simple and there was something very innocent and sweet-natured about her. When we got talking I found out she was a hafiz, someone who had memorised the Quran, which is not something I have come across in women of her age. She had eleven children and all eleven were either hafiz or alim (Islamic scholar’s) trained in Islamic schools in Pakistan, Syria, the UK and who knows where else. She had travelled all over the world for dawah and seen so much, but to look at her you would never have guessed that she was anything other than a retired housewife. I love to find people like her who turn out to be hidden gems with stories that you would never have imagined.
In the meantime, I have been feeling very unwell. I’m in my third trimester now (28 weeks), so it’s usual to feel exhausted, but I can never gauge if I’m normally tired or so tired that there’s something wrong. I was so tired I would suddenly feel like I was going to drop and was just miserable. My fingers are also swelling up, which it seems a bit early for and they tingle which was worrying me. In the end I went to see my doctor who was annoyed I didn’t go to my midwife in the first instance. I told him I didn’t think she would take me seriously. So he checked me over (blood pressure, heart rate, pulled down my eyes etc) and wrote me a battery of tests.
So two lots of blood tests and a midwife’s check up later, I found out I’m low in iron again. I have to get a prescription from the doctor, but that takes a few days, so in the meantime I’ve picked up some from the chemist along with some Vitamin D to supplement my prenatal supplement. I’ve also ordered wheatgrass and barley grass supplements, chlorella and spirulina supplements for added energy and Royal Jelly supplements. I have taken the Royal Jelly for the last ten years and credit it with looking mostly the same as I did ten years ago (except for the weight gain from pregnancy), but had run out recently. I’ll write a post f I suddenly perk up and get super powers.
After months and months of feeling shattered, yesterday was the first day I felt vaguely normal and can imagine getting through the day rather than crawling through an hour at a time.
Which is fortunate and timely, because Hubby is going to Germany for six weeks this week. He is going with brothers from the mosque for dawah work and he is keen to be doing this work during Ramadan for the added reward. In his place, his mum will be helping with the school run and I will have to take extra days off to manage with the kids various trips, end of year events and appointments. He should be back in the last few days of Ramadan. We get on well mash’Allah and enjoy each others company Alhamdulillah, but we also do okay apart for a bit. I’ll miss him a bit, but usually find plenty to keep my mind occupied and he will be busy with teaching and will miss me a lot. Which is about right I think
On the other hand, he drives me to and from work and I will have to commute for the next few weeks. The route is an awkward three buses or a bus and three trains. I’m worried it will be too much or leave me too tired to get through the day, so will have to see how I manage and maybe work from home some days. I’ll have to make the most of it and find interesting new places to stop off and grab something for lunch, hubby usually drives me straight to and from work and steers clear of any shops.
By the time he comes back, I’ll be on leave for Eid-ul-Fitr and then go back to work for a week and then finish up with work altogether for a weeks leave followed by maternity leave maternity leave. I’ve calculated I have about 22 working days until he gets back and about 26 until I stop work. When you think about it like that, it feels much more manageable.
We’ve also been planning for Kooks wedding in September. Her henna is a week after my baby is due and her wedding two weeks after. A close family wedding might be challenging whilst recovering from childbirth and with a newborn, an almost two-year old who is developing serious dictator-like tendencies and a seven year old boy who is slightly demented and loves an audience (Alhamdulillah that Little Lady and Little Man are sensible and helpful). I like to look at the bright side though, as I will be recovering from the birth I won’t be praying and won’t have to make ablutions every few hours. This means for the first time since I got married (14 years ago next month Alhamdulillah) I will be getting my hair and make-up done for the henna which is a ladies only event. Heck I might go crazy and paint my nails (which I last did at university in a gothic black). My neighbours teenage daughter is very good at make-up, hair and henna and says she will do it for me.
Being the spontaneous, care-free sisters and sister-in-law that we are, wedding planning is now all about spreadsheets, a shared calendar, itineries and a detailed checklist for everything and a name against everything. Which might sound like we have killed the fun, but it means hopefully we are organised enough to have a lot of fun nearer the time and focus on the creative stuff rather than run around like headless chickens trying to find stuff and organise stuff and pay more for everything.
So I’m not sure how the next few months will pan out – whether they will be serene and blissful or exhausting and sorrowful, certainly the next few days will be anxious ones for me as hubby sets off and I try and regain my health and energy. I have tried to plan in some nice things for us. We recently went on a day trip and I noticed that Little Lady really looked out for her gran, holding her hand when she was tired and guiding her. I thanked her and promised just the two of us could sneak out one day and share waffles and ice-cream. She has also finished memorising Surah Mulk (from the Quran) which is quite long, so I have asked her to think of what she would like as a treat. We have two new babies to visit in the neighbourhood and a new bride on our road as well as a really lovely new Bengali family who have moved across the road to us from Italy to go and see (Little Lady has already told their teenaged daughter that she needs to make friends with our teenaged neighbour). Fashionista Sister is due to give birth to her first baby any day now which has us all praying and waiting. The kids have all of the end of school year business to take care of – school barbecues and parties, Little Lady’s visit to her new high school, Gorgeous moving up to Junior School, thank you cards and gifts for their teachers. We are less than three weeks away from Ramadan and then there is Eid to think about. Lots to do and plan and enjoy insh’Allah if my body allows me to, otherwise there are always take-aways, good books, early nights, lie-ins and trying to get the kids to do more of the chores.
Tthe Muslim Free Hospital in Burma
9 months ago