Posted in Motherhood, Religion

Worries

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” (Holy Qur’an 24:31)

Eight years ago when I made the decision to wear my hijab, there was a certain worry that came with the decision; I lived in a society where very few Muslims existed and out of those Muslims, none of them wore the hijab full time. I already stood out as a black girl in a predominantly white community. So, as you can imagine, wearing my hijab was not the easiest decision. As anyone would, I worried about how people would see me and relate with me. However, it was a decision and a way of life that I had thought long and hard about and I was ready to commit to, regardless of society’s views.

Fast forward to a couple of months after having my daughter… My mum returned from Nigeria with various gifts for us including the smallest hijabs for my daughter. I thought they were the cutest things, especially as they made her chubby baby face look even chubbier. I also saw it as an opportunity to introduce the hijab to her at an early age hoping that when she came to make the commitment at a later age, it would be much easier for her than it was for me. Just like every mother, I wanted to set her up to succeed in every aspect of life and it felt good to think this was another step towards achieving that. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t any different from emphasising the use of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at a young age so that she hopefully grew up to be courteous.

Every time we went out, I’d dress my daughter up and made sure she had a matching hijab to her outfit. At the time, I didn’t really have a lot of places to go aside from the familiar places within the Nigerian Muslim community; mosque, visiting family and friends. These places were my safe haven; they were filled with people who knew the true meaning behind the hijab and understood my intentions for my daughter without me having to explain myself. And just like me, they all thought she looked cute in her hijab and liked the idea of getting her accustomed to it in the hopes that it’d make life easier for her.

Things changed when I ventured outside of my safe haven. That morning, we had a doctor’s appointment and as usual, I got my daughter ready making sure that her hijab matched her outfit. As I parked the car and struggled to get the car seat out of the car, I couldn’t help but feel like I did eight years ago when I first left my house wearing a hijab. I was worried. I worried about how my baby might suddenly be viewed because she was dressed differently. I almost wanted to take it off but this was an important step for me. This was a step I’d hope that my daughter would take one day. If I was too scared to take it myself, how could I expect her to do the same?

To my surprise, everyone that came in contact with her saw just how amazing she was (and still is). They saw what I saw; a beautiful and smiley baby girl. Those that commented on her hijab had nothing but positive things to say about it. Like me, they appreciated the fact that it matched her outfit and actually thought she looked ‘cute’ in it. They especially loved the little diamantes that were attached to it. I immediately felt at ease and all my worries were almost forgotten.

However, every so often, due to different reasons, these worries come crippling back and I cannot help but think about my daughter and her hijab. Now at almost 3 years old, the hijab has become a part of her. Although she doesn’t understand the meaning behind it, it is something she is comfortable wearing and chooses to wear most days. I hope that when she comes to the age of understanding that it is something that continues to be a part of her. But with that hope, comes the question; when does she stop being a baby, a person and instead, becomes a threat because of what she chooses to wear on her head?

Till next time

-A

Posted in Empowerment, Motherhood

Who am I?

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel” – Eleanor Brownn. 

I am a mother and likewise a wife. But that’s definitely not all I am.

Recently, I found that I had to remind myself who I was as a person before I became a wife and a mother. Motherhood and ‘wife duties’ started to define the person that I was. Since becoming a mother, I spend my days taking care of my daughter and husband. My husband leaves for work in the morning and would get back in the evening. Of course, as his partner, it meant that I had to do everything that he couldn’t do while he was at work e.g cleaning, cooking e.t.c Aswell as this, I was trying to get a grasp on my new role as a mother.

For the first couple of weeks after my baby was born, as you’d expect, life was busy and it still is. I was trying to figure out this thing called ‘motherhood’. I was constantly tired due to sleepless nights and loooong days. My baby kept me busy 24/7. Regular ‘simple’ tasks took much longer due to baby interruptions. I looked forward to her daytime naps so I could get a little snooze myself or get another house chore ticked off my list. She was the most important thing in my life. My days revolved around her.

These two new major roles kept me busy. I was waking up tired and going to bed wrecked. I was putting everything into taking care of my home and my baby. I even started to challenge myself. For example, yesterday I had my baby showered, dressed and fed by 11 a.m, today I am going to try to get her ready by 10 a.m. I was starting to feel proud of my little achievements. Things were going great, I was starting to get a hang of things. But, it all came at a cost, at least that’s what it seemed like.

self-care-squad-2

My health was deteriorating. I still hadn’t healed properly from labour. I was barely eating because I just didn’t have the time. But yet I was breastfeeding exclusively. I was dehydrated and constipated, I didn’t seem to have time to drink water either (my lips had never been so dry). Each day was the same; take care of the home and look forward to my husband’s arrival from work. My goals were limited, my conversations were limited; I was a wife, I was a mother… That was it. I was taking care of everybody else but myself. And so I had to think “WHO AM I?” “WHAT EXCITES ME?”, “WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?”, “WHAT DO I WANT FOR MYSELF?”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a wife to my husband and a mother to my daughter. It is a major part of the person that I am but it is not all that I am and it is not all that I have to be. I love taking care of my family, it brings me great joy and a sense of fulfilment… but I also love to write, exercising, helping out in the community, teaching. All these things make me who I am, all these things take care of me.

So, if you’re like me and you find yourself losing focus on the person that you are or the person that you want to be, then try these 3 tips. They worked great for me.

  • Prioritise – I used time as an excuse, “I can’t take care of myself because I don’t have time to”. Make time! There is never enough time but you have to prioritise; your baby won’t remember that you gave her a late shower because you needed to eat.
  • Talk to your partner or loved ones (someone who was always aware of your goals) – My husband was always aware of my goals. So, when he noticed my lack of self-focus, he called me up on it.
  • Pick one thing- No matter how busy you get, try to do one thing for yourself each day that brings you closer to your goal. For me, it can be as little as a 30min workout (gotta get my body back). Remember, you should never be too tired to work on yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  • Ask for help- I am still working on this one myself. If you’re anything like me, you might find this difficult. I have this mentality of “she’s my responsibility and I want to be the perfect parent”. You don’t have to be superwoman, don’t try to do it all by yourself especially if you don’t have to.  Let grandma help. Let her spend time with daddy while you take care of yourself. Your health will thank you for it and so will your baby.

You can’t pour from an empty jug. Take care of yourself. It takes a little more work, but you’ll thank yourself for it. I’m still tired most days, but I am happy.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Relationships, Uncategorized

His Perspective.

Hi guys,

Hope ye are all having a great weekend. Last week, I spoke about my pregnancy journey. This week, based on your response to the poll on my  instagram, I thought it was only fair to give my husband the chance to share his perspective- it takes two to tango and all that. So, let’s get to it.

Do you remember how I broke the pregnancy news? You sent me a text saying ‘I took a pregnancy test’ but you didn’t give me the results. Even though I knew the results from your reaction, I literally had to ask you what the results were before you told me.

When you found out I was pregnant, how did you react? I wasn’t shocked because we weren’t preventing it. I was happy and felt very blessed because it is a blessing that Allah has given us. However, I was slightly worried about you and the impact it might have on you. 

Do you wish you did anything before we got pregnant? I wish I read more and maybe even spoke to more people in order to have a better understanding. I was told that it can be a difficult time but it is do-able. I will be honest and say that I didn’t see pregnancy being that difficult. I don’t really know how much I could have prepared. However, people have different experiences and I feel the best learning is on the job. 

 

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Hubby telling our baby to behave

 

What was your role during our pregnancy journey? For us, things changed very quickly. We went from being newlyweds to being pregnant in no time. I had to do more heavy-lifting because of the physical strain pregnancy had on you. I had to be pro-active.  I had to make sure that I was supporting you even with the basic things. During the first 6 months of the pregnancy, you were in the U.K finishing your postgrad and I was in Ireland. During those months, we communicated mostly through the phone and I only saw you every second weekend. I could feel the impact it was having on you physically, but I didn’t really know how to support you. However, I felt that I could only try to calm you down emotionally. When I did get to see you, I felt very guilty as I could see clearly what you were going through. Psychologically, I felt it was my responsibility to support, encourage and motivate you. I would encourage all men to make sure to continue to emphasise positivity and to STEP UP.  I ensured that I carried all the household responsibilities and to provide emotional support. I observed your emotions and tried to act accordingly.

P.S I think it is also important that women remember that pregnancy is also a learning curve for the man and although we can’t understand what you are going through, you shouldn’t expect the perfect man. 

How did you deal with my reaction to being pregnant, especially during my first trimester? I felt quite sad that it was having such a major impact on your studies and state of mind.  I made sure to tread carefully because it was an emotional rollercoaster for you. I had to be observant and I knew I couldn’t completely understand what you were going through. I observed your reactions and my response was to try to be as compassionate as I possibly could and tried to look after your needs. 

Before I got pregnant, do you think you had an idea of what pregnancy should be like? Fortunately or unfortunately, until you got pregnant, I had only seen people that had “easy” pregnancies; women who didn’t seem to be affected by their pregnancies. So, I didn’t have a fair idea of what could happen or how it could impact the woman. Regardless, I still think the best learning is done on the job. 

How did you deal with my emotions and mood swings? I didn’t think you were too moody. I never felt angry or impatient because I felt that Allah does not burden a soul with more than they can handle. I think patience really helped. Also, your apologies helped. You always apologised when you felt you had been a little too moody. 

Do you have any advice for expecting fathers to help support their wives through pregnancy?  I think it’s important to be attentive and listen to your wife’s feelings and you should try not to take anything personal during that period. Do your very best to support her in every way possible. Also, it is important to note that your way of helping isn’t necessarily what she needs. Listen to her needs but not all her cravings :P. 

I hope you enjoyed this mini interview 🙂 If you have any other questions that you would like us to answer, please leave them in the comment sections and we will try to answer them.

Till next time

-A

 

 

Posted in Motherhood

My journey…

The journey ended over three months ago, THANK GOD!!! Just in case you’re wondering, I do NOT miss being pregnant.

I was one of those people who planned on being very active while pregnant. I had always been into fitness and planned to continue while pregnant.  My mum had told me plenty of stories about all of her four pregnancies (she had very difficult pregnancies), so I felt very well prepared for the worst. But, nothing could have prepared me for this emotional journey into motherhood. Just like childbirth, it is one of those things you have to go through in order to completely understand. However, I will try my very best to explain as honestly as I can. In order to make things easier, I will break the journey down into trimesters.

My first trimester was awwwwwwful! I had every symptom possible. As I said in my previous post, I decided to take a pregnancy test because I was feeling quite ill. I wasn’t really expecting a positive result (call it naivety) but I wanted to rule it out. However, as you all know, it was very much positive. My first trimester brought serious morning sickness. To be clear, morning sickness is NOT the same as vomiting. For me, It was vomiting with heartburn/throat burn while trying to keep my intestines where they should be as well as keeping my body from releasing fluids in other areas. It can happen anywhere at anytime. Then, came extreme weakness. Regular tasks such as walking and standing became extremely difficult. I had to teach while seated. My postgrad needed me to be as active and as enthusiastic as possible (primary teachers spend most of the day on their feet). Unfortunately for me, I lacked both of these while pregnant – imagine trying to teach P.E  while seated. The inability to be physically active impacted me emotionally. I just couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I felt betrayed by my own body. I wasn’t heavy, I wasn’t even showing (no bump) physically. My inability to do regular day to day things just did not make sense. There was no logical reason for the way my body was acting. Whatever was inside of my stomach was ruining my plans, I felt. My weakness was affecting my work. My mentors didn’t think I’d make it through the course. Most importantly, I couldn’t see myself finishing the course successfully. I couldn’t connect the dots and consequently couldn’t connect with the child inside of me. This lack of connection worsened things for me. I had always looked forward to having children, I didn’t expect to feel the way I felt. My attitude towards my unborn child worried me. I was a mess…. No one could have prepared me for this.

 

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Eight months pregnant 🙂

 

Fortunately, my first scan changed a lot for me emotionally. Although, still pretty upset about the way things were going with my course, seeing the picture of my little human made it a lot easier to understand my situation. I was so overwhelmed, I cried. During that brief moment, things started to make sense. In that moment, there was a change of perspective. I was carrying a human being. A human being that already knew how to wave.

My second trimester came with a huge appetite. I was always hungry. I ate almost every hour or two and If I didn’t eat on time, my body would literally collapse. The hunger was real! My morning sickness reduced and I started to slightly regain my energy. Things with my course still weren’t as I’d have liked due to my lack of energy. My daily routine went as thus; wake up, go to work- try to get through the day by eating snacks every chance I got, worked through lunch so I didn’t have to stay too long after school just so I could run home to eat, sleep, wake up to do more work and then sleep again.

Things settled down during my third trimester. Although my morning sickness returned, it was not as aggressive as my first trimester. According to the doctor, my food was coming back up because there was no room in my stomach. I managed to finish the practical part of my course during this trimester. I had good days and bad days. I had a deferred assignment which I managed to write during this trimester.  Funnily enough, I received the result of the assignment on the day I had my baby- I had failed. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken. I felt like my whole year had gone to waste and I had nothing to show for it. I cried. It took me a good couple of minutes, but I realised with the help of my mother that I had a little girl in my arms- my little girl. I was healthy and so was my baby. That was more important than anything else. I had plenty to show for the year. It was a matter of importance; my baby or my postgrad.

I have heard of people that have had “easy” pregnancies. Mine just wasn’t one of those. It was emotionally draining for me. Although it was a difficult journey, I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to carry a child into this world. Nothing can compare to it. My baby brings nothing but joy and happiness to my life. And sleep deprivation.

Major shout out to my husband for being so understanding. I do not know how he kept his cool through my mood swings.

P.S I repeated the assignment and I am awaiting results- pray for me 🙂

Till next time

-A