Saturday, 25 September 2010

My Journey to Motherhood (Part 2)

September, 25th ... exactly on the same day 5 year ago, we spent our last few hours in lboro, UK after 4 years of memorable stay. We were going home.. yes, home to our family where we belong to.. if only our family is in UK, we won't leave this very meaningful place!! We could feel the sadness & loss in the air, seeing those faces of our dear friends & kids whom we love most. Truly, this place & its people had a very special space in our heart. We have learned a lot about many things from here.. Also, I was in 28th day of confinement after delivering little 'Affaf. Alhamdulillah, we brought four 'ole2' for our family; 2 ph.D & 2 adorable kids!

During my final year in ph.D, I became confident to finish this journey on time, that is by end of September 2005. At this stage, all necessary data had been obtained & analysed. Just need to be properly presented in few more chapters while the earlier ones mostly the literature reviews are almost done. Abang was almost completing his.. If I was in his shoes, with tremendous data & findings, continuous flow of ideas,  plus an extraordinary gift in expressing things into words, I would burn the candles all night to get the unfinished business done! That was in fact our deal.. he went off completing his ph.D with fullest speed & promised that he will assist me in completing mine..  So I slow down in my writing up & gave more room to Abang. With Allah's will, during this crucial time, I was pregnant again which will be due in August!This means that I had double deadlines; PHD & BABY at the same time. Previous pregnancy history made me extra cautious in self-care; meaning that no hard work & no stress physically, mentally & emotionally which are almost impossible to be avoided.. I left everything to Allah..for He is the All-Greatest Planner.. whether I realized or not I was in my best pregnancy condition. Every morning 6-9am, I pushed heavy trolley & cleaned the badminton complex all alone. Yes, I was a 'floor engineer' where I learned a lot about the cleaning skills, hehe! THis has been the prevailing career among students since our scholarship are not really enough to cover some necessities. In my case, I would say that I was not categorized as 'darurat' to work because Abang is a superb financial planner who managed monthly flow very efficiently.. every month must balance! I guess that has been the most favorite words among Accounting graduates!!

My supervisor & Abang's internal examiner: Prof John Presley & family
Dr Humayon Dar: Abang's supervisor & my internal examiner
In early 2005, Abang had practically completed his thesis.. as agreed he passed the baton to me for the final race with fullest speed. If people asked me, when is the most beautiful moment you spent with your other half.. that very time would be my answer.. just imagine that we were almost going to reach the end of a very long journey which we could see the finishing line in front of us.. we were like holding hands, working in a team & with a high spirit to complete the race! I was 6 months pregnant by then.. I applied for early maternity leave (the leave is 6 months in UK) so that I could focus in completing my research. I worked non-stop from dawn till dusk even during weekends; while Abang managed other household tasks like washing up & feeding Ammar, getting him to school, cooking, cleaning d house, laundry, garbage, packing, shopping and even going to carboot!! Sometime, I miss seeing my Abang doing all these chores again, hehe!

Affaf: 1 yr (2006)
Each time when I looked at Affaf, I am not surprised by her character- strong, matured, intelligent, focuss but very sensitive & sometimes grumpy a bit.. for she grew inside me along with my ph.D progress. Despite finishing my main task as student, I took the time again to study my condition & prepared for any possibility in labor. I was very careful in food-taking, fearing that the baby will be too big for a normal birth, though chances to undergo C-sec again is not impossible. My focus in work also affected my appetite. That's why Affaf was only 2.8kg during birth!

By end of July, I had completed the writing up & finally submitted the thesis on August, 8th.. the same day where Abang had his ph.D viva. ALhamdullilah, his hard work pays off when he successfully defended his thesis without any correction. After that, our main focus were packing our stuffs to go home for good & preparing for the birth. 3 weeks later, I still remember.. it was Sunday, we went to our favorite shopping place i.e. Quorn carboot where we spent more time & money than usual buying toys in particular. That nite, we packed again till 1am. At 2am I felt the contraction becoming more regular & closer between the intervals. At first, I was hesitated to wake Abang up, but my breathing somehow woke him up. We called Olin to stay with Ammar & dashed to Queens Medical Centre at Nottingham. The journey took about 20 minutes & Abang kept on reminding me to recite Salawat Tafrijiah & address 'Ya 'Azim' repeatedly between the contractions. Upon reaching the hospital & placed in the labor room, the nurse on-duty who was aware of my previous labor history put me under antibiotic to ensure I was clear from Grade-B Stripe (GBS) infection before the labor this time. Abang was all there by my side, reciting Al-Quran and supporting me with everything that he could. When I struggled to push, I could feel that he was pushing too, coz he pushed my head really hard, hehe! Even the doctor said to him, "wow, you are pushing as well!". Finally, little Affaf was born at 8.20 am on 29th August 2005. Alhamdulillah, she was clear from GBS & looks very fair with pink lips.

I was discharged a day later & had my confinement at home. Abang cooked for me everyday while I handled the tiny baby by myself. I had a good confinement care for the first 2 weeks only. 'Good' for me at that time means less movement, no climbing stairs, healthy food-taking & enough rest. Of course during that time, no berurut, bertungku & berbengkung. We were very busy getting our stuffs ready for shipping. We had about 150 boxes of books and few other boxes full with toys. 13 days after the delivery, I had my viva & passed with minor correction. I was determined to do the correction and submit the final thesis before going home. Again, I stayed up to finish the task while feeding little Affaf all nite. During this time, I felt healthy & energetic, unlike during the first delivery by C-Sec. I also started doing other household chores like cooking, cleaning the house, washing toilets, mopping the kitchen, brushing sinks & stoves! We got all our stuffs into the container by ''gotong royong' with the Malay community members on September 23rd.. and we left lboro 2 days later..

At home in Malaysia, we stayed at my parents-in-law's for few months before moved to our present home. We were fullly occupied with work & trying to settle down, unpacking the stuffs from the boxes. That didn't include trying to adapt with 'culture-shocks' like hot weather, driving style, working routines, administration efficiency, money value etc. What I could say is.. the time at that moment moved very fast.. we could feel wide differences from our lives in UK, yet we tried to survive with it. Few months later, I felt very bad pain in upper part of my leg. The pain became worse especially early in the morning to the extend I had to crawl to the toilet coz I could not stand up properly otherwise, the pain became unbearable. When we went to my hometown in KB during 'Idulaha (5 months after the birth), I went for berurut & bertungku and was told that my 'urat keting' were swollen badly & took time to heal. This was due to my 'heavy' routine during the confinement. After few sessions of berurut & bertungku I felt much better, alhamdulillah.

From this experience, I realized that;
1) Delivery by C-Sect requires extra care in order to heal the external & internal wound. Its pain would require us to have the rest needed. The body is weak usually for 6 months & generally, we will feel completely healthy after a year.
2) Normal delivery usually causes pain for few days only; generally after 2 weeks, we will feel very healthy. But internally, we are not fit as yet. Still we need to undergo the normal regime of confinement till end for a complete recovery.
3) Our body is like processor which needs to undergo extra care, service & maintenance especially after a very hard work from a labor. If we can spend to maintain other property like car, house or machines, whatmore to invest in ensuring that our body stay healthy.

Wallahu A'lam.

Friday, 24 September 2010

My Journey to Motherhood (Part 1)

Azzah: fresh from d 'oven'
Today, I am still in confinement after delivering little 'Azzah 32 days ago. To my surprise, I didn't count the remaining days of it, yet I enjoy every second of it for it is full with many new adventures featured by everybody important in my life; especially the little one, the eldest, the second, the third and most importantly my eternal soul mate, Abang... When I look back to the time when I first expected a newcomer to our sacred life, I have indeed encountered with countless ups & downs which give me priceless lessons..

Ammar: few hrs after delivery
In August nine years ago, I had the first experience of pregnancy. Due to my hectic life which was trying to adapt to new working & marriage life, I was too busy to study my own condition, what more to take care of myself physically & emotionally. As a result, on 17th September which was 1 week before we left for UK, I had a miscarriage. I kept my sorrow to myself & continued my life as usual, preparing for the long journey abroad. I followed all 'pantang' dos & donts for 2 months even I was alone (except my Abang) in UK. ALhamdulillah, Allah blessed us with a second pregnancy soon after that. This time, I studied about 'what to expect' from raising a child but overlooked on 'how to take care of yourself' during confinement. I learned about baby's progress, preparation for labor, going to parent-craft classes, feeding a child & many more relating to raising up a healthy & balanced child. Then, during 39th week of pregnancy, after days in labor room, I had safely given birth to little 'Ammar at 6.06am on 21st August 2002. My Abang was all along with me reciting Al-Quran into my ears esp during the operation. Yes, I had an emergency cesarean due certain reasons. Again, this was not expected at all & I was totally zero in understanding this situation. I felt a failure as a woman at first..

To worsen the condition, I had a bad experience in the hospital. Since it is a government hospital, spouses are not allowed to stay over night. So, there I was.. left alone in a ward shared by 3 other new mothers.. alone with a baby who kept staying awake throughout nite.. alone with the pain in my abdomen.. alone being scolded by a nurse (for keeping on  calling her for an assistance with d baby & pain). My ignorance of 'what to expect' from such condition added to my emotional stress. I was determined to get myself discharged after the 2nd nite.

Ammar: 3 mths
At home, I studied about my condition from both theory & others' experiences. I felt a relief knowing that I'm not alone in this; in fact many those very close to me experienced the same. Alhamdulillah, the Malay community in lboro was very helpful. For the first 2 weeks, they send foods to us 'on gotong-royong', of course the one who enjoyed mostly from it was my Abang! My main meal were only grilled mackerel (some friends cooked grilled haruan bought from chinese store!) & fresh carrot. Both me & Abang were thrilled with this new parenthood challenge. When I recalled the moment, it was one of the most difficult time for us; Abang was struggling to complete his Masters dissertation, while at the same time we were ordered by the Government to come home for good coz Abang was seen as a threat to the national security!! As a result, Abang's scholarship was stopped for months. I tried to be seen strong before Abang & then burst into tears in the toilet! Then, I was reminded to always ask for Allah's guidance & help. Being in the confinement should not hinder us from zikrullah & pray to Allah in heart. Alhamdulillah, when my mother came few days later & my mum-in-law a month after that, both had assisted me a lot in taking care of me & baby ang giving us emotional support that we needed most. She brought 'pati ikan haruan', 'barut' & other stuffs necessary for confinement. I somehow learned that I cannot go thru normal routine like berurut, bertungku & barut perut! The pain & effects from the operation which last for 6 months made me more believe in those myths...

Somehow, I was proud that 'Ammar grows up as a healthy child who had all our attention on him, alhamdulillah. We witnessed his development  most of the time. I managed to fully breastfeed him until he was ready to stop by himself. He also had 100% healthy & home-made meal with 'air tangan ummi for the first 3 years'.. the reason why he only eats healthy food like nasi, plain water, vegetables, ulaman & fruits.. and not into unhealthy stuffs.. that's probably explained by his  extra ordinary attachment & possessiveness towards me!

After years, I learned from this experience that:
1) I must be prepared for all possibilities- normal birth or cesarean.
2) How to take care of yourself during confinement  (for either normal or cesarean birth)& not expecting others incl. our mother to do so.
3) Berpantang during the first confinement is the most important for your health & getting you to better shape easier.
4) Berbengkung 24-7 is a MUST (though cessarean) at least for the first 28 days coz our internal & external body are still 'soft' & shapeable. Ideally for 100 days!
5) Communicate ur feeling to ur spouse, even the smallest matter.. so that he understand ur feelings, your pain & ur hope. Don't expect him to become a mindreader because he is also new to fatherhood & also struggling to adapt with it.
6) Good financial planning; start saving & investing for ur confinement care. Yes, you must spend within means but allocate more budget for confinement, taking into account things like medicines, hiring good 'tukang urut & tungku', healthy foods etc.
7) Always zikrullah & pray to Allah so that we will always feel peace in heart & become less stressful with any unexpected things during the confinement.

Wallahu A'lam..

Ammar: 5 mths
Thotful & Caring Ammar