Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ten Days Overdue

When am I going to realize that delaying the payment of your bills till 10 days after they are due does NOT make them go away?  I really think that in the back of my mind somewhere, I really believe that they will just disappear into thin air as each day past the due date goes by.  Or that something will magically occur in the night and all of a sudden – they will just all be paid without me doing any work at all!  Or perhaps I am waiting for a shift in the economic system of bill-paying where we develop a socialist system of government and the gas company won’t be mailing me any more bills cause they will all be collectively paid?

Whatever make-believe story I am conjuring up in the recesses of my mind – it is not going to happen.  It’s time I get on board and succumb to the inevitable.

Alhumdulilla

Yesterday we went in search of a three-bedroom house for rent.  We weren’t going to see inside the house yet; we just wanted to drive by and check out the looks of it from the outside.  It was in a tiny town several miles away. 

The directions we had to the house sent us on a main road.  However, since we were already far from the main road, we took a little detour.  This detour lasted about an hour longer than it would have taken us had we settled for the original directions.  Sitting in a car for an hour and a half, winding down bumpy dirt country roads with a baby in the womb kicking the crap out of my bladder – I was less than a happy camper.

My husband, on the other hand, was calm as can be.  As we met dead end after dead end in the middle of farmground and desolate woods, he happily pointed out attractive-looking houses, stopped the car to observe some deer munching on corn in a field, calmly took notice of the sun setting in the distance, and generally carried on as if nothing was wrong, as if we weren’t repeatedly being blocked from getting to our destination at every turn of a corner.

Meanwhile, I was fumming on the other side of the car, nearly pulling my hair out at how long this drive was taking us, panicking as the last light of day was winding down below the horizon.  My lower back was aching.  I couldn’t find a good position that would stop Baby from putting pressure on Mommy’s bladder.  The radio was too loud.  The sun was in my eyes.  The window was making a strange whistling noise.  We were going too slow.  The ruts in the road were getting deeper and deeper.  Another dead end and I was ready to dive out of the car and start running in whatever direction I landed in.

My husband is the epitome of patience.  I love him for it…and hate him for it all at the same time.

“How can you be so calm?!” I finally scream in that high-pitched voice we both know so well.

He gets that smile that he always gets whenever I start this conversation.

“What is there to be upset over?  We’re just driving.  We’ll get there eventually.”

“We…have…been…driving…for…an…hour….already.”  We were literally driving 25 miles per hour at that point down a dirt road that had no houses or any other signs of humanity for miles.

“Yeah?”

I could have ripped my hair out by the roots.  But I am so glad that he is this way.  There have been times when we were late for appointments, and even after I called the place to tell them, even after multiple reassurances by him that we would be there and they would wait and everything would be okay, I would still be sighing loudly, biting my lips, huffing and fidgeting and grumbling under my breath.  In the midst of it, I will realize I’m being ridiculous, yet I still can’t seem to control myself or my racing thoughts. 

But if there were two of us in the car, I don’t think we would survive.

That’s why I’m so glad to have him to remind me that nothing is that important to get stressed over.  Alhumdulilla – he is always first to say.  Before I even inhale to let out a scream – alhumdulilla, he says.  And I am reminded and thankful to have such a wonderful husband.  In moments when things DO go wrong, he is quick to say it, quick to remind me, quick to say “thank you Allah” for everything, with and without bumps in the country dirt roads in the middle of nowhere.

New Muslims Series Introduction: Am I Muslim?

 

As I stated in my previous post, I will be presenting a series starting in the month of Ramadan that is meant to provide support to new muslims entering into Islam.  While the topics are geared towards people new to Islam, I also aim to help “veteran” muslims understand the types of situations and experiences that new muslims go through – in hopes of bridging the gaps between the two and inspiring more communication among fellow muslims.

I will be presenting a new topic each Monday, starting on September 1, the first day of Ramadan.  I have listed each topic below.  If there are any topics not on this list that you would like to see presented, please inform me in the comments section so I can work on incorporating your new ideas. 

In addition to the basic information and personal experiences that I present, I will introduce links to other blogs, links to websites or helpful videos, and also some information on books which might add to the topic.  Please inform me of any other additional resources that you think of while reading the posts.

Here is the layout of posts I intend to present week by week (insha’allah):

The “Am I Muslim?” Series

1.  I’ve Accepted Islam…Now What?
2.  Common Phrases, Common Questions
3.  How To Tell Your Family You’re Muslim
4.  Your First Visit to the Masjid
5.  How to Start Your Prayers
6.  Five Ways to Strengthen Your Faith
7.  Now Am I Muslim? 

I welcome your feedback throughout the series, if there is anything you believe I should add or correct, please let me know.  Share with me your opinions, bring along your questions, and contribute with your own resources or information.  I hope you enjoy the series as much as I enjoy writing it.

Series for New Muslims (Coming Soon)

When I first became Muslim, I felt scared.  It was as if a whole new world had opened up and swallowed me -and I stood there, searching around for something that I could call familiar.  A few people had tried to help, offering me some website addresses, giving me prayer booklets and pamphlets like the “Brief Illustrated Guide to Islam.”  But it wasn’t information I needed.  It was a connection.  A connection to this brand, new world. 

I remember searching the internet, desperately seeking some kind of online community that could help me.  I combed the Islamic pages.  There were numerous informative articles, websites that offered basic knowledge of Islam, sites with prayer directions and hijabs for sale.  But I wasn’t looking for those things – I wanted a human experience to match what I was going through.  Someone who had been through it and had emerged on the other side successfully.  What I sought was the human element of Islam.

It took me many years to finally find the Islamic community I longed for, almost as many years as it took me to come to accept Islam.  In an effort to offer new Muslims the type of support I was so desperately longing for when I first reverted, I would like to start a series of posts aimed at helping new muslims survive the first few steps of entering into the fold of Islam. 

Tomorrow I will create a layout of the topics I will present in the coming weeks.  These topics will be geared towards helping new muslims adjusting to a new religion, but it will also provide some useful links and tips for muslims who are currently practicing also, in addition to allowing other muslims to understand the issues reverts such as myself experience and face when they first enter into the Islamic community.

Reborn Newborn During Ramadan

As I kneel down, facing the direction of the Kabbah, ready to focus my energy and attention on my prayers, I pause and think of the blessings Allah has granted me.  My thoughts center on my womb, where the tiny being inside me is perfectly encapsulated from all harm, where Allah has allowed the child to grow and develop into the creation He desires, where body and soul transform rapidly to produce the beautiful bundle of joy that will enter into the world.

Three years ago on the Night of Power in Ramadan, I took shahada over the phone with a Muslim friend who had helped me to understand and accept Islam as the one true faith.  I was ill-prepared for the struggles that lie ahead, but I knew with Allah ta’alla’s help, I would become the kind of Muslim that I longed to be. 

Now, married and expecting my first child, I feel an even stronger connection to Islam.  Islam teaches us how to live our lives here on earth in the way that pleases Allah, through the guidance given to us in the Holy Qur’an.  As a young parent, I feel the fear of the unknown.  I sense the immense responsibility that has been handed down to me, and I fear that failing as a parent will mean my failure in this life.  But I know that the Qur’an is the best parenting manual I can find.  I know that succeeding as a Muslim will be my success as a parent.  And I know that Allah is with me through it all.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a parent now, I view the outside world as a collection of temptations and worldly pleasures.  Each decision I make has and always will be recorded, but now will also be viewed through the impressionable eyes of my child.  In the choices I make, I will not only affect my own life and the life of the Hereafter, I will also be sending a ripple of influence through the life of the child Allah has granted me.  And that, too, will be recorded. 

This Ramadan is a special one.  Because I will be pregnant for the duration of Ramadan and therefore cannot fast, I strive to find new ways to strengthen my faith and make this month more meaningful than any before it.  I have started to learn the prayer after many years of internal struggling.  Finally I am worshipping Allah as He has intended for us as Muslims.  As I bow down in worship, my baby follows with me.  Every salat I perform, my baby is there, experiencing with me the wave of intense emotions I feel when in Allah’s presence, when performing this most sacred of pillars.  I feel him moving, alive and eager, and I am grateful to Allah for giving me this most precious gift in this life.

None of us is a perfect Muslim – we are far from it.  All of us can do better and strive to control our desires and increase our nafs.  But always we are an example to our children.  They are the ones we often fail to remember during times when we get angry, impatient, or fail to carry out our duties as Muslims.  They are watching all that we say and do closely and they do not forget.

I pray that Allah may guide me in the right direction, throughout the month of Ramadan, while I prepare mentally and physically for bringing a child into this world in the most appropriate time of this year, and I pray that my humble demeanor will lay a solid foundation for the tiny blessing that I will soon, insha’Allah, bring into this wonderful world.

The Slow Decline of My Motherly Morale

So today I mistakenly went into the No-No pile:  the stack of baby/parenting magazines that I haven’t touched since month three of pregnancy.  I knew what was going to happen; I justified my actions by claiming that I was “cleaning” my room – which usually entails pulling everything out of the filing cabinets (read:  shoe boxes and plastic bags) and going through all the memories before dumping everything altogether back into one bigger cardboard box (minus one small stack of miscellaneous papers that I proudly throw away.) 

So here’s what happened, the slow decline of my morale article by article:

Open page one of “As Your Baby Grows.”  Read article about the important decision of choosing childbirth education classes.  Article suggests taking the longer course (6 weeks) versus taking the three-day weekend class because you’ll have more time to practice the breathing and relaxation techniques.  Feel guilty that I’m only taking a one-day class because it cost me $60 and the insurance doesn’t pay for it.  Turn page to find picture of pink baby in red womb, arms and legs all flipped in weird positions, baby looking mighty alien-y due to lack of fully-developed eyelids.  I am guiltily grossed out by the photo and drop the mag. 

Next, open Similac Baby Formula “Welcome Addition Club” planner given as free gift from doctor.  Flip through Weeks 23-27 to find horrifying picture of pale-skinned, plastic fetus-looking baby on opposite page.  Almost throw up a little in my mouth.  Read about how expanding uterus is putting pressure on my intestines.  Instructed not to hold in frequent needs to urinate, or else I could cause my bladder to become enflamed, which may lead to an irritation of the uterus, which may result in an early onslaught of contractions.  Great.  Urge to pee may cause me to have premature baby. 

Tips for Week 28-31:  “Now is a good time to start putting together the nursery.”  Oh is it?  That sounds great, seeing as I have no nursery items, no crib, and no bedding to speak of, not to mention not having any money to spend on these things, not to mention not having an apartment to live in for the next month seeing as we have to be out by October 1.  Next page:  “Will you breastfeed or bottle feed?” across from Similac advertisements.  Snap planner shut with little metal fastener and throw it across the room at opposite wall.  Continue rummaging.

Open Target baby registry book.  See all the lists of Things You Absolutely Must Have For Baby.  Check out the prices for the jogger stroller, the umbrella stroller, the rock star stroller.  Check out the price for the “Standard Stroller.”  Read tip about color-coordinating the stroller with the baby’s wardrobe.  Start to hyperventilate.

Next, “Safe and Sound Sleep” pamphlet from very first prenatal office visit.  Open up to bulleted list about how to prevent infant from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Convince myself that I am incompetent due to lack of proper swaddling skills.  Start crying.  Husband walks in, suggests that I practice on the cat.  Makes me laugh and then helps me up off the floor and walks me out of the room away from pile of magazines.

I’m starting to feel like I’m going crazy, but then again, I’m just not quite sure.  Do you have to know what you’re doing in order to be a good mom?  What does it take to be a good mom?  Sometimes when the baby kicks inside me, I feel guilty.  I’m supposed to be all happy and touched by the movements, but instead, all I feel is worry and doubt in myself as a mother.  And that leads me to feeling guilty.  Guilty for thinking this was okay, to bring a life into this world and just hope for the best.  Guilty for feeling anything other than pure joy at having a safe, healthy baby inside me, soon to be born.  Sigh…

Sidenote to Labor article in “As Your Baby Grows”:  “Choosing your baby’s name may seem simple compared to the choices you’ll make in the next few months.”

How reassuring.

Seventh Month and Counting…

Baby's First Ultrasound (3 months new)

Things I will miss about being pregnant:

1.  Attention and smiles from strangers
2.  Little bumps and kicks inside me
3.  Hubby-Bubby going out to get ice cream (soft-serve only) for me whenever I want
4.  Ultrasound pics
5.  Having an excuse to wear sweatpants 24/7
6.  Eating every 2 hours
7.  Sitting on the couch with Hubby and me holding our hands on my tummy
8.  Hearing both my heartbeat and the baby’s heartbeat together at the doctor’s office
9.  Hubby bringing me flowers and sweets to make me feel better on my sad days

Things I won’t miss about being pregnant:

1.  Strangers who try to reach out and touch without warning
2.  Big football-player kicks
3.  Purple Horse Pills, better known as Prenatal Vitamins
4.  Midnight, desperate must-make-it-to-the-bathroom-before-bladder-explodes urges
5.  Sitting there and nothing comes out but an ounce or two
6.  Inability to find a comfortable position to sleep in
7.  Losing sight of my toes

For those who’ve been through it already – what things do you remember of your own pregnancy that you miss (or are happy not to have to deal with now?)