Part I : Long haul with twins

Unlike others who are blessed to have the opportunity to travel at a very young age with their family, Sazrin and I only started to officially be ‘wanderlusts’ when were full grown adults! Before that, we weren’t really travelling much except to the nearby countries in the region.  Throughout the years of our exciting, ‘honeymoon-ey’, child-less days when we first got together since 2005, we have enjoyed quite a fair bit of travelling and couldn’t be more content that we managed to work our butts off to live our dreams, given the fact that we come from humble backgrounds.
We had experienced The Lion King came to live at Broadway in New York City, in awe with the Rhine Falls of Switzerland, glided through the desert sand dunes of Dubai, stuffed our faces silly with orgasmic chocolates in Belgium, puked by the aroma of stinking tofu lingering on the streets of Hong Kong, watched hungry people licked pork knuckles clean with all their might in Germany,  swam the seas with Nemo and friends at Phi-Phi island,  lost at shopping heaven in Milan, admired the sheer grandeur of surroundings in Monte Carlo, feeling ‘Super Star’ on the red carpet in Cannes, eat-sleep-romance in Bali and just to name a few other unforgettable memories across the globe! Maa syaa Allah! But of course, the most memorable and meaningful one would have to be our trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for our Umrah together, nothing beats that, period.
Just like many normal couples do, we knew that we’d want kids in the future but, during those early thrilling days, the thought of having to go on trips with children didn’t even cross our minds!
Fast forward to 13 years later now that Sazrin and I are blessed with our super long awaited joy which came in a pair! – Madeenah Az-Zahraa & Mayeesha Ar-Rawdah, things are way different than how it used to be! We suddenly have two extra permanent luggage that we simply cannot get rid off!
They were born in December 2016 and since then, had traveled to Bintan on a ferry at 4 months, Bandung by flight on their 1st birthday and soon to London at 14 months old. (Darlings, when Umi was your age, the farthest Umi went was to World Trade Centre tengok boats tau!) Kids nowadays, Maa syaa Allah.

We went on a long haul travelling hiatus since they were born cos planning for one can be stressful on its own, add two babies toddlers in the mix and the thought can be so  overwhelming! If it wasn’t because of my work attachment and studies in London, I would never have imagined that we would fly all the way there with our babies who are on the cusp of toddler-hood. But being an optimist as I am, I try to view such a challenge in different ways as they sum up the basic approaches to motherhood or maybe even to life. I can either take a deep breath and hope for the best, putting out the fires as I go or become terribly controlling like scouring the internet for tips, scribbling furiously on my notebook with a calculator in one hand and calendar in the other, hoping that everything binds together and that ‘difficult times’ could bend around their nap time!
You see, I am just a bit over a year into motherhood, still very kanchiong and utterly bamboozled by the responsibility of other human lives to care for, so here I am, officially a Mum-Zilla, all stressed out about the nittiest-grittiest thing, everr!

After weeks of crazy bouts of research, I finally booked a night flight with Qatar Airways so as to coincide with my babies bedtime (no, I am not at all affiliated with the organisation neither am I paid to write this). Of course I love my national airline but I’d rather spend that extra dollars at Selfridges (sorry SQ! I love you still!)..
Our longest flight to New York with Qatar was a very pleasant one which further supported my decision to choosing the airline. On the contrary, that was when we were child-less, so again, no guarantee!
Accommodation wise, I rented a two-bedroom apartment at Camden town, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill cos I know that they’ve got spectacular views across London, with a beautiful lake, flower beds, fountains and playgrounds which my mum and lil munchkins would go crazy about! Travelling time to my office at the financial district would take me about 15-20mins so that’s amazing. Who knows someday I might just have to continue working in London and relocate there once and for all? I would still choose the same area to live in for sure. But for now, I don’t wanna be thinking so far off yet and am just gonna take baby steps at a time. Definitely worried that my twin babies  toddlers would lose it mid-flight and have crazy meltdowns en-route! Can I have a parachute already so that I can jump off the plane if things go embarrassingly haywire?!…
Although our little munchkins are not screaming babies toddlers, I diplomatically describe them as “wilful”. They’re adorable, unless they’re bored. And oh, they both had just learned to walk! FREAK! So I tried to find creative ways by frantically googling “apps that will hypnotize a 14-month-old” which bore much fruit, and I downloaded several. But early practice tests yielded disinterest and a broken iPad screen, so I wasn’t that optimistic.
And here I am back to square one, praying and hoping that all will be smooth sailing cos babies and toddlers are so full of surprises! When you expect them to take something in their stride for example like having breakfast, or a quick trip to NTUC, it becomes war. But when you fear they’ll be horrible, they may be serene. Either way, they’re sure going to teach me something! So here we go, bidding farewell to our sunny Singapore and looking forward to hyperborean London!
Thank you ALL from the bottom of our hearts for your do’as.. here’s sending you nothing but only Love..

To be continue………………………………………………………. 
Things I’ve packed for them:
Sleeping: Blankets, bolsters, bunny soft toy (Mayeesha’s bantak busuk), pyjamas
Eating: Milk bottles, formula milk powder, biscuits, snacks, brown rice, bibs, ‘spork’, sippy cups
Bath: Bath wash, shampoo, towels, body lotion, minyak telon, tooth brush, baby tooth paste, diaper rash cream 
Clothing: Extra set of clothing on-board the aircraft, diapers, mittens, headgear, winter coats, uniqlo’s heat-tech inner top and pants, onesies, socks, furry boots, comfy shoes
Others: Nail-clipper, medications, comb, baby-carrier, twin-stroller, story books 
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The secret is…

Sometimes I wish there was a recipe to skip past the low points and all the negative situations in life. I have been looking for something that can help me from the moment I feel that things are stagnating or going wrong; or that things are just not in the flow as they used to be. But then I remember that life is a constant flow of waves where there will always be ups and downs. The bad times are something that we simply cannot prevent. So why not take the best out of every situation, as bad as it might be, and enjoy the ride?

For me, the most crucial component to deal with bad situations is to learn how to use my brain properly.. Yuppppp – to use my brain and mix with knowledge of my religion.
I consider the brain to be a great tool cos they are designed to deliver me exactly what I want to see or experience. To be precise, these tools deliver thoughts based on what I choose to focus on. So that is the reason why I now tend to be highly selective, picky and I consider myself like a flour sifter who only choose the finer things in life, those that are deem healthy for my body and soul.

You see, I am constantly striving to see the positive in every aspect of my life. But it’s not always easy. I am a first time mother who is struggling at times, I have my two twin daughters to feed, part-time studies to cope, demanding job to fulfill, husband to care for, mother to love and father who is currently suffering from a sickness from which he will never recover. And, as I get older, I also find myself moving in different directions from some of the people I know and have spent a great deal of time with (but never been happier). My mind is still trying to adjust to my relatively new schedule of running ‘Positively Present’ full time.
Just like everyone else, my life is filled with challenges that make it very difficult to be positive sometimes, but hey, that is so normal.
However, I know that choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be. Even when things are difficult, I know that being positive and striving to make the best of whatever situation I’m in really does make even the most challenging situations easier to bear! Maasyaa Allah!

I choose to live a purposeful, positive, joyful life and I choose to not be surrounded by negative people who don’t encourage my happiness..
So what’s my secret?? There are no secrets, really. I just happened to use my brain and make a wise choice for myself, a much wiser one than yesterday!

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We Survived! – Alhamdulillah

8 December 2017..
Madeenah Az-Zahraa and Mayeesha Ar-Rawdah turn ONE. They are 365 days old and I feel tired fulfilled!

I have gone through a 12-month roller-coaster ride of emotions – from moments of pure joy and isolation to moments of defeat and glorious moments of victory. But as the reality of ending our first year together hits, what stands out the most is the precious time I got to spend with my little girls and all the moments that I’ll never forget. So, this is for you, sweet girls, I’ll make sure that you read this when you’re older!

There is something incredibly inevitable about my feelings right now. That feeling of fragile lives running away from me – mixture of happiness and sadness because you are no longer my preemie-teeny bubbs anymore, and you will never be again. On the other hand, I’m so excited for you to turn one. I feel proud that we’ve made it this far, from those first few days and weeks when I just stared at you, marveling how did you both fit inside of me. It’s crazy, right? And where on earth did I get all the strength towards the end to lug around 5 kilos of you in my tum tum?
Those days when we had to go through the weeks of jaundice check-ups in and out of the over-polluted-crowded polyclinic to hearing your screams and cries for getting poked for tubes and tubes of blood tests, getting various vaccinations done (which I had not missed you from getting till today), development growth checkups, to the chaotic rush to the A & E for a ‘rolling off bed’ incident.. all the sweat, the tears, the amusement when I first witnessed your belly buttons fall off, to knowing that you passed your hearing tests and the eeriness when I had to hold on to your legs while you get circumcised! All those sweet-bitter memories babies, all of those~~~  (tears).
The other day, I walked into Mothercare and passed the clothes section. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made me stop in my tracks to check on the tiniest onesie 3-pack on a hanger. I couldn’t believe how small it was and checked the size: ‘Newborn’ .. I immediately felt a lump in my throat. You my babies, my little girls, almost one year ago swam in the enormity of newborn onesies. I was momentarily stunned at the recollection of how small you were then! Now at 12 months old, you are already weighing about 12 kilos and wearing 18-months size clothing! We’ve come so far babies, we really did! Maasyaa Allah.

I really cannot tell whether it’s been the fastest or slowest year of my life because at times it felt like the longest journey, but in all honesty, it went in the blink of an eye. Everything seems like a blur, a blur of amazing, exhausting, messy and magical all rolled together into two beautiful babies who blessed our lives one short year ago. My heart swells when I think about how lucky I am that I get to be your Umi after suffering 6 years of unexplained infertility with the long time love of my life! – Your Abi.

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You are the closest thing to perfection and have a wide range of smiles, each for different person or occasion and every single one still melts me, every single time.
You have a giggle, that turns into a squeal, that turns into a scream and to me, that is like an ‘ear-worm’, the most infectious sound on earth!
You are so chatty and love to babble in your own foreign language which always make us burst into laughter!
You have the cheekiest little twinkle in your eyes and at the same time are the cuddliest little munchkins.
You are messy, masam, loud, all over the place and are my pretty little dollies all at the same time..
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You have taught me so much in this first year. I won’t say it was easy cos it wasn’t. I won’t say that I enjoyed every minute cos I didn’t. And I won’t lie and tell you that I’m not tired ALL THE TIME because I am! But I will say that it has been the best year of my life.
From next year on, we will see your changes beyond recognition – from the crawling, babbling babies that you are now, into a fully-fledged walking, talking little girls in playgroup school! (Umi has also registered you for your N1 school mind you – kiasu, I know – but anything and everything for the sake of you both).
We are on the cusp of some really exciting times and may Allah make it easy for us, Ameen.

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It has been a tough 2017 for sure, but with each milestone and each smile our hearts have grown. I have had moments of weakness and tears where I feel spread thin and defeated, but those moments are fleeting and the big picture is amazing. I am so thankful for the blessings in my life and full hands give me an even fuller heart! Maasyaa Allah.

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Achieve your best in this worldly-world but never forget the tawheed and aqidah which will help you in the akhirah too darlings..
Allah blessed us with the brains and healthy bodies for us to strive our best here in this world, to attain the best of education and knowledge, for us to work and give back to the community, for us to help those who are in need and less fortunate and to always remember Him..
so push on darlings, be a fighter like Umi and a hustler like Abi..
Sometimes Umi wishes to stay home with you 24/7 but Umi is on a mission together with Abi to provide the best for our household, in order for you to live comfortable lives, eat quality food, travel the world to discover His creations and for you to attain the best of knowledge in both Duniawi and Ukhrawi.. so be patient my loves, for all the sweat and tears will be paid off.. insyaa Allah.
And never mind that Umi’s clothes have doubled in size and that Umi is no longer weighing 50 kilos with all of the ‘battle scars’ all over Umi’s belly and hips, but those ugly marks make Umi very happy because they always reminded me of you both.. on that fateful morning on 8 December 2016 when they cut Umi open like a fish, just to get you out with their bare hands and having to hear your first cries were the best feelings ever.

May you girls grow healthily, be successful academically, be pious religiously and be humble & Allah-loving people, whose taqwa and eeman shine clearly through your outward actions, truthful tongues and ‘clean’ hearts, Ameen.
If one day Umi were to pass on, please always remember your values and ‘motto in life’ for you and your generations to come… – Strive your hardest in this Dunya and achieve the best for the Akhirah, that is my only hope for you both..

You have blessed us immeasurably and you are so incredibly loved little ones!

“Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil ‘akhirati hasanatan waqina ‘adhaban-nar.”
“Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire.” (2:201) 

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Eat.Walk.Pray. (JuleSazrin Umrah 2017)

EAT – WALK – PRAY
Describes exactly what my trip to the Holy Haram Land of Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Madinah Al-Munawwarah was all about. It was a spiritual journey of a lifetime – an amazing, highly-emotional, spiritually-cleansing and life-changing experience beyond measure! Alhamdulillah! Praises to Allah for giving me the opportunity and means to visit His Holy Haram Land.
It’s been a few days since I returned and now that I’ve had time to rest and do my cleaning up, the experience has begun to settle in me. There are so many accounts to talk about, beautiful accounts of those wonderful days I spent in Saudi Arabia. Through this blog, I hope to inspire those who have never been to maybe think about going, insyaa Allah? And as for those fortunate ones who have been able to perform both Hajj and Umrah, I hope this post brings back wonderful memories and become an encouragement for you to think about making the blessed trip again, Ameen.

Honestly, I never thought that I would ever had the chance to go to the Holy land anytime soon, I’ve always wanted to go Yes, but I thought maybe when I am much older or something. So, when I found out that my husband had planned the trip for us, I was beyond ecstatic! The best gift ever! It was sometime in July this year, that he had made arrangements with Halijah Travel but it was on the day that we were due to depart for Jeddah that I only made the announcement to all! Therefore, many were shocked as I had been keeping the strong desire and news to myself for months and months (except to my close ones). Main reason I did that was because I just wanted to keep this very private as it meant the whole wide world to me, I just don’t want to jinx it…. You know, sometimes when you have or expecting something so special, you just wanna safeguard it and not share to the world? That was exactly how I felt.. it was so sacred, beyond special, it was my first obligatory umrah and I was praying everyday that it will all run smoothly (which it did, Alhamdulillah)..

Truthfully, I thought I was fit and super ready but now that I had experienced it myself, I gathered that there will be no kind of physical and mental training that could ever prepare anyone for the journey to the Holy Land. I was completely shaken and extremely overwhelmed physically, psychologically and emotionally by the sheer grandeur, holiness of the place and especially by the continuous horde of people from all over the world! The physical exertion of endless, tireless walking to and from our hotel and two of the holiest mosques in the world, Masjidil Haram in Makkah and Masjid An-Nabawi in Madinah was extreme. There were lots and lots of walking, indeed, Umrah and Hajj are physical forms of ibadah or worship in Islam.

Months prior to departure, I started preparing myself for the trip of my lifetime. From getting the medical vaccinations to buying the right clothing, planning what to pack to reading books on how to perform Umrah, attending revision courses with my husband, asking my close relatives on their experiences and browsing websites/blogs on other people’s accounts of their Umrah journey. As the departure date was fast approaching, I felt more and more uneasy. I got goosebumps worrying about everything. Suddenly, the task at hand felt very daunting. I had mixed feelings about it all. Undoubtedly, I was very excited and happy to be chosen by Allah to be His guest at the Holy Haram Land. But on the other hand, I was scared and worried whether I could perform the rites to the best of my ability.

Finally, the day came when we were meant to fly out to the Holy Land. Feelings of exhilaration, excitement, worry and sadness all jumbled up inside me. Excited to finally have the chance to perform Umrah, worried about what would be in store for me there and sad to leave my 11-month old twin daughters and family in Singapore. But most of all, overjoyed to be His chosen guest.

I booked a 12-seater van for my family and I to Changi Airport Terminal 3 and we reached door 7 for Saudi Arabian Airlines at about 1.45pm on 15 November 2017.  After dropping the 4 pieces of luggage at Row 9 and collected our boarding passes, we continued chatting with family and friends who were there to send us off. I was smiling and giggling but was terribly shaken on the inside as I knew that the minutes will turn into seconds that I had to let go of my babies. I kept reminding myself umpteen times to not cry! But when the time finally came, I felt so defeated by my own emotions and burst out crying and wailing like a baby. This was the very first time that I had to be separated from my Madeenah and Mayeesha, and I could not imagine the 2 weeks without them. I sobbed and cried uncontrollably in the presence of my family members and some friends, I simply cannot control myself at that very moment. After a few minutes of hugging, kissing and smelling them, I finally gained some courage to let them go from my arms – the most difficult part of the whole trip was that, really.


After immigration checks, we sat down for some quick bites at the departure hall while I was still sobbing away in tears. My husband consoled me and I tried to compose myself for what was ahead of me was something much ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ .. He was the One who gave me Madeenah and Mayeesha after many years of unexplained infertility, so I thought to myself that I should not be crying for what He has given me, especially the fact that I was going to His holy land.. and so, I gathered myself and strive ahead.
Our flight departed for Jeddah at 5pm and that was it, Singapore land soon became tiny ants-sized and suddenly vanished from sight as we soared the skies at 35,000 feet above.


I haven’t been on a long-haul flight for quite a while after I gave birth (in Dec 2016) and honestly, I have never liked it (absurdly, I used to be a cabin crew when I was in my late teens/early twenties – don’t ask me how I survived).. The last was the flight to New York in Dec 2015 I think and that was a blurr cos I snoozed out most of the time. I tried to catch some sleep to conserve energy and shut out the jitters but who could sleep with all the above feelings cluttered in mind?! It was an 8-hour flight so I did some last minute revision, high-lighting my scribbled notes and memorizing supplications (du’a) and getting my body and soul ready for the Umrah task ahead. I told myself not to fall into a deep sleep so as not to miss the ‘Miqat’ area (Miqat  refers to the boundary where it becomes necessary for pilgrims to adorn the Ihram garments and impermissible to pass except in the state of Ihram). Our first stop was to Makkah and immediately perform our umrah, therefore, the Miqat was extremely crucial for us to say our intention (Niah) and be in an Ihram state while in the aircraft. My husband changed into his Izar and Rida mid-way on board and we were all set to approach the Miqat anxiously. Hours later, the moment finally arrived when the pilot announced that we will be approaching the Miqat area.. my heart skipped a beat! We stood up, faced the kiblah, said our intentions out loud and sat back down on our seats.. That was when the Talbiyah officially began up till the moment we first saw the Kaa’ba… I kept on repeating it with my heart pumping fast…
Labbaikallahumma Labbaik
Labbaika Laa Syarikalaka Labbaik
Innalhamda Wan Ni’mata
Laka Wal Mulk
Laa Syarikalak

I respond to Your call O Allah, I respond to Your call, 
I am obedient to Your orders, You have no partner, I respond to Your call 
All the praises and blessings are for You, 
All the sovereignty is for You, 
And You have no partners with you.

We arrived at Jeddah Airport at about 9.30pm, the feeling of warm breezes whipping my face and to be stepping onto the tarmac of Saudi Arabia for the first time (hopefully not the last!) were amazing! I was jumping for joy inside as we boarded a bus that took us to the main terminal. My husband told me that during his first umrah trip, the immigration process took about 4 – 5 hours. WHAT???!! But to my surprise, we were cleared briskly within half an hour! We went on to collect our luggage and stepped out of immigration where we were warmly greeted by our driver holding a placard with my husband’s name on. Then we went to purchase mobile pre-paid cards with Mobily (a Saudi Arabian telecommunications services company) and off we hopped onto our airport transfer limo to the 5-star Pullman Zam Zam Makkah hotel, where our comfortable stay for 5 nights was. Alhamdulillah…

During the one hour drive from Jeddah airport to Makkah, I was in daze, trying to fight the sleepiness and at the same time wanting to catch the glimpse of the surroundings, but the latter was defeated as I fell in and out of sleep. I was then awoken by some bumps and bright lights as we went through an underground tunnel and I knew that ‘it was nearing’.. and true enough, I saw ‘Pullman Zam Zam’ from afar. Our car stopped at the driveway where a bellman was waiting and brought down all of our luggage.
Maa syaa Allah, we have reached!

Check-in was a breeze and we entered our Presidential suite room on the 25th floor overlooking the Kaa’ba within minutes!


I stuck-rooted at the window of our suite and said some du’a at the very first sight of it..
Momentarily, the time finally came for us to perform Umrah! I started to have butterflies in my stomach and my legs became jelly-like! Ya Allah, I am going to do Umrah for real! I gathered my physical and mental strength and focused my concentration to the Umrah task that I was about to perform for the first time of my life..

The walk from our hotel to Masjidil Haram was only about 100 meters. The hotel is within the Abraj Al Bait complex itself and we just had to go down the lift and down an escalator before we reached to the street level towards the mosque. When I looked up to my right, there it was, the humongous Zamzam Tower dwarfing every other buildings around it. I continued walking humbly towards the King Abdul Aziz Gate No. 1, opened my slides, placed them in a plastic bag into my sling bag and was in awe as I went down the stairs. In an instant, my gaze was transfixed to the black magical building, beautifully-clad with Kiswah, adorned with golden scriptures from the Quran at the center of the open square. I could not fathom the rush of emotion and the feeling of humility, for there it was in front of me, the building I have been facing towards all my life during prayers 5 times a day, called the Kaa’ba. It was like a dream come true as I stared fixedly at it, recited some du’a and reflected on all the sins I have done in the past. My whole life flashed before me. No one in this world could contain his/her tears when seeing the Kaa’ba for the very FIRST time even though one has seen images of it many many times on social media or TV. What on earth did I do to even deserve to be here, ya Allah! And so I did it again, a crybaby! What an emotional journey this was!

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By the time I was out from my trance, we went to the square to perform Tawaf, circumambulation around the Kaa’ba for 7 times at the green light parallel to the Corner of Hajar Aswad and off we went together – the best feeling of being able to perform umrah with the love of my life, my husband (through the bad and good times)..
I did my Tawaf while looking at my Umrah notes every now and then, got pushed and shoved along the way, but I was prepared for all that. Umrah is a physical form of ibadah with no specific recitation, so I just did whatever recitation that I could remember and most importantly, I said lots of du’a. Time and time again during Tawaf, I was teary as I reflected on all the sins I had done all my life and pleading to Allah to forgive my past, present and future sins and hoping Allah will accept my Umrah and ibadah for as long as I live.
It was about midnight that we completed our tawaf and surprisingly, there were still a lot, and I mean, a lot of people around. Throughout the stay in Makkah, our TV in the hotel room which showed the kaa’ba was 24/7 filled with continuous sea of people – non-stop!
And this ladies and gentlemen, this is the True City that never ever sleeps, truly! Allahuakbar.

After Tawaf I picked a spot amongst the women to perform 2 rakaat prayers and recited some du’a from my notebook. I then got reunited with my husband and we went to drink the Zamzam water to quench our thirst and pour a little over our heads. We then proceeded to the Safa Gate to perform the next compulsory act of Umrah, the Sa’ie, which literally means “ritual walking”. It must be performed at the Mas’aa which involves walking between Safa and Marwa (450 meters distance) hillocks 7 times, which totals about 3.15 km. This act is said to commemorate the act of a mother’s sacrifice for her son, the story of Siti Hajar mother of Prophet Ismail searching for water after being left by Prophet Ibrahim  in a barren, desolate place which is now Makkah. It is also the story of Allah’s mercy in answering prayers and also of the origin of Zamzam water. All the while during Sa’ie I pondered and imagined how it was back then for Siti Hajar without the comfort of the sheltered roof from the hot sun and marble flooring from the scorched desert sand. May Allah reward her…

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After completion of walking from Safa to Marwa 7 times, it came to the end of Umrah when we went to a barber for my husband to get a haircut called Tahallul (mine was cut by my husband in our hotel room). With that last act, we were free from the forbidden rules of Ihram.  It was such a BIG relief like something had been taken off my shoulders. Alhamdulillah I completed my first compulsory Umrah successfully and prayed that Allah accept it from me.

The days in Makkah passed like a flash. As much as I was truly aching and missing my babies, I did want to stay much longer in Makkah. Everyday was literally – Eat, Walk, Pray – no stress, no fuss, just ibadah. During prayer times, all the shops were closed as the sales people went for prayers. At times, I got stuck as it was too over-crowded and I had to perform prayer inside the Abraj Al Bait mall itself! How cool was that? Me performing prayers with the jemaah outside Dorothy Perkins store?! I cannot stop giggling to myself at first as I imagined myself performing prayers inside Paragon mall in Singapore but it was real and the feeling was so amazing! There was a night when it was full (again) and I prayed just outside the mosque in the open under the twinkling stars, it was so beautiful.. never mind the long standing prayers, I just felt at ease and belonged!
There were lots of pigeons here in Makkah as there were at The Piazza! But weirdly, I did not witness any bird droppings at the open square or near the kaa’ba! – Allahuakbar.
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Everything went too fast and the day came when we had to leave Makkah Al-Mukarramah for Madinah Al-Munawarrah. It was indeed a sad Sunday for me.
The hotel arranged for a car to transport us from Makkah to Madinah and we reached exactly 3 hours later, just in time for check-in. Again, our comfortable stay was at Pullman Zam Zam group of hotels and I was in awe by the majestic view of the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. It was right smack in the middle of the full-length window of our spacious Executive suite room and I was so content. What a wonderful mercy to be here.. I greeted Salam to Prophet Muhammad   and the feeling was indescribable. It was like meeting someone of inimitable greatness and very dear to you whom you have known for all of your lifetime but have never met. It was such a humbling experience.
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It was so peaceful in Madinah that days passed very quickly. The daily walk to and from hotel and Masjid An-Nabawi made me forgot about everything else, work and all the daily grinds back in Singapore. Our hotel was nearest to gate 3 and our favorite Indonesian restaurant was near gate 15, the place was huge and ‘spread-out’, so everyday was like an exercise and a test on our physical stamina. Whenever I got thirsty, I just had to pop by at the many Zam-Zam stations because it was literally everywhere. On day 2 in Madinah, we went visiting to Mount Uhud, The Seven Mosques, Quba mosque and Qiblatain mosque.
But the highlight of my stay was definitely the Ar-Rawdah (Gardens of Paradise).. (I have so much love for it that I even named that for one of my twins).. I also managed to catch a glimpse of a jenazah (funeral) that was being handled and quickly ushered to the nearby Jannat Al-Baqi cemetary.. Once the body was carried out of the mosque, I saw men running towards it to help carry. They were all after the Qiraat (reward) that will be given to them for helping out with the jenazah. I then pondered, what a wonderful blessing and mercy to be laid to rest in Janat Al-Baqi here at the holy land, near to the Prophet   , his companions, wives and all of the people during his time, maasyaa Allah..
We spent the morning of day 3 in an educational tour at the As-Salam Museum where they showcased the life of prophet Muhammad 
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There was just something in the air in Madinah that feels so right, something storied and so serene, it needs to be felt, so difficult to describe.


I did most of the souvenir shopping in Madinah because it was so cooling to walk around at a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius and things are cheaper than in Makkah. But my husband reminded me to not get too immersed in shopping because that was not the reason I came here for. So I just bought some presents for the loved ones back home like perfume, jubah, sajadah, fridge magnets, Islamic books and of course Ajwa dates.

On our last day, I had mixed feelings.. sad to be leaving the place and at the same time excited to be reunited with my beautiful babies (those of whom I uttered in every single prayers that I made).. I miss them badly, but it ached me to leave the place too..
We left Madinah for Jeddah airport at about 8.15pm but before that, we bought bottles of Zam Zam water at 8 Riyal each at Madinah airport. I think we bought about 5 bottles in total. We did all the check-in of our luggage and collected boarding passes for both our flights to Jeddah and en-route to Singapore. Saudi Arabian Airlines was so efficient, I was pleasantly surprised!
After a short transit in Jeddah, we finally departed for Singapore at 1.35am and arrived at about half past 3 in the afternoon (of the same day) where my two lil munchkins were waiting eagerly at belt 42! My mum wore them denim jackets, dresses, shoes and they looked like they had grown so much over the past 2 weeks that I had not seen them, maasyaa Allah! I was in tears as I hugged them and so, that marked the end of my most beautiful journey ever.. But I made a determined promise that I will be back FOR SURE if I am blessed with good health and longevity, this time round, with my babies insyaa Allah.
I learnt that going for Umrah required a lot of preparation, be it financially, materially, mentally, physically, emotionally and most importantly spiritually. But in actual fact, no amount of preparation could ever make you 100% ready for the journey of a lifetime. The more you read about it, the more you feel inadequate. Nothing could ever compare to actually being there yourself to experience it. When you are really there, you will be surprised how everything seemed to flow naturally even though you have never done it before. You just do it! Again I urge everyone, do go if you can afford it to experience it for yourself! It is just so beautiful.

To this end, I would like to thank you readers for reading my humble blog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was my sincere gesture to share my experience and tips that could make your forthcoming trip to the Holy Haram Land as smooth as it had turned out to be, with Allah’s permission! It was never my intention to flaunt or show off but rather, I performed the Umrah because of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa.

I want to preface this reflection with a very sincere and humble sense of gratitude that I was able to experience this journey and it is one of the most cherished memory of my life. For I saw with my own eyes, and felt with my own heart that prayers are being answered, my faith being rewarded, my love being appreciated and my existence being blessed!
Special thanks to my husband, Nur Sazrin, for guiding me through this journey, may Allah reward you abundantly, Ameen.
 

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Beautiful dream..

Yes, I admit, things in my life are different now.
Life has a way of throwing surprises at you. As you grow older and become more mature, many things tend to become clearer.

Now at an age of 31, I feel like I am at a notable crossroads in my life where I am in the middle of a bridge which connects two phases of my worldly existence that are at stark contrast to each other. From the darkest side, I’m slowly walking towards the ‘Light’….

From where I am standing on this bridge, I can still look back and easily recall events and memories from my childhood. Yet, I know I am slowly moving away, into the older generation. At this point, I am in the stage of deciding, what kind of life awaits us in the future….when I am old (in syaa Allahif I live to see that age).

So, what exactly lies ahead at the other end of this bridge that I am currently standing upon, and taking my time to cross? What are the plans? What is in the pipeline? My mind is constantly moving, I am constantly thinking far ahead.. I have lots, and I tell you.. I have lots on my plate, sometimes its too overwhelming…. But, should I share the plans that have yet to happen? I am afraid. I am very afraid.. cos I’ve come to a realisation that any kind of plans or success, no matter how small or big it might be, brings with it two detrimental things:

(i) the over-the-top love and admiration of those who look up to you, and
(ii) the envy of hidden haters, who would love to see you go down

Narrated Mu’adh, the Prophet  said:

“Resort to secrecy for the fulfilment & success of your needs; for verily, everyone who has a blessing is envied.”

Very true, indeed.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave us some very sincere advice which I have incorporated more and more into my life, compared to the past. I realised that there would still be people who would seethe on the inside just because you are just being what you are..
Over time, I have learned to take many steps back, not to retaliate and stop zeroing in on their negativity when they are in the throes of their negative spin cos I do not want to be burdening and anchoring myself to their personal baggage and participate in their internal struggles, which deemed unhealthy. Instead, I chose to rise above the darkness, stay positive, be forgiving and toughen up to withstand all odds. It is super hard not to get affected sometimes cos hey! I am only human and it took me years of searching that inner spirituality!

Things of course suddenly took a turn for the better ever since I received ‘The Gifts of Lives’ on my 30th Birthday as per His plans – at the most perfect timing during the best phase of my life, Maa Shaa Allah… I am very very thankful for my children for they’ve helped to pull me away from all negativeness and deviate my mind to positivity, filling me with endless joy all day everyday!.. Every time when I’m confused or overwhelmed by some drama that doesn’t really matter, I think of them. It immediately re-prioritises my life in two seconds flat! I’m certainly not perfect and neither are they, but they are the closest thing to perfection that I know, Maa shaa Allah.

However in reality, life with two active twin bubbs can feel more like a zoo than a perfectly curated Instagram photos that you’ve been watching! LOL! But I couldn’t be more content!
My mind is constantly working and planning and all I can tell you is that, I hope for them to be nurtured well and to have meaningful interactions with only sincere, humble & Allah-loving people, whose taqwa shines clearly through their outward actions, truthful tongues and ‘clean’ hearts. I am definitely far from being the ideal Muslimah, but everyday I am constantly fighting, trying and learning to be better as I feel that I am being put on a ‘Test’ now… and I will only know whether I’ve passed the test with flying colours or failed miserably by looking at the results of how my girls turn out to be when they’re adults… Scary or what?! But.. La Tahzan Innalaha Ma’ana !!
‘So help me O Allah, my benevolent Master, Who has brought me till this point in my life and had bestowed upon us 2 beautiful babies after 6 years of unexplained infertility, help me to see things as they are and guide me to do the best that I can beyond this point, with myself as well as my family, to ultimately gain Your eternal pleasure in Jannah, Ameen’.

I very much look forward to what lies ahead – super excited, nervous, worried, happy.. all at once… it is simply, unexplained.

In syaa Allah, with His will.

Love,
J.

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Our Twin Birth Story

The day I delivered my babies was both completely blurry and seared indelibly into memory.
They turned out to be exactly what I’ve always prayed for throughout my six years of hopefulness.. They are my perfectly healthy babies:
1) Madeenah Az-Zahraa (means: The radiant city of Islam, Beautiful & Smart)
and
2) Mayeesha Ar-Rawdah (means: Gentle & Bright, The Garden of Paradise)
They were born at 36 weeks, weighing 2.4kg and 2.6kg respectively at 9.17am and 9.19am on 8th December 2016.

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Ironically, I have always loved December, not only that it is also my birth month (which I no longer celebrate due to religious beliefs), but because I always felt that at the end of it, we’ll get a chance to close the doors on all of the things that didn’t go our way. We can start afresh all over again by clearing the year’s calendar and pick up a brand new one. December and I fit hand-in-glove because I am romantic in every sense of the word. I am passionate about everything! I am over the top sentimental, ‘flowery’ and my mind thrives on beautiful thoughts and things! I am starry-eyed and I just love fresh new beginnings. I feel a boundless awakening mixed with emotional wonderment every time it’s December and the 2016 one was truly special with the arrival of my twin princesses 2 days before my birthday! What a beautiful start, Maa Shaa Allah.

Pre-Delivery

I think I was weighing at a hefty 80kilos days before I deliver???! (Penguin passing through, make way make way!)..

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Medical check-ups, scanning and what not were all smooth sailing. I must emphasize that everything was utterly breezy for me at the KKH Private Suite and I am so thankful to have a gynae who is neutral on birth plans. From the moment I met my doctor when I was having twins, he advised that a scheduled c-section would be my best option but he was also open to natural birth. He was confident to do both options and had always asked me to relax and let things flow naturally. But on my 35th week visit check-up, he decided that it was safest for me to deliver the twins via c-section, especially since baby B was still in a breech position (Mayeesha’s usual antics! Sleeping like a clock & always rolling & turning that one!) At the time I blew it off and did not think twice about it since giving birth always frightened me anyways. Like many moms do, I suppose, I went back home and started researching what exactly goes on during c-section… I had difficulties sleeping towards the end of my pregnancy so I was on youtube all night watching birth videos with Sazrin’s loud snores in the background (LOL!). I watched all those gory scenes and the whole operation process just to be certain that I know what exactly would be done to me. Not only was I scared during the whole 3rd trimester, I sort of already knew that natural birth was not in my favor either, so I just redha…

The Actual Day

After a long, surreal lead-up to my scheduled c-section, there was nothing left to do but deliver some twins. (keep in mind this was a scheduled c-section, not an emergency, there were no immediate health dangers to either myself or the babies. An emergency c-section, I would imagine, would be rather different. So, remember to read this through the lens of a planned, non-emergent c-section).
That morning, Sazrin was actually sleeping when the alarm sounded at 5 a.m. whereas I only managed to ‘tidur-tidur ayam’ from the night before (guess I was too restless!). I peeled my enormously pregnant body from the bed and got in the shower. I shampooed, conditioned, blow-dry my hair and put on some light makeup. Sazrin couldn’t understand why I would bother, but of course I would! Cos I knew there would be pictures and it might be a very long time before I managed such a feat again.
For the last time as a family of two, we left the house hand in hand at 6.30am, a quiet and chilly Thursday morning that was. CTE was smooth, and we reached KKH Women’s and Children’s Hospital about 20 minutes later. We also had the privilege to choose a nice parking spot as there were not many cars around at that time (so rare!).
We were expected to make our way to the Admissions centre to check in for labour and delivery, at the same desk we had seen on our maternity ward tour when the reality of this day seemed infinitely far off as if it were on another planet instead of just weeks away. This time, it was we who were checking into the hospital to deliver babies, and it was still too enormous to process. I was like a walking zombie, starving, cock-eye (cos I hadn’t had much sleep), heavy, itchy and so so so thirsty (I had to fast from the night before)! All I could think about was that spinal thing they do and whether or not I would feel them cutting me open. Not to mention that I will be having TWO BABIES that morning itself which would change my life forever!

A day prior, I was talked through the procedure by my gynae and then snippets by the nurses on the day of the actual procedure. I felt like I had a good idea of how things were going to go.
Sazrin and I arrived at the hospital about 7am, two hours before my scheduled c-section time. After signing some paperwork and doing final rounds of checks, we were ushered to a back-end path which I never knew existed and I was asked to change into a pink hospital gown and leave all belongings. I was then placed on a bed and given an IV.

It was sort of strange, sitting there with Sazrin waiting to be rolled to the operating room. I wasn’t nervous at this point. I don’t think it had quite hit me yet. It felt a little bit like a random doctor appointment, but with more equipment.

Minutes before…


About 8.05am, the nurse anaesthetist came in to explain to me what she would be doing and she asked if I had any questions, I didn’t, and then she excitedly walked away saying, “See you soon!” At that point the reality began to hit me. I began to get a little nervous, but Sazrin helped me stay calm.
Finally, about 8.20am, a few nurses came to get me. At this point the reality was weighty. I began to get more nervous and a little emotional. Sazrin was asked to leave and change into the operating attire and wait at the “dad’s lounge” until he was allowed into the operating room. I cried when he left me. I literally did! Then I made some prayers, gave myself a pep talk and pulled it together. I didn’t want to start getting anxious and end up needing some sort of drug to “chill me out”. I wanted to be mentally present for the entire experience to welcome my girls, so I quickly snapped myself out from all the nervousness.
I was rolled into the cold operating room, and slid onto the operating table. A very kind nurse stood in front of me and showed me how I need to bend over for the spinal block to be administered. A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist came in, explained what she would be doing, and got to work. She numbed me first, which was virtually painless (felt like a minor bee sting), and then said she was going to insert the spinal block. She warned me that my legs would feel warm and the numbing sensation would begin almost immediately. I didn’t feel the spinal go in, but I did feel it start to work immediately. Spinal block is different from epidural as it is delivered directly into the spinal fluid whereas epidural doesn’t penetrate the membrane that surrounds the spine. And secondly, Spinal block is a one-time injection rather than a continuous feed through a catheter. As a result, numbing is rapid but lasts only a few hours.
Then I was laid back with the help from the nurses, I never felt so paralyzed in my entire life. Minutes later, my whole body started to shake vigorously, not because I was nervous, but because of my body’s reaction to the effects of the anesthetic. This is normal, but it was not an effect that I was prepared for!! The nurses placed thick wool blankets over me and pumped in hot air through a vacuum-like thingy but those did not stop me from shaking uncontrollably either. Sazrin came in, fully dressed in the operating attire and looking really cute if I might add, and sat by my head. He was worried to see me trembling so bad and I can’t remember what we talked about because it was quite a blurr. A nurse took an ice block and did some tests on my cheek, neck and chest to make sure that I was really numb and not feeling anything. In the background, there was a conversation happening between the doctors and nurses so it wasn’t completely quiet in the room and I was thankful for that. At this point, they began to hang the sheet and I could feel light touching but there was no pain whatsoever. I think the catheter was inserted, which I didn’t feel.
At 9.00am, my gynae zoomed in with a loud cheery “Good Morning!” and asked Sazrin to whip out his phone to take videos or pictures! (my gynae’s cool like that!).. But unfortunately, Sazrin’s phone was inside his pocket and it would be a hassle to dig for it since he was already dressed in the operating jumpsuit over his jeans and sweatshirt.. So sadly, there weren’t any pictures taken during the operation, but QadrAllah, perhaps He wanted that special moment only for our eyes to see, indeed it was a very special moment which is still very deeply etched in our minds.
At that time, I felt relieved as I was surrounded by the birth team of my dreams: my husband and my long time ‘go-to’ gynae along with his team of professionals. Throughout the whole birth, as things came up (and there were a few surprises), I felt totally cared for, respected, heard, and secure in the choices that my birth team and I were making. They did a practice cut on my skin, and I thought I could feel it (I freaked out) but they said I was numb. My gynae then announced that he was making the uterine incision. There was absolutely no pain, but I felt slight pressure, tugging and pulling. It seemed like a long minute, but in hind-sight it was really nothing.
Finally, The Moment… 
At 9.17am, we heard the cries that we’ve been wanting to hear for many many years. Tiny screechy cries like that of a kitten! And there she was, our Baby Madeenah! She was maroonish (LOL!), watery and crying out loud. Two minutes later at 9.19am, our Baby Mayeesha was out! I got to kiss each baby and I clearly remember being so surprised at how soft and warm their cheeks were! Tears cannot stop rolling from the sides of my eyes and teary-eyed Sazrin was praising Allah throughout – Maa Shaa Allah.

Once the babies were out, Sazrin was asked to leave the operating room while I was stitched up for about 10 – 15 minutes. I was so glad that Sazrin was there with me throughout the entire time to witness our babies’ arrival. As soon as my gynae was done, he congratulated me and said goodbye and I was rolled back into the recovery area where Sazrin was waiting. Awhile later, a mid-wife and a couple of nurses came to my bedside wheeling two baby cots with my babies in them. Such unexplained feeling.

They laid both my babies on my chest for skin to skin contact, but I was laying completely flat and was still a little trembling from the drugs so it was not very comfortable to hold them. The mid-wife was also teaching me how to breastfeed and kept pressing and pulling my nipples so it felt a little awkward. There was a lot happening and I couldn’t tune out all that was going on in order to focus on them.
The whole entire ordeal from the moment we reached the hospital at 7am up till the time that all four of us were brought to our room took about 3 hours!
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Our comfortable stay was at Ward 81 bed 22, a private cozy space for us and I felt so at ease, Sazrin even had his own sofa bed and slept with me throughout the entire 3 nights. Once babies and I were pretty much settled, Sazrin got busy and went to the Admissions centre to register our babies’ births. I think it would be much cheaper if it were to be done at the ICA, but because Sazrin refused to leave me all alone with the babies, he chose the convenience of doing the registration at the hospital itself with some added costs. We got lucky because our babies’ birth certificates are in running number (i.e. Txxxx239B and Txxxx240F), the customer service lady said that even though they are twins, it would be hard getting ID numbers in running order as the whole of Singapore’s birth registration run under one single registry. So I guess during the time Sazrin was doing registration, no one else in Singapore was doing the same, thankfully!
Throughout our stay, we’d be asleep by 9.30pm and would arrange for nurses to collect our babies to stay overnight at the nursery (just so that we can have adequate rests). Around 7am, the nurses would then return our babies to us (after their bath) and they’d stay with us throughout the entire day. The feeling of finally being able to hold both my babies while sitting up a bit felt so comfortable. But I was still in a little bit of shock that it all happened so quickly and was so painless.
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Visitors and Hospital food…

My family arrived shortly after I delivered and we spent some time visiting with them. At the beginning, there was a lot going on because they were all anxious to carry the babies and would accidentally placed them at their wrong cots. This caused a red light to flash and the alert system to go off. For all we know, nurses would start swarming into my room to check what was going on. This happened quite a few times!.. So embarrassing. But if baby and cot are correctly matched, the tag will flash a green light and there will be a sound of musical chime. A corresponding tag was also placed on my wrist, in addition to the usual identity bands that were placed on babies’ ankles. I was very impressed with KKH’s baby tagging features to give us greater assurance that there’ll be no babies mix up whatsoever.

After a few hours of having guests around, we were left by ourselves to get some rest. It was pretty amazing to be just the four of us in the hospital room (you, me and our babies.. OURS)… it was just surreal. We took turns to hold them and just staring at them.
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At this point my pain level was at a 1, on a scale of 1-10. Very minor. And it pretty much remained that way for the duration of my recovery. I stayed on top of my painkillers and took them every time they were offered. The nurses also arranged for me to have customised compression stockings (they got someone to come in my room to take measurements of my legs and they were ready within an hour, amazing!). I tried to get up and walk around on the same day after surgery to prevent my legs from swelling. But I needed a lot of help getting out of the hospital bed, going to the bathroom, and pulling my disposable panties up though.

Food has always been important to me, but never has a meal been elevated to such extreme importance as the first post-birth meal. My children’s birth is marked not just by the swell of love I had for them when I first laid eyes upon their precious beings, but by what deliciousness I devoured shortly after they were born. I was so so hungry and thirsty! I had been fasting from the night before remember?! So, in honor of the awesomeness after delivery, I felt that I very much deserve a warm hearty meal. And what would be better than thick luscious chicken tikka masala on the menu card?! I think the one I had during my hospital stay was the best I’ve ever tasted! Actually, I’m not quite a fan of Indian cuisine, but during and after birth, I had cravings for chapati, naan, briyani, dhal and anything Indian almost everyday because pregnancy and giving birth messes with my mind like that! LOL!

The nurses and doctors also came to surprise me with a cake since my birthday was on that Saturday, 10th December.. so I had huge slices of it, Yummmms!

We left the hospital on Sunday 11th December, 3 days after the surgery. We were both very ready to get home. At that point I was moving around quite well once I was up, but still needed help getting up and down. Very thankful to have my mum and aunty to help manage the babies for us.


Once we were home, I felt great. I was still a little sore, but it was so comfortable to be home and in my own bed. At this point I was also still taking the painkillers regularly. The baby cot we bought months prior was finally filled up with its occupants. It felt so good and relieved to watch them getting all comfy in there. Finally, our home is complete and no longer empty.thumbnail_IMG_6113

Every night, Sazrin would set up the bed with lots of pillows for me to sleep on an incline. He also slipped a pillow under my knees to keep my knees bent. I wasn’t read to stretch out completely flat cos I was paranoid that the cut might tear! He helped me get up, and lay back down, during the night. As far as going to the bathroom, I was able to do that on my own once I was home but it was still painful when I pee. Bathing wise, Sazrin placed a stool for me to bathe and sit in the shower which I did for almost two weeks!

Within about 5 days of arriving back home, I had tapered off my painkillers and was just taking Sangobion every morning, together with Polleney’s fish essence and Herbal soups that my mum had prepared every morning. I felt really good and almost back to normal. The swelling kept going down too, which I was really happy about. My incision was healed completely and I haven’t had any pain but every once in awhile, I do have a minor sharp pain when I stand up, but it goes away very quickly.
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3 weeks after delivery (and after getting the green light from my gynae), I started with my post natal massage with the same makcik I had for all my prenatal massages. I took up the 7-days package which includes full body massage, sengkak, ganggang, herbal ball therapy together with all of the pilis, jamu and bengkung. The joy of motherhood is often accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as water retention, bloatiness, body aches, cramps, fatigues and mood swing, therefore, post natal massage is very important to help mothers relieve the stress and anxieties associated with pregnancy, childbirth & motherhood.

And now, almost 6 months post-surgery, I feel 100% myself. I try to go for a walks almost everyday even though it is just at the nearby park or Mall.

I am very, very thankful that I had such a smooth procedure and recovery. I think part of the reason I bounced back so quickly is because I stayed active throughout the majority of my pregnancy (if u see my Instagram/FB pictures you’d know what I mean, I cannot sit still, LOL!)

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To those who are having c-sections: I hope this was informative and helped ease your mind! It really wasn’t that bad, and the hype and anticipation of it was far more dramatic than the procedure itself.
On the contrary, I think there is still a considerable percentage of mothers in our society who tend to brag about experiencing the pain of real labour. I admit that enduring the intense pain caused by giving birth naturally deserves recognition. Nevertheless, it does not give them the right to feel superior than those who were hurried to the operation theatre or being scheduled for a c-section because Allah had put trials on them like having their babies in a position unfit for a natural birth.. so, who are we to go against the nature and who are we to judge?..
Irrespective of the delivery method, every mother endures pain and hardships during pregnancy, labour, and for the rest of her life for her children. Therefore, all moms are worth praising! Sending you love! 
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Best Wishes,
J.
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Pregnancy Blog IV – The Final Leg

Date: 25 November 2016

And it finally happened……

My tummy is so huge that I have to pick it up so that it doesn’t drag when i scoot off the sofa or bed. The most recent doctor’s visit on 23 Nov showed that the twins are weighing at 2.4kg and 2.6kg each (5 hefty kilos that I’m lugging around & counting!)… I’m itching, swollen everywhere and stretch marks have officially taken over my belly. I’ve reached to the point in my pregnancy where none of my T-shirts and tops fit, but only about a handful that still do. The rest are doomed – there’s a big, gaping hole at the bottom with no hope of them actually covering my belly (and I suddenly became an unsightly woman wearing Midriff tops like Baby Spice tak jadi!)  But that’s okay because Sazrin’s L-sized shirts work just fine.. I refuse to buy anymore clothes cos I would grow out of the ones I buy in a week anyways, so I end up wearing the same big shirts (unbuttoned) , dresses and jubah all the time.
Shoes you say?? I finally gave in and had to ask either mum or Sazrin to tie shoe laces for me all the time (cos I’d be like humpty dumpty rolling over if I were to curl forward and I can’t even see my own feet at times!). Not to mention my fugly toe nails that someone had to trim weekly for me. I felt so helpless. But I recently bought an easy to wear studded fit flops which is suitable for my aching swollen feet, just slip em on and that’s it. Most likely, they’d end up in my hospital bag for me to use throughout until I deliver and beyond.. Speaking of hospital bag, I am now slowly beginning to pack and fill up the luggage with mine and the Twinnies’ barang-barang (yes, a luggage!).. Not to Changi Airport on a 16 hour journey to an exotic destination… but to the hospital instead!! (ironically, around the same time like this last year, I remembered myself busy packing for our winter holiday to Europe, this time, I am still packing but to somewhere much more meaningful.. How time and priorities have changed.. Honestly, I’m even more excited now compared to the travels.. Heheh!)

Things that I’m bringing (thanks ladies for the DMs in IG):
1. My Going home clothes
2. Sweater, socks, furry slippers
2. Disposable undies
3. Some maternity pads (in case the hospital ones are not as comfy)
4. Two small milk bottles (just for standby)
5. Breast pump (just for standby)
6. The Twinnies’ going home clothes
7. Socks, mittens, hat
8. Swaddles
9. Important documents! (IC, Marriage Cert, Pre-admission documents, etc)
10. Facial wipes
11. ???…..???….

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Leaving on a Jet plane, Not!

This time, it really struck me knowing that it is for real. Especially when I have strangers coming up to me and said “any day now” whereas I still have a couple more weeks to go lah. When I was only at 31 weeks, my belly has officially reached to the same size as a woman who is carrying a 40-week full-term singleton. Size of a coconut Times Two!

A throwback pic:

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Coconutyyyyyyyyy

I can now feel constant hard smacks in my cervix and I think my babies are enjoying themselves as acrobats cos they love to do somersaults and jumping around, treating my bladder as a freaking trampoline, Ouch!!! But I am completely thankful to have made it this far, Alhamdulillah.

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Carrying Two of my Favourite fruits!

Chores at home have become very minimal for me ever since I hit the third trimester. Kicking the laundry basket across the living room to lipat baju is easier for me cos picking it up and carrying it takes too much energy and I’m just not willing to put in that much effort! (laundry, is my least favourite by the way!).. I still love cooking though. But there was once when I felt really sick, Sazrin became the Chef of the day (never seen that side of him for the past decade!). He conquered the whole kitchen and caused a huge hurricane! Surprisingly, his fried macaroni and grilled barramundi turned out OK, even though some parts of the fish were undercooked! Luckily we weren’t down with any diarrhoea or stomach flus, hehe! An A-star for effort, but I guess you better stick to doing the rest of the household chores minus the cooking ok sayang?!..

What goes up must come down, what goes in must come out right? haha! And that is one thing that is so hard for me to do – Emptying my intestine that is! Even how I stuffed myself with H2o, banana, avocado, papaya and whatnot, it is still just too hard for me!… The funniest part of all was…when I finally feel that the ‘bombs’ are coming out days later, Sazrin even joins in to cheer me on!!!… and when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs were released, I couldn’t help it but to give a huge sigh of relieve and many giggles! We sort of like celebrated a Poo which is totally out of our minds but a little thing like this has got to be something which will always be memorable for me in this special journey!

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My intestines finally screamed : FREEDOM!!! LOLOL!

And then comes the relaxing part where I do not have to stress one bit. Prenatal Massage! I’ve secured a friend’s mum as my masseuse for both pre and post natal. With an extensive experience of more than 20 years, she is fully certified to massage not only preggers and stroke patients, but also for individuals who yearn for a good massage. Her hands are so smooth, relaxing and hard when needed! I was very impressed by her readiness in getting all the tools that she needs well prepped beforehand, complete with a foldable massage bed fit for a spa! All of these were done in the comfort of my own home, what more could I ask for?!

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Confident Me prepared everything on the floor!!!
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Lovely, Talented and Skilful!…

The very most interesting part for me during this final leg has got to be when my motherly instincts kick into high gear due to a cocktail of hormones causing me to become the master of almost any DIY project. I could be seen dragging almost everything we own out of the corridor to be thrown away. I even sold some of my well-loved shoes on Carousell cos I needed less clutter and an entirely new decorating scheme.  I spent days vacuuming, mopping, dusting and wiping everything in the babies’ space, cupboard, and store room putting together carpet, frames, chairs, strollers, baby cots and play pen.. I even bought fabrics to make the cot mattresses, pillows, bolsters and blankets. Sazrin was great during all of these and even got himself into action, taking part in some spray-painting activities.
The babies’ space is finally ready! But i’ll share more pics when the time comes 🙂

Once I came down from my super-active-DIY high, I turned my attention to the “last kopek” gatherings of 2016 for me with my family and friends! I had so much fun, filled with emotions, having to reminisce all of the tough times that I had to go through in order to reach to this stage, counting down the moments together and of course, many chats with lots of laughs and food glorious food! Can’t believe that these will be my last hee-hee-haa-haa hanging out “berlenggang lenggok”without having to think of anything or anyone (ofcourse I ingat laki kat rumah lah, but babies I meant) .. Next time, don’t know how I’ll be like.. Ok, let’s not go there yet. haha! (Thanking Fateen, Shahin, The Saharanistas, fellow colleagues and my family for all of the great time!)

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And then, it all boils down to the real business.

We’ve decided that we will be delivering the Twinnies at KKH. Main reason for this is because we are having Twins, which is prone to having higher risks of complications and KKH is known to be the hospital where all specialised equipments and expertise are readily available. Should there be any complexity, I wouldn’t be wasting time waiting for the ambulance to transport me from Hospital XXX to KKH. I would definitely love to deliver at other private hospitals though especially when I heard horror stories of KKH’s fierce nurses and poor customer service in the past.. But thankfully, I had never experienced one tiny bit of disappointment ever at The KKH Private Suite from the very beginning up till now. Everything is efficient, neat, with great amenities (my mum is crazy over their drinks machine which has 10 over beverages to choose from and big bowls of fruits! LOL!), my appointments were all set accordingly by the friendly staffs and our preferred OBGYN is a highly skilled doctor, who is very composed and reassuring.
With regard to our birth plans – whether it’ll be a c-section or natural birth, I leave it to Allah………
(Special Shout-out and Thanks to my good friend, Suzi Tan for her endless advises from post-natal depression, breast feeding techniques, the types of baby bottles (gawd), milk formulas, road to recovery, what to buy, what to expect, etc etc… Information Overload – but I love it! hehe!
Not forgetting Mimie Amellia, who had shared with me on all of her latest experience when delivering baby Layth in October. If you’re reading this, I would like to thank you for your very thorough descriptions about childbirth; on both natural & c-section, you left me with Goosebumps! What a ‘brain-opener’ definitely incomparable to just watching youtube videos!) 

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My Mother is spoilt for choices. haha!
We recently had a tour of the maternity and postpartum wards in the hospital and left feeling very impressed with one of the wards which featured en-suite bathrooms, beds for the dads and TVs. For the sake of the Twinnies and my family, we are willing to spend a little and make our first experience a comfortable one… Furthermore, I do not know when I will ever fall pregnant again (if only you know our struggles)..
And maybe, this will also be the place where I’ll be spending my 30th birthday in! heheh! I am very glad that deposit, paperwork and all other pre-admission procedures are done.. and we’re just waiting for the day to arrive… In shaa Allah..

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My “Staycation Ward”, where I will be spending my 30th birthday in perhaps? hehe.

To this end, I would like to apologise for any of my shortcomings if there are any. Thank you for all of the well wishes since I first announced the pregnancy when I was 3 months along. Do include us in your prayers, may all goes smooth-sailingly for us.

To those who are still trying to conceive, I know exactly what you’re going through, from all of the frustrations of seeing others having children after children while your womb still remains as an empty tomb.. I understand the feeling of lousiness, the pressure from social media, peers and relatives, the comparisons that were made, the remarks that were thrown and the silent cries before your sleep..
As an only child who has many cry-baby moments, I survived all of those and I am truly certain that you can too!
Don’t ever give up!.. Keep trying and have faith in Allah.

Lots of love and baby dusts to you.
My Infertility Resume:

May 2005 – Got to know each other randomly..
June 2005 – Boyfriend-Girlfriend
Feb 2008 – Got Engaged
March 2008 – Adopted two kittens! Fatty boy and manja girl
Jan 2011 – Got Married
Feb 2011 – “Not trying to get pregnant” yet… just wanted to go on holidays & enjoy honeymoon period …
Apr 2011 – Started charting basal body temperature, ate all sorts of supplements, did massages and officially tried to get pregnant
July 2011 – Slight disappointment
Nov 2011 – Frustration began
Mar 2012 – Further disappointment
June 2012 – Major frustration plus anger, irritable mood swings, marriage on the rocks
Jan 2013 – Still Nothing… decided to pursue my degree studies
July 2013 – Went to the Polyclinic and got a referral letter to go KKH for fertility tests
Nov 2013 – They found that I had Polyps in my cervix and uterus
Dec 2013 – Went for surgery to remove all growths and polyps
Dec 2013 – Hubby’s “swimming tests” came back very normal
Jun 2014 – NOTHING still… life goes on…
Aug 2014 – Got the keys to our very first home together..
Oct 2014 – Menses are always on the dot, tried to not think and focused on home reno
Jun 2015 (Ramadhan) – Officially don the Hijab, life changing moment..
Dec 2015 – Had thoughts of adopting children. All frustration, anger and hopes subsided… leaving everything to Allah
Jan 2016 – Graduated from my degree studies
Mar 2016 – Hubby went on pilgrimage
Apr 2016 – For the first time in my entire life, I had a positive pregnancy test and a positive blood test to further confirm that I am pregnant!……………
Dec 2016 – Expected month to deliver our Twin Girls. In shaa Allah.

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Lots of Love,

J

 

 

 

Babymoon Retreat.

We thought that it’d be a chance for first-time parents like us to get away and have one last hurrah before the arrival of our babies which will make us FOUR!
Not too sure when will we ever get on to a long vacation with having two “extra baggages” around! LOL! Perhaps in a year or so to come??… And so, we jumped at this opportunity while we still can!

so what we did?…..

  • Sleep.. Strictly no agenda!

As soon as we arrived at the resort, the Singapore stress melted off our shoulders, as we were lulled by the warm breezes and the sounds of singing birds and crickets… The comfortable king sized bed made us just want to roll around and sleep!
And that is the number one reason! Sleep in as much as we can cos we’ll soon be expecting many many sleepless nights since newborns have radically different sleep needs than adults. Imagine the thick luscious sheets, fluffy pillows and all the good snoozes… plus, someone else makes the bed! hehe!

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Royal Madura Suite, our stay during the retreat.
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How sweet is that?…
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Thank you for making this happen.
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Someone just refuses to get up…
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Sleep, sleep & cuddles… Beautiful 6am ombre skies.
  • Rejuvenation & Relaxation… 

This one should go without saying but don’t we all love to get away now and again?
Both Sazrin and I just want to forget about the daily grind by getting totally unplugged and be in total indulgence. We just wanted to immerse ourselves in long spa massages, nice food, fresh air and chilling by the pool under the skies!

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Sprite can chicken and sides.
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Thick, luscious and juicy just like your lips.. hahh!
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Just us.
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Beautiful quiet day with my fine companion over delicious food. Even the Twinnies are kicking so much in excitement.
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Chilling by the pool and coconut.
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Sazrin had his, while i swallowed mine whole???
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Just us..

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Breakfast.
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I don’t mind losing civilisation just to be here in the tropicals.
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Our spa treatment room.. Enjoyed my 3 hours pre natal massage, foot massage and Rose body scrub (first time doing all these during pregnancy)..
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Delicious food, under the stars.
  • Reconnection

I find that my pregnancy journey has really been focusing on me and the babies only (which is rightfully so, No??) But what about my husband?? I’m afraid, with having the babies soon, time alone as a couple would be minimal as I will focus my full energy on caring for the Twinnies and also meeting my own needs for sleep and nourishment. Therefore, our Babymoon Retreat is a super sweet chance to reconnect with my ‘BabiesAbi’ – to come to an agreement on the Twinnies’ names (it was super hard i tell you, but we did it!) and to reminisce about how far we’ve come together and daydream about what our new life will look like..
“Dear Sazrin, we’ve come so very far together since 2005 (of those “blurry” days)… and the time when you made me as your fiance in Feb 2008.. Thank you for slogging day in and day out to make me your legal wife in Jan 2011… And thank you so much for not giving up on me, when I got depressed and cried desperately every month hoping to get pregnant throughout the years…..”

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Everything.

 

Above all else…. 

I’ll try to remember that I am stronger than I realise and with Allah’s will, everything will be just fine. I shall just embrace the moment and enjoy the smooth sailing when it comes and weather the rough waters knowing that they too, shall pass. Throughout this journey, I learned that I might be surrounded by people in other boats, sailing the same course as me. But, they’re not quite in the same boat as me. No one ever will be. In the end, it will just be me and my husband and together we shall figure things out.

Ultimately, the best part of disconnecting the past few days was seeing my husband in a new light. On the days during our retreat, we were indulged with a great quiet relaxation which doesn’t have to be far and exotic but there’s something about shaking things up a bit. So glad that it all went well (no nose bleeds for me, LOL!) and thankfully, we managed to just get out of the hum drum and all the daily grind – Never felt this good in months..we felt so rejuvenated. Alhamdulillah.

Until then…

Lots of Love,

J.

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Celebration of Pink(s).

I don’t think I had ever really been this excited in my entire 30 years of life…..
My first trimester of pregnancy was totally boring. YES, of course I’m so grateful (we had been trying for 5 years remember?!) and I’m so excited to have a family of my own but for the first few months, I was just exhausted and bloated with no real sign that my future family is living inside of me. As time goes by, reality sank in as my physical changes are much obvious and finding out their genders was more exhilarating than an astronaut’s first time launching into space! So here we go!….

Sonographer: “Are you guys ready to get to know their genders?”

Me: “OH YESSSS OFCOURSE” – I screeched!!

Sazrin: “oh yes, can can” – In his low toned voice, always so cool and composed… no emotions lah that guy!

Sonographer: “Ok, so here’s the three lines indicating the labia, Twin A is a GIRL”..

Me: Blurrrr, and my heart was racing like a freaking horse at Turf Club..

Sonographer: “Ok now let’s find out the gender for Twin B… oh, here’s another three lines, Twin B is also a GIRL”

Me: Looked at Sazrin with my eyes popped out and big big big wide Darlie smile.

Sazrin: Was just smiling with watery eyes.. (oh, so he does have feelings afterall).. LOL! 

Both: Walked out of the ultrasound room like smiley Zombies, everything happened so fast… It was like a beautiful dream. 

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(Twin A) Excuse me for Yawning! I’m so sleepy…. and I think I have the same chin like my Ummie.. 
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(Twin A) Opppssss! Those 3 Lines! (Can you see the cursor?)
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(Twin A) See through my body and you can see my healthy organs 🙂
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(Twin B) – I think I have the same sharp jaw line as my Abi… 
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(Twin B) Hi!!!! I’m Waving!! Can you see my small hand??? 
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(Twin B) Those 3 lines indicated that I’M A GIRL! hehe!

I know the thought of finding out the sex of a baby may seem silly to some, and I totally understand that sentiment as well. To me? I say, let’s sujud syukur kepadaNya and celebrate a little! There is nothing more special and more precious to celebrate than life, each and every part of it. After having gone through an unexplained infertility for many many years.. I jumped at the chance to make each moment a special one! And to have my loved ones surrounding us? That’s just the fun of living life together.. Alhamdulillah.
So come together we did! Nothing big and fancy.. just a mini picnic with my Bunnies and the long time Love of my Life, Sazrin.

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Thanking my Bunnies for the beautiful Set-up… ‘TWINCESS’ theme.
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Fulfilling yummies.
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Love. 
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I’ve always wanted my very own… and Allah granted me Two. Alhamdulillah. 
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You always make me laugh in your most foolish ways. 
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Alhamdulillah for everything.. 
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Beautiful day… 
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Delicious cupcakes from my neighbour… Alhamdulillah… 
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Love. 
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Our mini Pink picnic.
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🙂 

So much more to share, so little time… But until then,

Lots of Love,

J.

say-alhamdolillah