Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I learn 'when Uwais turns blue!'

Ammar Uwais and Affif Fawwaz had been coughing for about 5 days. The MDs in the local government clinics advised me to breastfeed more frequently, since it was not advisable to give cough syrups to newborn babies.

Both babies were sleeping, but Uwais hardly wakes up for his feeds. Each time after Fawwaz completed his 'turn', I woke Uwais up for feed. He sucked once or twice, then doze back off to sleep. I thought it was just motion sickness from the long car ride two days back, and it might be a reaction from the one month immunisation jabs.

But after subuh prayers, the mother's instinct knew that something was not right. I picked up Uwais, he was cold but breathing. Fawwaz was active like he normally is. I called a good friend of mine, Pipah, a pediatrician, and she advised me to visit the government clinic as soon as possible. 

We left the house, with all the five children and rushed to the local clinic, which was about 7 minutes from home. At the traffic light near the clinics, Uwais, who was wrapped warmly in my arms turned bluish on his lips. 

As we arrived in the emergency room at the Klinik Kesihatan Wakaf Tengah, I shouted for help. A familiar nurse came and urgently put Uwais on a bed, putting a big helmet-looking dome on top of Uwais head, and quickly poked the oxygen hose into the dome. Within seconds, Uwais cried and responded to the treatment. His hands were waving and kicked his tiny feet wearily. Alhamdulillah. Only Allah knows how helpless I was.

Dr S came to the ER, and she was terribly shock since I just visited her the day before for consultation regarding the boys' coughing symptoms. She immediately advised me to admit Uwais to the hospital for observation. So in a super rapid ambulance, we traveled from Wakaf Tengah to Kuala Terengganu in 15 minutes (the journey usually takes 30minutes)!!

2 hours in the ER and everything was well. We were sent to a pediatrics ward, and within 5 minutes, a group of doctors came to Uwais' bed for their ward rounds. Two of the docs were suddenly signalling each other, and I knew something was VERY wrong. One of them asked me to stand away while they were performing CPR to Uwais. He stopped breathing, again. Within the 15 minutes, Uwais stopped breathing 4 times.

He was rushed to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), again, he turned blue. The two paeds specialists worked hand in hand quickly and in half an hour, Dr N called me in. As I saw Uwais, I kept my emotions in control though it hurt me to the core, looking at his body being poked on both his arms, hands, and feet. He was intubated, fully using the breathing support because his irregular breathing pattern. Dr N and her team was still in the process of diagnosing his illness. I asked about Fawwaz, since I knew Fawwaz's cough was worse. She advised me to bring him in as well.

Ammar Uwais, 3rd day in NICU, HSNZ. Extubated from the breathing support, Alhamdulillah.

~~ Fast forward - 6 days later ~~

I 'checked-out' from 5A ward, and both Ammar Uwais and Affif Fawwaz were discharged from their respective wards (6CD and NICU). Yes, all of us were under the same roof but being located in three different wards. They were diagnosed with pneumonia, and it got worse since they were premature babies and their organs were still under-developed.

Discharged day, 11.12.11

HSNZ charged nothing for the comfortable and superb service given to all three of us. Alhamdulillah. A HUGE BIG Thank you to the Neonatal wards (NICU, 6CD, 5A) staff for their great support and service.

Lesson learned;
  1. Parents, especially mothers, please don't get panic if something gets (really) wrong to our children. We can't think straight in panic mode. Keep calm. Zikr, salawat syifa'.
  2. When your child(ren) is ill, act quickly, especially parents with premature babies. 
  3. Trust government hospitals. They have very capable hands. They charge minimally, and it's usually FOC for government servants. 
  4. You need support, physically and especially, emotionally. Alhamdulillah, my husband is a very responsible husband and father. He took care of the three older kids on his own for the week, and still came to visit us in the hospital everyday during lunchtime. And alhamdulillah for my wonderful and supportive parents who drove up to Terengganu to help out. The emotional support was needed and longed-for. 
  5. Never give up hope, and never stop asking help from Allah. It was devastating to see your child being poked all over and looking so lifeless. Talk to Him, pray to Him. He listens to you. 
  6. Ask questions to the Specialist. You need to know what's wrong, what's better, and what can be done to help your child(ren) gets well quicker. It's their job to answer our query.
  7. Be there for your sick child. Talk to them, give them gentle strokes even they are babies. They will somehow know we are there. It's devastating to see a lot of babies in NICU unit being left to struggle alone to survive.


Monday, November 21, 2011

What I learn from 'love at first sight'.

No matter how painful the pregnancy journey and labour were, the first sight of my boys demolished all the hardship. That's Allah's special gift to us mothers. Immediate cure. Subhanallah. 

3 days old twins. (Look at my HUGE hands as a comparison to the teeny twins!)
Lesson learned, after every hardship, Allah will always bestow us ease and relieve. And the beauty of it is, you forgot how bad the hardship was, since your heart is overflowing with happiness and gratefulness towards His gifts for you..

Praise be to Allah.

Abi and the twins - the first met face to face on their 10th day.

Abi experienced, once again, love at first sight... unconditional love of a father.

Previously, my husband first saw his twins via Skype from Mecca. He arrived on KT2 flight from Jeddah and met his latest clans on their 10th day off-womb. Alhamdulillah... And in 2011... Abi was the biggest winner, a wonderful hajj experience, a book and a set of twins!

Love you & Bravo, Abang!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I learn from 'You'll never walk alone 1 - Caesarean experience'

Firstly, no... this entry has no connection with Liverpool (though my husband is a die-hard Liverpool fan!)

This entry is dedicated to the O&G team in Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban who had been wonderfully calm and reassuring throughout the labour process of my twins.

~~~ Flash back ~~ 

I'm only at my 34th week of pregnancy but the signs of labour pains were becoming vivid. Swollen feet, severe back pain, the persistent and consistent pain of contractions. But of course, as always, I was in denial. Just another Braxton Hicks. I have been in labour three times previously, and I was pretty sure how the 'real-actual' labour feels like..

Nonetheless, since my husband was away performing his Hajj (May Allah bestows him ease in his Hajj and accepts all his ibadah,  aamin Ya Rabb!), I was in the fantastic, 1st class care of my parents. Mak looked cool and relaxed (she saw me delivered Al Fateh and Alwani in King Eddie!), kept on saying 'Say your zikr,' but Abah was the opposite. He rarely saw me in pain, and I think it's hard for dads to see their daughters (and sons) in a super uncomfortable phase. And so, he pleaded (and begged) me to pay a visit to the hospital.

Being an obedient daughter, I followed his suggestion, though I'm pretty sure I was not in real labour (still in denial, ahak!!). So,at 2.45pm 3.11.11, I went to the screening room of the O&G department with my battered pink pregnancy book. And gave myself up to the Med Team of HTJS, literally and physically!


No, I was not dilated (well, only 2cm) but the MD was concern since my contractions were pretty close and long (4 in 10mins). Then I was wheeled to see the Head of the O&G, Dr K, and did the ultrasound, to see whether the twins were behaving themselves in there. And yes they were, at 34weeks & 6days, Dr K estimated them to be 2.3 kgs each. Then THE question asked
'Are you ready to have your twins today?' As easy as that!?!! 
- 'Aren't you busy doc?' (still in denial!! Oh Azza, come on!!!). 
He said, 'I'm free at six, we can have it done then!'
- 'Can I text my hubs, first?' (texting... tit tit tit...)
(answered, Semoga Allah permudahkan urusan ayang. Abang doakan semuanya selamat dan Allah menyediakan segalanya yang terbaik. Terima kasih kerana menjadi seorang mujahidah yang tabah dan isteri yang solehah)
'What did he say?'
- 'Errmmm, yes?! He said go on with the procedure'.

Papers were signed, blood were taken, hospital gown were given.

I was wheeled to the prep area aka labour hall. Lying down, listening to my 'neighbours' screeching, huffing and puffing, grunting and squealing - fighting their own lives for another one. 

I silently prayed that Allah grant them ease and to me too. 
I prayed for my husband, Abah and Mak to be calm and not to worry too much about me. 
I prayed that my kids at home aren't misbehaving.
I prayed for the ease of the caesarean procedure.
I prayed that my aurat would not be opened unnecessarily.
I prayed a lot... (as I was taught by a Lebanese friend, back in Muslim Ladies College in Perth that it is during this specific time that our prayers would be heard and answered, insha Allah.)

A friendly and soft spoken staff nurse came to me and told me gently that she was going to insert a catheter into my bladder and she told me to stay calm and to recite alot of salawat upon Rasulullah s.a.w.

Another 10 minutes, another staff nurse (SN A) came in and told me that she heard me saying to an Indian nurse that I wanted to change into the op cap (looking like the green shower cap) only when I was in the OT. There are too many people here. And Alhamdulillah, she brought with her a special op cap which covered the head, as well as the neck. I changed straight away. Allah answers your prayers if you asked for help.. remember, you never walk alone!

SN A came again to my cubicle. She told me Dr Krishna called in and he might be half an hour late. SN A asked me if I would like to perform my Asr prayers first, but I need to do it sitting down. Alhamdullillah, Allah creates ways for me to make this experience more beautiful. SN A gave me spray bottle for my wudhu' and I performed my first Asr prayers on a hospital trolley!

I was wheeled into the OT. Even up to this time, I kept my composure calm and composed. I must admit that He must have supplied me an endless 'tranquil pills' - that's the power of zikr and salawat upon Rasulullah. I believed that Allah has assigned me this path, performing the c-sect, giving birth to twins alone-ish, giving birth in Seremban, and not in Kuala Terengganu, premature labour, etc. Nevertheless, He didn't make the path rougher, He wants to show me that His plans are the best...

To be continued in 'You'll never walk alone 2'..

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I learn from 'You'll never walk alone 2 - Caesarean experience'

Continuation from 'You'll Never Walk Alone 1'

I was greeted at the OT door by an anesthetist. Fluently verse in English and Malay, informing me all the risks performing spinal during the c-sect op. During the Q&A, I politely asked the anest that I really wanted a reassurance that the spinal would work during op, I had a bad experience with Yusuf, whereby the epidural didn't work since all the meds were tubed onto the hosp bed. 

She was very kind by telling me that she would prove to me it'd work. 'And don't stop your du'as and zikr, they are our weapons as Muslims', masha Allah, another support sent by Allah! Allahu Akbar!!

7.15 pm
I was wheeled into the actual OT where the operation would be held. I saw some familiar faces (SN A, Dr Anest) smiling under their surgical masks. By the way, I still had big contractions and in between one of the contractions, SN A and another nurse propped me up and asked me to recite salawat, bismillah and shahadah, and sit very still - so I did. After completing the shahadah, Dr Anest called, 'Spinal in' and patted my shoulder. Praise to Allah, it was done so smoothly that I was not in pain, and most importantly, I was not agitated!

(within a minute, I felt pin and needles on my toes then no sensation at all. I tried to wiggle my foot, but nothing happen. It was a weird feeling, I must admit!)

Dr Anest then came next to me with a pin, and said, 'Do you feel anything?'
- 'What do you mean doc?'
'I'm pricking your thigh..' (then she pricked the same pin onto my arms)
- 'Ouch!'
'So the meds is working, insha Allah. Dont worry, you are in superb hands. This surgical team is the best!' consoled Dr Anest.
- 'Alhamdulillah. Thanks alot Doc!'

Then a formal introduction begins. Yes, the have a taaruf session in the OT! They introduced themselves.

'First surgeon, Dr K'
'Second surgeon, Dr Q'
'Anesthetist, Dr Anest'
'Pediatrics, Dr X' 
'First catcher, SN A'
'2nd catcher, SN X'
'SN Y'
'SN Z'


'Patient?' called Dr K again.
- 'Oh I need to introduce myself as well?'
'Yes, ma'am!'
- 'Hi all, you're going to cut AZZA JAUHAR AHMAD TAJUDDIN'
And everybody laughed.

And so the procedure started. My bed was strategically situated under the shiny new aluminum lights, whereby the reflection was directly on the operated area. Yes, I was able to see the whole procedure, LIVE and EXCLUSIVE!! I can see people playing with the inside of my body!!! 

I faced the left, SN A told me gently not to face that side, since there was alot of tools.
I faced the right, another staff nurse told me that my bp reading was not stable if I face that way.
I looked up, shut my eyes, SN A called my name, I answered, she said please keep my eyes open, so that they knew that I was awake. 
Oh no!!! I need to look at the LIVE telecast!!!

Yes, I saw the surgeons cut three layers of my tummy, putting a 'transformers gadget' which opened up the cut to a nice size. slide through some organs (I think) and.......... taraaa... first twin in a pouch! It was grey! Dr K pulled it up and showed me and quickly handed him to the first catcher, '1945, first twin', announced Dr K.

The next minute, the second was pulled, another grey pouch. 'Just like in the shopping center, buy one get one free!' I exclaimed. 
Dr A chuckled then told me, 'I should tell my wife that! By the way, I have a set of twins too, both girls, SN A has a set of girls as well, Dr K has a boy and girl twins, Dr X the paeds is expecting twin boys!'
Dr K, 'A room full of privileged parents of twins!'

Then the sewing process took place. It took Dr K half an hour to sew me up. Upon finishing, Dr A quickly asked Dr K's permission to leave the OT to perform the maghrib prayers. Subhanallah, I was helped by good Muslims, alhamdulillah!

SN A and SN X then approached me with my boys! Masha Allah... those two babies were swimming in my womb minutes ago, and now, they are breathing on their own. Smooched them, confirmed their IDs on the blue tags on their feet and they were then moved to NICU.

Twin A, Twin B
2.1kg, 2.2kg
1945, 1946
Alhamdulillah Ya Allah for making the experience a beautiful one. You ease the way... thank you Allah.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I learn from 'Blood Sugar Profile for GDM'.

I was requested by the GP in Wakaf Tengah Clinics to perform the Blood Sugar Profile (BSP) test during my 15th week pregnancy check-up. I personally thought something was wrong but I was ensured by the Medical Officer that it was a procedure for risky pregnancy cases (multiple pregnancy for me) as well as as patients whose parents are diabetic. Since I belonged to both, I was obliged to do the BSP test. 

BSP is basically a test whereby the nurse will prick your fingers to get some blood and measure the amount of sugar in your body. The reading target for normal amount (in Malaysia) is 3.5 - 5.9. There will be four readings per day - before breakfast (0730), post breakfast (0930), post lunch (1300) and post dinner (1700). The reading would show whether the organs in your body are working as it should. And if the reading is not right, meaning too high, it means you're prone to be diabetic and your baby in the womb might be bigger than usual. Close monitoring needs to be done.

Oh, before that, you need to drink this cupful of syrup... thick one. It's not diluted and it's yucky!! hahah... (and dont throw it in the drain when the nurses are not watching!!)

So, during the whole pregnancy, I did 4 BSP tests in Klinik Desa Mengabang Telipot. Went there 4 times per day when the blood was needed. Here was my results!!


Alhamdulillah, my readings were good. And I did not cheat! Cheating in the sense that, some of other patients openly told me that they skipped meals in order to get good readings. Some didn't eat the normal food that they usually take. 

However, it defeats the purpose of doing the BSP, isn't it? These tests are meant to inform the doctors (and ourselves, too) on how our body works and whether medications are needed to control our illness. To make sure that they know the baby(ies) in our wombs are not going to be huge, to avoid complications during birth. So, cheating is unnecessary, ladies!

A few lessons learned during the whole of this BSP procedure. Firstly, dont be scared. It's just a routine and you are not going to die while undergoing this procedures. The pin prick feels like a kerengga bite.

Secondly, dont cheat. The medical team doesn't know that you're cheating, it's not their problem anyway! The problem is yours, later on. When the baby is overloaded with sugar and it gets so huge (because you only skip meal 4 times during the whole pregnancy, but the rest of it... jeng jeng jeng...), there might be complications. So, one of the purpose of BSP procedure is to inform the med teams about your condition, and steps to avoid complications later on. So, again, please don't cheat.

Thirdly, dont skip appointment. Yes, it is a hassle, but it's for your own good, and the life in your womb, too!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

What I learn 'from Hajj 1432 - I'm waiting for Your call...'

My husband left for Hajj on KT2 early this morning. Our earlier plans to perform Hajj together was being denied by Allah, for He has other plans for me. I failed the health examinations for the Malaysian pilgrims - I am (8 months) pregnant. I have waited for this call ever since we registered with Tabung Haji and banked in all of my mas kahwin & hantaran money (dowry) 2 days after the akad nikah ceremony (17th of August 2004).

After a lengthy discussion, we came to an agreement that my husband would perform his Hajj first, and insha Allah, when Allah calls for me to visit His noble house, I'll accept His invitation. And I pray that Allah will make the path of Hajj easy for me, pre, while and post-Hajj.

Pic was not taken during pre-departure! =D

Anyway, saying goodbye was not easy for any of us. Tears of sadness of not having the chance to go with him and as for him, knowing that I was heavily pregnant, carrying the twins - it was a big challenge to drive away from Kelana Jaya with blurry eyes! I truly hope one day, I will get the chance to be blessed with the greatest honor by being called to Your noble House... aamin!

And, not making things easier this song was aired on the radio... 


Irfan Makki's - I'm Waiting for Your Call.

Miles away, oceans apart
Never in my sight but always in my heart
The love is always there it will never die
Only growing stronger  
tears goes down my eyes

I am thinking all the time
When the day will come
Standing there before you
Accept this Hajj of mine
Standing in ihram, making my tawaf
Drinking blessings from your well
The challenges of Safa & Marwah
Rekindles my imaan
O Allah! I am waiting for the call
Praying for the day when I can be near the Kabah wall
O Allah! I am waiting for the call
Praying for the day when I can be near the Kabah wall

I feel alive and I feel strong
I can feel Islam running through my Veins
To see my Muslim brothers, their purpose all the same
Greeting one another, exalting one's True Name

I truly hope one day everyone will get the chance
to be blessed with the greatest honor
by being called to Your noble House

Standing in ihram, making my tawaf
Drinking blessings from your well
The challenges of Safa & Marwah
Rekindles my imaan

O Allah! I am waiting for the call
Praying for the day when I can be near the Kabah wall
O Allah! I am waiting for the call
Praying for the day when I can be near the Kabah wall


Before the peak period of Hajj. Pix taken by Mr Hubby on 11/10/11

Ya Allah, grant my husband with mabrur hajj, ease his path to multiple his ibadah.
Ya Allah, please provide the best path for me to perform Hajj. The path that will create the best circumstances and conditions for me, my husband, my children and my parents.. aamin.
O Allah, I'm waiting for your call....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What I learn from 'Izzah Athirah'.

Izzah Athirah, a ten year old school girl from Seremban, passed away yesterday, after being rushed to the GH from her school. She was found weak and seemingly lifeless, after mistakenly left in the car for nearly 8 hours. Aisyah, my niece, told me this tragic story as she arrived from school last night. They were from the same school.

Exactly after the whole school completed the last verse of the Surah Yaa-sin, dedicated to Athirah, a handphone rang, informing them about Athirah's death. Yes, she was still alive, but weak and vomitting after being found in her Mom's Alza at 2pm.

Her mom, a teacher in the same school, left the car keys to a younger sister of Athirah for her to lock it in the morning; was shocked to see Athirah was still in the car during home time, since she thought both Athirah and her sister left the car after finding and wearing their shoes in the car earlier in the morning.

Lesson learned from this tragic episode:
  1. Never take things for granted about checking and re-checking your passengers, especially the young ones. I personally need to be caution, especially at this age when Al Fateh and Yusuf love to play hide and seek with each other. 
  2. If you are an owner of an MPV, do check the back row of your car, not just the passenger's seat behind you. You might find a 'hidden treasure' trying to scare you - but it's better for them to scare you in a fun way, then in a tragic way.
  3. Do head counts of your passengers, especially in the case of Athirah, who had 8 siblings.I know it sounds like school excursion, but never ever take things for granted.
  4. Do not leave your children responsible of an adult's duty, especially unsupervised. Leaving the car keys for your younger kids to lock up it's not an option.
  5. Make sure that the car is locked (and secure everyone out of it) after you've parked at home. Kids can be super creative in finding places for their hide-and-seek activity.
  6. Learn from it, and don't put more blame on the mom, or anyone at all, after this mishap. She suffered more than we know, and thickening her guilt would not help her and the family to move on. For all we know, they have an ensured member of jannah, waiting to pray for them. I am a mother and a teacher, and I strongly disagree of the police's accusation of her trying to kill her own child. She made a mistake and I'm positively sure, she has learned from it, as I do.
Al Fatihah to Izzah Athirah. May you have peace in the barzakh.

(Newspaper articles regarding this tragedy: 1 2 3)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I learn from 'outsourcing kitchen work'.

Alwani LOVES pasta. She can eat any kind of pastas everyday! And this weekend, she was asking for spaghetti and meat balls (and it was not in my cooking schedule!!) But hey, why not? They need an activity anyway during the weekend. Light bulb!!

I'll outsource the tedious part for them to do! Yee haaa! They have to do their own meatballs!! 

Yes, they did. After washing and brushing their hands with soap and water, both Al Fateh and Alwani sat down while I demonstrated the way to make the minced meat ball-like. They are fast learners, so after a couple of meatballs, they're off on their own!

I believe there were a few lessons learned from this simple event.

Lesson 1: Do include your children in the kitchen activity - the simple and far from dangerous ones. They will appreciate the food more, since they put their own effort in 'making it happen'.

Lesson 2: Trust me, sibling rivalry will happen. And during this simple meatball-outsourcing activity, they started to compare who 'balled' most meat. Counting and more counting, and rechecking others' counting occur continuously, till the last of the meatball. Great indirect math lesson!

Lesson 3:  Appreciate the kids after their hard work. I rewarded them with cold yoghurt drink (which is rare in the house. They (are force to) live by plain H2O)! When they are appreciated, they do ask if they can help more in the house, which is a wonderful thing. It's really magic how simple 'Can I help you with anything, Ummi?' washes away the tiredness. Seriously.

Lesson 4: Furthermore, they'll learn about cleanliness - prior to, while and after food prep. Of course those are basic skills, but if they are not exposed to it, they can't practice it.

Lesson 5: Raw food is yucky to be eaten! (Hard lesson learned by Yusuf!)

'Cooked food is wayyy better then raw!'
Lesson 6: Have trust in your children small hands. They can do it if you trust them and show them what and how things should be done well.

Lesson 7: Don't be a perfectionist. There might be odd shapes and sizes, but hey, just chuck them in the pot and cook them! Nobody will notice it when they're all jumbled and stirred in the pot!

Lesson 8: Praise them, and tell their wonderful effort to their Abi, and grandparents! 

Hard work pays off!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What I learn from 'bitter sweet symphony of June'

I was indulged in an emotional and physical roller coaster for the past few weeks.

Symphony 1
We were surprised with another pregnancy news, since we were not planning to have one this soon. Alhamdulillah for Allah's gift(s).

Symphony 2
However, with that, came a huge sacrifice that I had to make as a servant of Allah. Subhanallah, it was not an easy task for me to climb the stairs of the Tabung Haji building in KT to decline the hajj offer. We were looking forward for this great event in our lives and has been preparing for it for some time. But Allah knows best. I believe in His design of my life's journey.

Symphony 3
I willingly told my husband to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year without me, though many of my family members disagree. However, I believe that it was not easy to get a grand invitation from Allah to perform one of the essential pillars of Islam, so why must we decline it without a valid reason. It's me who will be 8 months pregnant during Hajj period, not him. So, alhamdulillah, we stand firm with our decision for my husband to go first, and insha Allah, my turn will come next, maybe as a PhD gift from Him, wallahu'alam.

Symphony 4
From the beginning of the pregnancy till now, I experienced three events of bleeding. It was scary. It effected my supervision meetings with my supervisor since I wasn't able to commute regularly from KT to Nottingham, Semenyih. Another huge alhamdulillah, for my supervisor was very understanding and instructed me to do my work at home and submitting my reports through emails. He advised me to bed rest and took the break I needed since health is an essential tool for me to complete my PhD process. Oh, alhamdulillah.

Symphony 5
When I was spotting for the third time, I went to the usual clinic and another HUGE news came to us. I AM still pregnant but not with one fetus, but TWO! There you go! TWINkle, TWINkle little star(s)!

Symphony 6
I've got serious coughing issues in this pregnancy and I wheeze at night which makez it very hard for me to sleep or rest during night time. Hence, I needed afternoon naps, which made me lag behind my work as promised to myself and my supervisor. I have promised myself to complete at least 100% of my chapters 1 and 3 and at least 90% of chapter 2 before my EDD (which is mid December, 2011 - yes, this year). I need to work on my pilot study report so that I have a clear idea on what to expect during my data collection this September (pre-test) and December (post-test).

Symphony 7
Yes, you read right. I need to collect post-test data in December, the exact same time I'm due with the twins. And another round of huge alhamdulillah for I have super wonderful colleagues in at my workplace, who willingly volunteered to do it for me. I'm indebted to you, Shayda and Husna, as well as the gurus, Kak Sham and Kak Ti, for willingly helping to ensure my research data collection journey sails smoothly, insha Allah.

The Symphony

A song aptly titled Allah Knows by Zain Bhika and Dawud Wharnsby is the anthem to my bitter sweet symphony this June. The simple words, so simple, so frank, so direct, yet so true;

When you feel all alone in this world
And there’s nobody to count your tears
Just remember, no matter where you are
Allah knows
Allah knows

When you carrying a monster load
And you wonder how far you can go
With every step on that road that you take
Allah knows

Allah knows

No matter what, inside or out
There’s one thing of which there’s no doubt
Allah knows
Allah knows
And whatever lies in the heavens and the earth
Every star in this whole universe
Allah knows
Allah knows

When you find that special someone
Feel your whole life has barely begun
You can walk on the moon, shout it to everyone
Allah knows
Allah knows

When you gaze with love in your eyes
Catch a glimpse of paradise
And you see your child take the first breath of life
Allah knows
Allah knows

When you lose someone close to your heart
See your whole world fall apart
And you try to go on but it seems so hard
Allah knows
Allah knows

You see we all have a path to choose
Through the valleys and hills we go
With the ups and the downs, never fret never frown
Allah knows

Allah knows


Every grain of sand,
In every desert land, He knows.
Every shade of palm,
Every closed hand, He knows.
Every sparkling tear,
On every eyelash, He knows.
Every thought I have,
And every word I share, He knows.
Allah knows.

And I believe, Allah's Knows!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What I learn from 'bubbye bottle'.

Yusuf managed to say goodbye to his Avent bottle today. We're so proud of him. He's 2 years and 5 months old and we believe that he should be able to drink from a cup - and he proved us right!

I know it's not an easy thing for Yusuf to do, especially when he has been depending on milk from the bottle starting from 6 months old, to comfort him to sleep and it became his savior from hunger (if Ummi takes too long to cook!).

Remembering what the nurses in King Eddie Hospital back in Perth advice, which was to teach the toddler from the age of 2 to let go of their bottle, in order to protect their teeth from rotting and to ensure a better sleeping pattern at night and better brain growth (since no waking ups for milk in the middle of the night) - it gave us strength to prevail, though Yusuf actually asked for his bottle (only) twice during the first day (and both were not caused by hunger, but merely to comfort him to sleep).

Steps for 'Bubbye-Bottle'

Bubbye bottle, Hello Wiggle cup!
  1. We comforted and praised him that he is a very good, big boy, and big, handsome boys don't drink from bottles. They use cups. And we asked him whether can he be a good big handsome boy. Of course he replied, "YES!' without understanding fully the consequences of the answer.
  2. Then we asked him to find his bottle from his cot and asked him if it was dirty. And of course, another 'YES,' from him. So we reasoned him that it's not healthy anymore to drink from the bottle. Grown-ups like us (includes the older siblings in the conversation) do not use bottles. He then told us, 'I'm a big boy! No yucky bottle!' (Phew, correct answer from him!) And we asked him to throw the bottle in the rubbish bin (himself). <--- This step is important so that he'd remember that he chucked it away himself.
  3.  Then we introduced to him to his new pals, Elmo and Wiggle straw cups, just like his sister's. Alhamdulillah, he accepted it. (Alwani did not approve of her cups when she was younger, so we drove to Target in Carousel, Perth and asked her to choose her own cup! And she was stuck to it for a looong time. <---This was another tip given by the nurses at King Eddie's which was to reward the children for their sacrifice.)
  4. Be persistent. Some kids (like Al Fateh) take a bit longer to adapt to the new situation. They might rebel. But some (like Yusuf) understands well and reason with himself when he was in need of the bottle. Some of his monologue; 'No bottle, I'm a big boy', 'Wiggle cup but same milk', 'I don't want bad teeth'. 
  5. Though Yusuf transformed exceptionally well, his milk consumption became less at the beginning (4-5 days), which actually worries the nursery carers. But he'll gradually learn to drink more from the cup day by day. Both my children, Alwani and Yusuf, enjoy the chocolate flavoured milk in the cup, as compared to the normal flavoured milk. I can't answer why. Al Fateh only drinks full cream milk, even till now.
  6. For us, because we knew and believed on why were doing the this, we symphatised when Yusuf desperately sought for his bottle, but we didn't give in. Patience and perseverance are essential to both mom and dad.
    We are proud of you big, handsome and good boy Hamza Yusuf!

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    What I learn from 'our Bali retreat (just the two of us!)'.

    It was the first time for both of us to leave the kids at home and had a quick retreat. It wasn't an easy decision (at my part) but we believe it's a good idea for us to have a quick getaway and share good quality time together .

    And so, after 7 years of marriage, 3 kids and a PhD (and another one to go, insha Allah) <-- (sounds like the script in the Amazing Race finale!!! Hahah), we booked our tix and hotels, left the kids with my ever so wonderful parents, and took a plane to BALI!!

    Well, I won't bother telling the details of our travel itinerary =p - but I'll gladly share the things we've learned from the quick getaway.

    • Getaways can help to refresh and revive relationships. It is like breathing fresh air into them, re-energizing them with greater intimacy and deeper love.This might sound kinky, but hey, as we're so absorbed in our responsibilities and roles at work and home, we could forget how we began as a unit. As vacation is time to devote ourselves to rest and relax from work or study, it's the best time to devote our quality time for each other! (Parents with small children without a helper will know that vacation with kids is not really a totally relaxing time, though it's important and special, too).
    • The Bali retreat allow us to focus on each other, share memorable life experiences together, and simply have fun, with no interference from work or home. It focused on what we love to do together - we simply shared the moment! (However, during one of my phone call home, I confessed that I cried after talking to the children!! It was a big distraction leaving the kids for the first time, but hey, it's only for 2 days!)
    • A couple's vacation is when you REALLY spend your quality time together. Hence it's important for both of you to talk about your relationship: where it had been, how did you go through the rough times, how do you plan to make it better - for yourselves and for the kids. When you communicate earnestly and discussed openly with your spouse, your objectives will be clearer and you'll work towards the same goals - and this will make you closer and happier with each other. And automatically, the kids will benefit from the healthy and loving relationship, too, insha Allah!
    • Taking a vacation is the healthy thing to do! It's healthy for your mind, body and relationship. A getaway is like hitting the reset button (after saving all the important files!). Taking a retreat, vacating my mind off my research (just for the shortest period of time =D), improved my motivation and concentration! I don't want to risk myself into serious burnout. (And the vacation was a 'present' for myself for completing my CoS report successfully!)
    • The retreat should be well within your budget. Hence, (budget and detail trip) planning is essential. Since we are the frequent flyer of AirAsia, we managed to grab the RM20 tickets to Bali, and booked the hotel through - and alhamdulillah, we managed to grab great bargains from both!
    • It's super fun going out on a halal date with your husband! Trust me!
    Kuta Beach, Bali.

    I hope that I don't have to wait another 7 years and 3 more kids for the next vacation!! A present for another PhD in the house would be nice... (hint.. hint...)

    A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 
    ~Mignon McLaughlin

    Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.  ~John Gottman

    A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. 
    ~Ruth Bell Graham

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    What I learn from 'a writer's mental block'.

    A poem for myself (and other postgrads who are in the same boat). 
    Please ignore the desperate monologue I'm having with myself, it's has not been an easy day...

    'Untangle the mess with zikrullah'

    Why and How must I write?
    a (heavy) mental note.

    Please do not wait till the last minute to write. 
    Read, review, write, edit & rewrite.
    A viscous cycle that I need to fight!
    Unfortunately, what matters are the output part,
    your dissertation, where you have to cite, cite and cite!
    Oh and yes, academically you have to write,
    a format that is hard to like.
    So, hang on tight!

    Write up, then leave it for a bit.
    After a week, reread.
    then, edit. 
    Use this link.
    Cut it, paste it.
    Of course, I'm not teaching you how to cheat! 
    It's only super cool phrases to help you critique.
    And surely, your SV's heart will skip a beat,
    for he has got his treat!

     Be responsible. 
    Don't put yourself in a jumble,
    by making your references unavailable.
    Be systematic and manageable.

    That's right!
    So, let's write!!
    and rewrite!

    (Naahhhh... thanks but no thanks! =p 
    Not for today, anyway... 
    had enough dosage of you for the day. 
    The kids are inviting me to play, 
    they deserve my time, too, don't they?)

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    What I learn from 'hubster's Pinarello'

    Last February, my husband announced discretely that he's planning to buy a new toy. Knowing his half (hidden) smile and 'I'm-not-going-to-show-that-I'm-excited' look, I knew that it's going to be his dream Pinarello that he's been talking about for ages - even when we were in Australia!
    Alwani and Yusuf with Abi's new toy.

    He has been discussing this with me and sharing his thoughts throughout this process - thinking out-loud and hoping for some other 'logical explanations' to support his purchase. It covered a range of topics to consider - the budget (hey, it's the same price of 2005 Kelisa!), the optimisation of the usage (at least 3 times weekly), the practicality (oversea purchase), the cycling schedule (to fit our family timetable) and many other related matters in regards to this rare purchase. 

    One of the most important thing that I learned from the process is to be an attentive listenerIf we can patiently listen to others, they will appreciate our concern and attention (especially if the one who talks is your husband). Listening to others shows that we are interested in them as a person. and what they are talking about. When we talk we try to influence others, when we listen we appreciate others; it is important to get the right balance. To me, in this specific scenario, I learned to talk less, and listen more.

    Another important trait that I learned was to hinder negative thoughts. Our mind gets drawn to the negativity of a judgment (i.e. why doesn't he buy a gold bracelet for me using that money rather than the light Pinarello frameset? At least gold is sunnah!), and criticising the judgment selfishly. However, I learned that to be non-judgemental and accepting of others (and their opinions) are very powerful traits to develop. Gaining control of your own thought is essential to keep a healthy relationship. Stay positive. (Hey, avid cyclists' wives out there! The bike is used for recreational and health activities, not for self-destruction or seduction ;p!!)

    Respecting others' interests is crucial. Pinarello is not even close to be enlisted in my 'wish list', and a nice collection of intricate 'bling-blings' is soo not in his! Thus, learning to learn one's likes and dislikes is important - and to respect and not hamper one's fascination on something is an art that's important to be mastered as a couple. 

    Last but not least, share his joy. It's priceless.

    Yusuf was the second official rider!

    A part of the bike.
    Another part of the bike.

    The whole bike.. (sorry for the lack of cycling knowledge!)
    Concentration, fascination, satisfaction.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    What I learn from 'Parents Mag'.

    Your child's rude 'tude isn't always intentional. Sometimes kids just don't realize it's impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don't always have the time to focus on etiquette. But if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you'll raise a polite, kind, well-liked child, insha Allah.

    Manner #1
    When asking for something, say "Please."

    Manner #2
    When receiving something, say "Thank you."
    And keep on smiling, Yusuf, though the hostess forgot to give you one!

    Manner #3
    Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

    Manner #4
    If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

    Manner #5
    When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

    Manner #6
    The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

    Manner #7
    Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

    Manner #8
    When people ask you how you are, answer them and then ask them how they are.

    Manner #9
    When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

    Manner #10
    Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

    Manner #11
    When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

    Manner #12
    Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

    Related: Thank you notes and more

    Manner #13
    Never use foul language. Nobody finds them funny.

    Manner #14
    Don't call people mean names. Do you like people to call you other names than yours?

    Manner #15
    Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

    Manner #16
    Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
    And try to avoid obvious yawns! Cover your mouth, Yusuf!

    Manner #17
    If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

    Manner #18
    Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.

    Manner #19
    As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

    Manner #20
    If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

    Manner #21
    When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
    Smile, though it's actually a smile of refusal to do something!

    Manner #22
    When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

    Manner #23
    Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

    Related: 13 Basic Table Manners for kids.

    And yes, do recite your du'as before and after meal.

    Manner #24
    Keep a napkin (or a Kleenex) on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
    This particular boy, we're still working on his eating habits...

    Manner #25
    Don't reach for things at the table; ask politely to have them passed.

    Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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