Join The Club

The Exclusive Jhannat Parents Club is for those blessed parents who have lost their child(ren) in pregnancy, labour or whilst they were infants.

It’s filled with members who are patiently enduring the battle of life on this world whilst looking forward to their reunion with God so that they can also gain that well needed embrace from their child(ren).

It also involves hearing silly remarks from non-club members such as:

“You’re still going to the graveyard? Haven’t you dealt with it already?”

“Wait till you have your second, you won’t get any time to yourself”

“My child is so <insert praise of child>, no child is better than mine”

“Oh when you become a mother you will know the stresses I’m going through”

and the classic:

“Move on! Enjoy life! There’s so much out there for you to see.”

For those still battling with how to deal with such silly comments, this member has revised the policies to give the following advice:

“My child is so <insert praise of child>, no child is better than mine”

Advice: As hard as it is, don’t be sad that your child is not around to show you that praiseworthy character. Remember where your child is. Smile inside. You know your child is much better in character and state. Just don’t flaunt it in front of your friend/family member praising their child… it could get very awkward.

“Wait till you have your second, you won’t get any time to yourself”

“Oh when you become a mother you will know the stresses I’m going through”

Advice: Hold back your punch! Don’t waste your energy!

Yes, they’re ungrateful but hey that’s their test not yours! Yes, they’ve forgotten you are already a mother of one/two/three because they can’t see your baby around, but hey if they want to do the whole “seeing is believing” thing then that’s some serious veils to contend with. Roll out your prayers for these blinded folk and embrace your motherhood status.

“You’re still going to the graveyard? Haven’t you dealt with it already?”

“Move on! Enjoy life! There’s so much out there for you to see.”

Advice: Don’t waste your energy explaining why you haven’t “moved on” (like is that even possible?)… Go to the graveyard how ever many times you want, whenever you want, if that’s what you want. Do whatever you want to do to embrace your child(ren)s existence in your life. If you feel comfortable, then speak about him/her/them whenever you want to without hesitation.

People will expect/want you to have forgotten about your child(ren). Maybe this is because they want to live ignorantly again and not realise death could approach them too at a split moment; or maybe it’s because they don’t want to deal with their pain of losing the person you were.

Recognise the loss of your child happened to you and your spouse and not to the non-member, whether they be family/friends or a stranger. Sad reality is, they won’t ever understand how your life halted after the passing of your child(ren), how irrelevant you find conversations that aren’t tailored to what’s really important, or how you lost a part of your self when your child(ren) returned to Allah.

If they became club members they would understand but they’ve not been given such exclusivity by Allah so lets just accept the potential veils on their eyes/mind and make dua for them.

And finally, don’t feel let down by people whether they are family or friends, especially when they forget the anniversary of your child(ren)s birth/death. It is not their views you are really searching for. It’s what God is witnessing from you that matters.

I know it’s nice to receive a message saying “You are in our thoughts” so that you feel like someone out there cares but if it doesn’t happen then don’t exhaust your energy. The best thing about being in this club is that most other members you have met in this journey won’t forget and will be thinking of you rather than giving you what could feel like lip service.

Embrace it. Club membership is amazing!

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Dear Son…

I’m sure you were sent to us for many reasons – most of which we won’t know until our meeting with our Creator. However, I want to take this opportunity to thank you, and as a result thank Allah, for journeying inside of me for 41 weeks and a day.

Whilst in my womb you taught me to put my faith in God in regards to your development; you helped me fulfil my long time wish to fast the whole of Ramadhan without it affecting your or my health; and till your last moment inside of me you were gentle and graceful.  Alhamdulillah.

Even after your passing you are teaching me so much: how to truly smile through adversity; hold firm to my faith that this is how God willed it and to be in peace with His Decree; be more aware of asserting myself when I’m not happy rather than just to be passive and give in; to remove negative people from my life so I can make space for adopting better relationships; and to remember that God is always near, always aware of everything I do. I don’t think I would have learnt that if I was physically holding you in my arms right now. Alhamdulillah.

In the beginning I said that it was going to take us time to adjust from having the mentality of being “four in a family” to just remaining as the three we were. I was wrong. That’s the thing about being imperfect humans… we can be wrong. Truth is we are a four. Alhamdulillah.

I want to thank you son for allowing me the opportunity to understand grief and to revisit my relationships with people – to depart from those that were polluting my life with their evil/negativity and to be around those who were genuine for Allah.

Alhamdulillah for your reminders to read the Qasida Burda when I lost my way. All it entails and all that you wanted your mother to gain from it are a sign of what a great son you are.

Alhamdulillah that you are our key to Paradise. Thank you for being a great son who will take us to Paradise – something every mother with faith yearns for.

You know where your father and I are at the moment. You know what is occurring in your old home. Please keep banging on Allah’s generous door and put in many good words for us.

Till the next time we meet,

Your mother who loves you dearly.

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Always a mother

This post has been running through my mind for a long time now.

It started when a sister came up to me a month after the stillbirth of our son. She told me she lost her baby at 5 weeks and how she hadn’t been able to tell anyone outside of her immediate family because it wasn’t the “right thing” within her community. I didn’t want to delve into the whole stigma thing at the time because I was hearing a completely different message. This sister wasn’t just crying about the loss of her baby. She was crying about not being a mother.

And this is where I was lost for words as I shamefully got it… I got what she was saying and why she was feeling like that. After all it was something I was feeling and battling with. My URL “born to be a mother” really started to play in my head as if it was a complete lie… and this carried on for a few months.

Even when a really good friend of mine told me by The Grace of Allah she was pregnant, I was so happy for her. However, when she followed her good news with questions on what to do during her pregnancy a huge sense of “why you asking me? I don’t know” came into my head. I no longer felt like I could advise her. I felt if I gave advice she may think “well your son died so I don’t want advice that leads to my child dying” and like a boomerang this insecurity came slapping me in the face, time and time again, with whoever asked me for advice on their pregnancy or labour.

It took an embarrassingly long time to come to my senses and catch that annoying boomerang! I had to fight this illogical thinking by saying what logic was already in front of me:

You became a mother from the moment you conceived. Whatever time period you had with your baby you were still mothering him/her/them. And even now after their return to Allah you are mothering your child. Fathers will forget or they will confuse the children up… It’s a man thing. But mothers don’t. You are still very much a mother and don’t let anyone, even your own self, tell you otherwise.

And that’s that.

To all those mothers who I have had the fortunate opportunity of speaking to about their gifts from Paradise I want you to read the above and not be daunted by the whispers of “I’m not a good enough mother” or “What advice can I give this pregnant women? My child didn’t survive”.

You will always be a mother … give that advice when asked and know that Allah has already given you the badge of motherhood regardless of how old your child was inside or outside of your womb.

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On getting pregnant again

Be proud. You expanded so beautifully for 41 weeks and a day, by the Will of God kept the environment balanced, and when I needed you to help me deliver him you worked so hard to give him a blissful birth. Thank you for doing what you did with the knowledge God gave you.

This is what I want to say to my womb. However, for now, it feels my womb is in hiding… hibernating… healing… and once she has recovered, I will be able to say these words to her and grant her confidence to conceive again, to nurture another soul, and deliver the baby in the way God has agreed with her.

In the meantime, no one should pressure us to have another baby.

For me, it’s not so much about the fear of the outcome – if we give birth to another child of Paradise then so be it; and if the child is granted time on this world then so be it… It’s a gift for us either way. It’s more to do with knowing we need time to give our son his recognition rather than play into the “15 minutes of fame” concept or the “God will give you a better son” concept… a concept that till this day The Hubby and I find strange to hear (our only answer being “Oh really?! What’s better than Paradise?!”).

I also feel people, whether family/friends/random folk, are telling us to have another baby (directly or indirectly) in order to fill their own void or to compensate for their sadness. I’m sorry, that’s not really a good reason to have a baby let alone have a baby post delivering a stillborn. The Hubby and I were taught early on in our marriage to make our intentions abundant and good, especially when we became pregnant… and quite frankly put: “because our elders have told us to have a baby” wasn’t part of our list of intentions and still won’t make the list.

Furthermore, in case I haven’t convinced the “well wishers”, from a medical point of view I know future pregnancies will have a lot of medical interference as there’ll be more scans and blood tests to attend to. Due to my personality and wanting everything to be as natural as possible, I probably end up battling with the medics over what’s right for me and the baby so how about I use the time I got to properly heal physically? After all, I’m going to need energy to take on the medics and no doubt other “well wishers” so I better do that knowing it no longer hurts to put my socks on!

So yeah for now, we are allowing the womb her due rights to rest… to recover… to be reassured. That’s all she needs. That’s all we need.

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I don’t feel strong. I’m just about surviving.

Friends and family have commented how strong The Hubby and I have been since the stillbirth of our son. I can’t speak for The Hubby as no doubt he has his own take on the word; but I personally don’t feel strong.

To me, “strong” would suggest I’m not having moments where I’m staring into blank space or waking up at night feeling a huge part of me isn’t present. I wish I was strong enough to not have these moments but the reality is my sleep is disturbed and I do my best to exhaust myself during the day so that I can zonk out for a few hours at a stretch before being woken up by a nightmare or that feeling of something isn’t right.

“Strong” would also suggest that I’m carrying on my daily routine, looking after Rosey, and getting on with society. Truth is, each day has its own challenges. I love being around Rosey and The Hubby as they make me feel alive. However, so far, being in the presence of anyone else makes me feel ordinary. Strange word to use, I know, but that’s how I feel and it certainly doesn’t make me feel strong. Tasks would seem mundane if it wasn’t for my faith in Islam and the knowledge that even mundane tasks can be turned into worthy acts of service towards God. I think if I didn’t have my faith I would be a moving body unable to feel anything or think properly. Each day has its challenges and I’m ploughing through.

And finally, in my mind, “strong” would suggest that every Tuesday morning I don’t wake up reliving labour day, piecing the puzzles together and trying to answer those awkward questions. It’s not like I choose to do this. It just happens. I wake up as if I’m back there again, feeling each contraction as they came, understanding and knowing his heart stopped whilst in my womb, and then having to push to naturally deliver our son. The tears flow but then I’m comforted by that reassuring, soft Yemeni voice reminding me of the dua of muraqaba (prayer of vigilance); of our son being happy in Paradise; and that all those awkward questions only have the same answer:

It is as God Decreed.

God is with me. God is witnessing me,. I am in God’s presence. God’s gaze is on me. God is near to me.

It is as God Decreed.

Then  everything becomes clear again and I’m back in my room, feeling the bed I’m curled up on, thanking God for having saved us from a greater calamity, for comforting us with His Presence, and for being The Best Guardian to look after our son.

Like I said: I don’t feel strong.

I’m just about surviving.

I’m only human.

It’s all good.

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Why I refuse to sit in the boat of depression

Something strange happens when people hear about someone dying. They automatically assume the family members are going to be depressed. I accept the grieving process needs to occur for everyone that’s affected and it’ll be different for everyone who is affected, however, if it’s a blessed death (clickety click on the link) then how about being positive and sending congratulations instead?

A woman came round to give condolences for our baby son passing away to God. She asked me how I was. I replied “All Praise is to God. It’s all good.” She then asked me how it happened. I replied with a smile “God Willed it. There’s no other reason.” She then looked back at me shocked, and shouted: “You shouldn’t be happy about this. You should be depressed, feel low and sad!”

Her words, in all honesty, disappointed me… especially as I never invited her to my house. My mother looked at her as if to want to pounce on her but wisely she didn’t. Nonetheless, I’m glad this situation occurred as it made me appreciate having faith. In that moment, I realised there was no need to battle this woman as she was a small trial of mine and not part of the bigger trial of losing a baby during labour. She never carried my son for 41 weeks. She never fed him, played “kick my hand” with him, felt his movements inside of her, conversed with him, nurtured him in her womb. So maybe she would be depressed, low and sad if she lost a child but me? Nope, that attitude isn’t for me right now.

My son fulfilled his purpose – to remind us of the station God has gracefully gifted The Hubby and I. He is now being taught and entertained by Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings upon him). And All Praise is to God, due to my intentions to nurse our baby for two years, He has appointed a wet nurse from Paradise to nurse our son. So really, what do I need to be depressed about?

Yes this trial is hard but I know God, out of His Mercy and Generosity, wouldn’t trial The Hubby and I with anything we couldn’t bare. It’s hard battling with the fog inside of my head – the autopilot that every mother goes through with a new born –  thinking “do we have enough nappies for tomorrow?”, “how long till the next breast feeding session?”, “should I put on a load of dirty baby clothes in the washing machine or can we wait a couple of days more?” only to realise these scenarios aren’t required for my actual situation.

We had geared ourselves to be a family of 4 only to come back from the hospital remaining as a family of 3 so naturally it’s going to take time to get back to our usual routine. I’m having to deal with postnatal bleeding, weakness and fatigue post delivery, “the fog”, milk being produced in my body for a baby who isn’t present, and to top it up negative support/”well wishers”. However, we are not going to complain, shriek and wail like we have lost all sense, and be depressed about a beautiful gift from God.

Most parents go through their life wishing good for their children, hoping they be someone great, and praying they enter Paradise (if they’re people of faith). The Hubby and I were saved that anxiety and instead have been guaranteed a son who is good, great and of Paradise. So really, am I going to be depressed about this?

Finally, there are many people who say good reminders but don’t really mean it. Often when people hear of a Muslim dying they will console the family by saying “It’s as God Willed it”. That’s true to say, however, if you’re going to follow up that comment with “So how did it happen?” or “Was the death caused by something you did?” then surely you’re questioning the Will of God?
Neither do I understand the follow on statement: “If God Wills, you will get a better son soon and everything will be fine” – like seriously, what’s better than Paradise? Why is there unnecessary pressure to conceive so quickly? And how does having another child makes things better? We don’t need another child to replace our son because we know our son has his own station just like any future children will have their own station.

Please look at yourself, your words and the actions that follow. If you can’t be honest then it’s best not to speak at all. Yes, people grieve differently and there’s no right or wrong way of grieving. However, please don’t be saying to me to put my faith in God and then defy that statement with a silly comment indicating I need to stop living.

To live is to be grateful to God. Being “depressed, low and sad” just isn’t for me.

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From Paradise he came and returned

A week ago, on Tuesday 11th December 2012 at 1.58pm, we were blessed with a baby boy who passed away during the calm labour process. I say calm because, even after 41 weeks of a really good, normal pregnancy, I had gone into labour with the acceptance that I may not come out of it alive. My will was signed, letters to loved ones written, most of my debts cleared and those that were outstanding were written down, and instructions on how to look after Rosey were discussed.

So in my mind, the contractions were manageable, the panic on the faces of others were manageable and I calmly accepted the loss of my son even before the consultant had called it (when a mother tunes into her instincts it’s hard to be wrong)… I just needed confirmation from the consultant so that I could support The Hubby and remind him to praise God. And then against the wishes of all the medical people in that room, I delivered our baby son the way I wanted him to be delivered (naturally, peacefully, in a good warm setting, away from any medical intervention). We named him Muhammad. I held him in my arms watching him sleep and then waited for my own passing to God.

The latter part clearly didn’t happen.

I’m still here.

I’m grateful.

I’ve accepted it wasn’t my time.

One of the amazing reminders I received when we were at the hospital was from a Muslim doctor named Amal. Amal means implementation. She came in to witness there was no heart beat, looked at me with such love, recited the dua of gaining God’s Lutf (Gentleness) and left with a reassuring gaze that God was with The Hubby and I.

Her name carried on in the first phone call I had with a dear teacher of mine who called to say:

When we learn knowledge Allah trials us more so that we can actually implement that knowledge. And this is your trial which He wouldn’t burden you with if you didn’t know the knowledge to implement.

Another reassuring reminder I received was from a dear friend who reminded me my son had gone straight to Paradise and will ask for us to join him in Paradise when our time was up on this world. Our son had become our token to Paradise. What greater gift is there?

Furthermore, we were told Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) looks after, plays and teaches the children who pass away in their infancy. This made me happy because as a mother I’m constantly thinking about how Rosey should pass her time in the best of ways. So knowing our son was spending it with Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) just filled my heart with joy.

These were the reminders that have helped me to positively plough through each day. If I’ve cried then it’s mainly been out of feeling overwhelmed by Allah’s Love and Grace rather than being upset with His Decree. Our son is in a better place and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s going to be a difficult journey for The Hubby and I, especially when having to deal with people who don’t share the same mentality as us, however I’m sure with the faith we do have we can get through this together.

I hope, in writing the above, I have brought some comfort to mothers who have lost their baby during labour. Comfort that I hope will help them heal and accept their situation better. And verily in the remembrance of God do hearts finds rest.

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