Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Day in the life of

Flexible-Hours Working Mother

6:15am: wake up and realize kids are still sleeping. Score! quietly get up to pump some milk for hamzah in the dark and hope no one wakes up yet.
6:30am: tiptoe into bathroom to take shower and brush teeth.
6:40am: pray subuh and pack the kids bags for tadika and nursery. boil water, start making scrambled eggs and put away dry dishes. make hot coffee.
7:00am: Hamzah is awake, give him a bath. 
7:10am: Omar wakes up. Get him to the table to have breakfast then continue putting clothes on Hamzah. 
7:15am: Check on Omar eating and while trying to get Hamzah to play on his own. 
7:35am: Try to get last spoons into Omar and negotiate him finishing a glass of water/milk/whatever. 
7:40am: Give Omar a bath and negotiate him putting school uniform on.
7:50am: Reheat coffee and finish.
7:55am: Get dressed and use bathroom if necessary, get kids and their bags to be out the door.
8:05am:After trekking down two elevators and walking across carpark and putting both kids in their carseats, drive out to work.
8:15am: Find parking, walk down to Hadanah (nursery), nurse Hamzah and get him settled while making sure Omar doesnt run away or bug any baby.
8:25am:Walk Omar to Tadika, take him to potty, negotiate him drinking some water, say goodbye.
8:35am:Back in the car otw to office/breakfast at canteen.
9:10am: Back to office and tinker on computer (emails, grant, manuscript), chase paperwork/ lab orders, phone calls, meeting, marking etc
12:00pm: Drive to Tadika, cuddle Omar take him to potty, give him water.
12:10pm: Walk to Hadanah, nurse Hamzah.
12:20pm: Drive Omar back to apartment, feed him lunch and leave him with his uncle.
1.00pm: tapau lunch or meet friend for lunch
1.40pm: Back in room to do one or some of activities above and pray zohor.
4.40pm: Drive to Hadanah to pick up Hamzah. Nurse him.
4.50pm: Drive home, park, cross carpark, up elevators.
5:00pm: check on Omar if hes eaten or had a drink or potties. pump Hamzah some milk for tomorrow. pray and relax with kiddies.
5:30pm: Get dinner started while kids either play on their own or cry wanting to be picked up.
6:20pm: Start feeding Omar and Hamzah and self dinner in turns until one or both finish food or cry until I cant take it anymore.
6:50pm:Bathe both kids in turns or simultaneously.
6:55pm: Clothe a protesting Hamzah who hates putting on a diaper or shirt, dash to sink to wash hands of drapolene while hoping he doesnt roll of bed.
7:00pm: Plop Hamzah on the floor, get Omar out of bathtub, dry him and clothe him.
7:30pm: Omar starts pooping. Nurse Hamzah to sleep. Pray Maghrib.
7.50pm: Wash Omar and change diaper.
7.55pm: Read Omar a few bedtime books.
8.15pm: Omar dozes off. Go clear dishes, wash breastmilk pumps and bottles, maybe make coffee and work on computer.
9.30pm: Hamzah wakes up crying, Nurse him back to sleep.
9.40pm: Back at computer.
10.30pm: Get bags ready for tomorrow. Pray isya. 
10.40pm: play on phone until doze off.
11.00pm: Hamzah wakes up crying, nurse him to sleep.
11.30pm: Omar wakes up crying, dodoi him to sleep. Doze off.
1.00am: Hamzah wakes up crying, nurse him to sleep. Doze off.
3.00am: Hamzah wakes up crying, nurse him to sleep. Doze off.
5.30am: same as above. Doze off.

and hey its another day again!

(FYI, this is a relatively good day.)

Sunday, September 18, 2016


So it has been about a year since I was last in Melbourne. When I moved out of my apartment, I did not even take a single picture, too busy with arranging my shipment of boxes, filled with stuff I accumulated in 3 years + and making sure I get my bond back. I did not really feel all that sad even, but I always had delayed response. Anyway, a year later and suddenly I am feeling nostalgic for the Melburnian life. In some larger way, I am feeling nostalgic for the "carefree" days of PhD, where all I had to worry about was running my experiments and getting enough data to write about. Also missing the relaxed atmosphere and generally professional yet laidback, open and ego-restrained people at the Burnet. 
But specifically I miss:
1. Aldi. I dont know if its because I have low-class tastebuds or something, but all the Aldi-brand products trumps the higher end stuff they touted at Coles and Woolies.
2. Urban parks. Really miss having green areas with playground for the kids every few blocks.
3. Trams. Haha never thought I would. But theres something about seeing tram tracks on the road that reminds me of capillary networks. The veins of the city and all that.
4. Dukes/Journeyman. So far nothing has trumped the poached eggs and beetroot cured trout on kale and quinoa salad, or the decaf flat white at 
5. A bright blue-skied breezy cool day.
6. Morning runs on High St.
7. Fresh sashimi from Tsukiji.
8. The occasional trip to the CBD/Queen Vic Market. Something uplifting about all that hustle and bustle.
9. Having Omar in various cute warm things.
10. Sidewalks and being able to comfortably stroll from point A to point B without breaking a sweat.

Yea, I miss Melbourne.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

teething days

no im not referring to that phase in a baby's life where their hands and fingers are constantly stuck in their mouths, drool dripping over everything nearby... but it is similarly awkward and a bit painful occasionally.
i am referring to my new life in a working environment with kpis to meet and the niggling feeling that i am not as good as everyone else, when i thought/dreamed/hoped i might be better.
i suppose teething phases in babies eventually end with the rupturing of teeth, but when am i supposed to know ive teethed on?

sigh. i would be much more depressed about this, i think, if i didnt have little baby and toddler hugs to distract me from gnawing and twisting knots in my stomach. so alhamdulillah for that.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


i go through phases of consciousness, a cycle of living in blissful ignorance and then a sudden paralysing realization--that i am not immortal.

a friend's fiancee was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, given weeks to months to live. we ask "did he seem ill?" no he did not. how did he find out? sudden headaches and a fainting spell. 
just a month ago, in his mind, he had a whole life to look forward to with my friend. now, the life will need to try and be lived within whatever time he has left. they are getting married in a few days. my heart breaks for my friend, but i am amazed at her courage, loyalty and love and pray that their marriage will last for eternity and hereafter. i suppose there is something to be said for muslim vows, where the bond does not part upon death.
my grandmother has had another series of strokes. each time she does, her memory suffers and her cognitive abilities. she is surrounded by devoted children, but she asks for her mother. nearing 100 years old, her peers have mostly long gone. she has raised 11 children, buried her husband, son (my dad) and two son in laws. when i look at her recent pictures i am shaken by how old she looks. she has always been "old" to me, but only recently did she ever look so terrified and lost. and i grasp just real old age is. and it will come to us all. if we are even lucky enough to survive that long. i feel guilty that i have not gone to see her recently. but i also realize i will just be another face she knows she doesnt recognize.

half an hour later: I receive news that my friend's fiancee has passed away. al fatihah.

so I will sit here and watch my kids sleep and think about that for a while.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

better with practice?

15th Feb 
10:00pm: Mild "fake" contractions began.

16th Feb 
1:00am: Woke up realizing the fake contractions were still happening and becoming more regular. Began timing on contraction app.
2:00am: Contractions timed at 5 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute long, for an hour. It's go time!
But is it? Self doubt seeped in, it's 10 days before the due date, what if this is a false alarm and I get sent home?
2:01am: Screw it, Azzahrah is 5 minutes away. Woke up Ikram who just went to bed after a Fargo marathon. He asked if it can wait until morning. Indignance seeps in. Heck no it can't wait until morning.
2:30am: At Azzahrah, the sleepy nurse looked at me like I am probably going to be sent back home. Hooked me up on the contraction machine and left.
2:45am: Machine confirmed I was having contractions, but only up to 35%. Nice midwife came in and checked me down there. 2cm dilated, cervix thin. Validation? Maybe. She called the doctor and then told us to check in. 
3:00am: Told that they will come back to check me after Subuh. Ikram looked like he was going to sleep standing up so we shared the bed. While he snored, I did breathing exercises to deal with the contractions. 
4:30am: Definitely real contraction. Had to fight the urge to kick sleeping Ikram.
6:30am: Nice midwife said I was 5-6cm dilated. Wheeled to labor room. Validation! But I couldn't care less because I was in paaaaaiiiin. 
6:35am: Nice midwife was replaced by evil old fat midwife who began to take every chance to poke and prod into my body with her chubby hand-- even when I was having brain exploding back breaking level contractions. (No I did not kick her in the face because unlike her, I am a human being.)
7:45am: Desire to take a big dump and to kick evil midwife in the face reached the pinnacle. Luckily the doctor and a million nurses came into the labor room and did a million useless things while I did all the work.
8:05am: Second or third push later, baby came out in a whoosh. I guess my fake contractions weren't fake after all. Welcome to the world darling Hamzah Arif!

All in all second time around seems eerily like the first time around, except it happened in a different hospital. Undoubtedly the first time was a much better experience, in no small way because I had the best midwife (Ms Reza). Never found out what evil midwife's name was, but she was definitely a reason I probably won't be going back to Azzahrah (or ever getting pregnant again). The hospital and doctors were good, room decent, nurses sweet and efficient, price reasonable. But seriously, terrible labor experience. Absolutely terrible. I can't remember if I cried giving birth to Omar, but I was quietly sobbing in between contractions in the labor room with Hamzah. Best part? After I was wheeled back to the room (first we were in a shared room while waiting for the single room to be free), I heard her talking to another lady in labor just behind the curtain and she was yapping about how labor is SUPPOSED to be painful or else its not labor, and don't cry bla bla bla. Seriously, if I didn't just go through labor and birthing, I would have reached across the curtain and smacked her face. Perempuan kurang ajar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

getting annoyed with people

 so i was skimming through FB via my usual proxy account and read a couple of posts from people I dont know that pissed me off. One person equated paying parents to take care of ones spawn as haram (apparently it is akin to making them orang gaji according this person), and a few people were weighing in on women posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding their infant.
My opinions on a lot of things are usually simple and guided by weighing cost vs benefit-- so usually I try not to have too many strong opinions. On the opinions that getting grandparents to take care of grandkids as haram, I want to laugh, scoff and yell at the same time. The things people make issues out of! I myself have relied on the kindness and generosity and HELP of my mother when taking care of my son alone in a foreign country seemed like an impossible task. Because my mother had her own bills to pay and dependents, and because she took unpaid leave, we tried our best to compensate monetarily. It was a temporary arrangement but one that contributed heavily towards me successfully getting my PhD. I am sure my mother too remembers her own time as a young parent, relying on the kindness of her mother in helping out with raising us. And I hope one day to be in the position where I can help my own children with their children if they ever need it. Ever heard of the saying it takes a village to raise a child? If not that, it certainly takes a family. (in fact the Prophet SAW was raised by his grandfather and uncle. of course he was orphaned but its the principle) Different people have different circumstances so keep your misguided opinions to
yourselves. If there were circumstances where the grown children were simply taking advantage of their aging parents, then that is their family's conflict and certainly Allah will judge them in kind.Now for breastfeeding selfies. Seriously have people seen the sort of selfies people take nowadays? some are just short of vulgar. Yang tu tak bising pulak. If a mom wants to post selfies of herself breastfeeding because she is the types who post selfies, thats her prerogative. Most breastfeeding techniques I know involve the nipple being in the childs mouth instead of being exposed (as some non breastfeeding selfies may be). Would it be as bad if she posted a selfie of her bottlefeeding her child? Such selfies are not for me personally, but I dont get what the fuss is about. The fact that people are making so much fuss about it just convinces me that society in general still cant accept the idea of women breastfeeding. It is still seen as something that should be done behind closed doors. As a former breastfeeding mom, and insyaallah soon to be one again-- trust me nothing makes me happier than to have the privacy to feed my child when he wants it without the prying or judgmental eyes of certain members of the public. Usually these members never have to experience 9months of pregnancy, 24hours of labor, then 6 months of breastfeeding every 2-3hrs with little rest in between, not to mention the stress and responsibility of being the sole nutritional provider of a very fragile precious human. These members never have to know the amount of energy and effort and thickness of skin that women and mothers need to have to deal with their bullcrap opinions. But I dont always have that leisure. And I know some people think breastfeeding should be done in the toilet if there isnt a parents room available--I have done that but out of courtesy to these less mature members of society, not because I believe my sons meals should be taken in a place where everyone else defecates and urinates. So give me a break when I quiet down my child out of consideration for YOU, even if it means you now publicly know the dirty secret that I am in fact A COW. 
**insert angry scream**
Seriously people, lets channel our energies into opinions that really matter, with tangible cost and second and third party harm--like when trusted leaders are squandering the country's wealth, or rape and child abuse still are rampant because the laws neither sufficiently protect the victim nor punish the offender. Wallahualam. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

is it really another new year

i must be getting older. 

my hips are wider, im due to have child(ren), i nag my son, i think about cost of living (and living well) and rising prices, gravity is my enemy, and i really cant be bothered to "usher in the new year". 

that said, im grateful to be where i am now with its ups and downs. i look forward to the things that may come in 2016 and hope i can rise to meet the challenges that face me. 

for example:
challenge #1 avoid throwing out my 8-month pregnant back trying to lift my son onto the toilet bowl every half an hour to an hour in this wonderful time called "potty training"

challenge #2 have another baby and take care of that one while also taking care of aforementioned (hopefully potty trained by then) son.

challenge #3 do my new job well while also raising aforementioned children  (who hopefully have the best possible arrangement for daycare by then)

challenge #4 keep my apartment within reasonable human standards while addressing challenges 1,2 and 3

challenge #5 keep my sanity and my ever long distance marriage somewhat intact while addressing the first four challenges. 

ey if malaysia boleh, i boleh okay.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

blogging from a blogger app

huwow why didn't I think of this sooner? Now I get to blog with even more typos direct from the phone!

so I was feeling a bout of nostalgia and decided to listen to Mew's Comforting Sounds. I still love it and watching the video I felt shivers wondering whether my baby listening to this (not big baby Omar sleeping in the crook of my arm, but little yet to be born unnamed baby underneath my bellybutton), would be affected such that he becomes the naturally musical and artistic type.

But I soon caught myself doing something I promised not to do after I read an article about how parents label their kids! I am subconsciously labeling Omar as the big brother, leader, practical type and unnamed baby as the musical, artistic, gentle type! Just because Omar is older and uhh visible enough to exhibit certain tendencies. Naughty naughty maternal subliminal idealizations tsk tsk, caught you just in time.

Well let it be said here, and I hope I make good on this,I aim to raise both of my boys and any future children to believe that they can all equally be leaders, scholars, philosophers, businesspeople, philanthropers, scientists, artists, wizards, magicians, Starks, Targaryens, and whatever else that they want and work hard to be. 

Also with the ever present and constantly growing climate of unrest in the world and suspicion against Islam and its diverse followers, it should but won't go without saying, I aim to first raise them to be faithful, practicing, productive and inspiring Muslims.

ok back to grant application now. ho hum.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Another one about The Boy

So I feel like I should not jinx it, but Omar has officially gone two weeks without nenen--with the exception of one occasion where I gave in and let him suckle for five minutes, after which he proceeded to ask for Pink Milk.

I was trying to read about how long is it before you know your child is weaned off breastmilk for sure, but I could not find any real estimates (weeks, months?). For now it seems that Omar only asks for it when he is extremely bored or extremely cranky, but on average he is requesting it once a day or less. Mostly I get by with DISTRACTION. I pretend I do not hear him ask for it and ask him back "Do you want Pink Milk?" "Do you want Vitagen?" even resorting to "Do you want ICE CREAM?" and "Do you want POTATO CHIPS?" usually, he is happy to accept Pink Milk or Vitagen. Occasionally, only the real treats will do.

I would love to say, Omar was weaned at 25 months with little drama. InsyaAllah that will hold true in days, weeks, months to come. My mother seemed very concerned that he was still nursing as frequently as a younger baby just a month ago, and seriously suggested I use bakawali (?) probably to smear on the udders as a deterrent. I dismissed it and said it is fine for me to keep nursing him and I am happy to do it until he is two and a half, at the same time I was slowly trying to get him to go to sleep without breastfeeding usually by feeding him with a heavy dinner and lots of (cow's) milk. It worked every now and then, but honestly it was easier to get him to sleep without nenen than it was to get him back to sleep whenever he stirred. It felt like I really was going to have to end up breastfeeding until he turned two and half, and then continue to breastfeed his future sibling as well.

Then I realized, I had no more milk! Apparently some women stop making milk at some point in pregnancy. That's when I decided, you know, it's time. Thus began the bribery and distraction-- which he took to ok. Pretty soon hours went by, then a night, and more nights where I could read him Little Bear's Little Boat once or twice and he would nod off to sleep next to me. Seriously, just like that. My son, who used to nurse ALL night every night. And as I said, it is now two weeks and I am hoping favorable conditions prevail to aid us into a successful and complete weaning to the point where he will think "Yuck nenen".

I was reading that weaning is often accompanied by some sense of loss or sadness, usually because it means its the end of a phase, and a special bond. I can't say I feel that way right now. Maybe it is because I have been rotating 3 or 4 nursing bras and nursing tops for the past two years, along with the continuous interrupted sleep, I am more than happy that we are growing into another phase of our mother son relationship. It would be terrible if I HAD to wean him a lot earlier than when either of us was ready, and I feel for the mothers and children who have to go through that.

I am such a strong advocate for breastfeeding and can only speaks positively of its benefits on the baby, on me, despite some of the natural difficulties and adjustments we had in the beginning. But all good things should come to an end to allow for better things! Such as mom having a full night's rest next to a little boy who put himself to sleep, and tosses around sometimes but goes right back to sleep with a "big hug".

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hey ho wuddaya know

I passed my PhD! Well technically, I got a Pass with Minor Revisions. Alhamdulillah.
Now to prepare for working life. First full-time job ever at 30 years old!