A Tribute

To the world’s coolest grandparents,

I eagerly anticipate to visit you soon. My very first visit brought multifarious experiences for my flourishing mind. I may not be able to manifest my feelings through words; speech delay and social awkwardness cannot obstruct me to exhibit through my gestures. Listening to aunt’s melodious rhymes customised for me at the break of dawn was the finest start of my day. Nevertheless the tremendous efforts Baba infused to play horsy with me. If only I could, I would tell you my profound love for you is ceaseless.

How can I overlook the moment Mama dressed me like a real princess for my birthday party; entire venue was embellished with alluring colours. Nani’s never ending love for fireworks didn’t frighten me, I was delighted to see all the colours exploding in the night sky. Over the years I have observed Mama greeting guests with hugs, so when I recognised kids of my height I enthusiastically hugged them firmly until Mama had to undo my grasp. By the time we got home, Mama accompanied me in opening all those beautifully wrapped presents.

The succulently tempting Butter Naan that Nani cooked for me was my favourite. Ani’s insight about ice cream parlour let me indulge in various flavours everyday. In spite of the unfortunate incident that led a scar near my right eye-Mama still gets emotional while pondering over the incident, I enjoyed walking hand in hand with Nani. I loved hiding under the table with Ani’s markers. Her room filled my mind with inquisitiveness which compelled me to uncover all those captivating elements. Without any obligations Nani let me play with her cutlery, I arranged them in different patterns. Whenever Ani played my favourite songs I gleefully made everyone stand in queue while I clapped my hands. By the time I got bored of Ani’s room, Nani didn’t stop me from exploring her drawers. Later Mama scolded me for ruining her bedsheet by pasting Vaseline all over it. I was thrilled by emptying a bottle of baby powder all over the floor which Mama had to clean later.

When Baba used to go to sleep I watched Mama and Ani pulling each others legs. If only Ani knew how much Mama loves her; I have observed Mama contemplating Ani discreetly. I have seen Mama gazing at Baba while he emptied his cup of tea, and compelling Nani to put on some makeup. There are days when Mama fails to call you, it does not indicate that her compassion has reformed over the years. Her compassion for you is constant and so is mine.

Your Spoiled Granddaughter,
Liyana.

Our First Flying Experience Together

How exhilarating unwinding from our daily routine of work and hassle sounds, if you presume to read a dreamy tale of a traveller then I warn you MOTHERS DO NOT GET VACATIONS! We get to see others relax in addition to our own families; how fascinating and considerate.

It was yesterday only when I visited a beautiful soul who happens to be someone I dearly admire, she is a gorgeous mother of three utterly unique and delightful kids. Her youngest son turned eight months recently, and they are now going for a family holiday next week. I could tell how exhausted and nervous she was for her flying experience with the little one, and packing loads of extras for the kids. I have seen her superintending her family’s need like a pro. I have experienced similar circumstances and I am aware of how weary flights with kids can be.

Liyana’s terrible two phase began earlier than anticipated. It launched like a rocket plane without any directions. Prior to the launch, everything was going smoothly, from rolling on her back, sitting, teething, weaning, crawling to walking at eight months with few bumps here and there. Until she started throwing tantrums at only one and a half year, she has mastered her skills. Consequently, when I planned a short visit to Pakistan where my family resides, I knew how exasperating the flight will be. My husband for our ease, booked business class seats of Emirates Airline for the whole family, unaware of how drained his wife will be. Although I was thrilled to meet my family after four years, packing suitcases was a strenuous task alongside Liyana’s never ending tantrums.

Our flight was on October 29, 2016. While we were weighing our luggage for the last 100th time Liyana happily took a nap on her OWN which was a shocking discovery and an indication of a chaotic journey ahead. As soon as our journey progressed, Liyana’s curiosity and hyper activeness discovered new records. She went around each and every seat in our cabin, making me flush red with embarrassment. I have never seen so many eyes rolling at me. But the cabin crew were extremely polite and helpful. Sadly, when asked to wear seat belts, Liyana threw an outburst of frustration which later changed it’s course to constant crying on top of her lungs until we untied the belt. After a short interlude of silence, she persistently started crying. I made implausible attempts to soothe her, including strolling her in my arms across the minibar area for several intervals. One of the steward who realised how helpless and tired I was feeling offered a friendly conversation about his little girl. After hours of struggling, when she finally slept, I got a chance to breathe in peace. By the time announcement for landing was made Liyana’s discomfort towards wearing a belt resulted in shrieking cries. I noticed majority of women eyeing at me. Making me realise how hard we are on each other. There was another poor mother in our cabin, we gave each other a look of pity and had a brief conversation about our kids. And parted our ways at Dubai international airport. 

After indulging in a delicious breakfast at Emirates lounge we headed towards our next flight to Pakistan. The same juggle of endless cries continued till we finally landed in Karachi, Pakistan.

Regardless of how enervated I was the thought of getting to meet my beloved family made every struggle worth it. By the time we got our suitcases I looked like a mess, uncombed hair, face in sweat while Liyana kept on pulling my shirt. When we finally checked out of the airport, I saw three sets of beaming smiles (Ma, Baba and my only sister Anousha). A gentle hug and watery eyes said what words could never comprehend. 

The Insoluble Dilemma Of Society’s Pressure 

When mothers experience the joy of their first born they are bombarded with endless advices from families. When I was expecting Liyana, I thoroughly read articles on how to take care of a new born; innumerable videos showcasing guidelines for a newborn’s daily care. Which resulted in midwives suspecting if she truly was my first born. From changing her first nappy to her first steps, I can proudly say I did everything according to my motherly instincts. A mother shares a remarkable bond with her child which makes her familiar with her needs more effectively than anyone else.

The adoration and fondness spread by families and friends for a newborn is heartwarming, except when their constant advices grow into judgements. Bodies of postnatal mothers are exhausted and drained, it takes great deal of time to regain their former state of mind. Their fragile state of mind should be supported and taken care of with affection and love.

Babies are little humans, just like adults each and every baby is unique from one another. Their metabolism and growth span varies too. When Liyana was an infant I endured constant pressure of making her sleep all night. I was persistently told to add cereal in her milk, or force her not to sleep in the evening. Babies have their own terms, so did she. My intuitions never made me add cereal in her bottles until I knew she was ready. She NEVER slept in her cot, the rhythm of my heartbeat made her go to sleep everynight. I made every possible effort to keep her in cot; placing my shirt beside her was one of them. When I realised no amount of effort could implement her pattern of sleep I gleefully shared my bed with her. And I have not regretted for once. I took matters in my own hands, instead of worrying about others opinions.

Eventually, she started sleeping all through the night. And without any dire need of cereals, she happily started weaning at five and a half months; banana puree became her first solid food. 

Embracing Myself

Women struggle to accept their bodies due to the immense pressure of our society. Every once in a while we are body shamed for being ourselves. All those beautiful models on magazine covers are photo-shopped for unrealistic goals. I think its time that we find comfort in our own skin. No matter what our body shapes are we are peerless to one another; perfect and unique.

Above all, new mothers are criticised for not losing their baby weight post pregnancy. Every mother experience pregnancy differently, some are able to lose all the extra fat quickly while others don’t. At time pregnancy takes U-turn on our body shape. So, when I finally got a chance to look at my post pregnancy body instead of feeling ashamed of how my reflection looked in the mirror I instantly fell in love with myself. I had never felt so strong before, although I had lost so much blood and could hardly walk. This body shielded my child for nine months. How can I feel ashamed of it? It was swollen, stretched and squishy but it never gave up on my child’s well being. I happily took a shower and put on a pink gown, and hurriedly went to the  room to feed my child. I did not flaunt any belly binders because I wanted my belly to naturally shrink to its original size. That’s where breastfeeding comes in. 

Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition for a newborn but it is also essential for a new mother. It helps in burning calories faster, and shrinks uterus. Even though it is the most beautiful form of bonding with a newborn, it can be extremely exhausting for new mothers. I was sleep derived and exhausted; Liyana was a night owl and had colic which meant hours of crying due to tummy pain until lying her on my chest was the only way to soothe her. Every night I walked back and forth in my bedroon while carrying her until she was fast asleep; I was petrified by the thought of watching her cry. I wish I knew back then how smoothly everything will go for both of us.

I bear endless stretchmarks but they are my symbol of victory. 

A New Beginning 

Child birth is like a finishing line of pregnancy and I wanted to ace it. I expected my labour to last for few hours with a normal delivery. Little did I know what was destined. 

When I was thirty-two weeks pregnant I decided now was the perfect time to pack my hospital bag. All my childhood I have seen my mother pack an extra bag for my sister and me filled with unnecessary pair of clothes which she always considered to be essential even if we were visiting our grandparents for few hours. Although, I was always annoyed by her habit, I ended up doing the same. Five extra gowns and a makeup bag were part of my extravagance. 

When I hit my thirty-nighth week of pregnancy, family and friends started anxiously speculating the sex of my child along with few tips of bringing labour quicker. Eating butter was one of them; as if butter could make her slip out of me. When I was about to hit my fortieth week, anxiousness  over the thought of getting induced made me increase the number of squats I did everyday. I wish I knew Liyana had her own terms.

October 31st, 2014, early morning my water broke causing premature rupture of membrane. I was kept under observation in order to calculate baby’s vitals, during that time my contractions began and I was sent back home until they became stronger. I do not remember eating any solids due to the intensity of contractions. November 1st, 2014 early morning I was called to the hospital, my husband and mother-in-law accompanied me. My family who live in Pakistan, unfortunately couldn’t make it,  but all praise to Skype they could communicate with me. I cannot imagine their height of concern for their first daughter, but I couldn’t have been as determined as I was if my mother was around who kept on weeping on the phone. 

Those thirty six hours of labour were the longest and yet so excruciating hours of my life; every second felt like days. Terrified by the side effects of epidural I tried to control as much pain as I could. During the final hours the intensity of pain caused me to feel dizzy and I ended up asking for pain killer. I was injected with dimorphine.

November 3rd, 2014 at exactly 11:04am Liyana opened her eyes in our world. All the pain  and efforts felt worth it. She was perfect and tiny, and weighed six and a half pounds. Due to taking pain killer couple of hours before delivery, Liyana was blue and unreponsive. Midwife had to immediately clamp her cord and took her to the resuscitation table. I could feel my heart in my throat until I heard her first cry; the only time I was glad she cried. I haven’t witnessed such a divine feeling for someone in my life. Liyana was delivered by one of the sweetest person I have met, Liana. I was as surprised to know her name as she was to know the name of my first born. For a minute I thought it was dimorphine. 

From that day onwards my world completely changed. 

Her name

As an expectant mother of a baby girl, one of my biggest concerns apart from her nourishment was to come up with the most fitting and meaningful name; it felt like my prime mission. So, I sat down in the most comfortable position possible with an uncountable number of pillows hugged around me, and went on to my name hunting trip on several websites for hours.

Until I read LIYANA, an Arabic word which means softness (literal term), but when chosen as a name it describes the softness of a person’s heart and personality. At that very instant it felt perfect. As a sense of achievement I patted my back, and headed to the kitchen for my next box of vanilla ice cream.

I prayed every night to see a glimpse of my baby’s face, it may sound amusing but I ended up delivering a kitten in those dreams. 

Thank goodness I delivered a human; my very own dear child. She looked delicate and yet so beautiful in every way. In that moment she made me a Mom.