A girl with a mind, a woman with modesty, a lady with class

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

I tried to hide my pregnancy...

...but then I got Hyperemesis Gravidarum.


Becoming a Mum has been the biggest blessing in my life thus far. We hit the ground running when she was born 7 weeks early and haven't had a moments rest since, but waking up to her smile everyday and that look of love in her eyes makes everything worth it. I always wondered how women forget the pain and struggles of pregnancy and having a newborn to even consider having more children, but as cliché as it sounds I guess you only know when you become a mother yourself.

During the first 5 months of pregnancy, bed ridden with extreme morning sickness also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, I wondered how I would even survive to the ends of my pregnancy let alone be happy about being pregnant and having a baby.

After one cycle of Clomid I was told to take a pregnancy test exactly 2 weeks after the progesterone injections (read my PCOS post to find out what I'm talking about). Anyone who has been trying to conceive knows about that antagonising wait before taking a pregnancy test. I was tempted but I waited until the morning and finally took the test, which came up with two solid lines to say I was pregnant.

The emotions rushed through me, happiness and excitement, worry, fear all at the same time. I called the nurse to tell them the result and they told me to come for an appointment in a few weeks. I got ready and headed to work.

I didn't really get time to process what was happening before I got to work but was in a bit of a daze, I work as a Molecular Imaging Radiographer and knew that now I was pregnant I couldn't handle radioactive substances. When I couldn't just keep dodging the work I told them that I was pregnant. Yes, my work colleagues knew before my husband who went out to work at 6am. I told my manager and they started putting things into place. It basically meant I was on admin duty for the whole of my pregnancy because we didn't want to risk the baby getting exposed to any radiation.

6 weeks later and I started throwing up; I literally couldn't keep anything down. Then started my obsession with reading things online about pregnancy and all my symptoms. I read that nausea and vomiting was a good sign of a healthy pregnancy so I just carried on. I felt sick all day and threw up all day, why was it called morning sickness when you're sick all day?

I tried every remedy under the sun, ginger, eating little and often, eating whilst still in bed so I don't have an empty stomach, salted crackers, peppermint tea, literally everything!

As time went on I became more and more sick, everything I ate came straight back up, from toast to water. Many days I called in to say I was going to be late to work just so I could settle my stomach before getting onto public transport. All I would eat at work was oranges and tangerines, which worked for a while but then I started throwing that up every so often too.

Nobody in my family had any idea I was pregnant, but after a party at my aunts house I threw up outside and looked like death, which was kind was a big tell for my mum and mother in law.

I wanted to keep the pregnancy to myself for a while because I'm one of those people that reads too many articles and medical journals and I was just too scared to tell anyone in case the pregnancy wasn't viable and I had a miscarriage. I didn't want to tell everyone and then be disappointed and have to tell everyone what happened if it wasn't successful.

Days passed and the sickness was getting worse, I was throwing up 15-20 times each day, sometimes I couldn't reach the toilet and it ended up coming out through my nose and everything all over the bathroom. Most days I was too scared to eat anything, I ate things that I thought wouldn't be so awful when it came back up.

 Hubby, bless him, was a complete lifesaver, he took on the cooking duties as I couldn't stand the smell of the kitchen and supported me as best he knew how. I thought the sickness was normal; this is what all pregnant women must go through right? The last straw was when I couldn't hold it in and threw up in front of my colleague at work. Maybe I needed to rest so I took a few days off work to recover but the sickness just got worse.

We then decided I needed to see a doctor to actually check if it's normal. Week 8 and I went to the GP who told me I had hyperemesis gravidarum, I had heard of it as the extreme morning sickness Kate Middleton had. The doctor gave me a sick note for 2 weeks and some antihistamines, which are often given to help treat extreme morning sickness. She tested my urine and suggested I get some urine tests to do at home to make sure I didn't get dehydrated.

After my appointment I went to my mum's and decided to tell her I was pregnant. When I told her she smiled and said she already knew because she could tell. I told her about my sickness and she told me it's not normal to throw up how I was throwing up all day everyday. She said with all of her pregnancies she felt nauseous and would throw up a little in the morning but not to the extent I was throwing up. So my little pregnancy secret was no longer a secret. Week 8 and everybody knew.

I stayed at my mum's and took the tablets I was prescribed. All the tablets did was make me feel dizzy and tired. I would sleep all day and just wake up to eat a little or go to the toilet. When I was awake I felt dazed and like I was a zombie. The antihistamines stopped working after a while so I went back to the doctor and was given a different type, which helped but never completely stopped my sickness. I was given a sick note for another two weeks. My head was heavy and I was so dizzy I couldn't walk straight or see the time on the clock.

My mum tried everything as well, one night she chopped up some ginger and put it on my head because it was supposed to help, that night I stayed up until 4am vomiting non stop whilst everyone slept upstairs.

Eventhough I felt so unwell, I also felt guilty. When I would call into work to explain the situation to my manager I felt like she didn't get it, like she thought I was being a drama queen and couldn't understand why I was taking time off work for morning sickness when so many other women can work throughout their pregnancy.

One of the days after throwing up around 10 times in 15 minutes I tested my urine, which showed I was severely dehydrated. I went to A&E where doctors checked me over and told me I was dehydrated and needed to be on a saline drip overnight. The next day some obstetric and gynecology doctors came down to see me, she told me I needed to take a tablet for morning sickness. Coming from a medical background and already hating medication I was quite weary. Last time I heard about women taking medication for morning sickness, their babies had thalidomide, a birth defect causing their limbs to not grow properly. The doctor assure me the medication called Odansetrone or Zofran was safe as far as they knew and that not getting enough food or being constantly dehydrated was going to do damage to the baby.
This isn't what I expected pregnancy to be like, where was the glow? The luscious hair? For months I was between life and death, living like a zombie that I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was drained to the point I couldn't even feel happy about being pregnant.

Alhamdulillah the medication worked. I still didn't feel 100% but I felt like I could function again. After being off work for a month I went back, still feeling extremely nauseous and throwing up a few times but able to go out of the house and do my work. I read horror stories online about the sickness never went away until some women gave birth and I feared that would be me. But after 5 months it finally went away on its own. In those first 5 months I lost 5kg, apart from the bump I was skinnier than before I got pregnant.

I felt nauseous throughout my whole pregnancy and even when I think of those first few months now I still get flashbacks of the feeling. I would even go so far as to say the labor and delivery was easier than the sickness I went through at the start. I feel like the experience has traumatised me so much that to this day I can remember the smell of the kitchen in our old apartment and the sick feeling in my stomach.

The rest of my pregnancy up until my little cuddle bug came at almost 34 weeks was pretty un-eventful. I looked like crap the whole time, never put on any makeup or went out much, didn't take any pictures of myself or feel up to seeing people. I overplayed everything in my head and was scared to death of having a still born because my mum and cousin had still born babies and I couldn't get the thought out of my head. I was so scared of something going wrong that I didn't really enjoy it.

I always thought pregnancy was lovely and glowy, you got to eat all your favourite foods, buy cute baby outfits, do baby yoga and all that, but this is a side of pregnancy no one told me about.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Follow me to ... Wales?

Salaam salaam!

If like me, you're tired of the cold, dreary winter and can't wait for summer you will love this post from summer 2016 of our road trip to Wales!

A group of us (hubby, sisters & cousins) were planning a long weekend away in 2016. Going abroad with a bunch of people and 2 toddlers is not ideal, so we looked for something closer to home instead. Torn between the Lake District and Wales we went for the latter, mainly because the other was just too expensive.

My bro in-law, who mashaAllah is getting better and better at planning getaways and for some reason likes to deal with all the headache, organised the whole trip. Hubby hired a mini van, we all cooked some food, packed our things and off we went on our first road trip as a group.

Alhamdulillah the journey was enjoyable and the whole thing was a success. The men took it in turns to drive (because they didn't trust us *rolls eyes*) and we arrived at a beautiful house in the Welsh county of Clwyd, St Asaph.



The stunning house boasted 5 bedrooms 2 with en-suits, two bathrooms, a massive kitchen diner, living room, outdoor seating, Jacuzzi & outdoor games room. We were taken aback at how well looked after the place was and how cosy and welcoming it felt. The company we booked with were amazing, they were really friendly and even had a lovely breakfast hamper waiting for us when we arrived. Everything was provided for, from cutlery to games and a BBQ. It was a real luxury home away from home and was more than spacious enough for 11 people.



When I used to think of Wales, the things that always came to mind were grey skies and sheep. But the weather was so lovely and sunny that after just one afternoon sitting in the jacuzzi in our burkini's we caught a tan.

We spent one whole day just enjoying being in the house, eating good food, playing games, watching movies and just relaxing.




On one of the days we took the minivan and drove to Kinmel Bay and I'm so glad we did because we enjoyed a lovely walk and stunning views.



One of my fav pics of hubby and I at the beach




We looked up some more things to do and took a trip to the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. The drive up there was amazing again with views of the sea, the mountains and the open countryside.


The kids loved seeing the animals at the Zoo and the live shows. I had only ever been to London Zoo and this was a huge difference as it felt like the animals were closer to nature, rather than in the middle of the concrete jungle of London.

There were plenty of other things to do, but our busy lives in London were calling us and we headed back after our long weekend in Wales, with our views of the country forever changed and the memories we made in just a few days.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

PCOS Nobody wants to talk about it


If you're a male or really don't want TMI about menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome and all that jazz then please stop reading here. Just exit or read one of my other posts.

If you're someone I know personally (friends & family), I would really appreciate if you keep what you're about to read to yourself and just take what you think is beneficial from this post.

I've been debating with myself about whether I should write about this topic as it's a personal one that I don't like people gossiping about. However as I talk to more and more women I see how common it is, especially among south Asian women and how rarely it's spoken about because for some reason it holds shame and stigma.

Recently someone close to me struggling to conceive confided in me about the issue, her symptoms sounded familiar, after telling her about my story she finally went to the doctor and was properly diagnosed in order to get medical help. I wasn't surprised about the fact she didn't know it wasn't her but an actual common medical condition, but I was sad because there needs to be more awareness around it. This encounter encouraged me to finally write about it in this lengthy but hopefully informative and helpful post.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, the most common endocrine disorder and one of the leading reasons for fertility issues, it can affect as many as 15-20% of women depending on the criteria used to diagnose it. It's caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with PCOS have high androgen levels and an imbalance of hormones, which affects many parts of the body including the pituitary gland in the brain, the pancreas and the thyroid.

Common symptoms include:
  • Irregular/no periods
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Being overweight
  • Spotting between periods
  • Excess body and facial hair
  • Acne
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
To read more about PCOS, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment please check out https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/

My diagnosis

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries when I was 13 years old after going to the GP due to irregular menstrual cycles. Since 13 I have never had a regular cycle that follows any pattern. Sometimes I miss 2 months, sometimes 4 or even up to 6 months! My GP sent me to the gynaecologist who performed an ultrasound and told me I had cysts on my ovaries.

I remember the doctor sitting me down and telling me I have polycystic ovaries but I don't have the 'syndrome' part of PCOS because I wasn't the typical PCOS sufferer and only had 1 symptom. Alhamdulillah I never suffered from acne, excess hair and I was actually underweight or in the 'normal' BMI most of my life. I was told I may find it difficult to conceive in the future and was offered the contraceptive pill to help regulate my cycles. At age 13 it all went way over my head and I didn't want to take the pill because the symptoms weren't really that bad. As I've gotten older I don't like taking medication because of undesired side effects and after reading about the contraceptive pill I'm more against taking it because of the side effects like causing depression. I was worried the pill could trigger the other symptoms I wasn't experiencing and the doctor couldn't guarantee it wouldn't so I left it and went on my way.

A couple times over the years I had very heavy periods which were really painful, not your average period pains and heavy days, but it was like I couldn't carry on with my day-to-day life (if you know, you know). I went to the GP the first time I had that experience and was given Tranexamic Acid to lessen the bleeding and clots as well as Mefanamic Acid to help with the pain as regular painkillers were not helpful at all.

Mental health & weight 

Throughout my life I met other PCOS sufferers and heard about their experiences, some were female relatives, others were friends or acquaintances and even some total strangers online. One thing I found out was that there are a lot of medical issues we had in common. After feeling very abnormal and sometimes like I was 'broken' I finally felt like I wasn't alone as so many women also went through the exact same experiences.

When my period finally came after a gap of 4 or 6 months it was the worst thing in the world. There would be days at work where I was so worried about leaks and in so much pain that I would be sweating. I felt so self-conscious during those periods that I couldn't do my job properly, I'd call in sick so often that I was referred to occupational health. I found the whole thing really embarrassing and kept it all to myself.

Another symptom I experienced was always feeling tired. I put it down to poor diet or possible low iron levels but blood tests revealed I had borderline hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) which causes tiredness. This was easily resolved with thyroid medication until levels because normal again.

When I got married the issues affected my mental health a great deal. I often wish I could be a normal woman, I sometimes feel like I'm not woman enough and that I'm lacking something. At the start it really affected my confidence and self esteem. Sometimes I feel so low because of all the problems caused by PCOS but I don't realise why I'm feeling low or depressed.

One of the symptoms of PCOS is finding it difficult to lose weight. I had never had a problem with weight because most of my life I was skinny and used to even get body shamed and teased for being so skinny. I remember wishing I could put on weight so that I could be normal.

However, when I got married I put on weight quite quickly. This was partly due to my in laws feeding me so much and party because hubby and I ate out alot. I felt like my metabolism really slowed down and found that I couldn't lose weight as quickly as I had done before.

People commented one my weight and I tended to just laugh it off, but what people don't realise when they judge you for your weight is that someone may not have put on weight because they're just fat and lazy, but there may be underlying conditions like PCOS. Comments about weight make an already self-conscious person even worse.

Fertility

If I'm honest conceiving naturally was an issue, but I didn't really think about it until 2 and half years into the marriage when I felt ready to look into it. If you read my 'When are you having a baby?' blog post, you may have sense of anger and frustration. This is the reason why people talking about my fertility upset me so much because it was something I was not in control of per say.

Alhamduillah hubby and I don't have all this 'shame' and 'embarrassment' about women's issues, you may disagree with me on this point but I felt like I needed to be open and honest with him and teach him about women's health in order for him to understand what I go through, so that he can fully support me and not expect so much from me. This is a huge taboo in the Asian culture as with a lot of other cultures but it's a taboo that needs to be broken in order for men to fully understand and appreciate what women deal with rather than just think women are weak or unreasonable.

There are many fertility options available but because one of the main causes of infertility is not ovulating every month reducing the chances of conceiving without intervention. 'Ovulation Induction' is one of the first routes taken. This involves going through a whole heap tests and scans and then taking a medication called 'Clomid' to help you ovulate. Through my research I found out that Metformin is another medication given during ovulation induction. I was also on thyroid medication as an imbalance in thyroid function is a risk factor for miscarriage. 

To go through ovulation induction or any treatment you need to speak to your GP and be referred to a fertility clinic. Every case is different and they are the one's to tailor make a plan to suit your specific needs.

Natural remedies

There are many natural ways to deal with PCOS that include diet and lifestyle changes. People that I personally know of achieved relief of symptoms by eating healthy and losing weight. They even conceived naturally and unexpectedly just by making healthy choices.

Losing weight makes a huge difference to symptom relief and is usually the first step that's recommended by doctors. As I said earlier this is easier said than done, but it really needs to be a lifestyle change for it to be effective and you will need support to help you achieve your goals.

There are other natural remedies out there like hijama, eating certain foods, acupuncture, but I don't have any personal experiences with these, a simple Google search should get you started.

Spirituality

PCOS affects every part of your life including Islamically. Because I don't have and have never had proper pattern or cycle things like fasting and prayer become quite complicated. I've read many books and articles on it and nothing has made the issue any clearer. Scholars say there are two types of bleeding haydh (menstrual bleeding) and istihaadah (other bleeding). The topic is quite complex when you don't have a regular cycle so for more info read here. In short the general ruling is a period lasts no less than 3 days and no more than 10. Anything outside that is considered istihaada and you can fast pray etc as normal. There are times where I would have continuous spotting or bleeding for 2 months or more or stopping and starting, this is really frustrating when trying to work out if you should start praying again or how many days fasting you should miss and make up in the future.

One time I went for Umrah after my period had ended, on the plane we had just past the red sea and it was announced that we should enter our ihram, my period started. I couldn't perform the full umrah with the rest of my family. The ruling is that you can do all the acts of umrah except tawaaf, instead I waited and took Norethisterone and then performed Umrah on my own.

In 2016 I went again with hubby and my family. I took Norethisterone as instructed and was able to perform Umrah. The second week we went to Madinah and my period started. It was the worst period ever, the pain was worse than contractions during labour, and it was really heavy. Both times I felt awful, like there was something wrong with me, added with the fact that I needed to make up n excuse to my dad and brothers.

Whenever I express my feelings of inadequacy hubby reminds me that this is not a punishment, it is from Allah and that although I can't do certain acts of worship, the things I can do weigh heavily and count for just as much.

Advice for those with PCOS:
  • Talk to your family about it. Be open with your spouse and speak about what you're going through. A support system makes the world of difference, when people know what you're going through they can help you instead of judge you.
  • Reach out to others with PCOS. This helps you to not feel alone as well as giving you people to share your experiences with and get advice or tips on what works for them.
  •  Go to your GP. Find a good doctor that you trust, who can advise you about a holistic approach to your health
  • Make positive diet and lifestyle changes that are sustainable
  • Hang on in there and remember you're not alone.
 Advice for everyone else:
  •  Don't judge people about the way they look. Teach your children the same. Don't make fun of girls that are overweight or have excess body & facial hair. You don't know what the person is going through and how much of an impact your comments have on them.
  • Stop asking women when they're going to have a baby. Fertility is a sensitive topic for women suffering with PCOS and other fertility issues. Continuously asking them will not make them have a baby any faster but will drive them deeper into depression.
  • Stop body shaming and telling women they need to lose weight. Even if you think you're being helpful you're not. Chances are those who are overweight are battling an illness and disorders that you know nothing about.
Summary 

PCOS is a disorder that affects all parts of the day to day lives for those who suffer from it. Those who suffer from it often experience mental health problems like depression. Problems with fertility are also common but there is help out there.

I hope this post has been of some benefit to you and given you some insight on what life is like for someone who lives with PCOS. Do share this with people you think it might help and comment below with your experiences.

Oh and having a baby last year was also one of the reasons why I was away from blogging for so long. 

More mama & baby posts coming soon! 

Minimoon in Newquay






For our first anniversary on 2015 I decided to book a staycation (holiday where you don't go abroad). We booked a weekend away to Newquay in Cornwall and had a nice long drive there from London.

I booked us a hotel last minute on booking.com, after reading plenty of reviews online we decided to go for a guest house called Porth Cove Hotel right by the coast. The room was really pretty and the place was cosy like a home away from home. The owners of the hotel were lovely and really welcoming.





Breakfast was included a we went for a vegetarian full English which included a veggie sausage which was actually really nice. All the staff at Porth Cove Hotel made our stay very comfortable.

The views in Cornwall were beautiful, the sand, sea and little bit of sun made us feel like we weren't in England. It was really relaxing and peaceful, I could have just sat on the beach all day.



The sunsets are even more stunning when you escape the hustle and bustle of London and lack of light pollution mean you get stunning views of the night sky.




I really loved our weekend away but hubby wasn't too pleased about the lack of halal food options. Living in London we often take for granted how diverse the city is, when you travel outside London you really appreciate home. We were one of the only brown people holidaying at this part of Newquay and although I felt very comfortable as the locals were all really lovely, hubby felt a bit out of place.

I thought we could live off fish and chips because nothing beats fish and chips at the seaside but the chippy we went into (very kindly) told us they fry their fish and chips in beef fat and that it may not be suitable for a halal diet, we tried a few others but they told us all the chip shops did the same. So we lived off the vegetarian supreme pizza at the local Domino's.

If you're not a big meat eater like my husband and don't mind not having halal food, Newquay is a  lovely place to go, whether as a couple or as a family it's a beautiful part of England you must visit!

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

OOTD | Mauve Saree




Salaam!

My cousin and I were looking for a nice saree for when her future in laws were coming to see her last summer, being impulsive when it comes to shopping I bought this saree. I didn't even need a saree and I hardly wear them but I fell in love with this as soon as I saw it.

Here are some pictures from my uncle's wedding when I finally got a chance to wear it!

Hubby & I <3


So I clearly didn't get the memo that all my sisters and cousins were going to wear green
Boomeranging with DolceNaz

This colour was all the rage last 2 years and is still one of my favourite sarees, just need an excuse to wear it again..wedding season 2018?