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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Living with the In-Laws

In-laws or out-laws? 
Here are my tips on trying to maintain a good relationship with your in-laws whilst keeping your sanity.

I feel like I need to make a lot of disclaimers before I go into this post because people's situations are different and I don't want anyone to take what I say the wrong way.

So, I understand that not all mother in-laws are the same and neither are daughter in-laws. If your in-laws are verbally, emotionally or physically abusive toward you then you need to get out, other people are not worth losing yourself for.
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one who severs the ties of kinship will enter Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh. 
Some people just can't live with their husbands parents and that's ok, it's not for everyone. Islamically, your husband should be able to provide a house for you and you do not have to live with his family, but you must still aim to keep the ties of kinship and keep good relations with them.

It is very common to live with in laws even for a short time in many cultures but, know your rights as a Muslim wife and make your wishes known BEFORE accepting the marriage proposal. This also goes for men, when you're getting to know someone for marriage and you know that you or your family would want your future wife to live with the family please make it very clear and known at the start, so that she can decide if she wants to go ahead with that or not. Generally, scholars advise men to keep separate houses for their parents and for their wife because of the problems living with in-laws can cause. Sometimes the in-laws are the ones that break a marriage down and sometimes a wife can be the reason for a broken parent child relationship with their husband. In these cases it's better to live separate to your in-laws.

However, there may be reasons for why a woman will need to or want to live with her in-laws, for example, the in-laws are elderly and your husband will need to care for them, you are not financially in a situation where you can have your own place right away, you want to live with a big family as you're not used to living alone.

I lived with my in-laws at the beginning of my marriage for a year and half before moving into our own apartment for a year and then moving back in with my in-laws at the beginning of last year when I was pregnant. It wasn't/isn't always easy but Alhamdulillah I'm blessed.

Over the last 3 and half years of marriage I have matured a lot in myself and have learnt a lot about myself and the people I live with to be comfortable with living with my in-laws.

This post is for people with 'normal' in-laws not the crazy, abusive ones who you cannot compromise with.

“Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship?

Such are they whom Allaah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight”
[Muhammad 47:22]
Pro's of living with in-laws:
  • There is always someone to talk to 
  • If you don't know your husband that well before marriage it sometimes helps having other people around to help you settle into the marriage and it's not so daughnting being alone with someone for the first time.
  • Your in laws can be a huge help when you're not well, when you have children etc. Alhamdulillah I'm so grateful for my in laws and how much they've helped with my daughter, I think it would have been much harder to adjust with a newborn if it hadn't been for my in laws.
  • You can share the workload. On weekdays my mother in law used to cook and have dinner ready for when I used to get back from work. On weekends and holidays I would help her with cooking or cook something of my own for the family. 
Con's of living with in-laws: 
  • You might feel like you don't have the privacy you want, for yourself and with your husband especially if you don't have a big enough house
  • More likely to have disagreements or arguments, just because there are more people in the picture that you have to compromise and share with
  • You may feel as though you can't come and go as you please because you have to take the other people you live with into consideration
  • Your in-laws may not be the easiest people to live with
  • You may not feel properly 'married' or 'grown up' because you still live with parents who do the 'adult' things for you
Don't marry a mummy's boy

I say this in the nicest way possible but everyone that has married a 'mummy's boy' has really suffered with their in-laws. Your husband should take care of his parents but it is not correct for him to go to his mum for everything when he is a grown man and ready to marry. He should know the difference between his mum and his wife. He should be able to keep neutral in situations of disagreements and not take sides. If you are wrong he should be able to tell you, if his mum is wrong he should be able to speak to her as well. He should be the one to diffuse the situation and try to keep everyone happy and not just say his mum is right and you need to apologise.

Your husband is responsible for you and although you need to respect your in-laws you only need to answer to him. So if you want to go to your parents house or go out with friends, you should ask him/tell him, if he says it's ok, then it's ok, you shouldn't need to ask permission from your in-laws, they don't own you. Out of respect you should tell them your plans as you live together, out of love and respect you should take them into consideration when you make plans.

Know yourself

Before marriage you have to be really honest with yourself and know what it is you want from life. Are you the type of person that finds it difficult to share a room or house with others? If you have arguments with your own parents or family will you realistically be able to live with someone else's family? It's very important to know yourself and your spouse before accepting the conditions, once you're in the marriage it will be difficult for you to change yourself or change others, so you need to know if you can accept your husband and his family, as they are, before marriage.

Space

When I first lived with my in-laws I had a really hard time adjusting and wasn't very comfortable because we lived in a small flat. I was always used to being part of a being family, growing up with all my extended family but it was still extremely difficult to share a small space and utilities. This is one of the reasons we moved out.

Now my in-laws have a much bigger house, we practically have our own floor, own bathroom etc and this makes life a lot easier. I don't have to always wear my hijab to just go to the bathroom for example, we have a big enough kitchen and everyone has their own space so we're not living top of each other.

So space is another thing you need to think about, what will you have to share with everyone else and are you comfortable with that?

Start as you mean to go on

At the start you're just getting to know your husband properly and his family, this is the same even if you knew your husband before marrying him. You don't really know a person until you live with them. As the new person into the family you just want everyone to like you, you want to do everything you can to fit into the family. But you need to start as you mean to go on.

Be true to yourself and be honest with the people you live with. If you don't feel comfortable doing something speak up and tell your husband or in-laws why. For example, you are not the maid in the family, if your husband has siblings they need to also help out with chores, don't put it all on yourself because you will regret this later. If you start doing everything for everyone in the house you will not be able to change this 6 months or a year down the line. Set your ground rules from the start. You will not do other people's laundry and everyone who is old enough should clean up after themselves.

Don't start waking up extra early to make everyone's breakfast if that's not something you want to do, they survived before you came into the family perfectly fine. If you start doing crazy things like that at the beginning they will expect you to carry one with it, if it's something you want to do every now and then, then great but if you do it all the time at the start it will be expected from you.

If you work outside the home don't come home and start cooking and cleaning for everyone, figure out a schedule that everyone can stick to, one that is fair on you and everyone else, and stick to your guns on the things you wont compromise and do all this from the start.

Communicate

You are both women whom your husband loves dearly so for his sake and for yourselves it's always best to talk to each other directly rather than through him.

Alhamdulillah my mother in law is quite young and we get along well. From the start she has said she will tell me whenever I do something wrong just like she tells her other children. I respected this from her because I'd rather have her be open and honest with me than always wonder what it is I've done wrong. Tell your mother in law that you want her to be honest with you and you do the same. Obviously be tactful in the way you say things and always speak with love and respect.

Your in laws cannot read your mind and you cannot read theirs so always strive to open the doors of communication.

After becoming a mum myself I tend to be more open with her and we have little chats throughout the day, whether it's during breakfast or with a cuppa in the evening. Try to break down barriers and be more friendly with your mother in law, she is not your enemy.

Take her out for a meal on your own or plan days out together, so that you can get closer and get a better understanding of each other.

Think of his family like your own

Although it's hard sometimes, you need to think of your in-laws like your own family. If your mother in law says something to you, don't take it to heart, just imagine it's your mum who said it and let it go. If your mum says something to you that you get hurt by, you don't hate your mum, you just let it go, if it's something that really hurt you then speak to her about it and be honest, but if it's not really that big of a deal then just let it go through one ear and come out the other.

Same with sister in laws, we all argue and have disagreements with our own sisters, sometimes that will happen with your sisters in law, keep calm, communicate and let things go if they aren't a big deal but speak to them on a level if it does bother you.

Don't hold grudges about everything, keep a positive and free mind. Try to take everything in a positive way, if someone says something to you that can be interpreted negatively encourage yourself to see the positive in it.

Compromise

There can never be 2 heads of the household or so they say.

I think there can be 2 women of the house but in order for it to work there needs to be compromise. You need to understand that your husbands family were brought up differently to you so they will do things differently to you or your parents.

Going into a family you have to carve your own space, but always remember that this family has always done things in a certain way, you may not be able to change everything. Often mother in laws get upset because they feel their daughter in law has come in and started to change everything, again communication and honesty is key in this instance. Try to come to a balanced solution for everyone.

Remember that everyone has off days, if your mother in law, father in law, brother in law or sister in law is being off with you one day when they are usually ok with you, don't take it to heart, think positively and just remember that everyone has off days.

-

Like I said at the start, sometimes it's just not reasonable or suitable to live with in laws and it definitely not easy. The situation isn't for everyone and often to maintain a good relationship you need to have your own place. But living with in-laws for a short time or even long term is not always so bad. It's often difficult but it is doable.

As our family grows we will need our own place, but inshaAllah we can always maintain a good relationship with all our family.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Newborn Essentials Checklist

Salaam!


I hope you're all doing amazingly well at the end of this freezing February month.

So when I was pregnant with my daughter I spent A LOT of time looking online and asking friends and family what I need for when the baby comes. My mum being extra cautious and superstitious and all didn't let me do any baby shopping during the Xmas sales and I left everything so last minute that when my premature baby came 7 weeks early all I had was one pink blanket. I wanted to create a checklist for all you guys expecting or know someone who is expecting for the first time and would like to know about ALL the things they may need to or want to buy for their baby.

First off I will just share the checklist with you all which falls into 5 categories:  Sleeping, feeding, clothing, cleaning & traveling because I feel like these are the essentials for a newborn. I will give you information about all the different options available in these areas and then tell you about the things we bought and why.

Sleeping
  • Sleeping pod (like the sleepyhead deluxe pods)/Moses Basket/Cot/Cot Bed
  • Mattress
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping bag/Gro Bag
  • Mattress Protector
  • Fitted Bed sheets for cot/cotbed
Feeding
  • Bottles
  • Bottle cleaners (bottle brush)
  • Steriliser (steam/milton/microwave)
  • Breast pump (Medela Swing)
  • Muslin cloths
  • Bottle warmer/Flask for hot water
Clothing
  • 5 Baby vests
  • 5 Baby grows (sleepsuits)
  • Hat & mittens
  • Cardigan
  • Coat/Snowsuit (depending on weather)
Cleaning
  • Nappies (micro/preemie for very premature babies or number 1 for newborns)
  • Cotton wool for cleaning during newborn stages (you may choose to move on to baby wipes for when baby is slightly older)
  • Nappy sacks to dispose of nappies
  • Baby bathtub 
  • Baby bathtowel
  • Baby Flannel
  • Shampoo/Body wash 
  • Oil/moisturising lotion
  • Nail Clippers & Baby nail files
Travelling
  • Car seat (rear facing)
  • Pushchair/buggy 
  • Carry cot
  • Sling
  • Baby Changing bag with lots of compartments 
What we bought and why..

Sleeping:

Sleepyhead Deluxe sleeping pod


We bought this because I had read lots of good reviews about it online and I'm so glad we did. We used some gift vouchers we had been given and bought it from John Lewis. The reason I bought this was because I didn't want to buy a moses basket. As cute as Moses baskets are your baby wont sleep in them for a very long time. Once baby can sit up on their own or starts rolling it's no longer suitable, this can be as early as 4 to 6 months. Moses baskets are pretty big and we don't have the storage space for when our baby outgrows it. I chose the sleepyhead because I could just place it into the cot and once she outgrows it I could put the pod away and she could sleep directly on the cot itself.

Our cot didn't come on time so baby had to sleep in our bed while hubby slept on the floor for the first 2 months or so when baby came home from hospital. In this instance the sleepyhead pod was great because baby was safe on the bed and I wasn't concerned about her becoming suffocated by my duvet or rolling over on her or anything like that.

The sleepyhead is also portable, so when I was in the living room I could take it with me and she could sleep in the living room too. It's also great for traveling, it's really easy and convenient to fit into the car and take with us when we were going to stay over at my mum's or uncles house as she could once again sleep in the bed in her pod.

Cot or Cotbed?

We chose a cot bed because its adaptable as baby grows. There are sides on the cot bed for babies but when your little one becomes a toddler you can change it into a junior bed for your little ones own room. We bought the Rachel cotbed from John Lewis because it's not too big for our room and came at a very reasonable size. Cots are generally smaller than cot-beds so factor the space in your room when deciding which one to get.

Sleeping bags or Gro Bags are great for babies because it keeps them warm at night without you having to worry about baby sliding under the blankets/covers.

gro-store.com
 The guidelines for safe sleeping say that babies should sleep on a firm mattress with no pillows/blankets/duvets until they are one years old to avoid sudden infant death syndrome. So make sure you get fitted sheets that cover round the edges of your baby's mattress.

A mattress protector will prolong the life of the mattress and make cleaning a lot easier as it has a waterproof layer to catch all the little accidents (runny poop, vomit, pee).

Feeding:

Breast is best so all mums should try to breastfeed if they can. Because my baby was in hospital for a month I invested in a electric breast pump (manual ones are rubbish, take my word for it). The best one hands down is the Medela swing breast pump. Breast pumps are also great if you want to teach your baby to breast feed and feed from a bottle so that you can leave baby with someone else if you need to be away from your baby. It's good for when you need to express after your baby feeds directly from you aswell to fully empty. The Medela is the best one for your money, it mimics baby's sucking and is overall just really effective.

Amazon.co.uk

If you decide to solely breastfeed and your baby takes to it well you will only need some muslin cloths to help mop up spit up or just wipe around babies mouth once they're done. We went through a lot of these when my daughter was a newborn and they come in very handy so get yourself between 5 and 10 muslin cloths.

Sometimes babies don't breastfeed or you can't breastfeed, in this case you will need a few other things.

Baby bottles

You need to chose the best bottles that suit your baby but also your budget. Sometimes it can be a bit of trial and error to see which bottles your baby takes to.

My daughter started off on the Dr Brown's preemie bottles so she carried on with them as she grew. These bottles come with a vent to avoid swallowing air and developing colic, they are a nightmare to clean but alhamdulillah my daughter never suffered from colic and learned to feed in the neonatal unit with these bottles.


Argos
Sometimes you can get bottles in a set with a steriliser, bottle brush among other things. However, the problem with that is your baby may not take to all the products that come in the set, which is what happened to us. We bought Philips Avent set and only ended up using the steriliser and bottle brush with our Dr Browns bottles, because she we didn't feed her with the Philips bottles or use the pacifiers and things that came with it.

We bought enough bottles for a full day. At the start she was feeding every 2 hours so we bought 12 bottles, this might sound excessive but because our baby was in hospital we couldn't keep up with the washing and sterilising whilst having enough at the hospital for her. When she moved on to bigger bottles we bought 6, as her feeding is more spread out. The number of bottles you buy is totally up to you. We did spend a lot but it means we only wash all the bottles once a day. You could buy just 2 and keep washing and sterilising and using the same 2.

Steriliser

There are different types of sterilisers but we used a steam steriliser which came with our Philips starter kit. We now also have Milton tablets for travel because its easier than taking the steriliser with us.

Bottle Warmer/Flask

If you bottle feed you will need to make the formula up with hot water, you can either use a bottle warmer or a flask. We use a flask with boiling water, make up the milk and then cool it down.

Clothing:

Newborn babies don't really need a lot of clothes, they don't sweat or get really dirty, you will also notice your baby outgrows his/her clothes very quickly so getting lots of one size is generally not a great idea. 5 vests and baby grows should do you ok.

Mittens or baby grows with built in mittens are great to stop your little one scratching his/her face accidentally.

Your baby will need a baby hat to help regulate body temperature whilst they are very small.

Cleaning:

As I said earlier babies don't sweat or get very dirty so at the start you can just wash them with plain water. As they get older you may want to start using a mild body & hair wash. We use the Aveeno baby body & hair wash as well as the Burts Bees shampoo which is great for cradle cap.

For moisturising we use olive oil and I found this to be best on delicate skin because it's natural and keeps the skin moisturised. My daughter developed a bit of dry skin on her chest and arms so I started using Aveeno baby eczema therapy cream which has really helped alhamdulillah.

Baby nails at the start are really delicate and don't need cutting so you could just file them with baby nail files (don't use adult clippers or files) to file them down so they are not so sharp. As they grow you can use baby nail clippers designed for little fingers & toes.

Travelling:

To bring your baby home from the hospital you will need a rear facing car seat suitable for newborns. In the UK you will not be able to bring you baby home without a car seat, even if you don't have a car, so this should be a priority. Please research this area and invest a little more in your child's safety than in other areas.

Pushchair/buggy/carrycot

There are a huge range of buggies and pushchairs out there and it really depends on how you get around. We bought the whole shebang and only ended up using the carrycot twice. If you walk or use public transport a lot then a carry cor might be more useful for you. Babies should ideally spend most of the time flat on their back so a carrycot is good for that reason.

We use the car a lot so used mainly used our car seat. Our Mama's & Papa's buggy came with adapters so that we could put the car seat directly on the buggy without taking the baby out and putting her into the buggy. This is great for when she falls asleep in the car and we don't want to wake her and take her out. (review on our buggy coming soon)

Mama's & Papa's

Baby sling

I bought a cuddlebug sling off Amazon when baby was coming home. This was great for when she was really little because it meant I had my arms free and she was always so cosy inside it that she wouldn't fuss and would fall asleep really easy. The downside to the sling was that in the summer it got very hot and sweaty, also as she grew and got heavier it wasn't the easiest to put her in and take her out.


Baby changing bag

I bought a pretty cheap one online and used it for a while but always felt like it was never big enough, so hubby ended up getting a bigger one from Cath Kidston. It's pretty big but I still feel like it's not big enough for all her things. I guess no bag is ever big enough when it comes to changing bags.

I hope this post was useful in helping you decide what to buy for your newborn. I will be doing another post on what you need for your hospital bag/new mum essentials.

Friday, 23 February 2018

My Premature Baby


One minute I was at work, next I was on my way to the hospital.

Being a first time mum there isn't much support out there during pregnancy, due to cuts to the NHS or whatever the reason, when you're classed 'low risk' there isn't much patient - midwife interaction like there should be.

I had a few appointments with the midwife for check ups and booked myself an antenatal class at 35 weeks. Nobody told me what to look out for, what were supposed to be worrying signs or anything like that so my best friends during those months were google and netmums forums.

April 2017 and I was in mild pain for a few days, I called the midwife who told me it was Braxton Hicks (false labor pains) and that I should just take paracetamol. I thought nothing of it and headed to work. During this ordeal I realised that I had a very high pain threshold, 6 hours from giving birth and I was at work gritting my teeth and getting on with it. 33 weeks along it couldn't be contractions, or so I thought.

When the pain got too much to bear, my colleagues suggested I go home, I called the GP who said I should go to hospital just to get checked. Hubby came and drove me to hospital, a 5 minute drive from my workplace.

When I got there, I was checked (after two hours sitting in the waiting room) and told I was having contractions and baby would be born any minute, in a 'duh, you should already know this' kind of tone and attitude.

My mind was numb on gas & air when I thought 'oh I haven't got anything ready, no hospital bag, no car seat, no nappies or baby clothes'

My plan was to start my maternity leave at 34 weeks, just after the Easter weekend, to then go shopping for baby things, and rest up until she was due. But we plan, Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners.

33 weeks + 5 days my little princess was born, 7 weeks early, weighing a mere 4lb.

The birth isn't how I imagined it would be, to be honest I hadn't let myself think about it because in my head I had ages left to think about and prepare for all this. It wasn't terrible or as painful as I thought it would be alhamdulillah, but that maybe because I didn't have time to build it up in my head and it all just happened so quickly.

As soon as she was born she was whisked away, I didn't even get to look at her properly let alone hold her, kiss her or give her a cuddle. I remember not hearing her cry and looking over, but hubby called out to say she was ok. He recited the adhan in her ear, literally the most heartwarming moment in my life; A new life came into the world with the call to Allah as the first words she heard.

I didn't get to see my baby until 3am that day when hubby wheeled me down to the neonatal unit. a tiny, fragile baby in an incubator, covered in wires and tubes, her face covered for the light therapy.

I was discharged 2 days later and we had to leave our tiny baby in hospital and go home. For a few days I was in a weird state of knowing I had a baby, but the fact that she wasn't with me and I couldn't hold her, meant my mind had a hard time adjusting to what had happened. Hubby was worried I wasn't bonding or possibly developing post natal depression, but alhamdulillah I adjusted and all those feelings and concerns dissolved once we took her home.

It's not easy having a preamture baby and I know she wasn't as premature as some of the other babies on the unit but speaking to the other parents I was comforted in knowing that we were all in the same boat and we knew how everyone else was feeling without even speaking, it was also good seeing babies finally going home after being on the unit for months, giving the rest of us hope that we will also be taking our babies home soon inshaAllah.

Some days were better than others, some days it was like we went 2 steps forward and 1 step back. I often cried myself to sleep and was an emotional wreck during that time, never actually having time after the birth to recover, to nest, to bond but rushing back and forth from the hospital, expressing in the expressing room like a cow, worrying about if she was ok, when she'll come off the oxygen, having to watch the doctors and nurses poke and prod her all day long. Alhamdulillah she grew and got stronger each day.


They never did find out why she was premature but I couldn't help thinking it was something I did or ate, maybe I wasn't cautious enough, or didn't do enough exercise, maybe I should have finished work earlier, but it was the qadr of Allah, just as our time of death is pre-destined so is our time of birth and this was a test of patience as everything was in the hands of Allah. For the first time in my life this was something so out of my control I just had to watch and wait.

One of the last things for my little bubba to master was drinking her milk without the nasogastric tube through her nose. After recommendation from the speech and language therapist, we bought Dr Browns Preemie bottles as they were the slowest flow teats and gave her a chance to catch her breath between drinking in order to control the suck, swallow, breath. (review for these bottles coming soon)

Some days were really frustrating because I just wanted to take her home but it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere. I asked the nurse why she was finding these things so difficult, when it's automatic for term babies, she told me as frustrating as it was for us we just had to be patient, one day she'll just get it, like a flick of a switch she'll be like a different baby and will be ready for home. Soon enough that's exactly what happened, one morning I came in and the nurse said she was drinking mostly from the bottle without choking and her oxygen levels hadn't dropped all night, she was finally ready for home.

After a month we took our little lovebug home. Excited and nervous hubby and I wrapped her up, put her in her car seat and took her home. A home without a cot or pram, who knew these things took so long to come? She slept in her sleepyhead deluxe sleeping pod and hubby slept on the floor until everything finally came another month later. We didn't care about the mess or the space we were just so happy that she was home with us. A few weeks later we welcomed Ramadan, what a blessing to enter the moth on such a high Alhamdulillah.

10 months on..


Now apart from a few things she's slightly behind on according to the doctor, like gross motor skills, you wouldn't know she was a premature baby Alhamdulillah. She does most things babies her age are doing and some things she is doing at her age corrected. She is a lively, demanding, fun, loving little girl, full of character and a her own little big personality.

This winter she picked up a lot of bugs and got ill quickly because her immune is slightly weaker than other babies but Alhamdulillah this little girl is a fighter and she's still getting stronger.

She loves watching learning with Zaky on Youtube as well as the phonic's song, she babbles away,  has 2 little teeth and although she can't crawl, she thinks she can walk.

We do still worry a lot, is she eating enough? Is she putting on enough weight? Why can't she crawl yet? Is she pooing enough? Why is her poo that colour or consistency? At the start I used to wake up just to check she was still breathing, the things we parents worry about hey?

Admittedly hubby and I are more cautious with her, hubby more so than me, he doesn't like letting her cry and is always worried that she'll get hurt, but we're learning to let her explore and not hover over her so much so that she can grow up to be confident and brave. She has her daddy wrapped around her little finger and has bought so much joy and love into our lives that we can't remember a time without her.

My advice to parents with premature babies is hang on in there, babies are born such fighters and they are stronger than we give them credit for. It may take longer for some than others but they will make it inshaAllah and grow up to be bright, kind and responsible members of society.

My love and prayers for all babies and parents with preemies, may you have the strength to get through whatever life throws at you.

Time goes so fast and I can't believe all this happened almost a year ago. I treasure every moment and feel so blessed waking up to her smiles and hugs every morning.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Beauty Review | Amrezy Highlighter


I'm one of those people who's a little late onto the highlighting craze. I'll be honest I didn't like the whole shiny overly-done highlight, but lately I've been seeing more natural radiant makeup looks, which is totally my type of makeup! The reason I tend to go for more matte looks is because I have oily/combination skin and I hate it when my T-zone gets oily and shiny in pictures.

I've come across many highlighters but I've never found that warm rosegold(ish) highlight that isn't glittery but gives you a nice glow that isn't over the top like you've just put oil all over your face. I never found one that I really liked, that is until I saw this Anasatasia Beverly Hills x Amrezy Highlight on instagram. I fell in love with it straight away and knew I had to have it.

Whilst my little bubba was asleep I went all out trying on all the makeup  I had recently purchased, just so I could see if the highlight really did look as stunning as it does on Amrezy.

Please don't mind the shoddy photoshop  trying to cover my arms and things, I clearly wasn't intending to give myself a little photo-shoot in the middle of the night in my room, whilst trying to not wake my daughter, but this highlight was too stunning not to.




I'm no makeup artist or makeup expert, but reckon this highlight has just changed my whole makeup game and is something I'd definitely wear to weddings and parties.

The amount you receive is quite reasonable for the price tag of £29 with free delivery on the Anastasia Beverly Hills UK site. A little goes a long way and it literally glides on like silk.

Makeup details:

Face:
  • Fenty Beauty Pro Filtr Foundation- 310
  • MAC Cosmetics colour corrector duo
  • Nars Creamy Radiant concealor-Ginger
  • Artsist of Makeup Contour stick- Medium
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills contour and highlight palette- Medium
Eyes:
  • Morphe Matte Palette
  • Stila Magnificent Metallics- Rose Gold 
  • Rimmel Eyeliner
  • Eyelure Lashes, London Edition- 101
  • Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz -Dark Brown & Dipbrow -Chocolate
Lips:
  • MAC cosmetics lipliner- Burgundy
  • Kylie Cosmetics matte liquid lipstick - Exposed
What's your favourite highlight?

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?

Monday, 12 February 2018

Married again on our 1st Anniversary


Our Nikkah & Walima (Islamic marriage) took place in 2014 (see wedding post here) and waited until our 1st anniversary to register the marriage because I wanted an excuse to have another party and wear a white dress. Now hubby just has one date to remember and double the presents every year.

The dress was from an online company Croyance





The registry took place at the town hall. I wore the white lace overcoat from Acacia label on top of my white and gold Croyance dress, the whole look came together and I finally got to wear my version of a white wedding dress.






After the registry at the town hall we organised a little dinner party with close family at Riverside Lounge in north London. Although it was a lovely venue and we were blessed to be with our close family the restaurant itself was a huge let down. They've renamed since then and possibly changed management but the service was terrible and the food was awful. The gajar ka halwa and ice cream looked like vomit and the owners were really rude, we were disappointed to say the least.

Not to let it ruin our day my amazing cousins and sisters surprised us with a cake and we had amazing time with our family.



The best gift of the night was an all expenses paid Umrah trip from my parents. We were both fighting back tears as we opened the envelope to a mock ticket made by my sisters and cousins.


Recently I found out that not many people realise the Nikkah/Islamic wedding does not automatically mean you're legally registered in the UK. It's really important to register your marriage legally to avoid problems in the future. You don't have to have a big ceremony or dress up but make sure you get it done.