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Category Archives: Bebefiles

What Musfira *really* means

Alhamdulillah, my new baby girl is a little over a month old now, and when she is first introduced to friends and family members, I am inevitably asked what her name means, and inevitably, I have a hard time trying to give the answer. Here’s why:

Imagine this- a blast has just sounded, tearing through the sky. It is so loud it can be heard throughout the entire world. Every living thing, except as Allah has willed, has dropped dead. The mountains themselves have vanished- reduced to dust and blown away. The seas are gone, the earth has been flattened to one tremendous expanse, and without a doubt, it is the Day of Judgment. Then the blast sounds again, and the dead are coming back to life.

Look around you- there is pandemonium. People are in a state of terror and panic, fleeing wildly in all directions, men from their wives, children from their parents, brothers from their brothers. Some are trying to escape, some are sobbing, others are begging to be destroyed rather than judged. The hell that they’d been writing off as a figment of monotheistic imagination has been stoked and brought near, and amidst the wailing and crying out for destruction, you can hear the inferno drawing in great roaring breaths. It’s alive, and it knows it’s about to be fed.

But wait, what’s this? From within the sea of darkened, tear-stained, dust-covered faces you can see points of light- and they are people shining with happiness. They are unaffected by the fear or misery, and are instead overjoyed, laughing out loud, delighted, and elated that the promise of justice they have been waiting their whole lives for is about to be fulfilled. They are not looking towards the mouth of hell drawing breath in the distance, but rather to the gates of Jannah, as Paradise has been drawn near, and the only thing standing between them and eternal happiness is a meeting with Allah, whose blessed Face they have been yearning, not dreading, to see.

Some faces that Day, will be Musfira– bright. Laughing, rejoicing at good news. Surah ‘Abasa

Some girls are named for beauty, intelligence, or success. Some even for precious gems- Almas means diamond, Lulu means pearl. Others are named for righteous qualities- Saima is one who fasts, Naasira is one who is helpful- but I wanted to name my daughter something that would point her towards the one thing that would mean the most to her in this life and the next- when the world had been destroyed and remade, and the dead had been raised, and every recorded action hung in the scale of balance, I wanted her to be among those shining with joy. I wanted her to be Musfira.

And so she is- baby Musfira.

May Allah guide her and keep her on the path of righteousness.

May she shine with joy in this life and the next.


Her grasp of phonics can be… tenuous.

Look Momma, issa letter double-yoo!

Good girl Iman, you’re right!

Double-yoo is for Spiderman!



Yes, and big cookies!

Good job Iman.

Where’s my lawyer, waaaaaanh!

(Iman, laying in her bed and protesting the gross injustices that are forcing her to be subjected to an obvious violation of her civil rights – a nap – resorts to bargaining.)


— (no response from Momma)

I want coffee!

I want milk!

I want water!

(I offer her a sippy cup of water, she refuses it)

I want masjid!

My nose hurts, ow!

I want wake up!

(Iman falls asleep)

Maybe AntSlayer has a better ring?

Ramadan Kareem!

As everything in Dubai must either be the world’s biggest, best, or most deserving of a superlative, here we have the world’s hottest, burningest ant bites. Iman was bit by an ant a few weeks ago- I heard her scream from halfway across the house and ran to find her clawing at her foot as an obviously stepped-on ant tried to make a feeble getaway. Iman kept crying ‘Hot! Momma, ow foot!’ and we spent some time sitting on the edge of the sink and running her foot under cool water. I’ve had one of those ant bites before, they really are intensely, shockingly painful, and they burn for hours.

Shortly after the bite, any ant Iman saw resulted in her running away and calling for reinforcements- “Oh no!! Ant!” And then Momma would come to the rescue with a shoe, and half the time Momma would come to rescue Iman from ant-like pieces of lint, but it was a good system. Iman would sound the alarm and I would send in the cavalry. And when the ant was gone, Iman would earnestly recount the story of what just happened, being sure to include the phrase ‘ant scawy!’ a few times for emphasis.

Fast forward to this evening- Iman came running up the hall with a sippy-cup of milk in her hands and to deliver an important message:

Iman: Momma! Ants inna milk! Livingwoom!

Me: What? Ants? In milk?

(I look around. I don’t see any ants in any milk, and we’re already in the living room.)

Iman (nodding): Ya. Milk. Livingwoom Ants!

Me (I look at her suspiciously): Show Momma.

Iman leads me up the hall to the play room and points to the floor, where I find two ants drowning. On the floor. In tiny puddles of milk.

I look at Iman.
I look at her sippy-cup.

Evidence would suggest that as punishment for previous crimes against Imanity, the ants were sentenced to death by drowning, one drop at a time, from the supposedly spill-proof sippy cup of doom.

Iman looks to me for approval.
I nod at her and she nods back.
A warrior is born.
And henceforth, they called her AntBane.

Oh, and Ramadan Kareem! 😀

To two and four and many more, InshaAllah. :)

So March has come and gone, which is annually insignificant, except that both of my children were born in March. I haven’t celebrated birthdays for years, but when it comes to my kids, the dates are significant to me in ways that have nothing to do with candles and everything to do with crying.

When I first learned that I was expecting, I have to admit- I had no idea what to expect. The magnitude of the situation was completely below sea-level until Khalid was born and the nurses put a tiny, dark-haired bundle on my chest and told me I had a son. He was bluish, and wrinkly, and the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. And then he was always there- it was my duty to keep him happy, warm, clean, alive, loved, fed, rocked, tickled and adorably dressed. He was a gigapet without an off button who refused to take either a bottle or a pacifier and no one else could watch him for me.

And he grew, and eventually he crawled, and thank God, he even learned how to walk at 13 months, but at night he cried. And he learned how to babble, but he never talked, and he sometimes played, but spent a great deal of time just staring at things. And when he was fourteen months old I learned that I was expecting again, and I cried. It is humbling, and personally very shaming to think of now, but they were not happy tears. They were the tears of mother who felt like an utter failure, an utterly overwhelmed failure with a little boy who lived like a shadow in my own shadow.

By the time Khalid was two, he had gone nearly silent. Hours would pass without him making a single squeak, laugh, babble, or request- verbal or nonverbal. He would spend his day staring out of the window or following me from room to room. It was March, and then Iman was born. We spent weeks in a nocturnal daze, handling the growing confusion of Khalid’s development problems and the confusing emergence of Iman’s colic. Like clockwork, Iman would start crying at one am and stop by six am. For five hours she screamed inconsolably, squirmed, kicked, and arched her back, her body tense and trembling, and paused only for breath no matter how much I rocked, walked, soothed, sang, or bounced her. By six am the screaming would stop, she would feed desperately, and then fall asleep. By that point Khalid would be asleep on the floor by my feet. He would have cried himself to sleep too, because he would have woken up when Iman started crying and sobbed himself to sleep at the foot of the rocking chair where he begged to be picked up (and demanded that the little screaming pink thing be put down) until he gave up and fell asleep on the floor.

(No, I didn’t blog about any of this, I try to maintain a ‘No Pointless Negativity’ policy about blogging, and my G-ma taught me that if I can’t say anything nice, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. I cannot think of ANY SINGLE THING even remotely nice about colic or the creeping fear that your child’s brain is abnormal, which is why you won’t find them in previous blog entries.)

We eventually changed our sleeping habits completely. We woke up at 6 pm and started our day, and Khalid’s bed time was at 7 am, when Iman was done with her screaming and I could bathe him and put him to bed somewhere other than the floor. We saw HF for a few hours, after he came home from work and just before he too went to bed, and he woke up countless times in the middle of the night to give me a break- to walk the beaten path in the living room around the coffee table, to the front door, and past the sofa and back again while rocking Iman in his arms. It was a tough time for everyone. And I did a lot of crying.

Then, we got help. We hired a full-time Nanny, who put Iman to sleep while I put Khalid to sleep, and when Iman woke up in the middle of the night, I would go out and take the night shift while Khalid continued to sleep with HF in our bed. Some semblance of normalcy returned. After six weeks, the crying started to taper off. We started to have two, sometimes even three good nights a week. Eventually the screaming stopped, and Iman only woke up for feedings in the middle of the night with a minimal amount of crying.

By the time Iman was six months old, and Khalid two and six months old, we started to put our finger on exactly what the issue with Khalid could be. We were on our second nanny, because the first one became quickly frazzled by our nocturnal screaming schedule and quit after four weeks. We did our homework, had an initial assessment done, and then a full psychological assessment done, and by October of 2008, we knew for sure that Khalid had autism. His mental age was 13 months.

Khalid began ABA therapy in January of 2009, and he would spend the entire three hours crying. After a few weeks, the screaming would be punctuated with bouts of peace, during which I would quickly rush to the window and peek inside to see Khalid putting coins into a piggy bank, or scribbling, or watching one of his therapists blow bubbles. Eventually, he only cried when it was time to go into his sessions, and it would peter out in about ten minutes, and he would emerge from his sessions happy and covered in finger paint.

And life got better. And Khalid learned one word, and then another. And then he asked for a hug, and while the floodgates have not quite opened, they are cracked enough to let a few dozen meaningful words and a hundred or so prompted words through.

And now, Khalid is four and Iman is two. Khalid is learning how to read, even though he has yet to use a full sentence, and Iman decided yesterday that she is a Nice Cat. She gets down on all fours, crawls over to my feet and calls out Nice! Momma! Nice Cat! And I kneel down and pet her and say Oh, what a Nice Cat! And I scratch her behind the ears, and she giggles, and I pet her head, and she crawls away to do something important, like hit Khalid on the head with a building block. But she’ll be back again in a few minutes, calling out Nice Cat! Cereal?

(And if I ignore her, she bites my foot. So I feed Nice Cat a few pieces of cereal, and Nice Cat says thank you and bye bye and meow.)

Khalid and Iman have moved past enmity to tolerance, and from tolerance to coexistence, and from coexistence to inseparability. SubhanAllah, if I have to run an errand that requires one child and not the other, the two will cry out to each other as if they’re being separated for life. Iman! Iman! Khalid will yell and kick the back of the passenger seat from of him. No No! Ka-leed! Momma! No! Ka-leed! Iman will cry back to him from the gate as we drive through it, and the drama will continue for a few more minutes until Khalid wipes his nose and gets back to pointing out numbers on road signs.

When we get home again Iman will greet him by bursting into the room screaming and giggling and yelling out KA-LEEEEEEEEEED! and the two will reunite and celebrate by doing important things like bouncing on my bed and hitting each other over the head with building blocks. Iman is the non-stop talker, Khalid is the silent partner. They tease each other constantly, fight viciously, and hug and play lovingly when and if they’re not busy competing for toys and attention. It might be hard to imagine how Khalid can do all of these things without talking, but when he wants to tease Iman, he will look at her and smile, and maybe pinch her toe. And Iman will consider that an act of war and take swing at him, and he’ll dodge and run and a mad chase will ensue.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I have it so easy. Thinking back to the downright turmoil that HF and I have been through with the kids, their progress seems unreal. The crying, the colic, the panic that Khalid’s autism put us through- sometimes it seems a million miles away, and those two little babies that the nurses gave me at the hospital, those can’t really be the funny little boy with enormous eyes or my Nice Cat with pigtails. I don’t have babies anymore, I have children, and by the Grace of Allah, this year, they are two and four.

And I don’t need to give them presents for it as if I don’t overstock the toy department all year round, or bake a cake as if cake isn’t happening on a regular basis, but I do have to say Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. All praise is for Allah, who held me together when I was broken, who kept me on my feet when I was losing my head, and who took some of HF and some of me, and mixed it into the most quirky, energetic, devious, amazing, and inventive little humans I have ever known. And I thank Allah for the colic, and even for the autism, because the fact the He gave it to us means we have the strength to handle it. Without hardship or pain or stress, we would not be forced to become better versions of our previous selves, and we would never be pushed to push through. Allah has made me a better parent and a better person through my children, and I pray that the progress continues for all of us, throughout our lives.


Iman is…

among other things, the reason why there are plastic sharks in my sock drawer.

Conversations with Khalid, too!

Khalid: Huh be bees! (Help me please!)

Me: Yes Jaan?

Khalid: (pinching my leg) Huh be bees!

I turn around a look at Khalid, who is standing expectantly by the refrigerator door. I stand up and open the door for him.

Me: What do you want?

Khalid picks up an orange and pokes his finger into it. Juice squirts out and begins dripping down his arm.

Me: Clean up!

I take away the orange. He finds a kiwi and begins peeling off the sticker.

Me: Khalid, what do you want?

Khalid opens the crisper drawer and pulls out an apple.

Khalid: Ah! Abo! (A, apple!)

Me: Good boy. 🙂

Big Brother Khalid to the Rescue!

Iman, holding a small triangular puzzle piece, holds it up and asks:  “Kak-kak?” (cookie?)

Khalid, look up at her: “Twingle.”  (Triangle)

He takes the piece and puts it back into the puzzle. A few seconds pass, they are both scribbling on magnetic doodle-boards.

Iman, picking up the same piece again: “Kak-kak?” (cookie?)

She tries to put it in her mouth.

Khalid insists: “Twingle!” (Triangle)

He takes the piece from her and puts it away. They both resume coloring, and all is right with the world. 🙂

Peeta-Butta and other such verbal masterpieces.

Khalid, time for a bath.


Khalid, you want a bite?
Khalid, come here!
Khalid, cookie?
NooooOOOoOO! No! No!
Khalid, shoes on!
No no no no no nooooo!
It’s a bit frustrating, but at the same time, still wonderful to finally hear what Khalid is thinking. He doesn’t want milk, he wants Joo. (juice)
He wants the computer On! but his shirt Off! and he emerged from therapy this afternoon without a one. The nice therapist packed it in his lunchbox for us.
We got him dressed this morning, and within minutes he came back to me and took my hand and said Off! Shoes! So we took them off. Then he whined and said no no nooo! And so I took the socks off too. And then he was happy.

He wanders around the house calling out Ruuuuuuth! because he’s not sure where she’s gone. Ruth is working with another family, and Cindy, who has been us for two weeks now, is patiently teaching Khalid to say her name instead. (‘Indy!)

Some of Khalid’s vocabulary can be a little difficult to translate though. Kim is milk, buhjo is puzzle, and tay-tow is lay down.
And then there are the words that are clear enough, but adorably confusing. Like SheeEEEep. According to Word World, SheeEEEeep? is what you call out when you are looking for someone. Like your mother. You knock on the bathroom door, and you call out ‘SheeEEep?’ and your momma says ‘Yes Khalid, I’m in here.’ It also works in the kitchen.
SheeEEep? (Yes, Khalid. I’m in the kitchen.)

The best way to get Khalid talking is to entice him with what, in ABA terms, we call a reinforcer. In the real word, we call this bribery. 🙂 Today, I got Khalid to jump through verbal hoops for some peeta-butta. Yep, the kid loves his peanut butter.
He knows the words blow and blue, but will sometimes confuse them. Last month his therapist asked him to repeat the name of the colored card he was holding. Khalid paused a second, leaned forward, and then blew on it very gently. Blow, blue- same difference, right? And he also blows on his drink because that’s what grownups do. But then he also tried to blow on the surface of the water in the toilet, and I’m pretty sure he’s never seen us do that.
Khalid’s requests are all still one-worded, unless they involve the word No, in which case they can be up to six words, all of them the same and all of them all mashed together- No no no no no no nooooo! But still, Alhamdulillah, these are amazing and exciting times. 🙂

Fa inna ma’al usri yusraa, Inna ma’al usri yusraa

Something amazing has happened almost every day this week, and I need to blog about it before I forget and lose the utter beauty and wonder of it all-

Khalid is talking.
If someone leaves a room, he says Bye-Bye. If he wants food, he opens the fridge and says Eat. When he wants a drink, he announces ‘Juice!’ until he gets some. He woke Ruth up the other day by poking her and saying “On!” and two days ago, when Khalid wasn’t very keen on the beef stir-fry we had for lunch, he turned his head and very clearly said “No!”
All of this progress is just since the May 26th post, The Sweetest ROI. It’s almost like Khalid has had his Hellen Keller moment, and now that he understands what words are for, he’s using them whenever he can. He knocks on the door and says “Open!”and when someone honked in traffic the other day, Khalid answered with “Beep Beep!”
Yesterday, he walked into the kitchen and loudly called out Sheeeeeeep! He’s copying words he hears in WordWorld. And that’s not even the best part. Today, Ruth and the kids went one way in the mall while I went to the other to buy groceries. After I had checked out, I pulled my phone out to call Ruth and the kids back, but before I could dial the number, I heard a distant and chirpy little voice call out Mamaa! I turned around incredulously, and there, a few shops down, was Khalid, running gleefully in my direction. He’s never called me before. And now, he called out to me and ran into my arms.
Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.
And later today, during the long drive back home, Ruth had been tickling Khalid by saying ‘Buzzzzz!’ and then poking him in the stomach. We call this electric fingers. Well, this same evening, Khalid walked up to me and poked his fingers into my stomach and shouted Buzz! looking at me with delighted anticipation. It took him two times to get the message across (Buzz, Buzz!!) but onceI got it, we had a hysterical laugh and I let him tickle me.

He tickled me.
And then he ran off to go bounce on his bed, and I IM’ed my sister, called my husband, and danced around the house out of joy. And I’m still walking on air. It’s midnight right now, but if I could call anyone else I would. But I can’t, so I’m blogging about it instead because I want to remember this forever and share it with everyone within earshot. Khalid tickled me!!!

Six months ago, Khalid was non-verbal, aversive to being cuddled, almost impossible to interact with, threw tantrums constantly and was physically aggressive to the point that I used to keep him at arm’s length- literally. If Khalid ran up to me then, it was because he was going to scratch or pinch or hit me, so before he got there, I redirected him and moved away. He kicked doors and cabinets and banged his head against walls and mirrors and the floor. He would cry so hard he’d get a nose bleed, wake up in the night screaming, and was so in his own world that it was hard to believe he wasn’t deaf. That, in case I’ve never spelled it out before, is the tip of the autism iceberg.
It may be false hope, or euphoria from the electric fingers talking, but this is the first time that I have an image in my mind of Khalid’s future as a normal, independent, young man- going to school, getting a degree, having friends, holding a job, getting married… Compare this to the image I’ve been trying to block out for months- Khalid needing constant care, feeding, diapering- even into adulthood. And I don’t want to talk about how it feels, as a parent, to wonder what will happen to your special needs child after you die. The world is a cruel place. They’re only special to you. To everyone else, they’re just freaks, and it’s easier to forget about them than to care for them.
But that’s depressing, and right now, I want to luxuriate in this wonder and absolute joy. And while I can’t say I’ve reached a point where I’m happy that Khalid has autism, I am definitely at a point where I understand that if Khalid never had autism, then I would never know this kind of happiness. I would never have had to develop such patience, or experience how rewarding it is to see progress in a labor of love.

Fa inna ma’al usri yusraa
Inna ma’al usri yusraa.

Therefore, after hardship will always come ease.
Verily, after hardship will always come ease.

Hat? Okay!


Iman Helping Mar 2009

Iman is helping. Thanks kid.

I never thought I’d be so happy to report that my son will just NOT stop babbling. Although his vocabulary has yet to cross the ten-word mark, he has begun to mimic sounds and start conversations with people other than me- the most amusing of which is generally Iman. Khalid will grin excitedly at her, and say ‘Okay?’ and Iman will beam and reply ‘Hat!’ Of course, it’s much more than just ‘hat,’ to Iman, it’s a prolonged, ecstatic exclamation of haaaaAAAAAAt! in a high-pitched squeak bordering on baby giddiness.

Admiring the handsome little boy in the mirror.

Admiring the handsome little boy in the mirror.

Yes, Iman says hat, and she says it loud, and she says it clear, and it is as meaningful to her as ‘Okay’ is to Khalid. They had a three-way conversation yesterday with the Imam of the masjid during Isha prayer. It went like this.


Imam: (over loud speaker) Allahu Akbar

Khalid: Okay?

Iman: Haaaaaaaat!

Imam: Sami’Allahu liman Hamida

Khalid: Okay!


Imam: Allu Akbar


Khalid: Okay!

Iman: haaaaaAAAAAAAAT!


Of course, right after the jamaat finished, someone came over and banged angrily on the divider between the men’s and women’s sections, and frankly speaking, I was seriously offended. Yes, my kids were making noise, but children make noise in the masjid all the time. I was still praying though, and so my kids continued to fill the large, echoing dome of the masjid with hats and okays until the Imam came and knocked on the door (gently) of the women’s section and asked Ruth (who opened the door) to please bring the children outside.

When I finished praying I walked out and outside the women’s side entrance, saw HF talking to two men, presumably the Imam and one other local. Khalid, upon seeing HF, ran and flung himself into his arms and unleashed a series of happy Okays! According to HF, as soon as Khalid did this, both the men changed their stances from stern to understanding. It’s easier to be mad about someone’s bratty kids when 1. you can’t see them and 2. they’re not autistic.

Ruth and the kids & I waited in the car while HF talked with the Imam & Co for about ten minutes. Alhamdulillah, this is one wonderful thing about HF, if a situation gets tense, he doesn’t get mad, he gets charming. I told this to Ruth, and she laughed. “You’ll see,” I said, “By the time he finishes talking to them he’ll have made some new friends.”

And of course, he had. After an explanation of autism and Khalid’s understanding (or the lack thereof) the Imam invited him over for tea repeatedly and was disappointed when HF politely deferred. The second man then plied HF for his life story and then asked him to come over and fix his computer. Numbers were exchanged. We went back home.

Ruth took the kids in and threw them into their respective tubs, and then I had a good cry about things with HF outside.  True, the matter isn’t black and white- kids need to be taught how to behave in a place of worship, adults need to manage their problems more tactfully than by banging on the walls of the woman’s section- but it all boiled down to this- I’m not allowed to complain about having an autistic child, so neither is anyone else.
I went to the salon last week for a quick trim, and Khalid, misunderstanding the situation and thinking it was his head on the chopping block, went into red-alert tantrum mode and ended up crammed under a chair while kicking the wall and screaming. Calming him down failed, and so I told the woman to just finish as soon as possible so I could pay and take Khalid home.
The sweet receptionist tried (to no avail) to distract Khalid- to offer him sweets, to engage him while he was busy screaming.  This lasted around ten minutes.  The other ladies stared disapprovingly at me while Khalid raged and the hairdresser snipped.  When it was done and I had paid,  I collected Khalid from his well-kicked corner, and said to one of the other hairdressers, “Sorry about the noise, he thought he was going to have his hair cut, and he doesn’t understand.”
They stared blankly and I told them he was autistic.  They didn’t know what that meant, I told them he was mentally around 1 years old and had little idea what was going on.  Ooooooh….now they got it, he had some problem with his brain?  They asked polite nervous questions and the air changed from frigid to embarrassed.
I don’t know whether there’s a crash course somewhere for being a ‘special needs mom,’ but I think I’m doing as well I can with the amount of training I got. :p  I adore Khalid, he is the most beautiful, crazy, energetic, loving little man, and that other people don’t understand him is not his fault.  Nor is it theirs, but I’m not about to start apologizing for him being the way he is.  Allah allows everything to happen for a reason, and even if it’s just to teach everyone around him a little more patience, that’s a good enough reason for me.



Khalid’s favorite word in the entire world:


This is how it’s used. Locate a random item. Find your mother. Hand it to her. Grin expectantly. Mom sez Thank You! and Khalid sez OKAY! and wanders off to find another item.

(Last week I ended up with a pile of shoes in my arms, six or seven pairs deep, each one of which was delivered to me, individually, with an expectant smile and Khalid’s squeaky little Okay!)

Khalid has started to copy words pretty consistently in therapy- like Up, and On, and Cup, but the only word he’s using of his own volition (and within his own personal context) is Okay!

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.

Also, there’s another use for the word ‘Okay!’ Khalid and I, during our hour-long drive to therapy in the morning, have conversations that go like this:

Khalid (watching me expectantly from his car seat): Ah, ah, Okay!

Me: Okay!

(Khalid beams and wait a few seconds while basking in the glow of successful conversation. Then he looks to me again and says…)

Khalid: Ah, ah- Okay?

Me: Okay!

And we continue like this, through Abu Dhabi territory, past Jebel Ali, cruising into Dubai, zipping through our morning commute and sharing deep and meaningful and beautiful words like Okay.

Best. Word. In. The. World.


What, us nocturnal again?


Iman is taking a tour of the living room right now. By herself. Her commando-crawl skills have really picked up in the last few days, and despite being sick and having an ear infection, she still enjoys a good reconnaissance mission over to the corner of the sofa or the edge of the carpet so she can stare intently at its patterns. At the moment, she’s crinkling a grocery list that she discovered under the coffee table.

It’s been a pediatric quarantine-athon here at home, Khalid had a week of high fever followed by a cough, and as soon as he go better, Iman started down the same viral road. She’s just getting over her week of high fever, and is on antibiotics for an ear infection as well. Me, I woke up two days ago sounding like a chain-smoking truck driver, which is typical for me when I get a cold. Now it’s my turn to be sick, and in addition to sounding like a truck driver, I also feel like I’ve been beaten by a truck driver.

It’s 1:30 am right now, and Iman wakes up when she can’t breathe properly (which has been every night for the last week) out of her nose. She’s running out of steam now, and I hope we can be in bed within another twenty minutes InshaAllah. Oh, good news! I almost forgot to blog this! *smacks forehead with keyboard* Four days ago, Khalid made the sign for hat! He patted his head, put the hat on it, and then made the sign again! That’s the first sign or form of communication he’s ever made with us, apart from saying ‘socks’ once, and I was nearly doing cartwheels! I am so excited, and so looking forward to being able to communicate with him! Please make dua that this progress continues. There have been so many changes in his behavior since we started therapy, and it’s only been three weeks! InshaAllah, InshaAllah, InshaAllah! Alhamdulillah!

Oh, Iman’s starting to cry and pull her ears, so it’s time for me rescue her and take her to bed. Gtg!

The Art of Khalid BinWaleed- The Early Masterpieces


As seen in the Le Gallerie de’home, Blue Square (left) and Scribble Star (right)

Both pieces are said to represent the artist’s passion for geometry.



Recipe: Cream of 3am Soup

  • One suddenly awake, insanely cheerful baby
  • Two small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • One baby-bouncer
  • One rubber Spatula
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock (or water & 2 chicken cubes)
  • Frozen mixed veggies
  • 2 cups finely chopped chicken breast
  • 4 cups milk

Combine baby and baby-bouncer, set aside. In a medium soup pot, saute onion and garlic until onions are golden brown.

Entertain baby with rubber spatula and periodic tickling. Add chicken breast to sauteed onions and cook over medium heat with:

  • 1tsp sage
  • 1tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

When the chicken is cooked, add chicken stock and frozen mixed veggies. Allow to boil for 15-20 min because frozen mixed veggies can be tough little suckers. Sing to baby, ward off drowsiness, mix 1/2 cup flour in 1 cup cold water. Dissolve flour well (else, suffer from lumpy soup) and add to pot. When the flour thickens, take the baby out of the bouncer (because she’s getting kind of cranky now) and add 3 cups milk to the mixture. Bring to boil and allow soup to thicken. (5 min, max).

Dance around kitchen with baby in arms, add salt to taste.

You guys…

If I’m not responding to my comments it’s because I feel… embarrassed.

I am not brave, I am not strong, I am not amazing.

I alternate between insane optimism and resigned dread.

I am not the Super-Mom of a Special-Needs Child, I am the “So, how do we cope today?” type.

I am pushing forward because the only way out is through.

Still. It’s warm and fuzzy to feel believed in though.


By Zeba, The End.

Khalid has been diagnosed with autism. I can’t even begin to explain how this feels. We’re still in planning/coping/assessing mode. I just quit my job. Regularly, I cry myself to sleep. I can’t write about this right now. I’m too busy trying to figure it out.

Can’t stop progress!

Yesterday Iman discovered her right foot.

Today she discovered she could chew it.

Ah, they grow up so fast…

Nap time, take two-

Khalid, who is laying under my desk and pulling on my toes as I type this, is overdue for his nap. He would have been asleep already, had it not been for his iron determination to be awake. Half an hour ago we did the whole nap thing- we had lunch and then went to the bedroom, where I told him to lay down and he started rolling around in bed and protesting.

Normally he protests for about ten minutes before he winds down and falls asleep, but today things went a little differently.

3:00- I lay Khalid down in the bed and then take position in the rocking chair. As per tradition, I pick up a book and start reading.

Khalid whines a bit and rolls around.

3:15- Khalid goes quiet. I assume he’s asleep and continue reading. It’s Going Solo, by Roald Dahl, and as I get to the part where Dahl describes the incidence of the cook’s wife being carried away by a lion, I look up and realize that I can’t see Khalid. I can, however, see a pile of pillows in Khalid’s bed. Khalid doesn’t have pillows in his bed. In order for him to be hiding under a pile of them, he must first have crawled out of his bed into mine, grabbed all three of them, and then carried them back, all without me noticing.

Also, pillows don’t normally have feet.

I lift one of the pillows and see Khalid, grinning excitedly at me. I try not to laugh (which is one of the harder parts of parenting that those books never tell you about) and I take the pillows and put them back on my bed. Khalid protests and starts whining again.

I sit down on the bed, which is closer than the rocking chair, to prevent further such secretive escapes. I resume reading. The cook’s wife is put down by the lion unharmed. She is wearing a red dress with white dots on it, and now she must wash it because there is lion saliva on it. Roald Dahl watches as the cook and his wife do a joyful dance on the immense brown plain and suddenly Khalid has gone quiet again. I look up from my book and see the top of Khalid’s head and his wide, unsleepy eyes watching me from just over the top of the bed. Then he ducks down and they disappear.

A few seconds pass. Roald Dahl marvels at the strangeness of the situation- an old lion came out of the jungle, picked the cook’s wife up in its mouth and was carrying her back, gently and unharmed, to the jungle. Dahl is paid five pounds to write his account for the newspaper. Other hunters write to the paper and offer theories on the strange incidence. Khalid’s head comes up slowly again. I attempt to look stern.

I cave and burst out laughing. Khalid realizes that he’s off the hook, and he jumps into my bed and we have a good laugh a roll-around.

So that was the end of round one. Round two will begin as son as soon as I finish typing this blog. It’s 4:10 now, and Khalid is starting to rub his eyes and pull at his ears. I’m going to pick him up and put him in bed again. I wonder what happens to Roald Dahl next.


Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah- at the age of two years and two months, my son finally said his first word.


His first word is socks.

I’m slightly miffed that he bypassed both of his parents and ended up on footwear, but for now I’m just happy he said something! Woohoo!

Also, we’re coming to Amerika! This week! We’ll be in Chicago, so who wants to come over and play? 🙂


IMG_1638So Khalid still doesn’t talk. At all. He doesn’t even say Mama. I mean, he does say things like akichigaa and gagin-gagin and mamamamamamaaaaaaa, but nothing with meaning and context.

I’m not worried about his development, just impatient to be able to communicate with him. All of the recommendations about helping ease sibling rivalry and smoothly introducing a new baby to your toddler involve communicating with your child and getting them to help you care for the baby. Multiple mothers, including all you lovely people in my comment box (I apologize for not being able to reply most of the time) recommend the same thing- let your toddler help and the problem will resolve itself.

I completely agree, but ‘please bring me the powder’ is about as meaningful to Khalid as akichigaa is to me. We’re not speaking the same language, and I know he gets frustrated trying to communicate what he wants. I end up handing him everything on the dining table only to find out he wants something from the window-sill behind it.

So how do you involve a non-verbal toddler in caring for a newborn? As it is right now, Khalid probably thinks his sister’s name is Gently. He approaches her, raises his hand, and is greeted with “Khalid jaan, gently. Gently… no whacking! Pat her gently, gently!” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his first word, heh.

Ah well, Iman is doing well Alhamdulillah, and seems happy and amused at things in general when she’s awake. Alhamdulillah that newborns spend so much time sleeping, it gives me time to lavish some attention on Khalid when I’m not running after him and trying to put the house back together in his wake.

Gots to go, both kids are asleep and their mother needs a shower.

Over & Out,
Abez & Tribe

A toddler, a Newborn and a Paradigm Shift

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. We’ve been home a week and Iman is healthy, happy, and adorable in the squashy, pink, surprised-looking way that newborns are so good at. Khalid, on the other hand, is having a rough time, as we seem to have brought home fierce competition for his Momma’s attention.

When I change Iman’s diaper, it’s with Khalid trying to push me away from the changing station. When I nurse her, her tries to pull her out of my lap, and when she cries, he puts his hands over his ears and starts crying too. They take turns waking up throughout the day and night- Five minutes into Khalid’s nap, Iman woke up. An hour and a half later, Iman went back to sleep. Half an hour after that, Khalid woke up. So we’ve had a rough week, but we’re learning how to cope.

I am determined not only to cope though, but to succeed. Succeed at what? Ah, now there’s the paradigm shift- a paradigm shift being a radical change of perspective- The standard of a productive, successful day once included a clean house, a freshly-cooked meal, a well maintained toddler and at least two hours of work. But that was the standard for Abez and Khalid. The standard for Abez and Khalid and Iman involves a house, a meal, and two alive children.

Work is not a possibility.
Getting dressed is optional.
Lunch today was peanut butter.

So, according to the new standards, we’re not doing half bad! Look, we’ve even found a little time to write a blog! (Iman is asleep, Khalid is being fed breakfast) We’ve also found time to dig out our box of pre-maternity wardrobe, try things on, and then be both horrified and amazed- (Horrified that we seem to be so very far away from buttoning anything, amazed that we were able to just a few months back.)

But I digress- it’s been a bumpy ride, but we’re moving forward Alhamdulillah.

The Bebefiles: 20 Months- we don’t need no stinkin verbal communication!

Khalid doesn’t talk yet, and that doesn’t seem to be holding him back. Case in point- Khalid wanted cheerios.

When Khalid wants a book read, he will track me down and hand it to me. When Khalid wants a date, he brings me the box. When Khalid wants to go out, he brings me a shoe. (Just one, it’s enough to get the message across, but then we have to spend ten minutes looking for the other one because he’s probably put it in his toy box)

Khalid has a variety of interesting sound effects in his verbal jukebox, but no meaningful ma-ma or ba-ba. Compare this to the 120-word list of my vocabulary at 18 months that my own Momma recorded for me. Khalid seems to be a little behind schedule when you compare him to baby Abez, but as far as other milestones go, he’s way ahead of the game.

Take, for example, eating dirt. He may not even be two years old, but my Bebeface is a full-fledged dirt-eater. That in itself bumps him from ‘baby’ to ‘miniature boy.’ Why? Because babies don’t eat dirt, but little boys sure do! Khalid drives toy cars all over the furniture (and walls and floors and family members) which is also a very little-boy behavior. He doesn’t go vroom vroom yet, but I know he’s thinking it.

He also drinks from a cup on his own, and is decently good at it, except when he stos paying attention and then pours his entire drink into the space one inch from his open mouth. Oh, and he eats bath bubbles too. That’s very advanced, is it not?

*beams with pride*

My little boy. They grow up so fast!

*wipes away tear*

Cheesecake and Strategic Negotiations

“Oh Ye who believe! Fear Allah and make your utterance straightforward. That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins; he that obeys Allah and His messenger, has already attained a great victory.”

The Qur’an, Chapter Al-Ahzab (33) 70:71

So I came across this line today and it made me smile. It may be a reinforcement of what I already believe to be true: the best type of speech is honest and straightforward, but it’s great see that and be able to go, “And look, God said so too!”

On a side note, I had an imaginary conversation with Bebeface a few minutes ago that went something like this:

Bebeface, who was no longer much of a Bebe, but around 16 and wanting to go hang out with the guys on the corner who stand around each other’s cars and do whatever it is that teenagers do, comes up to me and says-

Hey Mom, can I go hang out with the guys?

And I put my cheesecake down (if I’m imagining things, I might as well add a piece of cheesecake) and say, Where to babe?

Oh, we’re just gonna hang out. On the corner there.

And I picture what we see every night now- groups of young men- some in their late teens, smoking and drinking that alcohol-free malt that still looks like a can of beer that no one would really drink if it was packaged to look like just another soft drink. There are younger kids too, hanging around them, but not with them, at a distance great enough to be safe but not too far to be excluded from the vicarious coolness.

And there will be a few cars with the hoods up, and a few guys looking inside and comparing things. And although there will be nothing distinctly wrong with the picture, there will be an outpouring of wrong-ness; the cigarettes, the near-beer, the fascination with fast cars that has little to do with engineering and more to do with drag racing, and then there’s the hierarchy of coolness and bullying and the social pecking and punching order of youth when more than two of them occupy the same dimension in space. And then there’s wondering what they’re all doing out at 11:30 on a weeknight, and where they’re going afterwards, and what their parents think they’re doing.

I can’t hide Khalid from the world, and I can’t hide the world from Khalid. I don’t want him to get burned, but he has to know what fire is to be able to avoid it. And I wonder if I say no- will he give me some sort of smart-alecky answer?

No Khalid, now ask me why.

Aw Mommmm… why?

There will be times in your life when you can’t avoid people smoking around you, but this isn’t one of them.

There will be times when you can stay up late for a perfectly good reason with friends, but hanging out on the corner isn’t one of them.

If you want to hang out with your friends, do something tomorrow in the day time. If you need a ride or want to go somewhere cool, grab your dad and we’ll plan something out that’s a whole lot better than hanging out on the corner at 11.

And last of all, if you just want to hang out, invite your friends over and just hang out. You know that smoking is a deathwish, and I wouldn’t let anyone else rip your lungs out, so I’m not going to let you do it to yourself-

Mom, that’s gross-

But it’s true, so you know not to hang out with people who are smoking, even though some of your friends may smoke, they don’t have to smoke around you.

So that’s a no?

Yep. Want some cheesecake?

No thank you.

And Khalid sulks away and goes to his room. And I’m not sure if that went very well, because the end goal is not control, but education and guidance. There are basic human needs that make everyone tick, and for kids, the need to feel like a part of the gang (aka: social acceptance) can be overpoweringly strong.

So I call Khalid back.

Hey kid, let’s have that conversation again. And this time, let’s use strategic negotiation, ok?

Mom, I would like to hang out with the guys, who are, at the moment, hanging out down the street.

I say Ok Khalid, I recognize the validity of
a. you wanting to hang out with your friends
However, I have the following concerns:
1. The timing
2. The venue
3. Possible negative behavioral elements
I would like for you to enjoy your friends’ company in a time and place that doesn’t infringe upon certain agreed-up boundaries, such a curfew and behavioral norms, how can we reach a solution that addresses both of our interests?

Here, Khalid looks at me like I’m crazy, but because he’s grown up with the principles of strategic negotiation (which HF and I try to use for all disagreements, even now) he knows how they work and what he needs to do in order for us to reach a compromise. He swipes a bite of my cheesecake and says:

As per venue and negative behavioral elements, Sami is the only one who smokes, and he’s not there right now because Hammoudi think he’s a moron, and I know it’s late, but if I could just go for twenty minutes, I can talk to the rest of the guys about meeting up tomorrow, at a venue that we both find satisfactory, during a time that fits well within curfew, and in a setting that minimizes the possibility of negative behavioral elements?

And he smiles hopefully.

I nod. And he comes home exactly twenty minutes later, and we arrange for he and his friends to come over tomorrow and hang out in the pool (imaginary cheesecake goes very well, poolside) after Maghrib. And I make secret plans to make them all volunteer in the cancer ward of a hospital for a few weekends, so they can see what lung and throat cancer does to your body, but that’s another imaginary battle for another imaginary day.

By Zeba, the end.

Post-Partum Depression & I

There are a few mommy-related blogs that I’ve been meaning to type, one of them is on post-partum depression, or PPD. There’s an interesting generational/cultural gap that exists where PPD is concerned- traditionally speaking, in the Pakistani culture, there is no such thing.

(Wateezdiss, pee-pee-dee? After your baby is born you’re supposed to be miserable!)

Yes yes, so after your baby is born you become a sleep deprived, and you worry about whether you’re doing things right, and you desperately wish the baby would sleep, but when the baby does sleep, you have to go check to see if the baby is breathing… Being a new mommy is hard, but is it supposed to make you depressed?

One friend of mine, whose baby is six months younger than Khalid, called me up and very bluntly said- I’m taking a survey about post-partum depression. My mother said there is no such thing, but after Asiya was born, I couldn’t sleep, stopped eating for 36 hours at a time, and felt mentally paralyzed, no one told me about this! How about you?

How about me? Well, I was a sleep-deprived baby-tending robot whose engine ran on caffeine and the terrible fear that my baby was starving all the time. And, this is hard to admit but unfair to hide- I wanted to die. I did. I didn’t want to kill myself, and my contradictory brain was terrified of anything happening to Khalid or to myself (because then who would take care of Khalid?) but we used to live on the sixth floor of our apartment block, and I wondered what it would be like to fall from the balcony. I have never wanted to be in a car accident, but there were times in traffic when near misses disappointed me. I wanted something to happen.

Why? Was I unhappy with my baby? No, I adore bebeface. Was HF unsupportive? Not at all, and he did what he could to support me and make sure I was taking care of myself too. (Also, we snuck out to movies and ice cream and went for drives and walks)

I was constantly tired, but had terrible insomnia. I was completely disinterested in socializing. I stopped answering the doorbell, and I kept it all, the misery, the insomnia, the thoughts of death- all to myself for as long as I could. I dreaded having to feed Khalid, because nursing was, in the beginning, difficult and very painful, and no matter what I did, he always seemed hungry.

(It turns out we had serious latch issues + low supply for nearly two months)

At one point I broke down and told HF. I think it took him by surprise. He asked me what was making me so depressed, and I wasn’t sure what to tell him because I had no idea myself. Nothing specifically was making me unhappy- but I was miserable about everything, and I was sure that I was doing everything wrong- why else was Khalid crying all the time?

When did things get better? Gradually, when Khalid was a few months old, things got better. They didn’t get easier, they just got better. One thing that made a huge difference was HF checking up on me- “How are you feeling? How was your day? Hey, you’re doing good.” It seems like such a small thing now, but HF reassuring me that I was doing good and that Khalid was fine gave me the reassurance to not freak about him starving/ailing/wailing, and it made everything lighter, more bearable.

Alhamdulillah, my experience with PPD was, from what I understand, really mild. I thought about dying, and I had some pretty fantastic crying sprees, but it never got in the way of me caring for Bebeface- I was never incapacitated by it. There are people who have had it far, far worse, and I am grateful to God that I was able to break out of the misery and be alright again, Alhamdulillah.

So yeah, we’re taking a survey- Anyone else out there had PPD? Any advice? We have some new mommies on the block who may benefit from what you can share.

Love to all Mommies!

The Bebefiles: One Year!!?

It’s 10:23, and Bebeface is asleep, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.

Of course, yesterday he insisted on staying up until 4:30 am, and the night before that, 3, and the days following those long nights tend to be fuzzy and a little disoriented, but hey, SubhanAllah, it’s all good. 🙂

Khalid cruised by the one-year mark a week or so ago, the 19th being an uneventful though especially cute day, MashaAllah. These days, Khalid is working full time on his newest skills- getting around by holding on to the sofa and taking wobbly steps in the direction of the laptop, crawling or something like it, and learning simple games.

Every day Khalid does something that makes me gasp out of either surprise, amazement, or shock. A few days ago he went from sitting to crawling position by leaning too far back to stare at the ceiling and then turning in mid-fall to land on all fours instead of his head, Alhamdulillah. And then there is the ‘feed momma crackers’ game, where I open my mouth and Khalid pokes whatever soggy edible he has been gnawing on inside. We’ve learned, rather unexpectedly, that this game also applies to other cracker-shaped objects as well, like the business card Khalid pushed into my mouth last week.

And Khalid plays peekaboo with newspapers, and bedsheets, and embarrassingly, with the hem of my skirt at a dinner party. (peeka- No!) And Khalid has discovered that the best things in life have buttons on them, like the cordless phone that he yanked out of my hand and dropped on the floor, or the TV remotes with the tasty rubber buttons, or any of the many mobile phones belonging to the various family members foolish enough to leave the phones where he can demand them. Khalid sent his daddy a blank sms two days ago. We were all impressed.

HF: (checking phone) You sent me an sms just now?
Me: No, what do you mean?


HF: Where’s your phone?
Me: Khalid?

And Khalid has turned bath time into a force of nature, specifically, a typhoon. He whirlwinds his arms and legs, churning up furious waves, soaking the floor, the towel, the momma… anything in a five foot radius.

And Khalid is intensely interested in personal grooming, specifically manicures, and any time nail clippers are placed anywhere near his nails, he immediately wants to inspect (as well as taste) whatever it is that they’re doing and why they insist on doing it to him.

And prayer time with Khalid is extra challenging, as there are fewer less distracting things than a baby crawling excitedly over to your feet so he can grab hold of your toes and talk to them.

(bibbibibibib bbbbwwwwwwmmmm)

And I know exactly where the last year has gone, but I can’t believe what was taking so long has passed so fast. SubhanAllah, SubhanAllah, Khalid isn’t really a baby anymore, but he’s not quite a toddler yet. He’s at an in-between stage, he’s an oversized grabby wiggly thing that wants to go for a walk to see the oscillating fan oscillate, but still clings to his momma like a shy koala baby.

Too big to be a baby, too small to be a boy, my little Babysaurus. 🙂

Possibly one of the more interesting evenings spent shopping

There is no way to describe how hysterically funny as well as deliciously relaxing it is to sit in a showroom massage chair (The OTOCare Deluxe, only 6,500dhs!) with the foot rest up and the remote control in Bebeface’s hands. I laughed until my stomach hurt while being massaged randomly by Khalid’s ham-fisted grip on the remote control.

The salesman in the corner was trying very hard not to be seen laughing. He turned pink. Khalid cooed and growled and mashed at the remote control, turning the chair off a few times and turning the intensity up regularly, until I felt like I was being pummeled by an pair of oompa-loompas who had been paid to hide behind the chair and rhythmically punch me in the back, shoulders, and uummm.. seat.

(oompa, loompa, doompity doo!
yes, we can beat on your tushy-tush too!)

SubhanAllah. 🙂

This is why God made babies cute

Last night was another interesting night, rather than nurse Khalid to sleep I tried the ‘crying it out in arms’ approach, which basically involved him screaming his little self tired- in my arms. Someone posted a link to this in the comments of one of the crying it out posts, and I’m not sure who it was, but they should also have posted a link to body building and developing muscle for high-stress baby-rocking. :p Khalid is, MashaAllah, over the 95% percentile for his weight and height, which means me bouncing almost 12 kilos (26 pounds) of angry, screaming, WWF-Wrestling baby in my arms for 20 minutes before he winds down and falls whining to sleep.

Alhamdulillah, he slept, and last night wasn’t too bad, although there were no long sleep stretches over an hour and a half. I think by now I’m so frazzled by the every-forty-minutes schedule that an hour and a half seems good. The other night I put Khalid to sleep and even though I was exhausted, I wandered in to the kitchen and got on to the laptop to do some work. Why not? I thought, he’s just going to wake up in forty minutes, why bother going to sleep?

But going back to the title of this post- Last night, about fifteen minutes into rocking and screaming and wrestling- my arms were burning (you know burning? it’s five minutes past aching and two minutes before dying) and my back was aching and I was getting frustrated and suddenly Khalid stops crying, looks up at me and says, “bap bap bap?” Then he smiles at me and launches into a few minutes of impossibly cute baby-babble, “pibpibpib, bap bap bap, nanagagagaGAK!” He lays relaxed in my arms, just making cute little sounds and smiling at me, and manages to undo all of the anger and frustration that had been piling up onto my shoulders just minutes ago.

SubhanAllah. Standing there in the dark, at 1:30 am, with aching body, aching feet, and 12 kilos of sleep-resistant babyfat in my arms- I laughed out loud. I kissed his soft little cheeks. I remembered that bed time is an ordeal for him too, and he’s not deliberately being difficult, he’s just being what he is- a baby.

We went to the pediatrician last week for his cough, and HF asked the doctor about Khalid’s atrocious sleep habits- waking every forty minutes, not sleeping at night, etc. The doctor patiently listened and then shrugged apologetically. “That’s normal, all children are like this.” We asked her if she was sure. She was. And she had her own kids too.

SubhanAllah, I sometimes forget how much I am blessed. Allah has blessed me with a beautiful, beautiful child, free from disabilities or conditions or any visible defects- ten perfectly chubby, perfectly formed fingers, same number of wiggly little toes, enormous gorgeous eyes, the sweetest, softest cheeks- Khalid is a perfect baby, and it’s my fault for forgetting- he’s a perfect baby. He’s sitting in his high-chair right now, banging a clothes pin against a set of teething keys and periodically chewing on a baby biscuit that he’s also managed to rub into his eyebrows. He’s a baby.

My beautiful little son. 🙂 It was time for his nap about an hour ago now, and he managed to sleep for ten minutes before waking up again with a happy -bapbapbap- He’s starting to rub his eyes and pull his ears (which also have cookie crumbs on them) so I guess it’s time for me to try to put him to sleep again. Please remember us in your duas- I need patience and he needs an off button. :p

Peace & Chikken Grease
Abez & Bebeface

The Bebefiles: Crying it Out- Success and the Lack Thereof

Well, the past three days have been hectic. Picking up where we left off-

Night Before HF gets here- Bebeface cries it out for an hour and forty minutes, only to wake up two hours later and then be up and down all night as usual. That is very discouraging.

Night HF gets home- Bebeface cries for an hour and a half before I go in to rescue him from him own stubborness- it’s midnight, HF and I are both tired and he’s just gotten back from a business trip. I nurse him to sleep, hoping that crying for so long has at least drained his batteries a bit. He sleeps for an hour as usual, and wakes up about six times during the night.

Yesterday Night- I am swamped with two separated freelancing tasks with seriously short deadlines- I put Bebeface down to cry it out for the night, and after an hour of listening to him scream and get not quieter, but louder, I am not able to concentrate at all on my work. I go in to nurse him to sleep. He nurses, and then is up and ready for action until 1:30 am.

Yesterday Night- I do nothing related to crying- I happen to be in the shower when I notice that Bebeface, who HF had been rocking and singing to (I love you HF!) had gone quiet and fallen asleep. And there is much rejoicing. (He wakes up ever hour or so all night. This is usual.)

This evening- Hoping for similar success, I feed, pajama, and soothe Khalid before passing him to HF for a rocking to sleep. Bebeface stubbornly resists. HF passes him back to me after about half an hour, and I nurse Khalid to sleep.

He’s asleep now, my little bundle of impossibility. I must clarify- the bedtime routine of a nice bath and a feed and a kiss and a song- I’ve been doing that for about a week and a half now, and if the purpose of it is to make Khalid rub his eyes with sleep, then it accomplishes its goal. But then, since Khalid wakes up every morning at 9:30 by the latest, regardless of what time he’s gone to sleep, getting him to rub his eyes and yank his ears and pull his hair from tiredness has never been a problem. It’s getting him to close his little eyes that we seem to be doing so badly with.

So now what?

The Bebefiles: Crying it out- Part II

Yesterday, after Khalid’s hour and five minute crying jag, he once again slept for five hours. Five lovely, uninterrupted hours, Alhamdulillah. It’s 10:40 right now, and he’s been crying since ten o’clock. He’s definitely winding down, and I peeked in on him a second ago- he’s laying face down on the bed, he raises his head to cry, gets tired and rests it for a few seconds. Then he raises it to cry again. I don’t know if he’ll beat yesterday’s time, and I don’t know if any progress is being made. This is only the second night anyway, so looking for progress right now is a little early I think.

If anything though, I at least don’t feel like I’m dying of guilt pangs. Yesterday was hard, and I felt horrible, but it yielded very real and very encouraging results. Oh wait, he’s gone quiet…

No, he started again. But the pauses between crying spurts are getting longer and the cries are getting softer and more tired-sounding.

But like I was saying, having done this once yesterday and seen really encouraging results, I don’t feel so bad and it’s not as hard for me today as it was yesterday. My child is sobbing his little eyes pink, and I’m ok. Does this make me a bad mother? I hope not, I would like to believe not. He’s not in pain. He laying in a bed, he’s fussing himself to sleep. He’s fine.

I’ve already gone and spent a long time in the shower (with Owlie listening out for me) but I ran out of hot water after ten minutes so I’m back out again. Khalid’s been crying for 45 minutes and I suppose we’ve got another fifteen to go.

10:50- I tell you, this kid could do commercials for energizer.

11:20- The good news is that Khalid is asleep- the bad news is- I caved. At eleven I went to check on him, and found that he had wiggled past the fortress of pillows and bolsters I had surrounded him with and was lying face-down on the cold, hard, floor- crying. (his mattress is on the floor anyway, so it’s only a two-inch roll down, not a fall, Alhamdulillah) But I couldn’t help it. I picked him up and he sighed and shuddered and clung to me. I nursed him to sleep.

I’m sorry and did, and yet I’m not. I feel torn between wanting to do things right and wanting to do right by my son. Why isn’t there a way of putting him to sleep that doesn’t involve making both of us miserable for upwards of an hour? I keep wanting to apologize to him, I feel like this is somehow my fault.

Well, 11:20 is his sleep time, let’s see how many hours he sleeps. I know he’s utterly exhausted, chances are he’ll sleep five hours any.

I feel selfish for putting Khalid through this, and I feel discouraged. 🙁

The Bebefiles: Crying it Out- Part I

So once upon a time there was an impossibly cute (MashaAllah) but horribly scheduled son of mine, whose unruly sleep habits have been the only (but rather large) down side to motherhood. He wakes every 40 minutes, night or day, to feed, and drives me rather batty with sleep deprivation.

Everyone and their mother tells me I need to let him cry it out. I know. I know, but it hurts my heart to hear him cry. Really, physically- I can’t explain how it feels to hear him sobbing away. Like how he is now. Sobbing. In the next room.

Last week, after many frustrating and futile attempts to put Khalid to sleep (punctuated by being hit in the face with his flailing arms and being savagely bitten with his pointy little teeth) I put him down and walked out the bedroom. I hadn’t been intending to let him cry it out, but ten minutes into it, I decided what the heck. Let’s go for it.

It took an hour, and I’m sure it was rougher on him than it was on me, but I’m not sure it was by much. In the end, it finally happened. Bebeface cried himself to sleep, and he slept for five hours straight.

Five hours.


Five hours, from a kid who’s never slept longer than 2 hours in his entire life.

Fastforward to this evening- HF left for a five-day business trip, and since he won’t be disturbed by Khalid’s ear-shattering (and heart-breaking) wails, I’ve decided that this is the week we’re gonna cry it out.

It’s 11:24 right now, and Khalid has been crying since 11:15. I know he’s exhausted, I left him in the bed with a full stomach, rubbing his eyes and pulling his ears out of exhaustion, but the second I closed the door, the BebeSiren sounded and he’s been wailing away ever since.

I learned from the last time that after half an hour he’ll start to wind down. Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that kids learn fast- let him cry it out two or three times and they’ll learn to soothe themselves to sleep. One woman I know did it over the weekend- she went away for two nights in a row, and the husband volunteered to keep an eye on the baby- and it was a hard weekend but the baby learned in two days, and now she sleeps straight through.

Admittedly, I feel horrible right now. Khalid is now hiccuping as well as wailing- and I can hear the little gasps and shudders between cries, but he is winding down.

I wish it didn’t have to be like this. I wish he came with a ‘sleep’ button. I can’t really sit and listen to him cry, I need to find something else to do- like take a shower or something. I didn’t turn the water heater on though, so the water’s too cold to be any sort of pleasant distraction.

11:31- Still wailing. Oh wait, there was a pause. Ok, now he’s gotten a second wind and seems to have hit a higher pitch. I’m going to go wash dishes or something.

11:53- Well, there are longer and longer pauses between the crying fits now- I know that these silent moments are spent in rubbing his eyes or pulling his hair, and I know he must be exhausted. The crying is getting tireder, the pauses longer- I think the water might be warm enough. I wonder- if I take a ten minute shower- will he be asleep by the time I come out? Let’s see. I need to relax, I feel wound up and tense.

12:21- Asleep. All quiet. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. It took Khalid an hour and five minutes- which is five minutes longer than his previous time, but maybe tomorrow will be better InshaAllah. And let’s see how long he sleeps now InshaAllah. I spent the last fifteen min taking the longest, hottest shower I’ve had in months, and I’m ready to pray and hit the sack. I’m really looking forward to five beautiful hours of gorgeous lovely sleep.

(Many thanks to everyone who’s kept pushing me to just do this- to retrain Khalid no matter how hard it is. Taubah, my Momma, and especially HF– who’s been nagging me to do this- even volunteered to take Khalid for a weekend, and has been so patient with my foolish refusal to do so until this point. It could only last so long. You can only run so long on sleep deprivation, and not letting Khalid learn how to fall asleep on his own doesn’t do him any favors. Also, much love to Owlie– who’s been the Abez Distraction Committee these past two times I’ve let Khalid cry it out. >>>hugs<<< )


The Bebefiles: Ten Months, where has the time gone?

As I sit at this computer desk with all the wires taped securely to the legs and all the peripherals moved away from the edge of table, I wonder where the time has gone. Bebeface, whose misbehavior was once limited to wiggling alot and peeing on me, has morphed into something else entirely. He has become- Cap’n DangerIsMyMiddleName. Two days ago he unplugged the laptop. The day before that he pulled the wireless signal repeater out of the wall. Last week he reached up to this desk and got hold of the electric drill and very narrowly avoided dropping it onto his head. Yesterday, he woke me up by falling off the bed.

It was a different sort of alarm. Instead of beep beep beep the noise went waanh waanh wannh. I woke up in a panic- I could hear Khalid crying but couldn’t find him in the bed. He was on the floor in an untidy heap of baby, his head down and his legs propped against the leg of the crib, looking very offended and somewhat more compact than usual. I scooped him up and went to the kitchen, where immediately, I turned on the microwave. Khalid likes the microwave. In a few seconds, the wails turned to whimpers. Then the whimpers were replaced with the silent hyper-vigilance of Khalid watching the plate in the microwave go around in circles. Then he giggled. All was well and the mighty fall from the bed was forgotten.

(Oh, and the other day he pitched himself off the sofa head-first and was caught in mid-air by Knicq. Many thanks Knicq Bhai.)

Khalid is now a little human. Officially. He used to be a little blob, and before that he was a jellybean of some sort. Now he’s a little person who likes chicken, doesn’t want his nose cleaned, laughs at the pictures in his baby books, follows you around with upheld arms, pulls my pant legs when I’m doing dishes, tastes absolutely everything, and plays peekaboo. Really, he plays peekaboo. He will hold things in front of his eyes, wait, and then peek out and smile. Then he’ll do it again. And again and again. Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah. He’s growing, he’s learning, he’s developing sneakiness. Combine a desire to pull the phone cord with the knowledge that he shouldn’t be, and you get a baby who drops the phone and runs smiling up to me when he’s caught, as if he’s never pulled a phone cord to within an inch of its life before. Oh no. Not me momma, would this face lie?

Right now Khalid is laying in my bed (surrounded by a wall of pillows) and drumming his heels on the mattress, growling, and playing with a rubberband simultaneously. In a minute we’ll head to the kitchen for lunch, maybe scoot around the house in the walker later, and then we’re off to Ikea for yet more adventures, so I guess I’ll just finish this blog later.

Bebeface & I, over and out!

BebeFiles: Some Firsts

Alhamdulillah, Bebeface is seven and a half months old now, and the rate at which he’s developing dangerous and cunning new skills is amazing. This week alone has seen several developmental firsts- several key skills he has obtained and now uses to threaten all of humanity with.

So Eye See…
Glasses are not part of a person’s face, and can be removed with one quick yank of the gooey, wet fingers and then dropped on the floor. Khalid now knows that glasses are both removable and edible, and there seems to be no turning back, regardless of how we threaten to withdraw damages from his college fund.

Take that, HA!
Khalid now has the ability to, but not necessarily the proper licensing to, drive his walker all over the kitchen, into my ankles, against the dining chairs, etc. Up until just two days ago, he just sat in the walker and if he moved his feet it was out of excitement or frustration, but not with any direction or purpose. At some point though, he seems to have had an epiphany, and one morning surprised me by very purposefully steering himself towards the garbage can and then proceeding to worry said garbage can from one of the kitchen to the other, and then back. This kid can drive.

Take That, CHOMP! Teef. Alhamdulillah, Bebeface has two little bottom-teeth about half-way out now and the two on either side of them are just starting to appear beneath his gums. So now what used to be a cute little gnaw on peoples’ fingers is now a life-threatening, needle-sharp brush with dismemberment. Khalid likes to chew, and he likes to chew HARD.

Hello there, Handsome. Khalid has long, meaningful conversations with the handsome baby in our bedroom mirror, and spends tens of minutes (which is hours in baby-time) cooing, squealing, and wiggling his eyebrows at the baby on the other side. And, he does this all sitting up. Khalid started sitting up about a month ago, but only now is he getting really stable enough to stay upright for long periods of time, and without toppling over.

Mine, all mine! Khalid is no longer my computer buddy. It used to be that I could sit him in my lap and operate the lappy easily. Now, I sit Khalid in my lap, turn towards the computer and then frantically push everything away that he’s trying to grab and cram in his mouth- mouse, headphone wire, tea cup, hair clips, pen, cell phone, digicam… anything on the table is fair game and very likely to be scooped towards Khalid with both of his outstretched little arms and then slobbered on. Even when I have moved everything out of his reach, he still cranes forward to slap at the power-indicator and wireless modem switch (those pretty blue and yellow lights) on the front of the laptop and gives them a good beating.

You gonna eat that? Cuz if not, Khalid will try. It doesn’t matter that Khalid has never had soup before in his entire like, he still wants it, and yesterday he managed to grab a spoonful of it as it was headed towards my mouth, splattering chikken noodle in my lap and down his arm. On top of that, he wouldn’t let go of the spoon. He saw me drinking a cup of tea earlier today, and zoomed towards me in his walker, came to a crashing halt against my knees and then started smacking his lips and looking deprived. I’m sorry kid, you are years away from caffeine.

Hey, whose feet are these? Khalid has discovered his feet, and day by day he is learning that they can go closer and closer to his mouth. He holds one foot in each hand, and in a gesture that would be rude if it weren’t so impossibly cute, he grins at you over the full-moon he’s pointing in your direction. (When he does that without a diaper on, I get scared.)

So yeah, MashaAllah. SubhanAllah. Bebeface gets more and more beautiful and unpredictable and alive every day. He has wants and needs and even a sense of humor, and has a beautiful little laugh that lights up everything- his face, the room, the people around him. I laugh at him sometimes and he looks at me and just laughs back, my crazy beautiful little kid.

The Bebefiles: A Beautiful Thing

A beautiful thing happened two days ago. After the bounce and the jolt and the crash- after the smell of the hot asphalt and the exhaust cleared, I took Khalid from his car seat and got out of the car. To get out of the car – that was a beautiful thing.

We walked through stopped traffic to a shop on the other side of the road, where I took Khalid’s clothes off and looked for injuries, and I could see, from where I sat, the back bumper of the car lying in the road and the front end of the car crumpled and pushed into the nose of an 18 wheel truck, but I could see both of my husband’s parents had gotten out and were standing near it. To still be standing – that was a beautiful thing.

And the men from the street brought in Khalid’s car seat, and brought his stroller, and brought water and tried to comfort and soothe Khalid. Khalid’s little face was flushed pink from the heat and the fear and the pain, but the men held him and kissed him and told him he was ok, and that too was a beautiful thing.

And my right knee was bloody, and my right calf was cut, and my right ankle was swollen, and my left leg was rapidly turning purple, and my right eye was swollen, and I had hit my head, but the x-rays said that nothing was broken, and that was a beautiful thing.

And Khalid was scared and in pain, and he spent 45 minutes screaming and crying until he passed out from the effort. Even in his sleep, he shuddered and whimpered, but after two hours he woke up smiling and that, Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, AllahuAkbar, was the most beautiful thing of all.

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.

Always wear your seat belt.

Always keep your baby in a car seat.

Life is a beautiful thing.

The Bebefiles: AMBUSH!

I should have known what was coming when I saw how close the box of q-tips was to the edge. I should have moved them when I placed Khalid on the bed to change his diaper. I should have known that a kid who has mastered spitting up not on my shirt, but in my shirt, would be able to take advantage of the q-tips’ precarious position.

Bebe’s Plan for Revenge for Putting Bebe to sleep last night at the wee hour of 11.

Step 1: Pre-place box of 200 q-tips on the edge of bed.

Step 2: Soil diaper.

Step 3: Allow self to be placed on bed and freed of diaper, thus exposing lethal weaponry.

Step 4: Kick Q-tips off of bed, scattering them precisely within range of lethal weaponry.

Step 5: Allow mother to stoop to pick up q-tips, foolishly leaving lethal weaponry exposed.

Step 6: Ready.

Step 7: Aim.

Step 8: FIRE!

Step 9: Beam joyously as you soak momma’s back in a fresh, steady stream of revenge.

The BebeFiles: Time Flies

Somewhere when I wasn’t looking, Bebeface turned 3 1/2 months. I hadn’t noticed really. There were other things to look at- like spit bubbles. My son has become quite proficient at them, pursing his lips together to produce a nice, long cascade of wet, frothy silliness. Then he beams. He doesn’t smile anymore, he beams, his whole bebe face lighting up in the biggest, gummiest expression of joy.

A few weeks ago he noticed his own hands for the first time and then spent a few days staring at them intently. Soon afterwards, he began playing with his toys for the first time, MashaAllah. Lying underneath an assortment of hanging toys, Khalid now has mighty battles with the jingly yellow tiger. Khalid crams the tiger in his mouth, and the tiger retaliates by craming its stuffed legs into Khalid’s eyebrows. Khalid growls. The tiger jingles. The battle continues.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same baby I brought home with me in March. That baby was a tiny, non-interactive bundle of newbornness. This baby is a wiggly, cooing, squealing, arm-waving, judo-chopping, bicycle-kicking handful of chub and happiness. The Bebeface I brought home only cried, but this one holds conversations with you.

“coo! bbbbb! aaaa?” he asks, raising his eyebrows at the end of the sentence. He expects you to answer. So you coo and laugh and squeal back. And he beams.

Bebeface noticed his reflection the other day, and spent a vain long time engaging it in conversation. “bbbBbbb?” (translation: “Who is that handsome devil?”)

I wasn’t looking when it happened, but my son developed a personality. MashaAllah.

The Bebe Files: Eight Weeks

Here’s to eight weeks, SubhanAllah, of my silly little son.

Here’s to his tiny hands and how diligently he tries to cram both of them into his mouth.

Here’s to his precious, wrinkled feet and the day he learned to kick- he lay on the carpet for half an hour first extending one leg and then the other with complete concentration.

Here’s to the number three, which is how many times he wakes up in a night to be fed. It used to be five. Three is a much lovelier number.

Here’s to his senses, which have him currently convinced that anything that gets close to the mouth must be for licking- bath water and shirt collars included.

Here’s to his soft, dark hair, and how it’s only growing back on the top of his head. He looks like a chubby little monk.

Here is to life lived in a series of increments, in bursts of activity that must be achieved before it’s time for BebeFace to wake up again.

Here’s to the fussing and the wiggling and the crying.

Here’s to gripe-water and anti-gas drops that I took to the Chateau and now can’t seem to find.

Here’s the to the complete reliance of one helpless human on another.

Here’s to the perfect honesty that a baby regards you with.

Here’s to the sincerity in a baby’s tears.

Here’s to my baby, whose sleeping and waking are the constantly repeating events that I mark time with, whose tiny hands open wide to hold whatever he can.

Here’s to the way he holds onto my shirt for no reason.

Here’s to the smile, the beautiful, innocent gummy smile he greeted me with this morning that renewed me, that refreshed me in a way that two months of cat-naps at night could never do.

I’ve never been a fan of sugar coating, I find it unfair to whoever bites in and then finds the inside sour. It’s true, a baby is a challenge beyond what you could ever expect. If you thought standing in line for half an hour was tedious, try standing for two hours, rocking a fussy baby to sleep for three nights in a row. If you thought eating cold food was annoying, try eating cold food, standing up with one hand long after dinner time is over because you alone can feed the baby and there’s no way you’ll make your child wait just so you can have yours first. If you thought four hours of sleep was impossible to work with, try 2.5.

Everything you ever though impossible can be done, Alhamdulillah.

Hug your mom. Now.

Now now now. And then hug her again.

And when you have children hug your wife, and don’t ask her why she looks more like a bag lady than the woman you married, tell her that the circles around her eyes are beautiful. Don’t ask her if she’s tired, take the baby from her and tell her to lay down. Tell her she looks adorable in pajamas, because not much else will fit her yet. Tell her she’s doing a good job, because it will be a while before the child could ever say that, and chances are it never will. Not until it has children of its own anyway.

And never, ever sass your mother.

We are the champions, my friend…

When they ask whether you’re ready to be a parent, what they really mean is, “Do you know any lullabies?” Apart from the weirdly morbid “Rock a bye-baby” and a few lines of “Go to Sleep,” that were reworded to sing at summer camp, it turns out that I am sadly lacking in the lullaby department. Instead, I maintain a maternal jukebox of Yusuf Islam, Dawud Wharnsby Ali, a little bit of Bob Marley, and some Freddy Mercury that would make Queen flinch.

(We will, we will BURP YOU!)

A while ago someone asked me what being a mother was like. I thought for a bit, and the most honest thing I could say was that it was like having a gigapet that you can’t turn off. Of course, that’s not the whole truth, because your brain is not hardwired to pop out of bed like a piece of hyperactive toast at the gigapet’s tiniest little beep, twenty-four hours a day. And a gigapet cannot melt you with its first sloppy, lopsided smile. And a gigapet won’t bury its warm little face in your shoulder and sigh with contentment when it’s full, and a gigapet won’t fall asleep on your stomach and look so perfect and so peaceful that you sit watching it for the next half an hour out of awe.

So ok, motherhood may not really be like owning a gigapet, but what else could I have told the guy? I might have said that it was like emotional bootcamp, but then I would be neglecting to mention the immense emotional returns, and when’s the last time a drill sergeant made you feel all warm and fuzzy?


The Baby Files: One Month, Alhamdulillah

If you went to an electronics store and the salesman tried to sell you an expensive piece of equipment that came with no manual, required round the clock maintenance and would not perform anything except very basic functions for the next three years, would you buy it? And yet we have children, because they are the embodiment of love and the promise of future. They are tiny, beautiful, vulnerable extensions of our own selves. They are us, reborn. They give us the ability to remake ourselves through them, hopefully this time with less mistakes, and hopefully with better looking ears this time.

It’s been four weeks of being a Momma now, and I’m not sure where to start. I’m exhausted but coping. I’m emotionally depleted but have discovered new reserves. I haven’t had a full night’s rest for a month now, and the circles under my eyes are looking permanent, but SubhanAllah, SubhanAllah, I am happy.

I find it amazing, no, awing that every single mother goes through this. Rather, ever single blessed mother goes through this, because Alhamdulillah, my child is blessed to be without disability or illness that would make this process even more difficult than it is. Taking care of a newborn has, like the pain of delivery, pushed me farther than I thought I could ever go. I never thought I could survive, thrive even, on a series of naps for an entire month. Khalid never sleeps for more than three hours at a time, and he usually sleeps for much less, and that means I do too. Once upon a time if I had less than say, five hours of sleep it would be difficult for me to function. Now I dream of getting five hours, and although I miss rest and sleep and waking up naturally, I don’t hold this schedule against my son. My tiny little boy has a tiny little stomach, and he can’t sleep when he’s hungry. I can’t either, actually.

I miss keeping in contact with my friends, but my son is more important than email. I miss getting dressed and feeling like a presentable human being, but I have a limited amount of time and getting dressed has fallen rather low on the list of priorities. Khalid comes first, after that comes the husband and the house and food and laundry and hey, yesterday I had ten minutes free so I washed my face and made the bed. It felt nice.

There’s a pulled muscle in my right shoulder, just where it joins my neck, that’s been killing me for three days now. I don’t have the option of going easy on it, because I need my right shoulder.

And my left shoulder.

And a third shoulder would be helpful.

I think that instead of getting fat while pregnant I should’ve put my effort into growing another arm. You need one when the baby comes, trust me. You only make the mistake of taking a wet baby out of the bath without having a towel ready once. After that you learn to lay the towel in your lap before even putting the baby in the bath so that your naked little Bebeface doesn’t start crying and shivering when he’s taken out of the warm water.

(Either that or you grow a third arm so that you can hold the baby with two hands and open the towel with the new one.)

Please remember us in your duas, pray that God gives my son a character that He loves and makes the road to righteousness smooth for him. Please pray that I grow a third arm.

Peace & Chikken Grease