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Category Archives: Stringbean Chronicles

You have been warned

If you’re here from my article on Muslim Matters and are looking for further maternal wisdom, then please take note: this update has no purpose other than the documentation of the intolerable cuteness that is my 2.1 year old Musfira.  You have been duly warned.

As expected of a third child, Musfira is louder, faster, and more intense than the siblings who came before her.  You’d think that having raised two adorable savages before her that I would be harder to surprise and awe, but I can’t help it- Musfira surprises me and then I go awwww.

Today, as we were pulling in to the gas station, Musfira piped up from the back seat, “Momma, can I have e-plus full please?”  Well, that’s what I know what she meant, but it actually sounds like, “momma, kinna haff e-pwuss foo peez?”

And then there was the time she tattled on Iman, who was saturating her bath with bubbles straight from the bottle- “momma, eeman pudda bubbos too much inna baff!”  I had to go in and look stern and tell Iman to put the bubble bath away while inwardly giggling at the squeaky little accusation that brought me there.

Musfira doesn’t sound like a baby.  She sounds like someone pretending to sound like a baby- she has a comically high-pitched little voice, and all the typical substitutions for consonants.  Please isn’t please, it’s pweez.  Khalid isn’t yet Khalid, he’s ka-lee.  Musfira is… wait for it… moos-fwa.

It’s cuteness overload, and it disarms me when Musfira does things like say… draw on her self, the walls, floor, desk, and my computer with permanent marker, and then explain her work to me in her proudest little squeak: momma wook! happee buffday face!

Then there was the time when HF walked in on Musfira industriously scribbling on a wall.  “Musfira, what is this??” HF asked angrily.

Musfira pointed to the scribble and said:

“Issa ‘asfoor, Baba. Tweet tweet?”

‘Asfoor is bird in Arabic. Obviously Baba.  Tweet tweet.

Moos-fwa.  She’s Baba’s little pwincess.  She fights and bites and swings like a monkey from the rails of her elder sister’s bunk bed.  She crawls around the house meowing and uses her devious little fingers to open purses, poke food in the refrigerator, and last week- accidentally lock herself into my bedroom.

She was supposed to be sleeping, but at roughly 9:30 last Thursday she was banging on the other side of my bedroom door with her tiny fists, begging to be let out.  Having successfully climbed out of her crib, she turned the key- instead of the handle- in the door and began what would be twenty minutes of panicking in the dark while HF and I tried to figure out how to break into our own bedroom.

HF was contemplating smashing the window when Musfira accidentally unlocked the door- Alhamdulillah.  She ran out -tear-stained, pink-faced, her eyes puffy- and  into my arms, then HF’s arms, and then the arms of a friend of HF’s who had been with him when I called HF home from the masjid to help rescue Musfira… She was properly traumatised.

You would think she’d have learned her lesson, but two days later, I heard her little voice crying from the other side of the door.  It wasn’t locked (we no longer keep the key in it) and as I pushed it open carefully, I saw Musfira blinking in the light- wearing HF’s shoes on her feet and HF’s socks on her arms.  I’m not sure what she had been planning, but it must have been an interesting idea.

In a nutshell, that’s Musfira.  She hasn’t gotten much attention on the blog because for the majority of her life to date, she’s been a squishy pink blob of adorable baby fat without much to report.  However, as she’s growing out of her diapers and into her shoes as a fully-fledged toddlersaurus rex, she’s making our little home crazier, cuter, exponentially louder, and way more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.  Yes, having three children under the age of seven is difficult, but it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever done with my life, and I adore it- and her for it.  Alhamdulillah. 🙂

They grow up so fast?

This morning, as I was power-walking up the hall on the way out the door (to drop kids off at school) I was stopped in my tracks by this:

Musfira in her footie pajamas, standing at the bathroom door where HF was inside getting ready for work, holding a sippy-cup in one hand and knocking gently with the other gently calling out- “Jaan? Jaan!”


Blue, Pink, or Betrayal?

We do not yet know the gender of the baby, but for future reference, let’s call him or her Stringbean. No HF, I am NOT calling the baby Grandpa Wilkins. Yes, I know it’s a perfectly nice handle. No, I don’t want to attach it to a baby.

So yes, Stringbean. Khalid was my Jellybean. Iman was my Mysterybean because she evaded gender detection for almost 7 months via artful positioning and kung-fu fighting during ultrasounds. Stringbean is Stringbean because at my last ultrasound, the doctor took a look at the screen and said oh, that’s a long baby! I asked her what she meant. She said the head size was normal for the number of weeks of pregnancy, but the rest of the baby looked to be pretty long. This, she said, made sense because I was ‘tall too.’ I didn’t have the heart to tell this lovely, petite Asian OB that I’m only tall compared to lovely, petite Asian OB’s, but that’s ok. We have a long baby. We have a Stringbean. 🙂

When I first learned that we were expecting Stringbean, I refused to admit that I was hoping for a Boybean or a Girlbean, and I held the line that I would be happy with whatever Allah gave us and that was that. I already had Khalid and Iman, Boy and Girl, Salt and Pepper, so it’s not like I needed any specific pieces to complete the matching set but the truth is, I was in denial.  I wanted a boy, and I wanted a normal one.  I felt horribly guilty about this, and when I finally confessed this to HF one tearful night, he hugged me and asked me why I felt bad about that. Hoping for a boy, I felt, was like implying that I didn’t already have a son- like Khalid was not valid as a little male human being and I was telling the Manufacturer this one’s not working right so I want a new one.

And HF nodded and said I know, I want a boy too. And I was shocked, but it seemed less heinous coming from HF than it felt in the dark and guilty recesses of my mind, because wanting a boy has nothing to do with Khalid and everything to do with Khalid at the same time.  Wanting another son isn’t a matter of betrayal, but practicality.  Khalid is special, unique, difficult, academically advanced and socially delayed, verbally unintelligible to the uninitiated and physically confusing in his quirks and stims.

InshaAllah, he has a future and a rizq and a place in this world because Allah has written all of these things for him and is not unfair to any of His creations. But Khalid is going to need some help, and one day, HF and I are going to die. Iman will be married, and while I have no doubt that she will always share a special bond with Khalid, she may not always be in a position to support or help him when he needs it most. Or rather, let’s put it this way: Iman will have an easier time looking out for Khalid if she’s not the only one. Adding another Salt shaker to the set means that Khalid has a matching set of siblings to count on after his matching set of parents- Father and Mother, Provider and Nurturer, Protector and Soother, are gone.

The pregnancy is starting to show, and other autism mothers I meet look shocked when they hear we’re expecting our third child. “You’re so brave,” one mother told me last week, whose son was just diagnosed a month ago and who has lost seven kilos from the stress. “We want to have another baby but we are so scared. We don’t want him to be left alone when we die, but what if we have another child with autism?”

I told her, frankly speaking, that when I found out I was expecting Iman, I cried and it was NOT out of happiness. It was out of frustration and hopelessness and the feeling of failure that I felt from raising a little boy who didn’t even respond to his own name. This was before Khalid was diagnosed, we just knew that Khalid was different and difficult, and I felt like I could barely handle him, so how on earth would I cope with another one? SubhanAllah, to say the least, Iman is a blessing. When most parents of autistic children pay over 300 dirhams an hour for their child to take part in a specially structured ‘play group session’ with neurotypical children, Khalid lives with one. Iman was his first play-mate, his first enemy and the first peer he had ‘conversations‘ with. Iman taught Khalid how to pull hair, pinch, kick and run- and also, how to defend himself and rise to the defense of others.

Iman has been a challenge, a laugh-riot, a pretty pink princess crowned with ferocity, slathered in resilience, and lovingly adorned with sweet little kisses and precise deadly pinches. We will never need a TV- watching Khalid and Iman simply coexist is more hilarious, dramatic, entertaining, riveting, frustrating, and awe-inspiring than Comedy Central, Discovery, NatGeo, and Hallmark all rolled into one.

And now, InshaAllah, there’s going to be three of them. And what if the next child has autism? Well, the good news is, we already have a full-time therapist. And program materials. And a great case manager and a better idea of which nurseries, schools, play-areas, toys, people, malls, shopping-carts, are best for children with autism. So SubhanAllah, we’re better prepared now for an autistic child than we ever were with Khalid. So if Allah decides to grant us another special little child with very special needs, than I am grateful that we’ve been prepared this time. 🙂

And what if the next child is a girl?  Then I would like her to be named Khawla, after the amazing Muslim heroine that would have been completely unknown to me were it not for a cross-posting on Badass of the Week (actual site name, pardon my French).  Khawla travelled with the army of Khalid bin Waleed, ironically enough, accompanied by her brother, a commander and famous warrior-poet named Derar.  She would tend the wounded and sick, but one day, would move beyond that role when her brother went down in battle and was captured by Byzantine soldiers.  Khawla, seeing him taken from a distance, dropped what she was doing, covered her face with a strip of black cloth and her body in a shawl, and rode off, sword in hand, to go rescue him.

“Khalid watched a knight, in black attire, with a big green shawl wrapped around his waist and covering his bust. That knight broke through the Roman ranks as an arrow. Khalid and the others followed him and joined battle, while the leader was wondering about the identity of the unknown knight.”

Other soldiers in the battle saw her fighting with such ferocity that they thought her to be Khalid Bin Waleed himself, and when Khalid Bin Waleed appeared with a number of knights to reinforce Khawla, one knight turned to him and said “Who is that knight? By God, he has no regard for his safety!”

Eventually the battle was won, but her brother was nowhere to be seen. Khalid Bin Waleed demanded that the unknown knight reveal his identity, and when Khawla was discovered to be the sister of Derar, Khalid ordered his army to chase the fleeing Roman Army with Khawla leading the attack.

I won’t give the entire and seriously awesome story away, you can read the entire (and profanity-free) article here and I am not linking the place where I originally read it, due to the use of four-letter words used gratuitously, albeit, in admiration of Khawla.  But I digress.

It is a mercy, blessing, and gift from Allah that when we see things through the lens of trust and Taqwa that we have the opportunity to relax.  All good is in Allah’s hands.  All difficulty is a trial through which we may become stronger.  All ease is a blessing and there is no hopelessness for those who trust unfailingly in His will.  If our next child is a healthy, neurotypical boy, Alhamdulillah.  If our next child is a healthy, neurotypical girl, Alhamdulillah.  And if our next child is autistic, regardless of the gender, Alhamdulillah.

I am praying for a healthy boy, because Allah tells us to call upon Him and ask of Him, even for a shoelace.  He is, after all, the Owner of every treasure, known and unknown, seen and unseen, in the universe and beyond the known universe.  Hoping for a healthy boy and then not asking the One who can provide one would be a gross oversight on my behalf.  But I am also praying that Allah grant me a child who inherits Jannah, and if that means a person who is never questioned because they can never tell the difference between right and wrong, then that too is a blessing.

Alhamdulillah. 🙂

And now that the cat’s out of the bag…

Phew! I can finally blog about what’s been on my mind!

Ok, what’s up with the Nuchal Translucency screening? And why did my doctor ask me if I wanted one? I asked her what it was for, and she said that measuring the Nuchal fold in a developing fetus could help determine whether or not your baby has a chromosomal abnormality.

*awkward silence*

And then what?

Well, if it’s positive, you can get further testing done to determine whether your baby has Down’s Syndrome.

And then?

Well, then about 90% of fetuses with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.

You know, they’re working on a prenatal screening for autism. So that potentially, individuals who have autistic traits can be identified before they’re born.

I wonder how high the abortion rate would be, and I think of how amazing, how silly, how sweet, how challenging and fulfilling it is to have Khalid as my son, and how awful it is that parents should choose to kill their children out of… what, fear? Laziness? A murderous need for the neurotypical? An overpowering revulsion to special children? If both of my children were normal then perhaps someone who supported prenatal screening (and subsequent abortion) could tell me to get off my high horse and that I shouldn’t judge a man until I’ve walked a mile in his moccasins, etcetera etcetera. But I don’t have a horse and I know for a fact that Allah does not test anyone more than they can bear. I’ve walked a few miles in special needs moccasins, thank you very much, and I think parents who kill their children out of fear should have their moccasins removed and thrown at them.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.  The Qur’an, Surah Al-Isra, 31

Is fear of poverty the same thing as whatever it is people are fearing when they abort babies with Down’s Syndrome?  I’m not sure what exactly it is they’re afraid of- fear that their child will be made fun of?  So let’s screen for babies with really big ears.  Fear that their child won’t be able to hold a job?  Let’s screen for incompetency too then.  Oh, and blindness!  Don’t forget blindness!  Maybe it’s fear that their child will never lead a ‘normal’ life?  Well, I don’t know if they can develop a prenatal test for turning into an alcoholic or drug addict or someone with bipolar disorder, and I think humanity has yet to apply a standard for what a ‘normal’ life is, but let’s run with this, shall we?

Let’s develop a prenatal test to screen for any and all conditions that cause children to face challenges throughout their lives while causing their parents to sweat blood and bleed tears to provide medical care, education, and adequate opportunities for their children in a world that doesn’t give a hoot.

And then, let’s abort the entire human race.

Because every child is hard work.  Every child costs money.  Every child is in danger of ‘not leading a normal life’ and no child, no matter how thick their Nuchal fold is or how low their amniotic testosterone rate is, comes with a guarantee for an easy upbringing, a bright future, and a normal life.  Being normal isn’t a guarantee of all things bright and beautiful  any more than being ‘abnormal’ means a life-sentence of misery, toil, and complete unhappiness for the entire family + the affected child.

In all of this, I don’t feel sorry for the aborted children as much as I do the parents who chose to abort them.  The children got a one-way ticket to Paradise.  They were made for Jannah.  It’s the parents who have cheated themselves out of the most rewarding journey they could possibly have embarked on, the greatest test of their patience and the greatest blossoming of love they could feel for another human being.  On a side note, they’ll have some questions to answer in the next life.  But in this life even, they have cheated themselves.

You’ll never know how amazing it is to stand on top of the mountain unless you’ve climbed all the way to the top.

I told the doctor no thank you, I have one special needs child and I can have another one.  She nodded at me and smiled.

“Good,” she said.  “I have a special needs child too.  And I would not have it any other way.”

Me neither.  AllahuAkbar.

A Letter from HF

Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuhu everyone-
Alhamdulilah we have some very good news to share.  Allah (SWT) is  insha-Allah blessing us with another child. The current expected date is set 2nd/3rd week of June.
We are very happy about this, especially since we can now justify the minivan with flame stickers and an “R-type” sticker in the back. The kids will love another companion, and we’re pleased that our extensive collection of car seats will provide more value.
I would be grateful if you could keep us in your duas- duas for our children and for their Islamic character, duas that they may become a source of comfort to us and a sadaqa jaariya. May  Allah (SWT) give all our children a character that He loves. Ameen.
I know you may already be asking: Waleed, in all of this, how are you doing? I’m doing great, thanks for asking! And yes, so is Abez. She is a fantastic trooper and thanks  Allah (SWT) every day for this blessing.
Jazak Allah Khair,