Thursday, 21 June 2018

I'm Back

New baby, New blog.
Still in Saudi Arabia and loving it!

So much has happened since I last wrote on this blog. It's been 4 years, I'm almost due with my 3rd Daughter, alhamduliah! I saw the comments on here, I hadn't signed in for years. The comments were so touching, made me feel so good. Thank you so much!

I hope to find some of you on my new blog, we also have a facebook group for Mothers in Saudi Arabia:
The Sandy Diaper- Mothering in Saudi Arabia.

It's a closed group for women only,

Join if you'd like to keep in contact and see what I've been up to in the last 4 years! Come and say Hi, tell me about yourselves. I'd love to see you all there.

I haven't decided if I want to continue this blog, allahu ahlam!

Thanks again for the support, the comments, and the emails and people who have reached out over the years. You are so precious to me.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ramadan 2014

A late Ramadan and Eid Mubarak to everyone! 

It's been extremely busy here with my family, Ramadan is always busy, but throw in another grand baby and life is flat out hectic! First, we made the travel from Riyadh to Al Baha to stay at our 'family home' with our inlaws (basically a large house with 6 apartments for each married child). I had to do a mad cleaning because it was musty and weird walking into the apartment for the first time in 6 months, I wont lie, I was on the lookout for lizards and scorpions, but I also wanted the place to be really tidy because I brought my 1 month old. Upon cleaning I found black mold (Al Baha is a cooler, damper area) which was lovely so we had to deal with that. Once the house was in good shape Ramadan started.

This year I fasted, I'm typically of the notion that I can hold off fasting while I'm breastfeeding a newborn, but as I'm tandem feeding and not worrying about supply issues, I decided to fast. The first week was really hard, it usually is, but more so because I was feeding two around the clock. My husband then came up with the brilliant idea to change our sleep pattern so that we woke up after Asr. Not a bad idea, until I started to get really depressed two weeks later. Surprise! No sunlight IS bad for you. So I was lazy, unproductive, and depressed for the most of this Ramadan. 

Having a newborn didn't help, having everyone want to take my newborn away and give me a break made me crazy. I'm grateful that they wanted to help, it takes a village, but come on THIS one just left my body. I'm not ready for a break! I did let them take my toddler, and she emerged from her serious sibling jealousy and reveled in all the attention she got. I'm so thankful for that, because it had been 4-6 weeks of screaming and nearly biting the new baby that I was dealing with ALONE in Riyadh. Glad it's over. Glad my children love each other, now. 

Now Ramadan is over and I'm reflecting. Not only did I achieve NOTHING (not unexpected, I achieved nothing after the birth of my first before Ramadan 2012) but I barely scraped by as a person. I wasn't myself, I certainly wasn't at the height of my Iman. I was pissy. I was stubborn and unwilling to participate in nearly everything due to child exhaustion and fasting. I, yet again, did not finish the Quran. On Eid I woke up feverish and with the first ear infection I'd had since 6th grade- but I wasn't bummed. I didn't feel like I was in a celebratory mood! I didn't have a Ramadan! I DID fast, but what is fasting when your heart just isn't in it? Half of me thinks I just don't want to end up with 90 days of incomplete fasts or something. I'm being very candid here because I know I'm not alone in this, and I need to be truthful to myself if I'm going to fix it. 

My best Ramadans were after I married my husband, he was living in Saudi Arabia and I was living in my own apartment. I was working, I was out of school, and it was summer. It was beautiful, the days were very long (17ish hours for me), but I felt a sense of fulfillment by the time I broke fast (which is why I will never sleep through a day of Ramadan AGAIN). I was reading Quran and perfecting how to pray every day, by night I was sharing Ramadan treats with my Iraqi neighbors upstairs and finishing my nights with long bubble baths and even longer prayers.

So, looking back, I knew how to do it once! What ruined Ramadan?

The hectic schedule of new motherhood.
Breastfeeding calories, or lack of, making me starve to death.
Still being relatively new to Saudi Arabia, not feeling at home.
Learning to 'navigate' worship and fasting around my husband and kids.
Saudi cultural foods overfilling me and making me lethargic.
SLEEPING by day (worst idea EVER).
Being sleep deprived because of sleep change and new baby, not waking for prayers.

I'm guilty of all of it this year, which is why even if I pop out a new baby next year or I'm breastfeeding 10 I'm still going to try to tweak Ramadan to make it better.

My GOALS or things to remember for next year which I didn't do this year are:

  1. Don't mess with the sleep pattern. I'm not cheating my fasts, it's not any shorter. It's not better for me. I basically hurt myself by not going outside and seeing daylight for a full month with is just STUPID. 
  2. With that changed, making my own food and bringing it to the giant family iftar will ensure I eat what I want, or what I should be eating so I can avoid getting sick or gaining too much weight. (I overate almost every night).
  3. I'm going to try to include my kids in my worship as much as possible, the idea of having alone time between me and Allah was spoiled by the very blessing of the kids he gave me so I might as well embrace it and learn to deal with it. God knows it's going to be like this for the next 10 or 15 years anyway. 
  4. Focus on prayer. Praying on time will keep me on track.
  5. I WILL decorate and get myself in the mood for Ramadan, which I fooled myself into thinking I had time for this year. 
Inshallah next year will be better. I know it will be, the kids will be that much older, I will have grown more comfortable with where I am and as long as I'm not making stupid mistakes I'm sure I'll make the most of it.

Now to prepare for my sister in law's wedding tomorrow!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

My labour and delivery of Eliene

At 34 weeks I went into my appointment with a headache that had been bothering me for 2 days prior. I was weighed and my blood pressure was taken, the nurse paused and told me she would be back.
When the nurse returned it was brought to my attention that my usually lower blood pressure was so through the roof that I was going to explode...
That explained the headache and chest pains!
The doctor regretfully told me I would be induced at 39 weeks and that I was showing signs of pre eclampsia. I was put on meds and sent home full of FEAR that I just bought myself a ticket to a c section in a foreign country by a doctor I had only seen twice.
As time went on the blood pressure didn't let up, neither did my symptoms or my mood. At my 38 week appointment I went in fully expecting to be induced on the spot because of chest pain. I was right.
I was whisked away from my family, admitted, and the induction process started all within 30 minutes. I couldn't believe it.
They gave me a cervical ripener which would take 12 hours to work, though contraction got painful within 5 minutes. I was over responding, which means I was either already in labour when I came ( hence elevated bp) or my body just did not like what I was doing. For 8 more hours I tried to get comfortable while having pretty severe contractions, I danced in my lonely hospital room while my husband took care of Eliana. I figured dancing would lighten my mood and take me out of the scared place I was going into. It was all fun until a nice Filipino nurse walked in... she laughed, I was embarrassed.  It was then that I was told that the contractions weren't showing on the machine.  This discouraged me and I couldn't handle another nurse seeing my moves so I laid down. (Barely laid down, anyone whose been in labour knows you can't lay down)
When they checked me they were shocked to find I was a 5 rather than a 2 and that I HAD been experiencing contractions. It was great news, except my husband was still with Eliana and all of my thoughts were on where Eliana was going to end up and with whom. I guess I started to panic, I had chest pain and dizziness again. 
They left the room and food arrived, I sat up and my water broke. Everything, the panic I felt, the pain, absolutely everything overwhelmed me and I didn't know why.  At this point I was quickly whisked away to the delivery room. By the time we got there I was a six!
So I called my husband for support, he came and we tried all of the coping techniques we knew. I can remember telling him I was going to continue to go naturally, then decided not to, and went back and forth a hundred times walking down a tiny hallway. I was in pain, things were happening fast and I felt like my head was going to explode. My husband was making jokes, I thought I was going to murder him, but luckily I felt the contractions slightly worsen and that saved his life.
Our midwife came, she encouraged me to finish naturally but 15 minutes later I felt as if I was going to faint. I was able to overcome it, but then it happened again. I felt as if I was suffocating, I was shaking and my heart was pounding. Something felt very wrong. We decided to get the epidural even thought we wanted a natural birth. The midwife expressed that she thought I was having an anxiety attack and I chose a good option if it meant that I could relax. ( Turns out I was, and I have had 5 more since. That's another story for another day.)
15 minutes later a wave of calm came over me. I could breathe. I could talk! I laughed with my husband and expressed my fears to my midwife. 
In just about no time it was time to push, my epidural was minimal and I was able to feel everything ( which I prefer). Pushing was strange, at first it was like I forgot how to push, but after trying twice I remembered. I kept apologizing for not remembering, which is funny because I was saying things outloud that I was thinking. Very weird. 24 minutes and I delivered beautiful Eliene!
It was so short compared to my first daughter that I'm still in disbelief.

Alhamdulilah for another relatively 'simple' birth,

The Second Child

I'm a first child. I'm the only girl since my mother in a family of many, many men. I've been favorite. I'm spoiled, well loved, and though there is only 11 months between my brother and I, I am still reaping the benefits of being the firstborn. 

I was never really interested in the dynamics of birth order, I don't think a person's personality perks or flaws can be determined by who came when. My brothers were both smart, academically I was a stronger student but we come from smart parents so it's no surprise my brothers are also intelligent and open minded. I'm stubborn and determined, I suppose that could be because I am firstborn and therefore the Columbus in our household. I married first, moved away first, had the first grandchildren. I saw this in my daughter, Eliana, too. 

She was not first grandchild, but she was first female grandchild in  two families who really adore female children for some not- so obvious reason. Spoiled, also. She adventured with her dad and I, had her time alone as the only child, and built personality quickly and gracefully. 

I wasn't concerned about birth order at all, until I had Eliene, that is. I popped her out and the realization that I had birthed yet another female dawned on me and I was filled with excitement but also fear of the unknown.

I don't have a sister, I have no other females in my life. The second born in my family was a male, my brother, whose name is that inherited family name and he was celebrated, too! But what happens to Eliene? She's a girl. She has an older sister! Are people going to adore her, spoil her, and fall in love with her like they did Eliana? 

I swear, the night that followed her birth I even dreamt about it. I saw my daughters side by side, well adjusted and healthy, beautiful and... and similar. Too similar. I could not fathom a different personality for a girl than the one that I already knew. I woke up, rolled over and touched Eliene and cried. I not only know nothing about sisters, but I know nothing about parenting two girls. I felt doomed, or that I had doomed the precious little bundle beside me. 

Now, we can get into all of the 'fears' of being a mother to females in this day in age- there are thousands of worries that I will get to when the time comes, but my main fear RIGHT now is that I will somehow cause jealousy between my kids, though I show no favoritism. I already see how lucky my firstborn was, having her one on one time, no other screaming nurslings pulling at her mother during precious bonding time, no screaming in the background for someone to 'sit down!" or 'don't kick your sister!'. 

And oh my GOD is Eliene a different baby! She's calm, quiet, and easily consoled with love and milk. She sleeps well, she doesn't fuss when I dress her, and prefers me over her father. All of these things were the opposite with Eliana to the extreme. I feel so lucky that I have it 'easier' with her, but at the same time I am extremely relieved that she is SO different from her sister because there is some glimmer of hope that their dissimilarity will somehow make it easier for me to love them both equally without causing some rivalry or mental trauma. 

Of course I talked to my husband about this. He shrugged. His sisters are 10 years apart in age and down each other's throats, but that's probably because no one likes someone copying their every move every minute of every day. I can understand that. 

Oh, and now Eliana has decided she is not okay with the baby. 3 weeks in and she has realized that this visitor wasn't visiting. She screams and smacks and yells 'NO BABY!'. I can't even begin to understand how to defuse that anger and hurt she feels when she sees me nursing her sister and unable to play with her, or nurse her. She was never a jealous or angry child before this so I am stunned. She wants to be alone with me and even if I tried to give her alone time it will never be enough because things will never be as they were! How can I win? How could that have even been prevented? I introduced the two of them in the most thoughtful way, I was so sure I had done everything right.

I also underestimated how hard it is to have two kids under 2. One cries, the other cries. What do you do? How do you choose? One is tired, and the other is screaming, how can I put both to sleep? It's not the diaper changing and bathing, that can all be done at the same time- it's the fussing and crying that seems to happen at the same time every time. I'm trying to work out all the kinks and show them all of my love and I am just so overwhelmed that I'm just emotionally dumb and angry 24 hours a day.

I obviously have no regrets, and I love them both so much. Why else would I be worried? I just don't know where I stand and I don't see that comfortable place that everyone keeps telling me about- that magical moment when you can handle two kids without feeling like running into a room and crying afterwards.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Guess what?

So it's been a long time since I've written, and though I haven't been productive in blogger world I have been in real life.
To summarize:
Finally ate at le ch√Ęteau. I couldn't open doors, too much tech for me. Very fast escalator gave me a scare. Food was great though...
Made and delivered a beautiful child a week ago. Welcome Eliene!
Ended up in hospital, I'm here now with Eliene who just went from oompaloompa orange with jaundice to healthy pink. No idea why her levels were elevated but we may leave tonight. Dallah hospital IS nice but I miss my bed and the novelty of going up and down in this one wore off days ago.
Those are the highlights, I've also been managing floods of Zahrani family members who have come to greet Eliene. I miss my house. I have been an on demand cow for Eliene ( eel ean as my husband says it) since we've been admitted, nothing else to do but feed and watch that Funoon chanel that I laugh at but only understand 25% of. I miss my daughter Eliana. Did you notice yet that my kid's names are extremely similar? Government denied my name choice so we used my husband's so for now they are Elly and Nel... but not Nelly, that's too much.
That's about it for now. I'll have a lot more to update as Ramadan rolls in, then Eid, then Zahrani wedding season, and then back to Canada for the sole reason to lunch with my mom and let my husband run wild in the Canadian wilderness before he explodes.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Things to do before baby #2 update...

Ugh hate doing two posts in a day but my other didn't publish for a week. Don't know how I didn't notice...

Anyway, before I get into it I want to say something really important that I've learned: Just because it didn't get done, doesn't mean that you didn't accomplish anything! A lot of people attribute their failing to meet goals with laziness, but sometimes it's just the goal itself. Maybe the goal was too in depth, too hard, or much larger than you thought. I'm not always easy on myself, especially when it comes to parenting, but this time I think I've learned more than I've accomplished and that's an accomplishment in of itself.

I set some goals for myself, and since time is fleeting and I'm due soon I'm starting to notice that I'm not going to get close to any of my goals unless I push my daughter and I in impractical ways. I'm not cool with that for a lot of reasons, mainly, I don't believe that I can rush her 'growing up' process by using tough love and other people's parenting tactics. Call me what you will, an attachment parent, a pushover, but my daughter's wants and needs will never be ignored by me no matter HOW much I want them to let up. It's just not about me, or the new baby, or anyone else's expectations. It's about her, it's about making sure she is comfortable and loved and healthy.

The goals I set for myself were:
  1. Night wean Elly. 
  2. Sleep Train Elly.
  3. Have a hygiene schedule
  4. Independent toys. 
  5. Baby proof. 
  6. Dedicated one-on-one time. 
You might read this and think 'well those are all very basic parenting things'. They are! They are important, and I've done what I had to do but the end result wasn't what I expected nearly 80% of the time. Usually the end result was better, or similar but tweaked slightly. 

I didn't night wean my daughter, in fact, it would've been impossible to do that because she doesn't sleep in her own bed. And guess what! I'm not PUTTING her in her own bed, not when the new baby comes, and not right now. We got a king sized bed when we moved to Riyadh and it became apparent very quick that our bedsharing rules made co-sleeping very safe and while I worried and cared for a newborn I don't want to be worrying about my toddler waking up in the middle of the night, every night. It's not worth the sacrifice of sleep when we're all perfectly happy together in bed. A lot of people co sleep and say their husbands are ok with it, but sleep in another bed. My husband is not that kind of man, he's a cuddler, his kid's are cuddlers, and he loves sleeping beside the sweet heavy breaths of our little creation as much as I do. So, night weaning- is it going to happen? Nope. I ALSO learned about tandem nursing, and since my milk increased my daughter's feeding have increased and I noticed a huge change in her happiness- she's not lethargic, sad for no reason, or as needy when I breastfeed her. Now that I am feeding her regularly again, she's happy, I'm happy, and it is possible to nurse both of the kids- so I'll do it! It makes me life easier too, and a lot of moms don't feel that way, but I enjoy breastfeeding and I'm not at the point where I want to stop either.

Did I sleep train Elly? Nope. We tried and it was hell. She didn't know what was going on and was devastated. When we tried to adjust her napping, she did well, but she was also phasing out her 2nd nap. Now she sleeps when we do, wakes 11 hours later, and naps 4 hours after she wakes up for however long she needs. She put herself on a schedule, in a sense.  We tried to put her in her own bed, and we tried putting her down to bed before us. The problem with that was she likes to cuddle and she would roll over to hold onto someone and find no one there, she's wake up in a panic, in the dark, and then proceed to climb out of bed and bang on the door like an inmate. She, in my opinion, is too little for a drastic change- or actually, not too little, but at this stage in her development she's sensing feelings and she was sensing something negative from what we were doing and it was CHANGING her! She was never the type to cry when her dad went to work, and suddenly as soon as the door shut she would scream bloody murder. If I was in the bathroom and shut the door, she would get sad and call me until I was finished. She was going through separation anxiety like most kids her age do, and it wasn't a good time to change things up. Bedtime for her was safe time, and I couldn't force her.

All of the other goals to do with her were met, and exceeded what I expected and I'm just so glad. 

So, as you can see, not exactly everything in it's place but there were realizations and changes and I lost that NEED to meet a deadline. I feel better, she's doing very well with our setup, and my husband is still happy so I guess that's all that matters. Kids grow up fast enough without our prompting, so I figure I'd cuddle, coddle, and dote on her until she runs away from my slobbery kisses and stops laughing at my jokes.

The Biggest Update Ever ( by the laziest blogger ever)

Hi! Long time no talk.
It's been so long that I should read what my last post was about, but I don't have time, so I'm just going to get into it and pretend like I know where I left off.

SO! I finally moved to Riyadh, I'm actually loving it here. It's pleasantly well equipped with all of the shopping/food I could want and for a girl like me that's all I could ask for. Don't know what it is about burgers in this city, but it's a good thing that I don't mind eating burgers.

 Our apartment is shaping up, with some huge pitfalls along the way. One of them is that both of our bathrooms had working toilets when we got here, and they both managed to EXPLODE at the same time, too. Got that fixed, and the handyman cracked all my tiles whilst changing a freakin' hose. How? I don't know, he carries a hammer and smashes up Saudi's bathrooms for revenge or something. Oh! and we got our place painted, and I was relocated to the mall for HOURS because I'm pregnant and can't breathe in fumes/I'm a mother and I wont let my toddler breathe in fumes. After an exhausting mall day with tons of toddler tantrums I got home and there was paint ALL over my tile floors in EVERY one of our 6 rooms that now requires a razor and some elbow grease. Well guess what. It won't be my elbows or their grease cleaning that up. Nope. I'm in my third trimester and I am now qualified to lay down and eat bon bons all day, Dr's orders!

Other than that we're pretty blessed to have found the furniture basics we need for unbelievable prices, I thank ikea, and random souks with sweet spots for a Canadian accent. Actually, all credit is due to my husband the haggling king, even though he usually wastes his time, sometimes he can talk things down even a 1000 SAR. I don't know how he does it, he can be pretty scary though. We officially have a Tv unit, couch, kitchen table (no more eating on the floor YAY!), water cooler, full kitchen, bedroom set, and a washer/dryer unit. That's more than we've ever had as a couple I think, so alhamdulilah.

In all of my 23 years on this earth I have NEVER been so tired/in pain. I've even endured face breaking surgery and a natural delivery of a giant baby- but omg I'm such a baby when it comes to back pain! I had a little with Elly but this time around I'm really feeling it. It's been 3 weeks almost and apparently there is nothing that can be done except have the baby! So, most days I take it easy but after walking/cleaning I'm done for the day and it's really put a halt on what we can/can't do. I used to feel like a superwoman, but I now know how taxing pregnancy can be and totally regret if I ever thought anyone was lying about how crappy it can be sometimes. Thank God, I'm healthy, it's really just this ongoing pain thing that's got me down.

Without any surprise this baby is as big as Elly was, measuring a week or more ahead just like her big sister. Yep, and it's another girl! I'm not 100% convinced since they had also told us we were having a boy early on, but whatever this little one is I don't mind. I'm just happy she's healthy and I take comfort in every kick.

My due date changed as well, it's May 25th as opposed to June 1st, but knowing how long my last pregnancy went I still think we will have another June baby on our hands. We've started seeing a Dr at Dallah Hospital, I like this hospital a lot more than any I've been to in Saudi Arabia and I'm actually getting excited to go through the birthing process again. My main concern was the Dr, and both of our candidates are pretty good. One is a regular OBGYN who is incredibly honest but full of information. We'll meet with the other next week, inshallah, a British midwife, I believe. She handles natural births and so I hope we can click with her.

Elly is 21 months now and thriving. Mashallah, she's talking and singing all day. Her vocabulary seems to boom over night, and she knows almost every word in BOTH languages which just shows how teaching your kids the OPOL (one parent, one language) method really seems to work. Our OBGYN thought she was 3 years old, and was surprised when I told her she wasn't even 2 yet. She's a strong, bright little girl whose toothy smile lightens my mood every day. She still nurses, and we've decided to let her wean herself because she's not showing any signs of letting up. She also reminds me more and more of my  mom and brother Richard, which is more than any of us could ask for after his loss. She's daring and cheeky like him, she's full of a similar energy and my parents have pointed out a lot of her mannerisms are a lot like his. Even her hair. I really take comfort in the similarities, and though it makes me cry and miss him most of the time, I know I carry a little of him with me at all times.

Somehow I think this next baby will be a lot like me, and by a lot like me, that means a lot like my brother Robert, too. That's the beauty of family, they'll never really be gone. Little pieces pop up all over the place, and it doesn't matter if you like it or not, but that's the nature of it all.

I'm excited that my mom will be here at the end of May, inshallah. I can't wait to have her back, making me food and taking care of me. I wish my dad could come, but we'll be going back to Canada for 6 weeks in Sept/Oct with the new baby.

Even though life here is hard at times, I've got a lot to look forward to and there is no doubt how blessed I am. I know time will fly and the baby will be here, and before I know it we'll all be travelling home. I'm taking comfort where I can get it.