Time seems to have taken on a world of its’ own lately. In 42 days at the latest, we will, insh’Allah be holding our baby boy. It seems a lifetime ago that we got our positive test. It seems too soon to actually be parents! I’ve struggled to always enjoy being pregnant. It’s challenged me mentally in ways I’d never comtemplated. It’s forced me to reevaluate my relationship with my body, with my husband, with myself, with those dear to me/us. It’s highlighted repeatedly those who aren’t around, versus those who are and has made me feel in turn lost, lonely and isolated or overwhelmed with family and friends who love us.
Pregnancy’s been far from the idyllic experience I’d thought it would be, but has held some moments which have been more precious than I could ever have dreamt. The first time I felt a movement (i was at home alone, I rang G crying. I photographed the moment), the first time G felt him move (we were hugging and my tummy moved against him – just a flutter but enough); seeing him grow in ultrasound scans – watching him turn from a ‘bean’ into a baby; identifying him as our son. The excitement and joy in my Grandad’s voice when we rang to tell him he could expect a great grandson…the empty, aching feeling in my heart realising he won’t be here to ever meet that grandson.
And suddenly, we have weeks, days left and there’s so much I’ll miss….
I remember being 12 weeks pregnant and sharing the news with a friend. It was Ramadan, the Islamic holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. As a relatively new muslim, to observe the fast felt immensely important and being unable to submerse myself fully in the month of repentance and reflection had shaken me. The previous year I’d fasted for the first time and had found a spiritualness in my religion, in myself that I’d never felt before. In the months since, I’d become more thorough in my practise of faith, dutifully offering the five daily prayers, wearing the hijab, learning more and more about Islam in compliance with the Koranic orders “read”, “learn”…I felt more ‘Muslim’ than I had before, I wouldn’t be offering my fasts. It shook me. That night, after I’d shared a meal with my friend as she broke her fast, we went to pray in the closest mosque. (It happened to be the ‘Blue Mosque’ in Sultanhamet, probably one of the most iconic worldwide. It’s the only mosque in Turkey, and I think throughout Europe where the Koran is recited 24/7, mashallah.) After we’d prayed we sat together for a while, watching the tourists gaze in awe at the mosaics and observers in turn, watching muslims old, young, of all race and sect kneel to pray. Hearing the hypnotic arabic vowels echo around us. It was then I realised the most magical part of my pregnancy to date, the time it felt most real, was as i prayed. It was in those seconds, minutes when I took myself out of the ‘world’ around, to a place of reflection and peace that I felt pregnant, that my baby was real and that we’d been granted the greatest gift Allah can bestow.
And now as my pregnancy draws to an end, and there’s so much I’ll miss….G’s head on my tummy as baby wriggles in response to his voice; those afternoons when it’s just bump and I, contentedly sharing headphones listening to the ‘classics’ it’s inevitable he’ll grow up to moan about…it’s again prayer when I know I’ll feel it the most. It’s through prayer we ask God to protect those we love, to care for those we’ve lost. It’s through prayer we connect the then with the now, the here with the then and recognise the blessings in the tests. It’s through prayer we stop to see the beauty in the world and it’s in prayer I recall the blessed life I lead. So although I’m sure I’ll miss the sensation of moving both my baby and I into prostration together, I know to prepare for an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I pray myself with our baby in a crib to my side. Alhamduillah.