My youngest turned one today, and it is true what they say: ‘time flies’. My wife and I spent the day reminiscing on how quickly the time has gone and how we can’t believe that little Sal is now 1. I remember the night she was born, in fact I remember the birth of all my children.
Our eldest, was born in Kingston hospital after a very long labour. I think, with it being the excitement of the first baby, my wife and I forgot to rest during the early contractions. We soon started to regret that after 24 hours and no sign of baby. Rumaysah’s birth was not straightforward and the experience of a hospital birth led us to decide for a home birth for the second child.
Nusaybah was born at home; a small 2 bedroom flat in Coventry. This time I remembered to sleep. In fact at one time the midwife had to call for me as I had dozed off trying to put Rumaysah to bed. Eventually Nusaybah was born, fairly uneventful and relatively stress free.
We soon realised that home births was our thing and decided that little Faatiha would also be born at home. Home now, was a 3 bedroom house in Coventry and this time I managed to stay awake. The labour was a little longer than the previous time, but equally as painful. Faatiha was born around 2 am on Eid day, the best Eid present we could have.
As for little Salsabeel, where do I start? The whole pregnancy was uneventful. My wife had the same pattern of morning sickness in the first trimester, which came to an end for the next two. My wife was low risk so we planned for a home birth again. Everything was fine, until the last few weeks. As part of the standard checks the midwife would measure my wife’s stomach to assess the possible size and weight of the baby. They started to predict that the baby would be big. All my other children were around the 7lb mark, which is pretty normal I think, but with this one predicted to be big, my wife had gone from low risk to a higher risk. The midwives were using terms like ‘shoulder dystocia’ and the possible need to dislocate the babies shoulder during delivery. Others spoke about a risk of brain damage, although they could not quantify the risk. In what should have been the ‘stress free’ period before the actual birth, we spent our time on google searching these new terms.
My wife’s contractions started lightly in the evening and carried on through the night and most of the next day. Some people say giving birth gets easier the more children you have, but in my wife’s case it is a drawn out process with the midwife constantly saying ‘not long now’ as the hours were passing by. Eventually little Sal was born just after midnight. Normally, I would hear a couple of cries from the baby, the midwife would wrap here in a towel and present to us our new bundle of joy. This time was different. There was no crying, no towel and no bundle of joy. Instead the midwives took our baby to the other side of our bedroom where they had created a small resuscitation unit. Salsabeel was not breathing. From one ear I remember hearing my wife, still in pain asking if everything was OK and in the other ear I could hear the midwives saying “Come on baby, give us a cry”. In the middle was me, helpless, not knowing what to do except hold my wife’s hand. Many babies, when born, need a little help to take their first breath, it is actually fairly common. But when it happens you can’t help but realise how helpless you are as a human being. After what was probably only a minute, but seemed like forever, we heard the cry and we had Salsabeel a healthy baby, hitting the scales at a whopping 4kg. (9lbs)
A year on, Salsabeel is this little terror. Blink your eye for a moment and she’s climbing half way up the stairs. She’s a little smiler, has already developed a taste for chocolate and much to my wife’s annoyance she calls me by my name. But occasionally I remember the moment when she was born…..
The birth of all my children gave me the sense of being weak, needy and helpless. You stand there watching your wife go through the pains of child birth and the most you can do is hold her hand, rub her back and offer words of encouragement. Then there is the actual birth, and really I felt like a spectator just watching the event taking place in front of my very eyes. We live in a world where men are expected to be all macho with bravado. We live in a society which denies the existence of a creator and tells you that you have complete control over everything, but there is nothing more humbling and thought-provoking then recognising your weaknesses and the need to submit to the creator.
Allah (swt) in numerous verses of Quran informs us of His majesty, power and mercy. All of this should humble us and make us ready and willing to submit to Him (swt). However, Allah (swt) informs us that mankind is obstinate, thinking that he knows better, thinking that he is better that Allah (swt) the Lord of the Worlds.
Allah (swt) says: “O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Most Generous? Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and gave you due proportion; In whatever form He willed, He put you together.” [TMQ Al-Infitar: 6-8]
Allah (swt) fashioned us and gave us our form. He (swt) gave us life, sustains our existence and is the one who takes our life away. We have no control over these things. With this perfectly fashioned form, we can either submit to our creator, in the sphere we can influence, or become disobedient and careless regarding Allah (swt).
The favours of Allah (swt) upon us are numerous, innumerable to count. If one of these favours, such as our sight, hearing or taste was to be removed our life would be so different. But are we grateful?
Allah (swt) says: “And He gives you all that you ask for. But if you count the favours of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is an extreme wrong doer, highly ungrateful.” [TMQ Ibraheem : 34]
The default position of mankind is one of submission. Allah (swt) created us all with a pure disposition and the propensity to be guided. However, one of the greatest obstacles to worshipping Allah (swt) is the very society we live in. A society, which is built upon the existence of Allah (swt) and geared around the need to worship, will constantly remind you of the creator. Submission is natural and deviation is rare. However the opposite is true in secular societies. Denying the existence of Allah (swt), places all the focus of the individual. He starts to take pride in himself, worshipping himself in competition with the creator.
Allah (swt) challenges such people and such notions when He (swt) says: “O mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it carefully; Verily! Those on whom you call besides Allah cannot create even a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatched away a thing from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are both the seeker and the sought.” [TMQ Hajj: 73]
Humans are amazing creatures, but we should never forget that we are a creation that has been created to worship Allah (swt), believe and do righteous deeds. This is what gives us honour and pride, otherwise we are humiliated.
Allah (swt) says: “Certainly We created man in the best of forms. Then We rendered him the lowest of the low. Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, so they shall have a reward never to be cut off” [TMQ at-Tin: 4-6].
So as a father and husband I am weak and needy. But that is fine, because we are all weak and needy. My limitations points to the existence of a creator, Allah (swt) and make me appreciative of the blessings that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon me.
My 4 children are a blessing, watching their birth was a blessing and ultimately feeling helpless was a blessing. Those feelings I felt of helplessness and weakness was not actually weakness but a strengthening of conviction in Allah (swt) and the building of the need to submit to Him (swt).
The birth of my children show me that no matter how great I think I am, Allah is the greatest. No matter how powerful I think I am, Allah is the most powerful, No matter how wise I think I am, Allah is the most wise and no matter how merciful I think I am Allah is the most merciful.
I am a weak and needy parent, but Allah (swt) helps me fulfil my needs and gives me strength – Alhamdulillah.