What is the definition of perfection?
I stood at my kitchen window looking out early one morning, watching the birds who visit me daily chirp away happily awaiting their morning meal of dry pieces of bread which I throw out to them. The little bird that I was observing pecked a small piece of bread quickly, it looked around and then its beak went to work tirelessly as it broke down its meal. And as I stood there staring at this creature that Allah had created, staring at this bird for a few minutes longer than I normally would have, I was amazed at how perfectly Allah had created it, I marveled at it! SubhanAllah…
I watched the way that its head moved around, the way that it ate its meal, the way that it spread its wings to take flight when it was done. My baby’s tiny feet fluttered gently against my swollen belly as if in acknowledgment of what I was thinking…
But for weeks, for months, for a very long time actually, I wondered; why does Allah create some things perfectly yet He creates other things imperfectly?
Who does he choose to hand the dry scraps to and how does He make His choice?
Did I do something wrong for Him to have selected me?
Was this my punishment for something?
And what is perfection exactly?
Does it vary or is it always the same?
And finally… Why was I robbed of perfection!!!!!????
Thoughts such as these plagued me, they pulverized me emotionally, they consumed and paralyzed me inwardly.
I would sit in a trance like state trying to see, to decipher, to unearth the reason behind why this was happening to me….
I knew that this was Allah’s decree,it was His will of course and Allah Ta’ala always knows best! I knew this, I was created with and I live with the light of eemaan surging through me Alhamdulillah…. But I had lost the Yakeen, the faith with certainty that comes hand in hand with that gift of eemaan…
And so at the oddest and rarest moment, anger, confusion, rage and ingratitude would engulf me like a fire eats greedily at the arid desert land!
I wondered WHY all the time! I wondered Why MY baby!
While walking down the dairy aisle in the supermarket I would randomly think WHY me???
While brushing my teeth, I would look at the reflection of my growing belly on the bathroom mirror and I would cry WHY us????
While my baby kicked and then turned position from within me, nestling itself into a cozy corner, I would ask it, WHY you??
What had I done wrong and what had I done to deserve a child such as this!
Why couldn’t it just be the way that I pictured it to be?
Why couldn’t it play out the way that it normally does? Girl meets guy, they get married, they have babies and live happily ever after….
Instead I was stuck on an incomplete and uncertain chapter in the story of my life. Reading the same lines over and then over again without moving on, without being able to move forward…
” Your baby has Down’s Syndrome”
” Your baby will be abnormal”
” Your life is going to be difficult”
These are the lines upon which I was stuck reading and then re-reading…
Some moments I couldn’t even think of my baby as a child. I couldn’t picture a perfect baby with cute little pudgy toes or red lips and pink cheeks but rather I pictured deformed and unsightly images. These images forced their entry into my nightmares too as I tossed and turned drenched in tears, drenched in sweat and fear …
But in the end we chose to keep the baby….
I did not have the amnio. But was it “we” or was it “me” that chose this?
Sometimes I think that I just went along with whatever my husband wanted to do ashamed to admit that I might not have wanted this less than perfect child….
My husbands answer came immediately as if he didn’t even need to consider it…
“This is “our child” ” he said… “Of course we’re keeping it”….
I nodded as I looked down. He never asked me if I wanted to keep it, he’ll never know that I contemplated aborting it… It never occurred to him that perhaps I wanted to walk away from this kind of a life just as one walks away from an incomplete task. It never occurred to him that perhaps we could begin all over again. To him, for him, this was his child and our child but to me I had lost the connection that I had felt for my baby!
It was like carrying around a heavy rock, a burden and an ache… It didn’t feel like I was carrying around a child…..
But I knew that these emotions and thoughts were very wrong. I was ashamed at myself and angry at the world….
Is it a crime that I felt this way?
Does anyone have the right to judge me?
And aren’t we all liable to err and to being judged!
But why do we always forget to ask ourselves; how can I pass judgment when I haven’t walked the path that she has in her uncomfortable shoes!
The rest of my pregnancy saw me trudge around with heavy feet that had very little to do with water retaining in them but they trudged heavily out of dread, out of meeting what the future held for me. I tried to get everything into place for the arrival of my imperfect little bundle of apparent joy without any joy, with no pleasure and with no desire to. My motions were robotic and most of the time I was emotion-less and if I did shed emotion it was silent, it was inward, it was vile and violent like spittle flying around eating away at me with an invisible poison…
I resented this child….. I resented life….
Slowly and unknowingly I was churning and turning into someone I never knew I could or would become. A person that was unrecognizable to me for her image was hidden by the darkness of grey shadows.
I would need a caesarian section as per the doctors recommendation. This was a unique baby and my doctor wanted to be in control of the birthing process in case anything went wrong. I guess that’s just how we are as human beings, always wanting to and trying to control everything whilst forgetting that the Eye in the sky has His Hand on Everything…..
I was numb. I didn’t even care what type of birth I had, where I had it or with who I had it. I just agreed to whatever the doctor told me.
It never occurred to me that perhaps the doctor was wrong!
Could doctors be wrong?
Perhaps this was a fleeting test, a test of faith. Perhaps things could have turned out differently!
Instead I accepted my fate, I accepted the doctors word, defeated…
To me the future was the image of a huge mountain with an impossible terrain which I dreaded climbing! Which I could not see myself climbing.
Each time that my mind wandered to it, to the future, I closed my eyes trying to forget who I was or what awaited me.
But the grains of sand continued to fall….
The clock continued to tick….
And my baby continued to grow despite the poison that was coursing within me….
And then the day arrived…
Unannounced and in the control of the One who Controls Everything…..
My waters broke at precisely 5 am while I lay in bed on a Friday morning. Just like any first time mummy to be, I sat up in a fright unsure of what had just happened!
” Farhad“…. I said calmly….
“Uhm I think the baby is coming!”
I sounded so unsure of myself and his face just mirrored my own reflection as he looked at me with a dumbfounded expression which silently asked me,
“what do you mean the baby is coming“?
We didn’t have time to think, to react or to digest what was going on!
Was I in labor?
What was happening and what do we do?
Everything seemed to be out of our control, out of control! Yet so beautifully in sync and in control without any doing on either of our parts…
I ran and I hid away from what awaited me. I thought that if I did that, the future wouldn’t find me but when the painful and persistent knocking from my unborn child within me came, I had no choice but to open for him, I had no choice but to be ready….
Farhad and I sat there in a daze going through each wave of contraction trying to get me ready, to get me to the hospital, trying to get hold of the doctor…. I didn’t have a bag ready, I didn’t have my mind ready for this…
But my baby was ready and wanted to enter the world ….
As Allah had wanted him to….and so he did….
Yusuf was born at 5:39 am in my bedroom with the assistance of my husband and with the assistance of what felt like a host of invisible Angels!
It was like spinning through a whirlwind funnel. I didn’t know what was happening to me! The pain was so excruciating! All that I could do was utter silent duaas and pleas that Allah help me, that Allah let my baby be okay. And it was at that moment, while in the throes of what felt like death, that I realized I had become mostly muted in my conversations with Allah.
I never asked him to make my baby normal, I never asked him for strength, I swallowed what I was told by the doctors with a painful gulp as thorns ripped through me from the inside….
I accepted that my baby was going to be what they told me it would be and although I had the key to turning courses within my hands, I never used it. I never used the power of duaa, the tawakkul that I should have had in Allah…..
But when the ground shifted that Friday morning before dawn and my body writhed in pain as life made its way out of me and into this sad, lonely and mostly difficult world, all that I could think of was my baby being okay, whatever okay meant. I guess you would call it the motherly instinct…..
When my last breath escaped my tensed and pursed lips, with perspiration making its way down my neck and forehead, I instinctively looked down to gaze at him, without fear, without expectation. I just wanted to hold him.
He looked like nothing I had imagined. My Yusuf was perfect. Like a rosebud, he lay swathed in my arms, on my chest, peaceful and perfect.
The doctors were wrong!!!!
” Look!” I said to Farhad… ” There’s nothing wrong with him!!!”
My darling husband smiled at me….
Perhaps he knew that babies with Down’s Syndrome do not look any different from those born without it to the average eye or perhaps like me, he too believed that Prince Charming was perfectly normal….
My jubilation was short lived. The doctors at the hospital confirmed that my baby did in fact have Down’s Syndrome. They pointed out his subtle physical abnormalities, his eyes, his neck, they ran blood test’s too…
My hope, my expectation that they were wrong was short lived….
Like a waterfall gushes over the cusps of jagged rocks, and as the jagged rocks cut,bruise and cause to bleed those who (try to) make their way over them, my heart was ripped to shreds and it was left oozing with a silent pain as my tears flowed and flowed on like an unstoppable waterfall. I had no choices anymore, I had no option but to step over the jagged rocks as they cut into me….
What was I going to do with a life like this, a life like mine, I thought. This is not how I envisioned my perfect family!
Everyone tried to console me, to offer me hope, to remind me to turn to Allah but I couldn’t hear them, at that point I was inconsolable. All that I heard was every negative thought that the devil spat at me!
I was aching and bleeding from within and no one and nothing could soothe me. And all the while my baby was still lying within my arms, asleep and at peace . He lay atop my chest content to just be but just beneath the cavity upon which he lay, waged a silent, violent and dark war.
With a heavy heart, with breasts filled beyond their fill with milk and with a pain both physical as well as metaphysical, I left the hospital five days later in slow, dreaded motions as I began the first steps to my new life with little Prince Charming…..
To be continued...
• Worth the thought …..
Could you see yourself living a life like this,a life like hers?
Have you judged our protagonists decisions, thoughts and emotions?
If you have then I wonder…
When will we begin to offer MORE consolation and acceptance and LESS judgment?
(Will we ever? )