The One with Ahmads Sling Diaries: On Strength

To my Adam,

If there’s one phrase you’ll hear over & over during your existence, it’s that life is hard If i must say one thing to you its life is hard! And it’s true, but not because of what you hope to accomplish in it. I want you to have the strength to be happy no matter how your accomplishments line up. Instead, life is hard because dealing with people is hard.

In your lifetime you’re going to me all sorts of people from all walks of life. You’ll meet intelligent people who challenge you mentally, good hearted people who challenge you spiritually, devious people who test your patience & cunning. But it’s the finesse you must have in dealing with those many faces and personalities that will define your strength. Who you give your trust to is where your strength lies. Keep your circle tight, but keep yourself tolerant.

Your mom and I will raise you to be kind to those who need it. Which, coincidentally, is everyone. Everyone deserves your kindness, but be strong enough to make sure your kindness isn’t taken advantage of. I have learned that in my years of life that as good as people can be, not everyone thinks about kindness the same way. But your strength is that you will think of it as of the utmost importance.

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The One with the Sling Diaries: On Strength

I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that I was chosen to be one of Sakura Blooms sling diarists! For the next 6 months, I’ll be writing diary style letters to my son with a different theme each time. I hope you enjoy reading & viewing them as much as I enjoy writing and taking photographs for them!

Dear Adam,

Little boys have it hard. You’ll hear a lot about people’s hopes for you to “grow up big and strong,” and that seems like a great deal of pressure to put on someone so impressionable. But I, too, hope you grow up to be strong. Not in the typical sense. I find no need for you to become a man that barrels around bristling and tough because that’s your expected gender role. Instead, I hope you grow up to be strong enough to be your own man. Whatever that may be…

Strength, or at least how I will raise you to understand it, is not found in muscle but in perseverance in your belief.

Strength, or at least how I will implore you to accept it, does not mean you cannot cry. A fact that, as an Arab man, is sometimes going to be a difficult concept to grasp.

Strength, or at least how many Arab women wished men understood it, is not about the power you have over another gender. It’s about the respect you have for them. It takes a strong man to be respectful and kind…,and a very weak one to be petty and cruel.

My hope for you, my son, is to become the gentle, kind, strong man I know you can be in the face of a society that sometimes does not nurture strength properly.

And my hope is that I have the strength to raise you that way.

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Jeans: Zara
Shirt: COS
Shoes: Chiara Ferragni Collection
Sling: Sakura Bloom Silk Essential in Sandstone

The One with the Birth Story At Al-Seef

Disclaimer: It’s taken me about three weeks to find the proper time to sit and write this all down. This will be the most text-based post I’ve ever written, so feel free to ignore it if you’re not into the ramblings of a sleep deprived new mother.

I think giving birth is one of those things that doesn’t get fuzzy over time; one of those things that feels like it happened simultaneously so long ago yet it feels like yesterday. Regardless, I was starting to feel like I was to become that one woman in the world that would someway…somehow…be pregnant for absolute ever.

Why I Chose Seef & My Doctor

Adam was due April 12th, 2014 according to my first doctors appointment with Dr Rajni at Al-Seef Hospital, where I’d been going since I found out I was pregnant in August (can’t believe I waited so long to tell you guys! The secret was killing me!). I’d been recommended to the hospital by multiple people, and was keen on a place relatively close by. I also wasn’t the fancy pantsy hospital type-o-gal so Royale Hayat made me feel a bit out of place (nothing to do with the hospital itself! I’m just an awkward gal), Salam was also inconvenient for me, and the others I just wasn’t as familiar with.

I chose Seef because I could picture myself going into labor and being able to calm myself with the ocean view, or giving birth and being able to wake up the next day to something that peaceful. I also heard great things about their L&D doctors, Dr Rajni and Dr Rubina in particular. I ended up with Dr Rajni, who put me at ease. Isn’t that a fear of all pregnant girls? That her doctor might be an absolute odd-ball and make you feel completely awkward at one of the times in your life you may feel most vulnerable? I thankfully didn’t have that issue with my doctor!

She was patient with my 4am WhatsApp questions (“BUT DOCTOR WHAT IF HICCUPS MEAN HE DIES IN UTERO” and “Good morning doctor. Not to alarm you but I’m sure my baby has his cord wrapped around his neck and I’m coming in ASAP because I’m freaking out alright thank you buhbye”….I wish I could say these weren’t real questions but when you read BabyCenter too much…that….is the result) and informative with my gazillion, bajillion questions. She also attempted to stick to my natural birth plan as best she could considering the circumstances of Adam’s birth (which I will get into shortly!). Overall, definitely an OBGYN I can recommend should you be searching for one in Kuwait!

Adam’s Birth Story

If any of you guys follow me on Twitter, I mentioned having gone through a tedious 45 hour labor in order to have Adam. It sounds a lot worse than it is, and I’m counting early labor because once I began having contractions they were intense enough to keep me awake. I began getting them at 12am-ish April 10th, so I stayed awake pacing the house because I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. By 10am that morning, the pain was coming in 6 minute waves so I decided to get dressed and go to the H&M Conscious event in The Avenues (a popular mall here) to try and distract myself from how incredibly slow I felt the whole process was going to be. The event and lunch after the event with the H&M PR/Marketing team was tons of fun, if anyone is wondering (you’re probably all “get to the point, Ascia, the point…”). Afterwards, I drove home still with the same contractions 6 minutes apart. I could tell it wasn’t going anywhere but after Ahmad came home from work and had lunch, I went into the hospital at 5pm to check if I was wrong. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip. All that contracting had gotten me nowhere.

Defeated but knowing it could change at anytime, I put on some comfy clothes, called my doula, and settled in for a long night. Because I had decided on a natural birth, my friend/doula and I focused on keeping me home for as long as I could handle it. We went on walks around the neighborhood, did a whole bunch of breathing techniques, and I tried to keep my energy up by eating. By 1am, April 11th I was having stop-talking-to-me-don’t-touch-me contractions a couple minutes apart (that’s really all I can think of to name them…ugh) so we made our way into the hospital again. And of course…my luck…nothing again. A centimeter, and only if they were being nice enough to exaggerate a bit for me (they were…). So! Back home we went with the instructions to attempt to sleep (ha. ha. ha. sleep. good one.) which I sent my doula to go do, and eventually my husband as I hopped into a warm bath to ease the intensity of the contractions and rest.

I lasted at home until 11am, when my contractions felt so intense that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stand another car ride into the hospital. We packed my stuff into the car, I got in the backseat (unbuckled…I’m not even gon’ lie about it….) and headed in. They checked me in at 3cm and I went into a labor room to wait it out. My doctor made sure everyone knew I didn’t want any pitocin or anything to speed up labor, I reaaaally did want to get through it on my own.

Well! Around 5pm and still 3cm I had become absolutely delirious. I don’t think I remember very much of anything but contraction pain every 2 minutes that no amount of squatting, rocking, or walking through would help. I faintly remember begging my husband to make it stop, which in retrospect is such a mean thing to do because I know he felt a bit helpless seeing me so miserable.

I had prepared both my doula Grainne and Ahmad not to let me take any pain medication even if I begged for it (unless I said the password which meant I was absolutely done-zo..”spaghetti.” I don’t know why it was spaghetti. Hunger problems?) and oh, I begged through each contraction after I had entered the zone of no sleep labor.

Around 5pm and still 3cm…spaghetti. Freakin’ spaghetti, man. Spaghetti all around. Spaghetti for everyone. Give me an epidural.

Let me just outright state: I am not an epidural fan. Yes, it’s nice not to feel anything but I really missed my mobility and non-loopy-ness-ness since I’m just no good on meds. The epidural and anesthesiologist, however, were amazing. He explained the whole process as he did it and was so calm and patient. Best experience ever with that, at least!

SO! Epidural kicks in, I finally get a nap and at 8pm I had dilated enough to have my baby! It went so fast once I had finally gotten sleep and been able to relax. At 8:48pm, Adam was born. He DID come out with his cord around his neck, just like I had suddenly suspected two weeks earlier after waking from a dead sleep and deciding to read scary stories of cord accidents online (good job, Ascia…). The doctors whisked him away to get him breathing and I think in that 5 minutes I felt dead just waiting to hear him cry.

You don’t know terror until you feel like you lost a child. Terrifying.

All in all, he turned out to be quite the healthy little peanut born at 2.8kg. White & bald as can be.

We are blessed. الحمدلله.

Seef Hospital/Service Review 

Overall, the nurses and doctors at Seef are extremely friendly. By the time I had checked out, I felt like they had taken amazing care of me genuinely and not just because it was their job. The labor and delivery nurses even came to my hospital room and checked in on me and the baby. I loved it!

Seef is also a very breastfeeding friendly hospital, which I don’t feel happens everywhere but perhaps it’s on the rise now. I really wanted to make sure he was only nursed and not given any formula. And sure enough, whenever he was finished with getting his vitals checked in the nursery he was wheeled in screaming like a baby dragon to feed (total Game of Thrones reference there but that’s EXACTLY what his crying sounds like).

The nurses were also EXTREMELY patient with me and my cloth diapering antics. Adam has been cloth diapered since birth, as I brought all his stuff to the hospital with me. They were kind enough to follow my cloth diapering wishes, and kept him in them the entire 4 days we were there.

The only issue with the hospital was that random people who follow me on Instagram walked straight into my hospital room. This, however, had nothing to do with the hospital itself and more to do with how strange people are. Literally, walking right into my room without knocking and without any prior warning or invitation. I found it strange, but I completely appreciated people’s excitement for our family. I just really would have liked to perhaps not be nursing my newborn when strangers walked in…y’know…flashing everyone was just not on my agenda post-birth…

AND NOW! On to the photos!

A quick explanation if you are not Arab, or unfamiliar with why things are setup the way they are in my photos: we have what is called an “istiqbal” where family and friends come to visit you at the hospital and wish you well. It tends to be a semi-big event and depending on each person can require a good amount of planning. We prepare chocolates, proper linens and the like to make it all a bit more presentable. It truly varies from family to family, person to person. Mine was incredibly laid back, so I got out of bed and chilled with friends; enjoyed my room and its view (pictures do not do it justice y’all…). This, by the by if anyone is interested, is room 1703 on floor 17.

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