Happy SECOND birthday to, my pride and joy, my dearest Arham beta,
SubhanAllah I can’t put into words what these past two years have been for me. You are my world. That’s the only way to even attempt to put into words the impossible way to describe you.
You bring me happiness that I can’t put into words and happiness that is simply a blessing from above.
It seems every time I blink, you have gotten a little older and a little wiser, having learned something new yet again (mashAllah). It’s a constant battle between enjoying the moment vs. capturing the moment.
The best thing about being a mama? Even in the darkest of days, Arham beta, you have been the shining light. You light up every room you enter with your smile, but you have lightened up my life from day one.
In a world of crazy and unknowns, you have been my one constant.
Your hugs and kisses are the best things. You calling me Mama melts my heart in a way that I can’t describe. Your cuddles are time-pausing.
I love your smile and your energy (mashAllah). I love your persistence and determination. I love you. And who you make me.
There is never a dull moment, and you are constantly keeping me on my toes. Not to mention, constantly making me laugh. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You not only make my life meaningful, but you give my life purpose. Each thing I do, I do for you Arham beta… and for you, I would do anything (in my power). I am by no means a perfect Mama, but I will always have your best interest in mind.
All the hurdles and obstacles along the way have been worth it, for me to have you. You make me so proud.
You make everything better, you make every thing worth it.
You have defied odds since before you were born and I pray the only “statistic” you will ever become will be one to make us tremendously proud of you inshAllah. I have no doubt that with your strong-will personality and can-do attitude, you will achieve great things inshAllah.
I love how you come running to the door excitedly saying “Mama” and into my arms. I wish I didn’t have to be away so many hours, but the welcome home love makes up for the heartbreaking mornings. The hours away from you are difficult and heart wrenching in ways I can’t put into words, and I wish I didn’t have to work away from home, but I know I have to do it for you. And for you? I would do anything.
You are my reason for everything.
Last week at work, we celebrated a 100 years of Douglass empowering women… but this week is twice the celebration because Arham beta, in just a few short years, you have empowered me in ways I couldn’t imagine.
You have given me strength to fight when I have felt defeated.
You have given me reasons to smile when all I wanted to do was cry.
You have given me reasons to have faith for all the obstacles you have overcome couldn’t be explained in any other way.
You make me so proud, not only for who you are… but who you push me to be by reminding me what truly matters.
I wish there was a way to preserve the innocence of your infancy and toddler-hood, as it truly is going by too fast, but just the same it’s amazing to see you thrive. It seems like it was just yesterday you were too small for even newborn sized clothes and it amazes me how quickly each phase has passed.
Let’s see what this coming year brings inshAllah. … but if we can just agree to “terrific twos” instead of “terrible twos”…
I pray you always stay grounded. I pray Allah SWT keeps you under His infinite protection always. I pray He protects you from the evil and guides you to goodness always. I pray you use your talents and intellect in a positive manner always. I pray you are always a source of joy for others.
Forever your proud Mama,
This past Saturday, we had an early celebration for Arham who turns two mashAllah! SubhanAllah, I can’t even express how fast these past two years have just flown by…
Arham adores Mickey Mouse, so fittingly the theme of Arham’s party was just that.
From the invitation which I created:
Address blacked out…
The Snapchat filter:
The singing balloon:
The rest of the decorations:
Too often we forget how limited our time in this world is and what truly matters.
We chase materialistic things, not realizing it's going to be meaningless after our short stay here.
We chase people who are nothing. We devalue those who are everything. We make trivial matters into big things yet diminish the value of what really matters.
You never know what lies ahead and tomorrow is never guaranteed. And tomorrow? People are not going to remember what you had materialistically. People are, however, going to remember you for who you are.
It's said that only when you are going through some sort of hardship do people's true colors come out.
What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? What will you be remembered for? What is the first thing that will come to people's mind when they think of you?
Sunday night, our family lost a beloved family member in Imtiaz Chachoo.
Cancer has no prejudice and takes prisoners without bias. It takes from us those we love dearly and doesn't care what lasting effect it leaves us to endure.
The first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of Imtiaz Chachoo is his jovial personality and his love for making people laugh with his comedic personality. That is something indeed that most people will fondly remember him for.
Equally important, but on a way more personal level, what I will cherish forever is the kindness and generosity Imtiaz Chachoo, Neelo Chachi, Sara baji and Sarwat baji showed me and my family when we moved to Canada twenty-two years back. Even though my brothers and I were young at the time, it's something we will never forget.
I don't have the right words to express my sorrow or condolences to the immediate family. He was taken from us too soon.
I pray Allah SWT grants Imtiaz Chachoo the highest level of jannat. I pray Allah SWT gives the family patience and sabr to endure such a heavy trial.
It’s been a year, today, since our beloved Papa left us for a better place and it hasn’t gotten easier. I don’t know if it ever will.
A year ago, when I saw him at the funeral home after his death, one of the first thoughts that entered my mind and remains to this day was how tall he was. All my life, because of his age, he was always hunched over a little and I didn’t even realize how tall he truly was.
I could go on and on about my Papa and I love anytime anyone brings up Papa in conversation.
He loved reading. The Qu’ran especially. And did so daily without fail.
Even when dementia overtook him, subhanAllah, even just hearing the words of the Qu’ran calmed him and brought peace to his mind.
He loved Kit Kats.
He loved Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Don’t ever disturb him from 7 PM to 8 PM. Without a doubt, it’s how my family and I started watching and still watch to this day. Arham, too, is already a fan.
He loved spending time with us just as much as we loved spending time with him. His presence brought a joy that I can’t describe. I loved loved loved spending any time I could with him and cherished the moments. My NJ cousins knew that if my Papa was over, all my other plans would be cancelled.
He loved us all unconditionally. I have never met anyone more genuine than my Papa, and I don’t say that in a biased granddaughter way. I created the #TeamPapa hashtag several years ago, and it’s stuck within our family. My cousin made us matching shirts with it as well.
When I was pregnant with Arham, because of his dementia we didn’t tell Papa but, subhanAllah, he would ask on the phone about the baby. When I went to visit him while pregnant, he asked where was the baby, why is the baby crying in the other room. Even with his dementia overtaking him, he still had an intuition somehow.
Although Arham got to meet him, I wish he got to grow up around Papa and see for himself who Papa was. Or why I am so fond of him. Why he brought me such joy and why his memories still bring me joy, why the memories are so strong and always positive toned.
He brought so much joy in my life, I can’t even describe it. It’s just not possible to put into words who he is for me and how much I miss his presence.
I pray Allah SWT grants him the highest place in jannat. I pray I can carry his legacy forward by being the best version of myself and make him proud. I pray I raise Arham to be the kind of person that Papa was.
For dessert? I made another variation of a cheesecake: this time, I made a Toffee Cheesecake. If there is any doubt I love cheesecakes, check the different variations I have made and posted the recipes of on here.
What I used:
- 1 and 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tablespoons of [unsalted] butter, melted
- 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 8 ounce bag of Toffee bits
- 1 tablespoon of All-Purpose flour
How I made it:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine the butter and graham crackers. Press the mixture into the bottom [and across the lower sides if you would like] of your springform pan to form the crust.
- Next, in a large bowl, beat your cream cheese until it is smooth. Add in the condensed milk and beat the mixture well [until it is evenly incorporated].
- Next, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Do not over beat the mixture, just enough until your mixture is smooth.
- Coat your toffee bits with the tablespoon of flour. Why you ask? Read my tip down below why I do this.
- Fold in about one cup of the toffee bits into the cheesecake batter.
- Pour your cheesecake batter over your graham cracker based crust.
- Sprinkle the top with the remaining toffee bits.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes.
- Let the cheesecake cool, and then either put the Caramel on top like I did… or drizzle on each individual piece as serving.
Tip: In order to make sure the toffee doesn’t sink to the bottom, coat your toffee with a little bit of All-Purpose flour. Trust me, newbie me had chocolate chips sink to the bottom once… but I turned it into a positive thing by having an extra layer of chocolate… who doesn’t like chocolate!
P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:
There is absolutely no worse feeling than your baby being unwell and you can’t take away their pain. For the past seven days we have either been at the pediatrician, at the hospital, or both. These past seven days have been exhausting, physically and emotionally.
When Arham woke up ill Friday, and wouldn’t improve as the day went on, plus a doctor’s visit later… I knew I had to take him to the ER. I thought I was going in just so he would feel better with some IV fluids.
Little did I know what that night would have in store for us. Or even the next few days that followed for that matter.
To be quite honest, I was dreading taking him to the hospital remembering how painful it was (physically) for Arham when he was six weeks old and hospitalized and how painful it was (emotionally) for me. It’s traumatic and something I can’t get it out of my mind.
Which brings me to what led me to start writing today:
The staff at Saint Peter’s University Hospital? Godsend. Especially the nurses.
The level of care [and comfort] they provided for not just my precious Arham, but my parents and I during the stay? It’s unforgettable. It’s something I’ll never forget and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am.
From explaining what I didn’t understand multiple times, to giving me time to process the information.
From being available for questions to continuously asking if I (or we) needed anything.
From listening to and addressing my concerns to allowing my parents to stay and be in the room with me when not typically allowed.
From using a flashlight instead of turning the lights on in the middle of the night to prevent disturbing my finally sleeping 15 month old to coming in later to try again to not disturb my child.
From understanding my fears and hesitation to providing any sort of help they could.
From calming my fears to reminding me prayers can change everything.
The list is endless, just as my appreciation towards them is.
It is an innate reaction to complain and not forget when things don’t go wrong, but we need to express appreciation when things go right just the same.
On a side note: I, myself, ended up in the ER one night while Arham was hospitalized — and they were so accommodating. A typical ER visit is hours long. They had me out within three hours so I could go back up to the pediatric ward to be with Arham and each of Arham’s nurses were just as concerned about me as they were of Arham.
Being completely honest, even though I always like to be safe rather than sorry, I wasn’t sure why they were putting my baby through excessive tests that wouldn’t help or weren’t even needed on that Friday.
He just had a terrible stomach virus I thought.
THIS is why I was hesitating bringing my baby I thought.
It may very well have saved his life.
Let me tell you, it’s not comforting when multiple people are rushed into the room, each trying to confirm the diagnosis… and in mere minutes a plan of action is put into place and surgery team is prepped for backup. Neither is when you are told it’s “life threatening”.
It was a scary situation, and what could have been is too scary to even think about, but not for even a second did I doubt the level of care Arham was being given.
The level of response once the problem was spotted was absolutely amazing and that may very well have made the difference. I will, forever, be grateful towards the staff at SPUH not for just this stay — but for what they do always.
Earlier this month, one morning, Arham woke up quite content. He got up, sat up in his crib and started playing. I checked on him a few times, he glanced at me before continuing to play. I should have been ecstatic, right?
So why did I feel sad instead?
It got me thinking…
Some day he won’t need me to feed him. Or even prepare his bottle.
Some day he won’t need me to change his clothes. Or even his diapers.
Some day he won’t need me to give him a bath.
Some day he won’t need me to fall asleep.
Some day he won’t wake up crying in the middle of the night looking for me.
Some day he won’t want to play peek a boo with me.
Some day he won’t want to cuddle so tightly.
Some day he won’t want me to kiss and hug him so many times daily.
Some day he won’t sit with me so patiently while reading through picture books.
Some day it will be him teaching me new things, not the other way around like it is right now.
Some day there won’t be an excited welcoming committee each time I enter the room.
Some day. Not today.
Today? Today is a different story and I will savor every moment of it.
He is mine to spoil. He is mine to love. He is mine to teach right from wrong.
He is the biggest blessing of my life.
He is fifteen months old today mashAllah… and if the first fifteen months are any indication, time flies by.
Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers, unfortunately, passed away before I was born. So, what I know of them is only through stories and pictures.
33 years ago today, my maternal grandmother passed away. Two days ago, it was my Papa’s birthday. His first birthday since his demise last March. If you know anything about me, it’s how much I adore my Papa.
Papa, throughout our lives, held a dual role. He was, of course, my grandfather… but I always felt he spoiled us extra as if to do Nani’s part too. As if to make sure we never felt we were missing anything our Nani would have done for us.
I don’t think I fully understood the love Papa had for us until I saw my parents with Arham. The bond I had with Papa– I see that forming between Arham and my parents… especially with Abu. If Abu is present, Arham wants just him.
Losing Papa has left an empty space that I don’t think can be filled, as it rightfully should be for someone so dear as our beloved Papa. That void constantly reminds me of who I want Arham to be as he grows up InshAllah. I miss Papa daily, and often find myself looking at pictures of him or reminiscing of memories. I don’t know if it gets easier ever, it certainly hasn’t yet.
More than anything else, I wish Arham got to see who Papa was.
I feel as we lose the older generations that were the pillars that held our family tree together, slowly but surely, the leaves are falling off the branches. How much longer before the branches fall off and divide us completely?
Age is but a number. The level headed, down to earth honest people we had in Papa’s generation? Sadly, those characteristics didn’t carry forward as much for the next generation. Everyone has their own agenda, family ties mean nothing, good and evil are the same, morals are destroyed and values are negated.
Nothing gold can stay, and as the cycle of life goes, we must all meet our end one day… but I wish more than anything that their morals and values remained in the future generations.
If there was one thing I learned from Papa it was the value of family. He always tried to gather all five of his children, all in various states, and their respective families any chance he got. It was what made him happiest. I love that I am like him in that aspect. For me, family is everything.
Nowadays, not many value the importance of a family. It’s upsetting and unfortunate to say the very least. For me? It’s what makes the world go round. It’s what makes it worth waking up in the morning. It’s what makes one look forward to things.
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” [3:103]
Nowadays, sadly, people are happiest tearing others apart. People rejoice in other people’s grief. People enjoy havoc in other people’s lives, and cause it too. People jump in to see as if it’s a spectacle.
Truths aren’t held to be self-evident anymore. The wrong are encouraged and supported, the right are put on trial.
Hypocrites say and do anything just to protect themselves. No matter who is harmed in the process. No matter who is brought down along the way.
We are better than this.
It’s everything that Papa stood against. What is suppose to unite us, should never divide us.
It starts at home, and it starts from day one. Dual role. The man Arham grows up to be depends on what (values and morals) I teach him. I am not just raising my son, but I am potentially raising someone’s husband and someone’s father. It’s a job I take very seriously.
A different kind of dual role, but a dual role, nonetheless, of significant importance.
I know Papa would be proud of me. He always was. But I hope, more than anything that, I raise Arham to be someone that would make Papa proud too.
I pray Allah SWT grants Papa (+ Nani and Dadi) highest level of Jannat. I pray Allah SWT forgives them for any of their shortcomings. I pray Allah SWT rewards them immensely for their good deeds– especially their roles in who we have become today because of them. I pray Allah SWT leads us all to be the kind of person that people can only say positive things about, even years after they leave this world.
Arham beta, I can’t believe you are ONE!
I can’t believe my baby is a one year old, mashAllah.
A year ago today, at 9:44 AM, you came into this world and forever made mine infinitely better alhumdulillah.
To say anything but that this past year [and the pregnancy] has been anything but a roller coaster ride would be a lie… but it has been worth every second of it for you Arham beta. And to be quite honest, this past year flew by. I truly wish I savored every second of it for a moment longer.
You are, mashAllah, the biggest blessing of my life.
You are perfection, and I can’t imagine my life without you. What you bring to my life, I wish I could put into words for you but the following sentence will have to suffice: you are a pure joy and I am so lucky to call you my beta.
It truly is impossible to put into words the unconditional love a mother feels for her child. Your joy is mine, your sorrow is mine. There is nothing like motherhood, and rightfully so. If there was a way to protect you from the undeniable evil of this world, I would.
Because of how complicated and scary the pregnancy was, and how this past year in general has gone: I have not only cherished each moment, but also tried extra hard to celebrate every milestone, every new thing. Watching you explore your surroundings and learn new things each day have truly been the highlight for me. Watching the world, and our life, through your eyes has brought such an unique perspective that I cherish daily.
From the moment I found out I was expecting you Arham beta, I haven’t stopped thinking of you. Every decision I make, I make with the intention to have your best interest in mind always… and I pray you realize and appreciate that in the future. You have been first on my mind, and my priority, since day one of even knowing I was pregnant with you.
Your wellbeing and happiness is mine.
I may not be a perfect mama, but I am trying my best… and will always try my best to give you everything you deserve and what is rightfully yours. I will protect you from harm’s way with every ounce of me, but sometimes we have to leave things in the hands of Allah SWT.
Don’t ever let anyone wrong you. Don’t ever let anyone decide things for you. Don’t ever take no for an answer. You matter. Your opinion matters. I will always be your biggest cheerleader, but know this as well: I will also always be there to guide you when things get tough so you know what is right and wrong and for anything you need Mama for. Always do the right thing, no matter how difficult it is. Never go down the wrong path, especially because it was the easy way out. Especially not because others encouraged you to. And definitely not because others were doing so.
Lately, I have thought often about why life gave you the short stick, and how unfair things have been for you because of other people but inshAllah it will be a blessing in disguise as Allah SWT is the best of planners.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. I pray Allah SWT protects you always, that He guides you in the right direction, gives you health and happiness, that you are a source of joy and happiness to everyone around you, and above all else… that He protects you from the evil (eye).
I am sure every mother feels like their baby is very smart, but I truly believe in your capabilities… and I pray you use your intelligence in a positive way always. You light up a room with your smile, and have from day one, and inshAllah you will light up the world with your talents in the future.
Mama loves you Arham beta!! I have loved you since the moment I found out about you. I will love you always.
Your proud Mama,
What’s in a nose?
It was, in fact, one of the primary focuses for me for the second half of the pregnancy. Monthly ultrasounds, lots of googling, unbelievably hard and painful medical tests and long and unbearable wait for the results… for some up to five weeks. Sleepless nights, stressful days, breakdowns, the “how could this be?” , “what if’s”. The uncertainty and the wait made the anxiety that much tougher.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m the type of person that gets so incredibly and uncontrollably anxious and nervous before big events that I make myself sick. Exams, tests, you name it. So you can imagine how nervous each baby appointment made me.
The day and night before my 20 week ultrasound — one that every pregnant woman has — I was my usual wreck. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t rest, couldn’t sleep, physically unwell. But for me, this was typical. So I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Nervously, I made my way to the hospital for the ultrasound and after the usual long wait, I was taken back to the ultrasound room. As the technician was doing the ultrasound, she abruptly got up with a few pictures she had printed from the ultrasound and informed me to wait while she spoke with the head doctor. I figured it was a routine procedure. What better did I know?
A few minutes passed by, then some more. Soon, it had been over forty minutes and by then… to say I was nervous is the biggest understatement.
What seemed like hours later, the head doctor herself walked in and introduced herself and informed me she would do a repeat quick ultrasound herself. I asked her if there was something wrong, and all she said was she would discuss it shortly. By then I was a mess.
Following the ultrasound, and comparing to the pictures from the earlier sonogram… she mentioned that the ultrasound was showing an absence of a nasal bone. When I asked her what it meant, she said it was associated with being a marker for a chromosomal abnormality.
As if I wasn’t already at a complete standstill as it was, the next words I hear from this woman are these most disgusting words I’ve ever heard in my life: “Are you going to keep ‘it’ ‘?
I’ll be honest, for quite a while, I didn’t even comprehend that she meant am I going to continue on with the pregnancy. It has been mere minutes since she has given me the most unexpected/surprising/depressing news ever… and she is asking me this?
WHAT DO YOU MEAN AM I GOING TO KEEP “IT”?
A) Don’t call my baby an “it”.
B) Yes, I am going to keep my baby. He is a baby, MY BABY, not some merchandise I bought at the mall that I’m still deciding on whether I want to keep “it” or not. A baby. My baby. A human being.
C) As a medical professional, don’t ever EVER EVER: ask someone something like whether they are going to continue a pregnancy or choose to terminate it by phrasing it as “ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP ‘IT’ “!
Not someone crying in front of you. Not a pregnant woman present alone at the ultrasound. Not a pregnant woman who you just told the aforementioned news to. Definitely not to a combination of all three of the aforementioned. Not even to the most heartless person alive. Yes, there are people who would choose to terminate, and I am not judging anyone… but the phrasing of that question in any matter was unforgivable.
Shortly thereafter, I walked out of that room signed up for an amniocentesis a few days later, barely knowing what that was (among other tests).
What was supposed to be a one week bed rest, following the amniocentesis, turned into a longer than six weeks bed rest where stairs weren’t even allowed… and I was basically allowed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom only. Throw in the terrible all-day sickness I had all pregnancy long… let me tell you it was not pleasant. The risk of a miscarriage and/or something happening to Arham was incredibly high, and that fear never left my mind even for a moment.
It’s something I shared with only a hand few when it was happening. I don’t know what it was, maybe that if I kept it to myself, this nightmare couldn’t be true? Who knows.
Up until Arham’s birth, at 39 weeks gestation, I was bound for endless ultrasounds, weekly appointments… each time being reminded that there was still not a nasal bone. Each time, a punch to my stomach. Each time making me doubt myself. Each time questioning myself whether I was being selfish in continuing the pregnancy and whether I did the right thing by continuing the pregnancy knowing how difficult life would be for my baby.
On September 28, 2015 at 9:44 AM I was blessed beyond words to finally hold Arham in my arms. I am assuming each new mom feels the ecstatic joy that can’t be put into words, but I think it’s fair to say that I had a little more at stake than most. Alhumdulillah times a million wouldn’t be enough to express my gratitude to Allah for the perfection that Arham truly is.
The first few months of Arham’s life were difficult, and I had the constant thought in my head that maybe something really was wrong… but in December it was verified that his nasal bone was in tact.
Lesson learned? Leave everything in the hands of Allah. He has thrown many incredibly difficult challenges my way in the last few years, but I have overcome each of them learning more of my strength each time.
It’s said that Allah only tests you to your limit… and that He tests those strong enough to face them. Each time, I feel like I am not capable of taking it, or WHY ME??, or that, THIS time it is surely more than what I am capable of handling, He brings ease and relief my way and reminds me that keeping faith will get you through the most difficult of times.
Yes, it’s almost ten months since Arham was born. Yes, it’s been over 14 months since all of this started. So why share now? My mom recently shared a story about some distant relative who had a miscarriage because of some issues and the tests she needed to take. My thought at that time was I wish I had someone to discuss what I was going through. Family will always have your back, but sometimes you need someone who is in the same situation (or has been in the same situation) because they truly are the only ones who get what you are feeling or going through.
Everyone says that the pain felt by your child(ren) is the worst thing you will feel, and I learned that very early on. It is in our innate nature as mothers to protect our child(ren), keep them safe, and keep them from harm’s way. I am constantly reminded, and humbled, by the fact what could have been and alhumdulillah… what is instead.
The unwavering support of my parents and brothers at the most difficult time I have faced thus far is something I’ll be thankful forever. They have not only been my largest cheering squad, but when it matters most– they are my strength in every hardship I face.
The love my parents and brothers have for Arham melts my heart daily. Each day, the huge smile on Arham’s face when Abu (Arham’s Nana-Abu) gets home from work is something I look forward to. The goodnight ritual Arham has with Ami (Arham’s Nani-Ami) that he won’t do with anyone else makes me laugh daily.