A post for Umar

Dear Umar

Between all of my daily dramas and ups and downs of life, I have neglected to really tell the story of you. Well, not really neglected, since it was a conscious choice that I made early on not to publish so much information on you. But since the objective of Mama’s blog is to share with others what I am going through, perhaps it is time to really share with them what a beautiful boy you are. (And it’s not like Mama has so a gazillion followers, so hopefully that’s fine :P)

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Alhamdulillah, you were born on September 14, 2006 (a couple of days before and it would have been the 5-year anniversary of 9/11) at 830am. That week was past your due date and the doctor had been trying to induce my labour overnight with some drip. I had not yet felt contractions even though the meter on the measuring instrument (i forget what it is called) already indicated that it had commenced.

That morning, the doctor came, looked gravely at the charts, and informed us that you were in fetal distress. “Some babies don’t make it through labour – so let’s not find out,” he said. Having you safe and healthy in our arms were top priority for me rather than any fancy au naturale birthing plan, so I said “OK doctor, whatever it takes.” And Alhamdulillah you were born, wailing and crying right after they had cut me up, leaving me shivering in the cold operating theatre like a drug addict like I had never shivered before in my life.

The first time I tried to breastfeed, you latched on immediately and suckled hungrily, so thank God I never had issues with feeding you. You were also good with bedtimes and letting me rest, although the first few weeks I (just like all new mothers) was definitely a zombie. We brought you home, your grandmothers both there in a picture we have of the occasion, one carrying you and the other  throwing rice grains as per Malay custom.

You are an incredibly handsome boy, if I can say so myself. Presenting Exhibit B below…

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And so our adventure began. You had always been reasonably independent, having experienced going to the nursery right after turning 60 days. We took you all around the world with us – when you were 3 months old, I took you with me to a conference in freezing Tokyo, bringing your grand aunt to take care of you during the day. When your papa wanted to pursue his MBA we packed up, lock stock and barrel to Glenroy, Melbourne, Australia for 1 and a half years.

It was in Australia that I noticed you were behind your peers in speech – we already knew you were an introvert and preferred to play alone, but we dismissed it as a you being a more extreme version of your Papa. Still, you had a good time at kindergarten, having an Italian best friend Daniel and constantly being invited to birthday parties. In the end both your Papa and my careers were pointing towards home, so we packed up and went back home.

After you started your first day at primary school, we noticed further your refusal to play and interact with others, so we sent you to a child psychologist and that’s when we first heard of your diagnosis of mild autism. The psychologist believes that you are on the spectrum and having learnt what it was about, we agreed. We realised that you had a speech delay, preferred to be by yourself, had rigid routes to places, could not stand loud noises and sometimes flapped your hands – all autism spectrum symptoms. We were devastated, but picked ourselves up as we realised that a late intervention is better than nothing.

A year later, (with regular speech therapy and social skills training) and we feel you have improved significantly (praise be to Allah swt). You are now able to speak better (though still with pelat) and carry conversations particularly with family and friends you are familiar with. Every now and then your Papa and I try to stalk you at school and we are always pleasantly surprised to see you stepping up on homework and socialising with classmates (though I still dream of seeing you converse normally with one or two BFFs).

Of all the things I am sorry about, I am sorry that your Papa and I have not been able to give you a sibling so far. We have tried hard, and are still trying as I type. But know that we have been praying constantly to Allah swt to provide and bless us with what is best for you – whether a sibling or not, boy or girl (I know you would prefer a boy although I want a girl, so I’m more than happy to relent on this one). And every single day, 5 times a day during prayers, and throughout the day during those precious moments together, we thank God that He has brought you to us. And Alhamdulillah, you are a happy and content child – and many times that’s all that matters.

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We love you so much and we have big prayers and dreams for your future. In Sya Allah.

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