AbezAbez Is... 50% White, 50 % Pakistani, Muslim Hijab-wearing type female, Daughter of Momma, Sister of Owlie Wife of HF, Momma of Khalid, a special little boy with Autism, and Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair, Writer, Graphic Designer, Editor, Freelancer, Blogger, Inhaler of Chocolate
Right Brain Left Brain Islam poetry
Mortal Wounds BebeFiles Husbandfiles

My sister, De Owl

My Husband, who never updates!

Mona, who I don't visit enough

Hemlock, who I don't hug enough

Baji, the orginal robot monkey pirate

Prometheus, who buts brains to blog about Autism

Socrates, a blogger with Asperger's

Jo, a funnier Autism mom with a great blog

Autism Watch-  for logic-based information

ASAT- Assosciation for Science in Autism Treatments

Quack Watch- for current news and info on all sort of medical treatments

Expat Women Blog Directory

My Cousin- really, he's my cousin.  Wish he would update more.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

This is a test post

And truly it is.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

One little Iman jumping on the bed
She fell off and bumped her head!
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said:
Take her to the ER, she might need stitches.

As life imitates art (or vice-versa?) Iman smashed her head against the corner of a dressing table while jumping on Momma’s bed and initiated herself into the world of the Mortal Wound. And what a dramatic initiation it was- twenty minutes of crying and bleeding profusely and refusing to hold still, blood on her clothes and on her face as she tried to make the pain go away by vigorously rubbing at it. (Note: this doesn’t work)

We did eventually get the bleeding to stop, and then packed her into the car and off to the emergency room in Abu Dhabi. We were seen right away, Alhamdulillah, and were asked only once- “So ma’am, what is the prob- oh. Richard, dressing for the baby please!” Iman was in a fairly good mood, the pain having subsided, and we even went through a few rounds of ‘Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,’ to the amusement of the ER staff. Iman bobbed up and down and tapped on her own head for emphasis, and appropriately shook her head and held out a very stern finger at the final line. But then the fun was over because it was time to actually do something about the hole in her forehead.

In case you’ve ever wondered what the Iman:Normal Human ratio of intensity is, I think it’s three to one. That’s how many people it takes to hold her down so that one nurse can push the edges of the wound together while another paints it with glue, fans it dry, paints it again, fans some more, and then lays down steri-strips, and then clear plastic bandage to background shrieking of “No! Wait! All Done! No No No! Mommaa!”

When it was all done and Iman’s hands were finally freed, she made an angry grab at the bandages on her forehead. Ouch! she cried out in genuine surprise. She frowned, sniffled, thought for a moment, and then tried again. Ouch! *pout*. Cindy and I were trying desperately to not laugh out loud, and we waited to see whether she would do it again. She did. Ouch! *pout* We gave her a glass of water and some tic-tacs, and with both hands full, she stopped taking swipes at herself.

She fell asleep in the car on the way home, woke up in the morning happy, and seems to have forgotten about last night’s trauma. Today Cindy and I moved the furniture around in the bedroom, and the new arrangement is awkward, but at least there is nothing forehead puncturing in the vicinity of the bed. Alhamdulillah, we were blessed that Iman did not get the corner of the dresser in her eye, and I’m not going to risk it.

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

There's a monster under my bed, but don't worry, I think it's just me.

For the most part, I consider myself a fairly well put together person. Alhamdulillah, I’m not easily given to panic or woe-is-me-ism. Lately though, I find myself being ambushed by sudden, overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and futility. Am I depressed? Not nearly as much as I was last month or so. I think I’m just emotionally vulnerable. And here I am blogging about it, because sometimes the only way to conquer the monster under your bed is to put your head under there with a flashlight and see that it’s only an old pair of bunny slippers.

I haven’t been able to drag the monster out of the dark yet (and to date, I’ve never owned a pair of bunny slippers) but the first step towards a solution is admitting that there is a problem. So I am. And here it is. I, Abez, deliberate Muslim and earnest (if not part-time) seeker of The Straight Path, suddenly find myself face-down in a pot hole when I thought I had been doing a jaunty two-step on the road to spiritual completion and peace. We all hit speed-bumps, but sometimes I feel like someone has laid out a trip wire. And thumb tacks.

Yes, I know, the straight path is bumpy and uphill. It’s supposed to be that way. The easy path is the wrong one. It’s the one with the smooth, fluid, downhill descent into the pleasure of distraction. I could read books all day, I could numb reality with non-stop nonsense, I could fall face-first into the gooey decadence of self-indulgence and then I wouldn’t have to think about anything that stressed me out, because I wouldn’t have to *think*. And if I didn’t think, I wouldn’t worry.

It would seem that I worry a lot. I worry about Khalid, his future, his teeth, that funny rash on his back, whether his pants are too tight, his shoes too small, his hair too long... And Iman- SubhanAllah- I spend hours worrying about her, but not as a mutually exclusive activity. I worry about her while doing other things- like when brushing her hair- how can I teach her to do hijab with passion and eagerness and the certainty that you can only have when the decision comes from both the mind and the heart? Will she be intelligent? Will she be a compassionate person? If she’s not, how can I teach her? Will she pray? Will she resent me for trying to make her?

And then I worry about random people. I only have to step into the waiting room of my doctor’s office to have my mind suddenly awash with hopelessness- all these people waiting around me are worried too, they all need help, they all have something wrong, some things major, some things minor, all of them painful, many of them debilitating. Will they find purpose through their trials? Or will they think they were ok until they hit a speed bump, stepped on a thumb tack and then fell face first into a pot hole, where they then rolled over and found me laying next to them?

On a side-note, the view from the pot hole can be amazing. If you just turn over, you can see the stars. But maybe this isn’t the side-note, maybe this is the whole point. Maybe I lose track of the destination while plodding along, staring at nothing but my feet. Maybe I need to get knocked to the ground so I can turn to the sky. I don’t know if this is entirely true, but I do know that I am never closer to Allah than I am when in pain, in fear, and in need. And in the closeness is a sweetness that you can’t find anywhere else, and that closeness is the direct result of desperation.

I know I am suppose to stand up, thank Allah for the lesson, and keep on climbing, but sometimes I feel like my legs are giving out on me, or that there’s no way I’ll ever make it to the top. I lose hope, though Alhamdulillah, I have yet to lose purpose.

Correction: I refuse to lose purpose. I will not lose purpose. Even if I’m laying in the dirt without the will to get up again, I will still know why I’m there and what direction I’m going to go in once I can find my feet. I need to remember, and God, please help me remember, that if fate gives me a black eye it’s because Allah ordered it. And there is good in it, provided I am willing to see it and that I am humble enough to admit that I deserved it, and Lord knows I have enough sins to warrant some expiation. God give me the strength to admit that Allah knows best, and that losing hope in anything good ever lasting for too long is losing hope in Allah’s Mercy, His divine will, and His greater purpose in all things.

I can’t blame anyone but myself, even though sometimes my fits of hopelessness feel almost out of my control. One minute I’m ok, next minute I’m thinking about how hard all the day-laborers and construction workers have it, how they don’t see their families for years at a time and earn less money a year than most people earn in a month. And I’m thinking that it’s just not fair.

Aha! I lose hope because it’s not fair. To them. Or to me.

Oh boy. I didn’t know my spiritual angst was still a teenager. I bet if my discord had tiny feet, it would be stomping them right now. I’m pretty sure I haven’t whined ‘It’s not fair!’ since I was a baby-faced teenager arguing over how my brother got to stay out late on the weekends but I always had to be home before dinner. At some point I grew up and learned things like:

  • God is just, but people can be cruel and small
  • This world is just a big board game with live pieces
  • Allah will even out all the imbalances on the Day of Judgment, so all ‘unfairness’ is just temporary
  • Setbacks, handicaps, physical flaws, mental deficiencies are a function of the hand you are dealt in a game we all play. And no one has all the aces anyway

And I also learned things like:

  • Allah has promised to not test anyone more than they can bear
  • All pain, worry, illness, stress, etc- when handled with patience and faith, simply erase previous sins in addition to make you stronger
  • Allah has promised refuge to those who seek refuge in Him
  • And if you go to Him walking, He comes to you at speed

So now I need to add some new lessons. And it may be a statement of the obvious, but I think it helps round off the previous lessons nicely. Here it is:

  • Trying to be righteous is hard work
  • When they said uphill, they really meant it
  • Spiritual struggle can be quite a ... struggle

By Abez, The End.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Iman is...

among other things, the reason why there are plastic sharks in my sock drawer.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Wave your toes in the air and show you care!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


A heart so torn will bleed, and bleeding so congeals
That a darkened outer covering will block the touch that heals
A heart then stripped will bleed, and with bleeding fingers I
Begin to mend again a heart that otherwise would die
Because Allah has set no limit on how often I be broken
And no promise, no oath, has yet to me been spoken
To guarantee that strands of pain, twisted to a filament
Won’t lacerate the tender heart around which they are bent
But this guarantee, this oath, clearly has been made:
My Guardian Lord has promised me gardens in the shade
And promised me no burden greater than I may bear
So with this thread of hope, I make my small repairs
For a heart so torn will bleed, but mended so, no longer
And the wounds that made me bleed, only make me stronger.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

You would think the hospital would give us a group discount...

Had HF's family over for dinner. Made chicken kabobs. And gave every last person food poisoning, in varying degrees, with seven requiring the hospital. Myself included.

SubhanAllah. 2010 has been an interesting year already, no?

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alhamdulillah :)

I could have cropped the photo better so that the car was centered, but I wanted to leave in the pretty palm trees to the right. This is Nahda Road in Dubai, and that is my car.

Actually, it’s Allah’s car. He gave it to us, and if He chooses to, He can take it back. Legally, HF owns it, and presently, the mechanic possesses it in his repair shop.

I’m not sure how many arms and legs the repair will cost, but InshaAllah, the car can be repaired. And Alhamdulillah, no one was hurt. I rear-ended a man who stopped suddenly when a gardener ran across the road, but I was buckled up and did manage to slow the car down a tiny bit before the impact.


Alhamdulillah, the gardener made it safely to the other side, and the other guy’s car- a black Peugot 307- must have had a seriously strong bumper, because compared to the damage I did to our poor Mazda, his was negligible. His bumper will need repainted. My radiator will need replaced.

HF, being the awesome HF that he is, thanked me for crashing the Mazda, because he wanted a Lexus anyway. And Owlie zoomed to my rescue (only getting moderately lost) and filled her car with everything that had been filling my car- the safety seats, shopping, toys, clothes, etc. And my inlaws very lovingly arranged for a tow-truck to come and collect the car and take it away to the mechanic. And then I took a cab for the one kilometer between myself and my destination, and life proceeds as normal except with considerably less driving.

I got a ride home from Owlie, all the way out to our personal corner of Abu Dhabi territory, and fast forward- two days later, I’m waiting for HF to come home from work so I can take the car back into town to buy such frivolities as milk and diapers. HF says that if I needed a mini-van there are other ways of making my point. Of course, he’s also the man who called me in the ER over three years ago, following our first car accident, and said “You know, if you wanted me to spend more time with you there are better ways of asking.”

Alhamdulillah. One could be cynical and say that when it rains, it pours, but it would be more accurate to say that rain is a blessing from Allah, no matter when and how it comes, and sometimes it may be a bit too much for our taste, but we have no idea what the greater purpose and benefit of the storm is. Not that it’s storming. It’s been a little drizzly lately in Abezville, but I refuse to be soggy and miserable. I’m going to play in the rain and jump in the puddles, InshaAllah.

Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ileihi Rajioon. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The believer is not broken by sorrow
Any more than a mountain is leveled by wind
And neither are battered, but shaped
By the force of storms they would weather

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Monday, January 04, 2010


One of the great things about not updating your blog regularly is that no one really visits it anymore. So you can write whatever you want to. Like this:

Lab Technician: Ah, a BHCG test, expecting a baby?

Me: No, having a miscarriage.

LT: Oh, uh- I'm sorry.

Me: It's ok.

-Pained silence-

Once upon a time I was in the US for Owlie’s wedding, and two days after arriving, I found out I was pregnant. And then, after four days of baby shopping, and quietly thinking of names, and imagining sweet little faces with HF’s big brown eyes, I found out I was having a miscarriage. And then I was on the next flight home, a week after I had arrived and a week before my original return.

And here I am today. Blogging.

Because it would seem that my blog fulfills many roles, one of which is catharsis. And I’m an extremely logical person, but my own brain is baffled by how deeply you can mourn something that was never yours and was never meant for you to begin with. I can’t say that I’ve lost a baby, because the baby was never mine. If Allah had willed that child for me, the entire world could not have withheld it from me. But He did not, and so the entire world can not grant it to me.

And the miscarriage was not my fault, and could not have been caused by anything I did or by any medicine I could have taken. The doctor very kindly said so. Which was nice, because up until that point I had been mentally crucifying myself for taking my daily migraine medication. Never mind that I had no idea I was pregnant until three days before I miscarried. I’m a mom, I blame myself for things. The flip side of taking responsibility for your children is that you blame yourself when something happens to any of them, even an embryo that was never meant to be born.

And you cry, and you cry, and you cry. And when no one is looking, and Abu Dhabi is flying past you at 155 kph with the highway roaring and the nasheed blasting, you cry when you remember what you’ve been trying so desperately to drown out.

A few people know, and they ask about me because they care, not because they’re trying to stick their fingers into the gaping, bleeding, hole in my heart. I have to pull myself together and be polite, and patient, and coherent, and talk about things in terms of BHCG levels and non-viability and natural termination. I have managed to not cry in front of anyone but HF and the speed radars on the Abu Dhabi/Dubai highway, not because I’m being Stoic, but because I don’t want anyone’s pity, especially my own. I’m healthy, I’m ok, I am free from permanent physical effects of what was an early and natural miscarriage that required no medical intervention, chemical or surgical. I have two beautiful, amazing children and no reason to believe that I cannot have more, InshaAllah. I have the most loving, supportive, water-proof husband in the entire world, who not only knows what to do with a wife who is crying so hard she’s incoherent, but also to make her stop, and eventually, even smile.

Allah hasn’t wronged me. He never has. And faith says that He never will. Healing is just a matter of time and patience. And being content with God’s will does not mean that I cannot allow myself to grieve. SubhanAllah, may Allah bless those who preserved the life and sunnah of the Prophet, so that fourteen hundred years after the death of Prophet Muhammad, we know what he said upon the death of Ibrahim, his 18 month old son. “"O Ibrahim, against the judgment of God, we cannot avail you a thing."

His son died in his lap, and when he passed away, the Prophet, with tears in his eyes, said “"O Ibrahim, were the truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you even more than we do now." A moment later he said: "The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us."

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Logic and emotion are both part of human nature, and insane, frantic, overwhelming love for your children is part of a parent’s nature. I am allowed to be sad, but I am also required to fight through the blinding storm of grief and find the knowledge that Allah doesn’t test anyone more than they can bear, and all that’s required of me to pass this test is to keep faith and be patient.

Verily we are God’s, and to Him we return.

Inna lillahi wa inna ileihi rajioon

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adventures enroute to Chicago



I can see my house from heeeeeeeeeeeere.... :P
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lookout Chicago, here I come!

InshaAllah, Owlie-pie is getting married in T-minus six days and counting, and the blast-off will be happening in our ancestral stomping grounds- Chicago. It's been over two years since I was there last- Khalid was sebabeen months old, and just developing the necessary bravery to crawl up the stairs and then scoot down them on his bottom. I was thinner, had a better hair style (hehe) and it was August of 2007. Fast forward to now, with Khalid skipping across the livingroom carpet (even as I type) singing 'Ay bee shee dee ee eff jee!' and Iman asleep for the afternoon. She was helping me pack earlier- her contribution to my suitcase being a panda, a book, a toy train, and herself.

She's an amazing little girl she is, and it's cutting my heart out with a dull plastic spoon to not be able to take she and Khalid with me to the US. HF can't get time off from work, Joy (Khalid's full-time therapist & care giver) and Cindy (Housekeeper & Girl Friday) can't apply for visit visas to the US until they have worked with us for over a year, and neither have been on for longer than six months.

I can't take Khalid on my own, and although I could take Iman, it wouldn't be fair to split them up. When Khalid has lunch, he insists that Iman have lunch too. When Iman has a bottle of juice, Khalid has one too. When Khalid wakes up, he goes to Iman's bed and wakes her up. When Iman cries, Khalid helps her up, and if anyone so much as scolds Iman, Khalid runs to her rescue and glares furiously at us or throws a full-out tantrum in protest of our unfair treatment of Princess Godzilla.

Iman, in return, charges off in Khalid's defense, fists and teeth clenched, to rescue him from whichever therapist of wicked OT who could be making Khalid cry. Sometimes they walk hand-in-hand through the park, or hug each other and giggle. They are a bit like the mismatched twins- Khalid is huge, shy, speaks relatively little, and is comparatively a gentle giant compared to his little firecracker of a sister, whose waking hours are generally back to back with shrieking, jumping, giggling, babbling, singing, dancing, pinching, smacking, and pulling hair. Also, sharing and blowing kisses. She's a toddlersaurus rex, but she's a loving little toddlersaurus rex. :)

I'm trying to steel myself and not die of bebe deprivation in the US. I will miss HF too, in ways that will ache and hurt and eat me with loneliness, but I am not worried about missing what cute, adorable, amazing thing he will do for the first time that I will have missed and will never have the chance to see again. Plus, HF will email me (or suffer the consequences) while the kids have no way of telling me what they've been up to and what they were thinking and how Khalid discovered he could make phone calls on a gummy bear.

(Holding gummy bear to ear: "Awo? Aitikatikatikatiak. Ok. Bye bye.")

I need to not think like that though, and I should instead focus on how awesome it will be to see old friends, new places, and pretend to be a husband-free, kid-free Abez running wild and fancy-free in the city where I grew up.

(I can't wait to see the Shedd Aquarium again, and the Museum of Science and Industry, and to go sledding with a group of friends and a thermos of hot chocolate.)

I'll be flying out in the morning, please remember us in your duas. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

An English to Khalid dictionary

pimeeble –noun
the edible, juicy, collective fruit of a tropical, bromeliaceous plant, Ananas comosus, that develops from a spike or head of flowers and is surmounted by a crown of leaves.

pima bubba –noun
a paste made from ground roasted peanuts, used as a spread or in cookery.

escameeble –noun
Also called moving staircase, moving stairway. a continuously moving stairway on an endless loop for carrying passengers up or down.

(used interjectionally as a conventional apology or expression of regret): Chawee, you're misinformed. Did I bump you? Chawee.

kan-tee -verb
to detach with or as if with a sharp-edged instrument; separate from the main body; lop off: to kan-tee a slice from a loaf of bread.

much-mum-mum –noun
1.a sweetened paste or confection made from the mucilaginous root of the marsh mallow.
2.a similar confection, usually soft and spongy, made from gum arabic or gelatin, sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring.

ocatiga -noun
a polygon having eight angles and eight sides.

yego- adjective
a color like that of egg yolk, ripe lemons, etc.; the primary color between green and orange in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 570 and 590 nm.

sebabeen -noun
a cardinal number, 10 plus 7.

kwi -noun
also called Chinese gooseberry. the egg-sized, edible berry of the Chinese gooseberry, having fuzzy brownish skin and slightly tart green flesh.


Conversations with Khalid, too!

Khalid: Huh be bees! (Help me please!)

Me: Yes Jaan?

Khalid: (pinching my leg) Huh be bees!

I turn around a look at Khalid, who is standing expectantly by the refrigerator door. I stand up and open the door for him.

Me: What do you want?

Khalid picks up an orange and pokes his finger into it. Juice squirts out and begins dripping down his arm.

Me: Clean up!

I take away the orange. He finds a kiwi and begins peeling off the sticker.

Me: Khalid, what do you want?

Khalid opens the crisper drawer and pulls out an apple.

Khalid: Ah! Abo! (A, apple!)

Me: Good boy. :)


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In which I have a conversation with Iman

Iman: (pointing to the number 5 on the laptop screen) One!

Me: No sweetie, five.

Iman: Five?

Me: Good girl! Five!

Iman thinks for a moment, and holds up five fingers and begins jumping.

Me: Yes Iman, Five little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

*Only* in Dubai

Only, only in Dubai, do we have firemen who ride around in a rescue Corvette. The trunk is full of firefighting equipment, and this unit's job is just to drive up and down Sheikh Zayed Road to rescue people trapped in burning cars.

This may be the best and most valid use for a Corvette. Ever.

HF and I happened to stop at this cafeteria on the Abu Dhabi/Dubai highway, and had our socks shocked off when this pulled up next to us. HF being the fearless one, walked up to the window, introduced himself, and asked the fireman (who was ordering a fresh juice) whether he would give his wife (me!) a tour of the car.

We got pictures and an explaination of everything in the trunk, as well as the goofy satisfaction of telling the nice firefighters (who were wearing their shiny, fire-proof pants with Air, Fire & Rescue Dubai t-shirts) that they were the coolest firefighters we had ever seen.


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Big Brother Khalid to the Rescue!

Iman: (holding a small triangular puzzle-piece) Kak-kak?


Khalid: (looking up at her) Twingle.


He takes the piece and puts it back into the puzzle. A few seconds pass, they are both scribbling on magnetic doodle-boards.

Iman: (picking up the same piece again) Kak-kak?


She tries to put it in her mouth.

Khalid: (Insistently) Twingle!


He takes the piece from her and puts it away. They both resume coloring, and all is right with the world. :)

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

What elephant in the room? I don't see any elephant.

So HF and I are hoping to move to Dubai soon, InshaAllah. Not only because our current house features four adults, two children, and only one bathroom, but because driving 120 miles before lunch time to get to Khalid's therapy center and back is taking its toll on me. And I don't mean Salik. Aching knee, aching back, steadily increasing inclination to road-rage- last week I actually passed someone in the fast lane by screaming past them on the hard shoulder. And I'm not an aggressive person, but I am quickly turning into a very frustrated driver as well as a very frazzled Momma.

And then there's the race to try to cram every possible errand into the limited amount of hours in town, because if you've driven sixty miles into the city you better make the most of it, and if you go grocery shopping you have to time it just right so that the chicken spends the least amount of time chickenly possible in the sauna of the car's trunk, thus minimizing the risk of giving everyone salmonella for dinner. But you also need to go look for a laminator, which is on the other side of town, so if you want to buy chicken, you should just buy it first so that you don't have to double back, but again, that means letting it stew in the trunk with the rest of the groceries, and the weather's cooling down, but it's still 100+ in the shade and poached eggs are nice but not a whole dozen of them. And if you have a physiotherapy appointment, then no errands are possible because physio starts at exactly the same time as Khalid's therapy, and you're always ten minutes late for it, and then you finish with just forty minutes before it's time to pick Khalid up again, and that's barely enough time to go to the grocery store let alone park and buy chicken, so there's no point in trying so you might as well just drive back to the center and wait for him to get out. And you can't really go shopping afterwards, because he is so tired that he's a three and a half year old wreck- crying because he doesn't want to go into the mall, screaming because he doesn't want to be in the cart, throwing groceries out of cart and kicking you as you try to push your way to the frozen foods aisle, wondering whether this whole eating thing isn't really overrated, and if chickens can fly, why can't they just be given directions to Abu Dhabi?

And in the spirit of ongoing medical misadventures, my Ramadan was punctuated with two trips to the ER for what turned out to be severe gastritis from a H. Pylori infection, and I missed five fasts being unable to eat and needing to take a slew of medication to help eradicate the invaders. And then there was Khalid's dental surgery- he's had four of his front teeth removed, about ten fillings, and two silver crowns installed, all under general anesthesia, for which he spent three and a half hours in surgery and eight hours in the hospital with. Alhamdulillah, it went well- he did fight the anesthetist, but his tantrum was gassed out in about ten seconds. When he woke up, he vomited blood, fought me blindly without knowing what was going on, pulled on his canula until we took it out, and then passed out again. He woke up a few minutes later and did the same, and then slept for a few hours, then drank some apple juice slowly and groggily, and then fell asleep again. We headed home at about 8 pm. And of course, he vomited in the car a few times, but Alhamdulillah it was just the apple juice- no more blood. We're waiting for his new teeth to be ready- and we're going to make another visit to the dentist for them to be cemented to his molars, and his four-tooth bridge will, InshaAllah, remain until his permanent teeth come in.

*taps fingers on keyboard*

Ok, I'm trying to write a nice, comprehensive update but I really have something else on my mind. I had a lovely time hanging out with two friends this evening, that is, until one of them asked me about Khalid's autism. It had been fun up until that point, and once she brought the topic up, I wanted to leave. I'm not comfortable talking about it. Talking about autism in general isn't that hard, it's Khalid's autism that presents a problem. I don't want to have to explain why I don't think it had anything to do with vaccines, how he had been slow and strange and distant from the very beginning, and how there are doctors and scam artists out there whose full-time job it is to take advantage of my desperation and sell me Miracle Cure Number #43, and how hard I have to work to not seek out and inflict bodily harm on people who put autistic toddlers on anti-psychotics. She asked me, as many other people have asked me, when I first realized Khalid was autistic. I don't think there was any shocking epiphany- only the dawning of a very unpleasant truth- of milestones delayed, even entirely missed, and worrying behaviors and repeated visits to pediatricians, of finally getting him assessed by a pediatric therapy team, and then a clinical psychologist, etc

But like I said, there was no instantaneous epiphany, only the heart-breaking realization that my foray into motherhood had been a nearly complete failure- that at the age of two and half, my son didn't talk, play, feed himself, respond to his name, seek affection, or handle disappointment or tiredness well. Also, he banged his head against the floor and kicked walls and started screaming if anyone laughed in his vicinity.

And I can talk about Khalid's autism here, because I'm sharing non-spoken thoughts with a word processing software. I'm not talking to anyone about this, I'm just thinking on paper. But I have a hard time talking about this, and it's always hard to hold myself together- to be informative and cheerful instead of depressed and terrified for my son's future. And then there are the well-meaning but infuriating questions like- have you tried making dua? I realize that people are simply offering what they feel as helpful solutions, but I am gobsmacked, utterly gobsmacked, that they would think that I haven't prayed, cried, pleaded, begged, and petitioned God with insane love and desperation for my son to be healed/cured/enabled to lead a normal life after I die, and dear Lord, please let me live long enough to see my children become independent. I have gone through some crazy things in my life, but nothing has tried my faith like this and forced me to have faith, really, to have faith that Allah does nothing without reason, gives no one a burden greater than they can bear, will reward me for my patience, and will take care of Khalid the same way He takes care of all of His creations. It's easy to slip up- not in the "Why Me?" sense, but "Why Khalid?"and "Why Autism?" And I must remind myself that Khalid is my test, and autism is Khalid's test. And it's just a test. And after it's all over, and the believers and the righteous are finally in Jannah, it will be asked of them whether they had ever suffered in this life. And they will swear that they never had, because the suffering we feel in this life is so minute, and so brief, compared to the reward and the contentment and peace and the perfection and resolution of Jannah. I desperately hope I'm included in that group, and I desperately hope that Khalid is as well.

HF says that I blame myself too much, that I blame myself for everything that goes wrong. He may be right, but I think all mothers consider themselves responsible for their children's welfare. Yes, I feel like Khalid's autism is my failure. No, it's not logical. No, telling me it's not my fault doesn't make me feel magically better. Yes, I know I can't cause autism. No, I don't care if you think I'm special-needs parent superhero. It's BS. I'm barely coping, I'm stressed out, I'm exhausted, and I'm scared of what the world will inflict upon my son when I can no longer protect him from it.

What's the moral of this story? Well, I guess if you are one of the many lovely, amazing, indispensable friends that I have who read this blog and may have asked me recently about Khalid's autism, please don't be offended. I have a hard time socializing with people, because going places with Khalid must be tightly managed, closely watched, and minutely scheduled to prevent meltdowns, but when I finally do get a chance to get out of the house without Khalid or Iman with me, please let me talk about nonsense. And please don't ask me about Khalid's autism.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramadan Kareem!

Sleepy, tired, hungry, achy, overextended and happy. :) Alhamdulillah. :)

I love Ramadan, because I know that even though the first few days can be very rough, the rest of the month will feel light, unburdened, and somehow... free.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

This one's for you, Booboo

PhotobucketAs art imitates life, Iman is often pushed out of the limelight by Khalid, and I think there's a disproportionate number of posts in Khalid's favor. Well, let's change that. It is time again, for a post about Iman, aka Booboo, who was so named after the sound she would make while trying very hard to cry and pout at the same time.

If there is a human incarnation of Dora the Explorer, Iman is it. Not only does Iman bear an uncanncy resemblance to Dora (albeit three shades lighter), she is also the intrepid discoverer of such things as Doing Laundry in The Toilet, Stuffing Toys in the Washing Machine, and Wearing Unmentionables As Hats When Company Comes Over.

(Yes, I have since rearranged my clothing so that nothing... unmentionable is within Iman's reach.)

Iman has a thing for hats. 'Hat' was her first sign, and she continues to use it more often than any other word in her sign language vocabulary. A swim cap on another kid at the pool is enthusiastically labelled a hat. When we bought a new floor lamp, Iman walked up to it, signed 'hat,' and then proceeded to vigorously throttle it in hoping of shaking the 'hat' down. She will still periodically make a grab for the lamp's 'hat' if I walk too close to it while carrying her. If I put Iman on my shoulders, she makes the sign for hat. See? Because now Iman is a hat!

When I put my scarf on, she signs hat. When I take my scarf off, she picks it up and winds it around her own head. (as well as neck and shoulders and body and then the rest trails on the floor) Iman herself owns no less than three or four hats, as well as a purse, which contains a tiny pink watergun and a plush red chicken, all a girl needs, really.

Iman likes birds. She will spot birds at the park, the pool, out of the windows of the car- and sign vigorously for bird and then yell out 'eeeeeeeeeeee!' meaning that she wants the birds to come to her. It's all bravado, really. I know this because I took Khalid and Iman to a pet store once, just so that she could see birds close up, and she freaked out. Iman normally channels koala while riding casually around the world on my hip, but as soon as we approached the parakeet cages, she turned into a panicky limpet and tried to hide in my scarf while simultaneously climbing up my head, which seemed to be a logical escape from the pet store. Going near the dogs nearly had her in tears, despite how happily she labels all animals as dogs- cartoon pandas, cats, Mickey Mouse, and once, a picture of a cow hanging in the butcher's shop.

Iman is a little mermaid. She may be tiny, and she may be only seventeen months old, but the first day we put her in water wings and dropped her into the ladies pool, she was off and chasing after other peoples' floating toys and making friends with her adoring public. She is a criminally cute waterbaby, and I think it has to do with her tiny face poking out of the water with the bright orange water-wings on either side, and her tiny pink spandex bottom visible just under the water's surface followed by the insistent kick!kick!kick!kick! of her chubby legs. She loves the pool. She tends to swallow alot of it though.

Oh, and here's the best thing- Iman is talking. :) Alhamdulillah. :) In just the last week or two, she has started using spoken words (other than just Hat and Ruth) like Op'! for open, Na! for no, Ah-Ah! for uh-oh, and best of all- Mama. :) Iman calls me Mama. And she gives me sloppy wet kisses. And warm, clingy hugs. And she follows me around the house like my shadow, diligently copies anything interesting I may be doing, and is ferociously protective of Khalid. No one, absolutely No. One. is allowed to make Khalid cry. Except for Iman. If Iman hears Khalid crying from outside of a therapy session, she will run furiously up the hall, eight teeth clenched and the battle cry of eeeeeeeeeeee! ringing through the ABA therapy center to rush to Khalid's rescue.

She's a fighter. And a biter. And I used to worry about Iman being man-handled by Khalid's unknowing and highly lacking play skills, but I am now more worried about the number of tiny bite-shaped bruises that Iman decorates her brother with. She also pinches. And head-butts. And pulls hair. She learned the pinching from Khalid, but he learned the hair-pulling from her. So I guess it serves her right that our recent fight-du-jour is over who is pulling whose hair, and not only is Iman half of her brother's size, but she also has longer and more hair to pull.

Every day Iman does something cute and curious and silly and new, and I email HF or call him (he's been abroad for nearly a month now) and tell him about it and laugh. I really should write these things down though, because I know I am forgetting them. Iman may be my second child, but to me, it feels like having my first child. Khalid is amazing in his own way, in a very different way, and his victories and quirks are exclusive to his situation. Iman is just a normal kid- a normal, ridiculous, precious, adorable, funny, vicious, insistent and loving little girl, and every day she astounds me with all her neurotypical newness.

I love you Booboo. And maybe when you're old enough to read, you'll find this entry and know that your Momma loves you with all her heart. And both elbows. And all of the toes that you once sucked on while I was trying to pray. Alhamdulillah. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The knee bone's connected to the- head bone!

So my surgery happened successfully on Saturday morning, and had some interesting highlites.

Dr. Anesthetist: How are you feeling?
Me: Cold, your OR feels like a refrigerator.
Dr. : I'll fix that. I will give you a cocktail. (Holding up a syringe)
Me: What flavor is it?
Dr: You will like it, it is warm.

And it was warm. Warm and fuzzy. At some point, between the warmness and the fuzzification, I looked up and saw a familiar white meniscus on the TV screen hovering above me, and realized that my orthopedic surgeon had already begun the arthroscopy without me even having felt it.

I tried to look over the blue sheet that concealed the actual gore from me and asked my Dr. Ortho, "Hey, did he give me the spinal anesthetic?"

Dr. Ortho nodded and went on with his work. I turned my head and located Dr. Anesthetist.

"Hey, did you give me the spinal?"

"Of course!"


"A few minutes ago."


I missed it. I have no memory of being turned over or poked in the spine. The one thing that was seriously freaking me out about my surgery I totally missed. Hooray! I figure perhaps I zonked out immediately after I received the 'cocktail,' because I am fairly sure that I maintained consciousness all the way until the point where the Ortho said that my meniscus had a huge tear in it, the edge was too frayed to repair, and that he would try to remove the most damaged parts and save what he could.

And I said, "That's annoying," and then I woke up in the recovery room with my teeth chattering. And for some reason, my skin itching as well. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but at some point I stopped itching and fell asleep again, and woke up in the my room with Mona somewhere vaguely nearby. And she had cookies. :)

And then I woke up four hours later wondering if I really had seen Mona, and it turns out that if she had been a dream then at least the cookies were real. As were the Doritos, the water, the box of tissues and the M&M's. Thank you Mona, the munchies produced by your ethereal presence saved me from starvation. :) And we need to get together sometime ago when I'm slightly more conscious, but you're still awesome. :)

I didn't really and truly wake up until around eight in the evening. I did have several phone conversations before then, but I'm not really sure what I told people, hah. It was established, however, that Owlie had mis-read her return ticket, and was returning imminently instead of the next day, and so by around 10 that night Hemlock and TFL brought me Owl and some lovely rich chocolate cake direct from the airport :)

I was discharged from the hospital the next day, and my Momma picked me up, and then we went to pick Khalid up from OT. (Occupational Therapy) He hadn't seen me for about 36 hours, and when I walked into the room and sat down (and accidentally dropped my crutches on the floor) he began fawning all over me and hugging me. And giggling. Which was lovely. :)

And then we drove home and met up with Iman, who hugged me, and then hit me, and then hugged me, and then both of the kids fought over my crutches. (Khalid won. He's decided that they are 'tick! [stick]) and believe it or not- Iman began limping. There is no doubt about it, and it was hysterical and very weird- she was following me around and limping, and periodically looking up at me to make sure she was doing it right. She's amazing, and so tremendously silly.

Within an hour it was time to go again, because as it turns out, Owlie was having a severe wisdom tooth infection, and my dentist had agreed to see her that very afternoon, but she had never seen him before and didn't know where his office was. So we sped off to Abu Dhabi, having just been in Dubai less than two hours ago, and my dentist (the same one who tried to get me to dislocate my own jaw, good times!) removed Owlie's tooth right then and there. Or what was left of it, rather. It had been partially impacted, and broken too.

And by then I ran out of steam, fell asleep in the car, and upon arriving back home, stumbled out of the car and into bed for another two hours. I woke up at 9 pm feeling much improved, and with icecream in my lap and a bag of frozen corn on my knee, I proceeded to defeat both of my parents in Scrabble.

The moral of this story? I am not a post-op superman. Today is the end of post-op Day Two, and although I've been able to put the crutches aside for hobbling around the house, I'm still very, very tired and physically exhausted. I'm not in a tremendous amount of pain, I'd say about a five on a scale of one to ten- not enough to make you cry, but just enough to give you a perpetual wince.

Hf is coming home in umm... 68 hours! Here's hoping I'm recovered enough to actually be able to pick him up from the airport!


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