Memoir

Heartbeat Part III

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This piece is part of the Heartbeat Collection.

I had heard from a few women that the drive home from the hospital with your new baby is truly a memorable moment. Your heart feels full despite your exhausted weak body and depending on how your delivery went it could be painful with every bump and turn. I had somehow imagined something similar. But there was no weight in my arms.

Only emptiness.

And a bag full of medicines and memories.

Everything at home was exactly how I left it. I assumed my sisters had gotten rid of the baby shower decorations. Our room looked exactly the same. I couldn’t quite recall what I had been doing or thinking when I left. Who knew we would leave the house on an ordinary Monday and return like we did.

We hadn’t yet purchased any furniture for the baby. There were only some cute little outfits we had gotten. As I sifted through the clothes, I drifted back to a memory of buying one velvet pink onesie a couple of months back. As I was showing it to the rest of the family, my sister snatched it from me, cradled it in her arms, and twirled around the room with a besotted look on her face. We had all laughed with joy. We eventually decided to donate all of the baby’s clothes to charity. My mum insisted it would bring goodness and blessings for us, but I found it very difficult to part with that onesie.

My husband was given bereavement leave for three days from work. I almost felt like people wanted us to grieve a little, not too much, just a little, and then quickly get over it and move on. As though you were able to pack and process your entire heartache in three days, learn to live with your loss, and then return to work and life as normal on the fourth day. And of course society also wanted us to have another baby as soon as possible.

People came to visit, friends and family.

“Oh don’t worry, you’ll be blessed with another baby soon. It’s nothing to be heartbroken about,”

“So did she pass away inside the womb or outside?”

“Maybe you didn’t take care of yourself enough,”

“Was it a girl? This doesn’t tend to happen to boys, it’s always girls who don’t make it.”

Going over the sequence of events and retelling people became exhausting. People seemed to love making their assumptions, dissecting here and poking there. It almost felt like the memories of Sarah were being ruined. And the fact that I had lost a baby girl was something almost everyone loved to comment on.

1443 years later and still baby girls were not allowed to live or die in peace.

It’s strange when you’re experiencing a tragedy and you look around and see the rest of the world continuing as normal. The sun rises every morning. People go about their daily routine, the traffic jams are the same, there are dishes to wash and clothes to iron and night falls as usual – yet everything inside of you has taken a turn.

Every pain has a purpose. Every fall has a reason. Else the Almighty wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. Remember, life is a process. Each part of it is necessary to reach your next milestone. Shortcuts won’t work. So embrace whatever He has planned and you’ll rise again.

Mufti Menk

My husband and I would go to the graveyard to visit Sarah. I felt our relationship take a turn because we were both experiencing something completely brand new and unexpected. I found that he had a totally different way of dealing with grief compared to myself. I wanted to be alone with my grief, to experience it, and to learn from it. I somehow desperately wanted to see where it would take me. My husband on the other hand preferred to throw himself into work and other activities and keep himself busy. He comforted me during my moments of sadness, constantly reminding me that this was from the Almighty and that in the spiral of sorrow we had to learn to find acceptance. Sometimes his words angered me and sometimes they were what I needed to hear.

My body was behaving post baby. I was unable to pray and was expected to rest and not worry as this could spike my blood pressure. I was also told to take short walks to avoid getting any blood clots in my legs. So I would spend the days up and around the house, sometimes in the garden and sometimes on my phone. Opening up social media was a stark reminder of my loss. Somehow over the past few months everything I watched, saw, saved and read was all baby related. There were informative posts about labor and delivery, recommended baby products, baby toys and of course clothes. It all became too much to see and I started deliberately viewing different posts so my feed would adjust accordingly.

I was given two gift boxes during my stay at the hospital. Both were from charities that supported families through child loss. There was a memory box from Friends of Serenity, which contained little gifts and resources. The nurses had taken pictures of our baby and slipped them inside the box too. The other box was from a charity called Children of Jannah. This contained the Gift of Hope bereavement support pack which was intended to provide comfort and support that reflected our faith. It explained the emotions and questions that could arise whilst one is coming to terms with this grief.

By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, the miscarried fetus will drag its mother by the umbilical cord to Paradise if she (endured patiently and) sought the rewards (of Allah for her loss).

Prophet Muhammad [Ahmad and Ibn Majah]

As the days turned into weeks and weeks slowly transitioned into months and we walked through this chapter of our lives, grief and gratitude became close friends – inseparable. The days and moments blended together, and I learnt that this was truly the reality of life. Despite the darkness there was always some ray of light, and that was what you had to cling on to and stay hopeful. Everything is in Allah’s hands, He is the best of planners – and the affair of the believer is such that whatever befalls him there is always goodness in it.

The greatness of the reward stems from the greatness of the affliction and when Allah loves some people He tries them. So, those of them who are satisfied (of Allah’s predetermination) get Allah’s satisfaction and those of them who get angry get Allah’s anger.

Prophet Muhammad [Tirmidhi]

I, as a mother, was mourning the loss of my baby daughter who was so beloved to me, and yet what about the One whose love goes beyond the love of 70 mothers?

He merely loved her more, and took her to keep her safe for us to be reunited soon.

Allah says to the Angel of death; “O! Angel of death you took away my servant’s child. You took away his most beloved, the fruit of his heart. The angel of death says: “Yes” Allah says: “And what did he say? The angel says: “he (your afflicted servant) thanked you expressing his gratitude to you and returning everything to your destiny. He (Allah( says): “Build a home for him (the afflicted servant) and call it the home of thankfulness.

Prophet Muhammad [Tirmidhi]

Born and raised in the UK, Ruqaiyya Maryam shares a roof with a mother who is obsessed with organic eggs and a father who loves to spend his time on eBay. She is currently doing a degree in Social Sciences, finding a cure to her OCSD (Obsessive Compulsive Shoe Disorder) and writing her first novel. She loves photography, is hopeless at cooking and gets her sleeves stuck in door handles (don’t ask!). She is a part of MYM as she wants to reach out to the Muslim Youth of today through her writing and experiences and of course play a tiny part in spreading this beautiful deen of ours.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve read a hundred birth stories, but hardly a few were expressed this eloquently. Every aspect of thought and emotion was addressed so thoroughly that I just didn’t want this piece to end. What a wholesome read. I’m sorry for your temporary loss, dear sis…but I’m so proud of you for not just embracing the eternal reward, but also magnifying it for the rest of us to see. Jazakallahu khairan for revisiting all the crevices of this excruciating pain to pen this wonderful series. May Allah reward you manifold, aameen.

  2. Why did this make me tear up? It’s so eloquently written. Each emotion is beaded in with the words. But cannot do justice. May Allah ease your sufferings and grant you the peace you are yearning for. Ameen!

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