His breathing a hum, his head slightly tilted forward, and his curls peaking out from beneath his hoodie. I don’t want to wake him up even though we've already arrived at BeneBubs. This quiet time is a rare moment where I can use my laptop without him insisting to take over, I will write what I have intended to for many months now.
In April 2016 I fell pregnant with my son Gadaa. I was working part time as a pharmacist and in my spare time I was The Hijab Stylist. I was styling, I was designing, I was enjoying life. I was on holiday in Turkey when I found out I was pregnant and to say I was excited is an understatement! I was determined I would not let my pregnancy stop me from the pace I was working at. After all I had role models like @ascia my favourite IG'er since day dot, who'd had a child already and that didn't stop her. Beyonce, my favourite hard working high achieving mum had a child and she still toured and created new content. I was so sure all you had to do was try really hard, put in the effort and you would see the results, right? If I had one strength, it was to soldier on despite how I felt and do what needed to be done.
Pregnancy hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was leaving Turkey and on my drive to the airport is when the nausea kicked in. The taxi driver offered me lollies and told me he would take the less windy route. I had no idea what was instore for me. It was the beginning of what would be four months of relentless nausea. I made it to Dubai to visit my sister and instead of going out to the numerous places we had planned, I was bed ridden for ten days. I didn’t want to go out, and the heat just made it worse. Where was my will power?
I got back to Melbourne and forced myself to go back to work, after all, the women at work all only took maternity leave a few weeks (some even days) before their delivery date! I was nauseous all day and all night. I couldn't even scroll through IG without feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous for months. I could still eat food but I was just constantly nauseous. What killed me is that I didn’t even have hyperemesis, I only had nausea. So why was it so debilitating? Where was my will power?
I hardly left the house during my second trimester and If I did, it was dressed like this. This was taken by my sister while we were shopping for Gadaa's nursery.
By four months the nausea was gone but I had slid into depression.
Despite being a health professional and having an awareness to look for signs of depression in new mothers, I was experiencing it myself and had no idea about antenatal depression. It is only postnatal depression that I was taught to look out for, I didn't realise that 1 in 10 women suffer from depression during pregnancy. I stopped working and spend my days indoors passing the hours at home, eating food that didn't need cooking (mainly junk food) and watching Turkish TV dramas. I didn't want to see anyone and only went out if it was necessary. Needless to say I was really sad and lacking any motivation for self care let alone posting on IG. What happened to listening to Quran while pregnant and eating nourishing food for the baby? What happened to 'glowing' through pregnancy? And more importantly, where was my will power? All I know is that I had no 'reason' to be upset or depressed. This is what I couldn't get my head around. I had everything I needed and wanted as well as a supportive husband, and I couldn't think of a reason and this made it worse for me. If there wasn't a known cause (besides the pregnancy), then I couldn't try to fix it, and so I just sat with it.
It was the most humbling experience.
I learned that not everything is in our control. For 8 months of my life I felt like I lacked any control over my body. First with the nausea and then with the depression and whatever I did, I couldn't shake it. We can have the will power and try to make things happen, but ultimately it is not in our hands. To an extent yes, but then at what point do we accept that things are not in our hands? You can't 'will' yourself out being sick, its not a choice. You cant 'will' your self into achieving things, you can only try your hardest and the result is in God's Hands. I used to think I was humble. I attributed what I had achieved to my hard work, but upon reflection of my religious principles I am reminded that we are not judged according to the results of things because we have no control over them, actions are only judged according to our intentions. Paradoxically in this world we live in, we are often judged by the result of our achievements and not necessarily the intentions behind them.
So may women had gone through pregnancy and did a much better job than me. I began to realise how insignificant I am. This is not in a low self esteem type of way, it's more in a humbling way. I realised that anything I achieved in private or public is not through my own efforts, but through the Grace and Mercy of God, not my own efforts alone. This was so hard to accept for me because I always saw myself as a high achiever, if I put my mind to something - I could achieve it. Pregnancy was a recalibration of my thoughts.
It was almost as if I was reborn myself in the process of nurturing life within me.
Just as quickly as it came, the depression left at 8 months and I was able to really enjoy the last month of my pregnancy. I didn't do anything to make it disappear, it just did. There were obviously hormonal and physiological changes that occurred during pregnancy and these play a major role, but again - these were out of my control. I started feeling like myself again, I was elated!
In hindsight I can see that if I wasn’t forced to take that break on social media - I never would have. I would have continued at that pace and had even more drive. This almost 'forced' withdrawal for me was a necessary time in my life to take a break and recalibrate. What did I really want to achieve in my life? What was important to me?
After giving birth to Gadaa I was ecstatic, nothing can beat the feeling right after you've given birth. I also felt overwhelmed. How did other mothers do it? I was looking after a human 24/7 and breastfeeding full time, I didn’t leave the house for the first two weeks. Ok lets rewind, I couldn't even sit up properly for two weeks as I had an 'eventful' birth which lead to many stitches. I also developed had grazed nipples from breastfeeding. Upon the insistence of my husband I went for a walk around the block and I was back at home. A strange feeling of wanting to stay home but missing going out at the same time. I felt like social media and posting new outfits did not excite me at all. It was a strange place to be as that is what I loved doing so much for so long and for that to change, it leaves you in an unknown place.
Gadaa and I for his 13 day old newborn shoot
For about one year I sat in that place of the unknown. The constant (albeit well meaning) barrage of questions… So what happened to The Hijab Stylist? Are you going to continue? Why did you stop?... but why?!
I had changed so much as a person. I started realising how much I was consuming and how much waste I was producing. What example did I want to set for Gadaa? I was drawn to living a minimalist, zero waste lifestyle. This was incompatible with the life I was living. Maintaining posts online meant more clothing - and I always felt the need to outdo myself. It got to a point where I would buy things just because they'd look good on IG, not because I needed it. I was overbuying and spending money in a way that was not beneficial to me, the environment around me or to the people involved in the process of making these products. To meet such high demand of consumers (me), businesses cut ethical corners when producing clothes and we all suffer in the long run.
Also thinking about the nature of this life and how short it is, is it really worth accumulating so much? After all I believe all you take with you after you die are your deeds. I knew it was better to live by the prophetic example of a minimal and simple lifestyle, yet my lifestyle was not reflecting those values I was drawn towards. I began to seriously considering how much of a consumer I had become - and in turn how much waste I was producing. The break off social media allowed me to reconsider this an realise that even though I may love and enjoy dressing up, at what cost? In the Quran it tells us that muslims 'are those who walk on the earth in humility' Sheikh Hamza Yusuf tells us that walking with humility does not include leaving a a huge carbon footprint when we leave this earth, food for thought right?
My lifestyle and my posts were only reflecting one part of me, and that part of me had changed.
I knew I wanted to do something in fashion, and ultimately I wanted to work with women, creating a space for us grown and achieve our goals. I still have the same goal with respect to allowing a space for women to be their best selves and feel confident about their muslim identity in a country where we are often left out and worse, demonised or portrayed as submissive. The Hijab Stylist was always instrumental for me in that regard but as I evolve I'd like the work I do to follow suit. That is why I'm pivoting from The Hijab Stylist to focus on Mod Markit. For now, it is something I can do while looking after my son, the hours are flexible and I am still working towards my ultimate goals. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Mod Markit is a biannual pop up modest fashion market where you can sell your pre-loved clothes as well as shop from modest fashion brands all under the one roof. Its a project that involves other women on the journey with me, giving them as well as myself a opportunity to grow, work and succeed. What I love about it is that it encourages less waste as it provides a platform for people to buy and sell pre-loved clothing. This is so important now more than ever as we live in a time where people hardly wear clothes out, they are usually only worn a few times. Also, rather than contribute to modest fashion by creating my own clothing line, I get a chance to build a platform to showcase already existing brands. Instead of adding extra products to the market, I can increase the reach and in turn the effectiveness of the already existing brands. It's a service, not a product - and is more inline with my changing take on fashion and life. I'm really excited for the next Mod Markit set for September 30th, click here for details!
Behind the scenes at our Mod Markit Photo shoot. These women are amazing women.
I would still love to post photos and get dressed up but it really has taken a back seat. It's not that I don’t l like it, its just not realistic for me right now. I am the main carer for my son, who I want to be creative and messy and learn to clean up which itself is a messy process. I find enjoyment in not having to think about making content and posting photos of a lifestyle I'm not actually living.
Going to the park everyday is necessary it seems!
I used to have the time to take 60 photos and only 2 would make it to my socials. Now I can't even go to the toilet with the door closed.
If I'm going to use my phone during the day, I have to have get creative and hide my phone behind my back, in the sink, or even sneak into the laundry while I use it. Its safe to say my life has changed! I always thought being a working mum was hard, I still think it is. It's only now that I realised it's also just as hard deciding to stay home and raise your child full time. It is just as hard, but different. Giving yourself breaks is necessary but sometimes only a luxury when you can not rely on your community and family as a supportive network.
You can't speak about motherhood without there being as many different opinions as there are mothers
and my intention is not to be a representation of mums, I recognise I am only an amateur but my intention is to express my authentic and personal experience of motherhood.
This is my life right now and I'm blessed to be living it. I want to focus my time and energy on raising my son and less my appearance, until I have the time (if ever). I care less what other people think. I’ve realised that for me, the answer to your problems is not in the people that are the ‘cause’, rather it is with God. I realised that intentions are most important. Why do we do the things we do? Do we take the time to stop and think, or will we wait for sickness or some other crisis to come before we reassess our lives?
I am on the journey of realising what it means to be humble, yet confident at the same time.
I always steered clear of focusing on religion because I don't want to sound overbearing to people. In a world where it seems ok to be or identify as anything you want, it's still not ok to identify as muslim. I don’t want to shave off parts of my personality to fit into a mould. Since it's my last address as The Hijab Sylist I'd like to remain authentic and just take a moment to publicly thank God for everything He has given me. He is truly The Most Merciful. There will come a time where we meet God and answer for all we did I want to strive to always be a better person.
My beautiful IG followers that supported me so much and always came through.
I wanted to share my truth with you in the most honest way I know, I wrote this post to respond to any questions left unanswered. You created a space for me to explore and develop in so many ways. Thank you so much for your support, it means more than I can say. I'll always be available to reach on my personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gadaa just woke up! Haha, he's saying "woooow" which is his new word right now. Edit: Its been a week and Ive just managed to get time to edit this!! #MUMLIFE
Our first Eid together
We travelled overseas when Gadaa was one, we got to experience the beautiful Dubai dunes
My favourite photo
MashAllah! This was taken at BeneBubs on the day I wrote this blog post!
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