motherhood

Yes, I understand it has been quite a while since you heard from me. I am updating this in the rare moment of free-time I can manage. I am alive, don’t worry. Man, this motherhood thing is really hard. Pray for me.

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baby shower fun!

I am obviously waiting for the due date of my baby boy to come, and due to some prior complications, I am still not sure if I will be undergoing a cesarian section procedure or a natural birth. Tomorrow I will go in for what I believe is my last ultrasound imaging to determine the type of birth and when we should be expecting the baby.

I am nervous but also extremely elated and excited to meet him. Today, his aunt bought him cute booties to wear and they are just the cutest!

Here they are!Adorable, right? The picture features the cute baby to be.

UPDATE: I went to my appointment and I am officially waiting for the baby to come, sans C-Section. So exciting because I am daunted by the birthing process and C-Section equates to more pain.

Regardless, I am now annoyed at wordpress.com because they decided to over-save my blog post with an old draft of the post. ARGH.

Ok, here we go again!

And over the weekend, I had a baby shower for my upcoming boy coming soon!

We had it at the beautiful Saraya Restaurant with over 70 people in attendance.

My friend and Basil’s (that’s the boy’s name!) honorary auntie Hadeel designed and basically planned the entire party’s theme and the included games, and it was a success! Look at this beautiful party spread, all thanks to her awesome, talented self.

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Look at all these treats! The jello-filled martini glasses (non-alcoholic of course!) were my favorite. It was berry flavored jello with blueberries inside each glass.

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Everything, especially the dessert, was delicious! There were also games during the party, like onesie decorating, belly measuring and baby food tasting (I am most definitely not feeding my son anything that lives in a jar on a Walmart shelf.)

Here is a cropped picture of me cutting the cake. I cropped my face because I wear a headscarf usually, but I was not wearing one in this picture.

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I had a wonderful time, and I was excited so many people came to celebrate such a monumental milestone in my life, even if there was an issue with the music playlist and therefore, the music being played. My mother really worked hard to make the party a success, and it was!

My mom is a huge influence in my life, and especially with the pregnancy. She does so much for me daily, as do the rest of my family. I cannot thank them enough for everything.

The pregnancy is tiring me (I’m 36 weeks and three days pregnant) so that’s all for now! I will see you guys later with a shopping haul post once all my goodies come in (aka clothes! Not maternity wear!!!!)

See you guys later!

a letter to my future son

I wanted to write this letter to my son, and also as a think piece.  Because obviously a fetus cannot read until age three and it might be better to write this now than to wait a year until he can make out letters.

Quick background though, I am 8 months pregnant. Bet that was a shock because I never mentioned it in the pathetic postings within 8 months I have managed to put up. Also, for personal reasons, I wasn’t too keen to celebrate the pregnancy as it was something I could not come to terms with. However, here is a picture of me at, I believe, 33 weeks.

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That’s me! And that is also my baby in there (I gained quite a bit of weight but the doctor told me to worry about that post-partum) and he should be here the end of August if he’s patient, doesn’t look like it though. We will stay tuned for his arrival!

I want to say a lot to my son, and I don’t want to get too caught up in life and forget what’s on my mind, I have so much I want to say. Well, here it goes.

Dear Baby Basil, 

I love you already and I haven’t seen your face yet, apart from the distorted ultrasound pictures that I’ve had done watching you move back and forth in my womb. There is so much in this life that you’re going to love, especially having more space to stretch and play, which is probably more fun than sticking inside a small womb and stretching me out to my limit. You have so many people who are ready to play with you

You have so many people who are ready to play with you and be your friend, it’s not funny. You are going to have a huge family when you get here, including Teta, who is going crazy buying your cute outfits, and Seedo, who is planning outings with you. Your Khaltos (aunties) are obsessed with you, and you always hear Khalto Nadeen talk to you daily and give you rubs. Your uncle is so excited to have another boy in the family to hang out with him. You also have a lot of family that you’ll meet later, like another Teta and Seedo and more fun uncles! Trust me, we can’t wait to see you. 

Daddy is so excited to see you too. I believe he hides it sometimes, but he is so excited to be your Baba. He is working really hard to give you the best chance at life, he wants to be the best for you.

I wanted to tell you life is not that hard. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard cries and screams from inside your cocoon, and promises to make this better for you, but mashallah life is a beautiful thing. I am going to show you how to be healthy and happy. I am going to show you the true meaning of being kind to all Around you. 

Most of all I’m going to show you how being a Muslim has its hardships but its bountiful rewards in this donya. 

But hey, we got a lifetime together to live through those experiences so no rush. 

Promise me you’ll arrive healthy and safely in my arms, that’s a lot but it is all I ask from you. 

Love you and can’t wait to see you,

Your mommy, Mama, Hadeel

❤️

 

Daily Prompt: Relieved

Usually, these prompts for blog posts end up as long, half-written drafts saved onto my blog and never see the light of day. However, this one may actually make it.

 

This won’t be a long post and is probably going to be short, but I am relieved from a lot right now. I had a really difficult weekend of health scares and uncertainty, and while that hasn’t entirely gone away, I am relieved that the issues I was dealing with lessened to some extent. I am relieved to have a supportive family, a supportive spouse, good health care personnel and a strong support system of employers and friends. I thank Allah for all of this.

 

Ok, see you later. via Daily Prompt: Relieved

Autism “Awareness” Month…?

I suppose that because I am in school to become a Behavior Analyst, I should mention something about how today is Autism Awareness Day and how we all should “light it up blue!!!11” to find a cure and to bring awareness to the disorder. Well, I’m not about that, to be completely honest. I find that categorizing Autism Spectrum Disorder simply as a disorder is commonplace, and frankly, very lazy.

Anyone who has delved deeper into the concept of disorders, especially ASD, will realize that a campaign meant to bring “awareness” to a relatively gray-area disorder, although seemingly innocent, very detrimental to those who live/thrive with the diagnosis as they shut out the voices of individuals who experience ASD daily and instead only listen to those so-called “experts” on the disorder. I have had an issue with the “celebration” ever since it became familiar to my ignorant undergraduate self two years ago.

I was a Speech Pathology Major at a school in Chicago, and I had a senior capstone project on a disorder that leads to speech and communication disorders. Naturally, the group I was assigned to work with received the controversial Autism Spectrum Disorder. I remember my initial thought being oh great, we’re going to fail! 

Now I can explain why this was so. Partially, her thoughts on the field and popular knowledge of “Autism” were those of frustration and general distaste. She believed that individuals who were autistic were often perceived as broken individuals that needed to be fixed and it simply wasn’t true. She was 10000% against behavioral therapy for these individuals, which includes ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis).

Now, she hated anything about the field of behavioral therapy, and this counted for presentations on Autism as well. So, we had to discuss the prevalence of Autism, the speech/language disorders and general information on ASD as well. Of course, I was given the topic of the approaches many take on managing behaviors. I presented a sample task analysis, breaking down one task into many simpler components, on shoe tying. I thought I did a pretty good job. THOUGHT.

We finished the presentations and it was a week until we received our scores. For this class, although we were assigned to provide a group presentation, we were individually scored on our performance. Which is why I was surprised, but also expectant on receiving the lowest score of all my peers. I looked over her notes that detailed her criticisms. It was a year ago, but I distinctly remember one specific scrawling on my rubric. It read:

Work on your voice.

Without context, the comment is vague and hardly any justification to lower my score. While the context does not provide any justification, it sheds light on how ridiculous I had felt after working all semester for a seemingly lackluster output.

As I previously mentioned, I was diagnosed with a speech disorder called dysarthria after my spell with Meningitis over 5 years ago. I was left with a lack of coordination of the muscles of speech. For example, if I want to say “Cheese Pizza” (pronounced CHEEZE PITZA) 20% of the time I’ll pronounce it “CHEESE PEESA” with an “S” sound rather than a “Z”. Sometimes, I can’t control this and it’s just something I work around and accommodate for my listeners in presentations.

The funny thing is, in the two years I was in the degree program, this professor was told about my condition and wrote that comment, completely disregarding my attempts at accommodating due to the fact she was not willing to look past that difficulty I face.

Okay, Hadeel. We get it, you’re still petty. But what does this experience have to do with Autism “Awareness Month”???

I had/have a speech disorder and the people who claim to advocate for individuals with speech disorders, language impairments and the like should advocate and support me. Now, let’s compare to autistic individuals.

The big-shot group, the BIGGEST so-called advocate for autistic people is known as Autism $peaks. They claim to be the biggest voice for autistic people and write how they continually support the communities of autistic people and how they provide them with services, donate to research and provide autistic people a voice they do not have. In fact, their mission statement reads as follows:

“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.” – Autism Speaks (About Us)

Now, this sounds perfectly acceptable, but what does it mean? As per my own interpretation, I find it to mean that the group is an advocate for autistic people and willing to exhaust all of their resources in order to discover more accurate “solutions” to the treatment of autistic tendencies.

That’s not ok because autistic people are still people, and shouldn’t be stigmatized and spoken about in this “othering” manner. Also, why, why, WHY would you use “condition” to describe Autism when you are an “advocate”?

Basically, I am saying that as an advocate of individuals with disabilities, one should actually listen to the needs of that population instead of isolating them and using them for your own “inspiration porn” needs. They have voices, as do all individuals (doesn’t have to be a verbal voice) and rights.

My job as a BCBA is to represent their needs by actually advocating for my clients, and I don’t care how famous or supposedly well-intended giant “charity” and “research” organizations are, I will work with all my effort to use the voices of my clients to meet their needs, not the needs of other people to lessen their “burden” of existing with an autistic person.

I find it imperative to do more research before blindly supporting organizations that claim to support people with disabilities when in reality the phenomenon is a cash cow for their CEO. Let’s accept these individuals first before we bring awareness to a disorder we are getting a completely biased perspective on.

Daily Prompt: Martyr

via Daily Prompt: Martyr

There is this new show on Netflix called “Fouda”, literally the Arabic word for chaos, and it describes the lives of both Israeli secret agents and Palestinians (or in the show, every single breathing Palestinian = Hamas) who have political ties to the land. It was described as a documentary-type adventure series that centered around the Israeli central intelligence and their mission to rid of those “terrorists” from their land as much as possible. Now I couldn’t really stand to watch more than five minutes of the program due to its ludicrous nature, but for what I had seen the producers do an unsatisfactory job creating a “conflict” argument as it currently exists in the political climate. They describe the Palestinians currently fighting for their existence as “radicals” and savages that berate the women in their lives, steal, cheat, and lie. The most important aspect was how they depicted

They describe the Palestinians currently fighting for their existence as “radicals” and savages that berate the women in their lives, steal, cheat, and lie. The most important aspect was how they depicted the Palestinians as a one-dimensional martyr for their country and they wanted nothing out of it but to cause damage for their own evil-minded intentions.

As a Palestinian, I don’t really appreciate a sad, government-sponsored crap-show disguised as a TV show to help me hate my own people and appreciate my oppressors, so for the sake of everything that is holy, please do not watch this show unless you want to make an appointment with a therapist to talk through all of the inaccuracies in the show (too many to blog about and not freak out about).

eid mubarak!

I have been busy with my life so far (details to come!) and our family is preparing for Eid Al-Fitr this week! So this last lunar calendar month was the religious month of Ramadan, where all Muslims abstain from engaging and exposing themselves to activities that are not religious, as well as fasting while the sun is still up.

I can tell you firsthand that the month of Ramadan is a struggle, especially living in a country that is predominantly non-Muslim. However, it is even more rewarding when I realize that I have gone through the majority of my years fasting in the same situation and how I haven’t given up on it. That’s something to be celebrated, even if it seems like something every Muslim in America faces.

The biggest difference this Eid (maybe, maybe not) is that we are in the midst of some major racial profiling of Muslims in light of horrible recent events in Turkey, Baghdad, Orlando, and more. I advise people to go out this Eid, but be extremely cautious and observant of their environment, because this is a frightening time to be a scapegoat. Regardless, I will try to have a good time and celebrate my religious holiday the way I usually do, with family and friends.

Quick question: are you celebrating Eid on the 5th or the 6th of July?

I’ll be posting more soon, and in the meantime, make dua for everyone and I hope everyone has a happy Eid!

a bright perspective

I am Hadeel Hejja, a girl who thought she was not worth anyone’s attention. I was a product of what people perceived of me, and I fell deep into my self-pity. This was especially true when I contracted what doctors  referred to as ataxic dysarthria secondary to viral meningitis in July 2011, as I had to adjust to a new life with a strange voice! I knew this wasn’t my true voice and challenges with self-expression and self-representation brought themselves up immediately after.

People tell you the interim between “getting sick” and “getting better” will happen, but they do not tell you, or even know, how much of that change takes time and effort and a new perspective. I tell my family and friends that I felt the need to get better, so I did and challenged myself to do so. The truth was I had to get better for me, as I believed I had so much to prove to people, most importantly to myself.

I want this space to represent my perspective and how it has changed for my future. In a month, I will be graduating Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois with my Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In August, I will be marrying my best friend and the love of my life. I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of the hospital five years ago, and now I feel as though my life is truly beautiful. I thank Allah for helping me discover myself, for giving me the strength to live my life and to move on. Strength is something that requires me to experience excruciating pain and loss, and yet move on. It is time for a bright perspective.

– Hadeel