Friday, April 11, 2014

Year One.

Mashallah and Alhamdullilah. It has been a year since your Abah and I migrated to Melbourne. We arrived on the 1st of April 2013 and as I write this, it's the 9th of April 2014. It's been a crazy year, a year full of laughter, tears, joy and more tears. Last week I posted this on my Instagram:

Almost exactly a year ago, on the 31st of March 2013, @faiqazim and I left the country where we grew up, have families, made friends, and had jobs in. We left for Melbourne, with nearly nothing in the bank, no home, no job and a 4 month old baby in my tummy. It was crazy and unthinkable now that I look back on it, but we left in search of a better life. Now on the 30th of March 2014, Alhamdulillah I can say with some degree of certainty that we do have a better life, maybe not 'better' in the materialistic sense of the word, but we'll get there Inshallah. Now we have a home, Faiq has a stable job and pay, and we both have a 7 month old baby who is actually the primary reason we migrated. So, happy one year anniversary of our migration Faiq! This one is for Ayra Zahra.

I really have been wanting to write about our experience here, and how it has been like. But of course as my usual excuse is, I have been way too pre-occupied. With YOU! You are one very demanding baby, sayang. You're too smart for me, that's your problem and your gift Alhamdulillah. But I love you, I love you with every drop of blood in my veins.

The first month your Abah and I arrived here, we didn't have our own house, but Alhamdulillah we had a place to stay. My Aunty Fauziah (Atok Bruce's eldest sister) was kind enough to allow us to stay in her spare bedroom, while we looked for a house and for a job. She lives alone in a small, 2 bedroom unit, so she had an extra room for us. It was a small room, not even big enough to fit a double bed. There was a single bed, and an air mattress on the floor. I was almost 5 months pregnant with you at the time, but your Abah and I took turns sleeping on the air mattress (I didn't mind it at all, dia yang tak boleh tidur lena on it so tukar2 la. I ok je, berdengkur lagi).

Your Abah in front of the units where we stayed for a month. Rumah my Aunty kat belakang.

Your Abah posing with Atok Bruce's Ford Falcon, which he lent to us.

Masa itu, syukur kita ada kereta boleh guna pergi sana sini. Your Atok had bought a 2nd hand car a few months before that but since masa tu dia belum pindah, he lent it to your Abah and I to use first. We loved that car! Tapi rumah Aunty Fauziah was about 400 metres from the train station so we took the train alot.

Getting a job here, is HARD. Super hard. Our qualifications as lawyers are not recognized here, if we were to practice or even get a job in the legal field we would have to be assessed by the bar council, study balik a few subjects, sit for exam, pay expensive fees, etc... memang hassle sangat, so we're not going to do anything law-related for now, but in the future, Inshallah. 

What we did the first month: send out hundreds, maybe even thousands of our resumes. Every job that was available, tak kira kerja McDonalds ke, kerja supermarket ke, retail ke... we applied for. Everything. Anything. Dalam satu hari, I sent hundreds of resumes online in response to job advertisements. At that time, kita concentrate dapatkan kerja untuk your Abah je sebab I was pregnant, takut takde orang nak hire coz soon after dah kene maternity leave pulak kan. So most of the resumes I sent was for your Abah. 

Some days, we went into the city. Naik train. We printed out resumes, walked past shops looking for people to hire. Kasi resume by hand. Every single day that passed, we prayed so hard that we would at least get a phone call from someone for an interview. Maybe out of a hundred jobs we applied for, we would get one or two calls back. THAT is how hard it is.

First day keluar mencari rezeki

I remember after weeks and weeks of job hunting, and still nothing. Your Abah and I never felt so low. Some nights he cried, some nights I cried. But we never gave up, because the motivation we had to keep going was you. You were coming in a few months, and we needed to get income asap and get our own home to welcome you in. Allah je tau, how low we felt sometimes.

Malas nak cerita panjang, but your Abah worked a few odd jobs before he finally, Alhamdulillah, landed a permanent job. One of the jobs he had was when he worked for an energy company. Over here, electricity and gas is privatized so there are many companies competing to supply electricity and gas. So what your Abah did was, he was sent to a different suburb everyday. From 9am - 6pm, he had to go around knocking on people's doors, trying to get them to switch to the energy company which he was working for. Kira jadi salesman jugak la. It was winter, the weather was so cold, some days it rained, but your Abah couldn't stop or rest outside of his working hours. He had to keep going, keep knocking the doors to make a sale. The job didn't last very long, but it was a humbling experience which he and I will both remember forever. May Allah reward your Abah for his hardship.

In his uniform when he went knocking on doors

For the first six months, even when you were already born, there was an extra worry and stress at the back of our minds: will today be his last day at work? Will we have money next week? For almost 5 months your Abah worked in a week-to-week contract, so he could be let go any week without notice. 

Finally after 6 whole months, Alhamdulillah, your Abah landed a permanent, stable job. The relief and gratitude we both felt, Subhanallah, Allah je yang tau. Just being able to pay rent was good enough for us. At least there is a roof over our heads, over your tiny head. It was you, baby girl. You yang bawak rezeki untuk Mak and Abah. Thank you so much.

Looking for a house was another story altogether. Sini nak sewa rumah, generally kene go through real estate agent. Agent tu post online kalau ada rumah untuk sewa, and bila hari dia buat macam open house untuk buat inspection. So, whoever is interested in renting the house can go during the inspection time to see the house. Lepas tu, kene submit application to the agent. Kene bagi referal, bank statement, etc. The owner of the house will then choose who they think is most suitable and most financially stable to rent the house.

The first month we were here, we went to SO many house inspections. Some, after inspecting, were not suitable for us, some we applied but didn't get chosen. On top of looking for a job, getting a house was another huge problem and stress because we didn't have any referals here from previous renting history and our bank statement pulak memang showed no money and no income coming in. Who would want to choose us?

More tears, more prayers, again more tears and nothing but faith in God got us through those long few weeks. In between everything, I still had to go for checkups and appointments every month (sometimes every 2 weeks) at the clinic or hospital. Some days when your Abah kerja, and I had no one to teman me, I went alone. Park at the train station, 40 minute train ride to the city, take a tram pulak to the hospital. But it was alright because everyone treated me like a queen with my huge belly going everywhere hehe. 

We got a house about 5 weeks after. Your Atok Bruce helped almost single handedly in securing the house, sampai bila2 we might not be able to balas jasa dia. Syukur sangat. At that time your Tok Bah, Nani and Pak Su were here too and they helped us move into the new house. So many people had helped, so many people we owe much to.

Here is your first house, baby girl!

A place to call home

Abah in front of the house

Me in front of the house, with you 6 months inside my tummy!

So that was our journey, the first two months or so. It was challenging, but it taught us that no matter how hard things get and how bleak the future looks, Allah is always there to help. And He always delivered. Sometimes help came much later, or it would come when we least expected it, but it always came. When you have nothing else and no one else to turn to, get on all fours and pray. Alhamdulillah, we are humbled and grateful for everything.

Fast forward a year later, we are doing alright. :) We have a roof over our heads, we have a car to go places, your Abah has a steady job which pays for rent, necessities and more than often, for the little luxuries which make us appreciate life even more. We have you, and we have never not had enough to buy you what you need and more. Alhamdulillah. I really cannot be more grateful than I am. Bring on year two!

You're the reason for everything sayang <3

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Labor Story. Part III

The midwife told me to push with the contractions. She said it would be easier. Yeah right time contraction tu lah yg tengah sakit gila nak mampos and I'm supposed to concentrate and push out the baby? However, I found that the midwife was right. My body automatically felt like pushing whenever a contraction came, and with each push I can feel the baby moving further down the birth canal.

So it was too late to get the epidural after all. My labor was too fast and I was too far along to be prepped for an epi. I realized that my mum and the midwives memang pakat nak lambatkan the epi supaya I memang tak boleh dapat epi pun. I had no choice but to keep going, without any pain reliever whatsoever. Just natural, pure childbirth the way nature intended it - plus the bone-breaking pain.

I felt like I was pushing for hours. But it was only like 30-40 minutes, I think. My mum got so excited when she started to see the baby's hair, she said she could see about the size of a 50 cent coin. Baru sikit tu?? Rasa macam nak explode dah bawah tu, kepala baby baru nampak sikit tu?! Faiq wanted to see the baby crowning but I didn't allow him. I demanded that he stayed with me at the head of the bed. I didn't want him to see me all bloody, stretched and gross.

At one point I was just so tired and so in pain that I wanted to give up and make them cut me up or something, but the midwife kept encouraging me.

"You're doing so good sweetheart!" 

"Just a bit more love, you're so strong!"

"You're gonna see your little girl very soon!"

Just when I wanted to give up, I mentally screamed at myself that I have waited far too long and went through far too much pain to stop now, so I grit my teeth and gave it one, last, strong push...

...and then I felt a heavenly release from the pain, like a switch had been pressed from "on" to "off". Just like that, all the pain was gone. I was free, and suddenly they were placing this small, slimy baby on my chest, the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. She had a full head of black hair, which were sticking to her by the blood and vernix. Her eyes were big and alert, her lips red and searching for milk. She opened her mouth and made a sound which were music to my ears... she started to cry.

"Assalamualaikum baby girl... happy birthday." I whispered to her.

Everything else after that was a blur. I had to get stitches because I had a 2nd degree tear (ouch) but I was too busy attempting to breastfeed my baby to pay much attention. She was good at latching on, Mashallah, and was sucking away in no time. But I did realize at the corner of the room, Faiq was conked out exhausted:

And so, Alhamdullillah, with Allah's grace and blessing, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing 3.328kg on the 12th of August 2013 at 8:35am. We named her, Ayra Zahra Azim. Some photos of her just a few minutes old:

Meet our baby girl everyone! Please pray for her and for us, may Allah protect her and may she be means for us to enter Jannah, Inshallah. :)

p/s: In my discharge report, my total observed labour was 3 hours 47 minutes! It felt like 30 hours though.  -_-  Alhamdulillah.

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