Friday, June 27, 2014

Umrah with Baby (Part 3) : The Umrah - Madinah

Sorry for the late postings. Was quite busy these past weeks. Baby Iris gums decided to sprout 3 teeth at the same time so she was cranky and clingy, didn't get the time to sit down and blog about it. Argh I miss blogging! XD Anyway, here goes!


Madinah Al-Munnawarah is beautiful! Our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW 's (peace be upon him)  is buried here, it's such a waste if you land at Allah's sacred land and did not pay a visit to his grave. Hotels and accomodation is quite near to the mosque so you shouldn't worry too much about the distance. Everything is a walking distance. And don't be fooled by the ulterior look of the buildings surrounding the mosque, they may look plain to the naked eye but when you step in, you'll find yourselves in grand malls and such. So for mother's that need to find emergency supplies of baby food, milk and diapers, you're in a safe place. You can even purchase south east asian food easily if your throat can't stomach too much arabic food every day.

The mosque is really huge! Alhamdulillah they do consider the well being of mothers who wish to pray with their child, they have designated areas for mother and baby. How to find it? It's usually situated at the back of the mosque. You can pray indoor or outdoor if you like. It's quite cooling either way. If you want to pray indoors, just find a place where you can hear a lot of children cries during prayers.

You need a travelling mat or sajadah in your journey because sometimes, u need to put your baby down on the floor but there's no carpet in that area. You don't wanna put your baby on the marble floor. Also, it is best that prior your journey, read up about how to pray while carrying your baby. In my experience, sometimes Iris do behave and just stare at everyone when we were praying but there are times she wants to be held. Typical lah kan, babies. Unpredictable. So far, I noticed that the imam of both Madinah mosque and Masjidil Haram read short surahs (I feel lah, reasonable. Not too long, not too short. Just right).

Sometimes, you will find yourself in a situation whereby you didn't manage to get in in time for prayers. Over there, when it's prayer time, everyone literally drop everything and pray. Even in malls. Imagine, concourse floor as grand as The Pavilion, suddenly you'll see the floor split into 2 for men and women and everyone prays. Berjemaah lagi. Rugi kalau tak solat sama sama =).

In Madinah, praying for me is never a hassle considering I always end up alone since hubby had to split and pray at men's section. I usually park my stroller right outside the entrance door (don't worry, no one steals stuff in that part of the world) and whisper a silent prayer to Allah to help me find a comfortable space for me to pray. And more than 1 occasion, when the mosque is full, there will always one huge space suddenly open up for me. And when I settled down, then only the area was filled. And without fail, the person sitting next to me will be kind enough to assist me. In that part of the world, english is not common. So conversation will be somewhat equivalent like a duck trying to talk to a cat. I really love it when I sit down, you'll have a group of ladies from different part of this planet, cooing at Little Iris and trying to converse with me. It doesn't matter that I didn't understand french, bosnian, arabic, serbian, whatever, what's lovely about it is that everyone can seem to understand each other. Everyone is a friend. Reminds me of kindergarden. =)

The tricky part is when entering Raudah. Ladies can only try to enter (not all is lucky to get in) at night, and it may take you 2 to 3 hours just to get inside. I would not advise anyone to bring their baby into Raudhah, its really packed with people jostling trying to pray at one of the most holiest place in history of Islam. Because of this, it is best that you leave your baby with your husband and go in.

My experience in Raudhah was beautiful. Oh how I miss it very much despite the crowd. Here's a tip, if you're thinking of entering Raudhah for the 2nd time without a guide, get one of those long black burkha and mingle like an Arab. Don't follow the Asian crowd, the guards will make you wait. Don't even look Asian XD. Asians tend to wear white telekungs. You have to be fast here. Try to blend.You'll get in within 1 hour if you're lucky ;)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Planning a birthday party.

Iris just turned 10 month and suddenly it hits me, IT'S ALMOST 1 YEAR!

huuu, cepatnye anakandaku membesar. Bukan semalam ke Dr baru belah perut Bonda keluarkan you?

err..ok lets not go there.

Anyway, hubby gave me the green light to organise Iris's 1st birthday party. Since new stocks for BondaByShai is still either in midst of production or still on shipping, things has been quite slow for me. Been working on some contract documents as Zanizky is planning to put in more new vendors at the website. An excited tapi risau gak because handling with people's money is serious business. Pray that all goes well alrighty? ;)

Anyway, being a FTWSAHM, I was worried that having a party would kinda put stress on our financials. Bukannye apa, as we are starting up own business, most of our money goes to capital and we survive on hubby's income. I do admit I'm quite a diva wife nak macam macam tapi bila benda macam ni, I do take into account hubby's approval.

So I told hubby we could always just buy a cupcake and blow a candle just the 3 of us. Hubby gave me his usual kerek face and said, "Buat je lah, takpe takde masalah" . But I kept asking him again and again just to make sure. Coz this guy, no matter how calculative he is (he's an accountant....ahhh now u understand), he never says no to me. Sometimes to the point that I feel as if I'm bullying him (sweatdrops).

It got to a point he said "Ish kamu ni, asyik risau je, kalau tanak buat boleh je tak payah buat".

"Ehhhh...ah non non (says the inner bimbo-diva in me). YES I WILL DO IT! WHEEEE THANK YOU HUSBAND! " (and started planning on themes, doorgifts, guests etc).

"Sebenarnya elok juga kita menjamu orang, lagi banyak rezeki kita dapat InsyaAllah" he says. I was smiling ear to ear. Man I love this guy. Then I started blabbering ideas for themes whatnot.

Then he said, "Theme? Ala beli je topi hat party tu bagi orang" and proceed on his own business.

Whaaaattt no theme? Darn it, I was thinking of making a kitty theme T.T

I still have time. Ngehe.

My umrah journey. With Baby. (Part 2)

Alhamdulillah, we just came back from our Umrah journey. The best experience ever IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Heck if given a choice, I don't even want to come back home. The feeling over there is so surreal. I really can't explain it. I pray that one day I get to be invited again over there (perhaps hubby could get a job there? *hint hint ) . Insya Allah aminnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Pre departure momento

I've been getting requests to write down my Umrah experience: Survival guide with an infant. Before going on this trip, there's stories of disgruntled and tired parents (there are some positive ones but not many) telling me that it is difficult to focus and perform Umrah with a child and it would be better if I postpone the trip when the kid is bigger. My initial feeling was "yaka? aww man.." but since the entire family is going (like 40 people family), and it's been a while since we actually get to berkumpul ramai ramai serentak I figured, whatdaheck, there's nothing for me to lose. 

Actually, to get there, only Allah SWT will invite you. It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor. Even the poorest of the poor can find their way there with His help. Sama ada suddenly rezeki dia bertambah murah, melalui Baitulmal atau simpanan. When Allah invites you, just go. Because tak semestinya seseorang yang kaya akan dapat menjejak dirinya ke situ. 

If you have the means, the feeling and the rezeki to go, don't think, just go. You won't regret it :). Possibly tak nak balk pun boleh jade. Like me. (*Another not so subtle hint to dear husband)

Btw please be aware that I'm not a really religious person, my knowledge is sangat cetek as compared to the yang memang berkaliber dan bergeliga. Tapi I'm continuously trying to improve myself, I read and I ask Ustaz and Ustazah yang certified (bukan Ustad Ustazah internet) on whatever issues that I'm curious about. So what I'm about to explain, especially with regards on performing Umrah is what I've learned after consulting Ustaz and Ustazah di Mekah whereby they are used to it.

Abaikan muka Bonda super excited kat belakang tu

Oh ya, plus point going with an infant?

- You pay infant price and you get to bring the entire family. Think about it, if you wait for em to get bigger, you pay adult rate. And comfortable Umrah these days cost at least RM6k.
- You get to have that comfortable seat in front because the stewardess will insist you change your seat so that the baby gets bassinet. 8 hour of pegang baby is not fun. Perks of this bassinet seat? YOU get to stretch YOUR leg. And oh, your kid gets her own flat bed. Hew hew.
- They can't run around out of your control as compared to toddlers.

Baby DianIris was 9 months during this trip and still breastfeeding with mix of solids. No formulas means no bottles,  or formulas to bring, win situation for me. More space for my already full suitcase. Sometimes I feel like every time we travel, it's as if I bought the entire kitchen with me. Belum lagi toys and clothes (and mind you, you need extras just in case there's vomit accidents, poo poo accidents etc)

Invest in a good baby carrier. One that is comfortable for your back and automatically puts your baby into sleeping mode hehe. Love my Boba 4G, me and hubby is super addicted to it. Can't leave home without it.

Be prepare with extra clothing, travelling bath supplies and food stock as there might be incidence where your flight will be delayed or you got to wait for few hours at immigration at Saudi Arabia. In our case, our flight was delayed for 10 hours, so thank god we managed to give Iris her nighttime bath at KLIA (there is 2 baby rooms after you passed the departure point but the state of the rooms was appalling sad to say). Never underestimate the need for strollers. There will be a point where you need to put your baby down to sleep. Kesian pulak kalau dia tidur lama-lama dalam baby carrier. Also in my case, my back is not really strong, so I can't be carrying her all the time. Hubby pulak dah sandang beg baby and documents etc so again, strollers does help.

A friend taught me, regardless whether you're travelling via air or just the mall across the road, always pack your kids clothing as if they are going to spend a night somewhere. Meaning, if your baby wears normal onesies during the day, in the bag must have extra few onesies, pants or leggings, sweater, small towel and yes, pyjama as well. Because sometimes, oklah, most of the time, kalau plan cakap nak balik rumah jam 5pm will never be 5pm, it will go to 9 or 10 pm, so by the time you reach home, it's probably past baby's bedtime. To change a kid's clothes into bedtime attire by 10.30pm can be a nightmare when she's agitated. If I'm at someone's home, sometimes had to do a muka tebal face and minta tumpang nak mandikan baby. And you know what, it's not a bad thing. I even welcome it at my home if my friends need to do the same. Awal-awal masa baru dapat Iris our bag punyalah mampat and besar nak penuhkan dengan banyak baju but as time goes by, lama-lama dah expert boleh agak berapa banyak baju needed and how to organise em so that your bag won't burst. In my case, I just need more bibs. Huge ones. Kira kalau dia buat kotor pun takkan stain baju dia.

Eh panjang pulak explanation yang ni.

Flight-wise, everytime nak naik kapal terbang, I always feel a bit apprehensive. Bringing a baby on flight is like bringing a time bomb where her behaviour can either make or break you. Being in a close confined space with 200plus other passangers can be unnerving if she decides to cry her heart out, especially bila kapal terbang nak or landing, the change in air pressure will definitely feel painful in her ear. So bila nak dekat dekat time nak naik kapal terbang, we purposely tak bagi Iris minum so that she'll be really thirsty. Time kapal terbang nak naik, time tulah you shove your trusty boobs/bottle of milk/sippy cup to her and let her drink sampai the flight stabilise. InsyaAllah, dia tak akan sakit telinga. Ada pernah sekali, time tu flight to Indonesia, I kesian kat Iris because she was really hungy so I fed her before flight. Bad decision indeed because when kapal terbang nak naik, she tak mahu accept milk. Habislah the whole 1 hour she kept crying her eyes out pasal sakit telinga. Time-time ni lah best kalau nak practise muka tebal hehehehe.

Don't forget baby food, biscuits, toys. Penting tu. Baby ni pun macam adult, they do get bored. :)

Will continue more soon, InsyaAllah...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Umrah with Infant : Things to Bring (Part 1)

Below is the basic items essential for infants. More will be explained at another post. These are just basic guideline. Feel free to add if you will :) My baby is 9 month during this trip. Below is my list:

For flight, departure and takeoff. In your bag you should have :

- Blanket
- Sweater
- Thick leggings
- Pyjama
- Spare change of clothes
- Bibs (lots of em)
- Socks
- Diapers
- Travelling changing mat
- Travelling bath soaps
- Mini towel
- Mini comb
- Wet wipes
- Manicure set (ok put this in your luggage. Because in 2 weeks time, your baby can grow nails like nobodies business)
- Toiletries for babies basically.
- Travelling baby cutleries (can find in Daiso for RM5)
- Travelling baby food,  I recommend those types in bag tubes such as below. Oh ya, before I forget, do check for halal certification if you want to feed your baby food with chicken in it. There's one brand made in Australia that is good. I personally love Organic Bubs ;) Yeap, its Halal.

- Packets of biscuits like Farley's Rusks for breakfast or munch.
- Toys, any entertainment for baby
- No spill sippy cup

Essential things to bring

- Strollers (label them with tag).
- Baby carriers. I have 2, Boba 4g and Pupsik Studio sling. Both is our lifesaver. Pupsik is for long bus rides, I can lie my baby down to sleep like a hammock.

Boba 4G, I highly recommend this! Easy and fast and tak sakit belakang! Super comfortable. Also love the additional head covering flap, no need umbrellas or hat. (Plus hidden pockets to put in your keys, cash etc.)

Pupsik Studio baby hammock. Gifted by a friend. Usefull when baby wants to sleep in long bus rides and places where you can't use the stroller. The only downside is your back might get sore after so long but definitely better than carrying her just like that.

- Sun hat.

- Toddler sunscreen. Very important. I used the brand below. Expensive but does the trick. Don't skimp on this as I find my relatives skin gets scaly and mengelupas after some time. Baby Iris however stayed supple. I really recommend this brand.

- Baby food. Bring as much as you think your baby eat. Nutritien is important.

- Travelling water kettle. (hotels don't provide this)
- Thermal food jar. For you to drink hot water and eat. Because you have a baby, sometimes you don't have the luxury to get to the dining hall in time for breakfast etc. So this things does help.
I still use this here in Malaysia when I cook Iris's porridge to bring out on the go.

La Gourmet 1.4 ltd thermal food jar.  I filled half of it with boiling water and placed a jar of baby food inside to heat her food. No worries of baby kembung pert selepas makan. Also convenient when Mama and Papa nak makan IndoMie hehehe.
- Instant milo/horlicks/coffee (for papa). Because sometimes you just don't have the time to grab your own breakfast.
- Snack for adult. Like granola bars etc. Coz I breastfeed my baby, I tend to eat like a dinosaur. So granola bars does help.
- Water tumbler. Hey you gotta have your daily Zam Zam water right? (Available for free at Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi).
- Medicines. Panadol suppository for baby, panadol syrup, ubat cirit birit, panadol for adult,  cough syrup, clarinase, actifed, whatever you can think of.

Will post more about the experience in another post. If I can think of more essential things to bring I will update here later. Hope this helps.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Formula Moms,

Dear Formula Milk Moms,

I noticed that during my recent postings that advocates breastmilk in my Instagram @bondabyshai, some of you felt as if you were judged for not able to breastfeedfully your child. Some posted pictures saying that why can't we all just get along, that I don't understand what they've gone through and no mother love their child less by formula feeding. Some even went further saying that because I'm a stay-at-home-mom, I have all the leisure in the world and I don't understand how difficult it is to maintain supply while working. Saying that I don't understand the hardship of trying to breastfeed, therefore for you formula is okay as long as the baby is healthy and thriving.

Actually, you don't understand ME.

I have no problem at all with mothers that formula feed their babies. But I do have a problem to those who have a problem of me advocating breastmilk. If you have a problem with that, that just show how confident you are with the kind of milk you're providing to your child. Get it?

I'm actually doing you guys a favour. Please read with an open mind.

Breastfeeding a child is actually a long and lonely journey....I'll tell you from my perspective.

First of all, if my postings of advocating breastfeeding offends you, I apologise but it was never in my intention to do that. Far from that. I advocate breastmilk for the child because I'm fed up seeing formula milk advertisements on tv saying its good for the child but there's not one ad on tv that shows any support on breastfeeding. Not even one. No one tell us whats in a breastmilk. Heck there are people who actually tell me that goats milk, cow or even formula is far more superior than human milk.

Tell me how should I feel about that? How should I feel about Allah's given gift for human to feed another human when being told that another animal's milk can do a better job. Or some white powder manufactured by human is greater than a real human milk.

Even though initially, everyone is or actually tries to breastfeed their offspring, but as the time goes by, you start to see your friends suddenly tells you that her milk has dried up/unable to maintain supply to feed because of work and feed baby formula.

You know what.

Its okay.

Because I know all mom's had tried their best but not all can succeed. You know what, IT'S OKAY. Even 3 months, 2 months or even 1 week of trying to breastfeed your baby is good enough. Because to me, every little drop counts.

Everyone have their reasons of not able to breastfeed their child. But one of the most talked about is the difficulties of maintaining supply. Office policies or bosses who are not appreciative of mothers ducking out of work just for a while to pump milk when it is normal for smokers to get a cigarette break. Mothers who have to pump at the ladies, milk to feed their child just because the office don't have a spare room just for mom's to pump (we have a story where a mom told us the room she use to pump her milk often being barged by outsiders and in dirty condition). Pumping in the toilet. Unable to pump because storage problems because office don't have fridge. There are even stories that a mom was told to stop pumping at the office because using company time AND electricity to pump their milk. Astagfirullahhalazim.

The list can go on for miles. This is just some of it. But you should know about it.

It's okay. You tried your best.

Let me tell you why me advocating breastfeeding should not offend you at all. Because I'm doing it for you.

The problem lies in this one word. SUPPORT.

Without SUPPORT, breastfeeding can be a tough journey.

It is sad to say that most organisations and even society don't get why breastmilk is important because to them, hey, people can survive on formula milk, what's the fuss about it. As long as the person grows it is okay.

Heck I myself is a product of formula feeding. I don't blame my mother at all. Because in her time, breastpump is expensive (non-existence even) and she don't have easy internet knowledge in her era.

People think it's fine not to pump because formula is easily available. People don't understand why go through all the pain and suffering trying to breastfeed when formula can do the same job with less pain? These people don't understand how powerful a mom's milk is. Not one milk producers is able to imitate it because it's contents changes everyday based on a child's needs. Yes, not all milk is created the same. Your baby's saliva or skin-to-skin contact with the baby will inform the mother's body on what the child needs. That is why in every drop of mom's milk is ALIVE with rich nutrients and live cultures.

Tell me something. Do you feel agitated when a co-worker suddenly goes on leave because of a sick child? What do you feel when it is your child that is sick? On another note, price of formula milk is on constant rise everyday. Don't you feel that pinch? Kids will grow. So will their appetite. And their milk intake. Do the math.

After giving birth, do you feel that 2 months of maternity leave is enough for you? On your first day of work, your mind will always wander to your baby etc. Worried even. In certain developed countries, maternity (and even paternity leave) has extended up to 6 months. Why you may ask?

Because their government understand that with healthier babies, in long term, the cost of subsidised medical bills can be reduced substantially.

With healthier babies, we get happier parents.

With happy parents, their work productivity and efficiency is actually increased.

Healthier babies, happy parents, less emergency leave, more productivity. Do the equation.

In fact, I was told in Attorney General Malaysia's office, they provide daycare and breastfeeding facilities for staffs to come and feed their babies. Apparently they even have special CCTV password access to view their child on their computer while they are working. I was told there's an office (IBM Malaysia if I'm not mistaken), there's even special room, with separate booth and comfortable seats for express pump mothers. Now isn't that a peace of mind? An employee that takes trouble to understand their employers. Sometimes small things like that makes the most impact to a worker than money.

Why would they do that? Because they support and understand.

But not all organisations is that supportive. Just read the Breastfeeding forums you'll read on how many of them complaining because of lack of support.

Lack of support = They don't understand.

Which is why, awareness is the key. The more information I give out, the more awareness there will be. With more awareness, perhaps one day, the world will be a better environment for working mothers.

So let it be known that all these hype I'm making, I'm actually doing you a favour. If it's not for you, I'm doing this for my children and the future generation. Because only God knows how much support a breastfeeding mom need. Everyone needs a cheerleader.

So the next time you think that I'm judging you for formula feeding your baby, that's just you.

*All images is found via Google Images. All credits goes to the respective websites.