by Amaliah Anonymous in Lifestyle on 2nd March, 2023
TRIGGER WARNING: This article deals with the subject of miscarriage.
Read the first part of this piece here.
In hindsight I’ve been able to realise that the years of fertility struggles had left me with a major lack of self-worth. I’d subconsciously pinned a major portion of my value as a human, and as a woman specifically, on my ability to have children, without realising how deeply harmful and untrue this was.
Our wombs do not define us. There is so much more to you than your child-bearing status right now; there are a million unrealised dreams, dormant skills, abilities and interests within you, and every facet of your being is important and worthy.
I had blinkered vision for a long time, focusing only on this one goal, and in doing so, I neglected the rest of my identity and existence. This deepened the feelings of despair and grief when things didn’t go the way I wanted. I’ve since learnt that knowing myself is so important, and honouring all of me is critical to my wellbeing both in the long and short term.
I also realised how harmful it might have been had I been given a child, to have become a mother in a state in which I barely knew myself, barely respected myself. How can one teach the next generation to have worth and nurture themselves holistically when they don’t know the meaning of this in their lives? You raise children only for a few years very intensively, and for around 18 years under your own roof, and then what? You will still be you once they have flown the nest and are living their own lives.
Who will you be then?
Take some time to tap into your heart, your goals, your dreams, the parts of you that may have been waylaid in the sadness and pain and trauma. A child being born is solely from the decree of God, in reality, there is very little that can actually be changed or controlled by us in this pursuit. On the other hand, there are plenty of other areas that are well within reach, by the grace of God, of course.
Working on becoming healthy, fit, strong, starting to connect with or memorise the Quran, travelling the world, ticking things off your bucket list, learning a new skill, flexing your creative muscles, working on a hobby that you’re passionate about, trying something new and out of your comfort zone, studying something that interests you, the possibilities are endless.
Whether it’s joining a book club, taking up hiking, becoming a pastry chef, booking the trip of a lifetime to your dream destination, or absolutely anything else, enriching other aspects of your life and being will help greatly on the road to healing. One day you’ll thank yourself for living the moments fully while you had them, and besides, there is far more flexibility and opportunity for many things before you are blessed with a newborn baby who needs you every moment of every night and day!
Establish your self-worth and self-love deeply, irrespective of your womb status. Insha’Allah you’ll be granted the child you yearn for, but be so much richer, wiser, and more content and fulfilled once you’ve tended to every aspect of yourself. If God has designated this time in your life without the child you’d wanted, there is wisdom in it.
Multiple doors open when one appears to close. Life has different seasons, just like the natural world. There will come a season for the pregnancy and child-raising insha’Allah, but right now, you might be in a slightly different season. Embrace it for its unique colours and textures, weathers and beauties. The vigour with which you grasp it will directly influence your state when you are blessed with a child, as well as the richness of the foundation you are able to offer as a parent.
I don’t think many societies are adequate in dealing with miscarriage, but hailing from Arab/South Asian backgrounds makes it a double whammy. Not only is there the general widespread awkwardness and misunderstanding as to what miscarriage can actually mean for many people, but there’s an added layer of toxicity in these ethnic communities.
If I had a penny for every insensitive comment, I’d have retired by now. Ranging from unsolicited (and often bizarre) advice on how to conceive quickly, to upsetting opinions on why I miscarried, to rude observations about my weight and diet, the nosiness, interrogations and insensitivities have been frustrating to say the least. In the past they caused me to dread certain social situations, avoid specific people, and sent me plummeting into depressive moods.
Hand in hand with learning to flip my mindset to a heavenly one, to turn my shame into gratitude and dignity, and working on nourishing and nurturing my authentic self, I’m slowly learning to block out the noise. Acknowledging that other people are complicated and often ignorant, and that it doesn’t really have anything to do with me, but rather, their own lack of empathy or personal character flaws, has helped. Realising that generally (major trauma-related responses aside) I have the power to choose how deeply I let something affect me, how deeply I allow words to penetrate.
If I don’t want to let someone silly ruin the rest of my day, I now work hard to ensure it doesn’t, affirming myself, recognising the negativity in their behaviour and then releasing it, before moving onto more valuable and fulfilling thoughts and focuses.
Another aspect of blocking out noise is around comparison. We’ve all heard the phrase; comparison is the thief of joy. This is echoed potently throughout our faith, and in the social media age in particular, it is easy to fall prey to comparing your life to others’ be it subconscious or conscious comparisons. Even without social media, simply being in your twenties or thirties makes it impossible to not be surrounded with pregnant peers, babies and children, in almost every family or social setting. Try to remember that your path is your path, while theirs are theirs. Yours was designed for you, uniquely, perfectly.
There is no blueprint timeline, no right way for a life to pan out. Having children at a younger age is not superior, rather, when God decides the time is right, it is indeed, right. Thinking about other people on their own paths in relation to your own will only bring pain and dissatisfaction. It will not speed up God’s decree for you in any way, but what it is guaranteed to do, is to ruin your quality of life.
Shaytaan will encourage comparison, to foster insecurity and discontentment with the Divine decree, and it is worth being aware of these whisperings and to protect against them. It’s by no means an easy affair, and in most cases will require struggle and consistent effort, but know that you are being rewarded for it by He who knows the innermost secrets of your hearts. The reward comes not only infinitely in the hereafter, but also in the peace of mind and tranquillity which is available in this life too.
“What’s meant for you will reach you even if it’s beneath two mountains, and what’s not meant for you won’t reach you even if it’s between your two lips.” – Imam Ghazali/Ali (RA)
It was weeks after burying our baby that I was able to appreciate that the process of the burial itself was powerful in terms of healing and processing grief.
Throughout our faith we have various physical rituals that correspond to spiritual and metaphysical realities, from the movements in the five daily prayers, to the rites of hajj. They impact us in ways we often can’t obviously fathom, but are necessary and powerful nonetheless.
Miscarriage often seems like an invisible burden, because people around you didn’t meet your child, they can often be lost as to how to respond to the loss of it. There are no special allowances or considerations at workplaces in terms of leave for couples who have gone through this, nor are many doctors surgeries and hospital trusts adequately equipped to provide lasting support.
I remember feeling like barely anyone around me really understood what I was going through, and frustrated at how I was just supposed to dust myself off and get on with life as if nothing much had happened. All because it was an ‘invisible’ affair. The burial process made the loss tangible, solid. It allowed us to acknowledge what we’d been through in a physical sense, and the physical ritual act helped to validate our feelings and begin to process them.
We weren’t in a position to have a burial the previous time, as is the case with many couples for various different reasons, often because of an earlier loss. Other ways of marking and memorialising the loss might be to plant a tree or make some sort of charitable donation instead, or anything else that works for individual couples. This may not be helpful for everyone, but I certainly felt a difference in terms of how I was able to process and move through my grief having done this.
“There is a story which Jalaluddin Rumi tells of an ant that’s creeping across a Persian carpet in a mosque, and the ant complains to God, saying: ‘What is this, these bumps, and strange colours and patterns; this must have been created just as a meaningless obstacle course! What a futile thing to have made.’ But of course the carpet maker, looking at it from above can see the patterns and the purpose of it, and can see that the whole thing is perfect and good. And Allah is also like that. We often can’t make sense of misfortunes because we are two dimensional, we are at ground level, we can’t see what it all means… that this is a manifestation of Allah’s will which is always good and always perfect and always beautiful.” – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
In the face of heart-wrenching disappointments and devastation, our faith can sometimes be shaken. We might feel disillusioned in the exhaustion and weariness, or even start to feel like we are being treated cruelly. Know that there is without doubt, the most beautiful of designs in place. Your story was written by the Author of authors, woven by the Designer of all designers. Know that it was written and woven with love. Pure love for YOU. It might not feel like that right now, but just hold onto the belief, and the clouds will part. The veils will lift.
Reflecting on this ant analogy, and reading the incredibly powerful story of Musa AS and Khidr in Surah Kahf was invaluable in helping me hold on during a very dark time. Knowing that things are not as they seem to us on the surface is vital, and there is a reason why this surah is supposed to be recited once every single week. The reminders it presents are crucial to navigating this life. Even the blessed prophet Musa AS was exasperated with the flow of God’s instructions to Khidr, but patience and certainty in God’s ultimate goodness, and the perfection of His plan is a cornerstone of faith. Just because it feels now like you are walking over dark, rough textured threads on your carpet of life, doesn’t mean something beautiful isn’t ahead, nor does it negate the fact that the overall design is brilliant and wonderful in every way.
Your blessing is being saved for the perfect time for you. You might want it now, but just as a parent doesn’t give their child everything they want when they want it, because they know what is better for them, God is taking care of your affairs. In the meantime, ask yourself how you might grow, is there anything you can learn from this process?
Never ever lose hope. No matter how futile things seem, or what science says. Remember who your Lord is. The Owner of all majesty and might. The Lord of the worlds. He is above laws of science and predictions of doctors. Even if He were to give every single human and Jinn ever created exactly what they desire, His glory and dominion would not decrease by one iota. He loves you seventy times more than your own mother does, and wants only good for you. Children were granted to Maryam AS, Zakariyya AS, Ibrahim AS, as utter miracles, despite being scientifically and rationally impossible. Don’t doubt that the One who split the sea for Musa and Who cooled the fire for Ibrahim AS can show you miracles too.
God is with the broken-hearted. He is closer to you in times of difficulty than any other, and if He has brought you to something, He will carry you through it too. Recite and reflect on His 99 names, take Him as your intimate companion. Anything that discourages you from making dua is nothing other than the devil and his delusions.
This poem written by William Wordsworth following the death of his young son struck a chord with me:
I loved the Boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable, and he is taken from me – yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it.
You have been tested because you are loved. Paradise has been chosen for you, as well as a million moments of healing, growth and flying higher than you’d imagined you could. May you feel the intensity of the merciful Divine gaze upon you in your pain, and taste the richness and sweetness unlike any other. May we be granted the pious, healthy children we long for in this life, as well as be reunited with the ones who have gone forth in the next. Ameen.
This piece was written by a member of the Amaliah community. If you would like to contribute anonymously, drop us an email us on email@example.com