A New Addition To Our Family

by - April 01, 2018



Alhamdulillah, I was recently featured in Gulf News' Friday Magazine's My Fabulous Friday section*. One of the questions they asked me was about the proudest moment of my life and I said - 'signing the lease agreement of Pretty Paper Studio’s new space in Deira, with my three children in tow.' What I didn't tell them was that it wasn't three, but four. There was a little bun in my oven. I wasn't ready to make that news public yet so I skipped that part. 

A bit of flashback - After returning from our Kerala vacation in September, I started hunting for a new space for my store Pretty Paper Studio. I knew it was time to move from being 'only online' to have a proper physical space where customers could walk-in, shop and also attend our workshops. Hosting workshops at different local cafes (as I was doing at that time) was fun in the beginning but got tedious after a while. Most importantly though, I wanted to move out from the tiny shared space into something that was my own and gave me the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted. 

My youngest and I spent weekday mornings going to different locations listed on websites like Dubizzle and Property Finder. When I realized it was going to take longer and more money than I thought I started looking for short-term options - spaces that can be rented for a few weeks or months instead of a yearly commitment. Then I would switch back to finding a permanent space. I went back and forth between my options and finally settled on The Box Self Storage and decided to host a Pop-Up Shop there in November and December. My idea was to wait and see how those two months would fare before making 'the move'. 

Alhamdulillah, the Pop-Up Shop went really well and by early December I was feeling confident about my decision to find a new space. I could stay at The Box and continue operating from there as I did during the Pop-Up Shop but the commute to and fro was seeping into my family time and I felt it was too much of an ask on a long-term basis. Also, the warehouse isn't really practical during long summer months. I started looking for spaces nearer to my home and Alhamdulillah found one. It is less than 5 minutes' drive from where I live, the rent was slightly higher than what I would pay at The Box but there were other incentives that tipped the scaled in favour of this space. As daunting it was, I was about 90% ready to sign the lease agreement. 

Around that time, my youngest had fallen ill with a stomach bug and it was awful. We hadn't eaten anything from outside and I am not sure where she caught it from. But it was horrible and I had to stay back at home for a couple of days. I noticed that I was nauseous and thought it was probably the stomach bug that caught me as well. Later after a few days, I got a little suspicious of nausea that didn't end and decided to do a home pregnancy test. I was 99% sure it would be negative but I wanted to check and get it out of my head. It was positive. I was/am pregnant. 

I have to admit this news has shocked me beyond belief. It wasn't the fact that I got pregnant that threw me off but the fact that I was pregnant at this time in my life. I was about to stop breastfeeding my youngest (third), I was slowly getting my body and myself back after childbirth, my business was going in the direction I wanted, I was about to make 'the move' and commit myself to a full-time physical retail store, and here I was pregnant again. 

I had to sign the lease agreement in a couple of days. Other offices in the same building were getting signed up fast and I didn't have a lot of time to waste. That morning, the day I signed the agreement, I did one more home test. I wasn't ready to meet a doctor yet. The test came positive again. I went to the Pop-Up Shop as usual after dropping off the older two at their Winter Camp. At noon, I said my Zuhr prayers at the shop and later a few raka'at of Nafl prayers. My youngest was with me. I picked up the older two from Winter Camp and drove straight to what was going to be our new Studio and signed the agreement. I decided not to overthink it. I had come this far with three children, Alhamdulillah, I could handle it. 



I confirmed my pregnancy with a Gynecologist only in mid-January after I had moved to our new space and it was officially open. I broke the news to my immediate family and close friends. A few of them said that I was lucky to breeze through the first trimester without vomiting. I smiled. Yes, I didn't have much of morning sickness. But I was extremely tired. I do not remember feeling this tired in any of my previous three pregnancies. Just waking up and getting off bed seemed like an ordeal every day. 

And the emotional side of it all was something else. I have heard and read about how unplanned pregnancies can do a number on you but one doesn't really know what it's like until it hits them. As I said before, it wasn't the fact that I was pregnant, but it was the timing. All three of my pregnancies were planned. J and I knew they were coming and we were prepared. 

This one totally knocked us off. J is one of four siblings and always wanted four kids. My number was three since I am one of three siblings. We used to joke about four kids but we were never really serious. And after the third, we knew we were done. We are an exhausted pair of parents. He has a full-time job and helps with my store. I am pretty much a solopreneur raising three children. We thought we were done having kids. 

I have to admit that I am apprehensive about sharing this part of my pregnancy here. I've a feeling that I am going to be judged and I should consider it a blessing. I do consider my unborn child a blessing. I can't wait to see her/him, Insha Allah. My children are beyond excited. I am happy that my youngest will have a chaddy buddy like the older two has each other. Allah, of course, knows best. 

That said, I cannot lie and say I am happy as a bee. Many women go through mood swings during pregnancies and postpartum. It is a tough time for several of us. I wish more people understood and supported this aspect of pregnancy/childbirth. Oh and let's not talk about their reaction to multiple children and unsolicited advice about 'family planning'. 

I am 21 weeks pregnant now Alhamdulillah and I can already see the darkness leaving me but I am praying that what I am going through is only hormonal and I will be back to my normal happy positive self once our baby arrives. Insha Allah. 

Ramadan Journal 2018

I just wanted to quickly inform you that I won't be keeping a Ramadan Journal this year like I normally do. As much as I love it and as much as I believe in my capabilities, I have decided to take a break. I am planning to participate in #The100DayProject which will run through Ramadan and I feel one project around that time is more than enough. I am also planning to bring back my Spark On With Neelu podcast before the baby arrives, insha Allah.

Thank you so much for sticking by and reading my sporadic posts. Speak soon, insha Allah!

*You can read the full interview here.

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5 comments

  1. Congratulations Neelu! May this new addition brings tons of love and luck to your lives ❤

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  2. Everything has a time, Neelu and we don't know the wisdom behind it. Alhamdulillah, the way it began, you have had good beginnings, so InShaAllah, I am sure that the baby #4 is only going to bring more goodness into your family, business and otherwise... BarakAllah feek... I have only two, I wish for more but I am not blessed till now and I am fine with it. Like you said, I had tough pregnancies, not because of body sickness, but because of the mental turmoil of being a full time working woman and every mood swings that followed it, during and after... even now, when I see new mothers, I tell them the reality and explain how they can expect and overcome. Some are blessed Alhamdulillah but most of them aren't, and we are never told about it... I only wish and pray for the best for you...Take care...

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    Replies
    1. JazakAllah khair, Rafee. I hope you get your little blessing soon, insha Allah. <3

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