Well, hello.

I don’t blog nearly as much as I should – let’s be honest, I don’t blog at all. I have been writing a good bit, however. I use to frequently contribute to a magazine here, in Al Ain, about parenting and family life as an expat. I’ve also written for an online blog or two. Even with all of those additional writing assignments, I will also admit that Instagram has made me a bit lazy – wait, so I can post this picture with a little write-up?!?! It’s like a mini blog with graphics, easily included, especially since there are no character limits (ahem, Twitter. Which I haven’t quite gotten the hang of yet.). So between working, loving on my husband, raising my 4 children, and my cheat IG blogs; I just haven’t gotten around to actually blogging. Here is my attempt to do better…again.

Updates:

Just in case you were wondering, motherhood is no joke and it kicks my butt daily. So I’ve been attempting to balance life all while feeling like the cat in the hat right before everything came tumbling down. I’m still balancing though- well, still standing- and that’s what really matters. I’m fortunate that I’m no longer trying do that with postnatal depression. It did return after Daniel was born. I was prepared this time though, so I was able to act as a barrier between myself and well, myself. Exercise helped tremendously. It was a drug, of sorts, for me. If I went three days without working out, my mood plummeted and I found myself crying, sad, and hopeless. My husband made it a point to allow me space and time to workout. He even took the liberty of suggesting a run from time to time (side-eye…appreciative side-eye, but side-eye still). I’m so blessed to have him. Exercise, his support, strategies taught by my therapist, and prayer helped me while under my cloud. I’ll be honest, however, depression changes you. I wish that I could look at it as a phase that I’m now over but depression, like other negative life experiences, leaves chilling marks. I’ve spent the last few months trying to re-build my confidence and re-shape my self-image. It’s been an interesting and humbling journey.

Outside of that, I’m still teaching while trying to figure out if I still want to and am still writing while trying to figure out how to do that more. Oh, and still parenting the mess out of life, naturally.

The Lorick Littles

Since the last time I wrote everyone has had a birthday. Mila is 5, Aaron 4, Benjamin 2, and Daniel is 1 (see what I mean regarding the butt kicking?).

They for sure don’t feel like your typical American children and it’s a bittersweet feeling, really. While I still feel connected to my children, the differences in our upbringings gap a bit more with the coming of the years. Currently, it is more of a language gap than anything else. My daughter often says “pardon” after I say something and one glance of her confused face let’s me know that she wasn’t able to place my accent. I say it again, but slower. Even their verbiage is quite different than my husband’s and my own. At first it was biscuits instead cookies, “tuh-mah-toes” for “tah-may-toes, and the ever-standing British “t” in “water” unless, of course, you pronounce it like a British girlfriend of mine, “wa-ah.” Recently my daughter asked me for a rubber. There was a long pause on my end but I soon realized that she wanted an eraser. When wanting to get something right now she often says, “straight away” after her request. Her discussions with me about nannies and understanding the differences in Gods are fascinating. Her ability to differentiate between a native English speaker and non-native speaker is clever to say the least. My sons follow suit with their big sister while yielding to their own experiences as well. I am raising 3rd culture children and I, while learning on the job, pray that I succeed while working through those differences alongside the normal, daily struggles and joys of parenting.

Feel free to follow my lazy post on Instagram @theexpatparent and watch this space ;).FullSizeRender

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Maternity/Family Photo Shoot

In November I was browsing through my Facebook feed when I saw a sponsored ad from a photo studio in Dubai. The studio was looking for pregnant women and families with newborns, and/or young children to take part in a free workshop. Interested models were asked to send an email stating their availability and how they were a good fit for the workshop. Below is my email to them and their response to me.

Greetings,

My family and I are interested in participating in a photo shoot on either the 13th or 14th of this month. I am 34 weeks pregnant and I have a 1, 2, and 4 year old.

Dear Aisha,

Congratulations! You have been selected out of about 165 applications to be one of the 4 maternity models for our Maternity shoot workshop! We are so excited about your joining us.

 How could they have denied us?!?

Prior to this pregnancy I didn’t have a desire to take professional maternity photos. I just wasn’t sure about what would become of them when I was no longer pregnant. I must admit, however, that I am blissfully nostalgic when looking at these and so happy that we were able to take them.

Unfortunately, we didn’t receive the photos until a week before Daniel was born so we aren’t able to do much with them now but I wanted to share some of them with all of you.

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My Battle with Postnatal Depression

It’s been over a year, until recently, since I last blogged or wrote anything personal to be shared publicly. I would be being deceitful if I said that this year flew by. It honestly has felt like a long 12+ months.

For those who have just started following me, this entry may seem a bit uncouth and my transparency could, possibly, make you uncomfortable. I apologize. My hopes, however, is that my honesty helps someone or, at the very least, excuses me of my lengthy, unannounced hiatus.

My Disappearance

My third child, Benjamin, was about 2 months old when I wrote my November 2014 blog entry. While I had managed to maintain sanity throughout the majority of my unplanned pregnancy, I was crippled by emotional distress just weeks after his birth. I wish that I could blame it on my stretched out stomach, stress about breast milk production, or raw cesarean scar but the culprit was postnatal depression (PND). Yes, depression. Even with a healthy baby, lovely children, and strong marriage, I couldn’t figure out how to talk myself out of a dark hole.

The Initial Trigger

My doctor subscribed the mini pill as a form of contraceptive when I went to my 6 week postnatal check-up, 3 weeks early. I was breastfeeding and estrogen, found in traditional birth control pills can decrease breast milk if started before 6 months postnatal. The mini pill is only made up of the hormone progesterone and this is considered safe immediately after giving birth. While progesterone did not compromise my breast milk production, it did cause some major hormonal imbalances for me. It made my processing of emotions and decisions illogical and quite dramatic. I cried about everything and nothing at all. I felt myself losing myself as I often chanted, “don’t be crazy, please don’t be crazy.”

I tried to be “normal.” I really did. I talked less, fought hard to block out the negative thoughts, and pulled away from people, as I didn’t trust myself to maintain or establish relationships. I saw these changes and noted how they affected those around me and yet, I continued birth control longer than I should have. I was choosing the lesser of two evils: I could stay on the pill and be crazy or get pregnant and be crazy. I chose to stay on the pill. More damaging than the daily intake was the withholding of all information from my husband and doctor. I didn’t want to hear someone tell me to get off of the pill as if that was the only logical solution. I didn’t want to have another baby right away and I wanted to, selfishly, make all decisions regarding that on my own.

After 3 months, I finally gave in and called my doctor to let her know that I thought that I was going crazy due the pills. She confirmed it. After crying uncontrollably and picking a ridiculous fight, I broke down and told my husband the same. They both told me to get off of the pill. I did, both reluctantly and with much relief.

The Unpacking

While I felt a little better, I was still depressed after I stopped taking birth control. My doctor explained that this was due to hormonal imbalances that can occur after childbirth. Whatever it was, it still made it very difficult for me to feel like, me. I continued to cry often as everything felt like a trigger. I spent more time than I would like to admit, in the corners, on the floor, at my job and locked in bathrooms and other empty rooms in my home, gasping for air while I suffered from panic attacks. These, along with my tears, happened when both nothing and something occurred. I hated my job, I doubted my friends, and I questioned my marriage and ability to be a mother. I had zero self-confidence and just didn’t trust myself to make sound decisions.

This entire dark period lasted from about October 2014 to February 2015. Those were long, hard months for me.

In March I found out that I was pregnant with our fourth child.

My Takeaway

My struggles with PND taught me a lot about myself as it forced me to answer some hard questions about some of my habits and outlooks.

  1. I need help. I am a control freak. I wanted so badly to do it all on my own: figure out ways to not get pregnant so soon, comfort and console myself, and just beat depression on my own that I ended up making the entire ordeal worst for myself and those closes to me. It was actually a cowardly thing for me not to ask help. I feared rejections, strange looks, or just silence as I felt that no one would understand. Yet, I confused obliviousness with uncaringness so that caused resentment. This past October I sought help outside of myself. I started counseling in hopes that it would teach me strategies to better deal with PND should it rear it’s evil head again after my fourth child’s birth. Al Ain is not an easy place to find a counselor or general parenting support. I am very grateful for the openness of people around me, as I would have never known that could get help here. I also talked to my husband about my struggles, current fears, and different ways that he could help me. He has been very helpful.
  2. I should accept and be honest about the way that I feel. If I’m tired it doesn’t help if I try to talk myself out of needing rest. The same is true with mental and emotional health. Things became much easier for me after I stopped telling myself not to be crazy and just accepted the fact that I was…well, crazy. After admitting that, I was able to work from where I truly was and not from where I was trying to convince myself to be.
  3. I am lonely. PND has several triggers. Hormonal imbalances are the cause but there are quite a few things that can get the ball rolling and cause ongoing depression. Loneliness was probably my biggest trigger. The few people who I have shared this story with are always shocked when I admit to being lonely. They refer to my family and stare at me with confusion. Yes, my husband is great and my children are wonderful but I don’t have any other outlets here. That isn’t healthy and that is one of the downsides of raising a family abroad and being an expat parent. I am away from my traditional support system of family and friends and I have been really busy being pregnant and having babies since 2011 so, I haven’t had nor, if I am completely honest, made time to develop many relationships. This has caught up to me. One of my focus words for 2016 is: relationships.

My Advice

Mommies if you feel like you’ve changed, negatively, after having a baby, you probably have and that’s OK. Your body, hormones, and emotions have really gone and are continuing to go through the ringer. Don’t make my same mistakes: be honest with yourself about the way that feel and then seek help by allowing others to aid you. You can only be the best when you are at your best and maybe your best is talking to a counselor, utilizing your support systems, or taking medication. Either way, just know that emotional imbalances or PND is not your fault nor is it your battle to fight alone. Also, exercise. I started exercising consistently in February and I think that helped tremendously.

My Current State

I can tell that some changes, hormonally, have occurred since having my last child. I am overly sensitive and bit emotional at times. I am so grateful for the strategies that I learned in counseling, as I have had to use a few of them already. I am happy though and I feel, as much as I possibly can 5 weeks postnatal, like myself.

Special Request

I do need a huge favor, however. If I disappear again or if you notice that I become distant or different, ask me about it. I could, very well, need your help.

Thanks in advance!

Below are some of the coping strategies that I learned and have used:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4th Child

Son, you came a day earlier than your scheduled cesarean date. I forgive you for your unannounced arrival as you were unaware as to how much of a procrastinator I am. I didn’t have a bag packed and I hadn’t frozen any meals yet…I wasn’t ready. Yes, I was going to do all of that on the day that you decided would be your birthday. Don’t judge me and yep, I make magic happen everyday.

Two weeks before you were born.

I guess I asked for it

I had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, December 3rd, and I told the doctor that I was a bit disappointed that I would never be able to experience going into labor. Now would probably be a great time to tell you that I had never experienced contractions. I failed to progress with your sister and she went into fetal distress due the umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck so I had to have an emergency cesarean. Subsequently, both of your brothers were scheduled/elective cesarean. I should also let you know that your father and I decided that you would complete our family. So my planned cesarean with you meant that I would, in some way, miss out on experiencing a “traditional” labor. Let’s be clear though, I am very much so proud of the way that I brought you and your siblings into this world. You all are healthy and I am still alive. Even knowing this, I still desired to experience what I always thought that I would as a woman, a wife, and most importantly a mother. But I was only rambling to the doctor, so I thought.

“…I knew that you would enter the world the way that you did; I should have been prepared to have you earlier than the 6th of December.”

When my contractions started the following day, my thoughts rushed back to the conversation the day before. Here I was, going into labor. (I need to figure out who I need to talk to about my wanting another job and see if that happens as quickly as well. Sorry, I digress.)  My contractions started out at 20 minutes apart. I went to bed that night hoping that you would wait, at least until I was packed for the hospital. When I woke up at 4am, in tears, I knew that you would come that day and that you would not give me enough time to pull everything together. My contractions were more intense and 8 minutes apart when I was awakened by pain. I held out until 10:30am, trying to wash clothes and pack, and by the time I made it to the hospital my contractions were 4 minutes apart and doctor confirmed that I was in labor. I had gotten my wish. The doctor called for an emergency c-section stating that we could not wait long as my uterus was far too weak, after 3 prior cesareans, to handle my wish list. I held you in my arms about 2 hours later. *Sidenote: Contractions are overrated and painful!*

It was all a dream

What’s funny about your coming early is that I knew that you would enter the world the way that you did; I should have been prepared to have you earlier than the 6th of December.  I actually had a dream, in November, that I was at an event where your father was scheduled to perform, on December 4th, and I started having contractions. While the event was cancelled, I really did start having contractions that evening.

A day after you were born.
A day after you were born.

The Nameless Child

Naturally, we hadn’t picked out a name for you. That too was on my to-do-list alongside packing a hospital bag and freezing meals. Gratefully your name came to me immediately upon holding you. When the nurse handed you to me I felt a such a strong urge to call you Josiah.  I’ve never met anyone by that name and it wasn’t on my list. While I am being transparent I must also admit that while I knew the name was biblical, I wasn’t able to recall who or what Josiah did.

Even with that strong urge, you were nameless for 48 hours. Your father and I played with different name combinations that included Paul, Jacob, Emerson, Andrew,  Daniel, Harrison, Josiah, Cory, and Levon. When we were told that we could leave the hospital after 2 days we were sure that you would leave there without a name. Then your dad, understanding that it was impossible for me to ignore the name Josiah and being the superhero that he is, came up with what we would later deem your name: Daniel Josiah. So, Daniel, you received your name just a few hours before we left the hospital.

You

Since your birth, less than 2 weeks ago, you have made such a huge impact on our family. Along with, single- handedly, tipping us over into the “big family” category (because apparently 3 children only sits you on the cusp of it), you have also stolen our hearts. Your siblings adore you. They all want to hold you and kiss you and your are greeted every morning with the brightest smiles and every afternoon, after school, with some of the warmest embraces. Your father and I couldn’t be happier. We love you so much Daniel. Thank you for turning our party of 5 into a party of 6! We are so grateful to have you.

Leaving the hospital.
Leaving the hospital.

Love,

Your Family

Daniel Josiah Lorick

Born: December 5, 2015 at 12:37pm GST/3:35am EST

Weight: 7.46 lbs./3385 grams

Length: 19 in./48.5 cm

Location: Oasis Hospital, Al Ain, UAE

The 4th Child
The 4th Child

Mila is 3!

Our baby girl turned 3 two weeks ago! We are so very proud of the little lady that she is becoming. We celebrated her big day by sending cupcakes and princess party decor to her school the day before and by having a small gathering at our house on her birthday.

Along with being proud of my daughter I must toot my horn and admit that I am quite pleased with myself as well. I took on the exciting task of baking her cupcakes for school and her cake for her birthday gathering. This was my first time baking cakes and making icing from scratch. Both creations turned out pretty well. Give me a few years; I’ll be that gorgeous, successful mom that bakes wonderfully. Now off for a run I go 2 cupcakes and 1 slice of cake later.

School Party

Mila with her teachers and nursery's owner.
Mila with her teachers and nursery’s owner.
Grandma joined in on the party.
Grandma Lorick joined in on the party.
She's 3!
She’s 3!
Aaron came and crashed her party.
Aaron came and crashed her party.
We were still working on which 3 fingers hold up.
We were still working on which 3 fingers to hold up.

The Birthday Gathering 

In keeping with the princess theme...
In keeping with the princess theme…

 

Mila and Grandma Lorick.
Mila and Grandma Lorick.

 

Mila and her ballet partner and friend, Mali.
Mila and her ballet partner and friend, Mali.
I made a sparkle rainbow cake!
I made a sparkle tie dye cake!

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Soooooo next time I make smaller color blocks to get the look that I desire. It was yummy though :).
Soooooo next time I’ll make smaller color blocks to get the look that I desire. It was yummy though!
Mila playing with Levi.
Mila playing with Levi.
Benjamin made a guest appearance :).
Benjamin made a guest appearance :).

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Aaron kept trying to open Mila's gifts.
Aaron kept trying to open Mila’s gifts.
She was too cool for indoors...it was time for a swim.
She was too cool for indoors…it was time for a swim.
Walking to the pool.
Walking to the pool.
Enjoying the pool!
Enjoying the pool!

I think that Mila really enjoyed her parties! She’s asked me, on at least 4 different occasions, will she have another one tomorrow. She has even gone as far as to request a Doc Mcstuffins’ themed party. My daughter is already growing up too quickly, 1 party a year is all that I can stand.

Happy 1st Month!

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Benjamin is a month old already! He’s fattened up a bit and his lungs are getting plenty of exercise (poor 3rd child). He continues to be a mild tempered child: not as calm as Mila and not as aggressive as Aaron.

1 Month Stats:

Weight: 9.2lbs/4.1kg

Height: 21 inches/53cm

Eating is clearly a hobby of his as he was a bit shy of 6 lbs. at birth and has gained 3 and some change already!

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Benjamin Alexander

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Benjamin Alexander Lorick

August 7, 2014

8:41 a.m. GMT/12:41 a.m. EST

2.68kg/6 lbs.

51.5 cm/20 inches

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We delivered Benjamin in Dubai at Medcare Hospital via cesarean just as we have done with both Mila and Aaron. Benjamin has proven to be a really mellow tempered baby with siblings that are very much so intrigued by him. We feel very blessed to be a part of him and him a part of us.

We are now a family of 5. While I have only been home for 1 day I can say that the adjustment from 2 to 3 is not nearly as hard as it was from 1 to 2. Hopefully, all will continue to go smoothly.

The day before Benjamin's delivery. Our last photo as a family of 4.
The day before Benjamin’s delivery. Our last photo as a family of 4.
I'm a mom of 3!
I’m a mom of 3!

Mila and Aaron have adjusted wonderfully to Benjamin. When Aaron saw Benjamin for the first time he just kept wanting to touch his face and hair. Mila immediately began to include Benjamin in our family’s plans and desires: “Mommy, daddy, Aaron, Benjamin, and Mila want to go home.”  The evening that we left the hospital Mila assured that I and her father knew that she really liked Benjamin and was very attentive to him during our hour and a half stretch home.

Leaving the hospital.
Leaving the hospital.
We will definitely move someone to the third row, but it was interesting to see all 3 of them on 1 row.
We will definitely move someone to the third row, but it was interesting to see all 3 of them on 1 row.

Gender Poll

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We are a few days away from welcoming our third child. As usual, we did not find out the gender.  Time to cast your vote! This child decides which gender rules the house. Are we having a boy or a girl?

 

 

 

Eid Al Fitr

The UAE’s moon sighting committee has just announced that Eid Al Fitr, also known as the festival of fast breaking, begins on tomorrow and that today was the last day of Ramadan for this country. The moon sighting committee gathered today to ensure that a new/crescent moon could be sighted. While this is a world-wide celebration for Muslims, the official start of Eid varies in different countries as its start is contingent upon the sighting of the new moon. For example, in Pakistan Eid Al Fitr will be celebrated on Tuesday as there are no chances of  moon sightings tonight.

Eid Al Fitr is a celebration in which Muslims recognize the ending of Ramadan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal, the 10th month that follows the month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. On the actual day of Eid Muslims take part in religious activities such as gathering together to recite the Eid prayer. The celebration, however, usually continues for about 3 days. For those 3 days Muslims visit family members, friends, and give gifts, especially to children. Government offices here are closed  for the entire week to ensure that Muslims are able to spend time with their family members and other loved ones.

As the fasting period has ended, we all are able to resume our normal daily activities. We will be celebrating Eid by going to Dubai tomorrow to eat lunch. I’m so excited about being able to dine inside of restaurant before 7:30pm. With that being said, I would like to wish everyone a happy and joyous Eid.

Have a blessed Eid
“Have a blessed Eid”

 

 

Ramadan Mubarak

As the school year comes to an end we are forced to constantly come to terms with our inability to visit the states this summer. This will be our first summer away from home. It is, however, for a good a cause; our baby is due in August which doesn’t leave us enough time to travel internationally. I am dreading the intense heat and am a bit leery about the start of Ramadan.

Ramadan is  a holy and very scared time for Muslims.  However, because there is no separation of church and state, Ramadan initiates a temporary routine/ life change for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. While speaking with some of our friends and family back home, I realized that most of them don’t understand Ramadan and it’s effects on this country and more specifically its expatriate community. I hope that this post sheds some light on how different things will be here in the UAE and other Muslim countries during this time.

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What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month of reflection, prayer, and fasting for Muslims. They fast from dawn (around 4:30am) to sunset (around 7pm) everyday to become closer to Allah, cleanse their body of impurities, and  to be reminded of how the less fortunate may feel. Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam so fasting during this period is essential for most  devout Muslims. There are some exceptions when it comes to the fasting aspect of Ramadan.  This year Ramadan is scheduled to begin on Sunday, June 29th, in accordance to the sighting of the crescent moon, and end on Sunday, July 27th.

Basic Rules During Ramadan for Muslims

  • No eating, drinking, smoking, or intercourse from dawn to sunset.
  • Curb emotions such as anger, greed, envy, lust, and refrain from gossip.
  • Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the fasting period as a time for spiritual contemplations.
  • Help those in need.
  • Visit friends and family members.

Basic Rules During Ramadan for Non-Muslims

  • It is illegal to publicly eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke during the fasting period. This include ones own car.*Both Muslim and  non-Muslim children, pregnant and breastfeeding women,those with illnesses,  and travelers are exempt from the eating and drinking regulations.
  • Everyone is expected to dress more conservatively during this time. Women are requested and expected to limit the amount of make-up worn and cover arms, legs, and shoulders.
  • No music or dancing is allowed during Ramadan so car stereos should be turned down and one should even be mindful of playing music too loudly in his or her own home.

*As teachers are still expected to work for the next 2 weeks we have been asked to be very discreet regarding food and water that we bring into the building. Also, if we must eat, it should be done in a private area away from our Muslim co-workers.

Overall, non-Muslims are asked to be respectful and mindful of  Islam and Muslims during this time.

Changes in  Everyday Routines

It is widely stated that during the fasting period Muslims spend a lot of their time sleeping and praying. Therefore, hours of operations for businesses shift to adhere to their schedules. During the day some restaurants are completely closed while others are open for takeout only. Most businesses are open for a maximum of 6 hours a day. For example, a local home store will open from 11am-2pm and then again from 8pm to 11pm.  Nightclubs will remain closed during the entire period of Ramadan and live music will not be played in hotels and bars. Alcohol, however, will be served from 8pm onwards in bars and hotels. Music in shopping centers will either be non-existent or replaced with Quran recitations. Some family friendly entertainment venues will remain closed during Ramadan while others will open from 8pm-midnight.

From 7pm onwards the UAE comes alive. Muslims and non-Muslims will be out and about eating and visiting friends and family. The streets will be packed and restaurants open for dining in. Muslims will be having Iftar, the meal that breaks their fast, either in their homes or in restaurants. Iftar is usually a large meal that is eaten with both Muslims and non-Muslims or just with ones own family members. Providing Iftar for others is seen as a charitable act. Several hotels advertise their Iftar timings and specials and I’m looking forward to our experiencing one during this time.

How will Ramadan Effect Us?

Overall, we will be forced to be hermits during the day. We have discussed trying new recipes and a perhaps completing a home project.  We have also decided to have Christmas in summer this year and buy lots of new toys as we will be in the house with a 1 and 2-year-old. Bedtime will possibly be pushed back to experience less of the day.  We live in a row house which means that we can hear our neighbors through the walls at times.  One of the families next to us practice Islam, so we are concerned about their schedule during this time.  Hopefully, they will be traveling to their home country as many people here do during the summer.  If not, it may mean that we will have to be considerate of their sleeping during the day and they will have to consider us at night.

Since this is our last day of “regular” living for a month it’s not too early to wish everyone a Happy Ramadan.

 

*For more information feel free to read the articles below:

http://www.emirates247.com/breaking-news-ramadan-to-begin-in-uae-saudi-arabia-from-sunday-2014-06-27-1.554555

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-arabia-to-expel-expats-who-disrespect-ramadan-1.1352684

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/what-ramadan-ramadan-what-muslims-7336269