Her eyes light up and she radiates immense joy as she speaks to me about the most memorable moment in her life. “The day I found out I was going to be a mother,” Fatima says.“The moment I felt that life is growing in me!” But her eyes lose their light suddenly as she remembers her distress before she found joy that she only dream’t she would have.
Fatima was only sixteen when doctors told her that she would never bare any children. For her, the news was shocking, but yet, she describes a feeling of hope that resided deep within her heart which led her to a true reliance on God. “I didn’t say this to anyone then, but I never really found I could believe what the doctors were saying was true. I felt God was the only One to make that decision for me.”
With the news came a lot of stigma she had to face in society. Few years later her fiancé broke their engagement when he found out that she would not bare him children. “I thought then that I would grow old all alone and no one would ever be there for me.”
As Fatima speaks, her words bring back an encounter I had with a woman days ago when I was in the hospital waiting room for an appointment with a doctor. That woman had been sitting opposite me with a man much older than herself whom I had presumed to be her father. The wait was quite long, an hour or so, and I couldn’t help but notice that the couple seemed angry with each other or rather agitated by each other’s presence. I later knew from the woman when she came to sit next to me that the man was her husband, and that five years had passed since their wedding, yet she was not able to conceive. She was clearly very paranoid and her behavior was a reflection of her insecurity and vulnerability. She kept repeating that if only she had completed her one semester left to her master’s degree before getting married, would she have some “value” in the eyes of people. My heart went out to that hopeless lady; and today here I am, sitting closer to my little friend Fatima, listening to a similar story. I realize how many women are downtrodden by society and considered “worthless” for a problem they have no control over and no blame in.
“Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised us to be kind towards women and I kept thinking if I were living in the time of the Prophet I would go to him and cry my heart out.” Fatima says. She then goes on to describe how she met her best friend who was later to become her sister in law.
“I knew God had answered my prayers when I met my husband and found that he believed strongly that my bearing a child was not in the hands of people, but it’s God’s will. And secretly, in the depths of my heart I had made this criterion for knowing my ideal life partner, and I knew I had found him then.” She says. Her husband refuted the medical diagnosis saying that the giving and taking of life was not in the hands of doctors but in the hands of God alone. He reminded her of the story of Lady Miriam who was blessed a child when no man had come near her. “He recounted the story of Prophet Zachariah who was bestowed a child in old age while his wife was old and barren. I couldn’t thank God enough for blessing me with this man.” Her eyes twinkle as she speaks.
And so Fatima’s husband used honey, dates, almonds and other natural remedies to treat her. He kept reciting the Holy Qur’an with her. Fatima describes that part of her life as a “spiritual quest”. She describes passionately how she felt closer to God in every way, and felt more loved and protected that ever before. It was as if God was showing her how wrong she was about thinking she would ever be alone.
Then one beautiful day, her dream came true. Her husband came home with evident joy glowing on his face, and teased her for a long while before actually breaking the news to her. She was going to be a mother. “I was ecstatic!” she exclaims, all emotion bubbling as she laughs remembering that wonderful moment. “I couldn’t sleep after that. I felt so excited thinking of stuff to buy for my baby and things to do for his/her happiness.” She felt as if she were on another plane, and her “spiritual quest” was building momentum.
To Fatima, having life grows inside her, and bearing a living part of creation is a sign of the beauty and honor that God has given to women. “With every moment passing, I couldn’t stop thanking God in my heart.” Her whole pregnancy was “a miracle” as it changed the way she saw things, and led her closer to her Creator. “The pain of giving birth is the worst pain ever, but the most soon forgotten pain ever. The moment I saw my child for the first time, I forgot all the pain and anguish and felt just love and gratitude.” Fatima says with a smile.
“It’s beautiful to be a mother.”