A poem written by me to my 5

To The Love of Your Children

 

I am you and you are me

Open your eyes so you can see,

Bounce along with love and care,

Embrace the world out there.

Keep going, keep glowing,

Never give up on enjoying

The children’s laughter, growth, even noise

Do not get mad; as there is always a choice,

Where you allow patience to reside

Forever in your soul – and not to subside.

Laugh, hug, dance, and play

Cause that is what you have for today,

Precious memories of childhood are built

Do it with passion, without having any blame or guilt.

With every challenging struggle you face,

Try your best not to leave a negative trace.

Let that anger and tension out

You do not need to scream or even shout.

Breathe with all your might

You do not need to fight.

They know you are there should they fall,

Your support, love, and softness are their call.

For the love of your children, my dear

Remember the present moment, now and here.

Take it easy and do it right,

Do it with all your might!

Happiness is what I guarantee,

You will always be floating, you will see!

 

Rania Hussant

Breastfeeding; my secret recipe

Breastfeeding is a very rewarding experience that most moms enjoy. In addition to its physical advantages for both baby and mummy, it creates a special bond and gives the child a unique sense of security and warmth.

Knowing and believing in the benefits of breastfeeding, I decided to fully commit to it back with my first child.  It was a painful struggle that lasted for four months. I had bleeding blisters, and my baby would not even consider a bottle. Not that I wanted to stop breastfeeding, but the pain was unbearable. I tried every single remedy I crossed, and none of them worked. With my teeth biting my lips, I continued to breastfeed until by coincidence I came across Lansinoh – lanolin breast cream, and breastfeeding became paradise.

I consider that I have successfully breastfed all five kids, including the twins, and I am delighted that I did. Not that it was smooth and easy with all of them, but ‘When there is a will, there is a way.’ I strongly encourage all moms to try their best to breast feed since it is the best that you could offer to your baby.

I do understand, however, that not all women are able to breastfeed, and one of the main problems is the fact of not having sufficient milk supply.  Once a mom decides she wants to breastfeed, she has to focus on following a healthy diet which helps in increasing the amounts of milk. Following a diet to lose the baby weight must be put on hold, and the focus should be more on the foods that are good for the mom’s milk. ‘Foods with lactation-promoting properties are called lactogenic foods.’

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Here are the best supply-boosting foods for breastfeeding moms;

Papaya, asparagus, oats, halva sweet known as ‘halawa’, carrots, almond nuts, spinach, chick peas, brown rice, apricots, and salmon.

Frequent nursing or pumping in addition to drinking water and other fluids boost the milk supply. One of my favourite and finest herbal fusions is a drink which I have inherited from my great-grandmothers. And the recipe is simple and easy; two to three cinnamon sticks, a knob of dry or fresh ginger, and some anis seeds.

Put all the ingredients in a big kettle. Fill it with a half a litre of water. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer for a half an hour.

During the first two months you could add around one teaspoon of fenugreek. The latter helps in cleaning the womb and in boosting the milk supply. However, you should not exceed the intake of fenugreek as it might decrease the sugar level in the blood.

Finally, a breastfeeding mom should try to rest and nap whenever she could in order to be able to stand up to the required demands.

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Breastfeeding needs commitment and dedication, but it is also rewarding in terms of physical and emotional states for both mommy and baby. It is indeed worth trying!

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About Me

I am a mother, an educator, an aspiring writer and last but not least a wife.

My husband and I have been happily married for 11 years and have been blessed with five children, four boys and a girl whose ages range from 5 months to 9 years. Raising three boys for the past 9 years was nearly manageable while pursuing my career in education as a full time elementary teacher. However, things were about to change drastically when we found out that we were expecting a boy AND a girl in 2014. As thrilled as we were, we knew we are going on the ride of our lives.

After taking a decision to put my teaching career on hold for the time being, I decided to share my story and start this blog.  Therefore, I will be writing about my experiences as a dedicated mother and wife, passionate educator and will be also revealing my parenting style and techniques based on the evidence based research I have done over the years.

Finally, I hope you will enjoy this voyage with me, and I would love to get your feedback.

Happy and Confident Children in Four Steps

The secrets of successful and happy individuals are confidence and a positive self-esteem. We, as parents, have a crucial role to play in developing those characteristics in our children’s personalities. In fact, I will share four main components that I have been following which I believe help in building children’s self-esteem and confidence:

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  1.  Never sneak away from your child:

My husband and I always told our children that we will be going out for a while, and stressed on the fact that we will come back later. We made sure to let them know how much we loved them and explained to them that they are going to stay with their grandmother in the meantime. Like all other children, they used to cry for the first couple of outings. It is very normal for children to react in such a way and most probably they want to go with you. But eventually, they learned that we always come back and that we are always there for them. Therefore, our children learned to trust us and felt safe even when we were not around and we built a positive self-esteem.

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  1.  Never lie to your children:

Honesty is a key factor in parenting. Whatever their question is or their demand, a parent needs to be honest about it. Take the time to explain your reasons behind your behaviour or answers. Even when you do, make some more time and hear if they have something else to add. Another way to build confidence is to help our children express themselves and share their opinion. Their voice needs to be heard and we are all ears.  One of the good examples that come to mind is when we take the children for vaccination. We tell them that it will hurt a bit, and explain why it is important for them to have it.

  1.  Be patient:

With too much on your plate and a lot of voices saying ‘mommy’ at the same time, being patient is one of the hardest things about parenting. A glimpse of what I encounter at home almost every afternoon with all five of my children (bless them) at home is as follows; the twins are nagging (even though diaper change, checked; feeding, checked; teething, Panadol given an hour ago so checked; toys and books, right within their reach also checked…), my number three wants to play snakes and ladders, my second son has a few inquiries about life and probably a couple of good arguments supporting playing Wii on weekdays, and my eldest has homework but doesn’t feel like finishing it. Most probably, the phone will also be ringing in the background and someone is always at the door… What would I do? Where do I start? Sometimes, I feel like screaming and running but then again how does that help! After a lot of years of practice, I found that the key to deal with such a situation is to solve the issues one at a time. By doing so, you teach your kids about patience, waiting for their turn and they can see that you are there for them. Thus confidence is established because they know they will get your attention.

  1.  Remind them that you love them:

Showering your children with love and affection is an enjoyable remedy for both child and parent. Not only the child feels content, but she will also have a sense of security that builds confidence and trust.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass

Who Is In Control?

Our brain is such a complex and mysterious organ that might seem to be unreachable and ambiguous. We think that it is the one that controls us, but the surprising news is that we do.

I did not know that directing the brain is attainable until I experienced it myself during labour with the twins. My water broke at 33 weeks, and I had to go through the delivery on my own. The contractions suddenly became intense and immediate.  The doctors panicked and I could see them running and shouting orders for me to be directly transferred to the OR for a C-section. To make things worse, it was my first experience with a C-section, in a hospital that I have never been to before. The anaesthetist told me that if I wanted to have a local aesthesia, I had to stop myself from shaking. I was not aware that every muscle in my body was quivering. I knew that if I do not stop these trembling movements, he will put me to sleep. And that was my main fear.

I did not want to drift away into a dark world I did not know, and I wanted to be with my twins the minute they were born, and I could not help it.  At that instant I knew that it is all in my head, and I was surprised by my own voice that suddenly became clear and calm when I told the doctor, “I can do it. Just do whatever you need to do and have my babies arrive safely.”

In fact, I have decided not to panic. I set my goal that I need to control my emotions and be strong for my twins and for myself. Within few minutes, the doctor was able to insert the needle in my spine, and a couple of seconds later I heard the first cry of my first twin…

But how can this be true scientifically? What has happened to my brain when I took the decision not to panic?

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In the brain there are multiple structures where each has its own function. Two of those are the Limbic System and the Prefrontal Cortex.

The Limbic System, also known as The Animal Brain, supports a variety of functions including adrenaline flowemotion, and behaviour. For example, when a person has a panic attack, it is this part of the brain that is working on full speed.

lymbic system

In fact, it will be the one sending signals to have the person react to the panic experienced. Many people think that it is a positive thing to have such reactions. Others wonder how we can control our fears and if it is possible to work on our brains and have these calm and controlled attitudes become our nature. As moms, having this option would be great, especially when we want our children not to panic, or to be frustrated, or even to feel helpess.

Could we actually change our brain to function in a free style controlled manner? Can we really manage our Limbic system and eventually our fears?

Indeed we can, and here comes the other brain structure, the Prefrontal cortex, into play…

The outer frontal part of the brain is the Prefrontal cortex that helps us guide our thoughts and fears. In fact, as Goldman Rakic put it back in October 1996:

“The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, action, thoughts and also for the inhibition of inappropriate thoughts, emotions, actions and feelings.“

In other words, the Prefrontal cortex controls our “animal brain”.

                             

                                The Prefrontal Cortex: 

deciding brain 4     deciding brain 2  deciding brain 3

 

This means that once you take the decision of not wanting to panic, or to holler, or when you even want to overcome any other weakness that you have, this part of the brain, the Prefrontal cortex, starts to send messages to the Limbic System to have it under control.  Once you set your mind on a goal, the brain accelerates this process to accomplish a meticulous mental state.

Scientists believe that goal-setting works by assisting the Frontal Lobes. As the brain’s supervisor, the Frontal Lobes are responsible for reasoning and planning. The minute you concentrate on a specific goal, the Prefrontal cortex keeps the Limbic System in check.

Last but not least, the brain is also characterized by Neuroplasticity or Brain Plasticity, which states that the brain is in continuous change. Unlike the old belief that it is a physiologically static organ, it is always ready to form new connections. In other words, our brain can change to form better connections between the Prefrontal cortex and the Limbic system and eventually enhances our self-control.

And guess how you can from such connections?

By simply “deciding to” control the BRAIN!!

The point is that we are blessed with a miraculous organ which is the brain. In it we can decide whether we want to be weak, helpless, feeble, or vulnerable. On the other hand, we can train it to help us in being resilient, powerful, and effective decision makers.

Luckily, science is there to aid us in comprehending and realizing the secrets that lie within each human. After many trials, these self-control issues help us in dealing with our weaknesses and faults.  Once we understand them and overcome them, we can easily transmit these methods to our children who will be able to soar up freely in the future.

‘…I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul’

“Invictus” written by the English poet William Ernest Henley

N.B.: The medical information was provided by Dr. W. Radwan – Neurologist at AUB-MC

My Experience with My Preemies

Having a premature child is an enormously distressing and difficult experience. Even though you are aware that your baby is fragile, helpless, and tiny you still feel their strength, willpower and determination to fight for their life. Any baby born before 37 weeks is considered to be a premature baby or a “preemie”, and the earlier the baby the bigger the risks!

When I first found out that I was pregnant with twins, I realised that the possibility of delivering early was immensely high. During that time, I have read and heard some heart breaking stories about preterm babies who have spent a couple of months or more in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Although my little fighters only spent two weeks in the hospital, I was able to understand and comprehend the agony and suffering that parents go through.

My water broke at 33 weeks after spending the whole night with mild contractions. I knew there was no going back, and my little birdies were soon to be born. However, I was appalled by the whole experience of delivering 7 weeks earlier than normal so I did not know what to do or how to react, thus I “let the wind take my sail”. The moment I first heard their cry at 9:30 A.M., tears streamed down my face, wishing I could embrace them close to me to assure them that everything is going to be alright. The doctor held them a few centimetres away exclaiming they are gorgeous, but they cannot be given to me – not now, not yet! They had to go to the NICU and I was left waiting impatiently to reunite with my angels…

Later that night around 11:30 P.M., I was allowed to visit my new-borns in the NICU. The NICU was composed of over forty incubators stretching on both sides of a wide hall. The mild smell of medications and antibacterial cleansers nestled in the air. The lights were all off except for a few blue neon glows that were on top of some incubators. There were hushed tones and a calm stillness apart from the continuous beeping monitors which were attached to every incubator. The nurses, with colourful blue and purple scrubs, moved around soundlessly and calmly ensuring all babies are taken care of.

Looking anxiously for my twins, I saw that they were in separate incubators with wires attached to their petite chests, feet, and back. There were even tubes coming out of their mouths for feeding – of course they were still unable to suck properly at this age. So tiny and so small, the image of my little birdies in those plastic rectangular cribs simply broke my heart. Nevertheless, I was so grateful and thankful because the first few hours of their lives passed smoothly with no complications. In fact, I was told that the first 90 hours of a preemie’s life is a very accurate predictor to whether they will face serious impediments or not. So it was a matter of time and during that time, my mind and thoughts drove me into darkness, hysteria and loneliness. Here again, I found myself confronting yet another dilemma; surrender or fight! Of course, surrendering has never been my last resort, and I believed that if I want to help my babies overcome this phase, I needed to work on giving them positive vibes.

preemis

After three days of my emergency C-section delivery, I was discharged and had to leave my birdies in the NICU as they still needed one-on-one care from the health professionals. Unlike my previous experiences where I proudly carried our first three children as I emerged out of the hospital, this time, I left with empty hands, a shattered heart, a dry throat, and a churning stomach. I could not utter a word in the car as my husband drove us back home, and silent tears were the only mean that reflected my state. I was devastated.

However, deep down I found my strength and pulled myself up to show my boys their strong mom, who was always there for them. And so the adventure began…

I used to go to the hospital every morning once the boys set off to school. It was a 40 minute drive and I did it twice as I strongly believe that a mother’s presence next to her premature children facilitates and increases their cure. I also acknowledged the importance of breast milk, so I started to pump milk every three hours – even during the night – and have the bottles with me in the morning. At noon time, I would leave the hospital and go back home to be with my boys once they returned from school. Then around 7 P.M., my husband and I would go back to the hospital and spend the evening with our little fighters. We did that day in day out for two weeks, ensuring all our 5 children were receiving our unconditional love and care.

I was lucky that I had a great support from my husband, my family, close relatives, dear friends and colleagues, nurses, doctors, and medical consultants. Everyone helped in a certain way. Every single one of them motivated and encouraged me to go through this experience and learn from it!

During the time I spent at the NICU, I held my babies (using the Kangaroo Mother Care Method), changed their diapers, talked and sang to them and told them how much I adored their little innocent faces. I made sure they knew that I counted on them having faith in their strength and willpower to grow and come home. I even explained how marvelled I am by their will to fight for their right to survive. I always encouraged them and whispered how proud I am of their efforts thanking them every day for cooperating with me.  I knew they were listening to me, even now whenever they cry or feel fussy, I hold them close and sing them the same songs I did at the hospital and they calm down instantly.

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For two weeks, I did the same every single day, and I could see how my little ones were growing, and how they knew I was there for them. And for two weeks at night when I left the hospital, my heart ached and my knees buckled as I wished them good night and that we shall meet again the next day.

I learned a lot during those days. I learned that when we face any difficulty, we cannot just surrender to it. We have to live and learn from our experiences and make the best out of them. I learned that being strong does not only help you, but helps those who are around you and who depend on you. Finally, I learned that we are not alone as there is a secret power that once attained can make you move mountains and overcome hardships.

Here, I would like to take the chance and show our gratitude for everything that we have. It is shocking to realize, that even in our present time, there are babies who are deprived of having decent lives with proper medical care, nutritious food, and a warm shelter. In the hope that we provide our children and all the children in the world a better future, I leave it up to you moms out there to have your voices heard.

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N.B: Pictures are taken from Pinterest

Bonding Time with Dad

Years ago, when my brother was around 6 years old, he and his friend, Simon, were boasting about their dads who were both doctors.

So Simon goes,” My dad is the president of the hospital!!”

My brother looked seriously at him, thought for a while before he replied and then said: ”Well, my dad is the president of Oxygen!”

Simon was shocked by my brother’s reply as he was unable to understand what it meant, so he sprinted towards his dad scurrying for explanations.

We always hear children bragging about their father’s super powers, but the peculiar part of it is that deep inside they do believe it is true.

To create a successful bonding and have the hero image become realistic, Dads, like moms, have a great role in raising their children. However, there are still some dads who find it a bit challenging to bond with their kids.  Here are a few tips that can help in establishing strong roots which would last for years to come.  That is why, it is important that the dads intervene as early as possible in order to transfer this heroic image into a solid bonding.

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Participate in their daily routine:

Dads who take care of the children’s basic needs like showers, teeth brushing, etc. show them that their dad cares about their well-being and hygiene. Here, the children have a one on one time with their dad where they can confide in him and tell him about their day and friends.  A dad’s involvement with daily tasks helps the children become independent in the sense that dads usually have the children do the tasks on their own while they supervise. Hence, the independent spirit within the child flourishes in a positive way.

Doing sports together:

Whether it is swimming, playing football, basketball, or tennis, dads can profit from such occasions and direct their kids towards fair playing. Sports games offer a vast opportunity that helps children learn about team work and communication skills between the players. More importantly, it teaches about trust and cooperative work which are vital transferable skills for a successful future. This makes us move to the next step.

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Go out on special trips:

Depending on the child’s age group, a dad can plan simple yet influential outings with the children. For boys, for example, he can take them to a car exhibition, where they can discuss the functions and different parts of vehicles. As for girls, he can accompany them to any activity, like chess or music lessons, which they are participating in. This way, the children and their father can enjoy their time together while doing something they both enjoy. Riding bikes, going ice skating, having an ice cream, or simply playing in the park are all essential activities that make the child feel closer to his dad.

Read books to them:

Reading books is incredibly helpful in connecting with children. Usually, the child is relaxed and feels secure as they snuggle in the warm lap of their dad. These reading sessions help the children to hold discussions about the events of the story and indirectly learn how to make a proper dialogue.

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Go to the supermarket:

Even though going grocery shopping may seem trivial, but children learn a lot from this experience. For instance, they learn to be responsible, make calculations, understand the concept of classification, and know how to choose good types of products.

Play board games together:

Playing games has always been the best tool where a parent can teach without preaching about the basic guidelines in life. Board games are a great way to explain to the child about those rules, and to learn how to respect them. “Snakes and Ladders” is a favourite of my third son, and the minute his dad comes back from work, he directly gets it and they have a quick round.

Even though daddies are busy with work and responsibilities, setting a time for the children is essential. Once they feel the closeness of their dad, they know that they can confide in him and share their highs and lows which eases discussions between them. Participating in each other’s lives also helps in establishing a strong bond. In other words, dads become his children’s father, protector but most importantly friend for life…

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N.B: Pictures are taken from Pinterest