my babies

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Maryam Amelia, the Birth Story

24 hours prior to actual labour, I felt some mild contractions that were irregular but were getting stronger. I couldn't sleep through the night, so I spent the night packing the hospital bag, thinking labour might be near. After subuh and throughout the day I did some walking and a lot of waiting. It was very frustrating. The contractions were there, but very irregular. My husband already took the day off (it was Friday) and I felt guilty that it was just false labour. By 9pm that night, I was exhausted from having had no sleep, and went straight to bed.

Saturday, 15 June 2013 

At 12.30am, I was woken up by a strange heavy pressure in my lower belly. It felt like the baby's head was right down there. Then around 1am strong contractions started regularly, every 7-8 mins. By 2am it was much stronger every 5 mins. I still hesitated about going to the hospital because of the false labour the day before. I thought this could be false labour again. My husband insisted that we go anyway. He loaded the car and by 2.20am we were out the door.

My husband played the reading of Surah Maryam on the radio while in the car, to calm me down. The road was clear, and he was driving like a maniac :) About 200m from the hospital, we were stopped by a police car. He told them "Saya nak bawak isteri saya ke hospital ni!" The officer took one look inside the car and quickly told us to go...haha..

Around 2.50am we arrived at the hospital ER. It was calm and quiet, I refused the wheelchair, to the nurse's bewilderment and walked to the labour room. At the labour room, the nurse monitered my contractions on the CTG machine for half an hour, then did one VE. I was 5 cm dialated, and she concluded that my contractions were 'weak to moderate'. I insisted to get off the bed and walked around  the room. She was hesitant but I told her that Dr Seri already signed my birth plan for a simple natural labour, and I specified that I wanted to be mobile, did not want any pain medication, CTG machine or IV fluids. Contractions were getting stronger at this point and I kept feeling like I needed to empty my bladder. I walked around, ate dates and drank water, and holding onto things when contractions came. I had read about Quranic childbirth during pregnancy and remembered about the verses in Surah Maryam, about how Maryam gave birth to Nabi Isa;

{19:23} And the throes (of childbirth) compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten! {19:24} Then (the child) called out to her from beneath her: Grieve not, surely your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you. {19:25} And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. {19:26} So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see any mortal, say: Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today.

Around 4am, the nurse asked me whether I really didn't want pain medication because if I did then I could sleep, and she will come check on me again at 6.30am. I said no, and asked if she could help me put on the hospital's fancy new tens machine instead. She didn't really know how to put it on either, and while we were all reading the tens manual and trying to figure out how to use the tens machine, 2-3 very strong contractions came and suddenly I was soaked to my feet! My water broke. This was the first time my water broke by itself. I was relieved, thinking 'oh good this time nobody's going to insert a knitting needle in me to break my water!'.

All of a sudden the contractions were just a minute or two apart and they were very, very strong. I already felt the urge to push. I got on the bed. The nurse ran out to call Dr Seri. The contractions came very strong and I could feel the baby coming. This time without any pain medication to numb me out, I was hyperaware of everything happening with my body. I felt the baby's head going down and pushing out. I yelled out to the nurse 'Nurse!! Baby nak keluar dah ni! Saya nak push!'. It didn't matter to me if the doctor came or not. The nurses kept telling me don't push! put your feet down! You're only 8cm dialated! I couldn't care less. I KNEW the head was already down there and she was coming NOW! My husband was there the whole time holding my hand, saying comforting words to me ; astagfirullah, astagfirullah...relax, relax...breathe, breathe...

Luckily Dr Seri came very quickly. She said, "Tell me if you feel like pushing". I told her "I want to push now! and can I put my feet up now?" (as in pulling the knees up towards my body in a semi squat) She quickly put on her apron and told me "yes you can put your feet up. The reason they won't let you before was because I wasn't here yet. You can push a bit too, if you felt like it". She didn't have to tell me, I was already pushing a bit at every contraction, because the urge to push was so strong, and I knew it was time despite being told repeatedly not to push.

She got in position and soon in the next contraction, the baby's head was out. There was no "push now 1,2,3" from the birth team whatsoever. I simply released and breathed her out. Soon the next contraction came and plup! out came her shoulders. Within seconds she was in my arms.  I had requested for cord clamping to be delayed, so Dr Seri waited for it to stop pulsating while I immediately breastfed the baby. My husband cut the cord, and soon more contractions came and with a short push the placenta was out. Perinium intact, so I didn't need any stitches. The baby was born at 4.37am, her weight was 3kg.

It was a quick, simple, natural birth. What a beautiful experience. My husband had wanted the name Maryam, and as I looked at this tiny bundle in my arms, and the fresh memory of Surah Maryam intertwined with her birth, I knew, this was her name;


Maryam Amelia.

I love you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Handmade cloth pads

Did you know that Kamdar sells beautiful flannels for rm 5.50 per meter? I bought a few meters recently for a variety of projects, one of which was to make cloth pads.

When I just had Mia, I used the usual large disposable post-partum pads at first. I found them very uncomfortable, particularly because I had stitches, and that area tend to be very sore anyway, after childbirth. Regular disposable pads feels plasticky and sometimes the stick on wings get stuck to your skin and..eugh! Too much information there. So I ordered some cloth pads online quickly and it was so much better!

With this upcoming birth I decided to make some cloth pads myself. Why wouldn't I, when pretty cotton flannels are at my disposal.

It was very simple, I didn't bother trying to find other fancy bamboo fabric or even pul, I used many layers of the flannels, and for waterproofing, I used the only waterproof fabric I had on hand - leftover from previous projects. You can see the red polkadot fabric, I'm not sure what kind it is, probably laminated cotton? Bought at Ikea a while a ago so I don't remember the price.

I hid the waterproof layer inside 2 layers of flannel as the backing. The soaker middle is sewn separately, with i think 8 layers of flannel altogether. Probably didn't even need waterproofing already with so many layers but it's nice to have reassurance. Then the soaker is sewn to the backing and it's done. Easy peasy. I still need to find a solution for closing though ; maybe buttons or I'll get snaps installed at the craft shop.

In just under rm 25, I get 9 cloth pads. If you want to make them too, you can print the pattern template here. There are a lot of patterns there for sewing cloth diapers too. I have made some cloth diapers from her patterns and love them (will blog about this later).

Have fun sewing!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adam makes liquid soap

You can see how my blog is now filling up with talks of soaps and lotions and balms. Can you imagine all the soap talks, lipbalm talks and Mommy's Business talks going on in my house? Naturally the kids are very curious and interested and want to get involved. Soapmaking, unfortunately is an art that must be practised with supreme caution and without children. Oh yes. Imagine the frustration. Adam's frustration. He loves experiments and soapmaking sounds like the ultimate experiment for him (based on my description). 

So to let him in on some of the excitement, we made liquid soap together.

To make liquid soap, we used offcuts and soap slivers from the soap I made before. These soaps have fully saponified but are still soft and need drying time to harden before we can use them. But they'll be perfect for making into liquid soap.

To make liquid soap, we just chop up these soap and 'cook' it with some boiling water.

When it's all nice and melted down, we added some food coloring and essential oils for scent. I gave Adam full control of this 'experiment' and he chose his own colours and scents.

Tadaaaa!! Homemade liquid soap! From left - colored blue scented with sweet orange essential oil, original Milk Calendula Soap, colored pink scented with rose geranium essential oil (for Mia), and the last one colored purple but Adam didn;t like this one and decided not to scent it.

Someone's very proud of his soaps :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rosemary Lavender Shampoo Bar

You may remember a few entries back I have been switching to homemade shampoo. My hair feels nice and healthy, but I do kind of miss the lathery, bubbly feeling of shampoo. But I definitely do not want to switch back to regular shampoo. So I decided to make shampoo bars! what are shampoo bars? They're like natural soaps, but you use it on your hair. 

To make this shampoo first I infused my olive oil with dried rosemary and lavender. I made small lavender-bag style herb bags to infuse in my oil. You could just cover the herbs with oil but making these bags make it easy to remove the herb out later. Rosemary and lavender are great herbs to use for hair.

Here it is infusing using heat. I also used purple gromwell root powder to try to color my soap. It's purpose is mainly cosmetic. I was hoping for a pretty purple soap.

Got my kit ready.

This is the color of my oil before saponification. Lovely reddish purple.

This is the color after saponification, and after being in the oven for 20 mins! (I used hot-process soapmaking method this time) It turned from purple to sort of greenish...then later greyish.. and finally...

To settling on this stone gray colour. Shocking! The texture is different too from the cold process soap that i made before. Hot process soaps are cooked through until full saponification occurs, and by the time it is poured into the mold it is soap already and the texture is more solid than liquid. So the resulting soaps will have this rough, rustic look of handmade soap.

Although the colour is not what I wanted, I am very happy with these shampoo bars. Because of the hot process method, the soap can be used right away, and so I have been using these shampoo on my hair. It is heavenly! makes a lot of bubbles, it feels silky and lathery on my hair and the smell of rosemary and lavender is just lovely.

So now my hair care routine is this: Deep condition hair at night with virgin coconut oil (once a week), wash the next morning with this shampoo bar, then do a *vinegar rinse for a conditioner.

My hair feels well conditioned and silky smooth right after a wash. Before this right after shampooing with regular shampoo my hair feels a bit dry and a bit frizzy, then turns slightly better the next day. Loving this routine now and love these shampoo bars!

*To do a vinegar rinse: mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water, add in a few drops of tea tree essential oil, rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mia Amani - Natural Handmade Bodycare

All of my recent obsession with natural handmade products has finally come to this - the opening of my own online natural bodycare shop!

The products are basically the ones I have been making and enjoying with my family and friends. The recipes are true and tested and actually work. A lot of people have been expressing their interest in switching to natural products too, and I hope this shop will be a good source for that. I have a line of simple everyday products ready in the shop, and more to be introduced in time.

Please have a look at the shop, I hope you will enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making soap from scratch

You know I like making things. For years I have studied and contemplated making my own soap from scratch. Not the simple melt and pour soap (that's not really making your own soap, is it. more like taking somebody else's soap and stamping your name on it), but the real, traditional way of making soap using oil, lye and water - saponification. Making soap the way it was made hundreds of years ago.  

Why use natural soap? Well, did you know that your regular bar of soap contains little to no soap at all, and is full of harmfull chemical and is more likely a detergent? Most commercial soap companies strip the glycerin out of the soap and sell it to the cosmetic industry because it is more valuable than the soap itself. Glycerin is a product of saponification, and it what keeps our skin hydrated and moisturised. anyway, you can read online many other reasons why using natural soap is better. I'm just going to now describe how I made my soap.

This is by no means a tutorial on the cold-process soapmaking. It was just how I made my soap. If you do try it however, make sure you have done proper research especially on lye safety. 

Ok so I started by assembling my equipments and material on the kitchen counter. the lye is not in picture because it was still hidden in my storeroom, and I wasn't going to take it out until I absolutely have to (hello, lyephobia much???)

Next I weighted my oils and melted my solid oils.

Then I weighted my water, in this case I used full cream milk that has been frozen and then blended to a slush.

Then I weighted my lye. Gigil tu tangan, ok. You MUST wear gloves, goggles, apron, long sleeves clothes when handling lye. If splashed, God forbid, it can burn through your skin, your kitchen counter, your floor, etc. Do not make soap while tending to children or pets.

Next I added the lye to my milk slush. Slowly.

Stirring constantly. Notice the colour has turned bright yellow and the milk has melted.

Ooops it turned bright orange. Lye solution made with milk can turn any shade from bright yellow to orange. I was hoping for a bright yellow but it's ok this will do as well. I colled the solution down in cold water.

When the temperature of both the lye solution and melted oils reached 45C, I added the lye solution to the oils.

Then I whisked by hand alternately with this old mixer. And the guess what happened? This £4, 3 year old hand mixer decided to die on me. Yes. Right in the middle of the action. Oh kayy. Major disaster. I do not want to be whisking 2 hours straight.

In it goes into my food processor. I have read that you can make soap in a blender, but there was no way this batch could fit in my blender. So I gambled and dumped the whole thing in the food processor.

It worked! I reached trace. Trace is when the texture becomes the consistency of pudding. Or susu pekat. When you drip on top of the mixture the drips stays on top.

Next I added calendula extract, because I am making calendula baby milk soap. Gave it another whizz in the food processor.

Ok then I poured the soap into a soap mold.

Looks yummy like caramel. Oh come to think of it the texture was kinda caramel-ish, too.

I freeezed it. Was trying to prevent over heating because milk tends to heat up and burn during saponification.

After 48 hours, it was time to cut!

Done! Luscious handmade soap. My baby's going to be so spoiled.

Oh, a bit of an anti climax though - we need to wait one month at least for this soap to cure before it can be used! Curing allows full saponification to occur, so the lye will be completely neutralised and no longer caustic to the skin, and also the soap will dry and harden making it longer lasting. Oh man....

Coming up next - more soapmaking and also liquid soapmaking. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lavender Calendula Face Cream

My face is the dry type and I always need face moisturiser whatever the weather. I am on a mission to find the perfect face cream recipe with the right texture. Recently I made this face lotion - Lavender Calendula Face Cream, and I love it! This lotion is basically an emulsion of oil and water, so it hydrates and moisturise at the same time without feeling greasy. The combination of calendula and lavender smells heavenly! My skin feels great, and I even use it on my body too. I have to say it could be my favourite out of all the natural skincare concoctions I've made so far.

The only downside is that this lotion, because it uses only a natural emulsifier and none of the synthetic emulsifiers and stabilisers that exist in regular lotions, there is a chance it can be quick to separate back into water and oil. So far I've used it for a couple of weeks and it is holding its creamy texture well. Let's observe for a few more weeks or months to see how long it can last without separating. That is if I haven't used it all up by then...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Homemade baby cloth wipes

I'm 5 and a half months pregnant now and at what you might call a baby-moon stage where I'm somewhat more productive, feel healthy and am probably at the nesting stage too considering I'm slightly more organised than I usually am. Great time to be making something for the baby today, I thought. We have decided to fully cloth-diaper this time. With Adam and Mia, we only partially cloth diaper and didn't have enough CDs for fulltime. This time insyaAllah I am determined to cloth diaper Baby no 3 fulltime. Both my babies are fully toilet trained for a long while now so I have no ideas yet on the latest reliable brands of CD or how to cloth diaper a newborn, so if you have any tips, please leave a comment! I'd really appreciate it.

Anyway, I was thinking about CDs today and went digging in my sewing room to find anything I could use to make some CDs, maybe. I found this 2meters length of blue cotton flannel. I bought this at Adam's request a couple years ago when I was sewing a bed set for his birthday. He specifically asked for this fabric, 'to make into my selimut', were his exact words, which I thought at the time was pretty smart for a 3 year old because flannel does make great blankets. However I ended up sewing a quilt cover instead for him using another fabric, so this flannel has been sitting in my shelves ever since. I thought it would totally make lovely absorbent baby cloth wipes.

I set out to make full use of every inch of this 2 meters flannel. Afterall you can never have too many wipes, can you, especially with newborns. They pee and poop ALL THE TIME.

If you want to make these wipes too, basically what you need to do is just fold up the fabric to find the approximate size that you think might be good for wipes.You don't need a ruler at all. Fold up, look at it, put your hand on it to see if it'll cover your whole hand as you wipe and go by instinct. Then cut. They don't have to be exactly the same sizes either.

I ended up with about 24 pieces of smaller sized wipes which will be perfect for wiping bums and 16 medium sized wipes which can  I thought might be nice as burp or vomit cloths too.

Then all I had to do was serge the edges, and in less than an hour (from cutting to sewing), I was done! 40 wipes in total from 2 meters of fabric. Awesome. I know these will be so useful when the baby comes.

Adam made 4 of these for me and they look just as perfect as mine. He's not new to sewing. After watching me sew for practically the whole 5 years of his life, he has made his own pants, his own apron, some small toys for himself and even little gifts for Mia.

Recently he made these pink pillows for Mia's dollies. His idea and work from start to finish.

Back to the wipes, they would be a great first project for your child if they want to learn sewing and you own a serger.

I think I remember the flannel fabric being quite cheap when I bought it. Maybe I'll visit Nagoya again and buy some more plain flannels in other colours. More wipes in other colours and also, I'm thinking they'll probably make good absorbent kitchen wipes and swaddling blankets for Baby3. This was a very easy project and gives instant gratification. Try it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Homemade shampoo

If you read my blog a few years ago, you would realise that this is not something new for me. I tried simple homemade shampoo using only baking soda before. But shamefully, I turned back to regular shampoo after a while. It was difficult to get used to the no suds and no smell shampoo, my hair felt dry at times and I couldn't find a solution for dandruff.

This time I am determined to try again. 

The recipe is simple - a tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water. This time I added a few drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils for the lovely smell and these oils help with scalp care and dandruff too. I'm finding it so much better than just baking soda. The rosemary gives it a kind of tingly and refreshing feeling while washing.

To help with dryness I also deep-condition my hair once or twice a week with virgin coconut oil. I love   virgin coconut oil! such a gorgeous smell and so good for hair, skin and for ingestion too. To use VCO for hair I just mix about 5 drops of lavender essential oil to about 1 oz of VCO then use about half a teaspoon each treatment. Sometimes I use VCO on it's own, no lavender. Basically I just massage the oil into the scalp and hair just before bedtime then go to bed. I wash my hair in the morning. Wake up to naturally beautiful luscious shiny hair!

So far I am loving the new homemade hair routine. If you try this remember to give a few weeks time for your hair to adjust and detoxify. It might feel slightly oily in the beginning. Our hair is used to the SLS and other toxins in our regular shampoo - break up might look ugly at first, literally! Give it time and you can have beautiful healthy locks free of chemicals.

 I have plans for other haircare treats so watch this space!

As you can see the last few posts have been about natural bodycare. I'm in the zone and if you're not a fan I hope you'll forgive me :)

I've done a lot of experimenting recently..

Playing with lip balm colours - all natural colours. In the above picture I used red clay, roselle and purple gromwell in different strength and combinations.

above : experimenting with different shea butter textures and recipes

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

of lotion bars and body butter

After the successful makings of the lip balm in the previous post, I made plans to replace yet another bodycare product we use on a regular basis - lotions and moisturisers. 

First I made body butter. This is the texture of the lotion before it was whipped...

Then it became butter!!

Gorgeous luscious smelling body butter! but unfortunately after testing this butter for a while, I don't think it'll work. after sometime the texture breaks down to a thin whip cream consistency, and down to oily...this country is just too hot for body butters with no artificial stabilisers or preservatives..or maybe I need to figure out a natural alternative to stabilise the butter texture. Which means more experimenting..which I don't think I mind all that much :) In any case this batch of melting body butter is still very nutritious for the skin so I use it at night on my foot for a moisturising foot rub, and now my dry cracked heels are healing! (I know because I only apply to one foot to compare! haha )

The lotion bars however turned out great! Looks beautiful too. They smell lovely - lavender and ylang-ylang. I place ours on a small clay pot ( but I imagine it'll look good on a pretty soap dish too ) and use it daily after bath and before bedtime. The ingredients are all natural and suitable for children, and the kids love the night-time massage. To apply we just rub it with our hands to melt a small amount of lotion and then just massage onto skin.

Goodbye you chemical-full creams!

And now I'm off to figure out what I should be making next..  :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


When we were in Cameron, there were a lot of honey products being sold at the markets. In the highlands apparently there are a few honeybee farms maybe because of the lower temperatures up there making it suitable for honey farming. I saw that most of the honey are pure unrefined and some even sell the honeycomb together with the honey. I asked them about beeswax and they directed me to their farm. It's not easy to find beeswax in Malaysia.

We went to visit a farm and the kids had a blast looking at a real honeybee farm. I went to the farm shop and found beeswax. Their beeswax is pure unrefined and smells deliciously of honey.

I've always thought about making my own body care products to replace chemical-laden commercial products, and stumbling upon this beeswax has opened up a door. So I started experimenting and made some...

Lip balms! All-natural skin nourishing ingredients. I've started using them and I absolutely love it! My lips are usually dry and cracked but now they are soft and moist! I'm never going back to store-bought lip balms ever again, I can tell you that.

Stay tuned for more adventures in natural skin care. I'm full of ideas now to slowly replace the commercial products we use regularly...

*Beeswax is secreted by honeybee workers and is used to construct their honeycomb cells. It makes a great skin barrier that allows the skin to breathe.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm back!

Oh my it's been months since my last post. How have you been?

A lot has happened in the last few months for us. I turned 31 (waaaa!) and Mia turned 3!

She's the cleverest, cheekiest 3 year old you'll ever meet. Her vocabulary of both English and Malay has grown extensively and quite often what she says are funny, witty and bound to surprise you.

My boy Adam is a lot taller now, most his clothes are starting to look short on him but he's still as thin as ever. He is homeschooled and very proud of the fact. He's my little homeschool ambassador.

And there's another little surprise. Notice a, ehem, small 'bump' in the picture above? I'm almost 5 months pregnant! Hello Baby no 3! Wish us luck!!

*pictures are from Mia and my birthday trip to Cameron Highland a couple weeks ago.


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