Our Confusion Over Teaching English at Public Schools

I don’t get Malaysians who are against this Dual Language Program (DLP).
“Another new policy?!”
“What’s wrong with this country huh? Sheeshh”
“That’s it, our education system is useless and has gone down in the dumps!”

I’m sure we’ve all heard those before. In fact, we may have been the ones saying those things ourselves. While I’m not arguing against those outbursts, as they may have some truths to it, my point now is the DLP.

Are those who are against it are even aware what the program is all about? Not every school has to go through with it lah. So don’t get all panicky. (If you’re still interested to read my rants, please click on the link to read a bit about the DLP first).

For schools who DO qualify to go ahead with the program, what are you complaining about? I get that school administrators and teachers may not be in favour of yet again another new policy by the ministry; that there’s just too much additional work to be done. Too much hassle etc.. But wait. At the end of the day, shouldn’t your main objective be your students? Don’t you want to help them be proficient in English? Yes, I am aware that the task of making one proficient in English is NOT easy and that it shouldn’t rest on the teachers alone. Students should, ideally, speak English at home with their parents, family members and friends, they should be surrounded with English books, should only watch English programs and be in a conducive environment.. Unfortunately, not all students have that luxury. So their best bet to learn English is, perhaps, at school. So quit feeling like you’re the victims (even if you really are) and try to motivate yourselves to give the best to your students. Our vocation as educators is a noble one. It comes with a price. Sometimes we don’t get rewarded or even acknowledged but that shouldn’t be a primary concern. Right?

And for parents whose children are at selected schools that qualify for the DLP program.. What are YOU complaining about? Is it because you don’t want your kids to have more exposure of other subjects in English? Is it because your argument is “Why only math, science & information technology subjects? Aren’t the other subjects important too?” (My eyes are rolling at this point, so I’ll just stop). Is it because you’re still dwelling on the perception that the teachers “aren’t ready” yet? Newsflash. That’s why the program is only offered to schools that have the capacity – the manpower and facilities. I believe in our teachers’ capabilities. Some teachers are really good at what they do and are selfless, but they may be overshadowed by those who aren’t or a bit berkira with their job scopes. Nonetheless, if we don’t believe in them, how else can they be confident to do their jobs? Let them educate our kids. Yet, at the same time, we shouldn’t outsource too much. We need to be hands-on in our kids’ English learning as well. Speak English with them often. Provide them with the necessary environment to learn and speak English. I’m not an expert myself, so I’m still learning. Let’s learn together and help the teachers in making our kids’ English better.

I personally feel that ending the PPSMI was a mistake. But we need to realize and agree that many Malaysians were against that policy (teaching math and science in English) as well. I’m guessing that was the reason it was ended in the first place. But now when the English standard is sub-par, many Malaysians (including those very same people) are blaming the system and demanding that something be done. In response, the ministry came up with the Dual Language Program. Mind you, it’s still in its pilot stage. So there’s definitely room for improvement. But you can almost immediately hear perfectionist Malaysians scream, “This is not implemented nationwide or statewide. It is only for schools that opt for it and have met many criteria. I foresee many schools opting out due to lack of support from rural folks, teachers and Guru Besar etc”.. 😐

So, back to my original question. I really don’t get it. What do you want, Malaysia?


Life’s a Struggle

Someone (who is also a former student) asked me on Twitter: “@izyanizulkifli salam hi mdm. Would you be willing to share your experience of becoming a lecturer? Like how did you begin back then?”

I favourited her tweet a while back and promised to write a post about it. Then as usual, we get preoccupied with things and I forgot. Oops. But having been at the hospital the last few days, I recall her tweet and remembered that I’ve blogged about it before. It’s an old post but the points are still relevant. So here is my post again 😊

PiledHigherAndDeeper

Do you remember when we were kids in primary school, every now and then the class teacher would distribute a form or a small booklet asking us students what we wanted to be when we grow up? I remembered looking around at my friends’ ambitions and saw that the popular occupations were always chosenfirst -‘doktor’, ‘akauntan’, ‘peguam’, ‘jurutera’.. Those who didn’t really know what they wanted to be yetoften sees the role model in front of them as convenient, so’cikgu’ is usually a popular second.

As for me, like most children who look up to their parents, I tend to want to be what my parents were at the time. So I always wrote ‘kerani’ after my mom’s job at the school where I was attending because I didn’t really know or understood what it was that my dad was doing. Upon submission to the teacher, she would go through…

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Overnight at the Hospital

In late April last year, I was in the hospital ward feeling nervous and excited at the same time while waiting for the arrival of our third bundle of joy. It was around 2am that I excitedly shared a photo on Instagram of me wearing the batik and bouncing on my gym ball while breathing long and deeply to cope with my contractions. A few hours later, our bouncy baby girl was born. 

Today, I’m in the same hospital, though not in the same ward, thankfully.. But this time I’m here to accompany that same baby girl. Who would’ve thought, huh?

She was admitted this morning for high fever and dehydration. We don’t normally bring our kids to the hospital when they are feverish but this time around, it was a bit different. She was really weak, not active, didn’t have any appetite, threw up a lot of fluid and above all, she looked sick. This is our baby an hour before leaving the house this morning, posing next to her more jubilant and cheeky older brother. 

 

Those who knew our baby girl knew she has the roundest, brightest eyes. And a wide toothless grin to boot. Those eyes and grin were not present this morning, nor were they present in the last few days. My mommy instinct told me it was time to have it checked. True enough, her paeditrician advised us to have her admitted as she’s not responding that well to the oral medication for her bacterial infections in the nose, ear and throat that she received two days ago. 

After six hours of waiting at the waiting lounge, she finally got into her ward. Throughout the day, she has had her drip tube bandages changed 5 times. Being a baby, her tiny hand makes it difficult for the plastic needle to stay in place. It easily unplugs whenever she moves or attempts to remove them, and before I know it, blood gushes out. This was her worst ‘accident’ around 1.15am just now 😖 

 

So in case you’re wondering why I’m still up typing this blog post, it’s because I need to stay awake. I can’t afford to fall asleep because the last time I dozed off, the above happened. She’s still very clingy and doesn’t like to lie down in her own cot. But I’m afraid if I lie down next to her on my bed like just now and accidentally fallen asleep, she might hurt herself again. So now I’m cradling her on my lap while nursing her whenever she needs to. 

Praying that I have the strength and health to take care of my baby, as well as her older siblings. 


University (or College) Dropout

I’m quite tired of hearing people, sometimes under the guise of ‘motivational speakers’, using the phrase “Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg is a college dropout” as an excuse to being mediocre at university and eventually dropping out. As an educator, it’s quite distressing enough when students don’t have the desire to do well academically but it’s even more disheartening when they opt to quit their studies because they believe paper qualification isn’t important. “Takpe lah, takde degree pun boleh hidup…”

I don’t deny or disagree that the above mentioned people are successful even without a degree. But the problem is, how many people are like Bill Gates? How many are like Zuckerberg, or Jobs or even Tiger Woods? What I disagree with is when youngsters naively think that they can become successful by dropping out. Haven’t they considered that these people are successful in spite of dropping out, not because of it?

A degree or any other type of paper qualification has its virtues. That piece of paper signifies a culmination of effort one puts in towards understanding key concepts and learning a particular skill. Achieving academic excellence demand discipline, focus and endurance that may serve you well in your work environment. Sure, you have the ‘university of life’ or experience that some people insist as being more important but I never said a degree is the only important thing for your career. It’s merely a tool to jumpstart your career. To be good at what you do, that’s where experience and practice come in.

Anyway, back to those who dropout from university and are successful. Some people are inherently brilliant, talented or skillful way beyond their years. By being in the current system, sometimes, it might just slow them down from achieving their true potential. But these are exception rather than the norm.

So unless you are that exceptionally gifted, talented or a whizz in IT or business, get in line like the rest of us and get an education! Then feel free to venture out into any field that you wish. That extra 3 to 4 years of university/college may be your best safety net in case things don’t work out.


Strategies To Score in Exams

Let’s set one thing straight. The foolproof way to do well in exams is of course, by studying. There’s no shortcut about it! Ideally you should start studying from the beginning of the semester, consistently for several hours a day.

What? But that’s so nerdy!

You’ve got to be realistic. While there may be students who do well in exams without having to bury their noses in books all the time, those students are the exception. We average Joes, on the other hand, need to work for it. Yes, life’s unfair. Get over it! Besides, by just allocating several hours a day to studying, you’re not really sacrificing your social life (assuming that you have one). Trust me. You just need to prepare a well-balanced schedule and have the willpower to stick to it.

The following tips are to help enhance those who have studied all throughout the semester. But I guess those who haven’t studied much can also use it.. To pass, perhaps? Hehe.

OK, here goes.

When studying for exams, it helps to know: the format of the exam, coverage of topics and type of questions being asked. Why? Because I believe that apart from studying, students can also increase their chances of scoring better in exams with a proper strategy. You can only strategise if you know what you’re up against.

Format of the exam. This includes the duration of the exam, breakdown of the paper (does it have 2 or 3 parts?), do you have options or must you answer all? Check with your lecturers about the exam format. You may also refer to pass years’ final papers at the library or resource centres.
If you know the duration of the exam and the total number of questions to be answered, you can estimate how long it will take for you to answer a particular question. This will help you avoid not having enough time to answer all that you need. You may be surprised to know that when I grade exam scripts, there are students who took too long in answering some questions that they don’t have enough time to finish their papers. That’s marks wasted. For e.g, if it is a 3-hour exam and you need to answer 5 questions, roughly take 30 minutes to answer each question. The balance of half an hour can be used to draft your answers and to check your work.

Coverage of topics. To know which topics are covered in the exam, ask your lecturers or refer to the course outlines (syllabus). Don’t worry if your lecturers don’t give exam tips. It’s not the end of the world. I remembered when I was an undergraduate, one of my favourite lecturers, Ms Wai Li, will never give exam tips. Her rationale? I’ve taught my best. Now it’s your turn to study, understand and give out your best. Seems reasonable to me.

But my lecturer doesn’t teach that well! So how?

So what? Just because to you your lecturer isn’t doing that great a job, it shouldn’t stop you from gaining knowledge. In this age, there are numerous ways for you to augment what you learnt in class. You can checkout YouTube videos given by professors all over the world or Google the concepts that you’re uncertain about. Just remember to check the sources. The point is, by knowing what’s covered in the exam (even by just referring to the course outlines), you will be guided in your revisions. Otherwise, you’ll feel overwhelmed with so many topics and won’t know where to begin. Related to this, always refer to your textbooks, lecture notes and course materials. Those stuffs you read on the internet are extras. They shouldn’t be used to replace your main references.

Types of questions. The way questions are designed depends on your courses and fields of study. But generally, exam questions are either in the form of short answer (or structured); problems that involve calculations; case studies; long essays or multiple-choice. In economics, most of our questions are of short answer, problems and essay type. Occasionally we’ll have MCQs. So my tips will be based on these types of questions. Why does this matter, you may ask? Well, it really doesn’t if you’re good enough. But if you’re so-so or you haven’t studied as much as you should, then anything that may help you improve your score, is worth looking at, no?

Here are (some of) the strategies that I practiced as a student:

  • For short answer questions, choose questions with the more breakdown of marks. For e.g, a question that’s worth 20 marks may be broken down into 10+10 or 4+6+5+5. Choose the latter whenever possible (unless of course, you know for certain the answers to the former, then choose the former). That way, if you can’t answer one part of the question well, you can still collect marks for the other parts. In other words, you lose lesser marks for inaccurate answers.
  • For short answer and essay questions, whenever possible, opt to answer questions that involve graphs or diagrams. If you recall your lecturer sketching something or writing a certain formulae in class for that particular topic, include that in your answers. Besides scoring browny points for attentiveness, providing diagrams or formulates is a great way to complement your explanations.
  • Whenever possible, choose calculation-based problems over long essay type questions. But only do so if you know how to calculate or solve the problems.
  • For MCQs, the trick is to rule out the obvious wrong choices first and then, narrow your choices to the best answer. Sometimes you can see a pattern with the A, B, C, D options. The best answer is most probably the odd one out.
  • For essay questions, write each point in a new paragraph. It always annoys me to grade answer scripts that look like a bunch of logs. You know, it goes on and on with no paragraphs or indentations. They make examiners sleepy or lose focus. Good luck in gaining their sympathy.
  • Related to the above, you may use bullet points or numberings to answer essays (but do check with your own lecturers if they accept them). However, do elaborate your points well and by that, I mean write proper sentences and NOT leave your answers in point forms only.
  • To emphasise your main points in essays, underline the keywords. Or use a highlighter. This will direct the examiners’ eyes to instantly get what you’re trying to say, although your grammar ke laut.
  • Use good, dark-coloured pens or pencil leads in answering your essays or short answer questions. They make writing pleasant for the students and even more pleasant to read by the examiners. Remember, examiners are humans too. If you make their experience of grading your exam scripts less daunting with minimal grammatical errors and legible handwriting, who knows, they may be more, if not, slightly lenient in awarding you points.
  • I guess that’s it. I’ll add on more if I remember them. I hope by sharing these few pointers, you’ll have a more ‘enjoyable’ time answering your final exam papers

    Good luck!


    My Birth Story

    They say each birth is different. It’s true. My eldest daughter was delivered normally after 15 hours of labour. My son, born six years later, was delivered via Caesarean section due to cord prolapse. This is my third pregnancy and I’m attempting to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean).  

    23/4/2012 (Wednesday)
    I had my first bloody show early this morning in time for my weekly checkup at the hospital. Met my doctor around 9AM. She did a vaginal examination (or VE) and found that I was already 2cm dilated. I was ecstatic as this meant labour has started. I was then sent to the labour room to do a CTG (a machine that basically detects our contractions and baby’s heart beat). The nurse strapped my abdomen onto the machine and my readings were recorded for 20 minutes. True enough, I was already having contractions. They were regular, but mild. Guess that’s why I wasn’t feeling anything. 
    Back at the doctor’s office, she asked me what I wanted to do. Since I’m already in labour, I can be warded immediately, but the downside to this is a higher chance of being induced if labour isn’t progressing ‘well’ enough and perhaps go through a C-section if other complications arise. My other option is to go home and come back later when the pain is stronger, but the risk with this is that there’ll be no monitoring of the baby inside me. I mentally weighed the pros and cons of each option. Suddenly everything I read regarding births in the last few months flooded my mind. In the end, I followed my instinct and chose the latter. If possible, I wanted to avoid being strapped onto the CTG and lying in the hospital bed as I did during my first delivery. It was uncomfortable and very restrictive. 
    We headed straight to Baskin Robbins after that. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to eat ice-creams during confinement so I’m getting my final indulgence -two scoops of my favourite flavours with banana chunks! Haha.. On the way home, we dropped by my office to settle some last minute work. My colleagues wished me luck and I bid them a temporary adieu. Then Hubs and I had lunch. When we arrived home, I settled our laundry, prepared our newborn’s cot and beddings and lightly cleaned the bedroom. After Zuhur prayer, I bounced on my gym ball to get the contractions going and chit-chatted with Hubs. I wasn’t feeling any pain but we decided to go back to the hospital at 4.30PM as we didn’t want to miss the doctor in case I was further dilated. 
    Back at the labour ward, the midwife recorded my contractions and did another VE. I was still 2cm dilated! Oh, how frustrating. She called the doctor and I was given the same options as that morning. I decided to go home again. That night I cooked dinner and this time I felt the cramps come and go. Before bed, I saw that I still have a bloody show. Feeling hopeful that my contractions will get stronger in the middle of the night, I went to bed. 

    24/4/2014 (Thursday)
    Today’s my due date. And nope, still not feeling anything. In fact, I had such a good night’s sleep I might’ve dreamt the whole thing. The only thing real was my persistent bloody show. After preparing our daughter for school and seeing her leave, I took a shower. 
    Called the doctor’s office around 9.30AM. I was informed that she’ll be away starting Saturday for the entire week. Oh dear. I wish I was OK to have my delivery with any other doctor or person, but I’m not. I’m comfortable with my doctor and would want her to deliver all my babies. So with a heavy heart, I agreed to be induced that midnight. Nonetheless, I silently prayed to Allah, begging that my contractions would progress naturally.
    After Zuhur, hubby brought me to OU for lunch and we strolled with our son. I had my other last indulgence before delivery at Delicious café. Then we fetched our daughter from school and went home. 
    I didn’t feel like cooking that night as the water rationing was taking place. Besides, I felt the cramps getting more frequent and a bit stronger than yesterday. My sister offered to buy us all dinner. My mom came around 9.45PM. During dinner, told Hubs that I think my contractions are picking up. Regular as before but stronger this time. He told me to get ready and pray Isyak. After a hard time tucking the kids to sleep (it was slightly over 10.30PM), we left the house.
    In the car, I started timing my contractions. They were about 5 minutes apart but each contraction was short, only lasted for about 30-40 seconds each. “Lama lagi ni”, I thought to myself. Hubs asked if I wanted to drive around before reaching the hospital. I agreed. So we drove around KLCC, passed by the hectic and colorful bars and bistros. Watched the night life. Finally around 11.40PM, we reached the hospital. I decided to walk to the A&E unit from the parking lot. After settling all the paperwork and registration, the attendant offered me a wheelchair to escort us to my ward but I declined and we walked instead.
    In the ward, we started to get comfortable. I changed into my home attire and wore socks while Hubs inflated my gym ball.  
    A few minutes later, a nurse came in and checked my blood pressure. I told her that I could feel the pains now. She later returned with the CTG machine and recorded my contractions for half an hour. 
    When asked how everything was, she said the baby’s heart beat is good, “result cantik” and that my contractions were regular at 5-minute intervals lasting about 40 seconds each. She then unstrapped me from the CTG and told me to rest. Will come in the morning to check again, she said. I was so happy! This is exactly the kind of early labour I’ve been dreaming of. To be left alone in my ward (not labour room) without being strapped to any machine, no drips, no catheter, no drugs.. So I’m not getting induced after all. Alhamdulillah! He heard my prayers to have my labour progress as naturally as possible. 
    In the next few hours, the contractions got more painful but still bearable with the breathing techniques that I tried to emulate after some last minute reading and YouTube watching. I know I should sleep but I was too excited. Finally at 2AM, I climbed next to Hubs (who was already asleep) and dozed off.

    25/4/2014 (Friday)
    Around 4.30AM, I was awakened by a sharp, stabbing pain in my abdomen. I tried going back to sleep, even asked Hubs to lightly massage my back..  but the feeling was intense and persistent, it was hard to ignore. In the end I got up and took long, slow and deep breaths with every jolt of contractions that came. I varied my attempts at dealing with the pain (mentally I tried using the hypnobirthing terms, “pressure” or “sensation” but I feel it apt to use ordinary, ‘scary’ language in writing). I walked slowly around the ward, swayed my hips left and right at the edge of the bed, stretched back and forth on all fours on the floor, bounced on the gym ball, rolled on the gym ball..  Kept repeating all those things while breathing deeply with every contraction (or “surges”). It’s a good thing we were in the ward so I could control the lights. I kept the room very dim with only the bathroom lights on. This seemed to set the mood to help me concentrate on my breathing. At times, the contractions were bearable but since the frequency has increased (I’m sure it was every 2-3 minutes now), it was quite exhausting. 
    At 6.30AM, a nurse came in to check on my blood pressure. When I told her that my contractions are getting stronger and more frequent, she immediately alerted the midwife. Around 6.40AM, she said it’s time to go to the labour room. She offered a wheelchair but I decided to walk as I heard that walking can induce the opening of the cervix naturally. Each step was accompanied by that sharp pain. Felt like little stabs in my abdomen, especially around the uterus. Somehow, I managed to walk to the labour room. There the midwife took charge. She told me to change into the hospital garb and lie down. Amidst the pain, I noticed the hospital had changed it’s gown colour to maroon. “Hey, it matches my maroon socks!” Hubs walked in with our personal belongings at this point. It felt slightly terrifying as I lied down on the bed. To distract myself from the pain, I looked around the labour room. It was bright. There were scrubs, syringes and other medicinal supplies on the cabinets on my far left. The CTG machine on my immediate left. The baby’s weighing scale and platform (for cleaning , I presume) was on my right. A seat on my far right for our companion. For the doctor, there was a stool, yellow boots and plastic coats. There was also a small mobile mirror for moms who wish to see their babies crown (not me!). My eyes finally settled on two metal leg rests, which are used to support our legs during stitching. All these things are ready to welcome a new life into the world. 
    The midwife came and did a VE. I was already 8cm dilated! No wonder it felt painful to walk. I was already in active labour. Full dilation of the cervix is 10cm to enable the babies’ heads to appear (or crown), after which comes the pushing stage. It was 7AM when they told me that my doctor was stuck in traffic. If she doesn’t come on time, then I’ll deliver with the midwife. I was too busy focusing on my breathing to care. I tell you, it’s much harder dealing with the pain while lying down and strapped to the CTG. You can’t move much or even turn left or right properly. All that lying down puts a pressure on your back, it hurts. At that moment, I totally understood why some mommies decide to give birth at home (yes, a controversial topic among birth advocates these days). 
    Around 7.45AM the midwife came to do another VE. I was still 8cm dilated! Apparently my contractions were consistent at every 2 minutes but they weren’t strong enough. What?! That’s over an hour of pain (but not painful enough, I should add) with no progress! I felt so frustrated.. This further proved you need to be free to move about to open the cervix naturally. But rules are rules. In the labour room, you must be on the CTG. Then came the next blow. The midwife informed me that my doctor has an operation at 8.30AM. In fact, she has four surgeries that day. So they’re gonna have to speed things up for me if I want to deliver with her. Great. Not only I’m already in pain (but not painful enough), I need to make the pain stronger artificially. If I was a hardcore gentle birthing advocate, I would’ve declined this unnecessary intervention. But I’m not. I’m just a regular mom who, yes, aims for a drug-free birth, but in the end, I just want a healthy baby and my delivery to be attended by my chosen professionals. In the midst of painful contractions (“surges”!), with Hubs by my side, I agreed to speed things up. I heard that when things are ‘sped up artificially’ it is much more painful. Good grief. I’m already writhing in pain as it is, I can’t imagine how it’ll be any further. But, I came all this way to have my delivery with my doctor, so I’m not about to chicken out now. 
    The midwife returned later with a saline case and syringe. She inserted the drip on my left wrist so that the saline can enter my system to help make my contractions stronger. Hubs asked if it was Pitocin, she said no. Just a regular saline with ‘ubat’. I was busy focusing on my breathing to even bother reading the label so the heck with it. As long as no other drugs enter my system, I’m willing to accept this slight intervention. 
    A few minutes later, the midwife told me that she’ll be rupturing my amniotic sack. This is basically breaking my water bag. I was already drowsy from slow breathing and enduring the current pain, what’s a bit more eh? I was like, “Bring it on!”
    True enough, within minutes I felt volcanic eruptions within my abdomen and spine. At some points, I felt like throwing up. Good thing I didn’t eat or drink anything that morning, otherwise, I would’ve thrown up. I tried to focus. Tried to breathe deeply and slowly. Tried to remember all those gentle birthing techniques -rainbow, alphabets, balloons, waterfall.. Oh crap. All that ain’t working anymore. I was in a delirious state. Couldn’t talk properly now. Just motioned weakly for Hubs to hold my right hand. 
    My doctor rushed in around 8.05AM. She was saying something to Hubs and the midwife. I could only hear remnants of their discussion in between my hard contractions.. “Ingat tak sempat tadi”.. “Jalan jam!”.. “Dua hari dalam perut”..
    Several painful minutes of hard contractions went by, but it felt like an eternity. Then I felt the urge. The urge of passing bowel. I told the midwife (doctor went out for a while to put on her scrubs) and she encouraged me, “Kalau rasa nak buang air, lepas kan je.” Then she did one final VE. She smiled and said, “Baby’s coming.”
    Even in my delirious state, I’m still embarrassed and didn’t want to poop on the delivery bed. Then my doctor showed up. She swiveled the stool and sat right in front of me. They assured me it’s OK. They’ve seen so many things from so many people already. Hehe.. When the urge came again, I can’t believe I FORGOT how to push, what more to “breathe my baby out”! They were chanting “Take deep long breaths, then push as you exhale”.
    Then Hubs said something funny. “Let it go! Let it GO!” It’s funny now but at the time, felt like wringing his neck!
    You know in movies where women in labour looked awful but managed to push the baby out in a few attempts? That wasn’t me. I mean, I still looked awful but I really had trouble pushing. Think I used the wrong technique. I didn’t (or couldn’t at that moment) push from my abdomen. I pushed from the throat. So needless to say my throat hurts for a few hours after delivery. I almost gave up when I begged Hubs to help me and to “get it out!”.. The only thing that motivated me to not actually stop pushing was I didn’t want my baby to be forced out. Enough with the jendul that came from my genes, I’m not about to enhance it further with vacuum or forcep!
    With every push, I felt a gush of water fell out of me. After several excruciating tries, I felt the ‘ring of fire’ (a term used when the baby crowns). The doctor further encouraged me “Yes, we can see the head!” The midwife kept cheering “Amik nafas panjang, pastu release!”.. Hubs was excited too. “You can do it yang, baby’s almost here!”
    That’s all I needed to hear. In one of the most taxing minutes of my life, I took deep breaths and pushed so hard I swear, I think my internals gushed out as well. I could literally feel my baby’s movement as it exited my womb. First, was the head. That part was hard. When it appeared I imagined the doctor skillfully turned the head and untangled the umbilical cord around its neck. Next, was the toughest part, to reveal its shoulders. Then the final push(es).. The entire body slithered out with my doctor’s help in gently pulling the baby out. So at exactly 8.23AM, our baby was born. Alhamdulillah! And just like that, all those pain subsided almost instantaneously. That’s the miracle of birth.
    The doctor immediately placed our baby on my tummy. I saw it changed colour from whitish bluish grey to light purple, then pink. I was too exhausted from all the pushing I couldn’t move my arms to embrace it. Then the midwife took the baby and started to remove liquids from its nose and mouth. Patted its back.. and then I heard soft cries. I almost forgot.. “Is it a boy or a girl?” Hubs smiled and said, “It’s a girl.”
    While our little girl was being measured and weighed, I felt contractions again. This time it was me delivering the placenta. The doctor injected me with something to expedite the process. I didn’t mind. She told me that I only needed very few stitchings as she let me tore naturally without any episiotomy.
    My legs were plopped onto those metal leg rests and the doctor began stitching. Most women find this exercise extremely arduous. It is, but I just squeezed a watermelon out of my precious. So to me, personally, nothing beats that! My doctor’s really good too. She’s quick (remember, she has surgery at 8.30AM) and I hardly noticed she was down there. Haha.. While I was being stitched, I glanced at Hubs who was reciting the azan and iqamat into our daughter’s ears.
    We chit-chatted happily despite me feeling extremely tired. I thanked the doctor and the midwife for being supportive of my VBAC intention. Though it wasn’t as gentle as I had hoped for, we can only plan and at the end of the day, it is US who need to decide and follow our instincts. Admittedly, I was really afraid of not being able to do a VBAC but the medical team (especially my doctor) supported me and gave me options, whenever possible to accommodate my request.

    Here’s Khalissa who will turn nine months soon

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    Our Missing MH370

    One of our Malaysia Airline’s plane went missing last Saturday. That’s right. MISSING.

    Quoting the news, “Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.40am Saturday”.

    When the news first broke, like many others, I went online to ‘search’ for the story. During that time, many thought aloud and posted questions on their statuses or timelines, some even made jokes about how such a large aircraft can go missing. Over the next few days, numerous theories and conspiracy ideas are heatedly shared and debated in social media. Not to mention how some Malaysians began to rear their ugliness by constantly blaming the authorities or each other for being incompetent, inefficient or having a lack of verbal skills when dealing with the press during PCs (but these are not the focal points of this entry).

    Like my fellow Malaysians, I too am stunned at this tragedy. We pray for the SAR mission to be successful each day. To date, many of our neighboring countries, China, USA (even the FBI), Australia etc are assisting our nation to find our lost flight. With so many state-of-the-art technologies being deployed by our SAR partners in the forms of aircrafts, ships, submarines and even satellite, it’s amazing that we can’t find the MH370. Whenever we can, we tune in to the news to hear for progress by the authorities, but to no avail.

    Of the many interviews being aired on mainstream media, I admit to not having the time to watch them all. So I selectively listen to clips that friends generously shared on Facebook. I don’t know why but this particular interview of Captain Norudin Abd Majid, a former pilot of the B777 fleet, struck me. I felt extremely humbled, sad.. and scared even.

    His sincerity in accepting that the aircraft just went missing, which was what we all knew from day 1 but quickly dismissed as a fact, is just humbling. If you haven’t the chance to hear him, here’s the interview.

    Yes, we have all prayed for a miracle to happen. It has been 3 days.. It WOULD be a miracle if everyone on board survive.
    I believe many of us share the sentiment that this tragedy is a reminder to all of us, especially Muslims. A reminder that our Creator, Allah SWT is far above and beyond all this scientific modernization and knowledge that we think we have. Due to our busy schedules and commitments, we tend to forget our purpose of being here on earth as Caliphs. There is no better time to remember that we are just specks of the universe, if not now.

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