Exclusive Interview: Motherhood Journey With Zarifah Fowzi

Written by Zarifah Fowzi | Edited by Eve Bandusena

Image Source: Zarifah Fowzi
We love, appreciate and embrace our mommies! An Exclusive Interview featuring mommy Zarifah Fowzi as she shares her journey into motherhood, invaluable lessons as a Mom and the ups and downs of Mom life!
 
Wonderful to meet you, Zarifah! Can you tell us more about yourself?
 
My name is Zarifah Fowzi. I’ll be turning 31 this year. I’m born and bred in Kota Kinabalu, though I lived in Brisbane, Australia for 5 years pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland with a focus on a bachelor of pharmacy. I was a hospital pharmacist for about 5 years at Sabah Women & Children’s Hospital, then Gleneagles Kota Kinabalu. After that, I decided to focus fully on my F&B business, Nook Café. My husband, Anas Amdan and I got married in 2014, after knowing each other for almost 8 years. I am now proud momma to little Dahlia, born 7th December 2018.

Can you tell us about your journey into motherhood?

After about 4 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to start a family. I was never really a “kid-person”; hence the 4-year wait to feel ready, though that never took off. Ha-ha. It was more of a “this feels like it’s time to add a little one”. I’m very grateful that my pregnancy was an uneventful one. Midway through the 2nd trimester, I went full force into nesting mode. I prepared the nursery, planned for my “maternity leave”, and binge read books to try feeling more prepared. By the time I hit 3rd trimester, I felt so out of breath that when I wake up in the middle of the night, I had to tell myself not to panic. Nearing the end of my pregnancy, it was a mix of emotions. I was so over being pregnant and just wanted to get it over with while simultaneously being excited to meet my baby! I finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, weighing 3.4kg, via a C-section as baby presented posterior and I had no signs of labor past the due date.

The first few weeks at home were pure survival. I’m amazed at how functional I was with just fragments of sleep here and there. I’m also thankful that my husband and mother helped out as much as possible so I was mainly on feeding duty during confinement. After 2 months, I felt more human and less of a walking, pumping milk machine. The newborn fog cleared up, and I stopped wearing my “kain sarung” and even put on a bra. Breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful. Yes, I have been warned that it’s not as easy as it looks, but I had no idea it was agonizing. I was blessed that I had good milk production and that my baby was a natural, but every time she latched on I was fighting back tears as my letdown reflex came in feeling like electric shocks down my shoulder blades. It was the toe-curling kind of pain. But seeing her gaining those chubby cheeks and rolly thighs made it all worth it!

Up till the 4th month of taking care of Dahlia on my own, I found the monotony of doing the same thing everyday demoralizing. Most of the time, I struggled to find time for other things. I cringed every time I hear her waking up. I tried so hard to balance doing other things that weren’t mommy-related. Although desperately longing for bedtime, I spent my nights catching up on things I couldn’t do during the day. Oddly enough, after a few hours into her bedtime, I’d find myself missing her already! I’d go and have a peek at her sleeping so soundly. It’s amazing how this tiny human can make you all full of feels. Though one of the feelings most prominent the much talked about mom-guilt. I felt guilty for wanting to have a few hours to myself. I felt guilty for taking a rest while my husband minds the baby. After much persuasion from my husband, I pushed those thoughts away and went ahead and got a babysitter for a few hours on weekdays. I’m really glad I did. I now spend half my mornings doing admin work for the café, checking in every couple of days, and getting some much-needed break. I realize I needed those few hours to get things done on my own. With errands out of the way, I’m able to be present and enjoy the moments of motherhood. 
Image Source: Zarifah Fowzi

What has motherhood taught you so far?

It’s being realistic. You have no idea what kind of baby you will get. Forget that imaginary baby you thought you’d have. The one that doesn’t cry or fuss, the one that sleeps angelically through the night in her crib, the one that’s happy to play on her own while you get on with your tasks. Yeah, bummer. That perfect baby is a mythical creature. Motherhood taught me to get off my unicorn and be realistic.

How has motherhood enriched your life?

Motherhood has given me so many new perspectives in life. This new role has given me a new purpose. I have found a new kind of love and it’s been a steep learning curve for me. In my finest moments, I’d feel exhilarated, pride even. On the flip side of things, I have days of feeling utterly drained and overwhelmed. However, at the end of each day, no matter good or bad, I am utterly grateful with what I have. My heart has expanded and filled with so much love I didn’t know I could have. There’s this unexplainable, deep abiding love I have now. 

Image Source: Zarifah Fowzi

Care to share your best and worst motherhood experiences?

 

The best experience for me would have to be that morning toothless grin. That cute baby beaming at me with shiny beady eyes because she’s been looking forward to seeing me all night. At least that’s what I tell myself. Having a cuddle and getting that whiff of distinctive baby-scent. My heart melts when she wraps her little fingers around mine to fall asleep. 

As for the worst experience, I put a lot of pressure on myself to want to do everything on my own. I didn’t ask for help; I guess in a way I wanted to challenge myself to do it all. It took a turn for the worse. There were moments when I wondered why I even chose to do this. When I have moments like that, I hold my baby tight and remind myself that I need to keep it together for her. I am responsible for her now. Of course, I am deeply grateful, but being a mother does not make me invincible. This was my experience, which I’m sure a lot of new mothers can relate.

 

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