By Aliya Vaughan
It was the summer of 2005 and the birth of my fourth child was imminent. I had it all worked out. I opted for a home birth as my second child was born at home and I had enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, things did not quite go according to plan. My due date had passed, but this wasn’t unusual as all my previous babies had been overdue. It was just a matter of riding out the days and being patient – no easy task though when you are stretched to popping point!
The first week passed and there was still no sign of baby. The house was a mix of emotions from excitement and anticipation, to trepidation of the unknown. By now I was also feeling tired and eager to just get it over and done with. That was until July 7th; it was a day no one would ever forget. A bomb had exploded on a London Underground (Tube) train killing a number of people and injuring many. Anxious news reporters on the radio and television stated it was the hallmark of ‘Islamist terrorism’. Only four years had passed since the September attacks on the Twin Towers in America, a turning point in history, and the fall out was still raw.
Over the next few days there was a heightened state of alert across the capital with increased security around important buildings, on the streets and London Underground stations. As I was heavily pregnant, I decided not to go out in case there was a backlash against Muslims. If I needed any necessities, my husband would have to get them. A few days after the bombing incident, a man was shot dead by armed police in the Stockwell Underground Station. It was only one Tube stop away from where I lived. The shooting was in connection with the Underground bombing, but was a case of mistaken identity. The sense of fear had now increased for everyone, but it was about to be taken to whole new level for me.
My midwife said that because I was now two weeks overdue, I would have to go into hospital to be induced rather than have the home birth I had originally planned. I was terrified. I had no family nearby to take care of my other children, so my husband would have to stay behind and look after them while I went into hospital to give birth on my own. My biggest fear was being mistreated by medical staff because I was a Muslim at a time Islam was being blamed for a major atrocity and we were being negatively reported about in the press. I had heard horror stories of other sisters being mistreated while giving birth and I began to panic. My hormones were all over the place as it was, and this additional fear only compounded my anxiety. I sat on my bed and cried uncontrollably.
I had never felt so vulnerable, helpless and all alone.
My body was shaking and my mind was clouded with chaotic thoughts and fears of ‘what if such and such a situation happens?’ Shaytan had got a strong hold of me and was causing me to have a huge emotional meltdown. I had never felt so out of control as I did in that moment. Then I remembered the ayah that states:
“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.” Surah al-Imran 3:160
I knew I had no one else to rely upon other than Allah, so I raised my hands high and made a desperate plea to my Lord for help. I could feel myself going out of my mind and begged Him to keep me calm. Tears were streaming down my face and my vision was blurred. I called upon Allah by one of His most glorious names, As Salaam (The Source of Peace and Security). At that moment I could literally feel a sense of tranquillity descend upon me in waves. It had an instant and miraculous effect that pacified and soothed me until my anxiety subsided. At last my heart was at peace and I felt sure that everything would be alright. Only Allah had the Power to relax and calm me down as there was no way I was going to achieve that result on my own.
Over the next few days I rang a few friends to see if they could be my birthing partner. One sister agreed but warned me that she would be going on holiday and may not be around to help out. The day came when I was to be induced but it fell on the day my friend was due to fly out to Jamaica. She was able to stay with me for an hour in the hospital but then had to leave to go to the airport. So now, it was just me on my own in a side room. To cut a long story short, out of all my six birthing experiences, this one was probably the best. I gave birth to a son weighing 8lbs 3ozs, which was also my heaviest. My baby was plethoric and we had to stay in hospital for five days but the midwives and nursing staff were so attentive and caring. It was an answer to all my duas. To this day I remember this moment as being the worst in terms of a terrorist atrocity, but the best in reminding me of the power of dua.
When faced with the feelings of utter fear and despair, Allah can turn those feelings around in an instant and can change the things that we fear most from becoming a reality. We just have to call upon Allah and ask Him for it. And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me, I will respond to you.’ Surah Al Ghafir 40:60
About the author:
Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 23 years. She lives in the UK with her husband and six children. She is a qualified life coach and author. She has recently published her award-winning children’s story ‘A Race to Prayer’ with Kube Publishing.