alhamdulillah, we fulfilled our intention to perform umrah with NG’s parents and Watermelon earlier this month.
i was anxious about what the experience with Watermelon was going to be like, but now that it’s over, i realise i need not have worried so much. alhamdulillah with God’s grace she was easy on us. save for a handful of cranky episodes, she was generally cheerful and slept well. bringing her to the mosque for congregational prayers was not too difficult — though Baby Bites (biscuits) quickly became the standard bribe 🤣
she had plenty of fans (“mashallah mashallah!”) and received a lot of kisses and sweets from strangers. the kisses, i mentally prepared myself that they might happen. so i made plenty of doa that Allah swt protects her from illnesses 😬 the sweet treats, i sacrificed myself and ate them on her behalf. you’re very welcome, Watermelon! mmyum.
but anyways, day to day, this was how we generally operated:
1. NG and I would take turns bringing her to the mosque. the general schedule was that I brought her for subuh, mahgrib + isya, and he zuhur and asar.
2. occasionally, one of us, including my MIL, would stay in the hotel room with her whenever she just fell asleep, was cranky, or we felt too tired to rush for the prayers.
3. in the early days i would bring her nappy clutch with me to the mosque, but soon i stopped doing that since our hotels were close by Masjid Nabawi and Masjidil Haram so we never had to change her diapers in the mosque. Watermelon’s not one to complain about soiled diapers anyway, and us parents take advantage of it most of the times hee
4. if i anticipated that she was going to nap, i would bring a minky with me for her to lay on.
5. at Masjid Nabawi i tried to pick strategic spots to pray at, usually near the pillars where there are shoe shelves that she could pull herself to stand and play at. Masjidil Haram doesn’t have such shoe shelves in the prayer areas, but they had bigger gaps between the rows/safs, so generally anywhere was fine. plus by then i had gotten a better hang of things.
6. my choice of toys were a stack of cups or a crinkly cloth book, which honestly she wasn’t super interested in. sometimes she preferred to dig my tote bag or shred tissue. towards the end i even brought packets of ketchup for her to play with (unopened la) coz you know how babies love to play with anything but toys 🙄
7. as the imam performed the first takbir, i would quickly offer her a Baby Bites biscuit. initially i thought she would savour the biscuit for the entire of the prayers. imagine my shock when she finished a biscuit before the first rakaat was up because #pbg (greedy) and imam read a long surah 🤣
8. if she was cranky, i would carry her while praying. i practised 1-2 months before the trip at home. i referred to a YouTube (can’t locate the exact video anymore, unfortch) for an idea of how to do it.
9. because she’s a clingy baby, she never ventured anywhere while i prayed. luckily she didn’t disturb other people; at most only my MIL. i also didn’t need to use a child leash.
10. i wrapped her, front or back, for umrah (tawaf and saie). alhamdulillah although it can get very crowded during tawaf with people pushing past us, she hardly fussed. i reckon SSCs would be good too. ring slings might be a little strenuous since it’s a one shoulder carry. it was quite a workout carrying her for 2 hours plus minus, so i would recommend for parents to practise lots before the trip. but definitely baby wear to be more comfortable, unless you intend to use a wheelchair or buggy. strollers are not allowed within the mosques.
11. i would NOT bring a small child to Raudhah in Masjid Nabawi. it’s a charged environment with lots of shoving and squeezing, and people may not take pity on you even if you are with a baby, toddler or child. plus it involves long waiting times. NG stayed in the hotel room with Watermelon while i went with the group, and he made his own way in the wee hours.
12. we are kinda relaxed about Watermelon’s food so we would serve her small portions from our hotel buffet. all along i thought her chewing skills were good, but she would cough and gag at almost every meal initially, which would alarm my in laws. admittedly i got very annoyed 😐 thankfully she got better as the trip progressed.
13. at Madinah, we got a king bed which was great. at Makkah we got twin beds. we pushed one against the wall and one of us had to share with her. guess who. one time she fell off the bed in the middle of the night, eeks. luckily she only cried for a short while 😅
our first umrah ritual was humbling and challenging because it was after a long bus ride and was late at night. plus it being our first time made it a little overwhelming too. the group was big (60 jemaah to 1 ustad) so it was stressful trying to keep up. Watermelon was being the most cranky she had ever been on the trip ☹️
after that we smartened up and preformed umrah by ourselves, using our guide books. it was much better being able to go at our own pace and take a longer break between the tawaf and saie. we would follow the group to the miqat, and once we reached Masjidil Haram we would go our own way.
we were also very fortunate to have NG’s parents with us. although it was their first time with umrah, the extra pairs of hands were very much welcome. plus nyayi has a magical touch that could put Watermelon to sleep for long 👍🏻👍🏻 and supposedly Watermelon was very well behaved when my FIL brought her to prayers with him. it’s true that babies are better behaved with other family members except their mums huh!
i won’t bluff: our ibadah is less khusyuk with a baby around. but would i have chosen not to go? absolutely not. it was a privilege and a beaaautiful experience to be able to pray in Masjid Nabawi and visit Raudhah and makam Rasulullah saw, and also to pray and perform umrah in Masjidil Haram. my prayers may not have been perfect, but I choose to husnudzon and trust that Allah swt understands why I had to intervene before Watermelon shredded a stranger’s USED tissues or pass her another biscuit mid-prayer, insyaAllah.
would i have left Watermelon behind? no, but that is completely a personal choice. nonetheless i can see the perks of doing so.
all in all, we have been super super blessed through this trip, masyaAllah. alhamdulillah for all for Allah swt’s blessings, truly he is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim. our trip was smooth, we had good flights, our fellow jemaah were friendly, we ate SO much … i honestly have very little complaints about the trip. i miss it so much already!
plus it felt really nice to go back to our fitrah and make worship the centre of the days, instead of planning our prayers around our daily activities. i really hope to return many more times, insyaAllah 💕
and now, photos!
at the airport, in a baby tudung courtesy of nenek. i wasn’t planning to get her one actually, but now we have three! 😳 alhamdulillah
makan tissue … her favourite. i remember this particular subuh prayers because it was another lady who showed us this perfect spot, and i was grateful 💕
wrapping for fun. technically our hotel was v close by and i didn’t need to wrap to and fro masjid la.
eating her baby bites biscuit while encroaching into a makcik’s space. but that’s the thing i liked about the other jemaah. they’re quite warm towards us mummies with babies, unlike some of the makciks in Singapore … 😳
another waktu where she slept thru the prayers. phew!
shoe shelf that i thought made a great play area for her. except the part where she plays with other people’s shoes, but that didn’t happen too often coz most of us keep our shoes with us. if it looks like she hasn’t bathed, it’s coz she indeed had not bathed 😂
my dinner and her nap time powered by babywearing woohoo
in the bus otw to Makkah – a knocked out baby, and NG in ihram referring to the talbiyah in our guidebook 💕
salam jumaah! playing with nyayi and my wrap while waiting for prayers. we went at 11.30am, about an hour in advance. ideally we should have been 1.5h earlier to get better spots.
we shifted to a more shady spot on the rooftop, but we still couldn’t escape the noon sun
loved masjidil haram, it was fun exploring for good spots. the rows here are further apart, which meant more space to put baby in front. this is Watermelon with one of her friendly fans.
another time i sat beside a mum of 3 boys from Kuwait. tried not to laugh mid-solat when i saw Watermelon turn her WHOLE UPPER BODY away from this little boy who seemed interested in her biscuit. regret not offering him one — his mum had joined in the prayers already.
how i performed umrah. sometimes with front carry for tawaf. Watermelon was generally good natured to not mind the crowds. and it’s kinda tricky wrapping with telekung because so.. much.. cloth. and really an SSC would have been fine, just that i’m vain 💁🏻♀️ (also, the pleats 😍)
curious child. made the mistake of wearing her too low so poor girl was peeking out to look look see see and was also leaning back. had 2 ladies who tried to help adjust her but by the second time i got rimas and waved her away 😕 Watermelon’s just being playful!
stopped to adjust my wrap so that Watermelon would sit higher. still, when we walked under the green lights in saie, she leaned back to take a goooood look
❤️❤️❤️ the city that truly never sleeps
lastly, my favourite photo. from our last night in Makkah before we flew home. i’m so glad to have experienced this with you ❤️❤️❤️