Pilgrimage during pregnancy
Read about a woman's incredible journey through hajj while expecting her baby boy.
In November 2009, Mrs Selina Alden and her husband went for their pilgrimage to Hajj. Millions of Muslims around the world do the same every year, except that in this case, the experience was made more special, because she was sharing her journey with the little life growing inside her. Read about her incredible journey through pilgrimage.
When, and with whom did you go for this journey?
I went with my husband, Timothy Mohd. Alden, last November. I was past three months at the time, and the journey lasted for about a month.
What inspired you to do it?
I just knew that I really wanted to. I did a prayer and managed to decide that it was the right thing to do. So when I found out about my pregnancy, even after my husband said that I didn’t have to go, it didn’t change my decision because I already made my choice.
How did people react when you told them about this big decision while you were expecting?
People always think that pregnant ladies are unwell, so it wasn’t easy to get the visa for the trip. Also, because of H1N1, the government was very strict – they wanted everybody to get immunization jabs. I was supposed to get one also, but it was risky because I was in the earlier half of my pregnancy. It was difficult to get all everything settled at the beginning, but I stuck it through because I’d made a promise to myself that I would go no matter what. Amazingly, and I like to think that it was because God invited me, everything seemed to go very smoothly after that.
And how about your family?
My extended family actually did not know that I was expecting yet, so I don’t know. (laughs)
Tell us about your experience. Did you face any problems?
The only real problem was that most of us fell sick. I caught a terrible cough from my husband and because of my condition, was advised not to take any medicine. So I was stuck with Strepsils and their special concoction of salt and water! It was a blessing that I only fell sick after we were done with hajj and umrah.
Did you experience any discomfort from your pregnancy?
I was experiencing severe morning, afternoon and evening sickness in my first few months before the trip, and I think that was my main test. That’s why I see it as such a blessing, because I felt perfectly good the whole time I was on my trip, even on the flight there. I don’t think I would have been able to manage if God was not protecting me and more importantly, my baby.
But you had to be on your feet the whole day long, weren’t you afraid that it was too risky?
Through my whole journey, I just felt very light; it almost seemed that I wasn’t carrying a baby. I even went up to a mountain cave at midnight! On top of that, I was carrying around my haversack, including a 5-litre water bottle, most of the time. And with no difficulty, everybody was very surprised. (laughs) But somehow, I didn’t feel worried. I had a lot of faith that everything was in God’s hands, and so it feels like your body is being carried for you.
Did people treat you differently/did people realise that you were pregnant?
At first, they didn’t notice. It was only after they heard from the group coordinator that there was someone in the group who was pregnant, that they finally discovered. They were very, very nice and took care of me very well. They are fantastic, just like a family.
And how was your husband in all of this?
He was amazing, he took care of me very well. It was really funny, one day, in an extremely crowded place, people warned him about letting me out of his sight because we would definitely get separated and lost. So I purposely slowed down, hid from him to see what his reaction would be like, but he was completely relaxed. And he managed to find me, every single time. It was very amusing, but also very pleasing to see.
The only close accident I had was after tawaf, when a man pushed against me and I almost collapsed. Alhamdulillah, my husband managed to catch me, otherwise I might have injured myself or my baby.
Since you were in such a spiritual place, did you feel that you managed to bond emotionally with your baby as well?
Deeper connection…maybe, and probably more on a spiritual level. Especially with the presence of everybody’s doas, it was really a huge blessing. But for this, only time will tell, we can only leave it go God’s hands.
But to be honest, for now, I think that there is no experience stronger than the mother-and-baby touch, the first touch, to bond us. No mother can deny that it is the special moment you connect with your child.
On hindsight, do you regret going or are you happy that you went?
Very, very happy. I am so glad with my journey, and I’m sure that if I go again I won’t feel the same as I did this time. And because of my pregnancy, I really felt that God was taking care of me so, so much more. It just felt very blessed.
Would you recommend it to other expecting mothers?
I would very, very much recommend this, go for it. Because the feeling that God is taking care of you, and the life that is in you, is indescribable. Anybody else will probably feel the same as I did. So if they really want to, just believe it and everything will go smoothly. They will definitely feel something special protecting them. It’s a blessing from God, and you know that He is taking care of the baby. So yes, definitely, it is a fantastic feeling.
umrah – annual pilgrimage for Muslims to Mecca, usually done once within one’s lifetime
hajj – umrah, carried out during Dhu al-Hijjah, the final month of the Muslim calendar
tawaf – one of the rituals of hajj, comprising of circumambulating around the Ka’bah 7 times