Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
Haider's Birth Story
April 2, 2007
Although my ex-husband wasn't much of a labor partner, at least he had taken childbirth classes with me and was present at each of my births. This time would be different. My Saudi husband wasn't interested in participating in the labor and birth and preferred not to be there. This was heartbreaking to me, but what could I do? I was in another land, half way around the world from "home" and the culture was different. In this place, birth was "women's business" and men simply didn't get involved.
I hope you enjoy reading these birth stories. Please let me know if you'd like to share yours. Now on to the story...Baby number six...My first baby with my Saudi husband!...I had divorced and remarried between Rayan and Haider's pregnancies. Now I was living
in Egypt. I was five months pregnant when I made the move overseas. I was concerned
about the quality of health care and of delivering my baby in a "third-world country."
I did like my new doctor in Egypt. She was kind, listened to me, and respected my wishes
in regards to my birth plan. I discussed having the baby at home, but she advised against
it. "Unlike the States," she warned, "we don't have good medical transport or emergency
facilities. If you rush in as an emergency case, you may not receive the care you need."
Despite her warnings, I tried to find a midwife. I was unsuccessful. It seemed home births
were unheard of in this country. Well, home births by choice that is. The very poor
women in the country have babies at home without assistance all the time. But that's
because they don't have any other option.
Determined to have a home birth this time, I searched for childbirth classes online. I figured
if I could find a childbirth class instructor, she'd know who to contact for assistance with a home
birth. I was disappointed to find that there was no one listed in Egypt, or anywhere in the
Middle East for that matter. I began to seriously think about becoming a childbirth class
When Haider's birth day came, my husband was working in Saudi Arabia. He had
planned to come home in two days, but Haider wasn't waiting! My water broke at 6:00
a.m. When I called my husband, he said, "I'll catch the first flight after my meeting. Can
you wait until evening?"
"I doubt it," I told him, "just get here as soon as you can."
I proceeded to wake the five older children. I got the four school-aged kids ready for
school. I called a friend, Dina, to come sit with Rayan, who was now four years old.
Dina arrived with another friend of ours, Hanifa, at 7:00 a.m. I was shocked to see Hanifa,
but glad she came, as she had a car and offered to drive me to the doctor's clinic. I had
planned on walking or catching a taxi.
At 7:30 a.m. I sent the older kids out for their bus. I expected Dina would stay at my
house with Rayan, while Hanifa dropped me at the clinic. But they had other plans. Both
of the women accompanied me to the clinic.
It was 9:00 a.m. when we arrived. Another friend, Anissa, was waiting for us and she had
brought her neighbor, whom I had never met before. I was surprised to see them both.
I was uncomfortable with all these people in my labor room. I had never shared my births
with anyone besides my husband and necessary medical staff. I focused on relaxing my
body and tried to keep quiet as they all watched me labor. I was especially aware of the
need to keep calm as my four-year-old son was also present.
My doctor came in at 9:30. I was relieved when she asked everyone to leave the room as
she checked me. I was fully dilated. She had me follow her to a back room for the
delivery. This was the first time I had ever been "taken back" for delivery; in all of my prior
experiences, the labor and delivery were in the same room. The table for delivery was
extremely uncomfortable. Never before had I had my feet strapped in stirrups for delivery.
To make things worse, the table was at an almost 90 degree angle. It was the most
uncomfortable and unnatural position for birthing! I told the doctor, "I don't know if I can
deliver in this position."
I had to push hard and I screamed a lot, but I was able to deliver Haider within twenty
minutes. By 10:00 it was over. Once again I was glad to hear that I hadn't torn and
wouldn't need any stitches. I asked the doctor, after the delivery, "Had Mohammed been
here, would he have been allowed in the delivery room?"
"No," she replied, "we don't allow anyone in the back. That's not a common practice in
Egypt." I was somewhat glad he hadn't been with me that day, because I would have
been really upset when I realized that he wouldn't be able to be with me for the delivery.
Since he wasn't there anyway, it was not an issue.
I wasn't impressed with the nursing staff, nor the cleanliness of the clinic. But I did
appreciate that they didn't have a nursery and no one tried to take my baby out of my
room. By noon we were discharged. I was home by 1:00 p.m. and waiting for the older
kids when they got home from school.
My husband never did make a flight that day. By the time he finished his meeting I had
delivered the baby. He decided to stick with his original ticket and arrived two days after
Haider nursed until he was twenty-five months old. By then Faris was one month old...and on to the next birth story...