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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Power Struggle (part-four)

As soon as Fahad fastened his seatbelt, he called his best friend Mohammad. 
It is very common for Arab men to have a best friend with whom they share their worries and from whom to seek advice. 
“Salam! Give me your congrats, my wife delivered our son. Alhamdulillah he is well, and she is okay.”
“Mabrook (congratulations), mabrook; should we say Abu Mohammad (father of Mohammad) or are you thinking of something else?” Mohammad was very happy for his friend. “Wallah I don’t know. I need to consult with my father because Sarah wants to name him Khalid after her mother’s father and I’m not happy with that, because everybody will think that I am a weak husband. What do you think?”
“My friend, if that is the way it is, just go safe and name him Abdulrahman after your father. That is our tradition, and it always works for the best. Her family cannot argue with you, and your father will be very
pleased. You will also maintain your position in the family that way. Otherwise, you are in a losing battle with her family for eternity.”
Fahad knew Mohammad was right, so he made arrangements to register the baby’s name as Abdulrahman as soon as possible. Sarah would be happy that the name is not Mohammad, and his parents would be very happy with his decision.
Sarah spent two days in hospital with her female family members and friends; they visited while drinking coffee and tea and snacked on dates, biscuits, and chocolate. Her hospital room was decorated lavishly with baby bottle shaped ornaments hanging from the ceiling over her bed, the door to her room had a large welcome baby boy sign on it with two large floor arrangements, and the tables were garnished with trays of ornate dishes filled with flowers, chocolate, dates, and biscuits. The women laughed and giggled over stories of births, marital relationships, schools, childrearing practices, and parenthood. Sarah was happy to be the center of attention and was pleased that the nice nurses took good care of her son and fed him well in the nursery while she rested with her guests. This was her mother’s recommendation. She would not want her son to be exposed to diseases and illnesses that the guests might have unexpectedly brought in with them to her hospital room, would she?
“It is much better for the baby, and this will give your body enough time for your milk to come in,” Norah mistakenly advised. Fahad called a few times during Sarah’s stay in hospital and asked about his son, not disclosing to Sarah what he had decided to name the baby and leaving it a surprise.
Sarah’s first night at her mother’s house was a disaster. She ached with exhaustion and didn’t know what to do with this screaming stranger. He screamed all night as she tried to put him to the breast for his first feed. Her mother stood by closely and assured her that her milk still hadn’t come in, and it would be best to give him formula to stop the crying and try again for the next feed. “But mama, the book said that I should feed him at the breast when he’s hungry. I didn’t get a chance to read the entire book, but it said something about feeding on demand. Mama, please let me try. He is hungry, and I want to try.” 
This panicked behavior is commonly seen in postpartum mothers. After the festivities are over and real life sets in, mothers realize that they have an interest in breastfeeding. Mothers such as Sarah may have purchased a few books and skimmed through them a few days before delivery. 

“My dear daughter, you just said it. He is hungry, you don’t have enough milk yet, and your nipples are very small. Just let me feed him, and you can try again later. It is sinful to let him cry like this.” Norah grabbed Abdulrahman out of his mother’s arms and stuffed a full bottle of artificial milk in his tiny mouth as she sat down comfortably on the bed. This practice was famil- iar to her and she acted naturally, the same way she had after delivering her own children.
Sarah complained to her mother, “Mama, Fahad really wants me to breastfeed; he said that it is recom- mended in the Quran, I have to at least give it a try.”
“My dear, of course you have to breastfeed because it is recommended in the Quran; however, it is bad enough that Fahad didn’t let you choose the boy’s name, and now you’re going to let him tell you how to
feed the baby? He is not a mother, and he doesn’t know how hard it is. He would die if he heard this screaming. Anyway, you don’t have milk yet. Believe me, I know. What do you want to feed the poor boy, air?!” 
In the Middle East, most mothers get into a power struggle with their daughters’ husbands. It is very frequent for the daughter/wife to be caught in the middle. This example also demonstrates how breastfeeding is encouraged in the Middle East, but not supported. 

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Please exercise proper manners and respect for all. Thanks