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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Power Struggle (part-three)

“Sarah you are fragile and inexperienced and cannot endure the hardships of motherhood. I’ve had five babies myself, and I know how to prepare the soothing teas for the baby and special foods for you just like my mother did for me. You cannot do it alone. We will have a great time when you deliver, I am so excited!” Norah prepared her kitchenette with new bottles, teats, a sterilizer, and of course, the most probably needed artificial milk formula for the baby.
Labor started, and it started fast that night. Fahad saw Sarah suffering in pain with every contraction. He quickly jumped out of bed, got dressed, and threw Sarah’s abaya on over her nightdress as she wobbled to the door. Sarah moaned and groaned in the car on the way to the hospital. “Ya Allah, I’m sorry I upset my husband. The pain is unbearable, I am sorry. Ya Allah, please stop the pain! Forgive me Fahad, forgive me,” Sarah wept.

 Eighteen hours later...“Sarah gave birth to a lovely baby boy this morning” Norah boasted to her friend over the phone. “No, I didn’t attend the delivery, I waited outside. You know I couldn’t handle seeing my beloved daughter in pain,” Norah explained to her friend. They said their goodbyes and she hung up the phone. Sarah’s father walked in the sitting room, and the proud grandfather asked his wife if she was going to the hospital soon, as it was almost five in the afternoon. Norah explained that she was waiting for the florist to send his driver to meet her at the hospital with the flower arrangements for the hospital room. Sarah’s parents paid several thousands of riyals to ensure that her room was decorated well to receive the congratulating guests.
Sarah and Fahad were delighted that the delivery was over. Sarah was left in her hospital room to rest and remember her delivery experience. As soon as the baby was born, he was whisked off to the nursery to be weighed, bathed, and fed, only to be brought back to his mother upon her request. Most Middle Eastern mothers prefer for the baby to remain "safe" in the nursery so that the mothers can "rest and visit" with her congratulating friends and family. Not many women understand the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding or understand that it is essential to build up the immunity of the infant with colostrum in the first hours.
Fahad was being kind, especially after his wife so earnestly apologized for last night’s comments and asked her what she would like to name their son. “Khalid” was her request, but his mood suddenly changed and he said, “In sha Allah (By the will of Allah).” Norah suddenly burst into the room with hugs, kisses, and smiles. She was so very happy and delighted at the birth of her first grandson. “Ma sha Allah, Fahad; I am so proud of you. You endured her screaming and pain, what a brave man to be attending your wife’s delivery. These are the men of the modern day. Khalas ya habeebi; you go home and rest. Come and visit us when we are settled at home. I will take good care of her and the baby. Bye!” Fahad felt like he was being pushed out of the room, which he was, of course. It is very common for the Middle Eastern mother to take charge of her daughter and the new baby and to play a major role in decision making about feed- ing, changing, bathing, and all other care routines that in- volve a baby. Fahad was just thinking about the baby’s name, but decided not to discuss the subject in front of his mother-in-law. Fahad smiled at Sarah and quietly walked away. 

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