Labor & Delivery in KSA

*FYI – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES DURING LABOR & DELIVERY OF MY FIRST BABY.

November 21, 2016

At 7:40 pm I woke up from a short nap with back pain. I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I pulled the shower curtain outside of the tub, closed the drain and turned on the hot water. I got in the tub slowly as it was filling. Bubbles formed foamy clouds as I felt the pain in my back and tightness in my belly come and go. They lasted about 45 seconds but within the hour the time between them varied from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. I relaxed in the water until I felt I had enough. I pulled myself out of the warm soapy water and wrapped a towel around my round pregnant belly.

Y was still sleeping. I went to the kitchen and made myself something hot to drink. In the living room I turned on the tv and sat on my rubbery blue exercise ball. Bouncing and rotating my hips made me feel more comfortable and lessened the pain in my back when it came.

Around 10:00 I asked Y if he would take me to a nearby park to walk, as around the apartment had felt better than sitting. We walked for about 45 minutes or so. I was still having the contractions. During that hour they were from 20 seconds to a minute long and happened anywhere between 2 1/2 minutes to 14 minutes. On the way back to the apartment Y stopped to get me a vanilla milkshake from Baskin Robins.

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Pregnancy in KSA

*FYI – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES DURING PREGNANCY.img_9504

Wednesday: March 30, 2016 – First hint of pregnancy
Monday: April 11, 2016 – Confirmation of pregnancy!

First Trimester

Morning sickness  [more like all day sickness]
Unhelpful – car rides, heat, lack of sleep, most foods
Helpful – sleeping in/naps, lights off
Foods – Kraft macaroni & cheese, DQ slushies, Ramen noodles, Pediasure (with milk)
Other Items – Sea Band (acupressure bracelets for nausea)


Trips
– Dubai {weekend getaway}, Ha’il {to see Y’s family}
Events – Work, Start of Ramadan
Beauty – Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil
Medication – Navidoxine (for nausea), Prenatal vitamins, folic acid

Appointments:
April 20 – 7 weeks –  Ultrasound — check to see developing embryo with heartbeat
May 16 – 11 weeks
May 30 – 13 weeks – Ultrasound — first time to see “baby” (head, body, limbs, heart).

Overall feeling – Sick. Tired. Happy to be pregnant.

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TTC in KSA

*Warning – this post is about my experiences while trying to conceive.

*You’ll find hyperlinks within the text that connect you to helpful websites.

Before I begin I would like to say thanks be to God for everything and every situation.
الحمدلله على كل شيء
الحمدلله على كل حال 
ِEverything happens (or doesn’t happen) at exactly the right time based on God’s plan.

Y and I had waited a long while for the paperwork to come through making our marriage legal here in the Kingdom. By the time everything finally happened both of us were more than ready for our family to grow and so our TTC (trying to conceive) journey began.

It was August 2015 and we were in Ha’il just after our wedding celebration with the family. While driving around the city in the car I looked at Y and said, “I want to ask you something.” He smiled at me as he usually does when I say something like that and replied, “What is it?” I’m not sure if I thought there was a chance he might say no or if I just felt more comfortable shyly bringing up the topic as a question instead of a request. “Can we start trying to have a baby?”

I was nervous about the whole thing. I was afraid that for some reason I would not be able to get pregnant. I had been on the birth control pill from the time I was 16 or 17 (for severe menstrual cramps) until I was 22. That September (2013) I started feeling very strange about the chemicals that I had been putting into my body for so long and decided to start praying Istikhara (prayer done while seeking God’s guidance) in order to make the decision to continue or to stop using them. After a few days of prayer and a couple of dreams I made the decision to stop taking the pill and to use other methods of birth control. This led me to start researching fertility awareness methods.

My first cycle off of the pill made me remember why I had started taking it in the first place. The cramps came on slowly and before I knew it I was on the sofa in the fetal position moaning and groaning while I waited for the Advil I had taken to kick in. It took me a few months, but I finally figured out how to deal with the pain and carry on with life.

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A first time for everything…

I’ve been living here in Saudi for 2 years, 9 months and about 30 days. And this is the first time I have felt the need to sit and write a post to blow off a little steam.

Because women are not allowed to drive here in Saudi, I have been in the car with various drivers. Most of my experiences here have been normal, if not even pleasant. It is nice to not have to drive in a city as crowded as Riyadh.

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I remember the Eritrean man who picked me up from the airport when I first arrived to Saudi. He was an older man, but he took my bags and lifted them into his trunk. He drove along, all while pointing out places to me and offering to stop and get me something to eat.

I remember the bus drivers from the recruitment company that carted us to and from work everyday. Once in a while they would stop to drop off some of the girls at one of the supermarkets. Honestly, I couldn’t make a complaint about those guys.

I remember the old Pakistani taxi driver that my friend and I stumbled upon by chance. He took me to work every morning. He picked up my friends kids from school and brought them home. He drove my friend and I in the afternoon from the university. He was probably the driver that I felt most comfortable with here. He was a kind old man. He was punctual and he was safe. Unfortunately, his mother fell ill and he returned to Pakistan.

I remember when I started my current job Y and I were at a loss as to what to do for a driver. He ended up hearing about a company that provides drivers. The first week with my new Egyptian driver was fine. When I walked outside in the morning I would find him waiting for me. In the afternoon he would pull up just as I was leaving the building. The actual car rides were okay as well, although traffic was extremely heavy those days because of construction. After the first week things started to change. He was often late or he would send a different driver to pick me up. That wasn’t a huge problem, but usually the new driver had no idea where to go and I wasn’t confident enough with my Arabic to tell him directions (not to mention that often by the time I realized that he didn’t know where to go I was already lost myself). These guys were nice enough to talk about me while I was sitting in the back seat not realizing that I understood most of what they said, despite my ability to give them directions. Anyways, I could deal with these things. I could also deal with the original driver’s impatience with the traffic, but at some point he stopped driving me because he needed to have surgery and there was quite a long recover time.

I remember that this is when one of the backup drivers he sent started to take me daily. This guy was also Egyptian, but seemed to be the opposite of the first guy. He was quiet and calm. He drove safely and was on time (usually…except the days when I’m pretty sure Y’s phone call woke him up from a sound sleep…morning and afternoon). When I came back from my summer vacation and needed to return to work, Y started to take me in the morning, but this same driver picked me up to go home in the afternoon. Then one day he called to tell us that he was accepting a job with the electricity company in AlQassem. I actually felt a little heartbroken that he was leaving.

I remember a few days later that driver told Y that his “brother” would be willing to take me from work. It seemed that he had given him his car.  Let me tell you…it was a nightmare. I hate to complain about these things. It has taken me weeks to get to the point where I feel the need to do so. But the last day that I rode with him was the last straw. I ignored him and used Uber to go home (which happened to be an easy and relaxed ride).

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Anyway, this is life and sometimes we don’t get the service that we think we are paying for. At the same time I’m still very positive about the situation here as the majority of my experiences with drivers have been more than fine.

الحمدلله


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Back at it…

Back in Riyadh and back to work.

Somehow I’m already 6 weeks into this 8 week session. I don’t really know how that happened, but I would say it is most likely because I have been genuinely enjoying my classes.

These weeks I’ve been assigned 3 intermediate level groups. I teach a class in writing, reading & listening.

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The classrooms where I work now have only smart-boards, so I spend quite a bit of my time preparing for lessons in front of a computer. That means when I go home I don’t usually open my laptop unless I need to finish up a powerpoint or other document for class.

I was thinking of this blog today and realized that I completely missed my 3rd blogiversary. 3 years ago I started this blog without much direction. A few months later I got a job and moved to Saudi Arabia. Ever since then I have been trying to use this as a space to share my life here in the Kingdom and any other travels that I might experience.

So far I don’t think that I’ve been very successful, but I’m sure that is due to my inconsistency in posting. I said the same thing last year and while not much has changed, I am still hoping that it will.

Once again I really appreciate all of you who may have stumbled upon my blog and taken the time to read through it. Thank you for all of your comments, messages and emails.

الحمدلله


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DIY – Sleepsuit

Because I bought a yard and a half of the super soft pink material for the backing of my triangle quilt I had quite a bit of material leftover. After finishing the two bandana bibs I decided to make a little zippered sleep suit from that same soft material.

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I used this white Sherpa Sleep Suit from Carter’s brand as a pattern.

I put the Carter’s sleep suit inside-out onto the pink plush material and cut two rectangles the same size as the suit. I then traced along the arm holes on each side of the suit and cut the rectangles to match. To make the rounded shape for the neck on the front of the suit, I folded the front rectangle in half and cut the corner from one end so that both sides would  would be even. With that rectangle still folded I cut down the fold to make two even pieces for either side of the zipper.

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I bought a 22″ pink polyester zipper for the center front of the suit. I sewed the zipper face down onto the plush side of one of the front panels. I did the same with the other panel.

I folded and pinned the neckline and the armholes so that I could add a topstitch to stop the material from fraying.

I then placed the front and back panels plush sides facing each other and pinned them together. I stitched the shoulders together and then from under one armpit to the other. I tied off my ends and cut any excess material from the borders.

To finish the piece I used some scrap white binding around the neckline. I did this the same way that I did the binding on the quilt. The only difference is that I did spend some time folding the binding over to create a sort of ( v ) shape where the zipper starts.

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الحمدلله


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DIY – Bandana Bibs & Headbands

I had some leftovers from the triangle quilt that I made and decided that I would make a couple of little bibs to match.

Abby from Simply Small Wonders posted a wonderful tutorial and pattern for baby bandana bibs.

I also followed this tutorial from Coconut Love to make little fabric flowers as decorations for the bibs. These are super simple to make and look absolutely adorable.

To make these bandana bibs I used leftover triangles and backing material from the quilt that I made.

I used the pattern cutout 2 layers from the triangles and 2 layers from the plush material. I lay them pattern/plush layer facing each other and stitched around leaving a small space open to turn the piece right side out. I top stitched around the bib to close the opening and to flatten it out a bit. I then stitched lines following the triangles as I did on the quilt.

I used the last of the cut triangles from the quilt fabric to make some little flowers. I traced some small circles onto the fabric, cut them out and then stitched them according to the tutorial above. I made 6 of them – 3 for each bib. I attached them to the bibs using a hand needle and some thread.

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To finish the bibs I used some permanent adhesive velcro ovals for fabric. It’s the first time that I’ve used these and I fell in love. They are so easy! You just peel them off, stick them on and you’re done.

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EXTRA: When I finished the two bibs I still had a few triangle pieces left and I decided to make a few more flowers.I also found a tutorial/pattern for felt bows. I still had some white felt left over from the hooded baby towel that I made and so I used some of that. I found some elastic cord at Walmart ($1 each). I bought a while and a gray. I cut the cord down to 12″ and stitched the ends together. I attached the patterned fabric flowers to the white cord and the white felt bow to the gray cord. This was a super simple and cute way to use up my leftover fabric and create something extra to go along with the quilt and bibs.

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الحمدلله


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DIY – Baby Triangle Quilt

My sister-in-law is pregnant with a baby girl  ( ما شاء الله تبارك الله ) and so I wanted to make her a gift while I have some time here at home to do some sewing.

Before I began this project I did a lot of searching on Pinterest and Google to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. I didn’t follow any one tutorial/pattern, but I used different websites as references to come up with my own little baby triangle quilt. You can find the websites that I used and found helpful below:

There is a lovely tutorial and pattern available on a blog called SeeKateSew. You’ll find helpful instructions, a free triangle pattern that can be printed and used for cutting your pieces.

I found a tutorial and pattern in a post by Stacy from a blog called Freshly Handmade extremely useful. She includes all the detailed information that you need, along with helpful pictures. 

If you are new to quilting, like I am, or if you are not sure how to sew binding this PDF file on double fold quilt binding techniques should help for sure.

For this quilt I used:
5 fat quarters
A soft material as a backing
100% cotton batting
2 packets of double folded binding

I washed my fabrics and hung them to dry. After they were dry I ironed them.
I printed out the triangle pattern, cut it out and used it to make a pattern on a piece of cardboard so that it would be easier to quickly trace the shape onto my materials.
I put one of the fat quarters onto a flat surface and used the pattern and a pencil to trace on 15 triangles. I then cut out all of the triangles. I used what was left from the cut fabric to cut out half triangles.

Once I finished cutting out all of my triangles I started arranging them in rows until I had the design and size that I wanted for the quilt. One thing I will definitely suggest is taking a quick picture before you pick up the pieces to start sewing.

I then took each row and stitched the triangles together. When I finished stitching together all of the rows I trimmed the threads and I ironed them, so that the seams were flat. I began to pin the rows together, trying to match up the points of the triangles. I sewed the rows together one after another until the front of the quilt was complete. Once again I trimmed the threads and ironed the seams flat.

Next I needed to cut the batting and backing material to size. I put the backing material down on the table face down and put the batting over it. On top of those two laters I put the quilt triangles up. I pinned them together in a few places around the edge of the triangle layer, so that the layers would stay in place while I cut the other materials to match the size. I did a straight stitch all the way around.

I then did straight stitches following the lines of the triangles on the quilt (each line would have a stitch on either side). This made a pattern on the otherwise solid back of the quilt that mimicked the front pattern. It was also a way to keep the three layers together.

When the quilted stitching was finished I needed to trim threads and the edge of the quilt to get rid of any excess. I then needed to attach the binding to cover the unfinished edge. To do this I pinned the binding face down to the front of the quilt and stitched it. At the end of a side the binding gets folded up at a 90 degree angle and then folded back down to begin the next side. Once this step is finished the quilt is flipped over to the back side and the binding is folded over and pinned. I stitched the binding all the way around the quilt. (I had no idea how to use the double folded binding that I bought to finish this quilt, but the PDF resource above is excellent and I had no problems with the binding).

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This quilt is by no means perfect, but it came together quickly and overall I’d say that the end result is quite pretty.

الحمدلله


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DIY – Phone Case

My hometown is small. There isn’t much to do and for me that means time for crafting.

I recently bought a few transparent phone covers on ebay for $0.99 a piece with the idea of creating some of my own designs.

For one of the covers I decided to make a gift for my sister-in-law who is a talented makeup artist ( ما شاء الله تبارك الله ).

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I used her user image from her Instagram as the center of the design. On my computer I inverted the colors, flipped it horizontally and then printed it at the size that I thought would fit best. I wanted to paint the design from the inside, so that the paint would be protected. Flipping the image made it so that the letters would not appear backwards on the front of the case.

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I cut down the design that I had printed and used a piece of tape to attach it to the front of the case facing in so that I could see it while looking at the inside of the case. I used a fine tip paint marker ($1.97) in black to trace the design.

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I also found a few images on We♥It. I edited them a bit — removed the background color and rotated them as I wanted. I printed them out and cut them as best as I could. I arranged them around the painted design until I liked how it looked. Then I used a small paint brush and some Mod Podge (4oz – $3.50) to glue the paper cut-outs to the inside of the phone case (design facing out).

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Once that was dry I painted on a little more Mod Podge around the paper designs and sprinkled a bit of silver glitter (0.6 oz – $1.29) on top of the wet glue. Once that layer was dry I painted one last layer over the entire inside designs of the cover.

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Here is what the case looked like when I was all done and the Mod Podge had dried.

You could make a design with just the paint marker or just paper cutouts, but I would suggest the Mod Podge to seal the design. You’ll definitely spend a lot less money making these DIY cases than you would purchasing them from the store and they will certainly be a lot more unique!

الحمدلله


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DIY – Hooded Baby Towel

My dear friend T recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy ( ما شاء الله تبارك الله ), so I decided that I wanted to make a little gift to send for her new bundle of joy.

I found a lovely and simple tutorial that you can find here. This tutorial along with a few reference photos allowed me to create this…

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You could do this by hand, but it was quick and easy to do with a sewing machine.
I used 1 large bath towel and a few sheets of craft felt (1 cream, 1 brown & 1 black).

I wrote out paragraphs on how I made this, but I didn’t feel that this post was complete without step-by step pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while I was doing this project because I wasn’t expecting to make a post about it. However, if you don’t mind a picture-less tutorial write me a comment and I’ll send you those directions that I wrote up. (update: you can find the written directions in the comments below)

I hope that you liked seeing my little creation and perhaps it has inspired you to try and make your own design!

الحمدلله


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