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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The Wedding Day – USA

We were in the car, driving from my hometown to the place where we first met. The place that always seems to pull us back.

When we arrived, turning off the highway and down the quiet street leading to the venue. Tall trees and green grass surrounding the path. In front of us was the cozy white building with green shutters and chimneys sticking out above the roof.

Y and I got out of the car and down the white concrete sidewalk to the front door. Y pulled open one of the large metallic handles of the heavy wooden doors. We walked straight through the lobby and into the reception space. It was a large white room filled with windows. The opposite side of the space overlooking the grounds of the property. Glowing white lights wrapped around the beams of the high ceilings. The tables were dressed with ivory linens and white china. Golden candles flickered on the tables. The flowers that my dad had put together sat beautifully in golden vases. I couldn’t help but smile. It was simple. It was perfect.

Soon after we both rushed off to get dressed and ready. My mom, grandmother, aunt and cousin changed into their dresses with me in one room, while the guys put on their suits in another. My mom’s husband helped Y with his tie, while my mom zipped up my dress. I slipped on a pair of tall gold glitter heels. My mom bustled the skirt of my dress as I put on my headscarf and pinned my veil in the back. A black velvet box held a set of gold jewelry. I put the rings on my fingers, placed a bracelet and watch around my wrists, hung an earring in each ear and clasped the sparkling necklace around my neck.

I met Y in the lobby, we smiled at each other shyly and began to walk around the grounds of the resort to have photos taken. We then made our way back to that heavy front door to walk into the reception. He held my hand as we walked through the arch of the doorway. Our family and friends watching with smiles on their faces. We stepped onto the wooden platform of the dance floor and the music started. Neither one of us knew what we were doing, but we just moved our feet and slowly spun around, one of my hands on his should, one of his hands on my waist and the others clasped together.

After our little twirl of a dance, we walked around the room greeting our guests, giving hugs and having overdue chats. We ate a delicious dinner of chicken with mashed potatoes, maple and butternut squash ravioli, grilled vegetables, soups, salad and homemade breads.

The music played. Our guests talked, laughed and some danced. A few gave heartfelt speeches that made us laugh and reminisce. At some point we were escorted to a rectangular table that stood in the corner of the room. On the table was a three layer vanilla cake with creamy frosting. A golden lace crown lined with little white pearls sat gently on top. A silver cake knife and server with branch like handles lay next to the cake. We cut the cake together, Y’s hand over mine. The cake was soft and light while the frosting was creamy and sweet.

Our friends and family came up to chat one last time before saying goodnight and making their way home. Their words and presence were greater than any gift that I opened from the satin box later that evening. I cried opening their cards and reading the notes. A beautiful party with delicious food and sparkling decor is nice, but without the people you love it is nothing.

Thank you to everyone who made our day so much more than just a wedding celebration. We love you.

الحمدلله


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Eid, 25th Birthday, Life

Tea on the plane to Ha’il
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A surprise cake during Eid festivities
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Birthday cake and balloons from Yasser & his sisters
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Dinner with the neighbors to celebrate all the recent marriages.
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Beautiful mountains of Ha’il
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Surprise from a friend
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Baby duck at the farm
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Tiny coffee
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Y’s camping trip
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Stopping to pray on the way back to Ha’il.
The ground had dried after recent rain.
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الحمدلله


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Back in KSA

الحمدلله
I’m back in Riyadh.
And I have big news…

Our papers requesting permission from the Saudi government to get married were finally approved this past May. We went to the court to sign our marriage contract with the sheikh and now we are legally married here in KSA, الحمدلله.

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In 10 days we’ll have a wedding with our family and friends in Y’s hometown to celebrate our marriage. I’m so excited and at times I still feel the need to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.

Let me say a huge thank you to anyone who has offered their support, love, encouragement, advice or just lent me an ear when I was in need. Patience has paid off, الحمدلله.

الحمدلله


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Al Thumamah – الثماما

Last month Y’s family came to stay with us here in Riyadh and one afternoon we took a drive out to the dessert in an area called al Thumamah.

We drove for awhile until finally we crossed the median to continue back in the direction that we came. Pulling off the road into the sand we parked the car at the bottom of a small dune and got out to walk.

The first thing that I noticed were camel tracks, one after another, continuing in lines. I looked up I saw a large beige camel off in the distance. Following Y and his niece we walked in her direction. As we got near something to our right moved. It was a tiny black baby camel that had been curled up in the sand. It stood shakily and began slowly walking towards its mother.


[THIS VIDEO CONTAINS MUSIC]

It may not seem like much, but it was a really beautiful thing to see and I’m glad that we took a few minutes to walk in their direction. Checking my photo album as we walked back, I laughed a bit. I had been talking a video of Y and his niece with the camel behind them, when suddenly I dropped the camera view to my feet. When I see something surprising or beautiful I want to see it with my own eyes, not through the screen of my phone or through the lens of my camera.  I think that is something that a lot of us forget to do these days. As much as I love to document things in my life through photos and videos, I don’t want to deprive myself of the actual experience.

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الحمدلله


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The Farm in Al Majma’ah

The Farm in Al Majma’ah
المزرعة في المجمعة

My dear friend A invited me to join her and her family at their farm in a small city north of Riyadh called Al Majma’ah. A’s brother also invited Y and so we gladly excepted. I’m so glad that we did because it was a fantastic experience that I hope I get to have again.


[THIS VIDEO CONTAINS MUSIC]

A’s brother told Y that it was about an hour drive. Y knew once we saw a road sign that it would be at least double that, but we enjoyed the ride anyways. Through the desert we went. Finally we arrived to the town and a few moments later we were pulling off the road onto a dirt path that led us to an area with a gate and cement wall. We got out of the car. Y went off with the guys and I went into the kitchen to greet the girls.

I sat in the kitchen for a few minutes chatting with A’s sister in law H, who greeted me warmly. Soon after A’s mom came in along with A’s aunt and two of her cousins. They smiled at me and I felt so comfortable being there with them, even from the very beginning.

We sat to have coffee and sweets. Soon after we went to sit outside and A’s aunt started a fire. Teas warmed in pots along the outside of the fire and a few ears of corn were roasted. They played some music and the kids danced. Eventually A’s mom called us back inside to have dinner.

It was cold, colder than I have experienced here in Saudi Arabia. I had on layers and layers, including 3 pairs of socks at one point and I was loving it. Eventually we went into one of the rooms and set out all of the blankets on the floor. We slept.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast. The typical Saudi breakfast with beans, eggs, liver with peppers etc. After the breakfast A and I went for a walk around the farm. She showed me the lines of date palms and we laughed at some camels just beyond the cement wall.

When we got back A’s mom, sister and sister in law had started to barbecue chicken on the grill. When it was finished we ate and then relaxed.

Soon after Y and I put our things in the car and started out journey back to Riyadh.

الحمد لله‎


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Smile

He hugged me.

He hugged me tightly.

“Do you remember the first thing I said to you?” he asked

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This was the first word that he ever said to me.

Since then he’s used it as a reminder for me. We have our own happiness, but it can be shared. When you smile, I smile.

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Don’t sweat the small things. Smile. Relax. Be Positive. Go with the flow.

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Smile for yourself and smile for those around you. Smile because it is a gift of positive energy. Smile because it is beautiful.

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“When I saw you
I fell in love,
And you smiled
Because you knew.”

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What a beautiful memory from the one I love. What a beautiful reminder. What a beautiful thing to think about every morning and every evening and any moment in between.

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Thank you for making my life better one smile at a time.

الحمد لله‎


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Last Days of Vacation

I’m back in Riyadh and doing my best to enjoy the last days of vacation before going back to work.

Unfortunately, the day after I arrived here in KSA I started feeling really ill. It started out as really nasty post nasal drip (to the point where I had to sleep sitting up), to having itchy eyes, a runny nose and that extremely irritating endless sneezing feeling, to massive sinus congestion, headaches and coughing, to extreme fatigue and aches behind my eyes…and finally back to feeling human. I woke up today without the worst of those symptoms and just a simple cough that I suspect will stick around until all the gunk is cleared out of my chest.

Despite feeling like poo I have still been able to relax and enjoy not having to wake up and leave for work.

Here is a short video of the past relatively uneventful days.
August 11 to August 17

الحمد لله‎


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