5 days and about 10 years overdue, at two o’clock on a Monday morning my baby started to make a move to arrive into the world. Excitedly, I packed the final essentials, eye cream, magazines, iPod, completely looking forward to my mini-break in Doha Clinic. I had read in my pregnancy manuals how these days are special and afford the new mother the time and space to fully embrace motherhood and bond with her new baby. Maybe I missed out on the chapter in my pregnancy and birthing book titled, “Adopt, It’s Easier” but 9 hours into my mini-break, I wished it was over. All the preparation and enthusiasm of a first time mum couldn’t conceal the fact that this was no bloody holiday. However, in light of the fact that there was no going back and anxious to meet my baby and fit back into my Sevens I pressed on with the support of my husband.
Having opted for a private hospital in Doha I felt confident that my needs would be met and that the whole experience would pass with the only surprise being the sex of the baby. So, when the nurse entered the room and mentioned that there was a complication, concern was embedded and full blown panic was born. The nurse said that they didn’t have our marriage certificate on file and it was law in Qatar for the parents of the child to show proof of marriage. I couldn’t believe my ears, as I almost sucked the rubber tube through the useless gas and air mask, which I felt sure was given to me to keep me quiet rather than alleviate the pain which was intensifying by the minute. I growled at the nurse through the mask to express my dissatisfaction at the mention of red tape at this crucial time. My partner, battling to find an English TV channel, spoke in a controlled tone to the nurse, assuring her that all the documentation was indeed in order and that perhaps it would be advisable and in the interest of her wellbeing not to mention it to me again.
During the hours that followed, I got more and more frustrated at being surrounded by people who spoke only broken English, if was having a rant, I at least wanted the people at the receiving end to understand what I saying, not to mention that the only person who had fluent English was busy watching Steven Segal, while I watched any hopes I had of a pleasurable delivery slip by. All seemed lost until I heard the midwife announce, “your baby is here and better for you, It’s a BOY!”
Cheers and much delight filled the delivery suite when the hospital staff all gathered round and congratulated me for having a boy. He received a dedicated nursery nurse, a luxury enjoyed by all the babies, not just the boys. The nurse told me what it meant to have a boy in Qatar firstly the family name was intact and secondly and most importantly the money was kept in the family. Arab sons also provided a great source of pride to their fathers and mothers, a son becoming a natural leader in the family, while the daughters were married off in the early twenties. They will also follow the Islamic traditions and religions strictly from a young age following in their father’s footsteps to become good Muslims. At this point I took the opportunity to tell her a little about what it means to be a boy at home.
I told her how being born a boy in Ireland is similar, he will be raised in the Catholic faith, in a Mary /Jesus fashion particularly by this mother as she thinks he is Jesus and he thinks she’s a virgin.