Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making we go to Dubai to where Sahar had her baby girl just under a year ago.
Here is her story:
Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?
My name is Sahar Wahbeh and I am the founder of DUMYÉ and I’m living in the United Arab Emirates. I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, studied communication arts in Georgia and started my career in NYC. After meeting a tall, dark and handsome man (my husband) I moved to his country of residence, Dubai. I have been here since 2006. We now have a little girl who is 10 months old.
Why did you have your daughter abroad?
Simply answered it was more practical to have the baby in Dubai. The alternative meant I would have to fly back to the US a couple months before the birth and return a month or so after. My husband would only be able to fly in for a short period around the birth. The idea of being a part at such a physically and emotionally exhausting time was just too much to bear.
Ironically I had prenatal insurance in the US but not in Dubai. So the decision to have the baby in Dubai also meant we would have to foot the bill. But it seemed worth it at the time (and it was). Being comfortable and relaxed, especially with your caregiver during delivery was important to me.
To be honest, at first, I was horrified at the idea of having our baby overseas. My experience with the health care in Dubai had been less than stellar. I did a lot of research to find a doctor in Dubai that I could trust and allow me the kind of natural birth I desired. Everything ended up working out wonderfully.
What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
In retrospect I think that if I had demanded the same ‘hands off approach’ of my doctor in America I would have been met with more resistance. America’s health care, for all its advantages, is driven by insurance companies. Protocol is difficult to overturn. For instance I refused to be prepped with an IV upon arriving at the hospital. I refused an episiotomy. I refused to have a shot to aid the delivery of the placenta. Oh and the list goes on.
I must say that I have never had a baby in the US, but based on the stories I have heard from other mothers I think I was actually lucky to have experienced giving birth overseas. I was able to hold and nurse my baby for the first hour immediately following the birth. She came out and went straight into my arms. I delivered in a private hospital, which guaranteed me a private room. There was even a full-size couch bed for my husband to sleep on in the room. The day after my delivery a physical therapist came by my room to give me exercise that would help my body properly recover. As far as I know the above is not routine in America.
I also think that the unknown of Dubai forced me to really do my homework. I don’t think I would have been as diligent in my learning’s of pregnancy and delivery had I been in the US. I would have been less likely to question the information provided to me by my doctor.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
I felt the way I think all mothers feel, no matter what country your in. I was excited, determined and anxious.
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Honestly I don’t know… I do find that people (abroad and back home) tend to be surprised at times by my choices. I had a completely natural, un-medicated delivery, by choice. My daughter was in cloth nappies for the first few months. I exclusively breast fed up until my daughter was 6 months. People seem to be overwhelmingly in support of breastfeeding but are always surprised I have been ‘able’ to do it as long as I have. I am still breastfeeding her while following the baby led weaning approach to solids. She is also on an alternative vaccine schedule.
The only thing I can say is, the norm in Dubai is to have a full time, live-in nanny. This was something my husband and I agreed was not for us. People thought and still do think we are insane.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Do your homework and believe in your body. Expatwoman.com was a wonderful resource.
Sahar is the founder of DUMYÉ – this gorgeous brand handcrafts limited edition, eco-friendly rag dolls that you can personalize. For every doll you purchase, we gift a doll to one of the millions of orphaned children around the world. Find out more at DUMYÉ.com! Find them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
Want to share your story? Get in touch: email@example.com
Every time I read or hear a mommy story, I sigh. Giving birth may be one of the most excruciating pains we women have to go through in our lifetime, but the fulfillment it brings is unequaled. Although 3 out of my four pregnancies were complicated with one resulting to miscarriage, I wouldn’t trade the experience of pregnancy and giving birth to anything.
So, thanks for this post. I am glad I discovered you through your husband, John. I enjoy being here in your home. You make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story. Stories like this really show how every woman has a unique story and needs the freedom to make their own choices based on their own situations, circumstances, and environment. The strength you show in how you still went on doing what you thought was best despite the opinions of either cultures is really an inspiration. It took me a long time raising my children in the suburbs of MI to take a stand and do what I believe in with my girls to the extent that I wanted to (it took until my 2nd child). And I love how the unknown of Dubai only made you do more of your research. Sometimes at points like these, I think we tend to curl up and cry (I do sometimes!) before strapping on our boots and doing the dirty work- educating ourselves. Thanks for your story and inspiration 🙂
Thank you for your kind response to my story. It can be challenging to stick by your guns when people (especially those close to you) are looking at you like your crazy. But in the end we know ourselves and our children better than anyone else. We are ultimately responsible for their health and development. I loved what you said, “I think we tend to curl up and cry before strapping on our boots and doing the dirty work educating ourselves.” You couldn’t be more right. I have certainly had my moments of self doubt but knowing I have done everything to the best of my knowledge gives me piece of mind.
Warm Regards – Sahar
Thanks so much for sharing! I’m glad you like the series and, although I’ve only had one baby, I do totally understand what you are saying.
So happy you found me and that, in turn, I found you!
I look forward to sharing more with you … your input in invaluable to me and my mama’s!
While I agree the process of having a baby here in the States can be driven very much by law suits and insurance companies, it is changing and you can have the birth you want. Very hands on or hand off if you choose a midwife. It just takes a little homework.
Thank you for your encouragement. I am actually planning a move back to the US very soon and will have my future children there. I am hopeful that with some persistence and due diligence I will be able to have an equally satisfying experience.
This is so great! I just came across this looking for info on delayed vaccine schedules in dubai as we will be moving to dubai soon with our 5month old and would like more information on delayed vaccine schedules! Trying to find a pediatrician etc any help would be greatly appreciated.