Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: IRELAND

Tahera at home with baby Leila
Tahera at home with baby Leila

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making we are in Ireland.  Here is Tahera’s story about having her daughter abroad, even if it didn’t feel abroad to her. She talks about the challenges of having a premature baby, being away from her family and feeling isolated. 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?
Hi, I’m Tahera Khorakiwala. I’m 30 years old. I’m Indian but I grew up in the Middle East. Initially Saudi Arabia until I was 8 years old and then Oman until I was 18 at which point I moved to Dublin, Ireland for college. I met my husband in college. After graduation we were both offered positions in Dublin and we took advantage of these opportunities to further our post graduate training. We were married three years later and in June 2009 our little girl arrived nine weeks early.

 

Why did you have your daughter abroad?
Leila was born in Dublin, Ireland for no other reason than this is the country where both my husband and I resided at the time of her birth. I’m not the kind of person to live in one country where I get all my medical consultations and travel to a second country to give birth. I firmly believe that my medical care and the place of my delivery should be the same. Ireland is a pioneering centre setting the standards in modern obstetric care around the world. I had no problems giving birth here. I would do it again.

 

 

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
My child was premature and sick for most of her first year necessitating repeated hospital admissions, multiple surgical operations with multidisciplinary care and medium-term follow up. I’m not sure she would have received this level of care in a country where the healthcare system was less sophisticated or in fact even have survived her birth.

 

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
I didn’t feel I was abroad. I’ve felt at home in Ireland for a long time now; having said that, it would have been nice to have my family nearby to share the exciting milestones of pregnancy with. In the time the followed her birth, again it would have been lovely to have my family here every step of the way. I must confess though that my family has been superlative in their commitment to my and my daughter’s welfare and they have travelled numerous times to lend support during Leila’s stormy first year. Once Leila had recovered and it was possible to participate in group baby activities, I did feel isolated. There was no one to cushion the daily blows of our situation. People would stop us on the street regularly and comment on how tiny she was. They would point at her and exclaim to each other. We couldn’t participate in many activities that babies her age were participating in because she was so far behind. It was lonely. Sadly while Ireland has excellent doctors and healthcare workers it didn’t have much in the way of community support for parents of premature babies. This is changing now and there is an excellent group called Irish Premature Babies doing some wonderful work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
I don’t think so. I believe that around the world people are misinformed equally about what it means to be born premature. There is an impression that premature babies are simply small but they will all turn out just fine. This is not true. The possible outcomes for premature babies range from death to long term chronic health issues such as cerebral palsy, medium term health issues such as cardiac defects requiring surgical intervention, short term health issues such as dependence on oxygen in the first few months following discharge to no difficulties whatsoever.

My parenting choices have been governed by her health issues. I do not believe these would have been questioned anywhere under the same circumstances.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
You don’t have to do it all on your own. Help and support can come from anywhere. It may be your neighbour asking if there is anything he or she can do for you. It may be an internet group offering you a forum where you can vent and be heard. It may be your parents or your siblings. It doesn’t matter. Help is help in whatever form or language it appears. You need every single last bit of it you can get. Don’t turn any away. You don’t have to do it all on your own. They may not understand what you’re going through exactly but they still want to help. Let them.

 

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Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

 

 

8 Responses to Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: IRELAND

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story! As the Mom of twins born 11weeks early the most frustrating part was everyone assuming that because they were home from the hospital they were just small “normal” babies. People don’t realize that prematurity is a life-long struggle. I have one twin with chronic lung disease & the other has mild cerebral palsy. I also struggled with feeling isolated, along with PTSD from the birth & resulting trauma. I applaud you for being brave enough to share your & your daughter’s story.

  2. Tahera Khorakiwala says:

    Thank you, Jen. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I do think that we can make things different for others by sharing our stories. Thank you again.

    • Hi Tahera,
      I enjoyed this article so much. It inspired me to write about one aspect you touched on in my blog – imaginarypinklines.wordpress.com.

      I hope the three of you are well.

      Aisha

  3. Tahera Khorakiwala says:

    Hi Aisha,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article. You made a very valid observation about the luxury of being able to obtain medical care in the country you are currently residing. It didn’t occur to me before that I’m privileged in this respect of having the means and the freedom to be able to make this decision and there are many that are not in the same positions for various reasons. Thank you for this perspective.

  4. You are very lucky to have such help with your child. Here at my home country, I’m very sad about the sub standard health care system especially for those who are having difficulties with their babies.

  5. There are some issues with Irish obstetric care with regard to the dwindling resources of public hospitals and the seemingly instinctive preference of private and public hospitals towards surgical intervention during problematic labour. There also seems to be less emphasis on breastfeeding than would be expected. There is the excellent public midwife led ‘domino’ scheme which encompasses birth, pre natal and post natal care, but this is only available in certain areas of Dublin, and may be a victim of spending cuts in the future (along with everything else).

    Overral though, I think Ireland compares favourably with the UK though many of our Northern European neighbours put us to shame, particularly with regard to marternity/partenity rights, and mid-long term post natal care.

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