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.
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