No Return

My last post in April has left a huge gap in information. I arrived in the States to somewhat chilly temps, and they quickly changed to the lovely summer days that I had missed while I was away. Tank tops, and shorts became my normal choice in clothes for myself, and Onesie’s for my daughter. We were able to go outdoors every single day and enjoy the air, the birds, and insects singing. Back in May while having my morning coffee, with Baby V. on my lap, I kept having this dread in my belly about going back to Saudi. It didn’t go away over time, in fact it got worse as time went on. One day (I believe it was in July) after reading three separate news stories on bombings in Saudi (not Hofuf, where I lived) I just felt like I had reached a point of no return. I was mad, and yes, fear was setting in. My gracious husband and I had a talk that night and he basically told me that I needed to decide if I was going to get on the plane in August (already booked flight) or not. I chose to skip the flight and not return. To him, it was a simple decision, and to me it was torture, I knew that going back wouldn’t be good for me, and I knew that not going back, meant being under my moms roof (I’m very thankful she has allowed me to stay with her) and being separated from my husband for an unsure amount of time. Also, he was missing our baby as she was growing up fast. After making the not so light decision to stay in the States for the rest of the summer, I literally felt so much lighter. I don’t have the dread anymore! I can enjoy the summer.

I wont get into all the details of good and bad about the life that I had in Saudi. Ill need to update my about post I think, but the wifeabroad name will remain the same as my husband and I and our little baby V. still plan to travel as much as possible. There are so many unknowns down the road for us. I’m nervous, and excited about it.

And I’m Thankful For…

The great Shawarma from Maze restaurant in Hofuf. The best in the entire city. If you haven’t gone there, go. Its not family, but if you are a lady, you can pick up.

The many trips to Bahrain. The escape from Saudi life, yet still close by.

The friendships. The only thing that kept me going sometimes were friends.

Having a baby, healthy and safe. Pick your hospital wisely, in my opinion there are some sketchy ones there too. I personally went to Al Moosa. State of the art place, with helpful staff. If I ever have another baby, I think a part of me will miss the visits to Dr. Zaynab. A part of me hopes she will read this one day. I loved her smile.

The doughnut runs my husband made for me, there were also many McDonald’s runs too (especially when I was pregnant)

Being creative in the kitchen and with the grocery shopping. Its fun and challenging when you may not have exactly what you are used to.

The many many laps walked around the shopping malls. Some days it was the only way to get any exercise in.

Constant growth of a city meant that there were always new shops or restaurants to explore. Some were duds, some were pleasant surprises.

I’m so blessed to have received a kind message just asking how I was from time to time, from fellow expats who knew that maybe I just needed to know that I was being thought of.

Towards the end of my time there, my family and a few others would get together on Monday nights for a dinner where we would all pitch in on the food (home cooked or bought) and it was such a lovely time of gathering together to laugh and talk.

I will always appreciate the young family who opened their doors to us on our first thanksgiving in Hofuf. Thank you JA and LA, for lovely dinners in your home and making a holiday festive when we were all abroad and missing our families.

I will always cherish the thunderstorms that would come through in the winter. It was such a treat to see rain and lightning in the desert.

We had an SUV that treated us good for a bit, but then when it finally died, we rented. I will never forget the car rentals that were always white, and sometimes beat up. There was one that had brown stains over the entire interior as if a soda had exploded. But they gave us reliable transportation to and from the grocery.

Always loved the get-to-gethers that we would have with friends. It helped get through all the rough days in Saudi. It made many insane days, saner (LM, you are a gem! Thank you for your friendship. I hope to see you again someday)

I miss my friends overseas. I will to keep in touch as much as possible, and hope to hear from them as well over the years. Some have already left Saudi, and have moved on to different places, while some are still there, working and raising their families. I think about them daily. I do love how social media allows us to see some bits of peoples lives. Facebook and Instagram is great for this sort of thing.

I’m so very thankful that this is how my married life pretty much started (living in Saudi). It helped us grow together, fight together, cry together, and love together and share many cups of coffee together.

In about a month we will most likely be on our way to another place…And I’ll post a photo of sand and ocean.

Until then-wifeabroad (from the States)

I had a baby in Saudi

The date was Jan 27th, 2016. I had gone to bed a bit early and woke up about 11pm with pain in my belly. I laid there for about 30 minutes thinking to myself that it wouldn’t be long before I would be giving birth to my daughter. I was excited since I was already 40 weeks and one day. I was ready to hold her in my arms. I was feeling a little bit scared because I knew nothing of what was going to happen. First baby nervous. Does it get better or easier after the first one? I got up and decided to keep busy for as long as I could. I wrote down the times when I felt each contraction start up. I was hitting the refresh button on Facebook and hand quilting my rooster quilt to keep myself occupied. I wondered to myself when I was going to get sleep next. I had no idea how long the labor would last.

I finally woke my husband up around three am I think. I told him that I didn’t think he would be going to work that day. I enjoyed his excitement over my condition at the time. He was calm and collected. I told him that I didn’t want to be that person who would show up at the hospital only to be sent home because it wasn’t time yet. I think we waited till about 4:30am before we left the house. We decided to get some McDonald’s Egg Mcmuffin sandwiches (they aren’t open at that hour) before and even go walk around at the grocery store since we figured that it would be the only place open. They actually had the doors locked at Tamimis when we arrived. They are open 24 hours, but were putting stock out and cleaning floors so they had the doors locked. We went and sat in the car for a bit and then my husband went to approach an employee who had come out to smoke. He straight up told the guy that I was in labor and we just wanted to walk around inside. So the guy lets us in the roam the aisles of the grocery store (and use the toilet) while I had contractions every 4-7 minutes. That will always be a good memory.

Arriving at the hospital for the birth of a baby involves getting checked in at the emergency room first. Strange to me, but whatever. Then they take you up to the birthing floor to be checked out. Turns out I was only dilated maybe one or two centimeters. After being monitored for contractions and fetal heartbeat for an hour, they told us to go home. It was too early. They told us to come back if the pain got worse, or there was blood, or water. Specific, yet vague instructions for a return trip. Turns out, I was that girl who arrived too early and got sent home. McDonald’s was open at this time, so I finally got my breakfast sandwiches on the way home.

I don’t really remember much of that Thursday. Only that the contractions remained around 3 to 7 minutes apart all day and just kept getting stronger. I was able to get in a much needed nap after being up all night. We just chilled at home, and around eleven PM, we headed back to the hospital. The pain had definitely increased and I didn’t know what level to expect for hard labor. This time I was wheeled up to the birthing floor in a wheel chair as part of protocol. Again I was checked out and monitored to see how things were progressing. And again I was told to go back home. I felt rather frustrated at this point because the pain seemed more intense, yet I hadn’t even dilated much at all. Again they gave me instructions regarding my return to the hospital. If there was water, blood or the pain was worse. I think I asked how much worse the pain should be and they said intolerable. Another reason for sending us home was that the insurance was only going to pay for a certain amount of time outside of the delivery, so me staying there early on would have been money out of pocket. I was crying out in pain on the way home this time. There was no sleeping for me this time once I got home. My husband was able to get some rest, but my contractions couldn’t be slept though.

I think I woke my husband up around 3:30 am Friday morning. I was crying from the pain at this point, and there had been fresh colored blood along with the mucus plug. This gave me hope that I had in fact dilated more during the night. So off to the hospital once again! I remember very little cars being on the road this go around. My husband was speeding and even ran a red light because there was no one else on the road. He had said we were staying this time even if they suggested we go home. He even thought maybe if we didn’t hurry we would have to name our daughter Elantra, after the car she would be born in.

The wheelchair ride to the birthing floor was a little bit funny. I would have laughed had I not been crying in pain. The nurse pushing me kept saying “no no no,not yet.” I had to tell her I wasn’t having the baby, just a contraction. I get up to the room and get checked out only to discover I’m only four centimeters dilated. I was so unbelievably frustrated and concerned because I was really reaching a pain level that was too much. But this time they admitted me. They hooked me up once again to the monitors and would come back in the room periodically to check on things. I couldn’t get over the pain level. I should mention at this point that I had no desire to get an epidural. I didn’t want any pain medications really. I was thinking I would get the gas to breath between contractions and a last resort I would probably be willing to get the pethedine to ease the pain. I had my fears that I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own and that I would have to get a C-Section because of drugs that I was given. I wanted to avoid all of that. I was relieved to be in labor at this time, because they wanted to induce me the following week if I hadn’t had the baby, and that wasn’t something I wanted either.

Back to the delivery room: They had put me on oxygen at this point. And I’m not sure what time they did it, but they gave me a shot of pethedine at one point. Its supposed to ease the pain, but you will still feel everything. I am still of the opinion that it didn’t do sh** for me. I remember thinking “okay, twenty minutes and I’ll start feeling better.” It didn’t do anything! Little did I know that my husband had noticed that the contractions were registering around twenty on the monitor before the shot, and after the shot, they had gone up to eighty and ninety.

After some time the Dr. came in and asked me about getting an epidural. I at this point was glad she mentioned it and was all about hearing what she had to say regarding the procedure. My husband however was like, hey no one has checked on her in a couple hours. I think she needs to be checked on. He knew I didn’t want the epidural of course and he stepped in to be my voice of reason in a time when I was out of my head. The Dr. then checks me out and tells me that I am going to start pushing and will have a baby in twenty minutes. I was thinking really? I don’t have the desire to push. I don’t know how to push. And I sure as heck was scared of the pain level that I hadn’t had yet. But pushing time was on, so… The Dr goes to get changed and comes back and tells me to push every time I have a contraction. I’m telling you, I had no idea what I was doing. She would give me instructions, and I would tearfully tell her I was trying. Putting a catheter in she tells me that “that takes care of that problem.” (I had peed a little during a push. It had bothered me to not get a warning at least. If you have never had a catheter put in, they don’t feel good. She wasn’t about to be all kind about things either, she was very to the point and businesslike at this point. Like a drill sergeant, telling me, to stop crying and push! Or stop yelling and push! And put your hands on those bars and push! I didn’t even know if I was pushing right. I just wanted to baby to be out at this point. I wasn’t about to keep quiet when I started to feel her giving me an episiotomy. I had mentally prepared myself for it to happen at some point ( was told months before that it was procedure for first time births). Is mentally preparing oneself even possible to do when it comes to your genital area? I think not.

I think I had maybe three more pushes after that. At one point I had a cheering section of the Dr, my husband and the five or six nurses all yelling push! Push! At the same time. Finally with a great sense of relief, our little daughter came into the world at about 7:20am on Friday, January 29th.

I am grateful for the fairly short labor. Wednesday night, to Friday morning really isn’t too bad in my opinion. But I was also very exhausted at that point too. I didn’t even have any fight in me to protest the nurses taking the baby to the nursery right away, when in fact she should have been on me. Thankfully after getting stitched up, they brought her back into the room. I had planned to breastfeed exclusively and felt that the sooner she was on me the better.

Two hours after having the baby, I was able to be moved to the recovery room. The nurse wanted me to put on my abaya. I thought, and said out loud…”I just had a baby, I’m not putting on an abaya!” So she grabbed the blanket off the bed and covered me up with it. The recovery rooms were nice. A nice bed for me and a pull out chair bed for my husband to use. The food wasn’t terrible either. The constant flow of nurses or cleaning ladies was a bit too much though. The nurses from the nursery would also come in from time to time to take the baby “to check her vitals”. I would get annoyed if she was gone too long. I had informed them not to feed her, but they kept asking me if they could, even arguing with me at one point because they said she would get hungry if she didn’t have enough from me. “that’s why her and I need to work together at this” I had said in response. The learning part wasn’t immediate, but I was one determined mamma! Turns out that during those vitals checks at one point, she was being vaccinated. Good thing I wasn’t one of those anti vaxers because they never informed me or asked about vaccinations for my baby until we were getting discharged the following day, after they had already given her shots. I still get a little annoyed by it though.

I was one very happy lady when I got discharged the day after giving birth! I so wanted to just get home and start working on getting our own routines as a family. Three weeks later, we are still working on that. Every day seems to be something new and I’m okay with it.

My story is a bit long here, but I do need to add one more thing before I close. You know how I mentioned the catheter the Dr. put in? Well the first night at home, about 3am, I woke my husband up again to inform him this time that I probably needed to go back to the hospital because I had a UTI! Of all things, A UTI on top of just giving birth wasn’t my idea of a good time. But I knew my body well enough to know what was happening and I blamed the Catheter being the reason for this. I didn’t want to get put on antibiotics with a brand new baby though, so after some talking and looking on the Internets, I decided to try to eliminate the UTI naturally with cranberry juice, lemon juice, baking soda, eating certain foods, whatever would work and not cause the baby to get anything unwanted through the breast milk. My efforts were not successful however. After five days I woke up feeling lower back pain and really had had enough. Back to the hospital we went. A nurse asked us if we had someone at home to take care of the baby cause the air in the ER wasn’t good for a newborn. I might have snapped a little bit in response to that. It’s not like I had wanted to be there! I wanted drugs to clear up the infection and to be sent home! My white blood cell count turned out to be over 100 (I guess its supposed to be under 10) so they said I had to be admitted. Tearfully I asked if my baby could stay with me and they said yes, so I agreed to stay. Ended up staying in the hospital the whole weekend! I needed antibiotics and fluids to get me hydrated. They had to hook my IV up to a machine to push it through, since my little vein kept closing up. At least I didn’t have an issue with my blood clotting. But I had to push a button every time I needed to pee so that I could be unhooked, and then when they hooked me back up, they usually had to flush the vein to open in back up. You might think that I would have been able to get rest at least. Not the case, as the flow of nurses and cleaning crews were again a constant during my visit.

I am once again grateful for the continued healing and hope to be back to myself soon. I still have some pain that I hope will diminish in the next couple weeks. We are still learning every day here, and enjoying the process even if it involves tears on my end at times, because I am just exhausted or I’m hurting or just don’ t know what to do to make my baby stop crying. We are thankful and totally in love with our little girl.

That is my birth story from abroad. Signing off for now -wifeabroad.

What I have learned since my last post in May.

  • I’m pregnant.
  • Even if I never had morning sickness, I wasn’t exactly a happy pregnant woman for a few months.
  • Nothing is really ever as you expect it to be.
  • Hospital standards can really vary. I knew this, just hadn’t experienced it like I have here. I’m thankful for the option of having more than just one to choose from.
  • My last visit to the States in June didn’t feel like a vacation. And the idea of doing that particular trip again, will take some re-thinking/planning.
  • No matter how long I have been gone from the States, my arrival back will never be met with the excitement that I expected. (Nothing is really how you expect it to be)
  • My husband has been fantastic over the past five months.
  • I have cried so many tears (I’m pregnant)
  • I’m actually not as outgoing as I thought I was.
  • After 38 years, I kinda feel like an introvert.
  • I still love cooking! (The first trimester made me hate it, and the smells of it)
  • The second trimester is SO much better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • I’ve felt more at ease living here in the past month, than I have in the past ten months. I guess that’s progress.
  • I still miss my freedom though.
  • I’ve never in my live lived through such a hot summer. It’s not quite over yet.
  • I’m really not great at keeping in touch with people like I should.
  • My husband and I get one more trip together before the baby comes. Some would call that a babymoon. But for the record, this won’t be about the baby at all. 🙂 Sri Lanka has been a dream destination for me for many years now.
  • I should probably finish unpacking from my last trip, since we leave next week.
  • Naming another human being feels like a huge responsibility.
  • I’ve felt so lost without my laptop lately. It crashed a month ago. I miss the digital design work.
  • I’m a much happier pregnant woman these days.

I miss American pizza. -wifeabroad