Before I begin the actual post, I would love to express our gratitude for all the views, likes, comments, and follows. We feel lucky to be able to get exposure to different perspectives – and to be able to share our findings with others. Also, we are thrilled to be featured on Freshly Pressed again. Thank you, Michelle!
Now, to the subject infinitely small from the World’s perspective, and paramount from ours.
I am 38 weeks pregnant today. For those blissfully unaware of what it means: our baby boy (lovingly called the Blob and/or Шонович (son of Shon) until the name is revealed) can make his appearance any day now. In reality, it’s more like any day within the next 4 weeks, but we’re hoping he won’t make us wait that long.
The Blob is our first child, so I cannot really compare being pregnant in the UAE to being pregnant anywhere else in the world. Not from personal experience, anyway. Still, I would like to share some things that struck me as unusual – all in a good way.
We might have mentioned before that children are viewed completely differently in this part of the world. On one hand, it means that we’ve never seen such a high concentration of spoiled brats anywhere else. On the other hand, it means being moved to the front of the line at the hospital or airport security checks if you have a child in tow. It means that a stone-faced Emirati man who would not acknowledge you were you on your own, is going to melt down and coo at your baby or toddler. It means that once you are at a bank, restaurant, government office – you name it – there’s a good chance your baby will be patted on the cheek/kissed/passed around by the employees. It’s not for the germaphobes and the faint of heart, but there is nothing perverted about it: little kids are adored here (and it’s a bonus if they are blonde and blue-eyed.)
You don’t get quite as much attention being pregnant, but you still get plenty. I was surprised to see Shon’s students (high-school boys) express great interest in my pregnancy. All of his boys I met so far wanted to know how far along I was, the due date, the gender, the name – everything! I saw plenty of teenage boys back home having great fun playing with older babies and toddlers, but pregnancy just doesn’t seem to be something they are comfortable with. These teens, however, are used to someone in the family constantly being pregnant and having babies. They get quite confused on finding out we’ve been married for over 5 years and this is our first child. “Why?” – they ask, “you should have at least 3 by now!”
One of the perks of being pregnant here is getting free stuff, and I don’t mean some kind of Publix coupons-for-babies program, I mean small businesses, mom and pop stores. It’s always something small, but it’s a great pleasure, anyway, when you are handing over the money, and the man or woman points and your stomach and says, “No, no! Gift for baby!” It’s mind-blowing, really. You are a stranger in a strange land, thousands of miles away from family, and total strangers want to share your joy and bless you in some small way.
Another fantastic perk is the expat community. I could not dream of such a support network back in the US. There is nearly a dozen families within 15 minute drive who went through the same thing no more than a year and a half ago, and who have been so generous to us in so many different ways. Our families may be far away, but we are surely not alone here.
And I cannot write this post without mentioning the healthcare part. Our insurance covers labor completely (they do no cover the epidural, which is 1500AED=$410.) My doctor’s appointments cost us $8 each (I get an ultrasound nearly every time, too), and I have not paid for any lab work. The hospital is very new and not very big. By now, most of the receptionists and nurses at the OBGYN clinic know me. They ask about my cross-stitching progress, comment on the size of the belly, and click their tongues at the sight of my swollen feet. I liked all the 3 doctors I saw. Both the midwife who teaches pre-natal classes and the director of nursing gave me their cell phone numbers and urged to call or text if I had any questions. All of this makes it personal and much more relaxing than your general hospital experience.
So here we are, waiting for our world to change forever. The time is right, and, as strange as it may seem to some, the place is right as well.
P.S. Won’t it make a good photo one day – the three of us holding our respective birth certificates from 3 different countries?