Monday, October 11, 2010

Having a Baby Overseas

It was a real leap of faith to have a baby overseas. Well, the truth is that I'd never had a baby before so having a baby ANYWHERE would've been a leap of faith. Still, if someone had told me years ago that I would give birth to my first baby in Egypt, I would have laughed in their face.

It just sounds so preposterous, right?

But one thing I have learned over the years is to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything.

So let's face it, when you live abroad, far away from family and friends, and make another country your permanent home (at least for now) things just kind of fall into a rhythm after a while. And you being to think after a few years that things are good, things are normal, life just kind of moves along and not much changes.

You've got this living abroad thing down. You're an expert.

And then you find out you're going to have a baby.

And that's when you realize that you don't know anything. You don't know anything about doctors, about hospitals, about babies, about what babies need or eat or wear... You don't know anything about being pregnant and what you need to eat or wear and...

You definitely don't know anything about any of the above in Egypt.

And your mom is halfway around the world.

So is this the time I freak out? Is this where I throw in the towel and move home?

Let me tell you why I chose to have my baby in Egypt and not in the States.

My doctor was in Egypt. I had (have) a great doctor in Egypt. No matter where you are and what your medical condition is, having a great doctor makes all the difference.

My husband was in Egypt. Yes, if I'd had the baby in the States he would've been there. But it would've been stressful for me to be away from him waiting to have the baby (and waiting for him to come) and then stressful for him to be away from his work to be with me in the States.

My home was in Egypt. Call me crazy but I wanted to bring our newborn son home from the hospital to our house, not to a hotel room or a rented apartment. And I certainly didn't want to have to drag my sweet baby at that young age all the way across the big pond to get home.

I had never had a baby before. So I didn't have anything to compare the experience in Egypt to. I hadn't been in a hospital in the States for so long that I couldn't even remember what they looked like on the inside.

Once the decision was made to have the baby in Egypt, then we needed to buy all stuff a baby needed. We knew that since we were going to the States to visit at least once before the baby came that we could buy a lot of this from there. But most of the larger items (like furniture) had to be bought in Egypt.

Crib and changing table. We found a crib with a changing table top in a Mothercare store in Egypt.

Stroller/car seat. We borrowed a newborn stroller/car seat combo from some expat friends to use until our son was around 6 months old.

Glider chair. We bought a used glider chair and ottoman from another expat in Egypt.

Clothes, blankets, towels, and other misc baby stuff. Even though a lot of baby items are available in Egypt, we bought most of what we needed from the States because #1 we could because we were there and #2 usually the good stuff is cheaper there than in Egypt.

That moment when I realized that I was really having a baby and that I was having it in a foreign country hit me right about the second we set foot in the hospital. Before then, I was pretty much okay with the whole idea. My husband was with me the whole time I was in labor (it was a Friday evening), and we were in constant contact with my doctor.

Yes, it was a little nerve wracking to have a strange doctor examine me when we arrived at the hospital. But we needed to know how far along I was in labor. And once he determined that I was dilated enough to admit me into the hospital, the waiting began.

After several hours of monitoring my contractions and my baby's heartbeat, my doctor called and told us that if I wanted an epidural that this was the time to do it.

The epidural insertion process was the scariest for me out of everything. This was partially because my own doctor wasn't there yet, and also because my husband wasn't allowed in the room with me while they put it in. But the real problem was me. I had read too much about what could go wrong with an epidural so I was freaking out about how much it was going to hurt. But the doctor spoke English and talked me through every step before he did anything.

And so I survived.

Early the next morning, my doctor arrived at the hospital and evaluated our progress so far. And after a long discussion and explanation about where we should be and where we actually were, his recommendation was that we opt for an emergency c-section. Now I had really wanted a natural birth but I wanted a perfectly healthy baby more.

So we decided to go with the c-section.

I'm not sure how to describe the feeling of being aware and listening to what's going on while the doctors performed the c-section. I do remember that I was praying out loud the entire time and at this point I didn't care if they heard me or not.

But I can say that all kinds of emotions washed over me the first time I heard my baby cry. Relief, disbelief, amazement, overwhelming joy, and this strange pain in my neck from where I was straining so hard to try to see my son.

And of course they brought him over so that I could get a look before they took him out of the room.

When it was all said and done, I was wheeled out to recovery and suddenly looked up to see my husband standing over me all decked out in scrubs complete with face mask (I was a little surprised to see him because I knew he wasn't allowed back there but apparently they made an exception and let him come see me when it was all over).

And finally they rolled me back up to our room as I called my parents to tell them the good news. I have no idea what time it was in Kentucky but my mom answered the phone.

We cried.

Our stay at the hospital was around 48 hours. Recovery went well as soon as I realized that I had to actually ask for the pain killers once the epidural wore off.

But finally it was time and we bundled our little boy up and took him home. The drive home was surreal. I can still see us sitting in the car and waiting in Cairo traffic, me in the backseat with our son on the seat beside me.

I honestly can't remember anything after we arrived at home. All I know is that we were home at last with a perfect, healthy baby boy.

And that was all that mattered.

Our life had changed forever.


  1. I loved reading this! I already have two children but am expecting again and we are moving to Egypt in a month. My husband is Egyptian but has not lived there is 10 years, but is there already now preparing everything for us (he has a family there and such). I have read so many horror stories of life in Egypt regarding pregnancy and labor and such so it was so nice to read this! Please, can you make a post about the process of registering him as a u.s. citizen? I am from Illinois and I worry about that process, too. Also, if/when you have another baby, have you considered the popular "dr.'s office birth" I hear so much about? So many (Egyptian) women tell me the private dr.'s office is much safer, cleaner etc. than any hospitals.

  2. which hospital did u have ur baby in?


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