20 years ago
A gentle knock at the door and a Scottish nurse who is also 3000 miles from home pokes her head around the door
“It’s time to get you ready Mrs Brewin”.
It’s dawn and she has spent the night alone in a private room in the most exclusive hospital in Riyadh. Work connections have pulled strings for this to happen and she is eternally grateful. It’s unusual for British women to be in this hospital and the Scottish and Irish nurses love the opportunity to talk about home life. To sit on the end of the bed and just chat over a sneaked cup of tea. Their other patients are Saudi women for whom English is not a first language. The nurses have limited Arabic and so the chance to chat in English is precious.
It also means that, aware of these cosy chats when he is at work, her husband brings in boxes of croissants from the bakery around the corner, to be shared out amongst the nurses. This makes the days of being in the hospital room pass quickly. His way of thanking the nurses for looking after his wife.
He knows she is a nervous patient. The last few weeks of the pregnancy have been troubled. There is talk of diabetes. The baby being breach. It’s hot outside, over 40 degrees even though it is only the middle of May. The hospital stay was arranged to make sure mum and baby are in safe hands. For this reason the Saudi Prince waved his hands and insisted a phone call be made and a bed found at this hospital not the usual one for ex-pats.
Being 3000 miles away from home and being pregnant is hard. Living in Saudi Arabia has been an 18 month adventure so far but this is reinforcing just how far away home really is. Tax free living is fun, until all you want is a hug from your own mum.
But it is now time to get up. There is no early morning cuppa today. No croissant. Nil by mouth from midnight means none of that is allowed. There is gossip though:
“You know that lady in the room next to your? The Saudi princess. She went to the loo in the middle of the night and had her baby. Her 13th. It just sort of arrived. Causes all sorts of issues now though as Saudi Nationals can only get birth certificates if the baby is born in a labour room. The government are trying to make Bedouins come into from the desert so they can have an idea of the birth rate. It isnt working”
The patient smiles nervously. She knows this is supposed to just be light hearted banter. A lightening of the mood but how can a baby just “fall out on a bathroom floor”?!
Her husband arrives with clean clothes and she goes for a final shower. Puts on hideous support tights.
A hospital trolley arrives and she climbs on to it. Lumbers is probably more accurate.
They get in the lift and go down to the operating theatre.
The lovely Pakistani anesthetist greets them and goes through what has been decided. Reads the birth plan out loud and confirms names and dates of birth. An epidural ahead of the elective C section.
The realisation that this is happening. The nine months are up.
All goes to plan and the trolley is wheeled into the operating theatre
A screen is pulled up. But the ceiling is stainless steel and reflective so everything can be seen anyway.
It doesn’t take long.
There is some tugging.
A surgeon saying “wow, congratulations, you have a baby girl. She weighs over 9lbs and starts school tomorrow”
She is placed in her mother’s arms
Hello Caitlin Amanda Brewin