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The beginning chapters– Drops of blood

Outside temperatures in Riyadh dipped down, making life inside the villa bearable. The door stood ajar and the brown plastic window remained cracked, both bringing a much needed breeze but also giving another point of entry for lizards and cockroaches. After six weeks in Saudi, life had improved dramatically but it still seemed we were living a make shift existence, one that I assumed had been left behind in Seattle. See See and Foof ran around the villa playing made up games, bed pads were stacked to make forts and reinforced with pillows and blankets. The older boys attended Arabic school, struggling with the language and behavior of both students and teachers. I walked down the street to pick them up at the end of each day, listening to stories that fueled my frustration and posed the question, “why had we come to this place?” Contractions came and went as I tried to make sense of cooking, cleaning and living this new life. My belly, feet and legs ached and the only relief to be found was while sitting on the blue plastic chair that stood in the corner of the empty room. No phone numbers were available in Riyadh and no mail came in or out. I had spoken to my folks one time at a local call cabin, standing among the drivers, maids and workers who waited to have contact with their loved ones. A visit to the doctor had not given answers and only pushed me further into a state of panic.

I put both hands in front of me on the floor, steadying myself as I struggled to stand. A steady stream of warmth could be felt trickling down my leg and onto the rough black carpet. As I stood, a stabbing panic came over both my mind and body. I made my way to the bathroom and stood before the mirror not believing that this must be it. Contractions came and went as they had for weeks but this time accompanied by other signs that signaled labor. The children had fallen asleep after school and still remained sprawled out on the floor of the villa. I had already given birth 4 times and knew that I should be careful and delivery could not be delayed too long after this point. I woke him and we headed to the hospital where he would drop me off and take the kids to stay with friends.

As I approached the OB ward I was greeted by nurses who inquired about my personal details. Their tone changed from harsh and impersonal to soft and compassionate when I could not answer them in Arabic. The nurse asked me gingerly where I was from and when I said “America” she held my hand and accompanied me to a room. Within the hour, the doctor I had seen weeks before entered the room.  She checked my dilation and spoke directly to the nurse telling her to start an enema, IV and medication. I understood most of what she said as she reeled these terms off in English. A new panic set in as I tried to  discern what would be happening to me and most importantly the health of my baby. I called her by name “Excuse me Doctor”, she stopped and looked back as she headed for the door. I asked her about my dilation, the baby’s safety and my water leakage. At first her face clouded over and she seemed shocked that I dared to ask about my condition. She stood looking blankly at me and said  “You need medication to start your labor”.  I told her I would like to wait a couple of hours to see if my labor progressed and that I had never been given an enema and did not want one. She looked highly agitated with me for questioning her orders and continued on her way, making herself unavailable for hours to come.

He arrived to the hospital and assured me that the children were settled in with an old friend who I had known in Seattle. He was not allowed on the women only OB floorbut after much debate and a threat to move to a different facility, the nurses broke the rules and allowed him into my room.  I spent that night from 5 p.m. on, waiting for the doctor to return and assess my situation. An answer by each nurse who entered my room of  “just wait mama” was given as the hours ticked past. I thought of my children and how they must be feeling in a strange country and now sleeping away from me. I missed my mother and the safety of her medical advice and the sweet smell of the house on the hill. He sat in a chair watching t.v. falling in and out of sleep, and peeking from the door to see if the doctor had arrived.

Shortly after noon the next day, the doctor returned to my room. She spoke to him, looking past me as if I were insignificant in these circumstances, a mere woman who had brought this on herself according to my gender and selfish whims. She addressed him angrily and discussed my failure to follow her orders, stating that medication was needed. After almost 24 hours of waiting I agreed to whatever she prescribed and waited for labor to pick up where it had stopped when I entered the hospital. She administered medication and left to make her rounds and attend to her patients. Contractions took hold once again and although they lacked intensity it seemed things were back on track.

Several hours later she reappeared, once again informing me that I had delayed this birth and should have listened to her. She injected something into the IV and with the swishing sound of her lab coat against the door she made her exit.  My body immediately changed, a pain and urgency I had never felt before in childbirth had begun and was unstoppable. The nurse came and held my hand but warned me not to push. It was as if my whole body was under attack and pushing became involuntary. My body heaved and shifted, coursing in agony as the bed was quickly wheeled through the hall. The nurse called out for the doctor and pushed us on into the delivery room.  As I struggled to regain my composure the doctor stood over me, berating and yelling, “If you had taken medication this would not have happened “She continued with her tirade throughout the next few minutes  until my son was born. I ignored her and did not speak a word, gathering him up and holding him close, vowing to never let him go.

I sat in the hospital room, waiting for him to return with the children. I had not seen them for 30 hours which was the longest separation we had ever been through. When we left the villa I had neglected to bring any clothing and now struggled to pull myself together before they arrived.  I made my way to the bathroom holding the hospital gown together while navigating to the toilet. Each time I stood or moved, blood seemed to run at an alarming rate, as if a faucet had been turned on. I limped back to the bed quickly returning to a position that would alleviate this problem and tried to assemble myself.  Behind me little drops of blood dried on the floor, leaving a trail and reminding me of the events that had passed. Moments later he arrived with the children who sat next to me, in between and at the foot of the bed, chatting and admiring little Abude, snuggling up as we always did on our make shift beds in the villa. I turned to him, hoping for some sign of love and approval, but noticed he was glancing at the floor. He edged closer to the bed and angrily whispered in my ear, “You left drops of blood!”

217 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is horrifying! It is a good thing you had babies before this, or you would have been terrified. I really can’t believe he whispered that to you..

    Liked by 2 people

    March 1, 2016
    • He didnt seem to care no matter what

      Liked by 1 person

      March 1, 2016
      • That’s crazy!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 1, 2016
        • Cut part of my thumb off cooking, why did you do that and anger! Life as we knew it xx

          Liked by 1 person

          March 1, 2016
          • Wow, Lynn! You cut yourself and he was angry? What a hostile living environment!

            Liked by 1 person

            March 1, 2016
          • When I started waking up, he then lost control and each little bit of me changing made him furious. If things did not get exactly his way he was livid. Of course life cannot go your way, the sun does not shine, it rains etc. It got so he hated everything about me!

            Liked by 1 person

            March 1, 2016
          • I’m so sorry to hear that Lynn and so happy you are in a better situation now with your children.

            Liked by 1 person

            March 1, 2016
          • Thanks Antonia!

            Liked by 1 person

            March 1, 2016
  2. I want to say something and call out names but I wouldn’t for your sake!
    Hugs! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    March 1, 2016
  3. One word came to me…but Lynn, I cannot write it, but I think you know what I thought ! Hugs my friend xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    March 1, 2016
  4. God Almighty Lynz, how cold and cruel, if I did not know you better and had been on this journey almost from the beginning I would not believe that anyone could say something so ‘insidious’ and menacing.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2016
    • I told someone yesterday after a comment like yours, that once I cut my thumb while cooking, slicing part of it off, I felt I would faint. I bandaged it up and carried on, later maybe the next day, I told him about it! It was bleeding and quite a mess, no one could miss it but he ignored it. He never asked about anything until then, and his response was angry and asking why I had done that, not been careful! So, it sounds ridiculous when saying it out loud or writing, it sounds like fiction to me now!

      Like

      March 2, 2016
  5. What for me is the worse, is that he coldly and calculatingly kept this sinister side hidden until he had you in position where you could not retaliate. To alienate someone who you profess to love is the worse form of cruelty. Thank goodness you are finally free x x x

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2016
  6. Like someone else said, one word exploded from my mouth when I got to the end of this post, but I can’t print it. It is hard to believe the callous environment. I wonder if most Saudi women come to expect this or if perhaps you were treated more harshly because you were American.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2016
    • Well they are tough, not like us compromising. I mean the average lady I met thought I was an idiot! They go in to marriage getting what they want and asking for many things!

      Like

      March 2, 2016
      • Yeah, but they have cultural norms and safety nets to help them over the troubled waters. You had NO support.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 2, 2016
  7. Kay #

    Heartbreaking…

    Liked by 1 person

    March 6, 2016
  8. If he cared so little, why did he stay with you. It couldn’t have been a comfort!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 5, 2016
    • I wish I knew? It seemed just to have someone to take his anger out on?

      Liked by 1 person

      May 5, 2016
      • How long was he nice after you married?

        Like

        May 5, 2016
        • 5 years!

          Liked by 1 person

          May 5, 2016
          • What happened to change things?

            Liked by 1 person

            May 5, 2016
          • We had not lived together, he went to school in a different town. Then we started living together, then we had two little kids, he got more and more controlling! So, when I had a two year old and baby he started screaming!

            Liked by 1 person

            May 5, 2016
          • Oh, he couldn’t keep up the facade .

            Liked by 1 person

            May 5, 2016
          • I think so, I was shocked and scared and before that he had been a “dream man” agreed to everything, never raised his voice, loved by all! He bought me gifts, went to church with me, came to my concerts and in general was just a stand up guy! So one day he came home after work and blew up over two bottles of dishsoap on the counter. I thought it was me, he then wanted to move near his family, they were mad that we were far away! So, when he bugged me to go, I thought ok this will fix things! Of course each year, then month, then day, then hour, things changed! I had 5 kids within 6 years.

            Liked by 1 person

            May 5, 2016
          • Oh my gosh. What a nightmare. Once they go bad, there’s no turning back.

            Liked by 1 person

            May 5, 2016
          • so true!

            Like

            May 6, 2016
  9. I’m doing some ‘catch up’ on your life. This is so scary. And to think ‘he’ could’ve cared less about you bleeding after the birth and only focused on the fact that you left blood on the floor. He really has/had no heart.
    I gave birth to my twin sons (actually – 43 years ago today!) in Montreal. I didn’t understand French but most of the nurses spoke English. And, of course, Canada is sooo not the Middle East. There were some things that were done differently there – but there you were with EVERYTHING being different. And you, the one who gave birth, relegated to a ‘nothing’… I don’t know how you did it Lynz!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 18, 2016

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