Sunday, January 22, 2012

Living in French

I don’t typically write too much of my most personal stuff here, but if I am brutally honest I started my New Year off with déjà vu.  Actually, backtrack that.  Last year’s holiday season started off with déjà vu.

In November of 2010, I found myself pregnant.  It was kind of a surprise, but a welcome one.  I surprised my husband with the news on Christmas day - a nice present, and certainly a surprise.  A few days before New Year’s Eve there was a little bleeding and I tried not to worry as I know these things happen.  As the days progressed, it was then diagnosed as a tubal pregnancy.  It was not in the uterus where embryos should be.  That day, my doctor informed me I needed to go to the hospital immediately.  So much to my surprise and somewhat reluctantly, I did.  However, it is the right thing to do.  Tubal or ectopic pregnancies can be quite serious.  If not addressed, the tube typically ruptures and the mother can die.

They tried to move it with medication.  I waited for several uneventful days.  Not much happened.  Then ultrasound could not confirm what was happening.  I was a strange case because it seemed whatever was in my tube previously did not pass, but was lost.  Disappeared.  I love physicians, or people from different cultures who do not think before they speak.  The radiologist in the hospital told me "we are very worried dear because we cannot find it".  While I had confidence in my doctor, she was not helping the situation.

There were two hours or so of what do to – a laparoscopic procedure, or just go full out and cut me open.  In the end we went all out.  It was a good thing because as my doctor opened me she said it had ruptured and blood was coming out.  I felt no discomfort or anything, but I lost a tube as a result of the rupture.  I was told I could get pregnant again if I wanted.

While a little disappointed, I was really okay.  These things happen to many many women.  I did not feel completely devastated, as this is life.  C'est la vie.

Fast track to 2011.  November.  Much to my surprise I felt pregnant.  Could it be?  Yes, I was.  It was exciting and creepy all at the same time because it was the same timing as last year.  This time I did not wait until Christmas to tell my husband, as that is what I felt the most bad about in the previous year.  I have no crystal ball, but for sure I would have never wrapped up the pregnancy test had I known last year's outcome.

We were excited, but yet not excessively because we knew a lot could happen and did not want to get anyone excited until we knew for sure everything was ok.  So we agreed to wait to tell our family and friends until I was a little further along.

The good news was the ultrasound showed that things were in the right place this time.  I was relieved about this and the dismissal of a theory from another doctor last year that told me I would have a difficult time getting pregnant because my uterus is a strange shape.  A few weeks later, bleeding started.  I went to my doctor and she advised me to rest and wait.  And so I did, but one day later it was confirmed – a miscarriage.

While somewhat disappointed, again, this is life and we know these things can happen.  The rate of pregnancies that end in miscarriage is around 15% – possibly 20% or more.  So while I am going through this and frustrated that people at work may see me as a slacker for not being there physically (I know stupid, this is my health and I am also working from home the entire time I am on sick leave) I am really okay physically and emotionally.  Fortunately, this has been rather uneventful.  Just a strong case of déjà vu.

However, the irony of life seems to continue to pursue me.  It always does, but really this time was stranger than fiction.  A woman who works for us had not been looking well for a few days. When I asked her if she was okay, she informs me she has a malignant tumor in her abdomen somewhere.  That is shocking and horrible, but yet I am not quick to believe this diagnosis because I know the spectrum of quality healthcare here.  After listening to her story, I wanted to see her medical records.  A tumor, perhaps, malignant based on what she told me there was no way to be sure.  I was prepared to help her find at least proper diagnosis and treatment, and God forbid if it was the worst case scenario, make sure she got home so she could be with her family.

So just a few days ago she came to me with her medical records.  She was upset and started saying she is not sure how she could tell me, she was sorry she lied, etc, etc.  Tell me what?  I notice right away the medical record was awfully thin, just a few pages.  I am frantically searching for a sign, or some off the wall blood count.  As I scroll down the doctor’s report, there, at the bottom of the page I learn she is pregnant.

I did not ask any details, but I am assuming this is a pregnancy out of wedlock.  In the UAE, it is against the law to have a child out of wedlock.  It is illegal for unmarried couples to live together, thus it is illegal for unmarried couples to have sex. This is a Shariah law country.  Do not quote me on this, but I am pretty sure a single mom can live here.  For example if you are here divorced with your child, I believe you are still able to reside here.  I am married and have never faced this possibility before so I am not well read on this law.  I have read that if you are foreign and pregnant, you may marry the father of the unborn child or leave the country before being arrested for fornication.  I do not know what the sentence is.  This is the law. I am not here to say if this is right or wrong.  Some may agree, some may not agree.  These are the laws of the UAE and we must abide by them, and I do happily because I am privileged to live here.

So there I am listening to her, pregnant, as I am having a miscarriage.  The irony of the whole situation is mind-blowing for lack of a better word.  For her to stay here and continue to work would not do her or a future child any good.  No good could come of it.  She would end up in jail, at best.  I am not sure what would happen to the baby.  In the end I paid her full salary and then some.  I made her promise that she would stop working immediately and get on the first plane and go home.   I cannot judge her or be upset.  It is not my place to do so. C'est la vie.  

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