I’m pregnant. That’s the happiest news a woman can get…in normal circumstances. In Gaza, the news that you’re pregnant comes with all the fears, worries and anxieties you can imagine.
I found the news that I am once again pregnant to be a source of concern, not a source of joy. It’s a burden to have to worry about giving birth to a healthy baby in a safe environment; more so because I have to take medication during the entire cycle of my pregnancy. With the siege imposed on Gaza, I’m constantly worrying about the availability of the medicine I need for my health and the health of my baby. Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion by the negative thoughts that invade my mind. How will my pregnancy end? Will something happen to ruin my joy?
When a friend of mine went into labour and was taken by her family to a private clinic, she thought she would get better treatment. Instead the clinic wouldn’t take her in because there was no electricity. She was transferred to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where they also refused to admit her this time because they didn’t have all the equipment. With increasing labour pains and a heightening fear that she would lose her baby, my friend went to Al Shifa Hospital - finally she was admitted and was able to give birth.
The nine months of pregnancy should be one of the most beautiful experiences any woman can have; a time when she enjoys every move her baby makes up until the moment when she holds her child and feels its soft skin for the first time.
But what happened to my friend could happen to me. What would I do if I faced such a terrible situation? What if I were to lose my child? That’s an experience I’ve had before and which I remember to this day with the same bitterness and pain as the day it happened. When you live in Gaza there is always a risk that something will end sadly, painfully and with great loss.
Gaza, February 2008
Najwa Sheikh Ahmed is a Palestine refugee, who lives in Nuseirat camp with her husband and three children. These are her personal stories.