As a family we were all longing and expecting a victorious birth of a son to come into our lives, to satisfy our needs and fulfill our dreams. The child who would bring hope and joy, and give us a purposeful life, as Jesus did for all humanity. The birth of a son into Arabic culture brought with it the expectations of a “savior”, the one who would protect, carry on the family name and provide for our needs.
In the summer of 1979, my mom was expecting to give birth to her sixth child. She was feeling extremely different this time. She was positive that she would have a boy. Her doctor, however, could not confirm her feeling of being pregnant with a boy, even though, Baghdad was the best place for people to have access to modern technology. But still, the sonar device to detect the sex of the fetus had not been invented yet. Wouldn’t it be great for my mom and many other women at that time, to be able to know for sure the gender of their babies previously?
The colors of my mother’s feelings had to stay neutral just as it was for her baby’s clothes colors, all also neutral. Although she had plenty of pink colored clothes, she dreamed of buying clothes in blue colors, just for one time in her life. My mom had to preserve her hopes and the excitement of having a boy to herself only. She also needed to be satisfied and fully prepared to have her sixth daughter.
In the middle of that night, my mother felt it was the time to deliver her baby. My dad hurried to ask our neighbor to meet him at the hospital. They then rented a taxi. When they arrived at the hospital, my mom was taken immediately into the labor and delivery room. The only person who would be allowed to join her was her neighbor. My dad had to wait in the outer corridor.
Every hour of that day felt like a year for my dad while he was waiting anxiously, thinking about my mother’s health condition and what she might bring to him, the first son or the sixth daughter. His level of excitement and fear was interrupted by every sound he heard. The seven hours he waited outside that labor room, forced him to pray and pray and also to promise God that he would do this and that, if He would grant him with a boy. Finally, the smiling face and the excited gestures of our neighbor were enough to release all the emotions my dad had at that time. He could not believe his neighbor saying to him “It is a boy, it is a boy, congratulations, and it is a boy.” Since our neighbor was the first one who brought the good news of having a boy to my dad, she would definitely deserve a very precious gift. My parents later joyfully gave her a golden ring as part consistent with our traditions and customs.
Now the whole family was waiting for the “coming savior “to be born, which in this case was my brother. The joy we had as a family and the preparation my parents had to welcome this child, felt like celebrating Jesus’ birth– the one who would rebuild the family reputation and give honor to his mother. Without him, my mother was not a complete woman. In fact, she would stay in shame for not being able to become pregnant with a boy. Now my father could go to spend some time and have fun with his friends and cousins at the coffee shop with his chin held high, feeling a sense of pride.
For us, the five sisters, we felt safe. Why? Because we had a brother who could protect us. I remember us sitting around my little brother waiting for him to wake up so we could play with him. The sense of joy he brought to our family was beyond any words. At our early age we did not fully understand why everyone was happy, but we felt the burden fall off my parent’s shoulders. They were more joyful to be around and the whole home was more peaceful.
“He is smiling.” “He is yawning.” “Mom, he is hungry” and ‘he wants to eat,”
Mom is yelling from the kitchen. “Girls leave your brother alone. He just had his bath and he needs to sleep.” How could anyone see this most beautiful baby and not be around him all the time? He was chunky and very cute. My mother’s attempts to get us distracted by asking for our help to take care of the household chores was not successful. She was definitely happy for us and wanted to give us our space and time to enjoy being with our brother. However, she was running out of patience. She had to use another method in order for us to listen and complete our chores and get things done. My mother had to pull out her assistant stick and the outcome was helpful to scatter us so that my brother could sleep in peace.