The Joy and Sorrow of Becoming a Baghdad Parent
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
One of NPR's Iraqi staffers sent us a note from Baghdad. His name is Saleem Amer. And his note begins: I'm married, finally, and my wife is pregnant, finally. All my hopes for a rich family life have come together. Or so I thought.
Mr. Amer went on to explain how you prepare for a child in a war zone.
SALEEM AMER: First, I had to find a good pediatrician. So I asked my friends. They have good suggestions, four in fact. So I started looking. In Baghdad, it's not always easy running down people you need to find. After a month of calls, I found one. He was killed a month ago. Then I located another. He had left the country. Another was working in a Sunni clinic. No luck there. I'm a Shia. In the end, I found her, a doctor who only opened her clinic for an hour and a half a day due to the security situation.
When my wife entered her eighth month, the doctor said it was time to decide on a hospital. In Baghdad, we have two good maternity wards. Unfortunately, they are far from my house. They also want a reservation and money up front. If we don't show up on time, we get nothing. But how can I get her to the hospital on time with road blocks, traffic jams, and IEDs peppered throughout my street. At night, the police are supposed to provide an escort for a woman about to give birth. But can I trust them? These are things that I worry about.
People I work with think I'm lucky because I'm about to be a father and have nothing to worry about. I try my best to show this side so I won't have to think about the future. Why would I want to bring an innocent child into a bloody, savage world? I don't. I regret what I did. I got my wife pregnant in Baghdad.
INSKEEP: Saleem Amer's wife is due early this month.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.