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It's A Boy: War Reporter's Baby Shower In Baghdad

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It's A Boy: War Reporter's Baby Shower In Baghdad


It's A Boy: War Reporter's Baby Shower In Baghdad

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Let's hear, next, about a baby, due to a mother who is covering a war. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro's offers this Reporter's Notebook from Baghdad, on a group of her colleagues and how pregnancy has not kept some from the dangers of working in Iraq.

Unidentified Woman #1: Aww.

Ms. HANNAH ALLAM (Reporter, McClatchy Newspapers): This is beautiful.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #2: Im just going to pass out motherly advice cards. If you're not a mother, just give her any advice you want to give her.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hannah Allam, the veteran McClatchy reporter, is having a baby shower. Her son, Bilal, is due in four months. And those of us who are more used to donning helmets and flak jackets are writing out advice for the new mother on small blue cards.

Unidentified Woman #2: We have pens on the table.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: She isnt the first foreign correspondent this year to be pregnant in Iraq. Deborah Haynes from The Times of London paved the way, giving birth to a boy. Nada Bakri from The New York Times was in her eighth month of pregnancy when she left to give birth a few months ago, also to a boy.

In a room festooned with blue bunting, Hannah reflects on covering a war while pregnant.

Ms. ALLAM: The reactions started to change when my belly got bigger and definitely with the military. I spent most of the first trimester here. I was at the Iranian border, I was on a Chinook. I was on a Blackhawk. No problem. Second I start showing, they took one look at me and said we're not putting you on a Blackhawk.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Despite the legions of women that have covered conflicts, whenever a female war correspondent is profiled the phrase: One of the few women to have made their name as a conflict reporter, constantly creeps in. It creates a false impression that we are the few. Editors these days are as likely to send a female correspondent into combat as a man.

Looking around Hannah Allam's baby shower, there's Liz Sly, the veteran reporter from the L.A. Times; Jane Arraf, who's been in Iraq since before the war and now reports for The Christian Science Monitor; and Leila Fadel from The Washington Post. There are so many others.

Since the war started, dozens of women have been sent to cover this conflict. It's been our choice, but for many of us, home and family have had to be parked at the blast wall gates.

Hannah Allam says she's been criticized for working in a war zone while pregnant.

Ms. ALLAM: Now, yes it's dangerous. Yes, I am responsible for another life, but I don't see how it's that much different than a man who comes here while his wife is pregnant at home. You're still putting a parent at risk. You're still putting your child's future at risk.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Of course, Iraqi women give birth here everyday, and that has its own challenges and difficulties. But Leila says a special sisterhood developed among women correspondents here.

Ms. LEILA FADEL (Correspondent, The Washington Post): You sort of bonded over being married to your job. And it's really an exciting thing to be able to celebrate somebody who's been able to, not only be an excellent war correspondent but also, you know, married to a really wonderful person and is about to have her baby. And five months pregnant, she's still coming here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And she says she thinks it's important for Hannah's son to know what his mother did before he was born.

Ms. FADEL: I threw this baby shower for her because it's been a part of her life since 2003 as a person. So now she's going to have this memory for her son.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As she looks around the room, Hannah gets teary eyed.

Ms. ALLAM: I hope to come back. Everybody keeps asking me, when are you going to come back, are you going to come back? And I say, see you in a year.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ALLAM: Don't tell my husband that, though.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Baghdad.

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