Thursday, December 08, 2005

And I think *I* have complications

Yeah, so I'm not saying it doesn't suck to have GD and hypertension and all, but hey: at least I'm not pregnant in Iraq:

The war in Iraq is forcing fearful choices on expectant mothers. Relatively well-off women are opting for Caesarean delivery to avoid the roads at night. After curfew there's even less assurance than there is during the day that Iraqis, who are ordered to stay in their homes after 11 p.m., won't be killed by mistake. The roads are rife with checkpoints, insurgents and jumpy Iraqi and U.S. soldiers. [...]

Most women who can't afford Caesareans opt to spend nights in the hospital waiting for their babies to push out of their wombs, or they induce labor a few days before their due dates. Some wait for the contractions, then call the police. Ambulances stop running at night.

Police Capt. Sabah Ahmed has risked his life for pregnant women who go into labor in the dark.

"Most of the women who call me have limited income," he said, and can't afford operations.

Sometimes he's refused the calls, fearing an insurgent trap. "We are targeted," he said. But he feels guilty, and he always wonders if he left a woman stranded.

Once, as he approached a woman's home in Doura, an insurgent-infested neighborhood in Baghdad, he was stopped at an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint. Beyond the soldiers, the sounds of a gunfight filled the air.

He turned around and called the woman's home to tell her he wouldn't come.

But an 8-year-old girl answered the phone in tears.

"My mother's in pain," she told him.

He changed out of his uniform, got into a civilian car with his partner and took a different route.

As the pregnant woman screamed in pain and fear, he maneuvered through the roads, steering away from the sound of bullets being fired. By 2 a.m. she was at the hospital.

"I risked my life and the life of my colleagues," he said, explaining why he was disciplined afterward. "But the little girl answered" when he'd called.

This is a way of existing that I can't imagine and hope I never experience. What kind of life is that to bring a child into? Or to be a parent in? Funny, but I think if the Bush twins were in similar circumstances there'd be a lot more uproar.