Saudi Arabia: Follow up from Interview with Aisha

Earlier this past week American Bedu posted an interview with Aisha, an American woman who is married to a Saudi man.  There have been a number of comments and a lot of speculation of Aisha and her wish that her marriage receive approval from the Saudi Government so that she and her husband may live together legally as husband and wife in Saudi Arabia.  Although there was no obligation on the part of Aisha to candidly address comments which speculated on her personal life, she willingly responded.  We decided, through email correspondence, that I would post Aisha’s responses as a second follow-up post since some of the queries have touched upon issues which are better responded independently than within the comments section of the original post.  I want to thank Aisha again for the opportunity to initially interview her and for her taking the time to prepare all of her responses.

  1. Cookie, on December 12, 2010 at 4:17 am said:

MashaAllah I loved this interview. I can relate and understand Sister Aisha in so many ways, and pray she cam finally have her marriage approved by Saudi government and reunite entire family under one roof.

I love the teaching natural birthing method. When I had my older kids I was young and uninformed so right at the start of labor I was medicated heavily. Thank you Carol for this informative interview, I would love to learn more about natural birthing method

Salam Alaikum, Cookie,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article.  Jzk for your duas, may Allah bless you and your family as well, ameen.

I want to clarify that my husband and I are “under one roof.”  Although we have had periods of time in which we were living separately; he came to live with us in Egypt for a few years and we have been in and out of Saudi on our own visas (just not under his direct sponsorship as “spouse”).  So we are living our lives, alhamdulelah, but we’d prefer to have the residence iqama and peace of mind that I won’t have to leave Saudi unless we want to leave.  Not to mention it is a waste to maintain a home in both places while one sits vacant most of the time.

Unfortunately, not having quality childbirth education leaves us in the hands of the medically managed birth process which brings all sorts of problems and unnecessary risks and suffering.  Doctors and medical interventions have their place and save lives in the rare instance of complications and I’m grateful for them; however, they are unnecessary in the majority of cases and greatly over used.  For more information, I’d like to invite you to view my blog about natural birth.

All the best,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Sandy, on December 12, 2010 at 6:53 am said:

I do think we need more natural childbirth education here- and much of your advice it good. I would only add I would not marry a man who is already married. There are a multitude of complications that can come with that (besides all the moral issues) Nor would I “marry” without the permission first unless willing to live outside the kingdom. I don’t believe there is a “set” list of conditions a marriage to foreigner can meet- so better safe than sorry.

Asalam Alaikum, Sandy,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article.

I am working hard and hope to be a driving force for quality childbirth education throughout the Middle East and Africa, insha’Allah.

I also would not recommend marrying as a second wife.  Not because I disagree with it, but because it is difficult in current societies (even Islamic ones).  I didn’t realize that at the time but also can’t say that I regret anything that has occurred in my life.  I have faith in Allah’s plan and truly believe that what is allowed in our lives is by HIS guidance and is always best for us, even if we don’t understand it.

I am thankful for everything, regardless of what people think or how it seems from the worldly perspective, alhamdulelah.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)


Md. Azad Ali Shah, on December 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm said:

Of course, I left America seeking something different. I wanted to bring my children to a society where open, non-married relationships are not accepted and marriage is socially valued. I wanted a society with Islam as its base since I feel that a certain level of moral standard has been lost in American society.

I wear niqab by choice and this move was my choice; I was seeking this change. With all of that in mind I don’t feel there was any really big shock or adjustments.


Aslamu ALeikum Sis Aisha,

May Allah grace you and solves ur marriage approval issue. My dua with u always.

Your above statement really touches me. Some curse Islam becoz of such morality and mock at Muslims. Some people like you appreciate such culture and morality in society and even leave America in search of such culture. I know today’s Muslim’s behaviours are also responsible for negative image of Islam n Muslims.

Its also so nice to hear that many like you respect the value of marriage Islam gives and majority Muslims still respect it. In fact its not only Quran but Bible also says virtually all the teachings of Islam but people ignore or fail to follow.

Also as a non-Arab,I am happy to know the reality of Saudi rather than biased media which shows only negative side only.

In between, I am against certain things in Saudi like not allowing women to drive when women were on horses during prophet SAW’s time, not recognizing marriage when Islam give freedom to choose partner, difficulty in movement. But I realise that Saudi or any Arab country is not really hell for women as spread by media. Saudi also has negative sides just like any other country in the world has.

After all negative things run faster than positive n good things. People enjoy with negative things and tend to ignore positive things.

Lack of participants in such threads shows their true colour. They are so busy in other Islam/Muslim bashing topics. Some even cant sleep if they do not use some degrading words against Islam/Muslim before going to bed heheh

Asalam Alaikum, Md. Azad Ali Shah,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article.  Jzk for your duas and may Allah also bless and keep you and your family, ameen.

It is so nice to hear from someone who understands where I’m coming from.  J  I’m glad that you were able to see the positives in my message.  I don’t expect everyone to understand or agree with my views, and that’s fine.  I’m all for diversity and don’t judge anyone based on what’s right for me.  I believe that everyone has a right to live their life by what’s right for them.

As with any society, American, European, Saudi, Egyptian, or any where else in the world, there are pros and cons.  To most looking at Saudi from the outside, woman not being able to drive is a con, while I personally don’t mind.  If you had asked me my perception of that ten years ago, I’d have been appalled.  But in reality, I find that I like my husband driving me everywhere.  Even back in the States, where I did drive, I preferred my husband to accompany me and never drove if he was in the car with me.

Having the freedom to drive actually meant that I did most of the household running and chores on my own.  I worked, I took the kids to school/doctors/outings/etc, I did the shopping/banking/etc.  Even if my exhusband were available, he’d sit home while I lugged all the children to the grocery store/bank/etc. alone, and lonely, and wishing he’d come with me.

The difference here is that it is a given, my husband will always accompany me, and I like it.  I’m fortunate that my husband is supportive and lovingly makes time and takes care of this responsibility.  I’d feel entirely different if he were not supportive or treated it as a “hassle” or was unable to take me where I need/want to go.  I’m fortunate in this regard and I appreciate him so much for his loving support.

Of course many families in Saudi hire a driver to transport the family.  These women and families have as much freedom of mobility as any American family where the woman drives (maybe even more because even the kids have mobility without upsetting the schedule of either parent).  That too has its pros and cons.

If ever our schedules got so busy that my husband just couldn’t keep up, I suppose we’d have to hire a driver.  I really hope that it doesn’t get to that because I know if I had a driver I’d be doing everything alone as my husband and I went off running in our separate directions.  That’s just life, but when you are dependent on each other in this way, you stay close and focused and to some extent it is a built-in bond of family and marriage that isn’t recognized or appreciated.

I think anything in life has its good and bad, all depending on your perspective.  Is your glass half empty or half full?  One thing I love about Islam is that it teaches us to work hard and do our best but also to realize that results are left to Allah.  I don’t question the outcome of what’s done.  I cannot change the past and trust that if it happened it was Allah’s will and I accept it as best for me (even what seems a hardship may be a force that helps me grow and molds and shapes a better future).  In all things there is good and reason to say, “Alhamdulelah!

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Lynn, on December 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm said:

Thank you for this interview. As a mother, the burning question I have is related to your 5 older children. How did they/are they adjusting to all these sudden changes that you made in their lives? How did their father(s) feel about you taking them to live so far away? What about the rest of their family? What is your relationship like with your parents/family? How did they feel about you going off on vacation to meet a stranger and never coming back?

’4. Be cautious about leaving your children alone with maids or drivers. These workers usually come from third-world countries and do not necessarily have the same moral standards, nor care for children that you have; whether it stems from ignorance or mal intent’

All I can say to this is Oh.My.God!

Asalam Alaikum, Lynn,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article and to comment.  I appreciate your concern and questions and am happy to respond.

My children are doing well, thanks for asking.  At the time of our move the oldest had barely turned eleven.  I think their young ages made it easier to adjust than had we moved later.

I didn’t tell of my past marriage in the interview and prefer not to get into it here.  I will say that the US family court gave full permission for our relocation based on the mediators’ reports of how well bonded the children and I were and their full confidence of my ability to care for them.  In fact the mediators’ recommendations were for the children to never have contact with their biological father again. I think this also helps to answer the concern about how their father felt about our move.

My children now have a stable home life with a loving father.  My Saudi husband is wonderful with them and I couldn’t ask for a kinder, more patient, loving man to fulfill this role in their lives.  The children took to him immediately and we’ve been fortunate to never have had to deal with the many step-parent issues that other families have faced.  Our eight children are well-adjusted and one family; never is the word “step, or half” used when discussing our relations to one another.

I never lived close to my extended family in the States.  I grew up in Michigan and spent the majority of my adult life in California.  I rarely saw my extended family unless I made a trip to Michigan, which might have occurred once every six years.

What’s nice is that my mother joined us in Egypt after I’d been there a year.  At first she was afraid of my moving overseas, but when she saw how happy the children and I were she decided to come.  I never expected her to accept Islam, but after living with us for a few months and seeing how peaceful, bonded, and happy we were she did her own investigations and came to Islam as well, alhamdulelah.  She now plays an important role in the children’s daily lives and is an immense help to me with the children.  I love having her and she thoroughly enjoys her grandchildren.  My ex-husband was never welcoming to my mother and saw her as the stereotypical “mother-in-law,” where my Saudi husband loves and encourages her involvement.  This is another blessing of Islam which puts great emphasis on family ties.  It’s all about perspective.  J

As for my father, he still lives in Michigan and visits us every year or we visit him in Michigan.  I actually see him more now than I did when I lived in California.  He’s also seen the immense calm and family bond we have and is seriously considering moving to Saudi to live with us (which would be nice to have both of my parents living with me since they divorced when I was nine).  I feel fortunate to have my husband’s encouragement in regards to my parents and am happy to be able to support them as they age as they supported me growing up.

Also, I did not, “go on vacation and never come back.”  My family already knew I was thinking of moving to Egypt before I ever met my husband.  When I traveled to Egypt my father was recently widowed and visiting me in California.  He fully supported the trip and stayed with my children for the week I was away.  He was relieved to know that I was making a visit before moving to check it out and ensure it was a place I could manage living with my children.  He had many conversations with my husband and felt secure in knowing that I had someone he trusted to show me around.  It wasn’t until four months later that I made the move with the children.

As for the maids/drivers, it’s just important to realize that they come from different customs and backgrounds from your own.  They come to Saudi to work and live in private homes.  These are not people who put in their days’ work and go home to their own family at the end of the day.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for them emotionally to be separated from their own families (women often leaving their own young children behind in their own countries) to live in servitude to yours.  There can be jealousy and contempt as they see your lifestyle in comparison to the poverty from which they come.  Many are grateful for the opportunity to work, others become spiteful and angry.

Obviously, regardless of your location, the same caution would hold true for any childcare worker that comes in contact with your children, be it their school, nursery, school bus driver, etc.  The difference in the States is that these workers are usually monitored with background checks and training and your children are in groups of children and not usually alone with them.  Also they are typically coming from the same culture as yours.  Even so, we all know there are abuse and horrors with childcare workers of every nation, even with all this precaution.

Many of the foreign servant workers in Saudi are excellent with children and a loving and supportive addition to your family.  But it’s naïve to ignore the fact that yours is NOT their family and although you can do your best to give them the best living conditions, they will naturally always feel a sense of inferiority and longing to be with their own family.

Additionally, like anyone working with children, they should be trained and monitored and since they are residing in your home it’s left up to you to do that.  As Americans we aren’t used to this set up so I was just cautioning people who may be considering coming here to keep that in mind.

Personally I choose not to employ the help of such workers as I just don’t feel I could keep a servant in my home 24/7 and feel good about it (from a humane perspective).

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

susanne430, on December 12, 2010 at 7:41 pm said:

Interesting interview. Thank you for sharing this.

I think her fourth point sounds like good advice which should be given about ANY near-stranger whether or not they are one of those possibly ignorant or purposefully immoral third-world people. I’ve heard stories of bad Muslims in Saudi who actually rape little boys.

Asalam Alaikum, Susanne,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article.

Sadly, there are tons of horror stories in relation to servant workers, regardless of their religion (many of these workers are not Muslim, some are).  But sadder still is that we fail to see their plight.  I surely wouldn’t want to be reduced to living in servitude to someone else on a basically 24/7 basis.  As I stated above, I can’t imagine how this might affect someone on an emotional level.

It’s also important to note that horror sells and spreads like fire.  We hear a lot of bad stories but rarely the good.  This is true of any topic in any country.  Please know that many are very good with the family and the children.

The point I was trying to make is that you can’t just assume they have the same standards of care or concern for your children that you do.  As with anyone you entrust with your children, take caution, and in this case, extra caution, as the servant/family relationship is a tricky one (see my response to Lynn, above).

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Coolred38, on December 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm said:

” I wanted to bring my children to a society where open, non-married relationships are not accepted and marriage is socially valued. I wanted a society with Islam as its base since I feel that a certain level of moral standard has been lost in American society”

And instead you in up in a country that is so racist and proud of its arab blood that you have to fight to get your marriage recognized under the law simply because they dont readily accept their nationals marrying foreigners. I dont understand how you imagined Saudi as being more moral than America…or anywhere else, when your own marriage isnt recognized due to racism. That isn’t very Islamic at all.

” Be cautious about leaving your children alone with maids or drivers. These workers usually come from third-world countries and do not necessarily have the same moral standards, nor care for children that you have; whether it stems from ignorance or mal intent”

That was a rather harsh statement to make. You just relegated an entire population of people to child abusers…imagine they manage to raise their own children in their own chountry just fine.

You should be cautious with your children anytime anywhere with anyone….that includes within your own house with your own family….that was just a terrible comment to make in my opinion.

“A man in this situation is likely to tolerate certain behaviors in a girlfriend that he would not accept in a wife. This either means he won’t commit to his girlfriend or he will try to force her to change after they get married”

Tolerate certain behaviors…oh my…he is ignoring his own culture and relgion by simply having a girlfriend…and yet he is tolerating HER behavior up until he decides to either cast her aside or make her his wife…and then those once tolerated behaviors are gone baby. Nice.

“She should also be prepared to move to Saudi, even if he says he plans to stay in the States.”

Now you make him sound like a liar…listen to what he promises but always expect him to break that promise and do what he pleases eventually. Nice.

I would read this post and run a mile from the nearest Saudi…seriously….it was a horrible look into what to expect from a Saudi man and you make it sound all pretty and lovely somehow.

Nice trick.

Asalam Alaikum, Coolred,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article and to comment.  I understand your confusion and apologize if I appear ambivalent.

I agree, it’s not Islamic to govern marriage based on race or nationality.  In fact it’s quite the opposite of what was taught by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), who married from many different cultures and tribes.

However, I do understand regulating borders, which is more the issue.  The same is true of the United States.  Think of it this way, if an American marries a foreigner in another country he/she cannot just waltz back home with their new bride/groom on their arm and set up house.  They have to apply to the American Immigration System for a visa and jump through a considerable amount of “hoops” to gain permission to move their foreign wife/husband into the country.  This permission can take years and may be denied altogether.  The same thing applies to my case.

It’s not that the Saudi government doesn’t recognize the marriage; they do, otherwise my sons would not have been issued Saudi citizenship and my husband would be under scrutiny for having children out of wedlock.  We have a legal marriage that is recognized by both of our governments.  That does not mean that these governments have to allow the foreign spouse to reside within their borders.  There is a process for this and we are doing our best to gain the proper permission.

Our issue is the process for applying for a foreign wife to live in the Kingdom and our not following the steps in the right order.  This is our fault and we are living with the consequences.  With time and due process we are praying that the situation will be resolved.

My comment about the morality of American society has to do with the acceptance of relationship outside of marital commitment.  Of vivid memory and concern for me was something that struck me as I drove by a high school just before leaving for Egypt.  School had just let out and there were teens milling around waiting for buses and rides home.  Many of these were teen couples who were displaying outward sexual affection.  Many of them had their hands in the back pockets of their partner, were French kissing on the sidewalk, standing very close and swaying as if to their own music while gazing intimately into each others eyes, etc.  As I drove by I felt saddened by my own society.  I personally don’t feel that this behavior is acceptable for unmarried persons, let alone teens.  The fact that these kids felt perfectly comfortable to openly display this type of affection is concerning.  It is a reflection of the morality of the society and it is not the environment that I want to raise my children in.

That is not to say that Saudi is a perfect environment either.  Like anywhere, it has its good/bad.  In fact I can’t say that anyplace is perfect.  Hence, this is one example of ambivalence.  But I can say that when I consider the bigger picture, I prefer to live where my religion of choice is the norm and there is a unity of religious values at the base of the society.

Thank you for pointing out how my comment about maids and drivers was unfair and biased.  I did not intend it that way.  Please read my replies to the two comments above yours for clarification.  I am not saying that the people who work in these professions are child abusers but I am saying be careful with your children.  You’re absolutely right, with anyone, even your own family!  My comment was made to raise the awareness of future expats who may be considering life in the Kingdom where servants are the norm.  American’s just don’t have much exposure or experience with the complexities of the working relationship and I felt it worth noting.  I apologize if I offended anyone.  Again, read my further explanation in the previous two responses.

I totally agree with the satire of “nice” regarding Saudi men who date while in the States and then dump the girl or change his attitudes towards her after he marries her.  This is a sad occurrence, but it does happen, especially with young Saudi students studying abroad.  The point is that the American girl doesn’t even realize that he shouldn’t be dating in the first place.  She is clueless that dating is likely unacceptable to his family and in his culture.  She doesn’t understand that his doing so says something about his character that wouldn’t apply to an American dating.  He’s likely to have his own deep rooted regrets for doing it and may be unable to resolve the inner conflict it brings.  I’m not defending his behavior; I’m warning her.  In her culture it’s normal to date, in his it isn’t.  If he’s doing it, beware!  I would be cautious in trusting that particular Saudi.

As for the warning about him changing his mind about returning to Saudi, it’s not necessarily that he’s lying.  Things change.  He could be totally sincere about wanting to stay in the States but be denied residence by the US government; his parents could become ill and he may feel obligated to return to care for them; he may become ill and unable to pay for medical treatment and return to Saudi where it’s free; he could be offered a job opportunity that’s just too good to pass up, etc.  Just be aware that any person living away from “home” may eventually want to go back (her included).  Consider where your potential spouse comes from, whether another state or country…would you be comfortable visiting or living there?   If so, great, go for it…if not, think twice and use caution.  It’s a general word of advice, not an accusation of anyone being a liar.

If you’re not comfortable with some of the inherent risks that come from marrying someone from a distant land with different cultural upbringing than your own, you should run!  Each one of us has to make up our own minds and deserves the opportunity to assess the pros and cons, of which there are many in any relationship.

It’s not my intention to “trick” anyone.  Marrying is a complicated matter and even more so across cultures, borders, and religions.  I think the ambivalence of my comments comes from my recognition that it may not be for everyone.  My goal was to answer as honestly as I could and not through rose colored glasses.  I was merely attempting to point out things that a foreign woman may not realize.  I know of many cases where the woman was not prepared for the cultural issues of a “mixed marriage” and the husband is as I describe in my interview.  At the same time, I want to show that it isn’t always like that and there are plenty of happy Saudi/Westerner marriages.  It’d be unfair to show it as all good or all bad.  Marriage to anyone is a risk…marriage to someone of foreign background ups the ante.

Personally, I’m very grateful that my own husband is extremely supportive, kind, and generous.  But I have to acknowledge that because of social structure as well as my own language barrier, I am very dependent on him in the Kingdom.  My experience living here would be quite a different experience for me if he weren’t so good to me.  Also, I had a very bad experience with a non-Saudi husband, so it’s not about the nationality but the person.

I pray the best for all marriages, and only intended to answer the questions asked in a way that would help a person make decisions with their eyes wide open, regardless of their situation.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Coolred38, on December 12, 2010 at 7:56 pm said:

“why buy the cow if the milk is free?”

In the same sentence you said dont have intimate contact with him and he is not likely to go there because his religion forbids it…but on the other you use that quaint little phrase…meaning…why would he marry you or take you serious if your giving him “milk” for free. Which means…he went there…and yet now he is looking at you as if your just a cow that gave him free milk. Sweet!

So she may be a cow but he certainly is a dog.

Asalam Alaikum, again, Coolred,

Totally agree, “…she may be the cow but he certainly is a dog.”  This is true of all men who take this attitude, regardless of nationality!  I don’t know where/how/why it came about that women are more harshly judged for their sexual morality than men, but this is the case the world over.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Lynn, on December 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm said:

‘She should also be prepared to move to Saudi…Or worse yet, he dies and she or her children are left under the “guardianship” of one of his male relatives!’

Aisha, I forgot to ask, how have you prepared for the worst?

Salam Alaikum, again, Lynn,

Great question!  Firstly, I have five sons, alhamdulelah.  The oldest isn’t that far from “legal” age.  My “guardianship” (a system which I never stated I agree with) and that of my younger children would fall to my own son, not my husband’s brothers.  Even so, I fortunately don’t think that my husband’s brothers would be of concern.  (But you never know.)

I do know of women (two in particular) who had very good Saudi marriages but ended up under the guardianship of their male in-laws who were horrible.  That’s why I felt it was worth mention.

I totally trust my husband but in response to your question I’ll comment that another blessing of my being here under my own visa and not under my husband is that I am not restricted as most women here are.  What I mean is that I can leave without my husband’s “permission” since I’m not here “under” him.  Also, for peace of mind, he has also given me a pre-signed, written exit card for each of our children so that I can leave at any time, even without his knowledge.

There is change on the horizon however, as new Saudi laws applying to foreign wives require the Saudi man to sign a release stating that by marrying a foreigner he agrees to let her leave any time she wants and to take any children of the marriage with her.  This is a huge step, but only applies to marriages taking place after the law went into affect.  However, it’s a big peace of mind for those considering marrying a Saudi.

Additionally, although my Saudi husband financially supports the children and I 100%, I do have my own source of income and investment.  Even if something happened to him or between us, I wouldn’t be destitute or relying on him or his family for support, insha’Allah.

I hope that answers your question.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Sandy, on December 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm said:

My concern would be, how will family life change if wife number one decides to resume a normal marriage with her husband? It would be hard to go from full-time to half.

Asalam Alaikum, Sandy,

Another very good question!  To clarify, yes, I married into a polygamous relationship.  People can agree or disagree with this until the end of time, but it is allowed in Islam and I am Muslim; we aren’t going to change that.  In my case, what is done is done, so I’d prefer not to start a polygamy debate on Carol’s boards.

When we married the vision was for me to join his family and I was looking forward to the benefits of having a co-wife and additional siblings for my children.  Obviously, it didn’t work out.

My husband expected a period of adjustment but did not expect to lose his first wife and children.  She had been aware for several years that he intended to bring in a second wife.  I’m saddened that she chose not to continue the relationship, but I couldn’t have foreseen that.

He’s been patient in hopes that she may change her mind, but at this time they live totally separate lives (by her decision).  In essence, they are virtually divorced, just not legally.  In fact a legal divorce has been discussed and is imminent and probably not too far off.  (Yes, I feel bad about this, but again, I cannot undo what’s passed, which is one reason that I said in another comment that I would not recommend marrying as a second wife.)

However, if she did choose reconciliation, we’d adjust, insha’Allah.  Any change in life circumstances can be difficult, especially if we did not initiate the change.  This could be loss of a job or loved one, introduction (or reintroduction) of a wife into a polygamous marriage, infidelity, divorce, etc.  However, when such changes come our way it’s much easier when there is faith and trust in Allah.

To answer your question, I pray that I would accept Allah’s decree for my life and trust that it would be best for all parties involved.  Only time can tell what is to come.  May Allah not burden us with more than we can bear and may HE make it easy on us all..ameen.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

OnigiriFB, on December 12, 2010 at 8:22 pm said:

When I first read this interview my first question was actually (after reading the part about having 5 children) was she Mormon. Most Americans nowadays do not have more than 2.5 children or less unlike Mormons, raised in the Mormon corridor (Idaho, Utah, Arizona Nevada) who tend to have a LOT of children because they are taught that it’s the woman’s “job” to be a mother and a adherents “job” to “be fruitful and multiply”.

If the interviewee was a Mormon then it’s common in the church classes mandatory for young girls (beehives 12-15?) watch a “inspirational” video about Johnny and his six cow wife. It tells a tale of a young pacific islander who wishes to marry someone but due to custom must first provide proof that he is serious and able to provide. So he “purchases” a wife and she is forever known as the six cow wife because it was the highest anyone had ever known. So many Mormon girls grow up with idea that they should also be six cow wives. (Sorry the whole thing made me want to yak.) Again another similarity with Saudi Muslim/Islam.

Asalam Alaikum, OnigiriFB,

No, I was not Mormon.  I was non-denominational Christian.   I happen to love being pregnant, having babies, and being a mom.

I don’t know anything about the Mormon religion so I cannot comment any further.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Aafke-Art, on December 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm said:

It’s high time the world becomes more female orientated.
Image how great it would be if a woman could decide that she will not marry the guy who so easily gave her what she wanted, (and after she promised him the world)
And then after she took advantage of him, used him for her pleasure, she would refuse his hopes to marry her but dump him because he was nothing but a slut.

It could so easily have been the other way around… If only they hadn’t changed female goddesses for male gods…

Asalam Alaikum, Aafke-Art,

LOL…I’m sure there are a few women just like you described.  J  In reality, we all know that human nature just doesn’t usually go that way.  I’m not a feminist but appreciate your comments.  J

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

occupiedbrain, on December 12, 2010 at 11:45 pm said:


I hope things work out for you, really. Though I’m not optimistic about the whole thing, Inshallah it will work out.

I’m not planning on marrying a Saudi, which is why I see myself potentially going through the hurdles you’re facing right now.


Asalam Alaikum, Occupied Brain,

Thank you for your well wishes.  Although I pray for a change of status in regards to my visa, I accept that things are the way they are right now for a reason.  When it’s time, I will have the spousal visa, insha’Allah.  J

I didn’t understand your second comment.  Did you mean you ARE or ARE NOT planning on marrying a Saudi?  If not, I don’t understand why you’d face the same hurdles?  If you meant that you ARE…learn from my situation and make sure he has the marriage permission in hand FIRST!

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

lark, on December 13, 2010 at 2:28 am said:

“He also has four children with his first wife ranging from twenty-eight to fourteen years old. However, I’ve never met them, as he is unfortunately estranged from his wife and children.”

There is a lot here to have misgivings about.

Is he divorced? ‘Estranged’ may mean they are still married, and new wife is number two.

I wonder what the new wife doesn’t know about the old wife.

I wonder if the arrival of new wife threw old wife and her children into poverty or shameful circumstances, and that accounts for those relatives who are less than warm and welcoming to the new wife.

Is it moral for new wife to bring 8 children into a marriage with a man who already has 4? It doesn’t seem fair to the needs of those 4 children.

I wonder what his real responsibilities are, and if he is living up to them.

Asalam Alaikum, Lark,

As I noted in a prior comment, “estranged” does not mean divorced.  You’re correct, I am a second wife.

I can understand your concerns about new wife not knowing about old wife, etc.  Honestly, I don’t feel that’s a concern now.  We’ve been married close to five years so I pretty much understand the entire situation and know my husband well in terms of his personality, character, and marriage to me.

The first wife has her home, car, maid, driver, private schools, etc.  Although not her choice to be in polygamy, it is her choice to stay or leave the relationship.  Sadly, yet understandably, she has chosen to leave.  My husband did not expect this result, therefore I couldn’t have known ahead of time the outcome.

Yes, my being a second wife is the reason that some of the female relatives in his family do not accept me.  I can understand this.  However, others are extremely accommodating.  It’s not my desire to cause further fitnah (conflict) so I follow their lead and stay away from those who are uncomfortable with my presence.  Time heals all wounds, and I hope that eventually things will be better and Allah knows best.

I suppose we all have our own measure of morality based on whatever our yardstick is (culture, upbringing, experiences, media, religion, etc.).  You can judge me as you like but in the end it’s only Allah to whom I’ll answer.  HE is the ALL KNOWER and sees all things.  I pray for HIS guidance and mercy and Allah knows best.

The same goes for judgment of my husband’s fulfillment of his obligations.  He’s aware of his duties and Islam is his measure.  I pray he too is guided and may Allah have mercy on us all.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Sandy, on December 13, 2010 at 8:11 am said:

I also wonder if the first wife is also a relative. He is still married to her. An “estranged wife” is not an ex-wife, unless she mispoke. It’s hard for me to get positively caught up in stories when women knowingly marry an already married man.

Asalam Alaikum, Sandy,

No she is not a relative.  He did not divorce because he hoped that they could reconcile.  She always knew he wanted polygamy and he expected that she would adjust.  He also respected and valued the second marriage to me and was not willing to dump the new commitments he had made.

It was his intention to fulfill both marital commitments.  But we all know you cannot force someone to accept polygamy nor to stay in a marriage they are unhappy in.  I’ve said before that I am saddened by the outcome for his first family and thus would not recommend polygamy to others (unless they are already close with the first wife and it’s by mutual invitation into the family).

I can understand your feelings towards polygamy and those who choose to enter it.  I am not asking anyone to understand or change their views on my account.  I do hope that this does not discount for you the important work of promoting natural birth in the Middle East and Africa.  There is more to my story and to each person than any one facet of their life that you may disagree with.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

  1. Aafke-Art, on December 13, 2010 at 11:00 am said:

I am worried about that too. That’s why I couldn’t get myself to write something like ”I hope your problems get resolved soon”.
If she is wife #2, and wife #1 is still around, and especially if she is a cousin, she is much better off living abroad. And I think the children will be better off anywhere else as in KSA in any case, especially educationwise.
It will not be the first story we hear of a Saudi man who is ”estranged” from his first wife but in reality is nothing of the kind.

And isn’t it very dangerous to meet up with your husband if you are not officially married in Saudi Arabia?
I mean dangerous for the foreign woman.

I don’t think that man is being very careful or protecting of her. First marrying her her as a second wife, then marrying her before he got official approval, and now exposing her to danger every time they meet in KSA.
Very worrying.

Salam Alaikum, again, Aafke-Art,

You could be right.  Maybe I am better off away.  That could be the reason Allah has not opened the door to an easy visa.  I’ve always said, if I can’t get the visa, there must be a reason.  When it’s time, it will come, insha’Allah.  I’m blessed to have work that allows me to enter but maybe that’s as good as it gets.  I pray for more, but Allah knows best and I accept what comes of it.

As for education, my children are in California public school via a virtual academy charter school.  They have teachers online and are studying the same as if they had stayed in California.  At the end of high school they receive the same California public school diploma as if they had never left.

I too have heard of stories where the second wife marries being told that he is estranged from the first to later find out that is not the case.  I assure you that my husband did not lie to me.  I married full well knowing he had a first wife and in fact with the intent of being very involved with her as with him.  I should have had more contact with her prior and not married in haste, however, everything happens for a reason.  I can’t go back and can’t change what’s passed.

Once again, my marriage is legal and recognized.  What we’re lacking is residence visa based on marriage.  If there were issues with the legality of the marriage itself my sons would not have citizenship, my husband would have faced penalties when trying to register their births and citizenships, and I would have faced legal issues when I had the first Saudi baby in the hospital setting (where unmarried births are reported to authorities and legal consequences follow).

I appreciate your concerns and hope I’ve addressed them.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

  1. radha, on December 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm said:

hope you get the marriage recognized, i’d be worried too if it were rejected so many times, i’d try to get to meet the prince and make sure he hears of this case. The officials are usually lax and unless you have some wasta your case will be bypassed.
i don’t condone corruption but if you want your family together i’d try and see if someone knows someone who can get this approved.

There are great risks when your marriage is not approved and you move in adn out adn have kids with a man the govt does not recognize as your spouse in saudi. I’m sure you are prepared and all but do be careful.

I think she means divorced when she means estranged…

I hope to god her spouse has her protected in case of eventualities, with so many kids and no approval etc.,

hope you get what you want – no one should have to fight with the govt for something so personal as a marriage, it’s the pits ..

Salam Alaikum, Radha,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article.  I’ve heard of many cases like mine where the marriage permission was denied and finally (like seven times later) it gets approved.  I think you’re right about getting an audience with the prince.  My husband tried that.  Maybe it’s my time to try.  As for wasta…we don’t know anyone that has enough influence to help in that way and we are not going to “pay” for it.

Thank you for your concerns.  The good news is that I do have legal visa and business here on my own.  It’s just not a permanent residence so I have to come and go.  But we are married legally as I’ve mentioned in other responses so it’s just a matter of time before things are settled.  I do wish there were a better way to get it done.

I have addressed the “estranged” issue in the posts above.

I also mentioned about having my own income/assets and documents for freedom of movement out of Saudi should anything happen to my husband.  Again, thanks for the comment and concern.

There are so many women in the same situation, having married before permission.  Many got it later, others still try, and others yet give up and live elsewhere.  May Allah make it easy for us all.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

radha, on December 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm said:

and best of luck onthe teachng, i think every place should encourage natural childbirth, as long as a oBGYN is in around in case of complications. It’s safer long term.
I think there should be more emphasis on a healthy lifestyle all the time and especially during the 10 months. you can’t ignore health for the pregnancy adn expect a perfect natural birth. education is the key, i hopw you achieve it nad help a lot of women suffering needlessly without the education.

Salam Alaikum, again, Radha,

Thank you for your supportive comments.  I’m so amazed at the doors Allah has opened for me in Egypt and Saudi in just a short time in regards to my work.  I pray it continues to be blessed and I am able to reach a multitude of women and change the culture of birth in the Middle East, one baby at a time.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Jenna, on December 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm said:

Wow so many similar thoughts that I also wanted to share were posted before me! How can that man, if he truly loves you and wants to protect you, think it is OK for you to move yourself and all 5 of your kids by yourselves to Egypt. Then now you must shuttle back and forth between Egypt and KSA. He is definately already married and I question how estranged he is.

I am sorry about the harsh comments when you were only looking to share your story and your love of Islam and fighting for an ideal you have is admirable but this man is raising some serious red flags. In fact it reminds me of my fiance of 5 years, a Turk who brought me back to the US with him and gave me this whole song and dance that I swallowed hook line and sinker while his OTHER american wife and child were literally a 20 minute drive away. He also left me to fend for myself and bare the brunt of my relocation he was only kinda of there. The similarties in your story are striking.

Salam Alaikum, Jenna,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article and share bits of your own story.

First of all I had planned to move to Egypt before I ever knew him.  He just helped me and made it so much easier to do so.  For the first two years he was back and forth between his first wife and I.  He was not “estranged” at first and I was well aware of her and she of me and he never led me on.  I knew this was polygamy and accepted it.

When things didn’t work out with the first wife he moved to Egypt full time with me.   We were there together for two years before he got a job offer in Saudi that he couldn’t pass up.  That’s when I got my business visa to come to Saudi to spread my work there and be with him.

The differences in our stories is that your husband lied to you, mine did not.  I hope that helps to clarify things.

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Aj, on December 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm said:

Interesting post. As coolred and others point out, by reading between the lines one gets a pretty good picture of the potential pitfalls of marrying (trying to marry?) a Saudi man. This is very good information. I might raise the question; is it ok that such a society exists for those who want to live that way? Is the problem for Saudi women that they are not free to choose, unlike Americans who can? It just occurred to me how funny the situation is; Saudi women who want to leave can’t and American women are trying to come and can’t. Quite a government! If the Saudi govt had a more open attitude towards immigration, this might help the society move in this direction. Otherwise: good for you Aisha in spreading natural childbirth! I prepared for my birth with the bradley method, and though I ended up needing a c-section, I am still so grateful for the help of my midwife. I would say it was my “backup” obstetrician that led to the c-section because she was so unwilling to give me proper care (example; 2 days after my due date she had a ultrasound done to see if I had placenta previa). So, mashaAllah! You go girl!

Salam Alaikum, Aj,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article.

I have to laugh, as you point out…those who want to get out of Saudi can’t and here I am, wanting to get in and I can’t!  Where’s the justice?  LOL

Thank you for sharing your comments about your birth.  I love teaching The Bradley Method® and truly feel it is the best childbirth education.  I’d love to post your birth story on my birth blog if you’re interested.  J

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Aafke-Art, on December 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm said:

I was born in a natural childbirth, actually my parents were all alone due to a misunderstanding and I still look back upon my birth with great satisfaction.

I have always been for natural childbirth.

Salam Alaikum, again, Aafke-Art,

Thank you for sharing a bit about your birth experiences.  I feel like I have a gift to give women (natural birth education) and am happy for any forum to discuss it.  J

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

StrangeOne, on December 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm said:

I wish the best for you and your family and hope that you, your children, and husband will all be able to live together under one roof in the near future.

I am really glad to hear of someone promoting natural childbirth. Any time I hear of someone promoting natural childbirth through doula services, midwifery services, etc. it puts a smile on my face! I even know of one woman who photographs the birth process and can paint a portrait based on the photo depending on what the mother wants. I find this also to be really positive and interesting.

Good luck with learning Arabic, too!

For any international couple, there are many headaches when it comes to getting a marriage approved in a particular country. I think this is even more true for someone wanting to marry a Saudi citizen. Therefore, it most definitely needs to be worth it!

Recently someone told me that marriage originated in order for a man to prove that he “owned” a woman in order to prevent disputes between men and has since then developed into what it is today. Whether or not this is true, I believe that a marriage certificate is simply a legally binding contractual document. What matters most is whether or not the two people are genuinely deeply committed to each other or not. Of course, having it legal does make things easier in some respects!

Salam Alaikum, Strange One,

Thank you for taking the time to read the article.  I appreciate your well wishes and positive comments.

Thankfully my family is together and I pray we can have the paperwork sorted out soon to go with our life.  J

The childbirth artist you mention is quite interesting, masha’Allah.  Thank you for sharing that and for your support of natural birth.

Also thanks for the well wishes for my Arabic.  Truthfully, I need to buckle down and study more!  I’ve been here long enough to speak Arabic far better than I do.  I have learned a lot, of course, but not enough!  May Allah make it easy!

I agree that the marriage better be worth it for all the hassles and hardships that come with the government red tape.  Fortunately, I feel mine is and I wouldn’t trade my husband for the world.  J

Interesting comment about the origins of marriage, thanks again for sharing.  I don’t know but it sounds like it could be true.  As for me, our marriage is rooted in Islam and legally binding.  But as you say, the important thing is both parties commitment to it!

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

NN, on December 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm said:

Why buy the whole pig if you can get sausage for free?

On the childbirth thing, I speak with some authority, having given birth nine weeks ago. The highest point of that experience was the emergence of my son. The second highest point of that experience was the first minute after the epidural kicked in. To be free from pain was a such a high! I felt so happy that I believe I proposed marriage to my anesthesiologist – notwithstanding the fact that my husband was next to me, and the fact that the anesthesiologist was a fiftyish Asian woman.

So I’m all for natural birth for those who want it, as long as those of us who don’t are left to enjoy our epidurals in peace.

Salam Alaikum, NN,

Thanks for taking time to read the article.  I had to stop and really laugh about the pig and the sausage.  I hadn’t heard that before but I sure like it.  Of course you must realize that pork is illegal in Saudi!  LOL

I also loved your version of the epidural. I don’t recommend them but to each her own.  J  So, did the anesthesiologist accept?  LOL

Congratulations on the birth of your baby, masha’Allah.  My youngest was born on September 21st, so not too much older than yours.  J  May Allah keep and protect your child and may your family be blessed.

cst regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

  1. radha, on December 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm said:

@nn – congrats on your new baby..

I have seen the look on a lot of people’s faces when epidural kicks in and see pure bliss!!! and i’m envious, wish i had them in my time..

oth choices are good as long as it ‘s what the mom wants

Salam Alaikum, again, Radha,

Absolutely right!  There are so many choices in childbirth.  It’s best to get educated and prepared and learn about your options.  Every woman needs to exercise good birth consumerism.  Women who don’t prepare leave it all in the hands of their doctors and find there are no choices.  A birth without a plan will never go as planned!

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

  1. RoseColoredGlasses, on December 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm said:


You are going into a very difficult situation even for the best of the best of Saudis. But, you are a determined woman who has a great education to fall back on if needed.

You quoted a saying that my grandmother taught us from over 100 years ago that her mother taught her about the milk and the cow. I’ve seen many women come and go in Saudi over the years and whether the gal was a virgin or not had nothing to do with the final outcome of their marriage.

You are going veiled, but with your eyes wide open.

Asalam Alaikum, Rose Colored Glasses,

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

I think the quote about the milk and the cow has more to do with whether or not he will commit to the marriage in the first place, not to the odds of the marriage working out if he does.

I like the statement, “veiled, but with your eyes wide open.”  May I borrow that?  It might make a good story title some day.  J

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

Aafke-Art, on December 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm said:

NN is it only nine weeks yet?
I confused ”natural” with ”home” birth.
I am all for pain relief!

Asalam Alaikum, Aafke-Art,

A lot of people think I mean “home birth” when I just mean non-medicated birth when I say “natural.”  Thanks for pointing it out.

The thing about “pain relief” is that you usually feel sicker and more pain from what they do to you under the influence of it than the actual birth…and then you feel miserable AFTER birth when you’re supposed to feel great and have a new baby to care for.  Pain “relief” just rearranges the pain, not eliminates.  L

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

gia, on December 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm said:

@nn> so funny! i myself agree with natural birth, but be in a hospital, because i experienced near death giving birth [i hemmorrhaged…very scary]. gia in jed

Asalam Alaikum, Gia,

OMG…very scary!  I wonder, did you nurse your baby IMMEDIATELY after birth?  Or did they cut the cord right away and whisk him/her off to weigh and clean up?  (I’m all for delayed cord clamping/cutting.)

The reason I ask is that breastfeeding the baby reduces natural hormones to contract the uterus which expel the placenta, shrink the uterus and the placental site, which in turns helps stop the bleeding.  (Not that maternal hemorrhage can’t still happen.)  I’m just curious if you were given that natural opportunity or not?

Best regards,

Aisha (Natural Mom)

  1. radha, on December 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm said:

I have to mention what happened yesterday – it’s on the topic of home birth co-incidential ????

A couple decided to have their baby @home without a midwife or any one else present, just them and their 2 kids <4yrs of age… she had complications , not surprising since the baby was close to 10lbs. anyway they called 911 – the baby is was fine, mom not so fine and I was in surgery till 1.45am !!! She’ll have long term issues on my end and the OB doesn’t have good news either.

I’m all for natural, but don’t do it alone folks, do it with someone qualified, even if you want it at your home, have backup. 50yrs ago people popped babies out in the field, however 50yrs ago, they were fit and worked and didn’t eat junk, thereby mother nature regulated …

There was a debate in the staff room last night about the waste she caused, Hosp services+exended care + so many drs+ nurses, OR + medications, quality of life issues and the poor kids !!!!!
and god knows how much of taxpayer money down the drain…now all it would have taken to prevent this was the services of a capable doula @ her home…
oh well it’s the season for fruitcakes i guess..

Lynn, on December 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm said:

Also, Radha, do we have accurate figures for the survival rates (mother AND child) for those ‘natural’ births out in the fields?

Both of my children were ‘natural’ using the Lamaze program IN the hospital. No one forced drugs on me. I didn’t have no stinkin’ EPIDURAL!! I got to feel Every.Single.Pain and I continue to feel it to this day!! Actually, I had pretty easy labors and deliveries the worst pain came years later. If you want MY advice on childbirth I’d say HAVE YOUR TUBES TIED before you ever get pregnant!!!! But…perhaps I’m a bit jaded?

Coolred38, on December 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm said:

All 5 of mine were without epidurals and what not…just lots of meditating and heavy breathing. I didn’t like the idea of having any sort of medication in my body during labor…especially given I was in a hosp that apparently hadn’t heard we had arrived into the 20 century…and then some.

I had my babies and took them home as soon as possible.

NN, on December 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm said:

We took all sorts of classes in the hospital before labor but I was always very certain I wanted pain relief. It turned out to be a necessity because there’s no way I’d be able to push for six hours with no epidural. Would have ended up in the OR for sure. I have renewed respect for our mother’s generation – how did they do it without the drugs??

NN, on December 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm said:

50 years ago people were OK with moms and babies dying. If you read any novel taking place a hundred or more years ago, you will find passing mentions of women dying in labor as a totally normal thing. Let’s not even go into infant mortality.

Aafke-Art, on December 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm said:

My mother had a doctor and midwife attending the births of her children, I was a bit too fast for the doctor… And of course when with my little sister there was something she had her in the hospital. Home birth is not automatically the best option.

mona, on December 14, 2010 at 10:47 pm said:

Oh I do not appreciate the third world labor having no moral values. Not at All.

Asalam Alaikum,


Time to combine comments: J


@Radha, That poor woman with a ten pound baby!  Did she have gestational diabetes?  Just curious, what role you play in the maternity ward?  I love doula work so I appreciate the recognition of the role doulas play.  Thanks a lot!  J


@Lynn, That’s the key…prenatal education and PREPARATION for the birth (nutritionally, physically, mentally, and emotionally).  LOL at the tubes tied instead of baby option.  I’m fortunate to have really great kids and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  I love them sooooooooo much, but there are days when I can understand why some species eat their young!


@Coolred, I totally agree with taking the babies home right away!  Two hours after birth is enough for me!  Long enough to nurse the baby, eat a meal, and get outta there!  The hospital is full of sick people and infectious diseases…no place for a new mama and her baby!


@NN, The thing you may not realize is that the epidural makes your uterus relax and your own pushes less effective.  Thus medicated moms usually do have longer labors and pushing stages.  I doubt your pushing would have been six hours had you not had the epidural, but who knows?  As for doing it without drugs…I don’t know about 50 years ago, but what I’m talking about is WITH education and preparation that gives moms natural techniques for minimizing pain.  Most women inadvertently fight their body and their labor and make the pain worse without realizing it.  It was during my second birth that I realized I had the power to reduce my pain by at least 50%.  My labor went from “unbearable” to “uncomfortable, but nothing I can’t handle” in a matter of seconds.  It was in my power to reduce my own pain without the use of drugs.  This is what I teach and feel I MUST share with anyone who wants to take the time to learn and prepare.  As for the death rates, this is not related to pain medication but to sanitation and lack of interventions for true complications.  The trouble is that medical interventions are now OVER USED to the point that normal, natural birth has become a thing of the past as if it’s impossible, when it’s not!


@Aafke-Art, Agreed, home birth is not for everyone.  I support either option and believe there are risks involved in both environments.  Birth is never without risk, it is inherent no matter what we do.  Our best protections are knowledge, preparation, and prayer…not necessarily in that order!


@Mona, I don’t understand what you mean about third world not having moral values in labor?  Can you clarify?


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)


Anebu, on December 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm said:

@NN, I don’t think the doctors would let the “pushing” go on for six hours, would they? I couldn’t imagine! (Maybe Aisha can answer?)

For my children it took me about an hour to literally push them out. And even then the midwife was telling me to push harder because the babies’ heartbeat(s) was getting weaker and she did not want to wait any longer. I was finally able to get them out when the midwife asked me to make a choice, push the babies out or get a c-section!

For my first child I went many, many hours with no pain relief, then I gave in and had the epidural. I was actually disappointed in myself that I didn’t hold out a bit longer but my labor was quite long and I couldn’t bare the pain anymore.

For my second, I was stronger and was absolutely determined to give birth naturally and I did! And I will have nightmares of that birth for the rest of my life! It was that painful! When I experienced the full pain of the notorious “pushing pressure” it was insane. Uncontrollably, I let out a deep moaning sound and knew that was it; it was time to push! So, I pushed. But then NOTHING happened! The baby didn’t come out as easily as I imagined. NO ONE told me how many times you must actually push (and hold it) before your baby is born! Although I do have a friend that says she can get hers out in one go! Good on her but I wasn’t so lucky.

I have no idea how women have a plethora of babies with no pain relief. And now that I think of it, I have no idea how women have babies in the backseats of cars with that pain! The hospital bed was uncomfortable enough, how about a backseat!?

It’s unreal what we women go through to procreate. Really…we should be PAID to give birth for all the pain we suffer!

I’m going to tell my husband now…he owes me big time!

By the way, one thing I’ve noticed here in Saudi is how women here treat natural births like a badge of honor and anything else is looked down upon. That is one of the first questions asked after hearing news of a birth.

كيف كانت الولادة؛ طبيعي او عملية؟

Not sure if that is universal womanly behavior as I have only given birth here in Saudi.

Asalam Alaikum, Anebu,


A typical second stage (pushing stage) can range between a few minutes to two hours for first time moms.  Five or six hours or more are still within the range of “normal” but most doctors would not let it go that long for fear of fetal distress or mother fatigue to the point danger.  However each doctor and hospital has its own protocol about the “clock” and just how long they will “let” a woman labor (first or second stage).  Unfortunately, most err on the side of too much caution and rush things with augmentation drugs, vacuum extractions, and c-sections when they are unnecessary and simple patience and encouragement is all that’s really needed.  I’m surprised that NN’s doctor let her go six hours pushing, but I assume she must have been doing well through it all or she’d have found herself with these interventions.


As for your experiences, there is truly a difference between suffering through your labor unmedicated and coping with your labor with natural pain reducing techniques.  I’ve seen both cases and can only encourage education to learn to work with the labor and minimize the pain naturally.  I don’t advocate for unnecessary suffering which is brought on by not being prepared and not knowing what you can to do help yourself.  Also, having the loving support of a well-trained coach (I teach husbands or other chosen persons to fulfill this role) can do more for the discomfort of a laboring woman than any amount of drugs.  This is also where an experienced doula comes in.


As for labor positions (hospital bed or backseat of a car)…if I can teach anyone anything in a short forum like this it’s NEVER let them put you flat on your back or in stirrups for any part of your labor.  It’s the worst possible thing for mother and baby (cutting off circulation which leads to misdiagnosed “fetal distress” and cesarean, as well as fighting the uterus which naturally is trying to move forward with contractions…gravity works against the uterine muscles when laying on your back).  Stirrups also spread your legs way too far open and increase the risk of tear or need for episiotomy.  It may be the best position for your doctor…but detrimental for you!  Ugh…so many things we let them “do to us” without realizing the harm and hardship it causes.


LOL at paid to give birth.  I like that!  With eight kids I’ve got a lot of back pay coming!  I’m going to negotiate this with my husband when he gets home today!


I think that “badge of honor” and tendency to ask if the birth was natural or not is world wide, not just a Saudi thing.  I’m surprised you say that though because I’m under the impression MOST are medicated here (as in all developed nations…over 90% are medicated in America).  But then, “natural” may just equate to vaginal vs cesarean and NOT medicated vs unmedicated.


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)


onigiriFB, on December 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm said:


“We took all sorts of classes in the hospital before labor but I was always very certain I wanted pain relief. It turned out to be a necessity because there’s no way I’d be able to push for six hours with no epidural. Would have ended up in the OR for sure. I have renewed respect for our mother’s generation – how did they do it without the drugs??”

They died. Or at least many of them did. I am al for being natural if that’s your choice however I truly hate those “nazi organic mamas” that look down on people for not doing it naturally. There’s a reason there’s a higher birth mortality rate as well as mother mortality rate back in the “old” natural days. Don’t get me started on the “no immunization nazis” because it really irritates me that their choices put my loved ones in danger. If you are going to keep your children out of public school and out of the public square then by all means…. play Russian roulette with your child life. Do not play it with mine though. Selfish.

Lynn, on December 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm said:

I’m sure that no one DIES from not having pain meds for delivery. It’s the not being in a hospital and/or being prepared for something going wrong where a c-section is needed.

Lynn, on December 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm said:

‘Don’t get me started on the “no immunization nazis” because it really irritates me that their choices put my loved ones in danger’

I hear ya!

onigiriFB, on December 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm said:


Being in pain for a long period of time can have a detrimental effect on the mother and her ability to safely deliver.

Asalam Alaikum, NN, Lynn, and OnigiriFB,


I have to agree with Lynn…as I stated above, it’s not the lack of pain meds that killed women; it’s the infections and lack of medical interventions in true (but rare) complications.  It’s also the modern woman’s lack of physical stamina and endurance as indicated by OnigiriFB’s comments about mother not being able to deliver her baby safely due to long drawn out labors and birth.  That’s case-in-point for childbirth education and PREPARATION.


Cesareans are needed in about 10% of cases and are life saving, alhamdulealh.  But 90% of women can and should have non-medicated births with doctors serving as patient observers for complications…a life guard of sorts…not aggressive interveners, as they tend to be.


LOL at “no immunization Nazis.”  That’s a new term to me.  My two cents on that debate:  It scares me to do it and scares me not to do it!


I don’t know if it’s true but I remember hearing that a group of HIV infected “Western” nurses were injecting hundreds of children in Lybia with the HIV virus!  Could just be anti-Western propaganda, but who knows?  The whole “to immunize or not” decision scares the heck out of me!  May Allah protect us all!


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)

Anebu, on December 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm said:

Ok, getting back to the original post:

I just read the comments and I think a lot of commenters are jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly. But I know it’s so easy to do here isn’t it?

Poor Aisha shares her story and then people suspect her of a self-inflicted drama, i.e. second wife.

I don’t necessarily agree with how she met her husband (guy seems shady) but it’s her life. And now she has to sort it out for the sake of her children. We all have problems to sort out. Maybe she put her story out there in the hopes of someone helping her with her plight. Give her a break. If you’re kind, maybe she’ll respond. (Although, with this crowd, that may or may not be a good thing because the more info that’s given the more judgments that are passed.)

Actually, on second thought, I think people should keep personal stories like this to themselves unless they are prepared to be judged because it will happen whether they like it or not.

I hope her natural birthing education is successful here in Saudi all the same.

Asalam Alaikum, again, Anebu,


Thank you for your comments.  I have to say that most of life’s “dramas” are self-inflicted.  In my case it’s not polygamy that’s my problem it’s marrying out of order (as in the steps involved in the Saudi immigration process),


That, surely, is our “fault” and the cause of our plight.  But I can’t look on it with regret as what’s done is done and I trust Allah’s plan.  I also have to consider that had it not come about as it had I wouldn’t have my first son with my Saudi husband and that little boy is too precious to consider the whole situation a “mistake.”


I realize that putting out my story opens myself (and my husband) up for judgment.  But who knows, maybe through this forum will come the obvious answer we’ve overlooked?  So it’s worth a shot!  I’ve stated above that our only real concern with judgment comes on the day of reckoning with Allah.  May HE have mercy on us all!


I know my husband and he is the most honest, generous, caring man I’ve ever met.  His actions have been nothing but honest and pure with me.  The judgments expressed here are of no concern to me.  I’m happy, alhamdulelah.  The concerns expressed about him being less “estranged” from the first wife as he lets on is not an issue.  He has no reason to hide the nature of his relationship with her as I entered the marriage expecting to be very involved as one big family, it just didn’t turn out that way, subhanAllah.  As I stated in a comment above, it seems divorce is imminent and those talks have started, unfortunately, as this was never his (nor my) intention.


You are right though…sharing my story was a risk for judgment.  I just hope that I’ve clarified some of the questions.  I responded to each comment as best I can.  I hope that what comes from this post of responses is that I am a sincere Muslimah with deep faith in Allah, love of my husband and children, and a desire to have the legalities in order to move on with the more important job of sharing the keys to labor and birth that every woman has a right to know.


Thank you for your wishes about the childbirth classes and doula services.  I pray for every woman to have the type of birth experiences that I have and that Allah make it easy.


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)

radha, on December 15, 2010 at 12:08 am said:

No one dies because they choose a natural birth provided they have intervention close by. This case I mentioned was extreme, home birth with no attendant. Her sobs are heart breaking, no one should be punished like this for a mistake. She was in labor for over 20hrs and pushing for 3. I’m so glad the baby is fine. She was apparently in no pain, how one achieves that is beyond me, but hey I will take her at her word. Unfortunately she will have plenty of pain now and worse issues with the tearing and sadly no more kids.

Mine was plenty painful, and I was a mean bitch, at that time in India dad’s didn’t dare come into labor wards, although F popped in now and then and got cursed at… blamed for his his big Saudi bones to hell and back. I don’t think I would have giant kids if I married an Indian, My family consists of Giants, large headed giants, v painful to deliver. If not for F I would have opted for a C-section happily.

As for Aisha, who knows what her circumstances were, irrespective of right or wrong no one should be allowed to regulate who marries whom.. That’s the single biggest pain in Saudi apart form the mahrem system.

Asalam Alaikum, Radha,


Wow, such a tragedy with this mom.  I can’t even imagine what she’s suffering with now.  L  Thank God the baby is okay and mother survived the ordeal!  Prayers for her and her family, may Allah ease her pain.


LOL at “large headed giants!”  Paints quite the mental picture!  J


I don’t totally disagree wish the Saudi marriage laws with regards to marrying foreigners.  I can understand them to a degree.  They are really no different than America’s immigration laws with respect to brining in a foreign spouse (in fact they are on the same level).  I just wish that my case would move forward since we both have clean records, he has the means to support us, and we have (I feel) proved the legitimacy of our marriage (with almost five years and three babies).


As for the “guardianship” rules about women…hmmm…I’m so fortunate to have such a supportive husband so it really doesn’t play into my daily life…but I do feel sorry for those not so fortunate women whose husbands or “guardians” are not so loving and fortunate.  This single factor is a significant determinant in the Saudi living experiences for all women.


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)


radha, on December 15, 2010 at 12:12 am said:

I don’t think you can send your kids to public school or any school without immunizations nowadays.
Even summer camps required them. Our kids ward isolates them when they are admitted, believe me it’s harder on them then on the rest of the innoculated population, but it’s their choice.

confused, on December 15, 2010 at 1:15 am said:

I agree with Jenna that your husband is more likely closer to his first wife then you think, with that said, you seem fine being a sister wife as it has been made clear to you that he is not divorced. With that said I hope the first wife is as agreeable to what is going on as you are, and I hope you get approved in the marriage and are able to live in KSA. I question his honesty, but I don’t question your sincerity, so I hope for your sake it all works out.
I also like that you promote natural birth.

Asalam Alaikum, Confused,


Thanks for your time and comments.  I’ve addressed your comments in previous responses so I won’t repeat myself except to say that I do not want to start a polygamy debate on Bedu’s boards.  My story, although it has a polygamy aspect, is not about that.


Thank you for your well wishes.  J


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)


Aafke-Art, on December 15, 2010 at 1:57 am said:

I think vaccinations are a scam. I never believed it until I started looking it up for myself. I think every woman owes it to her babies to seriously look into what vaccinations actually are, what they do and do not do so she can make an informed choice.

Vaccines also contain unknown amounts of animal DNA and RNA. and also the toxic substances and heavy metals aluminium, phenol, acetone, MSG, acetone, cadmium, lead and formaldehyde. The last thing you want to have injected into a newborn.

In America every parent has the right to choose not to have their children inoculated, but it takes a lot of fighting and knowing your rights. Nurses will not tell you, but all states have philosophical and/or religious exemption.
And that is because when you come to the very bottom, no doctor will be willing to sign a paper that he guarantees vaccinations will never ever harm your child. They know it can and does in some cases.


onigiriFB, on December 15, 2010 at 2:42 am said:


Agreed. However, there is a reason immunizations were developed. There were children dying, period. And while is a POSSIBLITY of problems there is also FACTS that certain diseases were wiped out by immunizations (polio, but I’ve heard that’s coming back due to parents choices, small pox etc) and certain conditions that are vastly controlled by immunizing. I will agree with one thing about Immunizations is that I do not like the lumping up of immunizations drs do. I would much prefer to do it when children are older but younger than 5 if not in public daycare and in one shot increments.

Cynthia, on December 15, 2010 at 7:34 am said:


“Don’t get me started on the “no immunization nazis” because it really irratates me that their choices put my loved ones in danger. If you are going to keep your children out of public school and out of the public square then by all means…. play russian roulette with your child life. Do not play it with mine though. Selfish.”

I don’t get how a non-immunized child puts an immunized child in danger. Don’t immunizations make you “immune” to the disease so you won’t contract it if you are exposed to it?

Asalam Alaikum, to all the immunization commenters,


Still scary to me… to do or not to do?!?  And I have two kids who are due for shots now.  L


I do know that in the States vaccines can be declined and a form signed “for religious reasons” and the kids still get entered into public school (my dad did it when he didn’t want to take time to get the middle school vaccines for me).


I have to second OnigiriFB that having your child immunized is “supposed” to protect your child from the diseases so those who don’t immunize shouldn’t be a risk to your child.  That is if you believe the whole immunize mantra.


Ugh…one of those parenting dilemmas I’d rather ignore.  L


Best regards,


Aisha (Natural Mom)


41 Responses

  1. Wow, thanks for taking time to write all this! Now to read it … 😀

  2. @aisha

    Thank you for your response. I didn’t mean to make it sound like an polygomy issue, I actually have nothing against as my family does it (my uncle currently has three wives). I hope your marriage gets approved, we just submitted our papers so we’re in the same wait. Much love and good luck.

  3. Sister Aisha,

    Jazakillah Khayr for replying (wow I feel special LOL) and clarifying your situation. The more I read your replies, the more I feel connected to you. Perhaps of what you went through to be in your marriage, and how you accept the Qadr of Allah. May Allah keep your marriage joyous and happy. I am excited to hear about your mother accepting Islam, mashaAllah! And also that your father is concidering joining you! InshAllah that happens soon. You seem very genuine and loving person, and I wish you nothing but the best. May Allah ease your trials!

  4. As a recently new reader of this blog, I find it very informative and interesting as I’ll be joining my American family in Saudi soon.

    This article brings to mind how I was absolutely appalled my daughter was marrying a Saudi Arabia man and moving to his country. She didn’t even speak their language.

    My entire life, I have been brain-washed by news, movies and books about how awful the living conditions, the horrible way Saudi men treat their wives, and so on. Of course, I did not want this for my daughter. I do realize that the above is still unfortunately true for many. However, this is not just a Saudi’s problem, it’s world wide. You can pick up a newspaper anywhere in USA every day and read about another violent domestic that resulted in families being torn apart, deaths, prison, etc. But even in today age and time, I do not think it’s the norm. We only hear of the horror stories…those are the headlines. So we don’t realize there are likely more happily married American women to Saudi men then unhappy. Just as in America…the news reports only the ugly…that, unfortunately is what sells.

    Perhaps this could be one of Carol’s future articles…asking those who are happily married stand up and be counted.

    I can personally say, observing, living with Aisha and her husband in Egypt, seeing in person for the past 3 1/2 years…Aisha is married to a wonderful man, who took on her 5 young children and her mother (me) with open arms. He treats Aisha’s children as if they are his own children. He is everything as a father should/could be, everything that their own bio father isn’t.

    Far as me as his mother-in-law, there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me. He treats Aisha with such warmth, love, respect and devotion. Never raises his voice and so very patient. He totally supports and encourage Aisha with her goals. What more could a mother ask for a son-in-law?

    Seeing for myself, I spent 4 months in Jeddah last year…it was a wonderful experience. I love the city, except for the traffic being what it is. One has to really want to go somewhere to deal with the constant stop and go traffic.

    Thanks to my son-in-law, I had the opportunity to visit Makkah and Medina for several days at each location.

    My point is, all my fears of Arabs, Saudi Arabia were unfounded. (However, I do have issues with ‘hole in floor’ though.)

    Regarding the permanent visa papers, sure they could live outside of the Kingdom, be a lot less red-tape and hassles, for sure. But Aisha embraces Islam, the Muslim way…and wants her 5 American children and their 3 Saudi babies to be brought up where their father was raised. There is a lot to be said about the children in America and the way the children are raised in Muslim culture.

    I look at photos of Aisha as a baby, young child…and now…who’d ever dreamed she’d convert to Islam, be living in Egypt, half way around the world, married to an Arab and wishes to reside in the Kingdom with her husband.

    Aisha is truly happy, comfortable in her own skin and has such compassion and energy, sincere dedication to educating mothers-to-be, that they have choices regarding their bodies, pregnancies and the method of delivering their babies without medicating interference.

    I think it is important that the readers of this article understand, Aisha’s marriage was indeed approved, marriage certificate stamped, etc. The issue is simple her life is on hold, one foot in Egypt and one in Saudi Arabia. It is difficult to make plans not knowing whether to continue keeping a home going in Egypt, purchase big ticket items for home n Saudi or not, so on. Aisha is simply waiting for an answer one way or other regarding permanent resident visa, so that they may get on with their life together.

    This is not a unique situation. There are thousands of married couples around the world are also anxiously waiting for visas so they can start building their lives together in whichever country they prefer.

    For Aisha, the waiting has been on going for almost five years. A long time to have one’s life on hold..

    I am so very proud of Aisha and pray she receives the necessary documents she needs for permanent visa so she and her husband can get on with their lives, raising their children together, working on her goals to educate uninformed mothers-to-be.

    My apologies to Carol for taking up so much space on her blog but also to say Thank You for this platform to fill in some gaps of the article above.

  5. @aisha

    i did not breastfeed immediately after birth…an emergency cesarean was done, and i was out like a light, only to wake with all family members surrounding me with “omg you almost died”

    i will remember this placenta advice for anyone i know who will have a baby…not me though…im not much good for having babies…always a complication…thank you for the info..gia in jed

  6. @Aisha’s mom,

    It is such a pleasure to see you here and to especially here a mother’s point of view on her daughter marrying a man from another country whose cultures, customs and traditions are so different from one’s home land!

  7. My sympathy is ENTIRELY for the first wife and her children Yet another family ruined by the selfish UNIslamic application of polygamy. (Sorry- just had yet another friends life ruined thanks to that- and her childrens). War widows and orphans? I don’t think so. Equality between wives? No. The first wive did not chose polygamy the second did. And her choice got to dictate for everyone.

    I have seen family after family broken up over this- and don’t even get me started on how the children feel about the betrayal to their mother. And this sort of “mid-life crisis” these men have (it’s pretty much always a younger, newer addition- not a woman in need of a protector), is not part of Allah’s plan IMHO.

    I have yet to see a polygamous relationship work out into one big happy family, unless the first wife is on board (and personally, I’ve never met any of these). Otherwise it is just a disaster. The first family feels the husband is cheating and that the wife/children are betrayed. And most of Saudi society views it that way as well- which is why most of them don’t do it. It is actually quite rare. Anyway, to others thinking that somehow you’ll end up in a big happy family situation, talk to wife one first. I really doubt it.

  8. Oh, and my mother would probably have disowned me if I did something like this to another family. She didn’t bring me up that way.

  9. Aisha…thank u for your reply to my comments…just for the record..I got the impression you were informing me of what life is like there..or trying to make me understand or something (I could be wrong)…no need to explain. I was married to an Arab for 20 years…lived in nearby Bahrain.

    Good times.


    Anyways…thank u for taking the time to reply to me.

  10. Sandy,

    Just as a coin has two sides, failure of marriage has two stories. You mention about your friends’ side, but I am sure they have done enough to bring their husbands to the point of seeking second marriage, especially when it’s fueled by lust.

    I know because my family split when I was a teen (I’m the oldest and my siblings were kids), and so did my cousins’. We know our mothers faults in our parents marital woes. Often it’s their big mouths, but other things as well. Did my father, uncle and cousins did the right thing? Maybe not. They certainly could have tried staying patient (ha! Right! Asking men to be patient is like asking a camel to jump through the burning hoop) Are they to take all the blame while wives play they “innocent who’s been wronged” card, nope.

    Just my two cents before you go on defending your friends, first wife, and all the single ladies 😉

  11. “However, I do understand regulating borders, which is more the issue. The same is true of the United States. ”

    – i don’t agree to this completely, yes Visa issues i understand, having dealt with many times. However what saudi does is regulate the marriage, it’s nothing to do with visa. If ti were why do men have to be of a certain age to marry outsiders ?

    The US does not decide who to marry and if your marriage is legal, of course there are cases where spouse is denied visa, but most people on Work/student visa etc., can bring their spouse relatively easily, and for american citizens it’s v rare for entry to be denied their spouse, unless they suspect you are marrying for a GC.

    so no i would not compare the 2. but i agree it’s saudi rules and if KSA wants to prevent their men/women from marrying outside , hey it’s their country and we all abide by their rules if we want to go there 🙂

    POlygamy – sigh!!! If my husband wants to take a 2nd wife, and i had known befor marriage there would be no marriage, if he decided later aka mid life crisis ..I’d expect a clean break in our marriage first and make sure the 2nd knows the cause of the break was because i didn’t want to share – islam or not.. but then again i’m not a nice person when it comes to my personal happiness .

    I know it’s not your fault, but as humans we like to place blame and since you married an already married man without talking to his existing wife, i guess she’ll blame her husband and you.

    suppose you refused to have anything to do with polygamy and your husband he went and got another wife, wouldn’t you be pissed.
    so i wouldn’t blame you, i’d blame your husband 🙂 the fault always lies with the man — say it enough times people and enjoy

  12. “….sincere dedication to educating mothers-to-be, that they have choices regarding their bodies, pregnancies and the method of delivering their babies without medicating interference.”

    Did you mean to say “with OR without medical interference”? Otherwise it sure sounds like you have already made the choice for all the women that their birth SHOULD be without medical interference. That’s one thing about the natural-birth crowd that pisses off the rest of us. That they would deny us choices in birth that don’t meet with their approval.

    If someone tried to deny me my epidural, I’d send my husband to pour acid in their face.

  13. The last line is a joke…I’d poison her myself.

  14. @Cookie

    You sure are very lenient on men who choose to be polygamists. You don’t seem to think they’re capable of controlling their impulses, “i.e. fuelled by lust”, and acting with restraint yet you put the blame on the women (and by extension the children) for being mouthy?

    So odd.

  15. @Aisha

    Thanks for your extensive replies to all the comments.

    Considering your husband’s history, have you ever discussed with him the possibility of him taking another wife after you?.

    You seem to be quite reconciled with polygamy but have you ever considered how you’d protect yourself and your children if he chooses to add another wife, especially if you manage to get approval from the Saudi govt thereby placing you and your children under the guardianship of your husband and all that it entails.

  16. @ NN

    “….sincere dedication to educating mothers-to-be, that they have choices regarding their bodies, pregnancies and the method of delivering their babies without UNNECESSARY medicating interference FROM WELL MEANING MEDICAL STAFF.”

    I apologize for the incomplete sentence.

  17. @Aisha’s mom

    I agree – assuming this decision comes from someone with M.D. degree, not a Bradley course. It takes more than “dedication to educating mothers” to decide what’s unnecessary and what isn’t. You actually do have to go to school and learn stuff. You know. Doctor stuff.

    The way you phrase your sentence is completely biased. “So that women have choices regarding …unnecessary medicating interference.” Seriously? You want someone to have a choice to say, “yes please, I would love that unnecessary thing to be done to me”? Sounds like you’ve already prejudged what is necessary and what isn’t , and what choice SHOULD be made – without the benefit of an M.D. degree, I assume.

  18. @Aisha

    Thank you for your lovely wishes for my baby. It’s true, he and your newborn are very close in age. My best wishes for your baby’s health and happiness.

  19. @aisha

    with all the talk in the news of very young girls[12,13,14 ect..] getting [forced] married, have you had any births experience with these girls? gia in jed

  20. Asalam Alaikum,

    Thanks again for all those who read and replied. I’m not going to reply one by one, just generally.

    On the polygamy issue…it’s a difficult topic for many and I agree, the first wife should be on board and in agreement first. This is why I’d never recommend it unless it’s by mutual invitation of both partners, as I mentioned in my prior comments. I personally do know of a few cases where “one big happy family” is working out, but they are rare. Just to clarify, I am not a “younger” wife and my husband didn’t have “mid-life crisis.” The first wife knew from the get go that his plan was to marry again, she married him knowing this. As for the question about him marrying again and what have I done to “protect” myself…that’s an odd question to me. There is nothing to protect myself from. Allah is the best of planners. I know another wife is always a possiblity, as it is for any woman married in Islam, the question is what will each of us do to accept or leave the relationship if it ever happens? Got to face that it is halal and we cannot make what is halal a haram. Even if he says he won’t, there are never guarantees as many of the women who have left the relationship can tell you. There aren’t even guarantees in a monogomous society or culture where affairs and/or divorce are happening more often than we care to know. Dua that Allah does not bring to us more than we can bear in any situation.

    As for non-medicated vs. medicated and necessary vs. unnecessary interventions. As a NON medical but educated child birth educator, it is my role to inform women that they have choices. It’s no secret that I am passionate about NON-medicated birth because I know the complications that can come from medications for both mom and baby as well as the domino effect into other medical interventions that pain medications can and often times do initiate. Nonetheless, if the woman is educated and still choses to take pain medications, that is her choice and I totally respect it. I would never force a woman in labor to do anything she didn’t feel was right for her. I teach good birth consumerism so that women know what the choices are and can discuss this with their care providers ahead of time and try to find a doctor who will support her wishes (medicated or not) so long as everything is going normally (which is 90% of cases). As a doula I never give medical advice and I work with clients ahead of time to ensure they have researched their options and that I know what they want so I can help them acheive their goals. I tell couples that once they have chosen their practitioner they have to trust them should a complication occur…if they can’t trust them then they should find another doctore BEFORE they get to the labor ward. The key is choices based on education, birth consumerism BEFORE labor, and trust in the choices made.

    To medicate or not for bith…to each her own…for me NOT…for you…whatever works for YOU!

    Best regards,

    -Aisha, Natural Mom

    PS Thanks to those who can relate to me and have shown support as well as to those who can’t and who felt compelled enough to share their perspective. Diversity makes the world go round. Dua for each to enjoy their life to the fullest and may Allah have mercy on us all!

  21. @Sandy,

    while I am with you regarding the abuse of polygamy to serve men’s hedonistic desires, especially since many relatives/friends have suffered from the effects of it, I have to agree with Cookie.

    The society here does not help.

    A man can be forced to marry someone they don’t love and have children because of the pressures of tribe/family, and then decide since they haven’t lived life they want to find love in the arms of a second wife. Sometimes the women that they marry the first time are too conservative or too homely or too whatever, so I don’t fault some men here, especially those who married at 16, 17, whatever. I fault the family for applying that kind of pressure.

    I find this social structure extremely claustrophobic, personally. But I see your point, laws should be in place keeping the family as a whole stable and intact, making sure that the first wife agrees to the whole thing and protect HER rights to a home and her children’s rights, etc etc.

    Wait until the scholars get around to that one. Maybe another 50 years or so. The current generation of prominent scholars are beyond hope.

  22. @Sandy,

    and btw, I have met people in polygamous relationships. It works out beautifully when the agreement of the first wife and mother is sought out.

  23. * first wife (i.e. first mother of his children.

    OK, promise, last one.

  24. salam sister aisha,

    you are strong, reasonable, smart and beautiful as a woman, daughter, mother and wife. i admire you!. i wish you and your family happiness.

  25. and your mother, i love her too!

  26. Assalam Alaikum
    The first word that comes to mind is denial, the second defense, the third self interest. Before you married, your husband ,did you as a natural mother, not think about how his children would feel when they heard, their father, had married a woman, with five children from a foreign country, who did not speak their language or know about their culture or traditions. Things seem to be going from bad to worse from their viewpoint, you and your husband have three more children, Ma’sallah, but your stepchildren will have had very mixed feelings about their arrival; now your mother is putting her feet under the table and your father seems to be knocking at the door as well. All this will to them represent a drain of resources, emotional, time and others from their father. In Asir second marriage was frequent when I was younger it was either forced or highly pressurised, neither the bride nor her female relatives were for these marriages, the very few that worked were due to extremely unusual situations.
    All the Du’as, extra prayers, recitations from the Holy Quran will not cover up the damage to your husband’s first wife’s family. You are keen to support women during childbirth; giving birth is the beginning of a long nurturing processing, in which a mother must do her best to ensure her children understand their responsibilities in life and their duties to others, this is done not only by instruction but more importantly by setting an example in ones behaviour to others.
    From reading your story it sounds to me as if you have been very hurt in the past, that you are seeking safety and comfort in having babies and having a large family. Your work bonding with pregnant women and women in labour may also help to fill some void within you. I hope I have not been too harsh but I feel that things will end badly unless you stop and think hard about where you are going and the future of all the children you have involved in your life.
    Allah Barakfiki
    Um Raschid

  27. Aisha…Im curious when you daughters grow up…the ones you had in America…if they will be happy that you took them from a free society and forced them to live in a society that takes away their rights and treats them as less than or second class?

    I guess it will be similar to how I feel knowing that my mother took me from an average father and married an abusive one that made every day of our lives a living hell. Ironic thing is she knew he was like that before she married him…so really has no excuse. Thanks mom….

  28. Asalam Alaikum,

    @Fatima Fakhreldin…you’re entitled to your opinion based on your perspective and experiences. I didn’t discuss polygamy in the original interview and the story isn’t about that. I see no point in my responding to your judgments since no matter what, you have your biases and it won’t really matter. I pray you happiness and peace in your life.

    @Coolred, I’m terribly sorry about your stepfather and the abuse you suffered at his hands. It takes courage to share such personal issues and I pray you are free from that hell now and able to move on. As for my American-born daughters, their rights here as children are similar to that of children in the States. If they choose to return to the States as adult women, they are free to do so, in fact I expect they’ll go to college in the States since they are American citizens and receiving their education through the California public school system (as our official residence is still California, where I pay property and income taxes). I pray for guidance and that the decisions I’ve made for my family are best for all of us. I don’t find my life to be oppressed nor do I feel I’m “second class” as a woman. (Of course I realize I’m fortunate and that my good experience is based on the support I receive from my husband, and I don’t mean monitary support.) Quite the opposite, we suffered from oppresive abuse in the States where our freedom was stiffled by their father and a living hell…but this story isn’t about that either. Life can be good or bad anywhere, as can be men and marriages. Life is a journey…peace to all.

  29. Asalam alaikum,

    @NN It’s a harsh comment about the acid but I wonder (only because you said “acid”) if you’re aware of the case of the woman who was accidentilly injected with cleaning acid in her epidural in Austrailia?

    Horrible accident, but these (and other) accidents do happen. I just wonder, in the absence of abnormality, “Why risk it?”

    Birth doesn’t have to be medicated…if you choose it, I pray everything goes fine. I just want to educate women about the risks and give them tools to make choices. THEIR OWN CHOICES.

    I also teach them it’s their responsibility and no one takes the baby home but them…so whatever they decide is only going to affect them, not the doctor, not me, not their relatives. No one has a right to judge their decision.

    I’m glad that your baby and you are fine. I pray for your continued health and happiness. Thank you for the well wishes for mine. I love this tender young age and the amazing growth and development that takes place these first few years. Enjoy it because it passes all too quickly!

    All the best to you and yours. 🙂

  30. Asalam alaikum,

    @Gia in Jed, no I have not worked with any teen pregnancies. Although I find such forced marriages a tragedy, I’d be happy to help these girls through their birth if given an opportunity. These girls may need the loving support of a labor support doula more than anyone else.

    @Sister Suraya, Thank you for your kind words and well wishes. Dua for you and your family as well. 🙂

  31. @aisha

    As you have been open about explaining your story I would like to clarify perhaps what Coolred means.
    How do your daughters feel about moving around the world and having to (only in KSA) cover, not be able to drive, have their virginity be all they are worth in KSA society and the like. If they are Americans that comes with a lot responsiblity as well as the rights of our country. How do they feel with knowing the rights available to them in the US and MOST countries around the world including Egypt are not available to them because of the official “Islamic” policies in KSA such as a requirement to have a mahrem’s permission to do just about everything. As a mother did you take their feelings into account when dragging them overseas? How do they feel or will they feel when their American friends all reach the age where dating is the norm? Do they realize that dating in KSA can lead to severe punishment and possible deportation?

  32. why are people attacking her so much?

  33. Asalam Alaikum, OnigiriFB,

    I read your comments and it’s obvious we have a totally different perspective of things. First of all the covering…my girls (and I asked them their opinions) appreciate that they can cover here without being stared at for doing so (you see, they CHOOSE to cover, alhamdulelah). As for driving, they can’t drive in the States either, the aren’t old enough, so this really doesn’t matter yet. When they are older the can choose to move where they can drive if they feel it’s an issue. But is it the driving or the mobility that matters? They can’t fly a plane but they can still fly from point A to point B. So what difference does it make if they can’t drive a car so long as they can get where they want to go when they want to go there? Women here have as much mobility as women in the States when they hire a driver, so who really cares if they can’t operate the machine? As for virginity…I happen to feel that it is important and am saddened by the valuation of women in the States being placed on their sexuality. I left the States because I don’t want my children to grow up under the pressue that sex is expected before marriage. I find that pathetic and sad. This goes for the dating too…you’re assuming that I agree that dating is normal or the way to live. I absolutely do not. So you see, this is why I say I feel more at home here than in my own country. I don’t identify with those of you who feel that my children are deprived of something because they are growing up in an “Islamic” society that upholds value with marriage and doesn’t pressure them into sexual situations outside of marriage. As for having permission to do things, they are children…they need their parents’ permission to do anything here or in the States. At this age it doesn’t matter. If they choose to leave Saudi when they are adults they may. They are not prisoners here. I happen to be among the many fortunate (and I say many because we are not counted and there are many) women who have a husband who supports us, not oppresses us. I also respect my husband and value his opinions and perspective of things. You make it sound like “overseas” is such a tragedy. Home is where you make it.

    @Azlin, good question and thanks for the support. I guess it’s just fun to give a hard time to people with a different perspective than our own. 🙂

  34. Not everybody is attacking her? And I think everybody admires her work, with the proviso that natural birth is not the right choice for every woman. Forcing a woman either way is objectionable.
    Using fear tactics either way is objectionable.

    Many people consider men who take mistresses or second wives as bad material, and the women who knowingly destroy the wife’s marriage as bad people. And they express that dislike naturally.

    There are also a lot of women who think that while a grown up woman may decide for herself to live in a country where she is in effect a slave, owned by a man, but it might be very different for a child who has been put into such a situation, and with no chance of escape.
    As the outlook for the future is very bleak for a girl in KSA, no choices of study, no good schools, no work, no independence, no choice in her own future, no normal interaction with the opposite sex, etc. I think it is only to be expected that this is brought up by people here.

  35. No woman ”chooses” to cover until somebody makes her believe that there is a god who will like her better for covering, or on the other end of the spectrum, that she will be deserving of rape and God will burn her in hell for all eternity.
    After a woman believes that ”free choice” has already been taken away from her.
    Only a neurotic woman with a fobia about her own person and face would choose to cover of her free will.
    But then she has spychological problems which force her, so I suppose even then it is not really ”free choice”.

    The only women who really cover out of their free will are those who consider themselves ”elevated” and ”superior”, who claim that ”god” prefers them over all other women because they neurotically hide every inch of sinful flesh, they are set above those women who do not veil, and who get immense pleasure out of depriving themselves and contemplating their ”superiority”.
    Of course this only happens because somebody told them they are superior women for veiling. Somebody had to invent it first.

    I really think this farce of ”free choice” in ”covering should end here and now.
    Humans only ”cover” out of free will to embellish themselves, or to protect themselves from the environment.

    As soon as human interaction comes into play, ”If you don’t cover you deserve to be raped” free choice is not an issue, it is force.

    As soon as superstitions come into play about invisible friends liking you only if you cover, and give you extra brownie points if you cover, there is no free choice that is psychological compulsion.

    Please lets stop making up more fairy tales.

    No woman on the planet really veils her person by free choice. Woman veil themselves out of fear, fear for some invisible all powerful ”friend”, out of fear of the bad treatment of the other people in their culture, fear of being tortured for all eternity, some bizarre fobia, or out of the feeling of superiority they think it gives them.

    Women veil because of superstition, fear, compulsion or vanity.
    Nothing else.
    Only vanity counts as ”free will”
    Take your pick.

  36. @Aisha

    Thank you for answering my question I hope you do not feel attacked. These are just questions I have that I was hesitating to ask but after you answered others I thought perhaps you would answer mine.

    I feel that you kind of talked around the questions I posed. We’ll start with this one here:

    You said:
    “Women here have as much mobility as women in the States when they hire a driver, so who really cares if they can’t operate the machine?”

    Do you realize WHY many Saudi women WANT to have the right to drive? Driving is freedom. Now think about that. When you lived in the States or even in Egypt (as KSA is the ONLY country in the world with a ban on women driving) you may at ANYTIME you choose get in a car and go somewhere. You DO NOT have to wait around for someone else (driver/husband). Should your husband be dying of a heart attack (I hope not) and there is not driver, there is no ambulance (from what I heard from an EMT working in Riyadh you might as well let you husband die if you expect him to get there to save him with the traffic in Riyadh). So what will you do? Will you as an AMERICAN who had the freedom to learn to drive and the experience of driving when not in KSA. Will you be running around going “oh allah, oh allah” or will you be getting your loved one into a vehicle and driving him to the hospital? If you choose the latter then I hope you realize that you will be breaking the law in KSA? And since a foreigner at risk for deportation? So you tell me how much “mobility” a Saudi woman truly has. Even if you have a live in driver (whom hopefully you give a day off to) then why rely on a man (who is NOT related to you so negates the whole segregation issue of KSA btw) when you have been give the capabilities and intelligence by Allah to drive/work/think/do what you choose (within YOUR boundaries of belief). THAT I believe is the true reason people are against the ban on driving for women in KSA. NOT because of a true lack of mobility but because it reduced women who are intelligent Allah created beings to children. Same with the mahrem system. I have not problem with you as an ADULT choose what you want but your children will not have that CHOICE you had as a girl growing up. Even if you gave them choices in life by moving to KSA and raising them in that culture you have already set them up to think of themselves as perpetual children under the authority of your husband now and another man later. THAT is the point I was trying to get to. In America or actually everywhere BUT KSA your daughters would have freedoms that have been stripped from them by yourself because of the OFFICIAL cultural based (sorry I don’t happen to think KSA is truly Islamic) system you brought them to and will be raising them in.

    You said:
    “As for virginity…I happen to feel that it is important and am saddened by the valuation of women in the States being placed on their sexuality.”

    I agree that virginity is VERY important. However I would add that it’s important for BOTH boys and girls. I happened to like Mormonism BECAUSE it taught both men and women that personal chastity and modesty is what God expects of us. END STOP. So therefore men as well as women get into the same trouble if they break the laws of chastity. We do NOT give the old “wink, wink, nod, nod” old boy system of “allowing” our men to “sow their wild oats” like KSA (and other male dominated places) do. While I’m sure you believe Allah will punish those who choose not to guard their chastity I’m sure the thought that immediately comes to mind for you is I’m talking about a female. It’s a typical religious/cultural problem I find all over the world so I am not just picking on KSA because I have a grudge against it. In the KSA the cultural system is set up that WOMEN HAVE NO VALUE if they are not virgins. That is different from having a choice of personal chastity which I actually admire you for teaching your children to have (both sexes). So there is a big different between treating girls by what they do nor do not have between their legs (hymen but penis kind of works here too). Ask around an see what happens to your girls in KSA who may lose their hymens thru no fault of their own (rape, exercise, etc) and also ask around about the hymen repair plastic surgery that is available and USED by many Muslim women these days. Now then ask yourself if you daughters in your loving motherly eyes are ONLY walking HYMENS? Are they not Allah given intelligent beings? Are they not loved for who they are?

    As a mother with religious beliefs YOU are the one raising your children to believe or not believe in personal chastity and modesty. Eventually you will have to trust that your children trust and love Allah enough to keep their chastity and modesty that has been taught to them at a loving home. There is a big difference between a Mormon dating and the general public dating around. Mormons date to MARRY. They date (usually around 16) in groups or double dates. They go to places that being intimate is NOT going to happen beyond perhaps a kiss (not making out). Mormon parents worry about the same thing you will probably if your children decide to date. BUT they instead of taking them to KSA to IMO lock up their virginity (btw no guarantee there either from what i’ve been told keep a watch on the drive) and scare them into being chaste. I do not like that the KSA culturally and officially treats its citizens as if they are the worse of humanity instead of potentially the best (the US and just about everywhere else around the world). Do you understand here what I mean? KSA has MANY laws that makes sure behavior is mandated the vice police is the best example of this. The US (since we are both Americans) pretty much gives the leash to hang ourselves with. I’m not sure how long you’ve been in KSA but I’m sure you realize that underneath the “good Muslim, Allah fearing” population their is just about the same things going on in the US there it’s just been driven underground and hidden. Personally I’d rather my government keeps its nose out of my personal choices where it has no place being but to each there own. BTW keep in mind that the KSA system opens up people to even MORE deviant actions and attractions. Ask around and see how many “hidden” homosexuals and lesbians are in the colleges in KSA. Segregation has allowed LGBT (no I am not against it personally) people to thrive and them some. As in a bet a lot of them would NOT be with their own sex if they could be with the opposite.

    So now that I’ve explained where I am coming from would you like to reply to the question again? How do you as a mother feel that your children will valued for their virginity and that’s it (perhaps you and your husband may love her but I doubt others will). How do you as an American who is used to her freedoms (you own your own business in KSA do you not need a man to do that? unless you were given special dispensation for that as its a “woman’s” job?) feel about taken those freedoms away from your children who are to young to make that choice. How do you as a mother feel about your daughters being envious of their friends who will be gaining valuable human interaction experiences while they are locked away in a gilded cage in KSA? Did you think of this when you made YOUR choices?

    BTW I am actually not all that opposed to your situation of polygamy though I dislike how it has wrecked another family. It may be his first wifes choice but if he didn’t love her enough to think of her feelings instead of his own then that is his um… ickiness not yours. YOU bare the responsibility in allowing him to indulge in his “need” for multiple wives. YOU are the one who will bare the same thing the first wife felt when he feels he “needs” yet another wife. (Er, is your husband a sex addict and can’t keep it in his pants? Because honestly there is NO reason to have another wife if he isn’t. Actually it isn’t if he is not a sex addict.) Is a multiple wife to him a status symbol? Another woman to have in his possession? A Allah sanctioned masturbatory doll? (sorry about that on I am NOT trying to insult you there). WHY did he feel he HAD to have multiple wives? You are a widow/divorcee so you fit the Allah given criteria at least. Since I’m a Mormon I do not have so much a problem with polygamy as others. However, HE had a choice and instead of giving his first wife a fait accompli so to say HE could have been a better man. HE imo will be the one facing Allah in the end for what HE has chosen. You will face Allah though for allowing someone to sin (sorry I still see it that way even if you were a widow/divorcee). So if your conscious is clear in that if you met Allah tomorrow then good for you. If not perhaps a few extra duas are needed since YOUR choice has ruined another family (the first wives) and his OTHER children who have perhaps lost a father.

    I btw have been pretty open about the fact that I was raised in both the US and Thailand. I have no problem with overseas unless that overseas is KSA because of it myriad of social/cultural problems. I would recommend as your children get to HS age they attend international schools as I did because the education if they choose to go on to University is usually higher than the education systems of the countries those schools are in. If you children want to attend University outside of KSA they will need to be prepared education-wise better than what Sauds offer. Rote memorization and Islamic studies are not what college recruiters are looking for in the US and many other countries.

  37. Oh as aside the Mormon faith is actually imo more strict when it comes to personal chastity and modesty. Men AND women if they wish to repent (open to both faiths I believe) they have disciplinary actions that they will have to face to repent to God. Men lose their priesthood (which the power granted they by God according the Mormonism to preform ordinances of the Mormon faith) as well as just facing what a female does in being disfellowed (losing the ability to lead pray in public and being allowed to take the sacrament or bread and water ordinance) or being excommunicated. Muslims just loose their lives…. in many places like KSA.

  38. Aisha…I understand you desire to teach your daughters modesty and abstinence until marriage etc…thats all well and good and nobody is faulting you for that….but have you started teaching them about how what they have between their legs is the beginning and end of their value as females? Have you taught them that eyes will raise, tongues will wag, and fingers will point at them for the rest of their lives depending on where they are, who they are with, what they are wearing, how they smell, how loud their voice was etc etc etc?

    Being female anywhere in the world is a trial and a life long journey of surviving everything man throws at us…being a female in Saudi is a life long journey of surviving man…period. (and even women in some cases) IMO

    How much harder have you made being female for your daughters by moving there? Saudi might have mosques with adhans handy and freedom to wear hijab or cover without finger pointing and raised eyebrows (thats reserved for NOT covering etc) and everyone looks like Muslims and thats always a special feeling…but all those are outward manifestations that rarely touch the inside in a truly religious spiritual way. Saudi is all about what things look like…and it seems you fell for that version of religion to some extent. All your explanations for going there and taking your kids along as well are outward displays of Islam/Muslim life…how have you improved your kids lives inwardly by moving there? Just wondering.

  39. One aspect I am curious about from being part of a Saudi family and the Saudi society is whether you have concerns as your daughters get older in regards to marriage? Would you and your husband expect to facilitate their marriages? How have your daughters been accepted in mainline society since they are “half Saudi/half American?” I ask because many of those whom I know whose children are “50/50” usually marry a non-Saudi or a Saudi from a mixed marriage too.

  40. Hrm Carol brought a good point. I believe, sorry if I’m wrong, but don’t halfies get treated badly?

  41. Aisha,
    Thank you so much for the individualised reply! Again, I think you seem like a really nice person! I am honestly not sure of the originations of marriage, but that is one theory I have heard.

    Sorry but I do not have reliable internet access at the moment so I will not be able to comment regularly. Hope you all are doing well!

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