ABU DHABI // Wrapped in a pink blanket, the new arrival at the Corniche Hospital yesterday slept in a cot, blissfully unaware of her special status as the first baby born in the Hijri New Year in the capital. Her parents and staff at the hospital welcomed the girl, weighing 3.15kg, at 1.10am. Tired but elated, her mother, Mrs al Hameli, 23, who asked that her first name not be revealed, said she felt her first contractions at about noon on Thursday.
"I was in a little bit of pain until two or three in the afternoon, and then things were normal again until 10 at night," she said, describing a labour that was "thank God, very smooth". Just before midnight, Mrs al Hameli called her sister Um Ahmad and told her that the time had come. The sisters and her husband, Suroor al Hameli, headed to the hospital and arrived in the emergency room at 12.56am yesterday. Fourteen minutes later, their daughter was born.
Mrs Hameli gave birth in July last year to a boy, Nahyan, also in the Corniche Hospital. The parents want to decide on a name for their new daughter before introducing her to her brother. "I'm not sure what I will name her yet," Mrs al Hameli said. "Up until I was eight months pregnant, I thought I was having a boy, so I haven't had time to decide on a name." Um Ahmad and Mrs al Hameli spent most of the night brainstorming names, and they both seem attached to Naseem, meaning breeze.
Um Ahmad said she was impressed by her sister's energy and vitality post-labour. "She didn't let me sleep, chattering all night about the perfect name for her perfect daughter," laughed Um Ahmad. "She is a very active and healthy young woman, which I think made her pregnancy and labour go well and be easy on her. Only a week ago, it was the wedding of her sister-in-law, and she has been running around celebrating the wedding with the family and acting as if this wasn't her due week."
Neither Mrs al Hameli nor her husband had realised that the birth of their daughter marked the start of a new year in the Islamic calendar. "We were just so taken up with her arrival, we didn't realise what the date was," the new mother said. Less than two hours before the girl was born, Ismat Ara Begum gave birth to her fifth child, a boy, who became the last baby born in the hospital during the old year.
Although the 35-year-old Bangladeshi woman had planned not to have any more children after two boys and two girls, the oldest of whom is 17, she says the birth of her boy, named Ahad Abdulmanan, is a gift from God to help the family welcome in the New Year. The two births were part of business as usual at the Corniche Hospital, which sees 10,000 births a year - 40 per cent of all babies in the emirate. Deborah Allen, the weekend nurse-in-charge at the main delivery unit, said that on average there were 20 to 25 babies born a day, and 700 to 800 a month.