First babies born this Ramadan provide blessings for parents.
New arrivals bring added joy to special season
ABU DHABI // While the start of Ramadan brought special joy for many new parents, for others it meant an agonising wait.
In Abu Dhabi's Corniche Hospital, NM could only pray for her newborn twins Shathaz and Mohamed as they lay helpless in the intensive care unit.
They were born on Saturday night almost two months' premature, with daughter Shathaz just a minute before Mohamed.
"I gave birth to them after only 31 weeks of pregnancy. They were due at the end of September," said the Palestinian mother, a nurse by profession.
"But them being born the night before Ramadan is hopefully a good sign and, inshallah, a blessing."
Twins do not run in NM's family, she said, and it was a "big shock" when they found out three months into her pregnancy.
"We already have four children," she said. "It will be hard but I am hopeful. It is Ramadan."
The holy month will be especially difficult for the family, with the twins likely to be in intensive care for the whole month. That, said NM, would mean lots of driving back and forth to feed them.
But for many others, the start of Ramadan was cause for extra unbridled joy.
Just 40 minutes after the maghrib prayer on Sunday night, Mona Mamdouh Mahmoud became the Corniche Hospital's first Ramadan baby.
Her mother, Noor Al Huda, was thrilled - after 17 hours of labour - to have delivered the hospital's first baby after sunset.
"I am tired but of course happy," the Palestinian mother said. "The best part is she is born on the first day of Ramadan."
Although Mrs Al Huda had not planned the birth to coincide with the holy month, she had a feeling it would.
"I was due on the 27th but I knew it would come late and come with Ramadan," she said. "This is my first baby. I got married last year. She looks like her dad."
She said her daughter's birthday would help to encourage her to fast in the future.
"When you teach children to fast, you have to teach them step by step," Mrs Al Huda said.
"We will start with Mona before puberty, before it becomes obligatory for her to fast, to get her used to it.
"Plus she is born in Ramadan, so this should be a big encouragement for her."
Twenty-one babies were delivered on the first day of ramadan at the hospital, 16 of which were Muslims, including six Emiratis.
On the other side of the ward lay little Zayed, the first Emirati Ramadan baby.
"We named him after Sheikh Zayed," said his father, Issa Saeed Al Zayadi, proudly. "The feeling is indescribable. We haven't been able to sleep since his birth."
Filled with excitement about his first born, Mr Al Zayadi said he felt blessed the delivery was on the first night of Ramadan.
"He was born with the first night of taraweeh prayer," he said. "He was being delivered here, while there was taraweeh prayer outside. We will make him a mosque imam when he is older, inshallah."
Although Mr Al Zayadi said he had expected his wife to give birth at any moment for the past month, his wife said she knew Zayed would be born in Ramadan.
"I was due on August 1," she said. "So I always knew I would give birth at the start of Ramadan."
Ten minutes before the maghrib prayer call she went into labour, giving birth at 10.30pm.
"Ramadan is a celebration for every Muslim," she said. "It is a time to get closer to God. We will teach him how to fast from the age of 7."
Mr Al Zayadi said their son's birthday would be celebrated on July 31 and on the first day of Ramadan every year.
Hamid Rashid was the first Emirati born on Ramadan at Al Ain's Oasis Hospital, at 7am yesterday.
"This is a big blessing and brings great happiness to the family," said his delighted father, Khalfan Rashid.