I’ve been working as a nurse in a conservative Muslim country in the middle east for 10 long years, with a 2-month paid vacation each year. Before I left home, life wasn’t easy. Thinking of leaving my family who are expecting me to be the breadwinner, my retired “nanay”, my ailing “tatay” and two little sisters who were still in school, was hard but I was determined. I feel blessed that the opportunity came in the right place at the right time, it was such an answered prayer.
Living and working here for the first few years has been very tough. Abiding by their laws, which are very different from ours, and adjusting to their culture is mandatory and it was a shock. Then it got uncomplicated but no less difficult. The succeeding years became a routine of just going to work, home, eat and sleep, anticipating the most awaited vacation time to come.
Going home to the Philippines to spend every vacation was a very exciting part of my life. I got into a relationship, married and got pregnant in a span of two simultaneous vacations. I really needed to make plans to make everything fit within those limited stretches of time. It all happened easy-breezy until the two months expired.
Leaving wasn’t easy that time around because I will be carrying my child alone without my loved ones, and I am expecting it to be physically and emotionally hard and demanding. I got back to work without any glitches. Month every month, I patiently pass every day as my baby bump grows. As my body slowly adjusts, so is the suspense that turns to excitement on the 8th month. It means it’s almost time for another vacation. And an unusual one at that.
Traveling back home was risky since I was already beyond the 34-week limit for pregnant moms to travel safely, especially a long one. But I stayed positive. The trip that included one bus ride and two flights took almost 24 hours, and it was nerve-wracking it was hard to sleep. Fortunately, I arrived home without a situation.
Days passed and I delivered a healthy handsome boy, kissing him for the very first time was an amazing feeling. All the pains and sacrifices were all worth it. Every minute is well spent for him, thinking that I will be leaving him soon was heartbreaking. It was a tough decision to become an away-from-home mom, but for the same reason as everyone else, I want to provide my baby an easier life than what I had.