Testimony: Woman delivers stillborn child at checkpoint

Naheel Awni Abd al-Rahim Abu Rideh, 21, married with one child, is a homemaker and a resident of Qusra in Nablus district. Her testimony was given to Salma a-Deba’i on 8 September 2008 at the witness’s home:

I married Muaiad Abu Rideh two years ago, and had a baby girl, Shadah, a year ago. She was born in my seventh month of pregnancy but is fine now.

Seven months ago, I became pregnant again. Last Thursday [4 September], I had sharp stomach pains and I started to bleed badly. Around 7pm I went to Dr. Fathi Odeh in Jawarish, because our village doesn’t have any specialist physicians. He gave me medication and told me I’d be all right, but I didn’t feel any improvement and the pains even got worse.

Around midnight, I couldn’t bear the pain any more. I woke my husband and asked him to take me to the hospital. When he saw how much I was suffering, he called to get his brother Udai, who lives in the center of the village, to drive us in his car. Udai arrived, with my mother-in-law, in a couple of minutes. My husband picked me up and carried me to the car. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t walk.

We started on our way to the hospital in Nablus at about 12:50am. At the Zatara checkpoint, we told the soldiers I was pregnant and had to get to the hospital, and they let us cross without a problem. When we got to the Huwwara checkpoint, the soldiers didn’t let us pass. They said we didn’t have a permit to cross by car. We told them my brother has a permit to cross the Maale Efraim checkpoint because he works at settlements in the Jordan Valley, but that didn’t help.

The pain got worse. I felt as if I was going to give birth any moment. Now and then, the soldiers came over to the car and looked at me lying in the back seat. I was really worried about the fetus, and couldn’t stop thinking that I’d have to give birth in the car while the soldiers watched.

I kept screaming and crying and calling for help. I don’t know how much time passed, but suddenly I felt the fetus coming out. I shouted to my mother-in-law and to Udai, who were outside the car: “I think he’s coming out!” I took off my clothes. I was afraid they’d see me naked and that something would happen to the fetus. My mother-in-law shouted: “Yes, here’s his head, he’s coming out.” I asked her to pull him, and she said, “Breathe! Push!” I felt as the baby moved, as if he was calling for help and asking us to help him come out. My mother-in-law covered me with my clothes. I shouted to my husband, “The baby is out!” He shouted to the soldiers something in Hebrew that I didn’t understand.

I don’t remember exactly what happened then, but when the medics arrived, they picked me up with the car seat and put me in the ambulance. I didn’t feel the baby moving any more and realized he was dead. The medics took away the dead baby and took me to the hospital. My husband and mother-in-law came with me in the ambulance. At the hospital, the doctors operated on me to clean my uterus. They discharged me the next day.

It hurts me a lot when I remember how the baby moved inside me and what happened to him. What did he do wrong? I also gave birth to my daughter in my seventh month, and now she is healthy. This poor baby died because there wasn’t anybody to help me deliver him.

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