The Birth 2 and 3

It was my intention to write this post on the birth as part of a 3 post series. Unfortunately I have been swamped with other things and my online access has been limited and now I will condense post two and three in one post.


Let me first state that initially I really did not want my child to be born in a hospital and preferred that my wife use a certified midwife to deliver the baby at our home.  My wife also wanted to have a home birth and in fact she was born at home just as the other 7 children her mother had were.


However, after some further thought and consideration we deiced that maybe we should go to the hospital given that her first pregnancy ended in a stillborn and we wanted to err on the side of caution.


For those who may not be that familiar with Muslim issues it is part of our religion that the body of a woman, outside of her face and hands, not be exposed to any male other than her husband or a close male relative. Given the fact that we are living in a non-Muslim society it is difficult to safeguard this in a hospital so a lot of more conservative Muslims such as my family opt to have home births. 


I had been less than impressed with St. Mary’s Hospital during my wife’s clinic visits and was really not sure how the birth would go. Like all American hospitals, St. Mary’s is first and foremost about profit and when you don’t have fancy insurance they try to get rid of you as soon as possible.


As soon as my wife arrived into this kind of delivery waiting room ( apart from the delivery room) nurses were telling her that she was not really in labor and that she should come back when the contractions were closer together. While they were not rude in talking to my wife they were openly rude and dismissive in talking to other women.


Each time they were dismissive towards my wife I looked at them like they were crazy knowing that while I am not a woman it only makes sense that a woman in her 4th pregnancy knows when she is in labor. They were still talking about dismissing her until her water break and they transferred her to the delivery unit.


It was in this unit that things changed all of the sudden. The doctors and nurses in this unit were like soldiers running towards my wife any time she made a sound and I was very impressed with their operation.

While waiting in the room an endless wave of nurses came in and some came because they would be delivering the baby and some came just to say hi. One came in and asked if my wife didn’t want any men in the room and she said she did not want any men and that was that ( when the baby came there were about 6 female nurses, a female doctor and 3 female residents in the room).


Amongst those coming in the room was a woman named Sarah and given her tall lean body and olive skin I just assumed in my mind she was a Sudani or Egyptian Muslima who grew up in the States (and who knows she could have been a Colombian or a light-skinned black woman from Da Lou).  Another lady came in who was obviously Desi and came to my wife and said “my name is Fatimah” and my wife smiled and said “my name is Fatimah too”.


I found this statement to be kind of touching in that by saying her name, a name she knew that she shared with my wife, this doctor was saying ” I am a Muslim…we are Muslims…and we are here for one another.” It was implied.


When the baby finally got ready to come it turned out that Dr. Fatimah was the one who delivered the baby (or at least she was the main catcher grabbing the head). They asked me to hold one of the legs of my wife; but I declined and had the nurse do it. I have no medical training and in fact am rather old school and would prefer it if men still waited out in the lobby; but you know sometimes you do things for women you don’t want to do. The man is supposed to be there for moral support and encouragement but with 10 people in the room I could barely see my wife (and could hardly breathe for that matter).


It just so happens though that there were some minor complications with the birth and they ended up needing me to hold the leg as some little short Italian nurse jumped on my wife to do some kung-fu like maneuver to get the baby out as her head was out of the body for 20 minutes while the rest of her body was stuck inside due to her big shoulders (something she obviously got from me along with my big head…she came out at 9 pounds and 7 ounces form the record and I guess this should be a disclaimer to any sisters interested in being my deuce ).


The baby came out with a final push before they were to cut and everyone was relieved except that the baby didn’t make any sounds or noises for a few minutes so they had to get the baby to breathe and stuff and when she started crying everyone was relieved.


Those 12 hours in the hospital were long and hard for me so I can’t even imagine how my wife felt. A few hours after the birth I had to leave to go back to work and it was business as usual. A driver had been killed and now a new Muslima was born into the world we named Aseeyah and I pray that Allah’SWT makes her from those of the righteous Muslims.


I cant tell you how much love I felt from the Muslims during this time from Tariq Nelson calling me and telling me “this is the first day of the rest of your life” to Suhaib Webb telling me how big his babies were while I was still in the delivery room to the countless brothers and sisters who emailed, called, and texted their congratulations. It was also a blessing to have Brother Rasheed and Sister Kareemah to help with the kids along with my two sisters.


Kids change a lot for you and how you look at the world. I know now that every move I make must be in line with their best interest and I began plotting before my daughter was born her upbringing and Islamic education and Allah is the best of planners.


Other things kids do not change. My dear friend and Muslim brother Mukhtar Abdul-Malik called me while in the hospital and said “tell the baby we love her but we need to go make this money” and of course he was right.


That night I was out on my grind and the next night I even had a confrontation with a Somali driver who tried to steal my trip. He was driving an illegal unregistered cab with a scanner in it to pick up the frequency from my company. When I saw him pull up to the corner of Olive and Compton where I was supposed to pick up my fare I jumped out and said ” where is the scanner” and he said ” no scan no scan” and then I asked him ” are you Somali? Are you Muslim?” and he said “yes I am Somali Assalamu alaikum”.


When he said that I smelled liquor on his breath and I yelled at him “are you drinking? Are you drinking like these kafirs?” and then I took off my belt and told him “I will whoop you! I will make hudud on you!” and he said “sorry, I sorry” and sped off.

 Some things change and some things stay the same.

The Birth


Umar Lee and wife Fatimah Dawood. She gave birth to our daughter today.

I had been saying to fellow St. Louis cab drivers that the warmer it gets here the crazier things will get. One driver said “man they say that every summer it is going to be a long hot summer” and I said “yes but St. Louis summers are usually hot humid and full of death and gunplay”.


With the economy in the shape that it is I have been seeing signs for weeks that things are getting ready to get worse. Passengers running more scams than usual, passengers with no money, women wanting to barter, and street urchins approaching the cab offering anything from power tools to meat. 


The first day I got hired as a driver the GM of the company looked at me and the woman getting hired next to me (who had just got home from a long bid in prison) and said “you all should know that this is a dangerous job”.


He did not have to tell me. I had known of several cabbies that had gotten killed over the years in St. Louis (not to mention the countless stories I read of New York cabbies getting killed).


I also knew that you can make the job more dangerous that it has to be. You can do this by staying too long in bad neighborhoods late at night or picking up people who just don’t seem right to you. The driver has the authority to ask for money up front and should use it.


There are those on St. Louis related blogs and news sites like the St. Louis Beacon who would have you believe that St. Louis is not a dangerous city and that there is only a “perception of crime”. Antonio French, a good guy who was just elected to the Board of Alderman (like the city council), even recently insinuated we should tone down our conversations for fear of giving the city a bad image (Antonio obviously is not familiar with the expression you cant put lipstick on a pig and when it comes to race, crime, the economy, health-care, public-transit, and class St. Louis is a blue-ribbon winner of the pig prize at any state fair).


Early Tuesday morning was kind of slow and I moved around the city picking up what I could. A little after midnight I heard a fellow driver take a trip from the airport going over to Maryville, IL ( the same Maryville where there was a church shooting a little while ago).


A couple of hours later I heard another driver reporting that there was an abandoned cab on the parking lot of a gas station at Grand and Natural Bridge on the North Side. About an hour after that I was getting calls on my cell phone that there were reports that a driver from my company had been shot and killed.


There was no confirmation from the company over the radio but drivers began huddling on posts talking about what was being reported on the news. At this point no one really knew what happened and there was a lot of speculation as to what happened.


After going home and waking up I began to get news of the full picture. A driver had been in a notoriously bad area on the North Side and in the backseat of a car ( with what we now know to be a 22 year old white female who, in this 100% black neighborhood there is a 100% chance was a crack ho). A black male approaches the cab and shoots the driver dead at close range and then throws his body out onto the street. If we are to believe the female (which I don’t) she panicked and got in the cab and drove it to the gas station and yelled for the police.


The name of the driver was Jerome, and he was a good man, a Vietnam Veteran, former firefighter and a piano player and he did not deserve to die at the hands of a robber who does not want to work for his; but wants to take the hard earned fruits of others. However, he should have known better and the lesson is leave crack hoes alone and don’t relax in the backseat of your car in well-known drug areas.


Our company did not miss a beat and all the drivers went on with business as usual (although many would later attend the funeral). The next day a driver was assaulted by a passenger picked up at the Moolah Theater. This assault could have simply been prevented by having a glass barrier between the front and backseat like cabs in many other cites do. But, it is my understanding, that city leadership trying to put lipstick on a pig do not want the barrier because it would send toe message to visitors that the city is a dangerous place (which every cabbie knows for a fact it is and that the danger here is not a product of our imaginations). 


The next night progressed as usual and business picked up. I picked a guy up on The Hill (an old Italian neighborhood where, amongst others, Yogi Berra and Joe Garogiola grew up).  I took him down to the Hoosier Heartland in deep South St. Louis a place that is to local rednecks what the Nejd is to Salafis.


After dropping the guy off (on what I suspect may have been a drug run) I noticed that I had missed several calls and text messages on my cell phone from my wife. I immediately called her and she told me she was in labor and I rushed up the highway to pick her up to take her to the hospital telling her to get the kids ready while I contacted a sister to pick the kids up from the hospital.

 Part Two: The Hospital

Part Three: The Aftermath