Video Update: American Summer 2017

This summer was Benjamin’s first time on American soil, so naturally we had to take him coast to coast to show him the real deal! Barely 2 months old, he was a trooper as we tossed him from state to state, plane to car, and Airbnb to guest bedroom. Family and friends in Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, and California got to hold our little guy and smother him with love. We also had our own fair share of cuddling with new babes and growing kiddos. This was indeed the summer of “the kid!” Enjoy this little montage of some of our favorite moments, places, and people along the way.

 

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Having a Baby in Egypt

If our son, Benjamin, could speak, he would tell you he’s from Egypt. No, he will not be an Egyptian citizen and likely will not speak Arabic like the locals do (although that would be nice!), but from his first few months in the womb, to birth, to his first 2 weeks breathing this polluted city air, he has spent all of his young life in Egypt. Having a baby in Egypt felt a lot like having a baby anywhere else in the world, only without the IV pumps and intermittent blood pressure checks. Of course, we have nothing to relate it to as this is our first child, but through each step of the way, we felt confident and prepared to bring this child into the world here. So, how did it all go down?

Garry, Dina, and Ruth with Becca

An interesting thing to note about childbirth in Egypt, is that most women here have c-sections. They are predictable, can be planned, and the mother doesn’t feel any of the pains of labor. Because of that, we actually had to seek out a specific doctor who would be comfortable with letting us have a natural delivery, as it’s just not a normal thing here! Thankfully, we found one pretty quickly who we felt would do a good job bringing little Ben into the world. So since September, we’ve been meeting every 3 weeks with our amazing doctors, head doctor Dr. Cherif and his assistant Dr. Karim. At each appointment they would do an ultrasound, a general check-up on Becca, and a brief consultation to talk about the progress of Benjamin. Each appointment cost us 250 LE or about $14. We also managed to find an Egyptian midwife, or “doula”, here named Dina. Midwifery has been on the decline in recent decades as the profession isn’t seen as an important asset in a doctor-heavy country. She was the perfect addition to our team as she provided a lot of important information before the delivery, as well as acted as our advocate with the nurses and doctors. In the hospitals, only the doctors speak English – all the nurses and staff speak only Arabic, so it’s helpful to have someone there to translate as well. Rounding out our “dream team” were Becca’s parents who flew in a week before Becca’s due date to provide emotional support as well as lend a helping hand around the house. Becca’s mom, Ruth, was also right by her side throughout the labor and delivery.

Watching the contractions on the monitor.

Eleven days after the due date, we headed to the hospital for Becca to get a check-up to see if things were progressing. To Dr. Karim’s surprise, Becca was already 4-5 cm dilated without registering any contractions! Becca was admitted around 11 a.m. and put on a slow drip to help her start the contractions and get them going on a regular basis. Our room was comfortable and large enough to fit all the busy bodies that would eventually be coming in and out of it. For now, in likely our very last moments alone, Becca and I prayed together for the afternoon/evening ahead, taking one last moment to remember what it was like to be “just us.”

Enjoying a hospital cappuccino gearing up for a long night ahead.

Midday turned to late afternoon, and slowly the contractions increased. To help get things going, Becca walked the halls of our floor and did squats on a medicine ball. By 7 pm, the contractions were getting pretty intense and Becca was ready to move onto the next stage, the water birthing room. No, it is not common to have a water birth in Egypt. In fact, we were told that our hospital was the only hospital in the city that had a water birth facility (And by facility, I mean they have one water birth room to serve the 20 million people of Cairo). We didn’t always want to have a water birth, but once our midwife had talked to us about the benefits of it and the fact that our doctor and hospital were equipped to handle such a delivery, we decided to go ahead with it.

Working through the contractions one at a time.

Becca was wheeled up to the water birthing room just after 8 pm. By this time the contractions had gotten to be almost unbearable for Becca, who didn’t have any pain meds, so the pool seemed a good solution to help with the laboring. Dr. Karim in this moment really encouraged Becca to get into the warm pool, as Becca could barely manage to get off the stretcher, telling her that the pain would be reduced by 60%. I’m not sure to what percent Becca’s pain went down, but she did feel instant relief by getting in the water. The water itself was very warm, so Ruth, myself, and Dina took turns rubbing ice cubes up and down Becca’s arms and draping a cold rag on her forehead to keep her from becoming overheated. Becca began trying to push little Benjamin out around 10 p.m.

When Becca could still smile – trying to walk this baby out.

As her husband, I felt incredibly helpless at times. It was all I could do to not break down and cry during such a trying time. As she pushed, I held Becca’s body up in the water by wrapping my arms around her from behind. I prayed with her, I encouraged her with my seemingly weightless words, and just stayed by her side throughout every minute of the night. Becca was amazing. She was gracious towards everyone in the room, determined between contractions, and strong when she had to push over and over again. I will never forget how in awe I was of this woman I had married.

3 1/2 long hours of pushing in the pool.

Benjamin James Hatfield

Around 3 1/2 hours and an immeasurable number of pushes later, Dr. Cherif decided to pull Becca out of the water and have her try pushing from a bed. Benjamin just wasn’t coming out and he was getting worried about Becca’s endurance. About 15 minutes later, at 1:24 am on May 4th, Benjamin was born. Finally.

As I type this, Benjamin lies just inches away from me cuddled up in his favorite blue wrap, healthy as can be. In fact, he went on his first felucca boat ride just last week! Of course, our lives’ have been flipped upside down, but we knew that going into all of this. He does all the things a baby is supposed to do and is a full-time job to his Mama and Daddy. We are so in love with him already. Becca continues to recover well and is quickly adapting to being his primary care-taker while I’m back at work.

So having a baby in Egypt, would we do it again? Yes! We understand that everyone is different and there are certainly some specific issues that might concern some expats away from their home countries. However, for us, it was an incredible experience that we wouldn’t trade for anything. In the end, our hospital bill was right at $1000 for the entire thing. It was possible to do things cheaper, but we decided to spend a bit more to have a few extra comforts (like those cappuccinos 😉 ).

Leaving the hospital!

Dr. Karim and Dr. Cherif

Of course, all you parents out there understand that the adventure has just begun for our little guy. There will be challenges ahead for sure, but we are overwhelmingly thankful for how God has provided for us in so many ways up to this point. We ask that you would continue to pray for us as we navigate these uncharted waters as we raise our firstborn in this wonderful and wild country. Benjamin the “Egyptian.” It’s kind of got a ring to it, don’t ya think?

-C

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T-minus 3 Weeks!

On my Google calendar, April 23rd reads “D-Day”. That gives us under one more month of just “us.” When friends and strangers ask us the proverbial, “Are you ready?”, our answer seems to always float between, “What does ready mean?” and “I think so?” That said, things have really been coming together in the last few months as we gear up for little baby Hatfield’s arrival!

So many wonderful friends living with us in Egypt have been overly generous. We have had countless items gifted and donated to us, and have felt very taken care of and loved here. Our spare bedroom has been spruced up with a fresh coat of paint thanks to some helpful friends, and baby furniture has been moved in. This alone has made the reality that “this is happening” feel more like “THIS IS HAPPENING!” Of course, our baby room will still accommodate adult people too, so please don’t feel like we can’t host in you Cairo any more…we can!! (Maybe just bring your ear plugs ;))

You want beige, beige, or beige?

(On a side-note, if you’re wondering what it’s like to paint your apartment in Cairo, let’s just say it’s not quite the same as America. A man comes to your home and you bring to him the 5 gigantic buckets of white paint that you’ve pre-purchased from a small, hole-in-the-wall shop from a man who speaks no English, and to whom you’re speaking yourbroken Arabic while also making “painting gestures” with your hands to try to explain to him what you want. You also needed to have purchased small concentrated bottles of whatever color it is you want on your walls. And then you get to mixing your wall color – right there in your living room. You want beige? Add a little brown, pour in some yellow…and then watch as the man puts his entire arm in the paint bucket and proceeds to mix it all up. Apply to the

Professional mixer.

wall. Let it dry. Stare, decide. Still not right? Add some black, more brown, stick your arm back in, mix, mix, mix…put it on the wall. Stare, stare at it some more, until you’ve got just the right color you want. Give them the final okay. …And so was our experience a few weeks ago when we had some men come to paint our living room, kitchen, and bathroom! I originally thought this was a crazy way to do things, but I’ve got to admit, for a person as indecisive as me about paint color and who ALWAYS seems to pick the wrong one, it was great to be able to just “add some more color” if things weren’t quite the way I wanted them!)

 

 

So Mom is healthy, baby is healthy, everything seems to be heading in the right direction as far as we know. 🙂 We’re excited to have Becca’s parents here for the big arrival and we feel very comfortable with our astute doctor and sharp-as-a-tack midwife! I really feel like we’ve got the Dream Team on our side. Of course, with the unknown, there are still some nerves. Will there be loads of traffic – per the norm – while we’re driving to the hospital (which is at least a 45 minute drive away)? How long will Becca be in labor? What will it be like giving birth in a hospital where no one but the doctor and our midwife speak English? We trust that God has brought us this far and will lead us all safely the rest of the way!

Life as we know it will change once we have a little one to look after. With a bigger family comes bigger responsibilities. And then there’s the fact that we live in Egypt…That said, we have an amazing community of friends here that we know will continue to support us throughout each step of our family life. It’s tough to do this whole parenting thing (at least, that’s what I’m told), but when you’re surrounded by so many helping hands, the load certainly can become lighter.

Did we mention Becca fractured her elbow a couple of months ago? That’s for another blog post…

In these last weeks we plan on going on lots of dates, nailing down a name (nope, we still haven’t decided yet!…), and going skydiving. Alright, we’ll do that last one AFTER the baby gets here. Just seeing if anyone was still reading. 😉

In other news, it’s Caleb’s BIRTHDAY today so we’re excited to celebrate his 29 years of life! Caleb spent his birthday weekend camping out in a nature reserve close to where we live with some of his friends. And by nature I mean mostly desert, but still! It’s nice to get out of the city and do things that seem a bit more “normal.”

We’ll try to update again soon (maybe even before the baby arrives??), but we just want to say how appreciate and thankful we are for all of you in our lives! We certainly continue to feel incredibly loved by our friends and family, both near and far, on a daily basis. Love you all!

Love, C&B

3 more weeks!

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Video Update: LebaYES!

This past Thanksgiving we traveled to Lebanon with some friends of ours here in Cairo. We had an incredible time. Here are some of the sights and sounds from our trip.

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Happy New Year 2017!

As we begin this new year, we look back on all the excitement of 2016 with a big “phew!” The year marked our 3rd anniversary (are we still newly weds?), the beginning of our 3rd year living in Egypt, a new teaching position for Caleb, more grueling hours of Arabic lessons for Becca, and of course, the big news of our newest family member. Looking forward to 2017, we know that life will look a lot different in many ways. Our son, if he’s anything like his father, will be a handful, Caleb will start another new position at his school, and Becca will face the challenges of being a first time mother. All in all, we’re excited about this new year and we’re thankful for the army of family and friends that continue to shower us with love and support. They are after all who made 2016 such a blessed year. This little video is in tribute to all of them. Happy new year and we look forward to sharing new memories with each one of you in 2017!

 

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Turning a Page in Egypt

Well, here we sit, inching toward the halfway point of our third year living in Egypt, but this time it’s not just the two of us. Becca’s pregnant! We decided Cairo’s population wasn’t quite big enough yet, so we’ll be adding to the 20+ million people with one of our very own this April. With the inevitable sleepless nights and hardships of raising a child in a foreign country, also comes the excitement and thankfulness of being blessed with our first baby. We are surrounded with love from our friends living here and feeling supported from our families in the states. We’ve gotten over the initial, “We’re having a child in EGYPT” phase, and have moved onto a more realistic phase, where we realize, “Hey! People have been having kids here longer than anywhere else!” We’ve found a wonderful doctor, have a comfortable home, and already received generous gifts and helpful hand-me-downs as we prepare for our little one’s arrival. Still working on what we’ll name our little guy, but I’m sure it’ll come in due time.

The future Mr. Hatfield. Things are starting to get tight in there!

The future Mr. Hatfield. Things are starting to get tight in there!

We realize that having a child is going to change the way life looks like for us. I’m not going to say that we won’t travel anymore, but those trips will probably look a little different and we won’t be able to get away with only a couple carry-ons. Also, day-to-day will look a lot different for Becca as she is gearing up to be our baby’s primary caretaker during the days. There also comes the anxiety of having a child here, in a country so far from home, that may not have all the little amenities we could expect to get in America. However, we’re surrounded by several moms and dads who have done it all before. Many of them two or three times over. Their wisdom and support has and will be invaluable as we navigate the waters of parenthood here in Egypt. And learning to adapt here is essential because we aren’t leaving just yet…

About a month ago, Caleb went through the interview process to become a vice principal at his school. Despite being a finalist, Caleb didn’t get offered the position. However, on the same day he was turned down for the position he had interviewed for, he was offered the VP job of the middle school where he currently teaches 8th grade. After several nights of prayer and discussion, we decided that not only would we accept the position, but that we would commit to living in Egypt for at least two more years. This decision wasn’t easy. Especially considering that we would be having our first child in the spring, the temptation to head stateside was very strong. In the end, we gave it over to God. We trusted Him when he brought us here, and we’re going to continue to trust Him while we’re over here. He is good.

So now in these last few months before baby arrives, we’re soaking up all the together time that we can and making the most of our final days as a family of two. We’re excited to see what God has in store for our future here. And what new relationships and friendships that having a child might bring about!

Thanks to all of you for your continued thoughts and prayers! We miss you all dearly. And you’re all still welcome to visit anytime! You’ll just have to put up with a crying baby during the night, but that seems fun, right??

Love you guys!

-C&B

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Video Update: Europe 2016

2016 took us all over the continent of Europe! As far west as Spain and as far east as Montenegro, we trekked across the beautiful and diverse landscape with friends and family in tow. This short video is a compilation of moments and places we experienced along the way.

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Video Update: JORDAN

In March 2016, we set off on yet another week long adventure through Jordan. Our friend Eric Mennel joined us for part of the journey as we made stops all throughout the small country. Our trip took us to the Dead Sea, Petra, Red Sea, Wadi Rum, Amman, Jerash, Umm Qais and many more fascinating sites.

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Year 3 in Egypt!

It’s hard to believe that we are already in our third year of living in Cairo, Egypt! It seems like just yesterday my parents were dropping Becca and I off at Fort Wayne International Airport for our move abroad. When we left, we had a two year commitment, but made the decision halfway through our second year to extend an additional year. It’s a decision we’ll have to make yet again come this December! While many things are the same entering this year, there are a few changes that have taken place. Here’s what has and hasn’t changed:

1 SAME – Our Apartment

We are happy to continue our residence in the neighborhood of Cairo referred to as Heliopolis. This is especially wonderful since neither of us have lived in the same place 2 years in a row since college! We feel a certain endearment to this part of town and have loved the relationships we’ve been able to form with our neighbors near us.

2 DIFFERENT – Caleb’s Job

While Caleb is continuing to teach at the American International School in Egypt (AIS), he is no longer in the 5th grade. Instead, he is teaching at the middle school level for the first time! He’ll be challenged by his new 8th grade students and covering science throughout the year.

3 SAME – HCC

Heliopolis Community Church, or HCC, has been an important part of our time in Cairo. Services take place on Friday mornings and we are often helping out with music. Becca continues her role as the worship coordinator for the church.

4 DIFFERENT – Becca’s Workload

Becca is continuing her work organizing medical trips to Cairo, except, she’ll be taking on a bit more of a leadership role. Her “boss” will be gone for about 4 months and therefore Becca will absorb some of his responsibilities.

5 SAME – Arabic

We continue to try and learn Arabic each week in our lessons. It’s a tough language and at times we feel as if we aren’t making any progress. However, we recognize the importance language study has on building relationships and connectedness to our community here. We will persevere!

6 DIFFERENT – Friends

Over the last 6 months, we’ve had to say many farewells to close friends living here in Cairo. Unfortunately, this is just part of living abroad, as the revolving door of individuals coming and going continues to spin. We are looking forward to getting to know the new faces that have arrived over the summer!

We are looking forward to this year and the many exciting adventures and challenges that lie ahead. As always, don’t be a stranger! We love to hear from you and what’s happening in your part of the world, wherever that is. 🙂

C&B

Enjoying some sunshine this summer in Vancouver!

Enjoying some sunshine this summer in Vancouver!

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Guests in Cairo

We’ve always felt so blessed to have the visitors that make the journey to Cairo to visit us. In the last couple of months we’ve not only had a few friends and parents visit, but also some amazing new friends we’ve hosted through CouchSurfing. If you don’t know what couchsurfing is then go you should just click here and see it for yourself! We’ve had visitors from our neighbors here in the middle east, Germany, and Brazil most recently. We also had the pleasure of being hosted on our trip to Jordan! It’s a great social network and definitely worth checking out if you’re into traveling and meeting new people.

In front of the Citadel in Alexandria.

In front of the Citadel in Alexandria.

 

Felucca on the Nile River.

Felucca on the Nile River.

OK, I’ll stop plugging couchsurfing now. 🙂 Our first visitors of 2016 were actually Becca’s parents. It was fun to host them for a little over a week and show them the ordinary day-to-day life that we live. It was also fun to take them to Alexandria for a long weekend and take them to some of our favorite spots around Cairo. Having them here was a little piece of home, and it’s nice when we’re talking with them now to have them understand the places and people in our lives here.

Alexandria corniche at night.

Alexandria corniche at night.

Enjoying the cool night temperatures on the Nile.

Enjoying the cool night temperatures on the Nile.

It’s been good having both of our parents visit now as we think that this firsthand experience has possibly calmed some nerves they may have had with us living here. Like many of our previous visitors, a trip to Egypt is eye opening – not only because of the magnificent ancient sites but also because the way the expectations of this country and region are often skewed by western media. Most of our visitors leave saying things like, “I can’t believe how friendly the people were” or “I never once felt unsafe.” It’s amazing what a stranglehold the media has on our lives. Of course, we can tell people the reality of the situation of here via skype, but until you actually visit and see it with your own eyes, it’s hard to really grasp the truth.

Our friend Eric made the trek to Cairo at the end of February. His trip was extra special as he traveled to Jordan with us for a few days. We loved visiting many of the country’s most popular sites such as Petra, the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum. We also enjoyed our time seeing many biblical sites like Bethany where Jesus was baptized, Mount Nebo where Moses climbed to see the promise land, and Mukawir where John the Baptist was beheaded.

With April right around the corner, we prepare for a busy season as I (Caleb) finish the school year with a trip to Cyprus and Becca hosts a couple more medical teams from the states. We’ll also be making a short trip to Dubai. As we look toward the summer, we are looking forward to visiting with many of you back in North America. We’ll be on a bit of a whirlwind tour during those warm months before we return to Cairo once again in August for another year of living in Egypt. We are so thankful for the efforts many of you make to stay in touch and like the theme of this update, you are most welcome to visit us anytime!

Enjoying the view in Amman, Jordan's capital city.

Enjoying the view in Amman, Jordan’s capital city.

-C&B

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