Fieldset
Pakistan: Three baby girls and a proud mother

Sundas Parvez is a nurse in the newborn unit at Peshawar Women’s Hospital in Pakistan, where she has been working with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) since 2014. In this blog, she writes about caring for newborn triplets and the chance to speak to their mother. 

The triplets at Peshawar Women’s Hospital

A few weeks ago, I was working the morning shift when I received a set of premature triplets in the handover from my colleague.

All three were baby girls, admitted to hospital due to their low weight.

After an initial assessment and treatment, I called their mother from the mothers’ room and asked her to express some milk to feed them.

While she was expressing milk, I started turning over the pages of her file and we started talking.

A question

Suddenly a question came to my mind. I hesitantly stood by her side and asked: "Are you happy that you gave birth to three baby girls? Weren’t you expecting a son?"

Of course I am glad, why shouldn’t I be? I am a woman myself.”

Usually, people in our local rural culture feel happier if a son is born into the family. They feel proud to have a male baby who can represent their family and be the breadwinner for them.

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The triplets in incubators
The triplets in their incubators at Peshawar Women’s Hospital

Soon after asking this random question, I realised that this might be inappropriate to ask. I quickly said sorry and asked her to ignore my question.

She smiled and after a second or two replied: “Of course I am glad, why shouldn’t I be? I am a woman myself.”

She continued, “If there are no girls born, how would people have brides for their sons?”

I was speechless for a while.  This statement compelled me to laugh and I felt a sense of serenity.

A celebration

I have seen families not so happy over the birth of girls. So, I asked how her husband and in-laws felt. Were they happy, too?

Without a thought, she replied with a sense of relief and told me that her husband was very happy and his mother was pleased, too.

Her mother-in-law had actually asked the new parents to inform her when they are planning to leave the hospital to come back home. She wants to celebrate the triplet’s arrival by arranging for a Dhol – a barrel-shaped wooden drum used to celebrate an occasion – and by distributing peanuts around the village.  

I felt great listening to all this.

The triplets are fighting hard, getting healthier day by day. Their first treatment of antibiotics has been completed and hopefully, they will be discharged from the hospital within a few days.