This HERStory is presented by Shadan Rahmani, as told to her by her cousin Roya.
On April 12, 2020 Roya received the most preeminent news of her life. She and her husband, Arya, have been married for three years. The two have shared many special memories with one another. After a year into their marriage, they decided it was time for them to try for a baby. The two spent some time trying for a baby, but they noticed how they were not getting a positive result. Roya began to get worried, thinking that something was wrong. Eventually, they decided to go visit a doctor to figure out the problem.
Roya has lived in Tehran, the capital city of Iran, her entire life. She went to school there, where she studied computer science and began to work in a company part time. Sometime later, she met Arya, who is now her beloved husband. The two both worked in similar fields and when they married, she soon stopped working. Because of the kind of family that she comes from, she knew that she wanted a family similar to hers. A big, happy, and close family is what she hoped for. However, she soon realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as she imagined.
At their visit, the doctor gave them hope by stating how they should continue to try for natural pregnancy and if they still didn’t get the expected result after six months, then they could come back to figure out the issue. Six months later, still no positive results. They later discovered that Roya had blocked fallopian tubes. This condition prevented them from getting pregnant. After that discovery they soon started in vitro fertilization (IVF). Her reproductive endocrinologist provided detailed information about her treatment cycle, including timeline and medications. Time went by and still no positive results. Eventually, in April of the following year Roya took a pregnancy test where she witnessed her first positive pregnancy.
Overwhelmed with happiness, she shared the pregnancy news with her family. With everyone thrilled over the pregnancy news, reality set in, worry began to take over my cousin. She wasn’t certain how she could give birth to her child in a world where a COVID outbreak was spreading fast and rates of infection were continuously rising. Iran had not been doing well controlling the virus. Hospitals were all crowded and more individuals continued to lose their lives every day. Even when a vaccine would become available, not everyone would have access to it. Some of those who would have access to the vaccine doubted whether or not this was the vaccine that would work since they knew that the United States had access to another type.
My aunt tried her best to get Roya everything that she needed in terms of food, clothing, and any other necessities. As for her husband, he discussed the terms with his boss, who agreed to him working from home. Now, with both of them being home, the risk of them getting COVID decreased significantly. However, they were still worried about how they would be able to raise their child in a pandemic.
During her first prenatal visit to her doctor, Roya’s doctor reassured her that she would get through it, even though she was worried that she had actually left her house to visit the doctor’s office. At the office, they had strict protocols which included her temperature being checked before entering the building, wearing a mask, and more. These precautions made her feel more comfortable - protected.
She was having contractions seven minutes apart and the time was about to come. She had her mask on as her husband stood outside of the delivery room with no other family members. They were all in their houses keeping themselves safe from COVID. In the room, there were two nurses and one doctor who all were covered face to toe due to all the COVID safety measures. The birthing process began. Finally, sometime later, Roya’s and Arya’s healthy baby son, whom they named Arya, came into the world and soon into the arms of his parents.
Roya knew her worries were not near over. Now with her son being out in the world, she had to take other precautions to keep her son, her husband, and herself safe from COVID. She barely got to see anyone because of the concern of COVID being spread. It was just the three of them. Her husband was still working from home which made things easier for them and Roya made sure that food and other necessities were either delivered or a family member dropped them off.
This was a stressful journey for Roya. She shared her struggle to become a mother and her HERStory shows how mothers in Iran had to take great precautions to make sure that their babies would be able to come into this world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shadan Rahmani is a first-year Public Health Scholar studying at American University, in Washington, DC.