I am writing this the day before you are due to be born, during one of the worst pandemics in human history.
I hope that by the time you are old enough to read this, coronavirus and the trouble it caused in the year of 2020 will be a distant memory. But I also thought you might like to know what it was like for your mama, being pregnant with you during this strange time.
This letter will be given to you when you are grown up, so you will understand my state of mind while I was carrying you, and the difficult situations I overcame, with ease or not.
We first found out about you when the world was still mostly normal, in January 2020. It was one of the happiest days of my life, to learn that you were on your way and that your big brother Claude would be getting a sibling.
At the time I had just started a job in sales at an import-export company. I might as well tell you that I was never planning to stay there all my life, import-exporting not being my field, but finding work was quite difficult economically speaking at that time already.
By March 2020 we had started to hear a lot about this mysterious illness caused by a new coronavirus, and we had started worrying about it in the UAE too.
The media was full of news of this deadly virus spreading across the world at lightning speed, and pregnant women were classed as vulnerable - no one was sure what would happen if an expectant woman were to fall sick.
I couldn’t risk catching it, so I decided to keep us both safe by confining myself, and I asked my company for permission to work from home, which I was granted.
But then, In April 2020, I lost my job.
The months that followed were very difficult at all levels. Here is a glimpse of what my life was like...
Job losses are not good for anyone’s state of mind and, although your daddy was still able to support us and took great care of us and kept us safe, I still suffered from a lot of anxiety. I had big doubts about my life, wondering, “What am I going to do? How am I going to find work again?”
I tried my best to stay healthy, doing yoga every morning and meditation at least three times a week, but I had to stop the exercises all of a sudden because I blocked my back. It was so painful that I couldn’t walk for some time.
The anxiety got so bad at some points that I had paranoid moments where I saw my life fly in front of me, and I argued with my mother - your grandmother - because she couldn’t take the health risk of flying to the UAE to be here for your birth.
COVID-19 has taken away so much from everyone, keeping families apart from each other and making expat life much harder than it used to be. I said never mind to my mother in the end, but still hoped she could come. There are times when even grown-ups just want their mummy by their side. Maybe you will understand this one day too.
But it wasn’t all bad. In many ways our confinement has changed my world view for the better.
I was aware that all my doubts about my life and job could only lead to negativity, and I knew I could not continue on that road, so I had the idea of working on a personal project that has gradually been taking shape, with the help of your father, who has been behind me all the way.
Towards the end of March the UAE locked down almost completely, bringing all kinds of social interactions between families and friends to a total standstill.
But, although we were physically apart and not able to travel due to the virus, I found that the digital world opened up instead. Using video chats and email I ended up getting very close to my girlfriends in France, and I got close to my girlfriends in Abu Dhabi too.
I even got closer to some of my family members. I focused on meditation every day. In many ways, I found myself.
It was a difficult time for everyone, but I was there for many of my friends when they needed me, while many of them were there for me too. My aunt, who is based in the UAE, became my mentor, giving me advice on some important topics.
I became wiser, I think.
I paid attention to what I eat, keeping it healthy for both of us.
I also used this time off from work to focus on your brother, and I taught him to feed himself like a big boy, how to scrub himself in the shower and brush his own teeth. We had so much fun. I even bought him a rabbit to keep him company during the lockdown, and I taught him the names of all the farm animals in French. I played with him and gave him a lot of time, love, laughter and joy.
I learnt how to cook new dishes, and took good care of my family as well as myself, while your daddy took great care of all of us in return.
I gave all the love I could to the people around me.
I have always wanted two children, to be close to each other, which is what I wish for you and your brother.
During this difficult time I have realized that family is everything,
As I wait eagerly for you to be born, I'm now working on my own project in parallel, with plans to run my own business.
I have learnt so much and I hope that you will be proud of me one day.
The most important thing I want you to know is that I love you. You are loved. Your brother and you will always be loved.
Muriel Al Kache Cressot is a French expat living in Abu Dhabi with her husband and little boy. She is due to have a Caesarean section on 14 September 2020.