On February 4, 2007, I met Rahnia in an in vitro fertilization (ivf) clinic
called Conceive, located strategically on the border between the emirates
of Dubai and Sharjah, two of the seven principalities that make up the
United Arab Emirates (also known as “the UAE” or “the Emirates,” terms
that will be used interchangeably in this book).1 Rahnia was a stunning
half- Ethiopian, half- Eritrean Muslim woman who had fled the civil war in
her divided countries,2 becoming a teenage refugee in London. There she
eventually met Ahmed, a fellow Muslim refugee from Sudan. “It was very
hard to hunt down a Muslim man in the UK [United Kingdom],” Rahnia
explained. “And when I met him, it was very hard to conceive, very hard.
But I’m very optimistic. I see bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
Rahnia agreed to share with me her story of marital infertility and du-
ress and the tumultuous journey that had landed her in a clinic far away
from home. With her three- year-old ivf dau ghter, Wisal, by her side,
Rahnia told me this story, hoping that it would somehow “help others”
in their own quests for conception. Her story is transcribed verbatim,
with minor editing for clarity and definition of some key terms. (Medi-
cal terms used by Rahnia are defined in the medical glossary at the end
of this book.) I have included my questions to Rahnia, although most of
her story was delivered to me in En glish and with no prompting. I have
italicized parts of Rahnia’s narrative that she delivered with par ticular
emphasis. With Rahnia’s knowledge, I have changed her name (and those
p rologue
rahnia’s reproductive Journey
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