A 42 year-old woman was diagnosed with endometriosis, and shortly before she was to undergo surgery at Rambam Health Care Campus to treat the condition, discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant. She recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl by caesarean section with no complications.
About a year ago, Miriam Abu Zalam, 42, an assistant at a kindergarten in Northern Israel, learned that she was suffering from endometriosis. Following consultation with her physicians, the decision was made to treat the condition with surgery. However, in the end, Miriam happily found herself in a different operating room, where she gave birth to a baby girl who arrived 12 years after her last child was born.
“We had already done all of the preliminary tests. I had also stopped taking the contraceptives I’d been using for 12 years, since my last child was born,” recalled Miriam. “I am 42, and was about to undergo uterine surgery. I did not think for a moment that after so many years I would get pregnant again. I did a pregnancy test just for peace of mind, but I never imagined that the result would be positive. I was shocked.”
Miriam had no plans to expand her family. She had given birth to her eldest son 18 years ago, followed by two daughters, who are now 16 years old and 12 years old. "My husband and I decided that we were done. This was the family we wanted, and didn’t feel the need to have any more children. I wasn’t planning to become a mother again, certainly not 12 years after the last birth, and not at the age of 42, but plans and reality aren’t always the same thing,” Miriam says with a laugh. "When I humorously told my husband that I thought I was pregnant, he was startled. When it was confirmed, it took him a while to digest the news, but as the pregnancy progressed, he grew more and more excited.”
Years after forgetting how it felt, the late, surprise pregnancy brought Miriam an experience she hadn’t known from her previous pregnancies. “Lots of tests, lots of follow-up, medical procedures I didn’t do in earlier pregnancies... It is not easy to go through a pregnancy defined as high-risk, but thank God, everything was okay and went smoothly. I was just happy throughout the whole pregnancy,” she says and recalls the stress that surrounded the amniocentesis that she had to undergo due to her age. “In my other pregnancies, there was no need. I knew there was a risk of miscarriage and I was afraid of the results. When they came back stating that everything was normal, I couldn’t stop laughing and cheering. It was a moment that I remember well.”
Recently, Miriam came to Rambam to give birth to her daughter. After undergoing three caesarean sections in the past for various reasons, she had to give birth in the operating room this time as well, but unlike her previous births, this experience was completely different. “This was the first time that I was really part of the experience,” she says, explaining, "the previous three births were at another hospital and they were all done under general anesthesia. This is the first time that the anesthesia was local and I could see and experienced what was happening. I kept getting excited and crying with my husband in the operating room. Everything was just perfect. That's how I had always wanted to give birth.”
With her three older children, the extended family, neighbors, and friends waiting for her at home, Miriam could not stop smiling. “We called her Mian, which means “white flower” in Arabic. Our princess. Her older siblings keep calling and checking, and can’t wait for her to come home. Everyone around us is thrilled and waiting for us to arrive. A baby who arrived as a gift after 12 years – it’s a completely different type of parenting experience. I'm really excited about motherhood at this point. Even after a caesarean section, I cannot leave her in the nursery for a moment. She is my heart, and she arrived just in time.”