Michelle’s Pictures

Take a look at Michelle’s photos below the fold…

9 minutes old She's cute at 1 day old Ain't she pretty?
Ready to go home A week old I want to hold her

Immigration Tales

I have ranted about USCIS on this weblog a number of times. Today, we bring you stories of the stupidity of immigration authorities around the world.

Let’s start with the United States. Via Head Heeb comes the story of poor Jimmy Mote, a native of the Marshall Islands. Under the Compact of Free Association between Marshall Islands and the US, a Marshallese person can live and work in the US as a non-immigrant. But apparently American law enforcement hadn’t heard of it.

A Marshallese man was recently released on home-monitoring following seven months of detention at a Minnesota lock-up. He is waiting for the Court to make a decision on whether or not he will be released from custody. He was arrested and detained in error.

Jimmy Mote, a thirty-three old from Majuro, Marshall Islands, came to the United States legally twelve years ago with non-immigrant status, but when he went to apply for an ID card renewal, he was detained by police. Someone working in the government office there found some information on the computer, which has since been proved an error, and had him arrested. According to Mr. Mote, a policeman told him that he looked like a terrorist. ” No one seemed to know where the Marshall Islands is,” he said.

One day, December 2003, Jimmy went to Bismarck, North Dakota to renew his I.D. That’s when the trouble began.

[…]After being taken into custody by six or seven state patrolmen in Bismarck, Mote was whisked up to Bottineau, where he was held for a week. All the time, he was trying to tell them that he had a right to be there. He also had an unexpired passport, issued on April 17, 1998, which under the Compact law, is the only documentation a Marshall Islands citizen needs to enter the United States.

Mr. Mote was taken down to Chaska, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, where he was held in jail until his recent release.

There is some more detail and an update here. Jimmy Mote’s case with the immigration court is ongoing.

Mote is required to report back to the INS office in Minnesota at 3:00 pm on Friday, August. 20. If he can pay bail of $1500, he can await the December hearing in North Dakota.

[…] Reportedly, it was a criminal charge from ten years ago that “red-flagged” the case to immigration authorities and has impacted the current proceedings.

This old criminal charge might trigger the 1996 immigration law regarding deportation. I read somewhere on the Yokwe forums that Mote’s criminal charge was a result of a $10 bad check and did not qualify for the moral turpitude clause of the 1996 law.

From the US, we move to the United Kingdom (hat tip: Perverse Access Memory) for the case of Steve Purcell, a British citizen, and his American wife, Lia. Here is their story in their own words.

We married in England at the beginning of this year, and through the tiring course of Lia’s pregnancy we have tried to get permission for Lia to remain in the UK indefinitely. We thought that we might need to leave the country to apply for a settlement visa for Lia, but in a phone call the Home Office advised us that we could apply from within the UK since Lia had been advised not to fly during her pregnancy. When we made our application, however, it was rejected because it was made in-country.

By the time our application was rejected, it was too late in Lia’s pregnancy for her to travel abroad, but her existing visa was due to expire when Grace would be only 8 weeks old. In the light of this uncertainty we could neither plan to remain in the UK nor prepare to leave.

[…] Despite its original advice, the current position of the Home Office as relayed to us by the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration is that we have not followed the rules, and that “Mrs. Purcell should make arrangements to leave the country in August and apply for an entry clearance as a spouse. If this is granted, Mrs. Purcell may then apply for two years further leave to remain and seek indefinite leave to remain at the end of the probationary period.”

On to Pakistan for a tale of love and bureaucracy. Aman Khan Hoti and Divya Dayanan met while studying in the Ukraine. They fell in love and got married last year in Pakistan after Divya converted to Islam and adopted the name “Hafsa”. The now Dr. Hafsa Aman applied for naturalization in Pakistan, but her application was refused. The couple have now filed a lawsuit in the Peshawar High Court.

The Pakistan government has declined citizenship to Indian national Dr Hafsa Aman after security agencies did not give necessary clearance, an Interior Division official has said.

A section officer of the Division, Jawed Habib, who was ordered to file comments by the Peshawar High Court on a writ petition filed by Aman Khan, Dr Hafsa’s husband, said that granting citizenship to an applicant was subject to clearance by security agencies.

The officer, in his brief comments, stated that Dr Hafsa’s case was being reprocessed and she had been given a two-month extension on her stay permit.

The high court stayed the deportation of Dr Hafsa and sought comments from respondents

[…] Habib conceded that under Section 10(2) a foreigner wife of a Pakistani man was entitled to Pakistani citizenship, but that was subject to clearance by security agencies.

Advocate Usman Khan Tarlandi, the petitioner’s counsel, stated that the section officer had been misinterpreting the law. He added that there was no provision in the Citizenship Act that granting of the citizenship would be subject to clearance from security agencies.

Aman and Hafsa had a baby recently.

Indian citizen Dr Hafsa Aman has said she is hopeful that the birth of her son in Pakistan will strengthen her case for acquiring Pakistani citizenship.

The young lady gave birth to a baby boy in a private hospital in Mardan on Tuesday. Her husband, Aman Khan, belongs to Mardan. They were married in Karachi on July 16, 2003 after her conversion to Islam. The two had met in Ukraine where they had gone to study medicine.

It seems like the only reason she was not granted citizenship is that she is Indian. Hopefully, the high court will rectify the situation for them.

I don’t understand why there should be any problems with the naturalization of spouses and minor children. These are, by far, the most important relationships of any person. The immigration process for them should be simple and without any hurdles.

Via Foreign Dispatches, we come back to the US with a story of The Uncivil Litigator who sued the INS on behalf of his wife whose immigration petition had been bungled by the INS.

UPDATE: Pakistan has finally granted citizenship to Hafsa Aman.

Michelle’s Birth Story

The due date for our baby was August 18. After the 36th week of pregnancy, we had doctor’s appointments every week. On August 11, we had an appointment with Dr. Cernadas at 3:15pm. She did a vaginal exam and told us that the cervix was still completely closed. The fetal heart rate seemed normal. However, Amber told her that she had been feeling less fetal movement recently. Because of that, we were sent to the ultrasound technician. We had no idea what the ultrasound images meant. We asked the technician but she was reticent and told us to wait for the doctor. Dr. Cernadas told us that the baby was doing fine but the amniotic fluid was low. Therefore, she asked us to go to the hospital immediately where labor would be induced.

We weren’t prepared for labor at the time. I had packed up most of the stuff for labor and delivery a week ago, but Amber seemed to think that the baby would either arrive on time on August 18 or late. Anyway, we came home to pick up our bags which included some reading material, toiletries, baby clothes, camera and laptop. Around 5pm, we left for Saint Peters University Hospital. The hospital is close by but this was rush hour, so it took us almost half an hour to get there.

Once at the hospital, Amber was admitted and we were put in LDR room 10. Amber was given an IV and fetal monitoring sensors were put on her belly to record her contractions and fetal heart rate.

We were told that Amber would be given an injeted medicine to soften up her cervix tonight. Labor induction would wait till tomorrow. It was extremely boring waiting for the medicine, so I started reading The Complete Robot.

The medicine Cervidil was injected to “ripen” the cervix around 9pm by Dr. Karanikolas (another doctor in the group practice we went to). He told us to sleep well as tomorrow was going to be a long day.

Since we hadn’t had the chance yet to inform our parents, we called them now that it was early morning in Pakistan. We told them that delivery could still be 48 hours away and not to worry if they didn’t hear from us in the meanwhile.

Amber was not allowed to eat or drink anything except ice chips. However, it was late and I was getting hungry. It turned out that the hospital cafeteria closed at 7pm. I didn’t want to go out to eat, so I ordered some food for delivery. After that, we went to sleep around 12:30am. Amber was having trouble sleeping, so she asked for some medicine to help her sleep. Even that didn’t help her nerves much.

We got up early around 7:30am on August 12. Amber was feeling nauseous and had menstrual cramps. She took a shower to feel better. Around 9:15am, Pitocin was introduced in her IV to induce labor.

Dr. Fisher was the doctor on duty at the hospital for the day. She is new to the group and we hadn’t seen her before. She seemed good and confident. However, she had no idea when labor would start and how fast it would be.

By this time, Amber was very stressed and was crying again. She had cried earlier as well when she had called her mom last night. I had heard about postpartum blues but these seem to be prepartum ones.

We started noticing contractions around 11am. Their duration was 30-40 seconds and they were 2-3 minutes apart. This was good news. The contractions were getting stronger over time.

The nurse reported the cervix dilated to 3cm and the baby’s station as -2 at 12:30pm. Amber asked for pain relief at the time and an epidural was ordered. The anesthesiologist Dr. Jenkins came to give the epidural at 1:30pm and immediately threw me out of the room. I returned triumphantly 20 minutes later.

Amber’s water was then broken by Dr. Fisher and an internal fetal monitor put on the baby’s head to record her heart rate. This was a much cleaner signal than the external monitor which had to be moved around periodically.

More than 30 minutes after the epidural was inserted, Amber was still feeling pain and the pain was getting a lot worse. The anesthesiologist was called again and he gave Amber a large dose through the catheter. When that did not work, he decided to redo the epidural. I could not see the procedure as I was again shown the door. This time the epidural worked and Amber felt much better. The epidural also affects blood pressure and Amber’s was down to 92/42 at one point. However, it stabilized around 4pm.

At 4:24pm, we were all very surprised to discover that Amber had progressed to a 9cm dilation and a +2 baby station in the last 3 hours. Wow! That meant delivery was close. However, Amber started feeling extreme pain and was given a large dose in her epidural.

At 5:15pm, the pushing phase of labor started. It was time to bring the baby out into the world. Amber’s pushing did not seem to work much beyond tiring her down. It took more than 1.5 hours of pushing to get the baby out.

Finally, at 6:57pm, Michelle was born. Dr. Fisher did an episiotomy to get the baby out as the baby’s heart rate had dropped below 100.

Immediately after Michelle’s birth, a number of medical staff rushed into the room. It turned out that Michelle’s Apgar score at 1 minute was 5 which is a little low (I think 8-10 is considered normal.) The medical staff dried her with a towel and held oxygen under her nose. This got her Apgar score at 5 minutes after birth to 9 (and hence normal).

While this was happening, the placenta came out and Dr. Fisher did the stitches for the episiotomy on Amber.

It took us some time to realize that our baby had been born. Michelle looked so beautiful and cute. As I held her, I was overcome with emotion. I had told Amber earlier not to be surprised if I cried at Michelle’s birth. Fortunately, I didn’t. I was also afraid of holding Michelle in my arms, but warmed to the task immediately.

Amber tried breastfeeding Michelle at the time but Michelle didn’t latch on. So the feeding was postponed to after moving to the postpartum room. Michelle was then taken to the new-born nursery for some measurements and tests etc. I went with her and noted down the measurements. Michelle was 6 lbs 9.2 oz (2.98 kg) which is at the 20th percentile (according to CDC). Her length was 20.5 in (52.07 cm) which lies at the 85.52 percentile. Her head circumference was 13.25 in (33.66 cm) which is at the 25.17 percentile.

The nursery kept Michelle to do some tests while I accompanied Amber to the postpartum room. St Peters has both private and semi-private rooms. We were lucky to get a private room, which meant I could stay with Amber and Michelle and sleep on the sofa-bed in the room.

Pakistani Women Olympic Athletes

I have recently been focussed more on negative aspects of Pakistan recently on this blog. A long time ago, I had plans of “good news” posts about Pakistan, but that never materialized. Now, there is a weblog, Pak Positive, blogging news items of general interest about Pakistan. As the blogger mentions:

One fine evening, after browsing dozens of internet websites and news blogs, I realized that I had not read a single piece of general-interest news about Pakistan. All I read about Pakistan or any of our cities was in relation with terrorism, violence, intolerance, bomb-blasts, Al-Qaeda, extremism, etc. At that point I truly craved for some ‘ordinary’ news from Pakistan. After all, we are a living, breathing society where something ‘civilized’ must happen, or ordinary people aren’t always killing each other to rid of them from Pakistan! That’s when I decided to start this blog.

Pak Positive pointed me to the female Pakistani athletes taking part in the Olympics this year. There is Sumera Zahoor taking part in the 1500m event which will be taking place August 24. In addition, there is the first Pakistani woman in the Olympic swimming event this year, Rubab Raza.

Thirteen-year-old Rubab Raza’s day runs in multiples of five. She prays five times a day, goes to school five hours a day and swims five hours a day as she prepares to go for gold in the Olympics 50-metre freestyle in Athens in August.

Raza already wears the crown of Pakistan’s fastest swimmer; now the dark-eyed teenager is poised to become the conservative Islamic republic’s first woman to plunge into the Olympic pool.

[…]In the Frontier where life is more conservative, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal government has slapped an official ban on male coaches training women athletes.

Luckily for Raza, such bans don’t exist in vibrant Lahore. Her coach is a veteran male swimmer, Munawar Luqman.

“I train daily for about two to three hours in the morning and two hours in the evening,” she said.

[…]The ninth year student at Jesus and Mary Convent School has since gone on to claim 10 national medals: three in the open category and seven in her own age group.

At the last South Asia Federation games in March she picked up a bronze and two silver medals.

Rubab is not the first Pakistani woman (girl) to compete in the Olympics, only the first swimmer.

The track is where Pakistani women made their Olympic debut. The first woman to ever represent Pakistan in an Olympic event was Shabana Akhtar, who ran the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints at Atlanta in 1996. Another female runner Shazia Hidayat competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Rubab has also taken part in championships in India and Spain.

She will be competing in the 50m freestyle heats on August 20.

Rubab is also not the first Pakistani female swimmer to compete internationally. There have been a couple of other women in recent years.

Though it’s not easy for women to be participating in disciplines like swimming —- with the usual outfit going well against the norm —- she is not the first Pakistani swimmer to make waves internationally. When Rubab participated in the FINA World Women’s Championship in Barcelona last year, Kiran Khan was the other Pakistani in the pool. And earlier in 2002, Sana Wahid got the honour of becoming the first Pakistani woman to take the plunge when she participated in the 50m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games.

Before 2000, however, due to social limitations it was out of the question for Pak women to do what Rubab and the rest are doing today. It was only after FINA —- the governing body for the sport —- relaxed the dress code and allowed body-suits that it became possible.

Sumaira and Rubab are nowhere close to winning a medal at the Olympics, but I hope they do well.

UPDATE: Rubab Raza finished 5th out of 8 in the 50m freestyle heats.

UPDATE II: Sumaira Zahoor finished last in the 1500m heat.

Labor and Delivery: A Technical Note

During labor, an external fetal monitor is used to record the baby’s heart rate and the uterine contractions. The sensors are placed on the mother’s belly. Later, during the pushing phase of labor, a sensor is connected to the baby’s head to record her heart rate more accurately, thus becoming an internal fetal monitor.

Older fetal monintors recorded these measurements on paper, graphing the fetal heart rate and contraction intensity over time. Nowadays, there is a paper output as well, but the main output device is a computer monitor. I was quite impressed and engrossed in the machine. In fact, I had a competition going on with Amber about who could predict the start of the contraction earlier, with her reliance on her senses and mine on the sensor data. Needless to say, I lost except when she was under the influence of the epidural anesthesia.

Considering the importance of the fetal monitor, I was surprised to find out that the computer was running Microsoft Windows. How did I find that out? You get one guess. Yes, the computer crashed during active labor. Amazing! The paper output continued working, but the computer which was being used to record show the monitor outputs from all labor rooms as well as to record doctor’s and nurse’s notes crashed and had to be restarted after a while.

As I mentioned before, the hospital recorded Michelle’s time of birth as 7:01pm while she was born at 6:57pm. I noted down the correct time from my watch which had been synchronized with atomic clock data just a few days ago. The hospital recorded the time that was on their computer (yes, the same one that crashed). It was 4 minutes too fast. I don’t know whether the hospital has heard of time servers and network time protocol, but it would do well to set up a time server computer on their LAN and then synchronize all computers’ clocks to the server.

3000th Comment

Congratulations to my sister and Michelle’s one and only aunt, Munira, for posting the 3000th comment on this weblog.

Happy Independence Day

To all Pakistanis. And to Indians tomorrow.

I don’t have the time to write something for the occasion, but Chapati Mystery has a few posts discussing some personalities:

  1. Altaf Hussain Hali
  2. Muhammad Ali Johar
  3. Muhammad Iqbal

Chapati Mystery also has a wish list for Pakistan and India on the occasion of their independence.

Back From the Hospital

We are back home now. Amber and Michelle were discharged today. Both are doing as well as can be expected.

Michelle is sleeping in her bassinet beside me right now.

Pictures will be coming soon. And the birth story will follow.

The Proudest Day

Michelle Zakaria was born at 6:57pm (that was the correct time, though the St Peters clock said 7:01pm and that’s what they recorded) on August 12 at Saint Peters University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ. She weighs 6 pounds 9 ounces (3 kg) and is 20.5 inches (52 cm) long. She is healthy and the most beautiful baby ever.

Amber is happy but extremely tired. I can’t contain my excitement.

It’s Time

Well, not exactly. But we had a doctor’s appointment today and the amniotic fluid seems to be a bit low while the baby seems to be doing fine right now. So our doctor has asked us to go to the hospital right now for labor induction.

I am taking the laptop with me. I don’t, however, know whether I’ll be able to blog from there or not.

In any case, I’ll update after the baby is born.

Off we go to Saint Peters.