What it’s like to bring up a baby in a war zone




When Waad al-Kateab decided to start a family with her husband, her friends told her she was crazy. It was 2015 and they were living in Aleppo


Syria was at war, but I’d fallen in love with my friend, Hamza, and we wanted to get married. We’d met at Aleppo University during the protests in 2011 against Bashar al-Assad’s government and we were together through everything as things got worse. Hamza had just finished medical school and I’d done an economics degree, but I wanted to be a journalist and had started making short films. Our wedding was small but beautiful. A little group of us danced and sang so loudly that we couldn’t hear the bombs exploding outside. Happy as we were, Hamza and I decided that it wasn’t a great time to have a child. It was 2015, and though the siege of Aleppo wouldn’t start until the following year, the government had taken over the skies, shooting at the rebels who had taken control of part of the city. It seemed mad to get pregnant amid all the chaos.


Three months after the wedding, we had found a home with a little courtyard I adored, and despite everything that was going on around us, we started daydreaming about having a baby. Things were so dangerous, but I couldn’t stop wondering: what are we waiting for? We might be killed, we might be forced to leave the country – but I still wanted us to have our own family and start living the life we’d dreamed of in the city we loved so much. There was so much we could do to help Aleppo: Hamza being a doctor and me a journalist. We decided that bringing a child into the world would be a sign of resilience and strength. 




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