As well as running the workshops Leila had her own private clinic to run. This she did after the workshops and invited us to join her. She carries out antenatal and postnatal examinations at her clinic as well as a variety of gynaecological related activities. We declined to get a little down time.
But we did get along to a parentcraft class and an aquanatal. Both of these were fascinating and Alison in particular was called on to contribute in both. No surprise there – this woman is a truly brilliant midwife with so many additional skills.
On the evening of our first workshop in Iran, having got back to the hotel at 6.15 due to the dreaded traffic, we were picked up and taken to an amazing restaurant in the mountains in Darband. It took another 90 mins of that traffic to get there but was an amazing experience. It is a well protected area of many restaurants built on terraces stretching up as far as I could see along with flower shops, street traders and an assortment of animals and birds – I saw a goat, hens and ducks.
Five of us sat down to dinner at Koohpaye restaurant and we were introduced to a range of typical Persian food. For starters we had olives with walnuts and pomegranate sauce, and aubergines, smoked garlic and sesame oil. One was called Mirza Ghasemi with Lavash bread. Both were nice but despite not liking olives as a rule, I loved that dish best. We then shared Bakhtiari kebab and Bulgarian Kebab. A few vegetables accompanied the dish; the carrots were particularly delicious and I realised why. They were cooked in rose water! Then to end the meal we had rose tea with some really interesting sugary swizzle sticks called Nabat. A leisurely saunter back down the hill sampling some street food such as fruit leather and we got back to the hotel after midnight! A long day.
Our principle reason for travelling to Iran was to take part in a 4 day Waterbirth workshop. We were asked to prepare short sessions for discussion on the first day on Waterbirth, VBAC and Vaginal breech. This we did! The next three days were to be practical sessions. It did not quite pan out like this.
Iran was so much more than I expected! The women I was with are vibrant, passionate, full of life – I get tired watching them! Full of passion about midwifery, they tried to leach every piece of information about birth we know out of us. And so keen were they, I wanted to give them all the help in the world. But more of that later.
We arrived in the airport at 5.30 in the morning and came down the escalator to the baggage hall to excited squeals from our Leila. ‘Leenda, Leenda, Aleeson! You are here. We are so pleased to see you.’ Three of them had come to meet us. One flat tyre later, and off into Tehran in a taxi with a very cracked windscreen. And I quickly realised why! The traffic!