ALEPPO — When the earthquake struck, Fatmah Ahmad’s family fled their building in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo only for her to go into labour – giving birth to her third child in hospital a few hours later.
The journey to hospital had been difficult, with “many deaths and damage around us,” she said, before rescue workers guided them to safety.
“May God protect him, give him a good life and not deprive me of him,” she said of her new son, named Najm al-Din Mahmoud.
“He brought me back to life. I was afraid of losing him,” she added.
Even after he was born, mother and baby faced danger. A big aftershock struck later that day as they lay in an upstairs maternity ward.
Unable to move, they were left alone as the doctors fled for safety. Her parents and her other two children, aged one and three, had been on a lower floor of the hospital, she said. Her husband, a soldier, is stationed outside Aleppo and was not there.
“I wrapped him up and started praying for God to protect us until the earthquake ends and we can go down safely,” she said.
Evacuated from their home and now released from hospital, the family are living temporarily in a tent, part of a shelter area near the airport set aside by the city for people displaced by the earthquake.
Their building did not collapse but they cannot return until it has been cleared as safe to live in.
Meanwhile Najm lies swaddled in blankets, his tiny eyes closed, as the family prepares bedding on the tent floor. Recounting the adventure of his birth, and feeding her small other children, his mother beams with happiness.