As a mother and scientist working during a global pandemic, Stephanie already had her plate full. Then came a pregnancy.
Stephanie’s passion for motherhood and her dedication to her career as a scientist are undeniable facts. As a hard working mum with a toddler and a new baby on the way, she has taken on the pandemic by maintaining a positive mindset. Her secret, she says, lies in the wise words of her father: “In life, you have to work hard to get what you want or desire.”
Originally half Lebanese and half Armenian, Stephanie was raised in Los Angeles, California. She came to Qatar with her husband five years ago, where she landed a job as a lab scientist at the anti-doping laboratory.
Soon enough, she decided to challenge herself to excel further in her career by pursuing a Masters of Research degree in the school of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Bristol University, UK.
While it may sound like a lot, Stephanie credits the combination of time management and communication skills as an important part of making any goal a reality.
“Time management is key to making day to day work in a smooth way. Also, communicating with my partner is important because he is a big force in our household and is very involved. I am so thankful for that, because I can’t imagine it being any other way,” she told Doha News.
Along came motherhood for the second time.
Despite being one of the hardest tasks she had taken on, this, she believes, is the most rewarding.
“You never know how many responsibilities you can take on until you add a baby in the mix.”
As a new mum, Stephanie dealt with the challenges of finding the right hospital, right doctors, and having only two months maternity leave. Although going back to work proved to be difficult, she was able to send her son to her mother-in-law’s nursery.
Naturally, this provided her with much needed comfort in a country where she had no other immediate family.
When the global health crisis erupted, Stephanie’s role as scientist gave her no exemption from going to the office. While pregnant women were advised to work from home this year, she continued to carry out her duties from her company offices in Doha under strict preventative measures.
“I can do my best to stay safe, keep the baby and my family safe by doing my part and educating the family on how to live in this new way of life. I leave the rest up to God and I am comfortable. With the economic situation of the world, I feel blessed to have a job,” she says.
“Nothing comes easy and every part of that requires work”
For new mothers like Stephanie, prenatal care is of particular importance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With flu season also around the corner, Stephanie’s prenatal care has been focused on taking care of her immune system by eating healthily, cooking her own food and decreasing outside food consumption to the bare minimum.
“My tips would be to keep up with your vitamin intake, eat healthy, exercise, keep up with the hygiene and prevention protocols. Enjoy being pregnant and try not to let fear and anxiety take over. When you need time off, take it. Take care of yourself, work can always wait!”
At the moment, Stephanie is raising a toddler, going through the highs and lows of pregnancy, and working full time. This can get extremely overwhelming at times, she says, noting it’s absolutely essential to reach out for help when needed.
Read mum: Dear mum, take that selfie
“By the time I was 4 months into my pregnancy I finally came into terms that I need extra set of hands and got help, and its okay! I realise that now. You cannot do everything on your own asking for help is the best thing any mum can do!
“I believe we can be good moms, have a great marriage and a great career all at the same time but nothing comes easy and every part of that requires work, whether it’s being a mum or a wife or having a career.”
Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.