There are no words that will properly explain what I experienced on April 13th, 2009 (the birth of my son Saud), and recently February 28th, 2013 (the birth of my daughter Maia), but I will do my best. When Saud was born it was life changing. Prior to his birth, lots of planning and mental preparation. At some point the discussion of natural birth vs c-section birth came up. There is a tendency for people to treat women who have natural births as if they are “grabbing the brass ring” of pregnancy. Picture a mother with shredded blue gown, umbilical cord still attached holding her baby over her head on top of mount Everest, yelling “Jeah, Baby” with Fireworks, 9 gun salute, and 9 jets flying over all happening at the same time. Then say you had a c-section and you are treated like Milton in Office Space, and put in the basement to be forgotten. I jest, but any pregnancy requires super-human grit, will, and strength.
My wife’s second pregnancy was drastically different from the first. In the first pregnancy, her water broke really early, which put Saud in distress not to mention disrupted her labor rhythm. She was not able to go through the general labor motions. She only got to 8cm max. After several hours with little progress, the doctor advised we do a c-section. Epidural with pitocin pretty much neutralized the ability for my wife to push naturally, hence a one way prego trip to “C-Section City”. The recovery from the c-section was almost 6 weeks. It took Sarah a while to get back on her feet, and even exercise was nowhere in sight because of the surgery.
Pregos, round 2 was quite a change from round 1. Water didn’t break as early, but the ghost of c-section past was still breathing down my wife’s neck. Most people will wait until they are several centimeters down the line before going to the hospital, but we had to go to emergency immediately because the previous birth was a c-section. Everything seemed to be moving along well, until the labor pains (8-9 on the pregs richter scale), start kicking in. My wife told me earlier that no matter what she says during labor, don’t let the doctors give her an epidural. That’s all fine and dandy, but after several “Well love, remember what you said earlier” starts to wear thin and my wife says “GIVE ME THE #$#@! EPIDURAL” in Megatron-like voice with red lasers shooting out of her eyes, with a Robocop strength grip of my fingers which could potentially break every bone in my hand, I gave up. At this point, I’m looking for the epidural stash myself and I’m ready to administer pool-sized vats of the stuff for my wife. The doctor administered the epidural drug cocktail only up to 7-8cm because he was afraid of numbing my wife’s contraction labor pushes, or whatever they heck you call that thing.
We are somewhat around hour 10 of labor and we are now reaching the “it’s going natural or c-section bust” point. My wife is progressing well, but we are literally 15 minutes away from a c-section. One of the other doctors walks in and says, “Hmm, give her 15 then we’ll do a C”. Then something miraculous happened. The nurses and the primary birthing doctor went into Super Sensei “The Abbot” Coach Boeheim mode and pushed my wife through it. At this point my wife was actually saying “Just give me the c-section, I can’t push anymore”. In a “no you didn’t” 90s fashion, the nurses and doctors turned the tables on my wife and said, “no c-section”. Never have I seen such a fantastic group of people rally and support my wife. After several rounds of “Yella Habibti, push, you are almost there”, the baby came rolling out. I must say, hearing my wife screech and cry in pain (blood curdling I might add), sounded like she was giving birth to a baby manatee. It was quite scary, but I couldn’t have been more proud of Sarah. Once the baby was born, I was emotionally touched, tears and all. To see my wife fight with every inch of her being to deliver Maia, was breathtaking and emotionally moving.
In our case, Maia was born with a respiratory infection and had to be put on an oxygen machine for a several days with anti-biotics. She was in the ICU and we had to visit her there 30 minutes at a time. When she came out, you could clearly see she was having trouble breathing. That horrific moment when you don’t hear the baby crying as they are born is something I don’t wish on anyone. They immediately gave her oxygen and she was breathing okay. She is fine now, but I thought to myself “Subhanallah, look how technology has advanced?”. Something as life threatening as a baby not breathing was assessed and taking care of in under 5 minutes. What if we weren’t at the right hospital? The right part of the world? Or having the right staff to properly assess the problem? It made me think about the millions of babies who are not so fortunate, where the facilities and expertise don’t exist to address these life threatening medical issues. The whole pregnancy got me thinking about so much, but I’ll end up with a six-part novel if I put every thought down. I have a newfound respect for the millions of mothers, nurses, doctors and medical organizations around the world who do this every single day. These are the unsung heroes of our time.
So I’ve been living in an predominantly Arab speaking country (Qatar) for over a year and I can now speak Arabic fluently. Well..that’s not true, I can have a basic conversation. Well…that’s not entirely true either, I can’t speak a lick of Arabic. After a couple of As Salaam Alaikums (Peace unto you) and Kaif fi Halic, Tamam? (How are you, okay?), I’m pretty lost in language space. But don’t let my failure scare you away, this post actually ends on a very uplifting and encouraging note.
Since the school shooting in Newtown, the lastest zip code to hit the headlines because of mass shootings, I’ve probably read dozens of articles related to gun control, not to mention the many discussions I’ve had on Facebook and other forms of social media. If I could tease out three big stories out of this, it would be the following:
- Why President Mohamed Morsi should become a member of the NRA
- Who gets killed is more important than how you get killed
- It takes time for policy to impact people on the ground