Labor Day!

“Labor Day” in February is starting to look like a Mady family tradition, as both our little boys decided to pop out in February. I gave birth to little Paul on February 24, 2012, exactly one year and twenty days after I went into labor with Charbel – February 4, 2011. While Eddy and I are definitely in for a challenge, as we now have two babies that need to be fed, changed, comforted, held and played with, we are so happy that little Paul has joined the family, and are sure that having him and Charbel so close in age will be a joy for them and us as they grow up.

I’d heard before that every labor is different. Now I understand more what that means. There were two commonalities between last year and this year: both Charbel and Paul were a week overdue when they came, and both began their labor in the morning, for which I am grateful! I greatly respect and admire women who end up going into labor in the evening or the middle of the night, but continue to hope that I never become one of them. Laboring in the morning and afternoon is exhausting enough – I can only imagine how much energy it must drain when the process begins after a long day, with no night’s sleep…

Aside from their late appearance and morning starts, giving birth to Charbel and Paul were two totally different experiences. I felt the first twinge of a contraction for Charbel around 9:00 AM. It was different than the “fake” contractions he had already stimulated in the second and third trimesters, but wasn’t very intense, so I wasn’t sure whether it was “real” labor or not… By around 11:00, I was having regular contractions every 10 minutes apart, so I knew it had really begun. I was grateful that he began labor naturally because if he hadn’t made his appearance by the following day, my doctor was planning on inducing. We got to the hospital at 12:00. Based on the intensity of the contractions, I was pretty sure I was already well into labor, and was therefore disappointed when I found out that I was only 1-2 cm dilated. A grueling five hours later, I was 8 cm dilated, but Charbel wasn’t transitioning properly into the pushing stage – his head was too large. Four hours and a surgical procedure later, I was finally holding our little darling in my arms. When the complications with Charbel’s birth arose and it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be able to make it out on his own, our doctor explained that there were two choices – an emergency C-section, or a different surgery that would help widen my birth canal. He advocated the second procedure since, in addition to getting little Charbel out, it would make it possible for me to give birth naturally in the future. His expertise paid off, leading not only to the safe and healthy arrival of Charbel, but also to a successful, completely natural labor for little Paul.

This February, as my due date started approaching, I assumed that Charbel’s birth had given me enough experience to at least recognize the beginning of labor, but I soon found out that I was in for a surprise. Little Paul began “real” contractions about a week before the day I actually gave birth. When the started, my physician (a different doctor than last year, given our move to Iraq…) told me that she expected me to go into active labor imminently, and to be ready to get to the hospital within the next 12-48 hours. Six days later, little Paul was still having labor contractions, but they hadn’t accelerated or intensified enough to begin the active labor stage, although they has already effected the thinning and gradual dilation. At that point, I was already a week overdue, and it looked like I might need to be induced for the contractions to accelerate. In an attempt to induce me naturally, rather than turning to medical intervention, my doctor suggested use of castor oil – a somewhat controversial home remedy for stimulating labor contractions, heavily praised by some physicians, and equally condemned by others. I decided to go ahead with it, and, in my case, it worked very well. By 10:00 the following morning (February 24), the contractions began intensifying and becoming more frequent, but weren’t at regular intervals. By 11:00, however, they were frequent and intense enough that I figured we’d better call the doctor to make sure. I thought I was in active labor, but was also a little skeptical, after a week of being on false alarm. Add to that the fact that every internet site and doctor says that active labor contractions are regularly spaced apart, I didn’t know what to think. Unsurprisingly, when the doctor heard that the contractions weren’t evenly spaced, she said that it probably wasn’t active labor, but that she wanted to examine me anyway. It was a Friday (the weekend here in the Middle East), and her regular clinic was closed, so she told me to meet her at the hospital – providentially, as it turned out. By the time we reached the hospital at noon, the contractions had fallen into a regular pattern. Given my experience with Charbel, I was braced for a hard labor, and was surprised to hear that I was already 5 cm dilated. A short hour later, around 1:00 PM, just when I thought that the “really hard” part was just beginning, I was again surprised when little Paul suddenly slipped out. Aside from needing some stitches, I was in perfect condition, if somewhat sore, and Paul was too. The doctor was finished by 1:30, and I was released from the hospital by 3:30. We were back home with our baby barely four hours after we’d left for the hospital, to “check” on whether or not little Paul wanted to come out that day.

It’s been almost a week now, and Eddy and I continue to fall more in love with both our sons each day. We thank God for the joy and life they have brought us, and look forward to all that the future has in store for our young family. We also thank God for all the prayers and support we have had from so many family members and friends who saw us through the last nine months with their prayers for a healthy pregnancy/delivery, and have given Paul such a wonderful welcome into the world. For my part, I am additionally thankful in a special way, for having so much loving support during labor, accompanied by my husband and mother, and for my great dad, who took Charbel and gave him a wonderful day, complete with a shopping trip, stroller walk, baby amusement rides, and freshly squeezed juice – what more could a one-year-old (or his parents) ask for?

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