At exactly eight years ago, 16 October 2003, 1 AM, I experienced labor pains for the first time as I laid down next to a fetal monitor in a dimly lit room at a new hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. The pains had just started then–two hours after my water bag broke while I was sleeping–and regardless of my resolve to go through it bravely and with as little help as possible from anyone, I was already writhing in pain by 3AM, begging for the anaesthesia that I had sworn to avoid. And I thought that I could do it all naturally since I considered myself well prepared for it–I religiously exercised, read everything I could that would help me cope with the situation, and I was very careful with the kind as well as amount of food I ate. I guess in the end the fact remained: my threshold for pain was simply low no matter how much I willed it to be otherwise.
Looking back, it’s amazing how I survived the night. The pain seemed vent on killing me, yet it would not do so. I tried to counter the labor pains by deliberately inflicting pain on myself. I pulled my hair as hard as I could, bit my arms, and pinched my thighs. Although it helped a little, I easily got tired of doing it. Five hours later, I was finally brought to the delivery room, and after a few more minutes, I was directed to push the baby out of my womb until my OB-GYNE unceremoniously declared, “Baby out! Girl. 6:20 AM.”
There were about five nurses in the room, and some of them were rather sleepy, if not bored. It felt like being there was such a chore to them and welcoming someone was not enough to keep them on their toes until a small voice shouted “Abba! Abba!” For the first time, everybody seemed to move at once, especially after one exclaimed, ”Uy, nagsasalita!” (“Hey, it’s talking!”) And as if to prove that it could really talk, the little bundle repeated the words before she finally did the anticipated newborn cry.
Right. A talking baby. My daughter spoke as soon as she was out of my womb, instead of crying like most babies do. How many stories have you heard of babies talking just before they could utter any other sound? Whereas the doctor did not seem to make a big fuss out of it, my mother-in-law did. Somehow, she was able to find an article or two about newborn babies saying “Abba!” before they could really talk. And to top it off, we later found out that “Abba” means “Father” (usually used to refer to God).
I was so excited to go home and introduce the rest of the family and some of my friends to my newborn baby, so I behaved well at the hospital and carefully followed all of my doctor’s orders. Since both my Alina and I showed remarkable strength and were in good health, we were discharged the following day.
As soon as we got home, changing the bed sheet and cleaning our bedroom were the first things I did. Apparently, my husband had been so busy that he forgot to at least change the bed sheet, especially that my water bag broke while we were sleeping and the bed got wet. As soon as I placed our baby in bed, our well wishers started arriving. They were my nieces, nephew, and brothers. Everyone was excited to meet their “Baby-toy”.
Some people say that first-time moms normally don’t feel anything for their children until after a few days of giving birth. First, because apparently, they tend to harbor negative feelings toward the child who “caused” them pain during childbirth. Second, because they’ve never seen or held their children before, mothers tend to be unsure of how to act around their newborns. Lastly, it can be attributed to post partum depression or post natal syndrome.
In my case, I’ve always felt strongly about the baby in my womb. I have loved my child even before I saw her. I took care of her while she was still inside of me, and only loved her more as I finally saw her and held her in my arms. I felt nothing but joy when the doctor laid her on my chest that beautiful morning. I think being more emotional was the only symptom I had then of post natal syndrome. I would cry whenever she cried. I was very protective of her. I could stay awake both day and night just looking at her. She was simply the most beautiful baby that I had ever seen and I missed her each moment she was away from me. When I finally had to go back to work, I would cry before leaving the house because I never wanted to be away from her.
I was very happy to be a mom and my child brought happiness to those who met her, too. Almost every weekend, a friend would come to see my baby, while my nieces who lived nearby would visit us everyday. I suppose her name Alina Beatrice suits her well. Alina, by the way, means bright and beautiful in Greek, whereas in Polish it means nobility and light. Beatrice, on the other hand, means bringer of joy in Latin.
Years passed and each time we celebrated our daughter’s birthday, my husband and I would marvel at how we are able to raise a child her age. I guess as much as we have dreamed of having a baby, we never really considered ourselves capable of raising a child. Everyday, every month and year of our daughter’s life was a milestone to us. By God’s grace and with my own parents’ love and support, we are able to raise, continue to raise, Baby Alina.
It’s been eight years. Sure, there were moments of pain and frustration as we both discover the intricacies of a mother and daughter relationship. I’d feel bad each time she would misbehave and I have to spank her or take away some privileges from her. I know I’m not the best mom in the world and may have broken my daughter’s heart too at times, or may have embarrassed her in front of other people somehow. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we would both be thankful that we have each other and acknowledge the fact that we are the most important person to each other. More, we could never last a day without hugs and kisses. (Or at least, I couldn’t.)