Monday, April 29, 2013

Childbirths 1

The birth of a child is an exciting, wondrous experience. Sometimes nerve-wracking...

The wife and I were married in March 1993. Prior to our wedding, I read somewhere that staying childless for about a year was advisable because it would give the couple a chance to be alone together for at least that long. Once, the children arrived, the article said, they will become the center of the family's life and the couple will be hard-pressed to find time alone together. We took that to heart and decided to stop controlling around December 1993. In January, the wife's visits stopped coming. We were off. (",)

In February 1994, I got hired by another company and we left Manila for Cagayan de Oro (CDO) in Northern Mindanao, in March. The next months was filled with preparing the house and taking the wife to the doc for her check ups. Around August, we decided that Loida had to go to her family in Iligan (about 85 kms away) because there was just the two of us in CDO. We didn't know what needed to be done, what the signs were, how to tell if we needed to go now or later. So, the wife left and I stayed in CDO to work and wait for the day.

In September 30, I began to have unexplainable feelings of discomfort. I brushed them off but the feeling persisted. The next day, October 1, was a Saturday and my last day of work for the week. I thought of going to Iligan after work, to check up on Loida. I was on the 6 am to 2 pm shift and when I passed the gate around 2:30 pm, the guard told me that someone named Alice had called. Alice? I didn't know the name but something told me to get to Iligan pronto. I can't remember if I passed by the apartment before going to the bus terminal.

On the bus, I kept thinking about what was going on. I imagined myself pacing the floor in the hospital, sitting for a few seconds and standing to pace the floor again. My legs kept twitching on the bus ride.

Finally, I reached Iligan and proceeded to my in-law's house. I was informed that Loida was at the hospital and had already given birth.

The Dr. Uy hospital is only a few blocks away and a fast walking pace got me there in a few minutes. I was pointed to a ward where I found my wife. her tummy magically shrunken, and looking tired. I asked who was Alice and she laughed and said it was Ate Ali, her sister's sister-in-law. She was a trained midwife and she had helped prepare Loida. We talked for a few minutes and she asked if I wanted to see our daughter. Of course I did.

I went up to the second floor where I found a large glass-windowed room full of babies. I tried reading the names on the cribs but they were too small. A nurse came by presently and I waved a piece of paper with my name on it. She took one of the cribs and pulled it up to the window. Yup, there it was, Baby Marcelo.

I had a child. I was basking in the feeling of happiness and fascination. I leaned closer and promptly bumped my head on the glass. It was a loud thump and I backed up, rubbing my forehead and saw the nurse covering her mouth though she was wearing a mask. Her eyes were crinkled into a thin line and her shoulders were moving up and down in unmistakable spasms of laughter. I smiled back and waved goodbye.

Daughter. Ultrasound back then was an option and we had not bothered with it. Her ob-gyn in CDO had predicted a boy and he said he had a very good batting average when it came to predictions. I had already decided that I would call him, Ericson, since he was going to be my son. But we certainly couldn't call her that name. Back in the ward, we discussed names but Loida wanted me to give the name, not bothering to suggest anything. It was up to me.

A few days before, I was talking with a co-employee and he told me of one of his friends who had only one child. I thought, what if we didn't have another child? The name Erika came up. I thought it meant "daughter of Eric" so that's what we chose. I later learned I was mistaken, that Erika actually means, "ever powerful" or "ruler of the people." Maybe she'd be president one of these days. (",)