By: Emelyn Cruz
I never wanted nor even expected that I will become a mother. I hated kids and merely tolerated child relatives up until when I was in my late 20’s. In spite of this, I was not entirely closed to the idea either and reasoned that the decision would be made depending on whether the right man and the right time would come. I initially thought that the right man would be much harder to get, but the right time proved to be much less forthcoming. It took a job – in my case, a very long vacation – for my husband, a few pounds shed, and three years for us to get pregnant.
Everyone says that motherhood holds a ton of lessons, and surely enough the same holds true for me. My daughter, Rui has been giving me a number of lessons even before I birthed her. Her conception was a lesson of patience and faith for us. We never really knew how she came to be as by that point we stopped all our work-ups, threw all our cares in the wind, and just made love whenever we wanted to – no more rigorous schedules for this couple! We first learned of her after a night of drinking that resulted in me having hives all over and a trip to the ER. When the nurse asked when my last period was, that was the first time I realized I did not bleed for almost two months (it just dropped by whenever it felt like it for most of my life). She said it was standard procedure to do a pregnancy test but that they will give me pregnancy-friendly antihistamines also just in case. I consented. And it was there in St. Luke’s ER with an antihistamine IV in my arm when we first learned that we were expecting. It was also the most expensive pregnancy test ever for us.
If getting pregnant was hard for us, the pregnancy itself was worse for me. For the first three months I had the worst ulcers and could barely keep anything down. I retched and puked everything. It was the best diet of my life as instead of gaining weight, I lost a few more pounds. At my lowest point, I was crying and regretting my decision to get pregnant. Instead of being filled with joy and love because I got what I hoped and prayed for, I was filled with pain and regret. And here comes another lesson, I never really knew how much love and pain my heart can hold and endure for one person until I became a mother. As a mother to a young child, I know now this lesson will surely apply to all the remaining years of my life. Rui and I can be all cuddles and love one minute, and all tears and pain the next.
I got a bit of reprieve during my second trimester and this was the time I fully enjoyed being pregnant. On my third trimester, I was the spotted pregnant lady thanks to red, angry spots all over me due to a bout of PUPPPs. Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy or PUPPPs basically mean having itchy hives all over the body (except for the face, thank God!), and the only cure is to give birth. I endured the redness and itchiness for one to two months – my next lesson, sacrifice. Before this point I never really knew how much I am willing to endure and sacrifice for another person, but this was even before I gave birth. Birthing itself as I found out soon enough was entirely a whole new lesson in pain and sacrifice.
Rui seemed to think that she needed to further drive the lesson of patience into us, so she made us wait two weeks for her arrival. I was admitted into the hospital after a regular OB checkup wherein she found out I was already dilated at 2 cm. I progressed quickly enough until about 4 to 5 cm when everything (except the contractions), stopped. Four days in the hospital, a number of miles of walking in the room and corridors, two sessions of induced labor, and how many hours of listening to other women cry out in pain over their own labors put me on my wit’s end. I was physically and emotionally drained. Our OB was conservative and patient enough that she was willing to wait for a normal delivery, so she allowed us to go home with the condition that we would be back in the hospital every two days for a stress test. At this point I think Rui was the least stressed among all of us. After two weeks, more endless walking, a number of trips to the hospital for the stress tests and false alarms, and a set schedule for the C-section, our daughter finally decided it was enough and graced us with her presence (via NSD!). Little did I know at this point that this was a sign of what life and raising her would be like. Nothing and no one can move or push her. Rui is decisive and opinionated – she knows what she wants and when she wants it. She stood her ground and stayed in my tummy as a newborn in spite of the medications, used her incessant cries and mumbles as a baby, and is talking non-stop to us even as a toddler and now, as a little girl. As I said, a lesson in patience.
I’m sure the lessons do not stop there. Now that Rui’s growing older, the lessons are becoming more and more complicated. A recurring lesson these days is one of respect – respect of her as an entirely different person, albeit a small one. Something along the lines of: yes you are my mother and I came from you but no you cannot make me do this. This one is a balancing act for me because in as much as I want to respect her as her own person, the responsibility to ensure that she grows into a good one still rests upon me as her mother (about ½ of it anyway). So I also try to clip her wings a little bit whenever she’s too willful, as parents should do.
When I gave birth, my former teacher turned friend congratulated me and told me that once a child is born, a mother is born as well. I may have given birth to Rui, but she also birthed me as I would not be a mother without her. My daughter asks me a hundred questions everyday, but that same little person is also responsible for teaching me lessons I never would have learned if I never became a mother.
Em Cruz is a freelancer and doting mom to a decisive yet sweet daughter. When she doesn’t have her hands full of motherhood, she moonlights as a geek and bibliophile.