Adventure of a lifetime
As a major political storm was raging in the country last week because of the Trillanes amnesty controversy, I was holed up in a hospital in Metro Manila, waiting for my wife to give birth to our first child.
We went to the hospital for the regular medical checkup as the delivery due date neared, but Dr. Valerie Guinto, our brilliant obstetrician-gynecologist, directed us to proceed to the high-risk pregnancy unit because my wife was already in active labor. My spouse is in her late 30s, while I am in my, well, let’s just say my contemporaries have children in college already. Which explains why we are in the high-risk category.
In the course of our four days of hospital stay, I saw my wife endure labor pains that started with mild contractions, gradually building up to a crescendo of physical torment, until it reached a climax that she said was the most “harrowing” pain she had ever felt in her life. In her own words: “It’s like you feel your sanity is shrinking because its edges are crumbling away. It’s like darkness is enveloping you. You feel like you are turning into a wild animal, an animal of pain.”
She had epidural anesthesia only when she was whisked to the delivery room, because she was already experiencing the height of labor pains. And even if anesthesia dulled the pain, I felt that her life was on the line as she gave birth the normal way, instead of cesarean operation. Fortunately, I live at a time when modern thinking allows husbands to be inside the delivery room so that they can be beside their wives to give emotional support, and for them to witness the very moment of their child’s birth.
I saw how my wife lost considerable blood; there was a pool of blood on the floor of the operating room, and large bloodstains on the doctors’ and nurses’ gowns and gloves, after the delivery procedure was completed. I also saw the big placenta and the long umbilical cord that came out of my wife and were placed on a table. I found the whole scene eerily similar to a butcher shop because of the sight of blood and internal organs.
There was no rest from pain even after my wife had already given birth. She experienced even more pain as she went through the agonizing difficulties of initial breastfeeding. This she endured while she had freshly stitched wounds, because the vaginal opening had to be lacerated to provide a wider birth canal.
When we were sent home, my wife faced an arduous daily routine of breast-feeding every one to two hours, even during the wee hours of the morning. I have to do my share of inducing our baby to burp out gas after every bout of breastfeeding. Changing our child’s diapers happens almost 10 times each day, because babies pee and poo that frequently.
We have decided to personally attend to our child’s needs as a couple. The job makes sleep a rare and precious luxury, most especially for my wife. It’s very tiring, but the sense of happiness and fulfillment it brings is priceless. We feel that we are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.
Among boys and men, there’s a fleeting understanding of the fact that women surrender to a “buwis-buhay” fate (wager their lives) when they give birth to a child. There’s a shallow appreciation of the dreadful pains they endure, and the immense difficulties they experience to raise every child.
Policymakers and educators must consider providing, as part of sex education, more extensive information — amplified with vivid visuals, testimonials and documentaries — on the risks, pains and difficulties faced by pregnant women. The world would have lesser teenage pregnancies, fewer irresponsible husbands, and an extinction of misogynist men if menfolk are made abundantly aware of how inferior their capacities are for danger, agony and struggles compared to women.
If President Duterte spends even just an hour inside a delivery room watching mothers risk their lives as they give birth to a new member of the human race, the Philippines would have a gentler, kinder and more compassionate government under his reign.
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