Day 7 (Monday)
Plain and simple, we were deceived by the midwife, by the (un)real mother and (un)loving grandmother of Marc Andrei, and by (of all people) ate Baby. Never mind the first two… but my oh my, not sister Baby.
Not her, not ate Baby, I have respected her tremendously. I admired her courage as a leader and integrity as a person. I was hoping that what my wife’s cousin had confirmed was not true. Ate Baby would not allow herself to be a part of such a deception. She would not do that to me. We’re friends. We’re both officers of the homeowners’ association. We’re both Ilocanos.
The MIDWIFE? What wrong have we done to her? HELPING MOTHERS GIVE BIRTH is what she does, not ACTING. I believed her story. Yes, her story. I forgot that a story could either be a real or just fabricated. Fiction. Did I just say fiction? I did. Fiction is a product of the imagination. The TRUTH, indeed, is stranger than FICTION. In the lying-in clinic that Wednesday evening, in her own turf, she was the most credible person. I know that every professional is bound by ethical standards. I wondered what ethical standards a midwife like her follows. Was she not taught that it isn’t RIGHT to DECEIVE a CHILDLESS COUPLE so that the BABY of a HEARTLESS MOTHER will have security? Or could it be that the midwife has a problem with SEMANTICS. She probably thought that the word LYING in her LYING-IN CLINIC means telling something that misleads or deceives.
The (un)real MOTHER and (un)loving GRANDMOTHER. Well, what they did to Marc Andrei speaks volumes of what kind of people are they? They are like moon jellies – BONELESS, BRAINLESS & HEARTLESS.
I recalled that my wife told me that the grandmother kept batting in when she and ate Baby were talking that Tuesday afternoon when she brought home Marc Andrei for the first time. The grandmother kept reminding ate Baby about money matters in the lying-in clinic. At that juncture, my wife wanted to ask if ate Baby and the grandmother were both in the lying-in clinic when Marc Andrei was born.
I woke up that morning without my wife and Marc Andrei by my side. They were already downstairs. When I went down I saw my wife lovingly clutching our baby while humming a song.
We had a serious conversation again the previous night about our situation. She vigorously opposed my plan of giving up our son telling me that we should have just given him up entirely the first time around – that I should have not allowed her to be so attached to Marc Andrei if I would just surrender him after all. For whatever reason, she said, nobody should take away her son from her.
The tables were turn. It was her turn to say that everything between us would no longer be the same should I give up Marc Andrei.
My emotional rollercoaster continued its downward spiral. It was so steep a fall.
I tried hard to make her understand the same things I told him the previous night. That the family of that woman is known for their scheming ways. With that, I could not afford to make it appear on paper that we are the real parents of Marc Andrei as suggested by the midwife in the lying-in clinic. I became afraid that in the future that may be used against us, given the reputation of the family of that woman. Besides, how would Marc Andrei feel when finally we need to tell him of his being an adopted son and then he’ll discover that his real mother lives just nearby? What emotional wound that would create in him. What about if seeing daily Marc Andrei just around the corner the (un)real mother would develop fondness of the child then later on would demand that he be returned to her? Daily that we would be in pins and needles hounded by the thought that anytime, our Marc Andrei will be snatched away by the (un)real mother or any member of her family. And if and when the court of law would be asked to intervene, who would the honorable judge favor?
In making whatever decision, I told my wife that it should not be our feelings we should consider but rather the implications on Marc Andrei and to us as a couple in the long run.
That day, some of my colleagues at work asked questions about Marc Andrei. My response was a simple – “He’s doing fine.” I could not tell them the dilemma we were facing at that time. I wore a mask of happiness pretending that everything was fine.
My wife sent me several text messages that day at work imploring that we should not be giving up Marc Andrei. Exasperated, I responded once and said “We won’t give up our son if you will agree that we will bring him to my hometown in Batangas!”
She rejected the idea. My offer was serious, I really thought of it. I can easily find a job in Batangas, what was important with me that time was keeping Marc Andrei. And that was our best option then.
I saw a glimmer of hope that my wife was beginning to understand the situation when she told me through a text message that if ever we would give up Marc Andrei, we won’t be returning him to ate Baby but to someone else – to any of those who have shown interest in Marc Andrei that Tuesday afternoon and not to any of those who designed the scheme to make fools out of us.
At nightfall, I asked ate Baby through text message to come to our house for something very urgent. She came after 10 minutes, announcing her arrival through her trademark boisterous laugh and bass booming voice.
We waited until she got settled in her seat. I and my wife were just quiet. Ate Baby was not used to that kind of reception from me. Usually, when she’s loud, I would be louder. She probably sensed trouble which prompted her to ask if there was a problem.
Not wanting to beat around the bush, I told her that we have discovered that the mother of Marc Andrei was that woman residing two houses away from us. Thus, we were giving up Marc Andrei for good.
Upon hearing my firm declaration, my wife cried while looking at Marc Andrei who was soundly sleeping in the daybed not aware of how sad things have been turning unfavorably for him. My wife kept shaking her head. I didn’t know why. Did she get hurt by my decision? Or she could not believe that we were deceived in that manner.
My wife gave me a stare that was beyond description. I could not say with certainty if that was a gaze of an angry person or a look imploring that I reconsider my decision. Or was it a combination of both. I was suddenly reminded of how I felt about her when suddenly she changed her mind few nights back and wanted to give up our baby. That stare made me feel that she is accusing me of cowardice. She was seemingly demanding that I explain why we need to give Marc Andrei up and not keep him at all cost.
Ate Baby appeared surprised and confused. She asked who told us so. She claimed that she was even unaware that that woman was pregnant. (Reliable sources told me that she was one of those who brought that woman to that lying-in clinic… and yet she made that claim.) I said that after hearing unconfirmed reports about the DECEIT committed against us, we conducted our investigation through the help of some people. But I did not drop names.
I asked her pointblank if she knew that the mother of Marc Andrei was that woman. I asked her if she was part of the plan to DECEIVE us. Unbeknownst to her that we already know everything, Ate Baby swore by heaven that she did not know who the mother of Marc Andrei is – that she would never do that to me. She kept denying knowledge of that woman’s pregnancy and stood pat on the story they made us to believe – that the mother of Marc Andrei was a 19-year old woman from Manila. She denied as well (and vehemently) complicity to the attempt to deceive us. The bombastic that she is even warned that she would confront the grandmother saying that if what we said was true then she herself was a victim of the deception.
When I told her that the midwife herself admitted everything – that she was there when Marc Andrei was born and she knew who the mother is – that she took part in weaving the lie that the midwife told us – she began to weep. She talked like a sheepish dog caught in a corner and has no more place to run. She, however, maintained innocence and promised to talk to the midwife and clarify things. She continued to cry and tried to convince us that she had nothing to do with that hanky-panky.
After a few minutes, she said that she went there only to get the baby when the midwife called her and told her that there was a mother who gave birth but would give away her baby. But she never met the mother.
I cut short the story of ate Baby, not wanting to hear the end of another tall tale that she was beginning to spun. I did not intend to get stuck again in another web of her lies. I told her that we will not return to them our baby. That while we were not keeping Marc Andrei because of certain complications, we will ensure that our son would not be exploited and humiliated further.
When she recollected herself, she said that she would bring Marc Andrei back to the midwife and ask for explanation. I stood firm that they would never get Marc Andrei back, despite all her protestations.
Then I called the relatives of the couple, childless like us, who have also shown interest on getting Marc Andrei.
When they arrived, my wife started weeping again. I could see how sincerely she did not intend to give up our son, making me feel really guilty. I recalled how she suffered when we quarreled because she suddenly gave up being a mother to Marc Andrei that Thursday night. She more than redeemed herself from that fickle-mindedness and have proven that she could be a good mother. Indeed she is. I am a living witness to that. And I reflected for a moment then and asked myself, “Am I the one becoming a bad father?”
I am no moon jelly, not anymore. The decision I made was a product of reflection and prayers. The decision I made was an offshoot of the consultation I did with not just one but many people. All of them I deemed have wisdom, more than the little I have.
I could not possibly hurt Marc Andrei. I became a bad father twice already – twice I was a moon jelly. The first time was when I allowed my girlfriend to take our son away from me. The second time… how I wish I could tell you. Marc Andrei was my path to redemption. My ticket to salvation. I have been rectifying things with my a son. But what is painful is that I could no longer do that to my second child, supposedly a daughter.
People around me don’t know. I never told them. I was afraid to tell them, that such is the main source of my sadness, not the problems of the family where I came from, not theimperfections of the lady of my house, but my imperfections… particularly from my failures as a father.
Then when it was time for Marc Andrei to go, my wife did not hide her grief. She would not let go of our son.
Then I recalled Bertolt Brecht’s play entitled “Caucasian Chalk Circle” where there were two mothers each claiming to be the mother of a baby boy. The funny thing is the real mother was not there to join the tug of war for Marc Andrei. The other party who wish to lay claim on Marc Andrei was not there also. It was only the mother of Marc Andrei for seven days – my wife.
In the play aforementioned the king drew a huge circle with a line at the middle where he put the baby. Those claiming to be the mothers were told to race to the middle and grab the baby. Whoever succeeds in getting to the baby first would take him home. When the king gave the signal that the two women can begin only one of them moved to grab the baby. When the king asked the other woman why she did not move she said that she’d rather see her son taken away by another woman than to endanger his life and limb. Then the king issued the edict that that woman who did not try to grab the baby should have the baby for she’s the real mother.
The circle was drawn in the mind of my wife. She could either grab Marc Andrei from the middle of the circle or let him be taken away and grow up in a better physical and emotional environment.
While biting her lips and tried unsuccessfully to control her tears, she gave Marc Andrei to the relatives of the couple to whom we’re entrusting our son.
Upon learning that Marc Andrei will be brought that night to the next town then the following day to Manila, the still teary-eyed ate Baby volunteered to bring them to the next town using her vehicle – that they just needed to wait for a while for she must be informing the midwife that our son will be taken by another couple.
Before ate Baby left, she promised me she would clear her name. I chose not to respond.
When she was gone, I warned the relatives of the couple who would take care of Marc Andrei not to allow sister Babe to know exactly where our son will be brought because if the family of the (un)real mother of Marc Andrei would know then they may encounter problems. They heeded my advice and I told them that I would take care of Sister Babe when and if she still would have the nerve to show up in my house.
Before they left, I and my wife took turns in saying our painful goodbyes to Marc Andrei. Both our eyes welled with tears. Losing Marc Andrei was painful to both of us. But I could say that between us, it was more painful to my wife.
When I gave back Marc Andrei to our visitors, he cried. And while they were moving out of our residence, our son did not cease crying as if pleading me to take him back. Have I become a bad father again?
Our visitors walked through the same terrace where I saw sister Babe standing seven days ago clutching Marc Andrei. My wife ran to the bedroom upstairs when I closed the front door. She locked herself up. I had a key but I decided to leave my wife by herself and respect her grief over the loss of our son. Besides I also wanted to retreat to my room of despair and perhaps cry a river.
I went back downstairs and slept on the daybed where my son – MARC ANDREI – used to sleep. I closed my eyes and vividly saw the face of my son becoming crimson whenever I would kiss him in his cheeks, then I heard his shrieks and cries.
My emotional rollercoaster was not through yet with its descent. But I trust the grand designer of the tracks where my emotional rollercoaster is mounted. Soon I would climb up again and even there maybe more twists and spins and turns, I know I will never be thrown off the tracks for I always fasten my seatbelt called faith tight.
It may take time before my wife would understand why I needed to decide that way and forgive me for it.
My wife and Marc Andrei, MOTHER and SON… I and Marc Andrei, FATHER and SON – for just seven days.
– E N D –
I attended mass by my lonesome. My wife had to stay home with Marc Andrei. The horizon looked gloomy, we were again facing uncertainties. My emotional rollercoaster have made a sudden stop at a certain angle in a spin not knowing if when its journey resumes I would be pulled up or rolled down.
I have discussed with my wife the previous night what might happen if it is true that Marc Andrei’s mom is that woman residing two houses away from us.
The family of that woman is known for their scheming ways. I should know, we live in the same neighborhood. With that, I could not afford to make it appear on paper that we are the real parents of Marc Andrei as suggested by the midwife in the lying-in clinic. I became afraid that in the future that may be used against us. How would Marc Andrei feel when finally we need to tell him of his being an adopted son and that his real mother lives only nearby? What emotional wound that would create in him. What about if seeing daily Marc Andrei just around the corner the real mother would develop fondness of the child then later on would demand that he be returned to her? Who would the court favor in case a case will be filed?
At the end of our conversation the previous night, my wife just said that not under any circumstances that she would surrender Marc Andrei to anyone – that she is comfortable coexisting with the real mother in the same neighborhood – that as Marc Andrei grows up she would constantly watch him and keep him out of the real mother’s reach.
As I waited for the mass to start, I recalled what transpired that Wednesday night when we went to the lying-in clinic. The midwife suggested that we would make it appear in the registration that we are the real parents of Marc Andrei. That she suggested because according to her, the real mother was apparently not willing to have herself appear on paper as Marc Andrei’s mother. Additionally, the real mother would not like to put her name on the dotted lines of any documents. The midwife said that even a simple deposition indicating that she was voluntarily giving us Marc Andrei could not be issued by the supposed “19-year old student” who gave birth to our son.
We consented with such a wrong scheme they perpetuated for we were so blinded with our longing for a baby, and for Marc Andrei’s sake.
Then I also recalled how vehemently she refused to help us in registering Marc Andrei because she did not intend to make it appear in the paper that it was in her lying-in clinic where the baby was born. It appeared to me that she did not like her name to appear in any document that will be created out of that scheme she herself was perpetuating.
Good that my wife’s cousin, who was with us when we went to the lying-in clinic that Wednesday night is also a midwife. For Marc Andrei’s sake, she volunteered to help in the registration and make herself appear as the one who assisted in our son’s birth.
I entered the church’s chapel of the saints and prayed to the Divine Mercy as I would always do after a Sunday mass. I fervently prayed for whatever is best for Marc Andrei – that may the truth come out – that may He guide me in the decision that I’ll have to make in case it is true that the real mother of Marc Andrei is that woman in our neighborhood. I resolved that the next decision we make about Andrei would come from me.
Before heading home I visited ate Claire, the midwife-cousin of my wife who’s a colleague and relative of the midwife who owns the lying-in clinic where Marc Andrei was born. I told her about the rumor circulating – that the real mother of our son was our neighbor which she happens to know also. Ate Claire could not believe what she heard. She promised to talk to the midwife.
When I returned home, I carried Marc Andrei while feeding him. On the daybed, I sat beside my wife who was blankly staring at the figure of angels she cross-stitched which was mounted on the wall. She took away Marc Andrei from my arms and warned me about giving up our son.
At around 4:00 P.M., the lay ministers my mother-in-law invited for Marc Andrei’s prebaptismal rite came. With two in-laws serving as god parents, our son was dedicated to the Lord. We planned to have the official baptismal of our son on December 5th, my wife’s birthday.
We did everything that we planned for Marc Andrei. Notwithstanding the specter of losing him again perilously hanging overhead like Damocle’s sword, we continued to essay passionately the role of parents.
Then night came. ate Claire arrived and broke to us the bad news rather gently. The midwife divulged to her that the mother of Marc Andrei is not a 19-year old student from Manila but that woman in our neighborhood. The story was concocted in cahoots with ate Baby and the grandmother of Marc Andrei – that ate Baby was there when Marc Andrei was born – that Marc Andrei was intended not to be kept by the family because it would create some undesirable complications for the mother and the family in general – that indeed, I and my wife were victims of a grand deception.
My emotional rollercoaster started to move again, yes in a downward sharp spiral. My wife cried while clutching Marc Andrei. She kept kissing our son while saying repeatedly “It’s not true.” I cried too. I tried to console my wife by running gently my hand in her back.
Then I recalled the person who said I must TRUST her… ate BABY.
DAY 5 (Saturday)
My car was right on top rollercoaster track and I know that soon, after a twist, or a bend, or a spin then down again I’ll go. But while my emotional rollercoaster was traversing a plane at the pinnacle I tried to enjoy the ride.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I took care of Marc Andrei, I allowed my wife to have a well-deserved sleep. It was a crash course I took up that time – Babysitting 101. I put milk on a dispenser reading carefully the instructions in the can (from the original milk given by ate Baby we decided to buy a better infant formula – SIMILAC – that was prescribed by the Pediatrician who checked Marc Andrei that day). I happily attended to Mark Andrei’s need that night. I hummed softly to his ears songs to put him to sleep (I think he liked best the “hummed” version of “NOBODY”). I clutched him gently in my arms whenever he would not stop crying. But when I felt that Marc Andrei’s back was wet, I was forced to wake my wife up to change our son’s diaper. Well, I have not tried changing Marc Andrei’s diaper yet, so I paid attention to what my wife was doing at that time because I wanted to do the honor of changing Marc Andrei’s diaper the next time around.
My wife went back to sleep, she had not had a good one in the past days, I followed shortly thereafter when I was sure that Marc Andrei was safe, secured, and comfortable.
I didn’t get much sleep that day but I worked all day inspired. There were no classes but I went to school to finish paperwork that piled up in the past three days. With so much enthusiasm, I recounted to some colleagues who were also in school our experiences the past days.
Then night came. While Marc Andrei was deep in slumber in the daybed, I and my wife had dinner. She was obviously perturbed, she was seemingly not minding what I was telling her about my plans regarding Marc Andrei’s papers. I sensed trouble. I was afraid my rollercoaster would soon hit another spin, another twist, another treacherous dive. I just hoped that it would not be so trenchant a fall that could throw me off my car in the rollercoaster.
After dinner, we sat separately at both ends of the daybed, March Andrei was between us.
Then I asked my wife to drop whatever bomb she wished to explode.
What she told me left me dumbfounded.
My wife told me that the mother of Marc Andrei is not a 19-year old student from Manila but rather a woman from Bulacan. And of all places, the mother is from our own community, right in the neighborhood where we are residing, and living just two houses away from us.
Down went my car in my emotional rollercoaster. How I had wished I was just dreaming at that point.
My wife told me that it was whispered to her by very reliable sources – by well-meaning people who thought we deserve to know the truth. But ate Baby is a woman not capable of DECEPTION. I know I could TRUST her. Like my mom, who was born in Lal-lo, Cagayan, ate Baby is an Ilocana. We would normally speak in Ilocano when there were no other people with us who could not understand the said dialect. We are both officers of our homeowners’ association, I was the President and she was the Vice-President. I had to give her the benefit of the doubt. I believe that she perfectly understood what I told her that Tuesday night when we had a serious talk about Marc Andrei.
But just the same, I have to act on the matter divulged by my wife. After dinner, I started piecing together things said by my wife and the information I gathered clandestinely from our neighbors, especially those who were residing nearest to the reported real mother of Marc Andrei. Then I talked to ate Susie, my confidante in our neighborhood, who, like me, can speak both Ilocano and Ibanag.
Ate Susie could not believe what she heard. She doubted that ate Babe would deceive me and my wife in that manner. I asked ate Susie (and she agreed) to drop by ate Baby’s house and see how the latter would react if she would tell her that we are again thinking of returning to her Marc Andrei because we already know who the real mother is.
Notwithstanding the situation that emerged, our love for Marc Andrei remained. My wife and I talked about all possible eventualities. She made it so clear to me that even if the real mother lives just nearby, she wouldn’t mine. Marc Andrei is hers and nobody could take him away from her.
Then at almost midnight, I received a text message from ate Susie saying that ate Baby denied knowing who the mother of Marc Andrei is.