It was February of 2004. My sister told me to have that ultrasound, worried that I might be overdue with my pregnancy. I told her that I was not, added that full term babies age from thirty-eight to forty-six weeks. Still, she told me that a visit to my obstetrician would not hurt.
I was pregnant with my seventh kid, was a stay at home mom and whose marriage was on the rocks. My kids and I were living with my mom, a typical prodigal daughter scenario where I did not have much choice but to listen, follow and let my siblings decide for myself, depending on them for almost everything.
My obstetrician asked me if I already have a name for my baby. I told her ” yes, ” and the name that I had chosen was “Summer Renee,” because she will be born in summer time. Surprisingly she asked , “What if it turns out to be a boy?” I looked at her in the eye and then I knew, I was going to have a son.
He weighed more than seven pounds. The midwife told me he was a big baby because when she put him on the weighing scale, his baby feet extended, had touched the surface. “He had long legs,” she added as she placed him in my arms. I named him Red Stuart. His sisters, especially the eldest one, liked the sound of it. And she was crazy with her baby brother ever since she had laid eyes on him from day one that they were inseparable, almost, until now.
He was born at a time when I was slowly dying inside. When everything was unsure, and the future looked hopeless and bleak. What more, he had to have a piece of my attention and love which was already divided into six, myself, forgotten. Each day was filled with questions and regrets, guilt and shame. I was almost to the point of no return.
I could not remember when or how I woke up. What I did remember was when I told myself I have had enough. Enough of looking at walls, wishing I could go through them. Enough of dreaming big when afraid of taking even a small step. Enough of hoping love would come back when there was almost nothing left even for myself.
I told my mom I have to work, in Manila because I knew it was my turf. That I will bring three of my kids with me, explained that two of them needed to go to a special education center.That there were more opportunities and support groups in the city compared to our place. Good thing she was a teacher because she understood. Still it was not easy when I left the other four, Red included, who was just then two years old.
All of a sudden, the family that I built had been divided. I recall seeing my second eldest shed some tears when they had to say goodbye after every vacation ended. I recall, my eldest son, then on his fourth grade, confined in the hospital, without me being around. And I remember, how I would cry and comfort myself, looking at Red’s picture, smiling, as if he was asking, ” Will I be home soon? ”
Days, months, years had passed. I lost count on the sleepless nights I had spent working to build a life.
Of braving stormy days just to get home and check on the kids only to work again in the evenings. Of fighting the cold weather, just to take advantage of a holiday pay. Of thinking that one day, I will have my family back including Red. Miraculously, we were able to hold on.
March of 2012. Now all six kids are in my wing, with one daughter left with my mom. Less than a year from now, all of them will be together, with my mom, perhaps included. It will be a jungle but definitely not the first time. Now, I at least get to enjoy a few hours with Red, seeing him off to school and picking him up even only after an hour. Now I know when I get home, I would not be just looking at his picture, imagining him in my arms. Now, I have learned that in order for me to look at all them clearly, I have to find myself first. And now, I realize that despite all the pain that had gone in between, I was able turn my life around, fill it with hope, and finally tell myself, that I had done the right thing.
My life which was used to be gray is now back to its old color, in which it is filled with red once more.
And for me that was enough.