I could still remember my escalation when I saw the two streaks on the pregnancy test kit I was holding. I had been married for a year, have been getting smothering questions and not to mention the hurtful remarks about my failure to conceive so when I saw those two lines, I was practically over the moon.
I instantly fell in love with the tumor in me, singing and talking to it during those lonely nights when my husband wasn’t around. As my originally bulging tummy grew bigger over the months so did my love for this life inside of me. And when I would look at the blankets, talcum, booties and PJs I had bought in preparation for his arrival, I swear I could feel that the baby in me was there! Mere words could not explain just how much love and connection I shared with my then unborn baby. I just knew that he had all the love that I could ever offer.
9 blissful months passed by, the time had come for me to bring the life inside of me into this world. I was admitted into the hospital and the next day induced into labor for reasons I cannot remember. I was scared at the prospect of becoming a parent, a mother..how would I fare? The pains of labor took over my life and it was unbearable. For the first time ever, I was very silent. Silent for enduring this ripping pain inflicted to me. Seeing my strange condition of silence, my loving husband tried to distract me from it by saying things he thought would relieve me from my sufferings. I remember looking at his gentle face and how gallantly he was to endure these intense moments with me for he is someone who does not tolerate episodes of pain and garish blood quite well, I immediately fell head over heels for him. Then he shattered the emotional episode when with a smile on his face, he innocently asked me a rhetoric question, “Hunny, is it painful?” I could almost kick him in the face and sink those teeth in but I managed to refrain myself from doing so.
8 hours passed by and still no signs of dilation. My opening was only 3cm even after three bottles of Pitocin and my water being broken by my gynae; the kind doctor told me the prospect of a c-sect. I told her to be done with it as I could no longer stand this pain. I wanted my baby out of me as quickly as possible. I was immediately ushered into the operation theatre for an emergency c-sect and at 3.45 pm, out was Qayyum, the baby I carried, into this world and boy did he make his entrance with style as his father had said, in precision, “very loud and clear”. I woke up and held him finally after 24 hours of enjoying what morphine could do to you. It was my mother who handed him to me. “Here Mama,” she said “your big and beautiful baby boy”. I looked at him emotionless, he had this super serious face (when not crying) and I thought to myself, how should I react? Was there supposed to be some kind of drama at the first sight of your first child, should I have shod tears of joy? I didn’t know so I showed none. Even my first kiss to him was when my mum shoved the baby to my face. Was it a bad sign???
After his jaundice came down, we were able to go home a week later. Reality came checking in as from that day onwards there would be no more nurses to attend to him. It was all on my own. As I sat there in the car with Qayyum in my arms sleeping safe and sound, I couldn’t help noticing his peaceful face and I felt the love tingling inside of me for him. Would I ever hate this baby I kept asking and I could feel tremors down my spine in the mere thought of it.
My trepidation finally emerged like a curse out of a hole. The tumor, the fetus, and the baby I had once loved I had now started to hate. The bond and admiration broke into pieces, shattered and vanished into thin air. During my confinement period, Qayyum was not an easy baby. He had colic every minute of his life and every day like a time bomb, at exactly 12 midnight until dawn he would just cry and cry and cry. It was impossible just being with him for he snatched me from my sleeps. As a new mother, I was clueless. I tried coaxing him to bed with the soothing lullabies that I was sung to by my mother when I was a child myself but it failed in agony. I thought he needed milk so I nursed him only to be rejected by him. I had tried medicated oil and rubbed them gently to his tummy but all else failed. I just lost hope and all that I was able to do was to sit down and let it seep in me. However, the crying almost brought me to the brink of madness for I was alone withstanding the pain of his endless crying and my own pain from the confinement process being snugly tucked by a corset to put my body back into shape and having to limit my movements. It was draining me mentally and physically.
My husband was back in Kerteh, Terengganu putting food on our plates and all I wanted was for him to be there at my parents’ with me through these desperate moments. I could recall the one time I literally wanted to throw Qayyum to the wall but faith in God had put sense in me. My parents would console me every night by taking turns taking care of him during those sleepless nights. Qayyum would not keep quite and my mum said that it is common for babies to behave in such manner and according to our traditional beliefs; he would grow out of it after the 44 days of confinement. The days ahead of me lurked like a shadow and how I waited for my confinement period to end. The crying would then stop and lo how I wish it was true.
Bringing Qayyum up was not something I detested nor was it something I enjoyed. He wasn’t exactly my bundle of joy as he was a difficult child. I kept my part of the promises that I made to him when he I carried in me which was to never stop being his mother but I found it difficult to keep. We came back to our home in Kerteh and that was when things got even worst. A day would never go by without me shrieking at him for him to stop the cries. As a baby what did he understand?
There were times when I had enough of it especially when he would become the world’s renowned soprano singer. If I were to be just one step away from him it would trigger those painful melodies and if I had needed to go to the loo, he was a constant companion. If I left him outside the bathroom with the doors wide enough for the whole universe to see, still it did not satisfy his need for me to be near him.
He prowled around my every moves and I can still remember going through many days without having breakfast or lunch because I did not have the time to cook. When he was asleep so was I; it is pretty exhausting to have a child permanently glued to you! My first meals would be when my husband returned home from work and even in the midst of eating I would have to stop because all he wanted was to be near me. My husband tried to help but the crying grew louder by the second and alas, I asked him to stop trying. When Qayyum was 5 months old, we had to tiptoe and whisper in the house for fear of waking him up. I was a prison in my own house and I was suffocating. Even the slightest sound from breathing could awake him and trigger his tears. What he cried for nobody knew. My only consolation was that I could seek refuge at work and release my stress between caring and understanding friends. What happened with the nanny I just could not care. I wanted to stay at work for as long as I could but when I remembered and pictured his beautiful face I was not up for it. He IS still my own flesh and blood made out of love.
From the moment he was able to walk at 10 months, he tested my patience every now and then for he wasa child who did not know and would not sit still. At 1 year of age, to make matters worst, his health wasn’t known to be at its best for he was hospitalized every now and then for asthma, bronchiolitis, croup, and asthma again, pneumonia and the list is countless. When his health was good, it took the best of him. He would throw things when he did not get his way, or shout at the top of his lungs when asked to brush his teeth before bedtime or just wail and screech for small things. Once, when he was 3, he turned the house upside down only for the reason that he could not have ice-cream. His constant aggression and unstoppable tears drove me up the wall. We asked many doctors for their opinions on him but all was in favor for my green little monster. He was a perfectly normal child. No medical worries at all they say. I was stupefied and for the following years, I’ve been to hell and back.
At four years of age, my husband I brought him to a traditional healer when my helper threatened to leave because she just couldn’t handle him anymore. My world shattered at my feet! Imagine me with a baby in tow and an unruly child, how could I survive? Miraculously, Qayyum changed and behaved. He started obeying me and was able to reason. That’s when I saw the softer side of him and I fell in love with him all over again. Unfortunately, my fairytale ended even before I was able to savor it. My joy was short-lived as the so called ‘magic’ had run its course. It was as if the moon turned full, my adorable child turned back into a werewolf.
Once again, I was engulfed by my frustrations and resentment for this little monster I gave birth to. “Why,” I kept questioning God “did you entrust him to me?” After the birth of my second child, he became even worse with his fits of rage and his throwing things apart. I pacified myself saying that jealousy had taken control of him but the devil on my left kept saying it was not. I loved him but I wouldn’t; I wanted him and I didn’t. I was divided with my own feelings and felt as if I were fighting a war on two different sides and to end my predicaments, I would always cry myself to sleep.
One night, I finally came into terms with my own demons after I smacked Qayyum hard on his butt for having rashes..painful rashes. I was angry with the fact that after all the times I coached him to tell me that he needed to relieve himself, he failed to do so. He was 4 years and a half and his butt was black and blue. Looking at the now bruised soft and smooth white flesh in front of me, it finally dawned onto me that I was the reason behind all his misbehaviors. I was the one to be hated for and not my child. I was the culprit!
And like watching a movie, I saw myself in the yester years and how I had beaten him at the tender age of 8 months when he would not just stop crying, I saw myself shouting at him when he asked many questions, I saw myself ignoring him when he needed me the most, how I would hit him when he was being childish, how I pinched him for running here and there in public and how I had “abused” him.
That was when I finally saw him, the true colors of my boy. Like a movie rewinding itself, all the episodes flashed before my eyes. The times when he would put a blanket over me when I was resting being exhausted from work, how he would rub my giant tummy when I was pregnant, how he would tiptoe in the room and plant a kiss on my forehead when I slept and how, most importantly, he would wipe away all the tears that trickled down my cheek when I was in sadness after having arguments with my husband. It is Qayyum who never fails to remind me that he worships me and it is him who has always made me laugh. It was at that very moment I realized I was to be put to blame for being an evil mother! It was me then who started to bawl, it was me then to throw fits of rage at myself for hating my own flesh and blood for the wrongdoings I myself committed. Finally after 4 and half years, love came softly. I, honestly, began to love him for all that he is.
7 years has passed and I am still waiting for his tantrums to make peace with me. I have called for a truce and I await in patience for his doppelganger to flee the earth. He does without any denials still throw things apart or make me insane but I am now able to laugh it off although I do admit, at times I have that strong urge to use violence against him but every time I lift my hand, I would go to him and hug him like crazy. Something I wasn’t able to do 7 years back. I am more tolerant of his rowdiness by keeping myself reminded that it is a phase in a child’s life and no more than that. With prayers, I found my inner peace and this has enabled me to keep in touch with the reality of bringing up a child. It amazes me that somehow now when I look at him, admiration, infatuation and frustation are all mixed together inside of me and the feeling is truly overwhelming. I loved him now and I loved him to pieces.
Times have gone by and the hatred healed into love. Now, I still cry at night but only after watching him sleep. If you were to ask me how the angels looked like, I would say “Look at Qayyum when he sleeps”. Even then when he is sound asleep, he never fails to notice the kiss I plant on his smooth chubby cheeks. “Mum,” he would say sleepily in his childish grammar “I love you infinity!”