It was the day after Labor Day and I had just returned from Londrina where I was attending college. The exam and appointment with the obstetrician were more of a formality because I was being accompanied by another doctor while I attended classes and advanced my mandatory internships in order to complete my degree. The first appointment of the day was the last ultrasound, I can’t deny that at that moment it was difficult to know if I was more anxious or desperate for what was to come.
During the exam, it was detected that André had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. We always hear stories, but we never expect them to happen to us. The drive home was a little more apprehensive than I anticipated. Before lunch, the doctor called home (since when does a doctor call a patient? This one called), my mother reported what had been detected in the ultrasound and the doctor told me to have a light meal and not eat anything else until the appointment, which would be in the late afternoon because there was a chance that I would have to do a C-section that same day.
There are days we want to keep every minute in our memory forever, but I confess that my memory is terrible and I remember very little of what I did between lunch and the time of the appointment. I don’t know if because of anxiety, pregnant sleep, or the events that were yet to come.
The appointment must have lasted 15 minutes, but the doctor had been very clear about the risks of waiting for André to naturally undo his first attempt at boyhood and the best alternative was to have a cesarean that same day.
At that time my parents were living in Santo André, the doctor’s appointment was in São Caetano and the maternity hospital we had chosen was in São Bernardo do Campo. For those who don’t know the ABC Paulista, good luck searching on Google (just kidding!). They are close cities, there are times when it is difficult to know when you left one and entered the other.
But Tássia, why do you need to interrupt this story to tell this detail?
I was the obstetrician’s last patient, the maternity bag had been packed for a long time and was in the trunk of the car. The doctor and we, my mother and I, had the same destination, we left about the same time, from São Caetano it is possible to arrive in São Bernardo without having to cross Santo André.
My mom was driving and I was responsible for calling close friends and family to let them know that the big moment had arrived. There was time to call everyone and we were still in Santo André. Yes, my dear reader, emotions are treacherous bugs that confuse us, my mother ended up taking one of the longest paths ever recorded in the history of mothers who drive their daughters to maternity to have a child (it’s true, data doesn’t lie). When we arrived at the maternity ward, the doctor was starting to get worried, some of my relatives had also arrived.
Check-in was quick, not even thirty minutes had passed and I was already wearing the hospital gown and sharing a room with another pregnant woman who was resting from the many hours of labor she was in. The nurse asked if we needed anything and we both shared the same desire: FOOD.
Our wish was not granted, food was one of the few things we should avoid at that moment. I didn’t have to stay long in the waiting room because I was getting ready for a C-section, I was just waiting for the operating room to be ready. She would have to endure pain and hunger a little longer.
I was alone in the delivery room, waiting for the medical team. The first to come into the room and really talk to me was the anesthesiologist. The usual questionnaire was interrupted when he heard that my son was going to be called André. He immediately put on a smile and said something like “this boy will have a bright future”. Of course, the doctor was also called André and he was amused by the unexpected coincidence.
It didn’t take long for the anesthesia to kick in (I was lucid, but I didn’t feel anything from the waist down). The doctor arrived with another one accompanying her. She asked if I was feeling okay and they turned on the stereo. It took me a while to understand that my cesarean was going to have music all the time. Which was a nice distraction when you started to smell the burn from a laser scalpel.
It was very strange to be awake while the doctors were doing the whole procedure, I couldn’t see them very well, I couldn’t feel what they were doing and I had nothing else to do but look at the ceiling, and listen to the music and wait. I had the feeling that something was wrong like I wasn’t fulfilling my role as a mother from the start.
Everything was going according to schedule, but my naughty boy was ready for one more. He was so ready to be born that it was hard to get him out of the position he was in. The anesthetist had to help because the two doctors weren’t able to do it by themselves.
I remember hearing André’s strong cry, taking time to see him, the anxiety to know if everything was fine and if he was healthy. The anxiety that now it was for real, that from that moment on, a new chapter in my life began. When they brought him close to me I could barely enjoy the moment, he must have stopped crying for a fraction of a second, and then they took him away to finish taking care of him and making sure he was okay.
My mother met me in the room I was going to sleep and spend the next two days. She said she recognized André by the size of his foot, that he was the loudest baby of the night, and that everything was fine. We talked for a long time until the nurse interrupted us and said that I should be quiet or I would fart a lot the next day (no comments).
Since that day my life has really never been the same, there is no challenge that I am not able to face in order for my son to continue growing and having all the opportunities that I can offer, but that is a topic for another day.
Today is May 2nd and my little boy is 15 years old, and, of course, as a good mother, I need to expose my son a little. So here’s a small sample of what it was like to see him grow up.
Vicky, the nanny
When we got back from the maternity ward, my dog, who at that time had already had her own C-section, became André’s number one companion. She was where he was, when he slept in the crib in the afternoon, she would stay at the bedroom door and come to let us know when he had woken up,
He started to crawl and spend more time on the floor and she was always around, he couldn’t have anything to eat on his hands that he would share with her. Then he started having fun lying on the dog’s bed and Vicky didn’t even once try to bite him or seemed aggressive towards André.
My downfall his tears
When he was older, in Goiânia, André and I used to go to a park close to our house. One of those times it started to rain a lot and it was already getting dark, we wanted to leave and walked to where there would be a taxi stand. When we were arriving at the covered area to wait for the taxi I slipped and fell. André started to cry, I was scared thinking I had hurt him, but he was crying because of my fall. He was so worried that he started crying.
Hidden in the playground
The building where we lived had a play area for children, it was small, but there were a lot of children in the building, and therefore a good option for them. Almost every day the kids from the building came down to play, at the time I was with my crazy work routine and my mother came down with him when I was teaching. One day, when it was time to go up, André disappeared and no one could find him. A task force of mothers began searching the entire building, garage, stairs, and every floor, to finally find out that he was lying in the park and in a place where no one could see him. To this day we’re not sure if he did it for fun and didn’t realize it’d gotten serious, or if he dozed off and didn’t hear people calling him.
Whenever André talks about my first trip to China, he starts by saying that he still wasn’t very good with time and that when I said a year he thought it was a month, and right after that, he tells the story of the hot wheel.
My parents, my brother, and André took me to the airport in Goiânia, while I was doing the check-in André was by my side. When the attendant asked if I had any metal objects inside the suitcase I denied it and André immediately started crying profusely saying that I did. I believe the attendant noticed the confusion all over my face and gave me enough time to clarify the situation with my son. André said that he had put one of his hot wheels in the suitcase so I wouldn’t forget about him and the toy car was made of metal.
Before returning to Brazil when I stopped in Europe the hot wheels did the tour with me so he would know that no matter where I am he will always be with me. When I came back to China and stay one more year without him, the hot wheels came with me. Today, it is in our living room and it is one of the three hot wheels he saved from his huge collection.
Before turning 9, André already collected five stitches and two scars on his face. One while he was playing at school with his classmate and ended up hitting his face on the corner of the table. When I saw the missed calls from the school (I worked at another school and I don’t usually check my phone during classes) I called immediately and the secretary calmly said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay, it’s stopped bleeding.” Of course, we went to school and took him to a clinic, it took 3 people to hold André and lots of screams of “You lied to me, it’s going to hurt” to get the stitches.
The second time was easier, maybe because the time gap between one accident and another was small. André was hit by a bicycle in the leisure area of the building and got a small cut on his eyebrow
André took an English course before coming to China, but when he arrived here it was still very basic and if someone had the chance to talk to someone from another country or a native knows the pressure you feel the first few times this happens. I took him to where I used to work and my friends tried to talk to him, one even tried in Spanish and he couldn’t answer anything. When we went out to have dinner with my friends, I had to translate most of our conversations.
He was going to play with two Americans (9 and 12 years old) while I had to work, and even though there was a language barrier, they got along very well. André once told me that he wasn’t afraid to try to talk to them because they were almost the same age. In less than six months, my friend looked at André and said: “You remember that three months ago you didn’t understand almost anything I was saying, look at you now. I can’t believe that not long ago your mother was translating things for you.”
Today, I’ve seen natives ask André about new slang that people use because 90% of what André consumes is in English and he knows these new expressions better than we, who are staying behind.
Explaining what a record is
“Mom, you know that in the old days to listen to music there was a kind of round object that was placed against a needle to play”
“Are you trying to describe a vinyl record to your mother?”
Instant regret stamped on the already teenager André’s face.
The story is short, but it’s definitely worth including.
One of my biggest battles with André is about his studies. André is smart, but he doesn’t have the same motivation to study as he has for other things. This year he knows he has a responsibility to choose something to focus on and take seriously, he may even give up in the future, but he needs to think about a course or take basketball more seriously. The deadline for him to decide is today, his birthday.
Last month he was telling me about a video he saw somewhere online. The person was a 27-year-old man who was already a millionaire. The young man said that he had been very lucky to have made money and that if there was one thing he could change about the past, it was to have not let so many opportunities pass and to have studied more.
Sometimes our children listen better when the advice comes from other people.
That’s it for today, those who have the privilege of knowing André know that I’m talking about a very special boy and that these are just a few stories of many others. Happy Birthday, André!
2 thoughts on “The Boy’s Birthday”
Congratulations to Andre due his Birthday…
Tia Ana falou de vc ontem com um primo que mora em Americana e tem uma sobrinha se mudando tb para a China…
Recebam nossos abraços e muita felicidade a vc e especialmente hoje para o Andre. Deus os abençoe.
João M. Jodas
f. (11) 9.9601-8088
Fique a vontade para repassar meu contato caso ela precise de alguma coisa. Tem alguns grupos de brasileiros na China no Wechat (tipo um whatsapp, mas chinês) e eu posso incluí-la se ela quiser.