We have a new boss, and she’s only 18.25 inches tall

My daughter Ariadne wants her direct reports, i.e., my wife and me, to be at her beck and call. Who could refuse? (Photo by Eric Augustus Tingatinga)

By Anthony O. Alcantara

She came knocking at around 2:45 am on August 31. Such temerity to come unannounced.
That’s when my wife realized that her water broke. I don’t know how water can break, but that’s what they call it.  Our new boss broke my wife’s water to announce a hostile takeover.

I called the guard downstairs at our condo lobby to hail a cab. We quickly got dressed and went for the elevator. When we got down, there was still no cab. Five minutes later, a Toyota Innova taxi stopped in front of the building. There were a man and a woman inside, apparently waiting for someone else to join them in the cab.

“Can we have your cab? It’s an emergency,” I told them. In times like this, you commandeer anything that has wheels. We were lucky. After ejecting the poor passengers, we went to the hospital, which was just about 700 meters away.

My wife Em went straight to the labor room. I was forced to call a consultant who also has some experience with unannounced visitors and hostile takeovers, my mother-in-law, Mama Luz.

I texted all other staff in our organization, too, i.e., my Mom, Dad, brothers, other family members, priest friends, and other friends.

Hours passed by. At around 7:30 am I was called in by a nurse to give support. I was asked to wear a lab gown and white slippers. My wife was there lying on a bed and all sweaty. The contractions were occurring every five to seven minutes.

“2 cm,” the doctor said. She was the nerdy type, the doctor. For a baby to be ready for a grand exit, the cervix has to open 10 centimeters.

Em could still handle the pain. She was instructed to push as the wave of pain comes. Two deep breaths, hold the air inside the lungs on the third breath and push as if trying to take a dump.

Em just grunted, which was a lot better than the sounds made by two other women in labor. The 19-year-old girl who was there earlier howled like a carabao being butchered. I know carabaos don’t howl and I’ve never heard or seen any carabao being butchered. But if carabaos could howl, I imagine that would be the sound.

The one who came after Em panted like a dog. She was hyperventilating. She couldn’t bring herself to breath deeply and had a hard time following the doctor’s instructions.

At around 11am, Em said, “I can’t take it anymore. Give me an epidural.” The doctors earlier advised against any anesthesia if the mother can take the pain. So they checked her cervix again.

“9 cm! Just 1 cm more. It would be a waste to have an epidural,” said the doctor.

So Em waited and pushed some more. Finally, just before 12 noon the doctor checked again. She asked me to look. It was a bloody sight but I clearly saw the top of my baby’s head. It had a lot of bloody hair.

Aria, future beauty queen, waves to her subjects. (Photo by Anthony Alcantara)

At that point, I was asked to step out. Em was taken into the delivery room. I would have wanted to watch, but sadly, it’s against hospital policy.

So I just waited and waited outside. I was with Mama Luz. We were just praying. Finally, just before 1pm, Em was taken to the maternity ward. Our baby shortly came afterward. She was placed on Em’s chest to suckle.

So there she was, our new boss. Her name is Ariadne. She was born at 12:27pm, 6.1 pounds, and 18.25 inches. She was beautiful.

In the days that followed, Em and I became insomniacs, or rather, as some would say, hyposomniacs, to be more exact since “hypo” means low or less.

Every two or three hours, our new boss demands her milk from mommy’s breast. And every so often, she wants her diapers changed. And she requires us to burp her as part of our new day-to-day parental duties. She has also released a memo instructing us to sit her upright so she can fart. And she finds spitting milk at us occasionally amusing and funny.

Aria the Boss: Mom, can you rock me faster? What's that you're doing anyway? (Photo by Anthony Alcantara)

It never occurred to Em and me that this little martinet of a boss could order us around 24/7. It never occurred to us that parenthood can be akin to slavery.

But we wanted this. Despite the hardships, we love Aria just the same. Everyday we look forward to seeing the expressions on her little face. So far we could identify four expressions: distress, awe, happiness and trepidation.

And Aria also dreams. Even when she was just a few hours old, she made little sounds as if dreaming. What on earth could a baby just a few hours old be dreaming of?

Could she be dreaming of mommy’s sweet voice singing her a lullaby? Or daddy’s voice reading Marcus Aurelius? Or could she be dreaming of monsters inside mommy’s womb? Perhaps monsters that make farting sounds?

That day at the hospital when I first saw Aria, I just couldn’t help staring at her. Aria looked so peaceful when she slept.

“This is my beautiful baby,” I told myself.

Then, still with eyes closed, Aria smiled as if having a wonderful dream. It was her first smile, a smile just for Dad. I know it’s going to be etched in my mind forever. And just as a tear was about to drop from my eye, an unexpected thing happened. Aria farted.

When I opened her blanket, I saw poop on her legs. But Aria was still smiling.

“I love you Aria, with or without poop. I love you forever.”

Aria the Boss: Dad, can't you be a little faster when changing my diaper? (Photo by Em Alcantara)


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