FOR a summer morning, last Wednesday’s temperature of 32 degrees Celsius was cooler than in the past days.
But for a woman seven months into her pregnancy, it seemed as if the sun bore down on her neck without plans of setting.
Alayssa Abarri’s shirt was soaked and no amount of fanning could seem to dry the streams of sweat blanketing her.
But despite the discomfort etched on her face, the 20-year-old mother managed to smile, while massaging her protruding belly.
“Nagisi nalang ni akong paypay, pero sige lang. Ang importante kay healthy si baby (My fan’s torn from all the fanning, but I don’t mind as long as my baby is healthy),” she told SunStar Cebu.
Abarri is one of at least 50 pregnant and nursing mothers who battle the heat and fatigue, not wanting to miss their regular medical appointments in the local health center in Barangay Pasil, Cebu City.
What the mothers lacked in their pockets, they more than make up for by ensuring they avail of the free immunization in the center for their infants.
Alice (real name withheld), a nurse who has been working in Pasil for the past five years, said she and her colleagues would visit the mothers who’d missed their appointments.
For a health center filled with working mothers as staff members, it was quite impossible not to get a scolding from the attending nurses if one neglects her prenatal checkup, let alone her child’s immunization shots.
Abarri attested to that, recalling how Alice went to her house last year after she almost missed the appointment of her eldest son, who was six months old at that time.
“I was waiting for my mother to accompany me because my husband was working. It was almost noon and she was still not around, and I was quite nervous to go by myself,” she said in Cebuano.
Since then, Abarri has braved her anxiety and has been going to the health center all by herself.
But with her due date around the corner and her body becoming sorer each day, the young mom has found her a little “bodyguard”, her now one-year-old son Key Marjohn.
“He said he wants to keep me and his baby brother safe. We’re poor but my kids are my wealth,” said Abarri.
In Barangay Mabolo, 37-year-old Cheryl Amamece also had with her a little companion as she took her newborn baby Khara Felize to get her first immunization shot.
Faith and the family
Strapped on 5-year-old Mary Precious Kate’s back was a bag containing her baby sister’s things, while her chubby hands wiped the sweat from her mother’s forehead.
“I came with my mom because I promised my dad I will keep them safe while he’s working. My mom needs my care,” Mary said.
Since giving birth to her eldest child, Cheryl has suffered two miscarriages. Although that broke her heart, she and her jeepney driver-husband took a leap of faith after Mary asked for a younger sibling.
“It wasn’t easy but all the pain and suffering vanished the first time I heard my baby’s voice,” Cheryl said.
For Editha Minina, 34, the most beautiful music she’s heard in this world were the first cries of her six children. She said the smiles of her kids are all the sunshine she needs in her life, especially the bundle of joy she cradled in her arms.
“For me, happiness is wanting nothing but seeing your children smile. To make that happen, you have to start while they’re young and not neglect their medical needs, no matter how poor you are,” Minina said.
For Mother’s Day today, Grace, a nurse who asked not to be named, encouraged all moms not to belittle the importance of prenatal and postnatal checkups.
Grace tends to at least 100 nursing and pregnant mothers who visit the local health center in Mabolo and has grown to care for them like her sisters.
“As a mother, it gives me a sense of fulfillment to see these many mothers put first the needs of their children. It warms my heart,” she said.