“The rich man is a person whose child runs into his arms when his hands are empty.”
Miss Cooper was feeling unwell. She was treated for malaria but somehow it persisted. Few days after leaving the hospital, she started throwing up frequently. That morning, I saw her rush into the bathroom and a nine-months-suspicion crept into my mind but I quickly waved it off.
“Perhaps, we should see another doctor or change the medication.” I said.
“You know, this could be more than malaria!” She said.
“Ferdy, I’m afraid this plays out like morning sickness!”
After four pregnancy tests, a scan, and just two months into our marriage, we received the memo that Kaima Nathan Adimefe was coming sooner than we planned.
Missy had taken out time, from work, to obtain a Masters’ degree; and I was tinkering with the idea of a Ph.D. We had planned to give ourselves two years to tidy up and enjoy the Garden of Eden. But I have learnt to embrace life.
The days and months that followed were filled with preparation: surfing the net for stuff on how to be a dad, shopping for books, and seeking advice. But first, we had to work out where she will give birth: abroad or Nigeria? Which hospital?
And the D-day came.
I was attending an out-of-town conference. I was at the venue of the SME conference when Missy called to say she was having contractions. I badly wanted to return to Lagos.
I spoke to Dr Chuks, my Best Man who pastors a church, and he assured me that Lily would be fine, that he was praying with me, that it was normal for a first baby to arrive a week early.
While I was at the conference, my mind was in Lagos. I couldn’t wait to get back. An hour later, I called again.
“Ferdy, your little boy wants to say hi,” my mother-in-law said.
I heard his cries.
“Mother and child are doing really well.” She said. “You will have to call back.”
The next morning, I rushed from the airport to the hospital. I was quite sad, I felt guilty for my absence. But when I held him, for the first time, and looked into his eyes: a dream. I felt joy and panic, proud to be a dad, humbled to be bestowed with this baby.
I want to be the best dad! Oh my God, this is my baby!
Many nights Missy had placed my palm on her belly and I would feel him moving.
I saw him cry and it was wow! My baby can cry!
He is oblivious of time and demands company at night. Each morning when I wake up and find him sleeping, he looks like my baby pictures.
Each day I wake up to the realization that a baby changes everything. Becoming parents changed us for good. Our baby is our priority.
Last night, when Missy and I got home, we rushed off to his room, each hoping to be the first to carry him. My baby peed on my face.
Some nights we are stressed out by his ear blocking cries.
Oh, that first moment, when he fell asleep on my chest!
I remember the first time, Lily and I, tried to change his diaper. This is an art we’re still perfecting.
Right now, I want everyone to have a baby! I can’t wait to welcome our remaining two kids.
I know Kaima Nathan will grow up to make his own choices. Now is the time I have to determine his choices. I am his first teacher and his choices will be determined by the model I display and the opportunities I provide.
I want to develop a new curriculum for him. His first lessons will be the conversations I have with my wife in the morning; what will he hear me say: words of love or constant quarrels?
I hope to pass the same values of creativity, authenticity, respect, hard work, and faith to him.
It’s important that my kid gets the opportunity to pursue whatever he wants. My job is to develop his interest in all areas and not just the ones I’m keen about. I want him to have impatience for injustice and to never withhold his voice against wrong.
Someone once said, “A father shapes the hole in his child”. I grew up with a dad who wasn’t always present due to the nature of his job. He was a visiting dad. I don’t want to be a physically present but emotional absent father. I also want to be the daddy, not just the father of my son.
I hope to teach my son how to laugh at fear, to let him know that God is perfect, that there’s a hole in all other beings.
Sometimes I fail to find my patience, fail to bring out my attention, and fail to notice the little things. But I wouldn’t fail to acknowledge these shortcomings to myself and to my kids. Nobody keeps you honest like a child.
I have accepted my failures and I’m working out a change so that I won’t fail when tested again.
I pray to successfully teach my son to love and respect those precious souls called ladies; that’s the Dad I want to be and much more.
Photo Credit: Seun Idowu
Ferdy Adimefe is a freelance writer, media and communications strategist and Curator of the Creative Nigeria Project. His passion is to help creative people everywhere achieve profitability. When Ferdy is not busy, he is hanging out with Lily and close friends, working on his next book, taking French and salsa classes, and pushing his knowledge of God.