After many weeks of heart thumping moments when my wife, Jay, was pregnant with our first child, and many false contractions simulating delivery, leading to numerous trips to the hospital only to return home because it’s not yet due date; D-day finally arrived. Somehow, nine months of pregnancy seemed like forever especially when you take into consideration all the intricacies that come with them.
So when Jay was wheeled into the labour room, and the delivery process was well under way with those heavy contractions, I realized this time around it was for real. I had reached another milestone in my life. I was going to become a first time dad. But it was still a few moments away and those were the tricky parts; especially in Nigeria where child/maternal mortality rate is breaking world records.
The delivery team hooked Jay up to all kinds of monitoring devices like she was in a NASA Command Centre. And as the contractions got heavier, I could tell she was in anguish. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to ameliorate the situation. After about two hours of those contractions and progressive dilation – which the medical personnel on hand assured me was normal – I started wondering why the delivery process is so complicated.
I asked my mother-in-law, who was in the labour room with me, if the process as it was going as normal. She said ‘yes’ to which I gave her that look with opened-mouth-amazement: ‘and you went through labour ten times’. Her answer gave me some calmness, because as stated, my mother-in-law has ten children. So she is very experienced in these matters. Just like my mother who also had ten of us (or twelve if you counted two births that were full term but did not survive) all single births and natural delivery- my mother and mother-in-law, champion baby carriers!
As I thought about these things, it occurred to me that the whole delivery process is different from when our parents were making babies. If it was that complicated, I have a feeling my parents or Jay’s parents may not have had so many children apiece. You see, my mother informed me I was born at home. No fancy hospital, no complicated machines hooked to monitor her, just a very experienced midwife to take my delivery. Her hands were the scanners, and the living room was the labour room!
But it was no longer the late 1970s. This was 2012, and it was now the turn of my wife and I to have our own baby and continue the cycle of life; with our ironic present day scientific and medical advancements and failed institutions in Nigeria to encounter in the process. I had to deal with the ordeal of being there as the baby arrived. I was praying and watching all the while, asking the nurses if everything was in order. To say I was nervous would be to put it mildly.
At some point, Jay started asking to be given a cesarean section just so the process could be done with. But my mother-in-law and the nurses assured me there was no need as the baby was perfect for natural delivery. Then I made the mistake of allowing Jay to hold my hand even as a wave of contraction came upon her. The excruciating pain I felt informed me I was about to have all my fingers on that hand broken. I literally had to struggle to free my hand from that death grip. Whoever said ‘women are weaker vessels’ has not come across a woman undergoing labour pains.
Finally, it was time for the baby to be delivered. As the retinue of nurses and frenzy of activities increased in the room, I was trying to keep up with the organized chaos that was going on. ‘Okay madam push’ ‘yes, you are doing very well’, ‘wait we will tell you when to push again’, the instructions were many and scary. All the while I was praying this situation would just have a happy resolution, even as my nervousness increased.
As a direct answer to my prayer, suddenly I saw the baby emerge and heard that shrill cry signalling its first intake of air to its lungs. I was relieved, our son was born! Almost immediately, the placenta came out as well. We had received that happy resolution. I had heard terrible stories of women who had successfully had natural births, only to be operated upon to take out the placenta. My happiness was total!
I brought out my phone subconsciously and called to give my parents the exciting news. As I tried to talk, my voice broke. It was then I realized my eyes had been streaming all the while and that the whole experience was quite overwhelming for me. The scene as depicted in movies where husbands cry for joy in labour rooms is so true. I also remembered that as soon as the baby was born, I was in awe, fear, reverence, envy, and filled with gratitude to my wife all at once.
I think women, by their physiological make up, hold a special role in life. As a man, I would never know what it is like to carry a pregnancy, feel the baby grow, kick and get delivered eventually. It is a tough job. Shout out to all females everywhere!
I use this medium to join my faith to that of every family expecting right now, or waiting for this great miracle of birth, that all will be well; and the world shall hear about your lovely experiences shortly.
It is indeed a privilege for one to become a parent, to be used by God to continue the cycle of life. The whole process of conception, to delivery is the biggest mystery I have come across. Matter of fact, parenthood is a sacred duty.
For Jay and I, it has only just begun!
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