I became a father one dusty, quiet harmattan morning precisely on February 17th 1998. I was going on thirty, and as my wife was led into the labor room I felt a surge of inexplicable pride, little did I know the events that would unfold; that I would experience a turnaround in my spiritual existence never occurred to me.
Nothing had prepared me for the admixture of trauma and joy I experienced that morning. Felicia never complained about any excessive abdominal pain nor was there any warning from the doctor that the birth would be difficult. I was awakened around 3:00 am in the morning by the sounds of Felicia groaning and holding her lower waist. As I rushed to take her to the hospital different emotions swirled through my body. I was happy that the baby is finally on its way and panicky because I kept worrying about everything going wrong. In fact; I worried because I thought things were going wrong. In my frenzied state of mind I kept her in the car, got in, and slammed the door shut before I realized I had left the ignition key in the house. I opened the door, dashed in and was out running in no time. I started the car and put my leg to the gas pedal. Thankfully, the streets were deserted as it usually does at that time in the morning. I sped along the highway and made it to the hospital under five minutes.
In the hospital, the nurses took my wife into the labor room and the endless waiting began. I paced the length of corridor and had a strong urge for nicotine; something I had thought I was beyond since I gave up smoking fifteen years earlier. Not once did I bring my butt to seat on any chair in the reception until my mother in law came in. I tried to be strong for her, to be a man in the African context but soon as I sat her down and allayed her fears I was up outside again and the fidgeting began all over. As the doctor strolled towards me, I shot towards him and asked “How are they?” He responded “They are doing great but we need your consent for a caesarian section on wife”. Initially I heard the statement only up to the “but” and I raised my voice and shouted “but what?” It took a not so steady repetition from the doctor as I shook his arm for me to hear him out. I scrawled my signature across the forms without looking at them, tears built up in my eyes as thoughts of all that could go wrong flashed through my mind.
When the doctor left, my mother-in-law burst into tears and we promptly started an impromptu prayer session. I became saved, anointed and a prophet in the twinkle of an eye, sweating and panting profusely. I paced across the corridor groaning and calling to a God I had forsaken for years in earnest prayers. I promised to serve Him and never miss church if He’ll preserve the life of my wife and kid. My groans were supplemented by the cries of my mother-in-law; sometimes in alternating crests. We prayed separately; yet joined together in our demand from God and in the cacophony of the noise we were making. Indeed God heard our cries, one can only imagine my relief when told later that mother and child were safe and in good condition.
Two years down the road now, as I watch Fade smile at me while I prepare her for school. I thank God for the bundle of joy I am opportune to have as a child. The stress of fatherhood has been worth it. It was during these two years that I understood that fatherhood meant more than just giving birth to a child. It encompasses the daily interactions between the father and child, sweet, sour and often tasking. While fathering a child has to do with fertility, fatherhood has to do more with building a relationship between the father and the child. A fertile man may not be a good father while a non-fertile man may be a successful father. God has been my help all along, I have held on to Him and kept the promises I made that fateful morning when Fade was born.