A year and a half ago i did what most women wish their husband will do for them and what most men would rather not do. I went in with my wife as she labored and gave birth. Yap!! I did it. Sema siku mrefu. Wah!! Sema kuchanganikiwa!! Enyewe mwanaume ni kujikaza kimaisha.
It’s 8pm and after the 9 month journey with all its ups and downs have come to this. No more cravings, mood swings and the pains and checkups will soon be over! My wife is scheduled for induction because her blood pressure has been acting up so her doctor feels it is better not to wait until full term. I am nervous and don’t know what to expect because of all the stories I have heard about what induction does to a lady during labour. So after some tests, she changes into one of those not so pretty hospital dresses (Do they have to be this ugly?) The doctor then initiates the induction around 10pm. I wish her well and head home. Little did I know that this was going to be one of the longest nights of my life. I have never been this anxious! At some point I even wished I remained in hospital with my wife even though the doctor had guaranteed that “active labour” would begin in the morning.
By 7am the following morning I was back to the hospital to see if the baby had come already (Movies have made us believe that labour takes 30 minutes and the baby is out) I get to hospital and my wife is doing well and labour pains are progressing well. She hands me a note book and pen and my role for the day is defined; recording how long the labour pains are and how far apart the contractions are coming, while still rubbing her lower back. Whoever said men can’t multitask!One hour turned into two, three, four and on and on. I don’t think I had been adequately prepared for this because as hours passed, I started feeling so drained and overwhelmed emotionally. Men are wired to always be in charge and offer solutions but at the labour ward all you can do is watch your loved one in pain and hope that rubbing her back will suffice. These moments however allowed me to appreciate my wife and all women just by seeing what they go through to bring new life to this world. I gave myself courage and soldiered on. It was particularly very uncomfortable for me to see how the doctor checks for dialation. Wah!! After what i had seen the first time, I walked out of the labour ward for the rest of the checkups and believe you me, they were a couple. Am still wondering if there is another way they can do that.Five hours later, it’s 7pm and my wife has only dilated 4cm! (For those that don’t understand why this is a big deal, for a baby to be born, a woman’s pelvic bones need to open up at least 10cm and that is what they call dilation) which meant that even after 12hours of labour, we still had a long way to go. I was emotionally drained, tired and hungry and just wished all this would come to an end. I was in unfamiliar territory and all I wanted was a break. God answered my prayer and at some point, our friend and midwife, Lucy Muchiri came to our rescue. At least this gave me a break to go get something to eat and breathe some fresh air. There was nothing that was as difficult as seeing my wife suffering and knowing there is nothing I could do to stop the suffering. Even my presence there did not feel enough.After what seemed to be years of labour and emotional turmoil for me, the doctor finally advised that it was time for us to consider Caesarian section which would mean that now my wife would be taken to the theatre. The doctor’s thoughts were that since we had tried all we could to deliver the baby normally and it was not working, it seemed that something was not right and we didn’t have time to find out what it was. His thoughts were that since at that point my wife and the baby’s heart beats were strong and consistent, if we waited longer, one of the two could get tired and hence lead to even more complications. I was confused and my mind had too many questions running through it. I wondered why the doctors had not anticipated the complications and why we had to wait 12 hours for them to come to this resolve. I felt wasted and depressed but I knew that everyone including the doctor had my wife’s interests at heart. My wife got prepared for theater and after 45 minutes under the knife, our daughter Eliana Wairimu Kamau weighing 2.4Kgs was born. I wept. I didn’t care what the world thought, I just let it all out. This moment, is a moment I will forever treasure. Seeing Eliana for the first time and seeing her mum finally at rest meant the world to me. Even though Eliana looked like an alien from outer space at first, I had seen many birth videos to know that’s just how they all come out “wrapped”.
In retrospect, I picked out a few lessons for both myself and fellow men who find themselves in this situation (trust me, its sooner than you think);
- Men are wired to be or at least want to be in charge of any situation they go through. I submit to you men that this is one situation you cannot do anything about. You will just be a spectator for most of the time. You will eventually feel very incapacitated.
- The labour experience is different for everyone. Be prepared for anything. It could take one hour or 12 hours.
- It may not seem like much but being there, rubbing her back and holding her hand is more than enough.
- If you don’t feel like you are psychologically prepared to go into the delivery room, please don’t go. You can thank me later. (I know many women will disagree with me on this point but I feel like this may end up having negative effects on a man who does not want to be in the room for whatever reason. Don’t force him.)
- Read as much as you can about pregnancy, labour and child birth. This will prepare you psychologically for what you will experience that day. Remember the experience is different for everyone.
- Depending on which hospital you go to, carry something that will help your mind to relax. It can be a game on your tablet or phone or a game of cards that you can play between contractions. (If both of you will be in the mood).
- Pray! Pray! Pray! During pregnancy, during labour and during delivery. Pray when you hold that baby in your hands and pray for your wife. It’s the only thing you will want to do anyway so do it.
- Never swear you will not go back there again. A lot can happen in the next nine months
Children are a gift from God and the process of conception all the way to delivery is nothing short of a miracle. Let us all appreciate life. Soon I will indulge more on the life after delivery.