Planning for a baby is not a woman’s affairs only

Filed under: Headlines,Lifestyles |

LABOUR ward drama is one of those performances in life that turns men’s stomachs inside-out. While it is no big deal for the average man to respond to his wife’s appeal to ‘please chase it away’ when she sees a snake in the house, and he chases the venomous serpent around the compound, until he has crushed its head, the same man will baulk when he’s told, ‘your woman is in labour’. Not because he doesn’t care about the coming child, but because ‘those things’ are not for men. Unfortunately, because many men fear and, consequently, avoid going to the labour ward, they don’t have a clear picture of what goes on in there, and cannot plan for the time when the baby will arrive. Women know what to expect, because the experienced ones have ‘been there done that’ and the neophytes have the old brooms to tell them what to expect. The same can’t be said of men. A new father has few ‘experienced’ fathers he can go to and say ‘hey Chief, in about five months our child is coming, God willing. What do I do to prepare?’ If that happened, either the older man will sit in the dust and laugh the young man’s folly away, or will be shocked and angry, saying why me? Why come to me? Do I look to you like a mother? Because not many men have gone the whole nine yards from clearing the field to harvesting. When you camp in hospital attending to a woman in labour, through to the day she’s discharged, you will notice that though men will come in, loaded with bags of clothes, snacks, juice and cards from friends and family, you will not see as many men rushing between the pre-delivery room and the labour suite, hearing her scream or call out her mother, or lounging by the balcony, peering down the corridor from the theatre, waiting, hoping, sometimes even worrying. The people you see there will be the grandma of the coming baby, sister, colleague or friendly neighbours. The occasional man standing there, sending messages to his in-laws on his iPhone, might be either the ‘stupid’ hubby who follows his wife to the labour ward, or the still doting boyfriend who has a lot to prove.

Can a man plan for the coming baby? Of course! He can, and should. And we’re not talking just about baby clothes and hospital fees before the mother is discharged. We’re also talking about mental and emotional preparation. We’re talking about talking to the boss, saying “Madam, the time for my wife to deliver is fast approaching, I’ll need to be away.” Saying I have no car; should this child arrive in the night, what do we do? Who can lend us their car? Oh, and one other thing many men didn’t even know should be done, praying over the child. Talking to the child. Now that’s where a man will be declared insane, when you tell them they can lay their hands on the mother’s tummy and chat with the yet unseen baby. At that point, they’re ready to give you all the money they’ve saved, throw the clothes bag in your face and tell you, when the baby arrives, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be somewhere waiting. But of course there’s also the man who has tried to be there for his wife, but since this is one season when many rare aspects of womanhood come to the fore unhindered, the wife blocks. So she will want you to father the baby, fund its arrival and fend for it, but not witness its arrival. Then later, when there’s no relationship between the father and child, she will say: Why don’t you connect with your child? And you think: ‘She’s asking me!’

-By Bob G. Kisiki



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