DADDY DIARIES: Night in the delivery room

Tuesday April 02 2019

She needs someone to sink her nails into when the pain becomes unbearable. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH


On a freezing evening in October 2014, I found myself in a room with pregnant women in different stages of labour.

Save for the two male gynaecologists who walked in and out to check on the patients, I was the only man in that waiting room.

For the uninitiated, that is the little room with many beds where they let the women rest as they await dilation of the cervix.

That is when they are wheeled into the delivery room and a new being is introduced into the world.

You men should look for me privately so that I can share the insults I heard about you that evening.

While you sat at your local drinking and watching millionaires chasing a little round leather thing, your women were clutching at sanity and calling you names; very bad names.


The word shame does not exist in that secluded corner of the word, your eyes and ears learn to live with shouting, wailing, undressing, cursing, everything.

That waiting room is a little community brought together by joy, pain, expectation, sometimes regret.


“Are you accompanying her into the delivery room?” An elderly lady in a blue dress with a white collar and black flat shoes asked, giving me a very concerned look.

“Yes. Am I not allowed to?” I asked.

“No you can go in, but men usually collapse there.”

I told her that I had made up my mind. You see, I have a very small body. To make it worse, Heavens did not give me a lot of flesh.

She must have looked at me and wondered where the shock absorbers were in this emaciated-looking young man, clearly a first-time parent.

I can bet she must have put fellow medics on standby just in case there would be a delivery happening on one bed and first aid on another.

But she was kind enough not to give me the actual statistics, because if she had just added ‘nine out of every ten men collapse in delivery rooms, five of which die’ I can assure you the world would have watched my lanky figure sprint through those corridors like I was possessed.

Nine out of ten would have meant every man that goes in ends up on the resuscitation table, because the tenth man is the gynaecologist, who is not allowed to collapse.

I had already done scans and knew I expected a boy, so the thought of him being born and the first thing he sees on earth is his dad being resuscitated did not sit well with me.

How would I have raised him into a gentleman who can stand up for the family in times of war when he had seen me crack with his own eyes?

Several years later he would have been like “Dad don’t even start. You of all the people telling me to be strong and I watched them fan you back to life in that room because of a delivery?”


I will not go into details about the actual process; that was the work of your Biology teacher, but those were 15 minutes of madness.

I was sweating man, even my ears, heh. But I realised it was a wise decision to have been there because one; no midwife will harass a woman whose husband is standing right there with eyes darting from one pair of scissors to the other.

It also occurred to me that moral support at that hour of reckoning is something many women could do with, because she needs someone to sink her nails into when the pain becomes unbearable.

I carry nail scars on my hands to this day. Third, and most important, is that there is the moment after the baby is out when the new mother kind of loses herself into a trance, probably because of the exhaustion of nine months plus pushing.

If you are in a hospital that is notorious for exchanging babies then that is the moment your would-be handsome genius is exchanged with something else.

Then relatives start struggling to find the slightest hints of comparison between your forehead and his nose.

For very many years you would have to contend with "those ears are an exact replica of your grandfather's.

Even the sleeping style matches yours when you were still six months old."

I can’t tell you just how much pride I carried in my chest as we were wheeled out of that room, wife on a chair and the product of our marriage in her arms.

I had walked into the hospital a young man with a pregnant wife, hours had turned me into the new father in town.

I would go back to that room another time, because it is not me going on the "pushing" table. But how women manage to go there a second, third and even more times is close to witchcraft for me.


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