Even though men are the secondary parties in the pregnancy and childbirth process, they experience a lot of it through their wives. It’s a sad reality, though, that a lot of them are unavailable in these periods when they’re most needed.
We spoke to 9 Nigerian men about the roles they played while their wives were in the labour room.
1. Mondiu, 35
I was out of town for work when my first child came and I missed it because he came earlier than scheduled. For my second child, though, I was there. I stood by her side, holding her hands. There’s a possibility that I stood by her side because I was scared of watching the actual birthing take place from the front, but I’m not even sure till this day.
It was a very scary experience because it took about 8 hours. Then there was the dreadful epidural injection to the spine that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. Women dey try, abeg.
When the baby arrived, I told myself that I would not want her to experience something like that again. All in all, Alhamdulillah.
2. Adeyemi, 58
I have four children. For the first two, I was in the hospital when my wife was in labour. The doctors didn’t let me in on both occasions because I think that’s just how it works in Nigeria. I was doing the regular anxious pacing around and hoping nothing would go wrong. On both occasions, I decided to just drink some alcohol to make the anxiety go away. It worked.
For my third child, I was at home when my wife was in labour. I was sleeping, but I woke up the next morning and went to see her. My last born came suddenly, and I wasn’t around. I was in UNILAG getting my Masters, so I went with a few of my colleagues to the hospital. He was already born when we got there.
Since my wife was a nurse who worked in the hospitals where our kids were delivered, I was never super worried about complications. I knew she was safe with her friends and colleagues.
3. Tola, mid-30s
I was in Nigeria and my wife was out of the country when we had our child, so I couldn’t be there physically with her. I stayed on a video call for six hours with her, comforting her and making sure she knew I was there with her. I was scared, but I had to be there for her.
4. Joshua, late 20s
I was so tense. Because of the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to enter into the labour ward, so I was left to my own imagination. Thankfully, a close friend came and we prayed a whole lot — that helped relax my overactive imagination. It was taking longer than usual, so I just kept praying under my breath. It was also crazy seeing other women wheeled out with their babies in their arms, hoping the next one would be my wife and daughter.
Finally, the nurse came out and motioned that this was my baby she was taking to the baby ward or something like that. Before I say what I said next, let me be clear, I love my daughter, but I love my wife more. I asked the nurse, “Where is my wife?”
My family followed the nurse oohing and ahhing, but I stayed put waiting for my wife, praying nothing had happened. Then half an hour later, my wife was wheeled out. Extreme relief, love and care overwhelmed me. I cried a little.
5. Mr AF, 33
I was standing right next to her. I don’t freak out easily, so I was just watching to see what would happen.
My son’s head was too big, so the doctor had to make a small cut to her vagina to get him out. I watched him cut her and sew her back up and that was fucking terrifying. Otherwise, I was in the right place, at the right time. Lending my wife strength and waiting to welcome my son.
6. Eric, mid-30s
For me, it was scary. It was exactly what I imagine it would feel like if someone was to surrender everything to “god”. A real “Jesus take the wheel” moment.
There was also a moment of doubt where I asked myself, “Can I handle whatever comes out of that door?”
7. Wale, mid-30s
I wasn’t there when my second child was born because she came early, but I was with my wife for our first child. I always tell people that it was a life-changing experience. I came out of that labour ward with a brand new respect for my wife and for women in general.
In Nigeria, most hospitals don’t allow men in the labour wards when their wives are giving birth, and maybe that’s why many men don’t understand the gravity of the situation. I always encourage men who have the opportunity to be there though.
8. Chime, 34
I have 2 kids. I was next to my wife for both deliveries. For the first child, we went in for a regular delivery, but plans changed during labour because we had a breech baby, so we had to have an emergency C-section. It was a nerve-wracking experience. My wife is a superwoman!
For the second kid, we jejely planned a C-section. I was still nervous, but it was definitely a less stressful route for childbirth in my experience.
9. Sam, mid-30s
I was at the clinic, just outside the labour room, for my two kids. For the first baby, I was super anxious and worried. When you hear the screams from labour pains it can be very scary. On both occasions, my wife’s labour lasted only a few hours and we were out of there.
It’s funny because experiencing it the first time doesn’t change the anxiety you feel the second time, but on both occasions, holding the baby in my hands just made all the anxiety go away. Almost like it never existed.
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