Written by Bunmi Sofola
~vanguard nigeria. Sunday, April 15, 2018.
FINDINGS have shown that becoming a father is a major life event which changes family relationships, brings new responsibilities and has a major economic impact on the new parents.
Men have their own needs as new fathers, yet can also lack information about how they can support their partners. Michael 26, was totally unprepared for fatherhood when Sammy, his 23- year-old undergraduate wife suddenly discovered she was pregnant.
"Sammy and I had been together for two years when she got pregnant. She was studying to become a teacher and I'd just got a fairly good job after my youth service," explained Michael.
"Sammy told her parents and they informed mine. All of a sudden, wedding plans were being made – and it had to happen before the baby arrived. It didn't seem real. Marriage was the furtherest thought on my mind. I would have preferred we were both working but here was Sammy starting to look pregnant. Would our lives change much? Even though we both have caring families, my main worry was supporting the three of us on my new salary that was scarcely enough for my needs. Once in a while, I asked myself: 'What have I done?'
"The wedding was a blur – it was something I had to get over with. My worry now was the baby and how I'd cope with the birth. Would I let my new wife down by being too squeamish? In the end, our son's birth was the most powerful, moving event of my entire life. Like most new fathers, I was present at the birth and I'm not ashamed to admit I cried.
"When we brought the baby to our new flat, I felt a bit sidelined. The whole focus of both families was on the baby – and then my wife. No one seemed interested in me.
"It may sound selfish but my life had changed over-night too, and I had no idea what my new role was. I was a bit lost. Since then however, I've realised being a dad means getting on with it. And it's hard work, believe me. I had to learn to change nappies, prepare his food when he was weaned off breast milk and give him his bath when I could. We are lucky that our son is not one of the screamy type, still both of us are exhausted – no thanks to househelps who seem to up and go whenever they feel like it.
"But my wife and I are finding our feet, but I feel the pressure being the only wage earner. My mum and my wife's mum take turns looking after the baby when Sammy returned to schooL Her main worry is her post-baby stomach but I assure her always she looks good to me. Her body makes me love her even more – a proof she brought our child into the word. To be honest, I found the news I was going to be a dad scary and bewildering – but it is a wonderful experience. When my son, who now crawls all over the place, gives me his toothy smile, everything suddenly seems worth it. I know I have to do my best for him for the rst of my life. And that's something that comes naturally - eventually"!