It was June of 1999. I had just graduated from medical school in faraway Russia. Everyone was exquisitely dressed. The guys in suit of all various colors, just a few foreigners were in their countries native attire. The ladies were dressed to kill and impress. Even the not so beautiful in our class were radiantly glowing in their dresses and make-ups. The atmosphere was joyful. It was a hundred percent pass. No casualties. Even my friend from Nepal scaled through despite his weak performance in obstetrics and gynecology. Everyone was happy.
The dean had begun his speech. It was exactly 10am prompt. “Renowned colleagues and friends,” he started to say. “I do not call you students but colleagues!” he emphasized. “Doctors!” he called out with raised voice leaning into the microphone before him.
Those words were to remain with me for months. I’d graduated. The fact attested by the certificate I held in my hands. But I wasn’t feeling it.
Weeks later I came back home. It was a wild celebration at our family residence. Seven years had gone pass like a flash. I was back home. And suddenly, my name changed. They started calling me ‘doctor’ at home. My mum, my siblings, only my dad stuck to my christened name. I wasn’t used to it. Doctor! I still didn’t feel like one.
Then, months later my internship program began at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. It was intense and fun-filled. At the hospital and beyond I realized ‘doctor’ was now my adopted name. Like it or not. I complied reluctantly. I went with the program. Gradually, I began to accept the name and the calling. But it was the night I saved a life I finally called myself the name. That night, months after I had graduated and was licensed, I called myself…doctor!
The self-awareness of the skill and knowledge I had been imparted came to my consciousness. I saved the life of an asthmatic seven year old girl all alone in the children emergency. It was the greatest day of my life. A doctor was birthed that night. I became me!
Fatherhood is exactly like that! You are not aware until the day you hold that bundle of joy in your arms. The mothers get to carry them for nine months. But the fathers only get the realization when the birth occurs. That is when it hits you. Bam! “I’m a daddy!”
Mine? Well, I was privileged. Tammy’s water broke when I was miles away at work covering for a colleague. It wasn’t my regular place of duty. She called me at exactly 1.35pm. I had about four hours before closing time. So I sent her to the clinic near the house where we’d registered and were attending antenatal and where I was on part-time. Immediately I put a call to my colleague at the clinic.
After Tammy’s examination I was called. She was about 4cm dilated. She was definitely in labor but the contractions were not as strong. By the time I got to the clinic the decision to commence augmentation of labor was being effectively carried out.
Her labor progressed slowly being a primip i.e. a first timer. By the time she was fully dilated and began to bear down my colleague had long gone home. It was about 2.40am and I was alone with the nurse. My heart began to race. I was beginning to get emotional but had to call myself to order quickly.
“Now, you are not the husband but the doctor on duty,” I whispered myself.
Before long I was holding my little boy in my hands, hugging my wife and smiling my exhaustion away. The doctor had come and gone. His job was done. Now husband is back and daddy has arrived. Happiness is an understatement. I was on top of the world with unfathomable joy. I was officially a dad! It hit me. Bang!
Even though I had been a father ever since my wife took in but the reality struck when I saw those cute little dark brown eyes and the face that was almost a mirror-image of me! At least I recognized the eyes and nose.
Daddy-hood begins from the womb! It begins right from conception.
Have a blissful fatherhood.
Nugget: A father gives his gene pool, or DNA, to his child and sometimes his money; but a dad gives also his time, heart, and soul. In other words, a father gives of what he has; but a dad gives also of himself.