March is the month I lost my Job. I used to bark orders in my house like a drill sergeant. My presence once I stepped through the door was like that of a senior military officer. Everything was spic and span. The way was cleared. Meal were hot. But then a little human arrived and engineered the cutest coup d’etat. And my reign came to a shrieking end. Head of the house? Who? My home is now ruled by a toothless, ear piercing shriek, ball of cuteness individual. Everyone at his beck and call as soon as he as much as sniffs. There’s a new chief in town people.
But first, newborn babies look like old people. They’re not nice and cute when they’re born. They’re pudgy and look like they have too much skin. I thought my son had Benjamin Button disease. He looked like he could be my grand pa. His face all scrunched up like a pre-NEMA ban polythene bag. The one you get from the bag collection at the bottom of your mom’s sink at home. In the polythene bag that has other polythene bags. His head was larger than expected and had the shape of a Kinangop potato. Must be his mother’s, I thought to myself. His skin was weird too, like that of a shaved dog. And he looked Chinese for some reason.
Chinese?, I asked the doctor.
Eh..No, he said.
I said, I mean the baby, not you.
He looked at me confused.
I told him I’m ok raising another man’s kid. I’m ready to be a father. But if the kid is Chinese he needs to be raised right. There has to be a hidden temple where he can learn kung fu. From the Rocky hills of Seme I can only teach him to spot the laugh of a hyena. And how to get to kit mikayi.
He shook his head and in a bored voice said, Lemme sew your wife back together, please follow your baby.
So I followed my baby. To a table where some nurses stuck tubes in him to suck out amniotic fluid. They dried him up too and he wiggled and let out tiny yelps. Pain and confusion all over his pudgy face. I felt sorry for him, but I also wondered why he cried funny. So feebly. Not like in the movies. Or maybe we got a quiet baby? What joy (This was to be short lived, you will soon learn as we did). He was blue too. They said he needed to get oxygen into his system. He hadn’t used his nose to breathe before.
In the background, the doctor and his assistant were having light banter as they sewed up the missus. Talking about random things like traffic and the state of corruption in the country. I turned briefly to check that they’d not left her spleen on the table.
I was disappointed though the process wasn’t anything like in those medical dramas I watch. No beeping machine, no repetition of medical equipment; scalpel – scalpel. No mentioning of intubate and screaming Stat! These doctors were so bored. They sounded like women in the kitchen gossiping as they sorted rice. At least I got to where scrubs. I have the selfie to prove it.
Then I had to follow the baby some more as the doctors finished up “sorting rice”. It was off to the nursery. He was wheeled in as I followed apprehensively. As soon as we got there the nurse left. I was alone with this now well wrapped baby. Him and I. Alone in the nursery. I don’t know where the other newborns were, probably out for afternoon tea. I looked at my watch. Or happy hour. I then sat and stared at him. The pink colour now slowly coming to his blue face with every breath he took. I stared at him in silence as he slept. For the first time, I felt true happiness. Then joy. Then panic. Then fear. Then a series of other feelings I am yet to figure out how to describe.
My phone started ringing. Interrupting that special moment. It then hit me I hadn’t updated anyone on the arrival of the junior chief. In Africa, babies are a village affair. They all wanted to know. How’s the baby? How’s the mother? Which room are you in? Can we visit now, we’re outside the maternity wing? They flocked in. Relatives. Friends. Friends of relatives. Relatives of friends.
They trooped in bearing fruit baskets, flowers and cards. And uuuuuus and aaaaahhhhs for the baby. And numerous versions of congratulations. I told them the congratulations are for the mother. She’s the one who endured hours of labour and attempts to push out an over-sized potato shaped head out of her body. And despite all that, the doctors still had to cut her open once they realised the junior chief was trying to exit using the back of his head. Stubborn and non-conformist. Just like his father. So, no congratulations for me thank you. Why are men congratulated when a baby is born anyway? I mean we don’t do much. We’re like mosquitoes. We prick and cause a swelling. That’s all.
As the night crept in, the visiting hours thinned away, and the guests began to ebb. One by one they left. Some with tears in their eyes and coos from their mouths. And then there was silence. Mother, Father and a sleeping baby. An air of trepidation set in. We felt it. The missus and I. We were too tired though. The nurse who came to check on us noticed it.
She would take away the baby to the nursery and would bring it to us as soon as he was up. As he was wheeled away, we nodded off. We would tackle this new being in the morning.
Only, we didn’t know morning would come much earlier than we thought. At 1:13 AM, we were awoken by a loud scream. We fumbled around the hospital room and saw the source of the cry. Our son had been wheeled into the room and was now being shoved towards his mother’s bossom. It was the first of many sleepless nights to come. I’d tell you all about it, but my coffee has worn off. Besides, after many months away from this blog, trust me, one post is not enough.