Parenthood: The 1st Born

I was about 6 years old when I first found out that my dad gave me my name. Growing up knowing this fact was a great source of pride for me because like most boys, my dad was my hero and to think that my hero gave me my name – there was nothing cooler than that in my eyes. That was until I was much older and I asked him “Why did you name me Lundi?” His response was simply; ‘’ iiNtaba zakwaLundi zindikhumbuza ivesi ethi, ‘ Ndiwaphakamisele ezintabeni na amehlo am? Luya kuvela phi na uncedo lwam? Uncedo lwam luvela kuYehova, UMenzi wezulu nehlabathi’. ‘’ He was referring to Psalm 121:1-2 and though I didn’t fully understand at the time, knowing that I was the first sign of his strength and I reminded him of the source of his strength made me feel very grateful that I had asked him.

At 14:17 on January 11th, 2013 I became a father for the first time. When I first laid my eyes on him, he was literally a mini version of me. He even had my bald spot as a new born! Just much, much more adorable especially in our first family picture. My wife gave birth via C-section and my son was in breach which resulted in him having some amniotic fluid in his lungs. When the pediatrician told me this and that they would have to monitor him for the next 30 to 45 minutes to see how he handled breathing on his own before they decide to send him to Neonatal ICU (NICU), as a new father, this was a catastrophe. I was gripped by fear and found myself thinking, “Could I lose my son before I knew what it felt like to be a father? On second thought, that might not be such a bad thing if he doesn’t make it through this because it would just be as if it never happened and save me all the pain of losing a son”

My son and I left his mother in the delivery room as she was going through her post-operative procedure. When my son and I arrived at the maternity ward, it was just him and I in the nursery. Face to face with my son, I had the following question- what if this is the only time I have of being a father and my son dies? What sort of father would I be if I didn’t love my only son because I was afraid of getting hurt if he died? It was at this moment that I decided that I didn’t know how long I had with him but I was going to love him for every moment we had together.

Soon after I realized that his breathing looked uncomfortable for him but he just kept on taking in one breath at a time and then the next. It was at this moment that I realized my little guy was fighting for each breath and I admired that about him. So I began to encourage him and cheer him on. After about an hour of this he was starting to get tired so the pediatrician decided to give him some assistance by admitting him into NICU. By this time my wife was settling into her room in the maternity ward. I left the hospital just after 8pm that Friday. My son was making steady progress and I knew that he was going to pull through and it was just a matter of time before we would get the green light from the pediatrician. About 30 minutes after I left, my wife had gained enough strength to go see our son in NICU as she hadn’t seen him since his delivery in the theatre. During her time in NICU she kept me updated with the progress of my son’s breathing as he was now receiving less assistance from the machines.

A good friend of mine gave me a call to see if I was up to celebrating the fact that I had become a father that day. We met at Melrose Arch, JB’s Corner for a late supper. After a lengthy conversation and sharing my experience of my first few hours of fatherhood, we decided to head over to the Fire & Ice Hotel for a celebratory toast- Lagavulin 16 year Old Single Malt.

I got back home at about 02:30am and that’s when I realized that just before midnight I had received a text from my wife to tell me that our son would be discharged from NICU on Saturday morning. I was elated so I went into our bedroom to raise a hallelujah and preach myself a sermon. After singing some of my high school hymnals, I recited the following verses which I had held close to my heart during our pregnancy:

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 NKJV;

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalms 127:1, 3 NKJV. ““Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.” Genesis 49:3 NKJV

I spent all of my Saturday at the hospital with my wife and our son. Family and friends visited and shared in our joy.

I was woken up early on Sunday morning by an incoming call. It was my wife. Our son had had a restless night and that the nurses had not been as helpful as she needed them to be so she required me to come in much earlier than we had agreed.

On my drive to the hospital I couldn’t believe that here I was on the morning of day 3 of being a father and my wife was calling me in as help in her time of distress! I was very interested to see how this was going to play out as I thought I had nothing to offer. As soon as I walked in and after our customary greeting, my wife handed me our son and promptly proceeded to sleep.

So there I was with our baby boy in my arms and he wasn’t in the best of moods. What to do now ? “Sing him your favorite hymn” I thought to myself. And that’s exactly what I did. So after multiple renditions of ‘To God Be The Glory’ and walking up and down the room carrying my son in a rugby ball carry position (similar to an 8th breaking blind from a scrum) our son was finally fast asleep. He remained asleep for 4 to 5 hours which is an eternity for a new born (which I would soon realise as our son slept in 2-3 hour intervals for the first 6 months of his life).

With my wife and son asleep, I was able to enjoy the morning reflecting on the miracle that had just occurred. What was the miracle? In that moment of putting my son to sleep by singing my favorite hymn I realized that praise, worship & prayer are ways of bringing God Almighty into the details of our lives. This was a huge breakthrough for me because I realized that it did not matter that I didn’t have experience as a father, as long as I continued to bring God into the details of my journey as a father, He would lead and teach me to be the father He needed me to be for the son He had given me as a reward from my wife’s womb. In that same moment I realized that in the world, experience is ‘’everything’’ but how could I ever get experience beforehand of the future I had never lived? The lie (‘experience is everything’) was blown into smithereens. If one does not need prior experience to be a father, something so fundamental to human life, I concluded the following; when God presents you with blessings, opportunities and a calling, even if you may lack the know-how, rely on God because He is the source of that calling, blessing and opportunity. By virtue of Him being the source, He will teach, instruct and counsel you based on what He has seen. Basically all one needs to step into the future God has destined for them is to be on God’s side by allowing Him to rule your life. He will lead you into the future He created you for. My first born son had made an enormous impact on my life in just a mere 3 days of his life.

My sons name in isiXhosa means ‘He shall build the house of the Lord’. Prior to our pregnancy, my wife and I followed very different routines, which left very little opportunity for us to bond as a married couple and to develop new traditions and experiences. During our pregnancy we both noticed a change for the better in our routines and behaviours, such as going to bed at the same time and spending more of our time on week nights and weekends with one another. We realized that the child in my wife’s womb was helping us become one and truly build the life we promised each other on our wedding day, which led to the name that we would give our son.

Since my sons birth, my life has never been the same. His presence in my life revealed my self-centeredness and loving him helped me break free from that prison. My son teaches me forgiveness. If I accidentally hurt him during playtime, he is quick to forgive me, offer me a hug with a smile on his face. I am reminded of a time I accidentally hit him with a toy. In my moment of remorse, I offered him the opportunity to return the ‘favour’ to which he responded “No, you hit me by mistake and I forgive you” and he carried on playing.

Fatherhood is glorious so I encourage you to take a look and see all the riches your reward from heaven has brought you.

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