THE BIRTH OF A FATHER : In this photo, my husband Denis sits with our eldest son, Fassely, at a Touareg camel festival in the Azawak of Niger.
On this Father’s day, I recall how ever-present Denis was the day of Fassely’s birth. So much so, that I felt like we were literally birthing together.
During our pregnancy, we had followed haptonomy classes; haptonomy teaches the father how to communicate with the baby through touch and movement. When my labor began, Denis spoke with Fassely throughout the hours prior to birth, and guided our son through the process of birthing through.
After many long hours, our midwife suggested taking medicine to speed the process because she was concerned for Fassely’s safety. The alternative, exercising! I refused to take the medicine; Denis thought of a brilliant solution; right in the middle of labor, he taught me African dance steps.
There we were, in the labor room, dancing traditional Malian dance steps between contractions. Very rapidly, Fassely began descending. Denis resumed holding me, and guiding Fassely downward. I felt as one with the father of my child, as if he were giving birth with me. Before long, Fassely’s little head slid through, and our first child entered the world, plop smack into Denis open hands.
Denis held his son for what seemed like hours to me, loving him more tenderly and fully than he had ever loved another being. And I witnessed, utterly exhausted as I was, and in complete admiration, the inexplicable and unconditional love between a father and his newborn child.
On that day was born the most dedicated, adoring, and selfless father that I know (other than my own!). I know no other man as completely in love with his children. In return, our children live, breathe, and worship their father. He is their mentor, best friend, confidant, and most worshipped hero.