THE BLOG

Fathers Need to Step Up

04/15/2013 05:47 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2013
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As Mother's Day approaches, I hope we go beyond showering our mothers with gifts. I hope we realize that every child needs two parents, bonded strongly with the child, showing him/her as much love and affection as possible.

My wife and I are expecting twins any time now. We also have two sons; one is 10 years old and the other is 15 months. I was honored to be present when my sons were born, to cut their umbilical cords and look them in the eyes after birth. I still remember waking up that first day and finding my wife holding our newborn baby. What a great feeling and an exciting time it was for mom, child and dad. And shouldn't it be?

American men love to see their newborn babies and hold them, but parenthood is often relegated to women in many parts of the world. I was born in Nyakagyezi, Uganda, a village where men do not see their wives give birth. My father left the village as soon as my mother said she was feeling labor pains. She birthed all five of her children in a mud daub house with dirt floors. There was no doctor or even a nurse to help her, only a local woman who acted as midwife. I grew up knowing many of women who delivered babies, and even knew the one who cut my cord. To this day, she still happily reminds me and all my friends of our births. What a great memory to share. But it is a memory many men do not experience. It was a memory my father never shared.

As my wife and I ready for the C-section she will have in one day, I think about other women who have no husband to support them when they give birth. I think of the story a woman named Rosemary in Nyakagyezi. Rosemary was born and raised in the same village as me. She never went to school, and was expected to work hard for her parents. Like other women in her village, she married at a young age to a local man and got pregnant right away.

As her pregnancy progressed, Rosemary discovered that her husband had no interest in her pregnancy or the coming child. She was ashamed to tell anyone she was expecting a baby, but as she neared nine months, she confided in her mother. When the time to give birth came, she did not tell anyone. She birthed her own baby, cut the cord, wrapped her daughter in a dirty cloth and went back to sleep. In the morning, her husband woke up and left the house without noticing Rosemary had had a baby. She repeated this same exercise six times!

Another Mexican woman left alone in her home, gave herself a C-section to save her baby when her labor stopped progressing. Can you imagine? No help, no friends, no nothing.

When my mother confided in me how she had delivered all five children, I couldn't help but wonder why men are not at their wives' side during this time? What is wrong with them that they neglect their wives in their time of need, and their children at the time of birth? Could this be a reason why many of us have no close relationships with our fathers? We are rejected as soon as we are conceived, abandoned at birth and live life loving our mothers and caring for them beyond expectations.

As I watched my sons being born, I knew our generation must be a generation to take on the responsibility of fatherhood. We need to care about women giving birth to the next generation. We need to be involved with our children from the moment they take their first breath. We need to step up and be the fathers we should be.