Madagascar: Proud to be a dad!

Madagascar: Proud to be a dad!

Date: June 24, 2013
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Antananarivo, 21 June: My name is Razanadratefa Zotonantenaina; I’m 27 years old and married to Jeanne Soharinirina Edmee. My wife and I have been together since 2007, during our university years in Toamasina. Since then, we have longed to have a child.

Our wish came true last week when our sunshine, Razanadratefa Zoto Bebman or “Berose”, was born.

In 2009, we went through a difficult period, a period of my life I will never forget. While we were still students, Jeanne fell ill. She was very weak and was bedridden for 11 long months. Despite visiting all the major hospitals on the island, doctors could not diagnose the serious illness.

We tried every possible remedy, but her condition did not improve. One day, a doctor told me that she would not recover. I refused to lose hope and renounced every negative thought, because I could not imagine my life without Jeanne. Every day we took care of her and eventually stopped giving her drugs. Many more days of illness passed but one beautiful morning, Jeanne’s health miraculously improved and she regained all her strength.

After this difficult time in our lives, we moved to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, where I found a job. We always had the desire to have a child together and decided to start trying, but luck was not on our side. We underwent several treatments at different clinics, visiting gynecologists and other specialists, but nothing seemed to work.

One day, Jeanne called me asking, “Would you still love me even if I cannot give you children?” I knew that it was not her fault and I told her that I love her more than anything on this earth. Even though we had lost all hope of ever having children, on 14 August 2011, we decided to get married. Fearing my family would not approve of our marriage if they knew we could not have children, I kept it a secret. People often asked when we were going to have a baby, and although it saddened me, I simply answered, “All in good time.”

One morning in November 2012, Jeanne very casually said, “Maybe I’m pregnant.” I refused to believe it, because I did not want to get my hopes up. But after I saw that the pregnancy test was positive, an indescribable feeling of joy came over me. I was so happy and pictured our future in a different light.

When Jeanne was six months pregnant, we went for an ultrasound to determine the sex of our unborn child. The sex of the child did not matter to me, I just wanted to know that our baby was healthy.

The doctor said we were having a little girl, so we excitedly began buying baby accessories to welcome our future princess, expected to come into the world in April 2013.

While I was working in Johannesburg from 20 April to 5 May, I was so scared that Jeanne would give birth before I returned home. To take my mind of missing her birth, I went shopping for my daughter to-be. Luckily, I made it back in time. We had everything ready and were waiting for the big day that would change our lives and testify to the fruit of our marriage.

After a routine visit, the doctor decided to keep Jeanne in the hospital for observation. We knew that the time had finally come. Unfortunately, that day I was at work and could not attend the birth, but I thought about them every second that passed. I was so anxious and kept imagining the worst. Every time my phone rang, I was shaking.

On 12 June 2013, our dream of having a child came true. My mother told me over the phone that I was the father of a “little boy!” I was speechless. I couldn’t believe I was a dad or that I had a son!

It was only after my thoughts had settled that I realised all the accessories we bought for the baby were for a girl and we had chosen the girl’s name, “Berose.” Knowing it was my favourite boy’s name, Jeanne suggested we name him “Bebman” instead.

Since Bebman was born, I feel like the happiest man in the alive. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I always think of my son and his mother. I do my best to help Jeanne take care of our baby and will do all that is in my power to make my family happy. I am so proud to be a dad! God bless all the families of the world. No one can measure the love of God.

Zotonantenaina Razanadratefa is the Gender Justice and Local Government Programme Assistant for Gender Links – Madagascar. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, special series on celebrating Phenomenal Fathers, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.



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