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I was Not Fully Prepared for Parenthood

Nine months ago, my wife and I found out we were going to be parents. It was the biggest news of 2019. Thrilled, we spent the next nine months preparing ourselves the best we could for parenthood. We read books and articles on parenthood. We even talked to other parents, new and seasoned, for their perspective and experiences.

Being first-time parents, we had many questions that needed to be answered before the arrival of our baby. Living in the time of information, our questions could easily be answered by the Internet. Also, because we’re living in the time of information, it is extremely important to use what information we’re being fed with.

Every person’s experience is different. However, that doesn’t make others’ experiences invalid to us. I always believe in listening to different stories and opinions with an open mind. I would not shut anybody’s story, instead, I would ask myself how I would approach should I be in a similar situation. To do so, I would have to verify the facts first by cross-referring. In my partnership with my wife, I’m often the one who often does the fact-checking.

I won’t be going in detail with regards to what information we acquired as it would make better sense to write another post on that separately. I will, however, share what I failed to prepare for (in my own standards).

Emotional Management

I’ve read many books and articles which described delivery to be a trigger of many strong and powerful emotions, from joy to sadness to even possibly postpartum depression. Books can describe these emotions to us well. Although, we can never truly understand it until we or our partner experience it.

As expected, my wife has shown a spectrum of emotions. I wouldn’t say it’s like her mood swings on her periods as it’s more stable. In the recent few days, she’s been expressing that she has been feeling “uncomfortable”. Unable to put her finger on exactly what is causing her to feel uncomfortable, she sometimes expresses frustration. Knowing that it is part of the process, I’ve been trying to be understanding. I can tell you one thing. It is definitely not easy to be understanding when you don’t understand what exactly is going on. So, whoever tells you that emotion management is the wife’s problem, don’t believe it entirely. It almost equally becomes the husband’s problem as the husband will suffer the consequences. Stress has started to build up.

Cultural Expectations & Pressure

My marriage is an interracial marriage. I’m Malay while my wife is Chinese. We thought the difficult part of the different cultural expectations were over months ago. Boy, were we never more wrong. With the arrival of our baby, there are even more expectations.

Each of our cultures has a set of traditions for the mother and child. From both sides, we would hear, “You need to do this”. “You cannot do that”. “You must follow this”. Need. Cannot. Must. Three most common words we would hear, almost dictating what we have to do or avoid. If we chose not to adhere, we would receive an earful. Although it is of good intention, it can be pretty stressful. I’m a very logical person and often a justification for any actions. However, many of the traditions are not justified by science and not logical to me. Having said that, my wife and I are very lucky that our parents are understanding and often, we’d meet in the middle.

Due to expectations and wanting to meet them, it resulted in pressure.

Time & Sleep Management

If you ask any parent or read any parenting book, they would touch on the topic of time and sleep management. Throughout the nine months, every parent would remind me to get enough rest. If you google “how to get rest with a baby”, you would get plenty of advice and theories. Do, however, keep in mind that they are just theories. Many of the parents I know, despite knowing the theory, are still unable to practice it.

My wife suffers from this more than I do. It is definitely not because I’m not doing my part. I wake up as much as she does to attend to our baby’s needs. I’m also always the one staying up with our baby when he doesn’t want to sleep. So, why is she suffering more than I? Simple. It’s simply because I’ve been working on 12-hour shifts for almost seven years now. Should I have not been working shift, I would be suffering as badly.

Stress

Everything I’ve described above contributes to the stress that’s snowballing within us. It seemed manageable at first but have recently seen to be a little more challenging than I thought. That stress has started to hit me just two days ago. I haven’t found an outlet to relieve my stress. Neither has my wife. That stress would definitely start to put a strain our relationship if not addressed. We’re not upset or disappointed in each other. Rather, it’s due to the stress we’re facing individually.

So, in conclusion, I had managed to prepare myself enough theoretically but no matter how much more I could have done, even if I could turn back time, I believe that I would never be prepared enough for parenthood. Parenthood is something we can only prepare better as we experience it. That doesn’t mean that we should not prepare at all. What I meant is that we should prepare ourselves for parenthood to the best of our abilities and understand that without the experience, we can never be fully prepared.

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One Week Old Dad

Last Saturday, my little bundle of joy was welcomed by his loved ones twelve days ahead of his expected date of arrival. What used to be a home for two, now is for three.

It has been a week since I’ve become a dad to my newborn son. I can feel that my life has started to change, fast. It has been an exciting and interesting week! As much as many would like to hear the woes of becoming a new dad, my experience thus far makes it tough to focus on the woes. The happiness my little bundle of joy has brought me overcomes everything else that bothers me.

I’ve heard of stories from fathers about the feeling when they see the moment their little bundle of joy is born. They have been described to me as “one the best day(s) of their lives”. Some shed tears, some smiled from ear to ear, some screamed in excitement but I haven’t heard any father spoke any negative experience. I always thought, what’s so exciting about seeing a baby being born? It’s just a little human being coming out of his/her mother’s vagina! There’s nothing to be happy or excited about seeing a human being covered in blood and bodily fluid, or so I thought. It was finally my turn.

0122hrs of 18 January 2020, he ‘popped’ out of my wife after a long and hard 42 minutes of deep breaths and pushing. All of a sudden, something hit me. Hard. I found myself smiling hard, hardest I have in my entire life. I felt my heart pound like I sprinted a 100m race with all my might. My legs were jumping up and down like a kid receiving a new toy. My hands reaching out as if a kid asking for candy. Every inch of my body was in hyper-mode! All the experiences shared to me through the words of fathers were understatements. You’d never know the feeling until it’s your turn! It was at that moment I truly understood why people called babies a bundle of joy. Their existence is like a huge dosage of endorphins! It definitely was by far the best day of my life!

My vision was focused on him alone, the background went grey. My hearing only heard his cries while everything else sounded so muffled. The gynaecologist was calling out to me but I only heard her after a few times. It was time. I was asked to cut the umbilical cord. This, I was not prepared for. I thought the doctor would do it. I was nervous. My hands shook. My heart started racing again. Cold sweat ran down the sides of my face. I reached out for the scissors, pointed it as instructed, in the middle of two clamps. My fingers moved and I began to cut. I imagined it like that of cutting the ribbon at an opening ceremony. Except, it was the start of my son’s life and a new chapter of my life. It was that moment when I felt the change, literally like a shift in gear, something shifted imaginarily in my head. “I’m now a dad”, I whispered.

I looked at my wife. She was relieved from the pain, her eyes fidgeting to look at her newborn whose line of sight was blocked by the nurses. I held her hand, kissed her and thanked her for pulling through such a painful experience. We stayed for two nights before getting discharged on Sunday noon.

Leaving the hospital made the “I’m now a parent” moment more real as we walked out of the ward with our newborn in the arm. The days that followed were full of firsts for us. While my wife was occupied with recovery, I pulled my ass which would normally be glued to the sofa up and did all I could to lessen her burden, from helping to nurse, shower our baby, send him to his doctors’ appointments, registering his birth to providing her with the emotional support she needs. She’s gone through so much, my efforts are incomparable.

With so many experiences and moments the past week, I wake up every day, looking forward to spending all the time I can with my family. I will not say that I can’t wait for my son to grow up and see his development. Rather, I would say that I want to be there with my son at every step of his development.

This is an exciting beginning to a new chapter of our lives.

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New Year, New Decade, New Milestones

Happy new year, dear readers! It’s a brand new year. Last night, we bid farewell to 2019 and ushered in 2020, marking the start of a new decade!

I’ve had this domain for over two years and it has been “under construction” since. I’ve been procrastinating despite having told myself to start posting. So, when else is better if not today? Well, let’s hope it’s not a short-lived resolution like other previous years!

Before I start my new year, I’d like to quickly revisit 2019. 2019 was an eventful year. I achieved so many milestones, making it the most happening year in my life thus far! So, from the beginning of 2019, what exactly did I achieve? In sequence, I finally got my new house (first time being an owner, yay me!), got it renovated, got married to my beautiful wife, had a solemnisation ceremony and two wedding events (totalling to three very eventful days), went for our honeymoon of almost a month in Japan, my favourite country, settled into our new home, found out we’re expecting, got enrolled into Master’s degree, got to know we’re gonna have a baby boy, finished my Specialist Diploma in Sports and Nutrition, went to Japan again for a week this time (did I say it’s my favourite country to visit?), started my Master’s course and ended off the year feeling very accomplished! Wow, that’s a lot of things that I’ve achieved! *Patting myself on my back.

Ushering in the new year, rather than achieving many things, I would like to be more focused. My main resolution/goals for 2020 are to be a good husband/father, get my fitness back up (I slacked too much last year) and to successfully graduate from my Master’s program. Other smaller goals would be to run my personal blog and read at least five books this year. Sounds achievable, doesn’t it? Let’s see by the end of this year, how much I’ve managed to achieve.

In a nutshell, if last year was like surfing big waves, I’d like this year’s waters to be calmer, not particularly small or no waves, but smaller and calmer waves. If that didn’t make sense to you, forget this paragraph, yeah?

How about you? Any new year’s resolutions?