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  • Dear Firstborn: Thank You for Letting Me Grow Up Beside You

    This father thought he had parenting all figured out.
    by Nico Bacani .
  • dad and kid by the beach
    Photo from Pixabay

    Dear Firstborn, 

    I was in my mid 30s when your mom was pregnant with you. I thought I was well-prepared to become a dad for the first time. I was no longer into the clubbing scene, and my late-night drinking sprees (we will talk about this when you're probably 30) were now replaced with quiet time at home with your mom. My corporate career was stable, and it was a job that allowed for flexible time. Your mom gave me literature on fatherhood, which I promptly read. I did more research online, signed up for baby websites, and spoke to my male friends who already had kids. I felt I was ready for you. 

    The eight and a half months you were in mom's womb was the most nerve-racking experience of my life. She suffered from placenta previa, a condition where the placenta lies low in the uterus, partly or completely blocking the cervix so it could cut off nourishment for you. There were two to three occasions when we thought we'd lose you. I felt helpless, out of control, with what was happening that all I could do was pray and let God do the rest.

    And God did deliver--He gave us you, a healthy baby boy! I made a conscious decision to spend as much time as I possibly could with you. To me, it meant scheduling our bonding moments, allotting specific time and period for playtime, putting you to bed, and taking leisurely strolls at the park. I thought I had it all under control. 

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    Little did I know that babies were EXTREMELY demanding of time. I couldn’t really impose schedules on you--only routines. And when you sleep, I had to let you sleep--I couldn't wake you up! I obviously learned it the hard way and have had to reschedule doctor’s appointments around your sleeping hours. 

    Since I worked on the field 80 percent of the time, I got accustomed to working at home from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. At first, your sleep-wake pattern fit quite perfectly into my schedule since you would be asleep by 7 p.m. Then your routine changed, and you were wide awake from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. I happily entertained and played with you during these hours even if it meant I could only do my reports at 1 a.m. It was not a sustainable situation. My solution was to finish my reports, which I would do in three hours, in an hour or less. Guess what? I managed to do it with my phone, no less. Thank goodness for apps.

    Of course, these experiences do not come close to describing the whole parenting experience. But I wanted to show how you and now your brother unlocked talents or abilities I never thought I had. Organized and efficient were words that your mom--or my own boss, for that matter--wouldn’t use to describe me. Yet now I could call myself as a fairly organized person. 

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    I became a better husband to your mom with fatherhood even though she and I were probably spending shorter amounts of time as a couple (like I said, you were demanding). It was the quality of our alone time that mattered now so we became efficient in planning our dates, sometimes scheduling them weeks in advance. Parenthood made us closer and strengthened our bond—we knew we were in this journey together.  

    I have also learned not to be afraid to ask for help. People tend to forget that parenthood isn't always a two-person gig. There will come a time when you need to rely on relatives, friends and people you trust. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I think you have become better for it.  

    You are now 4 years old, and your brother is turning 2. Being your father has been the utmost joy, and I am forever grateful that I get to grow beside you both. 

    Share with us your parenting journey! Email us at lei.smartparenting@gmail.com

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