Unlike new electronics, gadgets and toys, a new baby surely won’t come with a formal instruction manual – and that’s the scary part for most new dads. 

It’s even more nerve-racking for us, Filipino dads, whose society dictates that the moms should be more hands-on than us. But truth is, parenting is a combined responsibility of both parents – with a few exceptions for parents working overseas or those doing double jobs.

Close to a decade ago, I became a first-time dad to a baby girl whom I welcomed with excitement and so much anxiety for I knew nothing about changing diapers or bathing a fragile baby. I felt unprepared and totally overwhelmed.

The good thing is that rearing a child has been proven to be a continuous work in progress that only experience can hone with the help of people who truly care enough. I can personally attest to this as my wife and I, with the guidance of our respective families, have been loyal partners in raising our children from the time we felt like complete dummies until the present-day super parents we’d like to believe we are to our two adorable daughters.

Though no amount of reading and researching can really substitute for hands-on parenting, it’ll surely help to know the essentials of parenting from conception until God knows when the kids would be needing parental guidance and support. 

This Online DAD Blog is my way of keeping dads sane amid the joys and struggles of parenthood, especially in the early years. Feel free to browse through my posts that chronicle our experiences rearing our daughters, Amarie and Sav.

Unofficial Rules of Parenting

Rule # 1: ASK. No dad knows everything. It’s perfectly normal to feel, uhm, for lack of a better term, ignorant. Just let things unfold as days and years go by and learn from them.

From Conception to Birth

The act of parenting officially commences NOT on the day of birth but as soon as the mom confirms the pregnancy. This holds true for the dad who has to make sure both the mom and that little beating heart inside of her receive all the love and care they need.

To begin with, all dads should try their best to at least be present during monthly medical consultations. Be the persons to remind the moms to follow religiously all prescriptions (such as Folic Acid, Iron and Calcium supplements, and multivitamins). Take charge of ensuring that all laboratory tests are performed within the recommended timeframe. As much as possible, attend pregnancy seminars and childbirth classes together. In short, share the pregnancy for its entire duration.

As the big day approaches, take the lead in preparing all things needed in the hospital. Whether or not you have both chosen to know the baby’s gender, it pays to be prepared with the essentials. Go with the color white – not only does it look clean but it also allows you to easily spot dirt or small insects near your little one. And it perfectly suits both genders, too.

Being pregnant has got to be one of the most challenging, albeit fulfilling, events in a woman’s life. As a husband and a dad, be always attentive to their needs, do not hesitate to show affection and concern, and your efforts will never go unnoticed.

Rule # 2: COMMIT. No dad has time for everything. However, the coming of a new baby is one special event that requires both the mom’s and dad’s full attention. Over the next few months, learn to deal with being awake until the wee hours of the morning. Staring at your little bundle of joy will surely make up for the lack of sleep — but rest, if you must.

…to be continued.

How the Reassuring Power of Prayer Strengthened Me as a Dad

A bouncing baby boy. That’s what we wished for when we started planning for our second child. We even had a name ready as early as three years back — Sean Abraham.

Overjoyed. That’s how we felt after my wife’s pregnancy test turned out positive. It’s confirmed, we’re going to have another baby. 

Three ultrasound procedures. That’s the number of scans it took to confirm the gender — another baby girl. Needless to say, we welcomed the news with the same level of excitement. 

Then came our little one thirty-seven weeks after. Savia Lucille Audrey. Pale, weak, frail, and had to be revived in the delivery room for almost ten minutes. Ten of the most horrifying minutes of our lives. 

Extremely worried. That’s how we felt with the lack of substantial weight gain and development no matter how hard we tried to nourish her for weeks. She also held her breath at times and kept her muscles firmly stretched. 

Four specialists: A Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, and two Neurologists. These were the doctors we had consultations with prior to the diagnosis of a previous hemorrhage in her brain. 

It’s like the whole world came crashing down on us. At a very young age, why would He allow this to happen to her? Why would He give us the exact opposite of our hearts’ desires? 

Admittedly, we were sorely hurt, but at the same time still hopeful of His mercy and love.  We were uncertain of things to come. Will she grow up like other normal children? Will she be able to walk? Talk? So many questions. I have never prayed so hard in my life. 

It is in prayer that we ask and it’s also in prayer that we realize. I have come to accept that He won’t give us everything we want, that He knows what’s entirely best for us, and that His timing is always right.

If He gives in to all our hearts’ desires, then we probably would no longer find ourselves in constant prayer. And we’ll grow apart from His love. 

If He throws difficulties in our way, it only means He trusts that we’re strong enough to get through each of life’s trials. And we’ll definitely grow deeper in our faith. 

If He leaves prayers unanswered, just believe He’s preparing something better. He shall comfort us in His own perfect time. And we’ll emerge victorious amid all of our life’s downs. 

At present, Sav has been showing development at par with her age, except for very, very slight spasticity of extremities. Other than that, she interacts, mingles, laughs, smiles and giggles like any other normal baby.  

She is able to hold her head up, roll over, firmly stand, reach for things, and make full use of her hands. She recognizes, mimics and plays. Thankfully, she has also started putting on some weight. 

Honestly, I thought I’d never see her do any of these things. I seemed to have lost my faith. But by praying, I gained it back. By waiting, I’ve learned to be patient. And no matter what the outcome, the strength we’ve mustered is surely enough to help us get through any of life’s difficulties.

Similac Gain for Low Birth Weight Babies

Our youngest daughter, although not premature, was classified as a low birth weight baby and consistently gained only one hundred (100) grams per week during her first six months of life. Her weight was barely within the recommended range so we had to regularly supplement her milk formula intake with Heraclene (Dibencozide) to ensure continuous weight gain.

During that time, she was on various milk formulae, namely, NAN (first three weeks), S26 (first to fifth months), and Enfamil (just before her sixth month).  It was then that her Pediatric Endocrinologist recommended that we mix feed her with Similac Gain for the purpose of accelerating her weight gain.

We tried a small can first which she fully consumed in just five days. And when she was weighed at the clinic during her monthly check-up, she has gained a total of three hundred (300) grams in just one week! That’s 200 grams more than her weekly average. 

She has been on Similac Gain since then and needless to say, we’re very happy as she continues to pack on the weight. 

*Please note that it is important to always seek your Pediatrician’s advice prior to mix feeding, regardless of his or her perceived tolerance to changes in feeding.

NAN H.W. for Baby with Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA)

Some parents complain of noticing rashes on their babies’ skin soon after feeding them with regular cow’s milk infant formula.

We noted this ourselves with our own child which prompted us to consult with her Pediatrician who informed us that she has developed allergies to regular cow’s milk proteins. It would be very uncomfortable on her part to continue feeding her with the same formula especially with the extreme humidity in our area which tends to aggravate the itchy rashes on her skin.

As per her doctor’s advice, we decided to shift her to an infant formula of hydrolyzed whey protein, specifically NAN H.W. One, which has been clinically studied to be well tolerated by infants with Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA). And the day after we started her on NAN, all her rashes cleared up! The positive effects of NAN definitely erased all our worries and assured us of our baby’s well-being.

*Please note that it is important to always seek your Pediatrician’s advice prior to shifting to another milk formula, regardless of his or her perceived tolerance to changes in feeding.