Life as a New Daddy
Published on: December 06, 2019
Leonard Wee, a Singaporean entrepreneur who is married to a Thai, tells us how he is managing his life as a full-time dad to baby Jayna.
Tell us a bit about your family!
You can say that I’m a late bloomer. I met my wife in Singapore when I was 41, got married at 42 and moved to Bangkok with her. This year I became a dad for the first time at 45 and although I’m an older father, I’m loving every minute of it.
What has surprised you the most about being a dad?
That unconditional love actually exists in real life, not just in movies and books.
What has been the most challenging part of parenthood so far?
Having to face incredulous looks when people find out that I’m a stay at home dad multiple times a day, every day!
Jokes aside, I guess it’s learning something new every day, my actions and my teachings will shape a real life. That challenges me to do the best I can.
What was your biggest concern before the baby was born and how has that eventuated?
My wife and I had agreed when she got pregnant that it would make more sense for her to continue in her job, which she has been at for the past 13 years, rather than a foreigner trying to find work in Bangkok (which can be tough, I’m told).
So I had a few months to prepare myself mentally for my life to change drastically, from the time Jayna is born. And yes it has changed. I used to choose how to spend my days — after sending my wife off to work in the mornings I would play golf, visit the driving range, meet business contacts or friends, or practice my Thai.
All this has 100% disappeared as a full-time dad. The only free time is after my wife comes back from work and we’ve put baby to sleep. By the time we finish dinner around 9 pm we are completely knackered and ready to crash, only to wake up for night feeds.
Has your relationship with your wife changed since you became parents?
Yes, we have become so down-to-earth and everything we do is for baby. We have also become much more patient with each other, which is awesome. We are a good team and although we have some differences of opinion on parenting, we always find a compromise.
What were some things you did to help your wife during labor and the first few months after birth?
Before birth, I always tried to make her as comfortable as possible and cooked for her as much as I could. My wife is very independent and doesn’t usually demand much. After birth, apart from breastfeeding, I did everything else. I bathed Jayna, changed her, played with her, and soothed her to sleep so that my wife could recover from her C-Section and help me thereafter.
Which baby equipment are you pleased you had? Is there something you think you could have done without?
As older parents, most of our friends have had kids in the past, so we inherited plenty of equipment. Our baby carriers were lifesavers, we have a Baby Bjorn and a Pognae no.5, which were a great help to bond with the baby while going out.
The ultimate ‘equipment’ that we use most often is the regularly maligned pacifier, the Philips Avent Soothie. I seriously don’t know how parents manage without this little silicone thingy. Without it, the baby would have had a much tougher time sleeping and calming down especially during take-off and landings in the plane.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with other first-time parents or soon-to-be parents?
A parent’s instinct is a lot more accurate than we think. Just follow your instincts and try to read up as much as you can before the baby arrives to have a clearer understanding of how a baby act and behave.
I also had a WhatsApp chat support group comprising of my sister and cousins back in Singapore, who all have multiple kids. So, having an always-available consulting group who I trust was really useful in helping me get through those stressful first 3 months.
Is there anything you miss from the pre-parent days?
Alcohol, golf, and me-time. I guess I’ll get them back when she grows up. Priorities have changed and I have to grow up too!
Parents are constantly being given advice by others – what’s one piece of advice you were given that really helped?
Jayna was a colic baby for the first 3 to 4 months and cried a lot and slept less than others too. My cousin told me to read a book by Dr. Harvey Karp about the 5 S’s and it was so useful in helping my wife and me to calm baby down.
I would recommend it to anybody!
People say that Dads have pregnancy symptoms too. Did you experience anything during the pregnancy?
Even before the baby was born, I would be smiling to myself at the thought that soon I’d be holding a cute baby in my arms. And knowing that I will be the most important man in her life for many, many years! I’d tear up, once in a while and I still do to this day, whenever I think of her. I guess I’ll be doing this for a long, long time.
About the Author
Leonard Wee is a 45-year-old Singaporean, married to a Thai, living in Bangkok and taking care of their 6-month-old daughter full-time. He was an ex-banker and serial entrepreneur and is currently involved in the Mergers and Acquisition business (M&A) with Panyu Holdings Pte Ltd.
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