by Minh Hai Pham
It’s been nine years since the day my wife and I had a good news, the day we found out that my wife was pregnant.
To be honest, like most newly wedded couples, we had not much preparation for becoming parents. We were young, enjoying life together.
Becoming parents? We had not thought much about this.
Now we had started on our new journey, on which we didn’t know what was there.
Would there be bliss, joy, happiness or any obstacles?
What should we do to become good parents?
My wife and I had a plan to name the baby, what we would call if it was a boy, or a girl.
We got the news of the pregnancy with excitement, thrill, and most of all, happiness and pride.
1. During the Pregnancy:
It is not anything like what we dreamed.
After two months of pregnancy, my wife endured heavy morning sickness and many things changed about her.
She vomited whatever she had eaten before. She became fragile and sensitive and easy to cry.
She was afraid of the smell of food, cooking.
Sometimes, she made me feel guilty because I was the one who had made her pregnant.
When the baby grew a bit bigger, some cracks appeared on her belly and she was really shocked about it, as she would lose her slim waist which she was very proud of.
It was summer time and we were living in a cottage without an air conditioner while the weather was scorching hot.
The situation got worse. My wife felt hot all the time. At that time we were so poor and did not have much money saved.
My wife was out of work as she had resigned to study for her Master’s.
At the end of the pregnancy, my wife suffered from severe pain in her back, while the symptoms of morning sickness was still heavy.
Sometimes it made her unable to sleep and I couldn’t sleep as well, seeing her groaning.
I wished the day when the baby is due to come as soon as possible, not only because I was eager to see my girl, embrace her in my arm with the pride of a father, but also because I did not want to see my wife suffering anymore.
She was so tired, so exhausted, and so was I.
2. The Waiting Time:
One midnight, in a chilly cold winter, my wife suddenly woke up and told me: “The amnion has broken”.
I didn’t understand what she meant and calmly said: “Tomorrow, I will take you to hospital.”
“No, not tomorrow, we must go now!” she screamed.
So we got up, hurriedly packed some clothes and called a taxi to take us to the hospital.
While my wife was in the delivery room, I sat waiting in the corridor, praying for my wife and my baby to be safe.
This was the most terrifying moment of my life.
Time passed by so slowly, one, two, three hours, and the baby had not come yet.
I was so worried, as it seems my wife was in danger.
In a developing country like Vietnam, with a backward healthcare system, maternal death is very common.
I did not know what was happening as I was not allowed to go into the room (My wife later told me she was in such a severe pain and was begging the doctor to operate her and take the baby out but the doctor said that it was not good for her and the baby as he diagnosed she could give birth naturally).
After five hours of waiting, at last the doctor opened the door and called my name, informing me that everything was okay and I could come to see my wife and the baby now.
You can only try to imagine how relieved I was hearing this.
I quickly followed the doctor and there they were, my wife and my tiny little girl.
She was so cute, so lovely, sleeping in my wife’s arm.
An angel had come to me, and became my daughter.
I thanked God for that and promised myself that I would try my best to give her a happy life.
But a new chapter of my life had only begun…
3. Taking care of my infant baby:
In the first days after birth, my baby slept all the time.
My wife still suffered from severe pain and could not move out of the bed.
I was responsible for taking care of both of them, feeding the baby as my wife couldn’t breastfeed in the first five days.
I was changing diapers, cooking, washing, cleaning…I had no time to sleep.
After one week of sleepless nights, it started to take its toll.
I felt exhausted, terribly stressed, as I still had to go to work while doing all the housework.
The happiness of becoming a father could not even help me to overcome the stress I was suffering.
I didn’t know how long it took me to get used to it but luckily, the baby started to grow up steadily and my wife’s health got better, so she could take care of the baby while I was doing other chores.
4. The Financial Issues
At that time, my wife had no social insurance as she had stopped working months before.
We had to cover all the hospital fees. (And you know, up to now, the social welfare in Vietnam is zero. It’s always money first, cure later. If you can’t pay, you may be left to die.)
I was working for a state organization which offered me an average income. If you were lucky to be healthy all the time, you could save a little.
However, when the kids grow a little older, they have to go to school.
I am not rich enough to send them to private schools, which provide a better environment for them to study.
In the state schools, the classes are stuffed with a large number of children (at least 50, sometimes even 60 or 70 pupils in one classroom!)
If you don’t have a good job which brings you enough monthly income to pay all the bills, you can’t maintain a happy family life.
These were some of the difficulties I faced when I first became a parent.
However, we were able to overcome them because children have a way of giving you great strength and motivation.
The biggest incentive to us is not a fortune, and is not tons of wealth either, but simply their laughter.
The way they greet us when we get home from work.
When we look at the smile on their innocent faces, all of our tiredness seems to disappear.
The time we spend to play with them, to teach them how to read, how to write, to stay awake over the night when they have health problems…the feeling can be magical.
Here is a picture of my lovely wife and daughter:
Special recognition to Minh Hai Pham for sharing his story!