I AM my wife’s extra appendage. I am an extra arm, an extra leg, a few extra hours she needs as she raises our child.
Left alone, I am practically useless.
I am a first-time dad at an age when most men would have two or three kids—these are the people who I hope will read this blog, so that they will hopefully head straight to the comments section and leave me with remedies to my cluelessness.
My daughter’s name is Anika Isabelle. We call her Isay for short. She was born on a Wednesday in a Manila hospital. It was a dry day when my wife was wheeled into the labor room. Over half a day later, she had to undergo emergency caesarian section. As much as she wanted to push our daughter out normally, the baby’s heart rate kept dropping to precarious levels and her OB did not want to risk things any more.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, it rained really hard. Where I come from, hard rains in July are the norm. Typhoons are a specialty. On that Wednesday, it was dry, heavy rain, dry. Someday, when my daughter is older, she will develop certain traits that people will attribute to the weather on the day she was born, no matter how tenuous the connection may seem.
Observer: Wow! Isay really knows hot to drift a race car!
Me: Yeah, probably because it rained on a dry July Wednesday when she was born.
In a way, Isay is like Britain’s royal baby. She made Page One of the country’s No. 1 newspaper even before she was born. I always thought baby stories were hate-proof, so it shocked me to read some of the comments readers mailed to the office that lent credence to the observation that trollery is alive and kicking (like babies!) in the world of the Internet.
Oh, earlier this year I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. My wife was around four or five months into the pregnancy during the diagnosis so you could probably guess what people who didn’t know better blamed that illness on.
Oh, it’s the coming baby.
Shut up. It isn’t.
I’ve carried the symptoms for so long but only decided to have myself checked late February (2015, for those of you who will read this in the year 3000) after a particularly worrisome episode where my blood pressure shot up, my throat ran dry, my breathing became labored and I was shaking all over. I regularly saw two doctors. One treated the symptoms (which included weaning me off coffee—a really mournful moment in my life), the other focused on the GAD.
One of things I found out during anxiety therapy (no medicines involved, yay!) is that I tend to overthink things. Maybe this is why I have this irrepressible fear that I will be an inadequate father. It is my greatest worry. Because I am head-over-heels in love with my daughter. And the only dream I nurse is that she will one day say she is lucky to have me as her father.
It gives me sleepless nights to think that will never happen. Thus this blog. This is where I will try to translate my fears into words. This is where I will try to confront my shortcomings as a father. Hopefully, my daughter will get to read this someday. And when she does, I hope she realizes that for all the times I failed her, she can still say that at the very least, I really, really, really love her.