A father’s role has certainly evolved in the modern day. They are more than just providers and protectors, but are ever-present nurturers; and we can thank mums for that.
Today, mothers are raising, nurturing and guiding their children, while working hard, occupying leadership positions and staying physically active – like Dr Andrea Lim, a medical doctor, CEO of Peak Fitness, director of business development at SOGO, a contributor here at Malaysia Tatler and a recent mother to Isabelle Zara.
A wonder mum like Dr Andrea, needs a wonder dad like Dr Shaun Alexander – himself a medical doctor, group executive director at Peak Fitness and SOGO, and a newly-minted dad.
I caught up with Dr Shaun to find out about his new role and how he prepared for it.
What was it like when you found out Dr Andrea was pregnant?
We actually did the pregnancy test together, and had to wait a few seconds for the device to tell us whether she was pregnant or not. When it came up positive we were both excited and the first thing we thought about was giving our parents and close friends the good news.
However, after the initial excitement had subsided we came to our senses and decided to organise the ultrasound scan to confirm the pregnancy before we started to let others know.
As you can imagine, both sets of grandparents were thrilled with the idea of a new addition to the family. We took my in-laws to a restaurant and at the end of the meal we dropped them the good news; they could hardly contain their excitement. The rest of the evening was filled with excited conversation about living arrangements, her education and babysitting schedules!
Was fatherhood something you had always planned for?
Growing up, I had always concentrated on my studies and career. These took priority in my younger days, but in the back of my mind I always had the inclination to have children and enjoy family life.
However, I wanted the timing to be as good as it could be, so after stabilising my career starting a family became the next natural step.
What are some of the things that you have learned from your own father that will help you going forward?
I was always taught to be open-minded, whether it was to do with culture, politics, or human relationships.
I grew up in Cardiff, which has a population of around 350,000, relatively small when compared to the likes of New York, London or Shanghai. Despite this, I was taught that the world is a small place – you can reach anywhere by sitting on a plane for a few hours; this teaching allowed me explore the world and meet many different types of people from different walks of life. It was also a strong contributing factor for me finally settling happily in Malaysia.
I will encourage my daughter to do the same – be open-minded so that she can explore all the cultures and different philosophies that the world has to offer. This way she can make up her own mind about how she would like to live her life, in doing so, I hope this will allow her to live a happy life.
What excites and worries you most about parenthood?
I’m excited at the thought of watching her grow up every day and being part of that process. I’m looking forward to the simple things like listening to her first words, watching her take her first steps and enjoying family holidays with her. I’m also looking forward to watching her develop as a person with the resources and support network that she has available to her. I’m hoping that she can go on to do great things in this world.
As for the worries, right now, she is less than two weeks of age so at the moment I’m worrying about the basic things – has she been fed, does she need changing, and is she safe? In the longer run, I’m not worried about anything in particular, although I know that there will be unforeseen hurdles along the way, I’m looking forward to the journey of raising her.
How did you prepare for your first child?
I can break this down into two distinct areas--physically and mentally.
My priority was to ensure a healthy pregnancy and my role was to assist my wife in achieving this. Physically we both made modifications to our diets and lifestyles; my wife started folic acid and other pre-pregnancy multivitamin supplementation and I changed my workout timing and schedules to accommodate the arrival of the baby.
From a mental perspective, the unknown can be worrisome therefore I decided to read up on all aspects of fatherhood. Despite my medical background as a doctor, and even though I had won a national pediatric prize over 10 years ago, I wanted to be absolutely prepared for when she arrived. Evidence and research for best practice for newborns change all the time, and I wanted to be sure that I was fully up to date, so I could give her the best possible start.
Years from now, your daughter could be reading this, what message do you have for her?
She is currently under two weeks old, and I would like her to know how much joy she has already brought into my life. Also, I want her to know that whatever she chooses to do with hers, that I will always be there for her, and will support her in every way that I can to ensure she lives a happy and fulfilling life.
Further reading: How motherhood has upped Ung Yiu Lin's multitasking game