The topic of fatherhood is often an awkward one to talk about with other men. To an extent, I have that same sort of apprehension as I always find myself asking the question, “Am I truly ready to take care of a child?” I imagine others may find it difficult to process, too, as they consider many things including financial stability and mental preparedness. However, I find it especially difficult to grasp because I have to deal with the thought that I also have physical limitations caused by both hemophilia and epilepsy.
When I reflect upon having a child, I constantly think of school tuition and providing basic needs. But before that, I also have to think about how to maintain my own physical health so that I can be there to support my child. On average, I spend about 20,000 pesos, or $400, a month just on epilepsy care. It may not sound like much, but for an average minimum-wage earner in the Philippines, it’s a huge deal for someone earning just 12,000 pesos a month.
I also need to have my supply of factor IX, which I can only procure through the charitable works of our organization, the Hemophilia Association of the Philippines for Love and Service (HAPLOS).
My partner, Cza, and I discovered that she was pregnant sometime around last May. She is 13 weeks pregnant, and on July 27, we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. It was an amazing experience. My heart melted, and I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility and motivation. I knew that in my heart of hearts, I had to work extremely hard to provide for my future family. It won’t be an easy ride, but I have to jump the gun and try. It’s always been hard to stay motivated to work and earn money in the Philippines.
Society says that discrimination against people with disabilities and pregnant women are abolished, but the reality is they’re still very much active and present, making it hard for us to look for decent employment. Since I graduated, I’ve aspired to work for something I can be passionate about and earn a living for my family. It sometimes hurts to think that I can’t do that for them. Cza and I currently run an online jewelry store. Income has been OK, and we have a continuous stream of customers which, naturally, makes me smile and stay motivated. I’ve never thought of myself as a businessman, but I’m truly grateful for my partner who continuously nudges me to move forward and find the entrepreneur within.
Money has always been an issue for me since it’s stuck in my head that my health is expensive to maintain. So, it’s a constant fear that I may be unable to earn enough to take care of myself. But knowing that I have others I need to care for — my partner and my future child — I have to find it in myself to get my life together so that my family and I can at least have an acceptable future.
I pray that when that time comes, I’ll have the experience I need to raise a good kid. I also pray to already be capable of caring for the child and providing whatever they may need. If I’ve learned anything from having hemophilia and epilepsy, it’s that it’s OK not to have a normal life, and that one must make do and appreciate what one has.
More importantly, I’ve learned to express love and care for others. I know the feeling of having a bad day filled with disappointment and pain. In small ways, I do my best to make others feel better by simply doing small acts of service, like helping a guy out when he drops his wallet or smiling at a cashier when they are stressed. If there’s anything I would want my kid to learn, it’s to have a kind heart filled with love and compassion for others. Success and grades wouldn’t matter as much to me, because I’m confident a child with a kind heart will go further in life.
Cza has been an amazing partner, so I want to reserve this space to thank her for the wonderful years we’ve spent together. On Aug. 1, we were married. I truly look forward to spending the rest of my life with her and our child, my family, very soon.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.