Nguyen’s new beginnings with baby Theodore

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Rachel Wu

On Feb. 20, Nhat Nguyen and his wife welcomed their son, Theodore Nguyen. At home, he is called “Theo” or “Ti-heo,” a nickname that traces back to Nguyen and his wife’s Vietnamese roots. 

“I have a running joke at home where I call my baby cousin and my wife ‘heo’ which means pig in Vietnamese,” Nguyen said. “I just think that pigs are cute. Theo was born in the year of the rat which is ‘Ti’’ in my language, so I just call him ‘Ti-heo’.”

Nguyen prepared for Theodore’s birth by accompanying his wife to labor and delivery classes, organizing the nursery and setting up other essentials such as a car seat and a crib. As Nguyen anticipated the delivery of his son, he juggled tasks as a prospective father, history teacher as well as the coach for the varsity and JV Lynbrook badminton teams. 

Luckily, working out is something that Nguyen and his wife have always bonded over. While Nguyen has been a competitive badminton player since he was a teenager, his wife also began to take her fitness seriously during her pregnancy. 

“My wife works out constantly,” Nguyen said. “She did cardio, and weight-lifting throughout her pregnancy to keep herself strong and prepare for the laboring process. Labor is easier if the mother is fit.” 

Theodore was born early in morning at 2:55 a.m., coming in at 7.3 ounces and 20 inches long. Nguyen remembers the surreal experience of holding his son for the first time. The birth of their new son brings in both joy of having a new family as well as worry over properly handling their new baby. One unique characteristic that Nguyen noticed about his son right away was his calm temperament. 

“When [Theodore] first arrived in the delivery room, he did not cry,” Nguyen said. “He made a little noise and went right back to being super calm and quiet. He only cries when he is hungry. His daily schedule consists of waking up, crying for milk, pooping his diaper, crying for more milk and going back to sleep.”

Due to Theodore’s intensive needs and hectic schedule, Nguyen decided to take a paternity leave from Feb. 24 to March 16 in order to assist his wife with the staggering responsibility of caring for a newborn. 

“[Taking paternity leave] was very important because I needed to help my wife,” Nguyen said. “After delivery, my wife was at 20 percent. Everything became harder for her to do. So paternity leave allowed me to pick up all baby chores while my wife focused on taking care of herself and resting. Also, the baby is only a baby for so long. I don’t want to miss a thing.” 

Like many new parents, Nguyen and his wife had to make many adjustments to their usual routines. 

“[My wife and I] have to sleep on his schedule,” Nguyen said. “His schedule operates in three hour increments. He needs to eat every three hours. So we have to wake up, feed him, change him, put him back to sleep, and then we get to sleep again.”

Nguyen has been very open about the entire process with his students. They have known about his upcoming paternity leave since the beginning of the school year. During Nguyen’s paternity leave, his students had to adjust a new dynamic of learning. 

“His class is very different without him,” sophomore Amy Zhou said. “I really miss the times where we just got the entire period to talk about issues such as the Indian caste system.”

Despite the difficulties of Nguyen’s absence, Zhou wishes the best for him and is happy that he is taking time off to be with his family. 

Becoming a father has given Nguyen a newfound appreciation for his own parents. 

“I finally realized what my parents went through for me,” Nguyen said. “I finally understand how my elders felt when they held me in their arms as baby Nhat. Now I’m constantly thinking about what I will have to do to not fail Theo. These thoughts have caused me to be even more motivated and responsible for myself.” 

Nguyen’s wishes for Theodore mirror those of many new parents. While it is hard to say what Theodore’s interests and hobbies will be, Nguyen’s main focus of his hopes is character. 

“I only hope that he grows up to be healthy and that he will get to experience life fully,” Nguyen said. “I hope that he will become a well-rounded individual by learning as much as he can from both formal education and the school of life itself. I hope that his learnings and experiences will make him an open-minded individual.”