The SE Exam Whilst Becoming a Father for the First Time

Taking the SE Vertical Exam

While my wife was pregnant with our first child and due in November 2021, I had decided to study for and take the October SE-Vertical exam.  On one hand, this gave me a lot of motivation to study well before the baby would arrive, but on the other hand it provided a competing interest of always wanting or needing to do something to prepare for the baby.

Probably like a lot of engineers, I prefer to plan and schedule as much as possible, but unlike some people, I am absolutely not a night owl. I made it through all of college and graduate school without ever once pulling an all-nighter.  Knowing this about myself, when I started studying for the SE, I planned out a four-month schedule broken down by different topics over each week with specific blocks of time to study.  Each week that looked like three hours after work four days a week and eight hours each Saturday. As things came up and life happened, I often didn’t get to all the planned study time every week, but I continued to press through each subject and stuck to the scheduled study blocks as much as possible. I reserved the last 3 weeks before the exam to review any of the subjects I felt needed more attention or had given me the most trouble on practice exams. The way I approached the SE was to study as much as I reasonably could, but still setting boundaries, one of which being no late nights. I have always felt that getting a decent amount of sleep was essential for me and often produced better results then staying up to study. 

The night my wife gave birth was the first day I can remember staying awake for over 24 hours straight in my adult life. Right off the bat, the arrival of my daughter answered the question under consideration and showed me that the best laid plans will always have to be revised, especially with a child. Since then, I have still gotten some decent sleep, but having a newborn means unpredictability and continual change. Bedtime has become whenever we can get her down to sleep, and waking up happens as many times as she would like to eat or needs soothing throughout the night. Therefore, she continues to win the question over late nights. Having another life dependent on you 24/7 really changes your ability to set aside your personal preferences, like going to bed on time, in order to invest in them. I am still, by no means, a night owl. I have to give the overwhelming credit, for managing sleepless nights and caring for a baby, to my wife. Having a child has already been one of the most challenging and, by far, one of the most rewarding parts of my life. While I still do not enjoy late nights, my daughter is one reason, I have found, that is worth staying up.