Ask any new parents how much sleep they’ve been getting and they’ll probably just laugh. And if you didn’t already know, “NCIS” star Wilmer Valderrama recently joined that camp with his model fiancée Amanda Pacheco when they welcomed their first daughter together last year.
The 42-year-old actor and his 31-year-old fiancée (respectively) opened up to People about their parenthood journey and what life has been like with their 10-month-old daughter Nakano Oceana. From baby name debates to sleep training and keeping their relationship, they put it all on the table. Spoiler alert: it’s adorable.
The ‘NCIS’ Star Opens Up About the Parents’ New Roles
“The first few nights we were like, ‘We can do this!'” Valderrama says. “But by the sixth day, that sleep deprivation gets tough.”
Being a new parent certainly has its challenges, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That seems to be the “NCIS” star’s approach to fatherhood anyway. Here’s how he describes stepping up into his new role:
“Your job as a partner is not just to be there,” the “NCIS” star added. “If you’re not doing anything, you’re not doing enough. There are a million things to be done while your partner is nursing: Get the baby, change the baby, burp the baby, track the feeding, and keep the mommy hydrated, fed, and rested.”
He also credited sleep-training with helping the couple keep their relationship growing, despite some of the other challenges that came along with it:
“I didn’t think I had the heart for [sleep training], because it made me feel bad,” Valderrama detailed, “but ultimately, it’s so empowering. It allows you to focus on your partner. When you have a baby who sleeps through the night, it’s a lot easier to stay connected.”
The Story Behind Their Baby’s Name
According to the “NCIS” star, Nakano Oceana’s name “created an unbelievable debate in our family.” He said, “some people thought it was off the wall, and others thought that it was just serendipitous and so beautiful.”
At the end of the day, though, the couple picked a name really special to them. The name has ties to Japan, where Valderrama and Pacheco took a big step in their relationship. It’s also where the couple learned about the story of Takeko Nakano, a legendary female samurai.
“I thought, ‘What a cool, fun little conversation topic for our daughter to have as she grows older.’ But also, the respect and the heritage, and the tribute to one of those beautiful moments where my fiancée and I said ‘I love you’ for the first time. To commemorate that trip to Japan with our first labor of love.”
You can see little Nakano here: