My foray into fatherhood was different.
Our first child, Kohl, was born with global brain damage due to a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery. Our second child, Amelia, was born about two-and-a-half years later with no issues. We have one boy and one girl. One has significant special needs. The other is healthy.
Here is a random collection of musings, in no logical order, on what this has been like from a father’s perspective.
- It is a bad idea to ever tell a pregnant woman to either “calm down” or “relax.” If you do that, she will do the opposite.
- Breast milk is like liquid gold. Some of it will inevitably spill. If this happens and you crack a hilarious joke like “there’s no use crying over spilled milk,” this will probably make matters worse.
- Chronic sleep deprivation sucks. There will be some parents that gloat about how their child started sleeping through the night at seven weeks. Resist the temptation to throat punch these parents.
- Having a child with special needs teaches you to never take things for granted, and it helps you find the magic in every day life. You should always cherish when your child looks you in the eye and smiles. It’s a little slice of heaven for me every single time.
- Holding your newborn child in the Heisman pose is apparently not that much of a thing. After requesting that a nurse in the delivery room snap a photo of me holding my daughter in the Heisman pose, I asked her how many of these she takes every week. Beneath thinly-veiled judgment at how odd I apparently was for requesting this picture, she replied “this is the first one.”
- Nothing will teach you how uncool and incompetent you can possibly be when becoming a father.
- It is apparently not that big a deal for a mom to deal with her son’s “man parts” during diaper changes, but I know of no father of a daughter who does not find dealing with her “lady parts” among the most uncomfortable experiences in life.
- One of the most difficult parts of having a child with special needs is the anxiety that constantly lurks beneath the surface about whether you are doing enough to help your child develop. We once queried Kohl’s neurologist about the best things we could do for him on a daily basis. The response was probably the best medical advice we have received to date: just love him.
- A traumatic experience can completely break a marriage apart or it can make it stronger than ever. It really is a choice.
- In many ways, fatherhood is a burden. There is no more sleeping in. No more spontaneity. No more self-absorption. You are responsible for the survival of another being. Having kids may sometimes feel like drowning, but learning to breath under water sure can be cool.
About Andy Chrestman
Andy Chrestman is a proud father and New Orleanian. He was born and raised in New Orleans, and his wife Sarah is also a New Orleanian by way of Lake Charles. He is a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. In his spare time, he enjoys attempting to not screw up being a dad to son Kohl (3) and daughter Amelia (8 months). He also cherishes adult time with his wife Sarah. Further musings can be found on their blog Kohl and the Gang.