Diary of an Autistic Father: Week One

This has been the longest week of my life. There have been few weeks as trying, as eventful, as exhausting as this one. Every cell in my body is fried. 

Wait I’m not supposed to lead with this. I’m supposed to lead with some exaltation of how wondrous life is now that I have a daughter. How I see things so much more clearly. How this was a trial but it’s worth it. And sure, the last is true but if I start on any other note except the honest one, I do you a disservice. 

After all, you’re reading this because you want to know how it feels to be an autistic man and a father. You want to know exactly what I’ve felt. You don’t want the polished Hallmark nonsense. So I owe it to you to tell the truth. 

This week started with a trip to the hospital Tuesday night to get checked in and start the induction. We were placed in a beautiful room where Amanda was hooked up to monitors and the process began. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. At some point the next day, I left for lunch. We waited some more. Couldn’t sleep much due to constant doctor visits. 

But finally Lola Faye Shinn, all 5lbs 11oz of her, arrived at 3:59 pm on Wednesday. This was when the conventional moments of joy hit. We had the miracle hour. The grandparents came in to see her. There was much rejoicing. 

That all doesn’t last very long though. After a few hours, we were wheeled to our final room, a much smaller, much less comfortable room with almost no AC and constant light. It was in this room we spent roughly 42 hours and I have to concede it was extremely hard on me. I never achieved REM sleep due to constant stimulation. I certainly couldn’t sleep on the glorified bench I was placed on. The constant intrusion of (the extremely sweet) nurses hardly helped. 

Sitting in this situation drained me. It didn’t take long for the mild psychosis that comes from such a sustained lack of sleep to set in. I became wildly irrational and moody. I started crying at random moments, which didn’t stop for several days. I was frustrated and angry. 

The worst part of all of this? You think you’re not supposed to feel this. You’re supposed to be overjoyed because you have a baby. You have to be strong for your wife. And I tried with all I could to get there but in truth, I often fell short. There were a few epic meltdowns this week. 

Things did get better once I was home. There is nothing like the comfort of all your stuff to ease your stress. But a new stress sets in. That baby is here forever. Everything I know is upended and it’s not an idea anymore. Reality sets in.

There’s also the stream of visitors. Countless friends and family have dropped by to look in at miss Lola Faye. That’s been nice. It’s fun to show her off.

As for her, well she’s a week old. She’s not exciting. But I am enjoying having her here. She’s cute, fun to watch. I’m figuring out how to care for her. I’m not doing too bad. 
Trying to judge how this will go based on this week is impossible. I’m still recovering after all and she is learning to open her eyes. It’ll be fascinating to see where it goes. But I have hope. 

Til next week. 

2 thoughts on “Diary of an Autistic Father: Week One

  1. You know Austin, many new parents have felt the same after the first child as you described in your intro. Even my fourth child, I had the same feelings. Life is such a Rollercoaster. Despite each parent having his or her own hopes and dreams for his or her child, no one can predict the outcome. Live each moment to the fullest, love your wife and new daughter like there is tomorrow, communicate your frustrations as well as your dreams, lean on your extended family when needed, and most importantly take care of yourself because otherwise none of the rest can becone reality! Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us!

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