An Interview with a Stay-At-Home Dad (i.e. Me)

[Baby Watch: Day 83]

Recently I was contacted by a guy who runs a blog about dads blogs. (I guess that makes this post a blog about a blog about blogs?) He asked me to answer a few questions, which he’s going to post on his site in the future. I asked when it might run (inquiring minds want to know), and he said it probably wouldn’t be for several months. Since Baby Oliver is likely going to be the end of me well before then, I figured I’d just publish my answers as a Baby Watch. Besides, my responses will likely totally change by the time this is printed on his blog. So here you go:

1.) Tell me about yourself (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge).

My name is Brad Hemmings, I’m a brand new father, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Like, none. My wife and I had the misfortune of having an early term miscarriage during our first pregnancy, so when we got pregnant again I decided I didn’t want to miss a moment. I began sharing my daily musings on social media, and, when I got positive feedback, I decided to begin a formal blog:

2.) Tell me about your family.

My wife Kristen and I have been together since 2009, and have been mostly very happily married since 2012 (I’m just lucky she ever said yes after putting her through a 2 state, 12 hour scavenger hunt to find her engagement ring). Kristen is our family’s primary breadwinner. (Such a 70’s term – would you call money “bread” in any other setting? I mean, unless you’re a founding member of The O’Jays, of course.) I’m a former English teacher, but I’m proud to say that I now have the opportunity to raise my son to love The Who, the Pittsburgh Pirates and a quality chili-cheese hot dog. Oh, and our son is named Oliver Danny, and, if you want, you can read a live blog of Oliver’s birth on my blog, complete with impervious pillows, vending machine buffalo chicken wings, and Leonardo DiCaprio. That sentence had 7 commas. That’s too many commas for one sentence.

3.) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?

Largest challenge?!?!? How about ALL of it. If the question was what has been the smallest challenge, my answer would be, “that one time I slept a little.” Largest challenge? How about changing a poopy diaper, getting poop on my hand, realizing my son is peeing in his own face while I try to clean the poop off my hand, then realizing he’s peeing on my shirt while I try to clean the pee off his face. That was a nice challenge.

4.) What advice would you give to other fathers?

Find a scotch you like. No, seriously, if you can get through the first night (and you can), then you can get through the second. And then you can get through the first week. Then the second.  One day at a time. And before you know it, you’ll enjoy the little things. You’ll even enjoy the unenjoyable things. Like cleaning your kid’s poopy butt. Because you know it makes him feel better. And that’s what makes you feel better.

5.) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?

I’m not the right person to answer this question. I’m still trying to find a balance between parenthood and anything. We just recently took our kid out in public for the first time (other than the hospital / doctor’s office). We went to the park and walked him two miles in the stroller that resembles a small spacecraft. We had three bags of accessories just in case. We could’ve lived for a week in the park had we needed to. It was an almost entirely successful venture, other than I sat my son in gum on a picnic table. So there’s that.

6.) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?

Thankfully, I am one of the last of my group of friends to have a child. I’ve gained tons of clothing and knowledge about the little stuff that they don’t tell you in the classes or the books. While I’ve always been borderline socially anxious, I value the input of others, so I’m currently exploring potential dads groups in my area. Fingers crossed.

7.) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?

Dads: your child is going to be insane for the first few weeks / years. Your wife is going to be insane for the first few weeks / years / lifetime. You have to be the sane one. But you have to do it while getting no sleep, eating cold food, covered in spit up, and with almost no praise. Learn to cope before you have the kid, and you’ll cope better after the kid is here. I mean, I want to lose my mind ten times a day, but I realize that BILLIONS of dads have successfully done this before me. Cavemen have done this. I can do this. And so can you.

8.) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?

After 19 hours of labor, my wife had to have a c-section. They guided me into the operating room, shielding me from the horrors of what was happening on her lower half. I was trembling because the person whom I care most about was having her intestines removed, and if any of the doctors had a margarita for lunch she might end up dead. After ten minutes of trying not to vomit from fear as my wife tried not to vomit from sedatives, we heard a garbled cry, followed by suctioning noises, followed by a louder, more pronounced cry, followed by a woman who I’ve never met, and likely never will meet again stating, “Congratulations, you have a son. . . . . . And he’s peeing on me.” THAT has been my most memorable experience.

9.) Anything else you’d like to share?

When taking pictures of your child for your blog . . . try to avoid capturing a shirtless Bill Murray in the background:

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