What Being a Dad Means to Someone with CSU
From late night feedings to early morning diaper changes, STLI writer Luke shares his experiences balancing fatherhood, flare-ups and everything in between.
For all the dads out there, you understand that being a father and a husband is a unique challenge. That said, nothing can be more detrimental to my (or anyone’s) ego than not being able to manage those basic responsibilities and duties – especially if chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is what keeps you from doing so.
One of the hardest things is dealing with my CSU while trying to be a good husband and father. It’s what you would expect from this disease: When I have a breakout, and I see my wife exhausted from looking after the baby, I can't help her.
The first few days
Let’s take a step back. When I first found out I was having a son, I was ecstatic. I jumped around the room ironically like I was a child. However, after all that excitement, I worried that he/she may be diagnosed CSU later in life, like me. Even my wife was a bit concerned. Believe it or not, I was actually confronted by a family member and was told that I should NOT have a baby in fear that this child may inherit CSU. Regardless of how crazy that may seem, it made me think it would be all my fault if my child was diagnosed with CSU.
Fast forward to May 2014. My bouncing baby boy came into this world. As parenthood began, I lost a lot of sleep within the first few months. Lack of sleep = outbreak for me, so I had a flare-up during that time.
During my flare-up, my wife handled all feeding and diaper-changing, leaving me to feel embarrassed and useless. There were times I even regretted having the baby, because when I had hives, I was not capable of taking care of him. I was completely bed-ridden, and I could hear the baby crying and my wife struggling since she had gone several days without sleep. I tried to force myself to do the normal “daddy duties,” but simple movements such as picking up the baby from his crib were all dreadfully painful to my swelled body.
Wife or Superwoman?
You can imagine that my wife turned into superwoman during this time. She was running on empty, and there was little help I could give, and she still powered through. Even in these times of baby-handling desperation, she managed to do the tasks needed, all the while supporting me. I can’t thank her enough for being by my side. “You are going to get through this. YOU are,” she would say to me, “and I know you can do it”. It was those simple words that helped me push through. I will get through this. I can do it.
Now, did those words clear my flare-up? Of course not. But they kept me calm as I moved through it. You don’t need a husband or a wife to make it from day to day. You simply need support.
So, I guess you could say I'm lucky. I'm lucky to have a son. I'm lucky that I have a wife who is kept awake at night because of my scratching, but never complains. I’m lucky, that even at my lowest point, she reminds me that I’ll get through it and be the best father that I can be.