Dad's & Postnatal Depression (PND)
When I met my husband, I knew I wanted to get married, have babies & live happily ever after. I think we can all agree that the latter is easier said than done. Marriage is hard & isn’t always about being happy. I have never experienced it more so than when I had post-natal depression.
Emma Isobel Sweeney arrived in September 2014. Chris & I navigated our way through parenthood as best as any new parents, getting used to sleep deprivation, guessing what our daughter needed when she cried for no reason & occasionally getting a moment of relief when her sleeping improved.
Looking back, my husband always had fatherhood down, he is calm & steadfast, to this day still settles Emma back to sleep. For some reason, she has always slept better when he has put her to bed. I always thought I would have it all together all the time & would instinctively know what to do. Instead I found myself annoyed, irritated, frustrated, and prone to outbursts of anger towards my ever-patient husband. I wanted peace & quiet even if Emma was with Chris in another room.
My days with Emma consisted mostly of counting down to when Chris would come home from work, where, immediately I would hand Emma over & proceed to sit down with a cup of tea. They say parenting is the hardest job in the world, I think Chris had it a lot harder, he was doing three jobs - breadwinner, father, husband. He does them very well too. He has held our family up from the very beginning, whether it be doing things around the house whilst I recovered from a C-section, to switching to dad Chris from work Chris without getting a break, to eventually having to take time off work because I couldn’t cope.
One morning, barely a year after Emma was born, I found myself hiding out in the car not wanting to do my job, not wanting my husband to go to work & not wanting to get out of the car. It was then that I went to my doctor who prescribed me anti-depressants. Chris also started having Wednesdays off work to look after Emma, something which he did for two months.
My husband continued to put his needs on the back-burner. I could not compartmentalise to allow him time to himself & he did his job as father & husband amazingly. He still does. He got up with Emma during the night, settled her to sleep, gave her tea, did bath time & got up with her in the morning.
My husband held us together, he put his needs for my mental health before everything else, especially himself.
Before Emma turned one, we found out she had had a stroke in utero. The stroke had resulted in a disability, hemiplegia. So, there we were, barely a year into parenting, still trying to navigate as best we could, me dealing with PND & Chris dealing with me & Emma & now also coping with news we were not expecting.
This news was a further blow to me, something I can still find hard to wrap my head around, but my ever strong, calm & steadfast husband was still coming through for me. Even though the news was as hard for him, he continued to put himself last, tell me I was a great mom & could do this job, all the while silently dealing with the fallout.
If I could say one thing to new parents, especially dad’s, it would be this. Having a baby may be the scariest thing you ever do. It sure is an adventure which may change you & your partner somehow, particularly if you are dealing with PND or the health of your baby. But you are both in the same boat, you are both rookies. You are not failing. Pat yourself on the back every time you guess incorrectly what may be wrong with your baby because it’s one less thing on the list.
Be as strong as my husband has been for me.
Your relationship comes first, so be there for each other & hold each other up when the other needs help.
And to mom’s; our men experience it all, albeit internally. Sometimes they may say they are ok, but they may be dealing with something, deep down & that’s ok.
It’s ok to have PND, & it’s ok to seek help.
‘This Dad Can.’
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Chris & I have been together for almost 6 years & married for almost 4. I am a stay at home mum & Chris works for RSA. Emma is thriving & entertaining us every day.
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