Husband Perspective Post 1

One thing I’ve found lacking in literature on postpartum depression is information for husbands/fathers. Now I’ll be the first to admit that mothers need TONS of support, but, as husbands/fathers are *usually* part of said support, they need to know to look for this too. For the most part, this would be for those experiencing the nightmare that is postpartum depression for the first time. Once you experience, you do not forget. So in that train of thought, and at my husband’s suggestion, he’ll be making occassional, but regular, posts from his perspective. I hope you find support and hope in them.
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This is the first Husband post for my wife’s blog, which basically means she’s giving me homework. To be fair, I suggested this idea, so I brought this on myself.

Seeing the Signs

This is one of the most important parts about being the husband to a wife who is suffering from PPD. A new mother might be too pre-occupied with the new baby and she might also be trying to hide her symptoms out of shame. So, it could easily come down to the husband picking up on things that gets her the help she needs. This is exceptionally hard for a husband who works, but it is possible.

First, I’m going to say a cliché that is very true. COMMUNICATION IS KEY! I cannot stress this enough for both parents. Unless you can read your spouse’s mind, you won’t know exactly what is going on. A crying fit can be one of joy at the baby smiling for the first time or one of disgust about having the thought of smothering the baby in its sleep. Without talking, nobody is going to have a clue as to what is going on and things will get worse before they get better. So, even if you talk while preparing for bed or while the baby has both of you awake at 2am, it’s going to be helpful in discerning and minimizing PPD.

When home, watch how your wife interacts with the baby. If she’s a little standoffish or seems more stressed than one would expect then talk to her. Again, this really is the most important part because, most likely, you’re as clueless about PPD as she is. Try to take some of the pressure off her at night and on weekends by doing what you can with the baby. Handle diaper changes, bottle feedings if you go that route, and simply holding the baby while your wife rests. Stress can make PPD worse, so if you think your wife is suffering then try to minimize it while getting her help.

I was the stay-at-home parent due to our job situations, so I had a slight advantage over a working husband. I was around my son and wife more often and could see that something was going wrong. She became anxious about small things and she spoke about being stressed. I tried to handle everything that I could, so she only had to worry about feeding our son and playing with him. My hope was that this would pass when she went off to work, but it didn’t. She came home demanding a shower before going near our son, which worried me. I let it play out and she started seeing help until the bizarre combination of events that caused her breakdown. That’s her story and I’ll weigh in on that when she tells me.

Another important factor for a husband to consider is the stress before and during the birth. Your wife could be showing early signs that give you a heads up. They might become nothing after the baby is born, but they can always become the living nightmare that is PPD. Using my wife and me as an example, she had two bouts of stress during the pregnancy that caused her to shake. These were both caused by an outside force, which I should have kept a closer eye on after the pregnancy. This showed that she was having emotional control issues and, knowing what I know now, these had a good chance of continuing. There was also a panic attack when she was hooked up to the pain meds. I forgot that she could get these because they happen so rarely. They involve her fingers curling into frozen ‘talons’ and she gets a marble-mouth thing. Basically, it resembles a stroke and the anesthesiologist acted like it was. Again, this is something to remember and consider for future behavior reference.

A final thing to look out for is signs directly after the birth. Does your wife hold the baby lovingly or does she avoid holding the baby? Does she start crying at the slightest thing that goes wrong with the baby? For example, my wife lovingly held our son and that was a good sign. Then, she tried to breastfeed for the first time and things took a horrible turn. My son wouldn’t latch, my wife got stressed, there were some outside influences making her upset, and it simply didn’t work. My son had to be bottle-fed after my wife pumped her milk. For my wife and many other new mothers, this is seen as a shameful disgrace and makes them feel like they’re defective. Sadly, there are people out there who make this feeling stronger when they run into someone like my wife. As a supportive husband, you have to drive home the fact that there is nothing wrong with your wife. A lot of new mothers have to pump and go to the bottle for any number of reasons. Research these reasons, find stories of women who do this, and do whatever it takes to assure your wife that this isn’t something to be ashamed of. If you happen to run into someone who takes it upon themselves to shame your wife for this, step in to stop the conversation immediately. This is already a difficult situation and the last thing anybody needs is an outside making it worse.

That’s really all I can think about on this topic. Every woman will show different signs, so you have to be vigilant and alert because PPD is a very real threat.

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~ by phaerygurl on February 11, 2013.

9 Responses to “Husband Perspective Post 1”

  1. Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere and commented:
    As per my wife’s request, I am reblogging the ‘Husband Perspective’ posts that I’m doing for her Postpartum Depression blog. Please read and follow to her blog to read her thoughts.

  2. This is a great post. I suffered through PPD after the birth of my daughter. I thought I couldn’t handle being a mother. My husband was my rock during that time and still is. After seven years, we are ready to try for number two, which I hope will go much more smoothly than with my first. You and your wife are wonderful people!

    • Thanks from both of us.

    • I hope you don’t mind if I play 20 Questions with you a little on that. Was there any family history or did you have anything before you got pregnant? How did you finally recover (or are you still dealing with it?)? How long did it take?

      While it’s a plus and minus at the same time, you should mention your PPD with your daughter. At least if the monster finds you again, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it. Was the PPD the only/main reason for waiting til now to try for baby number two? And good luck with number two. Thanks for commenting!

      • There wasn’t a family history of PPD as far as I know, but there is depression in my family. As for me, I was living carefree and easy before the baby. I could be a hothead sometimes, but never experienced any kind of depression, so when the PPD did hit me, it took me by surprise. I was in denial for months. I was also very young when I had my daughter. I was 18 and had graduated high school just months before giving birth. I think being so young compounded the problem. It wasn’t until my daughter started sleeping through the night and I was still on edge that I noticed anything was really wrong. That’s when I knew it wasn’t sleep deprivation and my thoughts really began to scare me. So I did something I never ever do, I went to the doctor. It wasn’t a good experience. She rushed me as though I was holding up the line at a fast food drive through. The pills seemed to make things worse, so I didn’t take them. What helped me come back from the darkness was acknowledging that even though something was wrong and I was suffering from PPD, it wasn’t my fault. I also admitted to myself that motherhood and marriage are absolutely nothing like what we see on TV and it is impossible to be the perfect wife and mother. I gave myself a lot more slack. When I felt myself getting overwhelmed, I withdrew and was lucky enough to have a husband to step in and take control. I think being honest with myself was what really set me free to recover from my PPD. I acknowledged that there were some things I could change and others I couldn’t. As for waiting so long for number two, I think my husband and I had a lot of growing to do by ourselves and in our marriage before we were ready to think about having another child. My daughter was a surprise. Late last September, I conceived another surprise baby only to suffer a miscarriage in December. Our grief brought my husband and I together like never before. That was when we officially decided to have number two. I am prepared, but not afraid for number two. I have a wonderful new doctor who really cares about my family and takes the time to actually listen to me. That is my experience in a nut shell. Sorry it is so long.

      • Not a problem, everyone’s story is different. And unfortunately, so many women go through denial, for various reasons. I read a book (one of the few I’ve found written by someone who had PPD) and she said she was a pratical, organized person, and also had another child and had been fine for the first one.

        Trying to find a decent doctor can be hard as well. I got lucky that the therapist I got referred to by my gyn was a wonderful person. She didn’t put me on meds right away (though, I was fully prepared to, completely against my anti-medication philosophy), but in hindsight, she would have (another story).

        A problem I had with one of the doctors, though, was he asked me about my sex life. I promptly explained that I was tired, working, and oh yeah, a newborn son who also happens to be my first child. I think quite a few doctors bring that up automatically, and while it can help improve your mood, it’s isn’t a cure for PPD.

  3. This was a great post..wish my husband had been more supportive..we might still be married now if he had!

  4. Also, I think it is important to add that I did not revert back to my carefree self. I am still considered laid back by many, but I do get overwhelmed. Right after the miscarriage, I had a relapse. It seemed my husband and daughter couldn’t do anything right. I got pretty bad, but I knew I need to come clean with myself and ask for help. I hated myself and thought I was a horrible mother. Only the love and support from my family convinced me otherwise. It felt good to get it out in the open with my husband and I think that was why I bounced back quicker after the miscarriage. I was being honest rather than trying to deny anything was wrong.

  5. [...] Lost My Mirror [...]

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