We all know what Postpartum Depression is. It is a concern of many pregnant woman all over the world. But did you know that 1 in 10 dad will have PPD! 1 in 10 men will experience depression where 1 in 7 women will after the birth of a child. While I knew that men where no immune, I never knew the statistics were so close.
This is a topic that is so close to home. My husband had Postpartum Depression after Scarlett was born. We were so carefully watching to make sure that I would go to the psychologist at the first sign of PPD. I never thought that it would be Jim instead of me. Luckily, he was willing to answer a few questions for me to help shed light on this. To give you a little background, my husband is a US Marine. His unit was one of the first to invade Iraq in 2003. He has PTSD. Most days it never comes into play. Just like I have to manage my bipolar, he manages his PTSD. I will give you both his perspective and mine for each question that I asked him.
Q: When did you realize you had PPD?
J: When Raina started working retail at night. Scarlett would start crying and no matter what I tried I could not comfort her.
R: I had noticed that he was having trouble when Scarlett would start crying. He would get to where he couldn’t handle it. Don’t get me wrong, we all have our moments. This was the first clue that I needed to keep an eye out.
Q: How did you feel when Scarlett was born? And after she was taken to the NICU?
J:When she was born, I was happy she was finally here with us. Sissy was in the NICU when she was born so it was not so much of a big deal. It was nice that we had a NICU at the hospital where she was delivered and we did not have to go to the nearest children’s hospital right away.
R: We were both excited for her arrival, even if it was early. He was my rock. From delivery to Scarlett going into the NICU. He was my anchor in the storm. I would not have fared so well in the weeks after her birth without his support in those early days.
Q: What factors do you think contributed to your PPD?
J: Not having someone here at night to help. It had been 10 years since I had taken care of a newborn on my own. Trying to remember what worked and what didn’t.
R: I think his PTSD did play a role. In addition to having a newborn who was up every hour to hour and a half, we still had to keep up with our oldest daughter as well. Starting over with a new baby after 10 years is a challenge in itself but with the added stress of her medical conditions and it was a perfect storm.
Q: What finally led you to seek help for your PPD?
J: When I realized that it was affecting your work.
R: I had been trying to get him to speak with someone for a while. The incident he speaks of was the point where I gave him a ultimatum Either he seek help on his own, or I would set the appointment for him and walk him in to it. I was at work and had just went to lunch. He texted me to call him and texted “911.” So that instantly put me on edge. I called him and he said she wouldn’t quit crying and he couldn’t figure it out. We speculated if it was her conformer as it was still very new to her and us at the time. I worked everything out very quickly to leave and go home. He then shifted gears and told me not to come home. At the time, I was working retail in a major craft store. I was working approximately 50 hours a week. We had bills to pay since I was off work for some long prior to birth and after.
Q: What do you think helped you overcome your PPD?
J: Having you here on weekends and nights finally to help. I was able to have someone to talk to about every day life or if I needed to take a minute, you were here for me and that was nice. Also, talking with a counselor helped me not only with my PPD but my PTSD.
R: I agree that helped tremendously. As well as talking to a counselor. We would butt heads regularly but he knew I always had his back.
Q: Do you think having a wife with mental health issues herself, helped or hindered you seeking treatment? Why?
J:Both… you knew what signs to look for and are aware of changes in my mood right away. At the same point, if I am upset it can trigger your anxiety and then we have other issues.
He really just said Bye, Felicia to me. I asked if he wanted to add anything else and he said no in his own way. Having the experience I have helped me to see what was happening with Jim. He did not want to admit it, but it was there. With my anxiety and his, we would butt heads regularly, but I would make sure that when we cooled off that we discussed what happened and how we felt. I think that no matter what disagreement we have, even now, talking it out once a little time has passed is key to making a relationship work.
Most men, including my husband, do not want to admit when they have a moment of weakness. Just as we encourage women to speak up when things are not going well after their bundle of joy arrives… we need to make sure that the dads out there do as well.