In a previous article I introduced you to my journey with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. As I wrote about my experience I realized that I never actually sat down with my husband to discuss how he was feeling during that time, what his thoughts were, how he feels when I have bad days now and his overall perspective on PPD & PPA. It wasn’t as if I didn’t care then, however when the dust began to settle, even just slightly, I think we were both just happy, and immensely relieved, to move forward. I asked my husband to sit with me while I captured his thoughts in a candid look at PPD and PPA from the other side. It’s important to realize that PPD and PPA do not just effect the individual going thru it but it impacts the entire family. Here are his thoughts, his words on what it was like being in the thick of it with me and what it’s like now.
What did you know about postpartum depression and anxiety prior to you experiencing it?
Nothing. I didn’t know anything. No one ever mentions the not so great parts of pregnancy. No one mentioned that this could happen after giving birth. I had actually never even heard about it. I think significant others should also be educated on what to expect. Awareness would have certainly helped me through this and it may have given me more tools to better be able to help you.
Describe the first few weeks home?
It was an emotional roller coaster. It was very intense. The highs of bringing home two new babies and growing to this brand new family and then the lows of seeing you crying and robbed of experiencing the joy of this new chapter and not being able to do anything about it. That was the worst part for me. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t call someone for the right answer and there wasn’t a manual that I could reference. You cried, often uncontrollably, for hours. I didn’t know why. All I could do was let you go thru it and sit next to you. I felt helpless. There was literally nothing I could do to help. I did my best to carry the weight of it all because I knew you couldn’t. I remember going to your sister’s house for a visit and it was like you weren’t there mentally. You were just sitting in one of the family room chairs staring out the window and then you began to break down. When your sister asked what was wrong all I could tell her was, “It just comes on. Just like that.” I just didn’t know what to do.
Is there any moment that stands out to you the most?
Yes in the hospital. When you were crying and you just weren’t yourself. You weren’t talking much and were just staring out into the parking lot and said you were going to have a panic attack. I was very, very scared. I didn’t know what was wrong. All I could think to do was get you the nurse and a doctor. I knew it had to be something serious when I saw the number of medical professionals come to the room.
How do you feel when I have a bad day now?
I feel much more informed than I previously did and I feel better able to work thru those days with you. Albeit it took going thru it to gain that experience but in many ways it made both of us stronger. I feel confident in your ability to cope with your moments and try to talk you thru it. I try and be as patient as possible and just let you work thru it and use whatever outlet you may need whether it is going for a run, just getting out of the house by yourself or writing. I think this blog has helped you work thru some of those emotions as well.
When did you notice that there was hope and possibly things may be getting better?
The scariest day by far was the day I had to return to work. It was about two weeks after the boys were born. We didn’t have much help and I knew you were going to be home alone with the boys. I was absolutely terrified to walk out the door that morning but then you looked at me and said, “I’ve got this.” There was something about the way you said it that gave me a glimmer of hope that you could work thru this. I remember checking in on you almost every hour. You did it because you had to, and I know it wasn’t easy and I know how hard your fought thru the crying spells, but I think you proved to yourself how strong you are.
What do you want others to know about PPD and PPA?
It’s important to know that your wife did not choose this. This is not indicative of who she is or who she will be as a mother. We have to step it up and be there as hard as it is. And trust me it is hard as hell. It is impossible for us to truly understand what you are going thru so all the more reason to be present. Be supportive. There isn’t a manual that tells you what to do so just be that rock and know that it does get better with time if you work at it. Be a team. You need to work thru this together because it does impact the entire family. –
This was not easy for him, I could see it. It brought us back to so many dark days. Days where I felt the light would never shine upon me again. Days where I hated who I was and wondered if I would ever feel like a whole person again and not this hollow shell. He saw me thru it all. He stepped up to the plate big time when I couldn’t and I didn’t want to. PPD and PPA don’t define you by any means but when you are in the thick of it, and when you have bad days, it sure can feel like it does.
Awareness is one of the most important words used in the interview with my husband. There needs to be much more of an awareness to this underserved topic and I mean from both the health professional side and the family perspective. My husband and I never talked about it when inwas pregnant. No one ever talked about it with him. How could that be? How could that happen? Being informed is key here. I was extremely lucky to know right when it began what was going on. So, SO many women do not and chalk it up to the blues. Talk to her. Hear her and listen to her. Do not take silence to mean she is ok. Hold her hand. Show her that you will walk this path with her. Sense her and anything that may seem off. When I meet people or if any of my friends tell me they are expecting one of the first things I make sure I mention to them is, “If you feel off in any way whatsoever; if you just don’t feel like yourself do not wait. Speak up and call your doctor.” Some may say I’m nuts for saying that right off the bat (I do say congratulations first don’t worry) but I will do whatever I can to save someone from going thru what I did. It is a critical message that needs to be heard.
For all the significant others out there holding it down and walking side-by-side with her thru this you are my heroes.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.