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When Postpartum Depression is a Family Affair – Part 1

April 24, 2015

Shortly after the bursting incision incident, I started to notice that my wife was struggling.  She cried.  A Lot!  Seemingly for no real reason at times.  Other times she would cry because she thought she screwed something up with the baby.  Things started getting dire when she would cry because she thought the baby would calm down when I held him, and not when she would hold him.  After all, she was home with him all day and she’s his mom.

At first I chalked it up to baby blues.  But 5 weeks later things kept getting worse.  When the baby smiled at me first, and she got mad at me, and cried again, I knew something was not right.  I started researching Postpartum Depression (PPD).  I had already read into it because we had an amazing prenatal nurse tell us about her experience with it so I had some idea of what to look for.  I found a good questionnaire that can help determine if it is PPD.

One night I sat her down and started asking her some questions.  During that discussion she finally came out and told me “I think the baby hates me.”  She meant it, she believed it deep in her heart.  This wasn’t a cry for attention.

My heart stopped.

I couldn’t imagine the sadness, loneliness, and pain in feeling that your own newborn hates you.  My heart broke for her in a million pieces.  I hugged her, and held her.  All of her behavior made sense now.  There was no doubt in mind at this point that she was suffering from PPD.

I called her doctor first thing in the morning and got her an appointment to be assessed.  They asked her a series of questions and determined that she should be put on antianxiety medication.  Reluctantly we agreed.

Within a few weeks she had an amazing turn around.  Most of her anxiety was gone, she was enjoying the baby, and was largely back to her old self, as much as she could be with nursing 85 times a day and getting little sleep.  For the time, it was a miracle cure.  Eventually, the miracle went bad.  But for now, things were good.

For all dads to be, it is absolutely CRITICAL that you watch for signs of postpartum depression.  They can range from anxiety with lots of crying like my wife to straight out psychosis.  I think the most important thing to do is watch for a significant personality change.  We all change after having a child, but it should be a gradual adjustment, not a sudden change that leaves you thinking “I don’t even know this person anymore.”

Your wife will have absolutely no idea that something has changed in them.  They will not see it. You have to pay attention and YOU have to push to get them help.  Call on help from her friends, parents or doctor if you suspect PPD.  Most importantly though is talk to her to understand her worries.  During that talk, for the love of all things good, do not judge her.  Do not dismiss anything.  I could have easily said “that’s ridiculous, of course the baby doesn’t hate you, it’s a baby!”

Had I done that, instead of feeling like she was understood and about to get help, she would have sunk even deeper.

In Part 2 I talk about how circumstances lead to my own PPD experience and my first ever brush with an anxiety disorder.

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  1. You said, “For the time, it was a miracle cure. Eventually, the miracle went bad.” What happened?

    • Sorry, I just saw this. i have a follow up post planned, but in short, the meds turned us into zombies. We were anxiety free but we were sort of just floating through life. When eventually came off of them, we both had nasty side effects that took a good while to go away. We’ve been off them for several years now and I don’t think there are any long term effects. If I had to do it again, we would still probably use the meds, but I would have gotten off of them sooner,

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  1. When Postpartum Depression is a Family Affair – Background | Dadcapades

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