David’s entire life turned upside when his wife experienced postpartum depression after the birth of their son. His personal story takes an honest look at how PMADs (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) impact the entire family.
I walked into the apartment after seeing an NBA game to find my wife sitting on our couch with an interesting look on her face. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but then a little pair of booties was sitting on our coffee table. “What’s that?” I asked. She responded in her normal coyness “what do you think it is?” “What’s that?” I asked again, the sound of blood rushing to my head. Tears started to form in her eyes as she said “We are pregnant.” I couldn’t get my headphones, jacket, backpack off quickly enough. I felt like Will Smith in Independence Day after he took down one of the alien ships.
Fast forward almost 9 months later, and there we were on the labor floor in a hospital with my wife finally getting some sleep as we wait for our little man to arrive. I had that moment of clarity, that calm before the storm, that let me know we were going to be ok. Seeing my wife sleeping, breathing peacefully, on her side, I knew we were going to get through whatever came next.
That next step was one hell of a curve ball. Everyone says to watch out for the “Baby Blues.” I have two nieces and a nephew, and I was around my sister a lot right after the birth of her first two. I saw the blues, I saw the mood swings, I saw the pain, at least I thought I did. When I started to watch my wife go down that path, I thought I knew what to do. Wow was I wrong; it was the most helpless feeling. In our relationship and friendship, I could always say or do the right thing to make her smile, to pull her off the ledge; however, this time I was a deer in headlights. I had no idea how to care for the woman I loved, the mother of my newborn son, and to make matters even more difficult, I had a child that relied on me and her for everything.
I saw the blues, I saw the mood swings, I saw the pain, at least I thought I did. When I started to watch my wife go down that path, I thought I knew what to do. Wow was I wrong; it was the most helpless feeling.
You try to dig your feet in to stop the descent but that didn’t do anything; complete free fall and all you can do is try not to lose everything you love. So many things are going through your head is my son eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Is he sleeping too much? Am I holding him right? Do I need to buy specific laundry detergent? Are the bottles he is using good? And then worst slips through, what about SIDS? How what are the signs? Will I be able to save him? Even going through this list, you see how long it took me to get to the question, how is my wife?
It is always darkest before the dawn; you have to hit bottom before you can full recover. There are so many clichés that can describe getting worse before it gets better and that was my experience as well. Some people it takes a while to get down to that level; we got down really fast. In the span of three weeks, I saw my strong, independent, Wonder Woman of a wife have the clouds block her out almost completely. There were times that she was still “herself”, but they were few and far between. It took us three weeks to hit the bottom and almost three more months to pull ourselves up to where our heads were just above the water (we weren’t even close to being out of the pool yet). It was a constant battle that came in waves; waves that hopefully kept an upward trajectory. The down hours and days were always harder because they followed a moment of clarity, a moment of a normalcy.
… is my son eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Is he sleeping too much? Am I holding him right? Do I need to buy specific laundry detergent? Are the bottles he is using good? And then worst slips through, what about SIDS? How what are the signs? Will I be able to save him? Even going through this list, you see how long it took me to get to the question, how is my wife?
My son is almost 11 months old now and we are approaching my first Father’s Day. He is a little person that is pulling himself up on everything in sight. The best sound in the world is hearing my son and wife laugh together. In those darkest times, I didn’t think laughter was ever going to be possible. Today, I take joyful sound for granted. It feels like a different lifetime and at the same just yesterday. PMADs affects both partners in a relationship, obviously in VERY different ways.
The Motherhood Center helped my wife get through a very dark period in her life. The Motherhood Center also helped me get through that period too; whether it was me helping my wife with her daily mindfulness exercises or just having a place to chat with other people going through a similar situation.
Happy Father’s Day to all those mommies out there. It is because of you, that we get to have a day!