Category Archives: Paternal Postnatal Depression

Just Talking Tuesday: Through the eyes of another

It’s dark. You are both collapsed into heaps, this time, you managed to make it to bed. You sigh, close your yes and mutter goodnight into your pillow.

It’s 234 a.m., your wife notes.

“Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

You lift your head and glare at the clock.

It’s 315 a.m.

You shove your face back into your pillow and silently scream.

Really? 46 minutes?

Sighing, you get out of bed to get the baby. Check the diaper. A little wet so you change it. Rock, sing, soothe. Nothing works.

Time to get mommy. She’s got the food.

You walk into the bedroom to wake her up. She sighs, shifts, and snuggles closer to the bed. When you do manage to wake her up, she snaps at you.

“But I JUST nursed! Did you check the diaper? Try to put him back down? I’m tired. I don’t want to…. ”

“Yes. Gimme a little credit. I’m not an idiot. I’ve tried everything. Clearly he’s hungry. You’re nursing so…”

“Dammit. I’ll be there in a minute.” She snuggles back into the bed.

You sigh, loudly, frustrated, knowing it will be a good 30 minutes before she even attempts to get out of bed. She will fall back asleep and you will have this conversation all over again before she finally gets out of bed, cursing you under her breath for interrupting her sleep.

She won’t mean it. She’s exhausted, just like you. And yes, you have work in the morning and should be sleeping but she won’t get to sleep much during the day either. Oh, she may rest, but it won’t be restorative. She’ll nod off while nursing, try to snooze when the baby does, but if the baby is up, she is up. And then there are chores. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. Cooking. Possibly other children to care for. Errands. Her job? Never.friggin.ends.

Your job never ends either. It’s hard for her to see that though. What SHE sees is you, walking out the front door toward other adults. Toward freedom. Toward conversation that involves more than a few garbled syllabic words at a time. What SHE sees is you, showered, shaved, dressed in something other than the same pajamas she’s now lived in for two weeks. What SHE feels is jealousy, hatred, sadness, grief. For the most part she knows it’s not rational. Somewhere, deep down, she tries hard not to feel this way. But she’s been moody for weeks now. Snapping at you for the simplest comment or action.

You bring home dinner. It’s not what she wanted but she loudly sighs and announces “It’ll have to do.” You pick up the baby and she watches your every move with him like a hawk, waiting for you to falter. You begin to falter yourself. Are you built for fatherhood? Are you doing things wrong? What if you’re screwing up your kid for life at just 3 months old? What if she never lets you really be a father? How will you ever learn what to do? Will your marriage survive? Where the hell are you?

What she doesn’t know is that as you walk out the front door every morning, your heart hurts. YOU are filled with jealousy because she gets to enjoy every moment with your son. She gets to watch him grow, change, and do new things every day. You mourn your fatherhood as you shower, dress for work. You fumble under her judgmental stares, worrying that your fathering skills are not up to par with her expectations. You’ve asked  a million times but you can’t for the life of you get her to tell you what her expectations are for you as a father. What are the rules to this ball game? If you only knew, life would be so much easier. After all, you’re not a mind reader.

___________________________

Today’s Just Talking Tuesday is cross-posted with The Postpartum Dads Project. If you’re a mom, please go visit the Postpartum Dads Project and share what you wish your husband had known about Postpartum Mood Disorders and parenting. What would have best helped you when you were suffering? If you’re a dad, share here. What got you and your wife through those dark days? How did you keep communication open if you managed to do so?

(Note: The Postpartum Dads Project site is down for the moment. Let’s all just share here for now and I will cross post when the site is back up! Thanks for understanding.)

Social support is key for recovery from a Postpartum Mood Disorder. The best social support starts at home with your partner. Get them involved and you’ve zoomed forward a zillion spaces on your recovery path.

Let’s get to just talking.

Joel Schwartzberg talks with Postpartum Dads Project about Paternal Postnatal Depression

40YROLD.COVER2An interview with Joel Schwartzberg, author of The 40 Year old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad, is featured today over at the Postprtum Dads Project. Joel opens up about his depression after the birth of his son, divorce, and how coming to terms with the dad he is helped him feel comfortable in his “dadhood.”

While male depression after the birth of a child may not have the same underlying causes as a woman’s depression, it remains an important topic to discuss. In fact, if mom is depressed, there’s a 50% chance Dad is depressed as well. Even with the increase in depression rates for new dads, they are still expected to “man up,” as Joel puts it. But this can be hard for Dad to do if he’s struggling with depression. Trying to function while depressed is much like trying to escape from quicksand. The harder you try on your own, the deeper you fall. It’s not until someone holds out a branch of hope that you start to make progress. Emotional health really is a whole family issue. The healthier a family is emotionally, the better they will do in life.

Click here to check out Joel’s story!

Ugly Babies and Postnatal Depression? REALLY?

Ok, so there are no words for this one. Maybe there are. But they are not nice ones. I, well, let’s just say some things have slipped out of my mouth in reaction to this doozy that I am not proud of at all. Justified, yes. Nice? Heck no.

Study: “Ugly” Babies and Postnatal Depression

Contact Information for Dr. Reiner Sprengelmeyer

My email to Dr. Reiner Sprengelmeyer just moments ago:

Dear Dr Reiner Sprengelmeyer:

My name is Lauren Hale and I am a two time survivor of Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder along with a Major Depressive Episode who now dedicates her time providing peer support and education to families who find themselves struggling with a Perinatal Mood Disorder or Paternal Postnatal Depression. I also blog – something I started doing after discovering an unplanned third pregnancy.

I read an article today regarding the recent research you did in which the cuteness sensitivity of young women, men, and menopausal women towards babies was studied. At the end of the article, it stated the researchers planned to study further to uncover if there was a link between the cuteness and Postnatal Depression. I have to admit that I find this vein of research very difficult to understand and I am hoping you would be willing to shed some light on how any conclusion of this research would end in a positive for women struggling with Postnatal Depression. I can tell you that both of my children with whom I suffered PPD are absolutely beautiful and we have constantly been stopped by strangers (and continue to be even now when they are older) to be told how beautiful our children are. How do you dare to even imply to a mother who is already grappling with tremendous guilt about her depressed state that it *may* have something to do with her “ugly” baby? If there is any sympathetic bone in your body, please do not continue with this research. The conclusions can only lead to negativity and harm. If you feel differently, I sincerely would like to hear your side of the story as to why this research is necessary.

Warmest,

Lauren Hale

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Hrmph.

A new project – just for DADS!

Ok, ok, so in the interest of full disclosure, I am co-partner in this project. Go check it out already!

ppd-dads-project-logo

New Support Site for Postpartum Dads Launches just in time for the Holidays

The Postpartum Dads Project plans to focus on collecting stories from Dads who have experienced depression themselves or have been with a partner who has experienced a Mood disorder after the birth of a child.

December 5, 2008 – With the goal of getting new Dads to open up about the havoc Postpartum Depression can wreak, the Postpartum Dads Project launches today. The project will also focus on developing a close knit community which would provide Dads a safe haven in which to connect with other fathers with similar experiences.

The project is an outcome of a partnership between Lauren Hale and David Klinker, both Coordinators with Postpartum Support International. Ms. Hale serves as the Co-Coordinator for the state of Georgia while Mr. Klinker serves as the Father’s Coordinator. In June, Ms. Hale featured interviews with Dads and their experiences with Postpartum Depression. Mr. Klinker was one of the Dads featured and this led to further discussion regarding the lack of resources available for Dads.
The Postpartum Dads Project will also be placing emphasis on Paternal Postnatal Depression. This can occur in up to 10% of all new dads. In fact, if a father’s partner is depressed, the father has a fifty percent chance of developing depression himself.

One of the primary goals of the Postpartum Dads Project will be to create a published volume that will include submissions collected through the website. These submissions will be categorized and designed to be read in between calming a fussy baby and watching the game. The development of the website will continue and many of the stories will be found there as well as insights from professionals, tips and hints from other dads who have been in the trenches, as well as the eventual addition of a Dads only forum.

A key addition to the website in the future will be a professionals only area in which professionals will have their own forum and other tools with which to discuss this relatively new area of support.
The Postpartum Project will begin by publishing interviews with Dads and professionals in the know such as Country Music Artist Wade Bowen, Michael Lurie, David Klinker, Dr. William Courtenay and has been granted permission to reprint the interview with Dr. Shoshanna Bennett’s husband, Henry. The Project will also be featured in an upcoming segment at The FatherLife.com.

For additional information on the Postpartum Dads Project, contact info@postpartumdadsproject.org or visit the website at www.postpartumdadsproject.org.

About the Postpartum Dads Project
Lauren Hale and David Klinker are both volunteers with Postpartum Support International. Lauren is very active in Postpartum Peer Support and moderates the iVillage Postpartum Depression Board, runs a local peer support group, writes Unexpected Blessing, a blog dedicated to pregnancy after PPD, and is a stay at home mom of three children. David is the Father’s Coordinator for Postpartum Support International and also runs www.postpartumdads.org. He is strongly dedicated to supporting Fathers throughout the Postpartum Period.

Contact:

info@postpartumdadsproject.org

Lauren Hale, Co-Founder

The Postpartum Dads Project
http://www.postpartumdadsproject.org
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Sharing the Journey with Michael Lurie

I first saw Michael Lurie on a Fox Morning program and immediately thought how wonderful it was for him to be sharing his story as it is very rare indeed to get a glimpse into the postpartum experience from a father’s perspective. In his book, My Journey to Her World: How I Coped with My Wife’s Postnatal Depression, Michael is transparently open and honest with the events as they unfolded. Familiar with his wife’s previous depressive episodes, her postnatal experience and his subsequent depression went well beyond anything either of them could have ever fathomed. I am honored to share his words with you here and sincerely hope that you will share them with the men in your lives. Michael has been extremely gracious and kind (we’ve had technical difficulties in pulling this together – our emails weren’t the greatest of playmates!) in completing this and I thank him for his patience. I also thank him for his bravery in forging such a valuable addition to resources available for fathers with partners suffering from postpartum depression.


Click here to purchase your own copy of
My Journey to Her World

My Journey to Her World by Michael Lurie (cover)

How hard was it for you to witness your wife’s struggle with Postpartum Depression? What were some of the emotions you went through?

Very difficult to heartbreaking. Some emotions I went through were:

Helplessness- not being able to make things better quickly

Disbelief- I couldn’t believe things hag gotten so bad

Anger- Angry with G-d for Kate’s illness. Anger at family and friends who I felt did not fully understand the severity of the situation

Fear- that Kate may harm herself and the baby

At what point did you decide to write your book, My Journey to Her World?

Following several months of watching Kate deteriorate, I started brainstorming my thoughts on a piece of paper t try and get some cathartic release. A I wrote down my thoughts, I realized that this was a story that needed to be told to others in order to help others and avoid the frustration I felt at not having a resource spec ifically aimed for men.


Has becoming a Father changed you?

It has given me a sense of unconditional responsibility and love to my children which will last the rest of my life.

What aspect of being a Father is the most challenging? The Least?

Most challenging- the constant feeling of responsibility for another human being who is totally dependent on you.

Least challenging- the ability to unconditionally love your child.

How difficult was it to accept your own experience with depression during this time? Do you feel it brought you closer to your wife and allowed you to better understand her?

It was very difficult to accept my position and I need it confirmed by a third party (doctor) before acknowledging it. It did bring me closer to my wife as I got a small ‘taste’ of what a sufferer of depression goes through.

What are some things you did to actively support your wife during her episode of Postpartum Depression?

I ensured that she was functional even at her worst point and asked her to do even the smallest of chores- e.g. help m e fold the laundry.

I acknowledged her feelings and let her release emotions without questioning whether they were rational or not.

I ensured that on a practical level, there was nothing to worry about

I respected her need at times to be alone

I made her feel 100% comfortable to tell me how she was feeling at any time of day or night

Just as women with PPD learn that taking care of themselves is important, this is a lesson that Fathers should heed as well. What do you do on a regular basis to feed your soul and ensure that you stay in a good place?

Nurture and develop your hobbies and interests. Remember that you are first and foremost an individual who needs to look after them self in order to look after others.

Did PPD strengthen or weaken your marriage? Do you feel that you both are in a better place now than prior to PPD?

It strengthened it as it made us more committed to one another.

It made me appreciate my wife more for overcoming it and being such a fantastic mother

I would not say we are in a better place now as we were in a good place beforehand. I would say we are in a different place now as we have the realization and experience of PPD and its devastating effects.

What do you find to be the best part of being a Father?

The privilege of providing love and care for a child and seeing them develop into fulfilled and content people


If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant father (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for him to hear?

Talk to people and if there is a problem – seek help. Don’t suffer alone.

Hey Dads – PPND Online Forum Just for you!

If you’re suffering from Paternal Postnatal Depression and are feeling all alone then I have some AMAZING news for you.

Dr. Will Courtenay has a forum at his website, www.postpartummen.com where you can post your concerns and get advice from other dads who have been where you are or still struggling. A great solace lies in finding others on the same journey.

Click here to go directly to the forum.

(and guys – if you’re interested, Dr. Courtenay has just posted at the forum about the possibility of doing a FREE support conference call if there’s enough interest. If this is something you think you’d benefit from, let him know!)