Five years ago this happened. I thought, “Oh, fuck. What have I gotten myself into?” The look on my face says it all. The postpartum depression hadn’t yet kicked in and I was trying to wrap my brain around this new reality. What I didn’t know was that I was about to undertake the most arduous and difficult rite of passage of my life. Parenthood.
I’m sure other parents have gone through this, and it’s not a topic we talk about a lot. Postpartum depression has gotten a lot of press in recent years (as it should), but depression impacts dads as well. As men, we tend to avoid these kinds of topics by and large; which is foolish, but that doesn’t make it any less the case.
So let’s talk about parenting with depression…
Postpartum anxiety, devastating prenatal diagnosis: What to expect when parenthood isn’t what you expected
The thing is, no one really knows what you should expect, when you’re expecting. More often than not, the things you experience as a parent are not what you expected. Sometimes they’re beautiful. Sometimes things are not so wonderful — Postpartum Anxiety. A devastating prenatal diagnosis. An abortion… So, what do you do when pregnancy or parenthood isn’t what you expected?
Before I had kids, I was really, really happy. I didn’t exactly party like a rock star, but I had all the free time in the world. I worked 40 hours, had a great boyfriend, vacationed every chance I got, and spent office time Googling fun drinks to make after work. Then I missed a period, found out I was pregnant, and everything I thought I was dissolved.
Tom’s birth experience was drastically different to what I’d been hoping for and expecting. Instead of a calm, quiet drug-free home birth, I ended up being whisked to hospital in an ambulance, and having every intervention I’d hoped to avoid. Immediately following the birth, I knew that my physical recovery would take a while. What I didn’t realise was how long it would take to recover mentally.
Like a werewolf under the light of a full moon, women with “hysteria” were transformed by the powerful force of their uterus, causing an excess of emotion. Interchange that moon for a baby, and you’ve got postpartum depression — a woman’s disease.
What I learned from postpartum depression: don’t suffer in silence, don’t think that your feelings are synonymous with failure, and recognize that post-partum depression can occur anytime in the first year after delivery.
Cris went from deleting emails with fluffy kittens to crying over those same damn kittens after giving birth to her son, and has yet to return to “normal.”