It’s not easy to love a woman with postpartum depression.
We know that it’s tough on the husbands of women with postpartum depression. The same goes for all of the boyfriends, fiances, significant others and baby daddies. Not only are they thrust into this new role of caring for a child, but they’ve had to watch the woman they love suffer, possibly for 9 long months followed by intense labor. And then postpartum depression on top of all of that?
It’s common for new fathers to feel completely helpless when it comes to pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding . If they could carry some of the burden for us, we know they would.
Here are some things that we wish we could say to the husbands of the women with postpartum depression.
We say it all the time, nearly everyday, in every possible situation. But this time, we truly mean it. Thank you from the depths of our soul. Thank you for giving us this incredible gift of motherhood, even if we’d like a refund some days. Thank you for noticing that something wasn’t right. Thank you for cancelling those dinner plans when you knew we didn’t want to go. Thank you for being in our corner. Thank you for completely understanding, without understanding at all.
We need you.
We act like we don’t need you, like we can do everything ourselves and say that we’d be better off on our own. But it’s not true. That’s the postpartum depression talking. We need you now more than you will ever know.
It’s okay if you don’t get it.
How could we ever expect you to understand what it’s like? We know you don’t get it, but we love that you support us anyway. You don’t need to say anything clever or important. Even though it might go against your nature as a man, you don’t need to fix us. It’s okay that you can’t make it better or make it go away. We don’t think any less of you for feeling helpless.
Your role is important too.
Dads simply don’t get enough credit when it comes to parenting. Moms are normally at the forefront of the physical, emotional and mental battle that comes with bringing up children. But we want our husbands to know that their role as fathers are just as important as our roles as mothers.
You may not be able to breastfeed the baby, but supporting us in doing it (or deciding not to do it) helps more than you realize. The way you play with the children when you get home from work makes us feel a little less guilty about ignoring them all day. Your ability to pick up the slack and not make us feel bad about it takes a huge weight off our shoulders. The truth is, we couldn’t do any of this without you.
We’re sorry for yelling at you.
Sometimes you’re just an innocent bystander and sometimes you’ve done something to deserve it, but we get angry a lot these days. It’s harder to control our emotions and it doesn’t take much to make us frustrated, angry, irritated or annoyed. Our crowded, heavy minds don’t even realize how irrational we sound most of the time. We only take it out on you because we trust you. We know that you can handle it and hope you don’t take it personally.
You are our safe place.
All day long we have to be strong and put on a fake smile. And when we finally see you, we let it all out because you are where we feel the safest. We are not afraid to be vulnerable around you because we know how much you love us. It may sound like we’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but really, it’s just emotional vomit. We need to get it all out to feel better, and thankfully you’re there to hold back our hair.
We are trying to save you.
We feel like we’re drowning and we don’t want to drag you down with us. We push you away, not because we don’t love you, but because we love you too much to see you suffer. There is no point in both of us being miserable, so instead we keep you at a distance. We are trying to push you further and further away from the dark cloud that follows us.
We really need that self care time.
It doesn’t seem fair because we know everyone enjoys alone time. After a long day of work, we’re sure you need some alone time too. It’s not that we don’t understand that. It’s that working a job and raising kids are two different types of work for you. But for us, it’s the same job over and over and over again, without escape. So being away from the constant chatter of our world is like taking a breath of fresh air after holding it in all day long. Having that time away to do what we need to do makes such a huge difference for us.
None of this is fair.
Why me? Why us? None of this is fair and we both deserve better. Our dream of having a family was so much brighter than this. If we could reverse time and re-do it, would it turn out any different? We don’t know why or how we got postpartum depression. And it wasn’t anything you or I did wrong. But here we are. These are the cards we’ve been dealt.
Please don’t let go.
Somewhere along the path to parenthood we got lost. We will eventually find our way back but it will be so much easier if we do it together. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, and we don’t want you to treat us any differently. We’re still somewhere inside of here and with a little help, we can be us again. We just need you to hold our hands and never let it go no matter what we do. Because we may do some pretty horrible things that we will come to regret (and please don’t remind us of or punish us for those things once we’re better.) Just stay and be here and listen and love us.
To all the husbands of the women with postpartum depression…
You are our heroes but we don’t treat you like one. We say demeaning things in fits of rage. We confess shocking intrusive thoughts and threaten to do things completely out of character. Perhaps you have a suicide hotline on speed dial or keep a closer eye on us these days. Yes, we are struggling hard to cope with our mental illness and yet, you remain our rock and our beacon of light. We love you for that. We love that you have our backs and that we will never be alone, no matter how lonely we feel. You are important to us, even if we don’t say or show it.