Men and Postnatal Depression
Our pregnancy was a hard one. It didn’t start at the birth either, it started when Natalie began to get huge. Looking back at when my wife was pregnant she did carry a big lump about, and it was difficult. Difficult because she had back problems, and that led to me wheeling her about in a wheelchair everywhere that we went for the rest of her pregnancy. I didn’t mind it though, it was fun to wheel her around, and give her the occasional scare by pushing her too fast like the big kid I was. Nevertheless she had a lot of problems getting round because of her back, and it was safe to say it wasn’t easy.
The night before Alex was born we knew it was close. We were sitting in our bed watching Ice Age, we both love Disney, and it’s what we had on DVD to pass the time before the crunch came. I was on tenterhooks, ready to jump at the slightest mouse fart. She’s never been one for making a fuss about anything though. If it were up to her she would have just gone to sleep and forgotten about it, the less fuss the better for Natalie. Me? I was more wired than an ADHD kid with an intravenous coffee drip in his arm. I didn’t sleep much that night, we had even agreed to sleep on different beds because there came a time when I’d wake up dripping with sweat from the heat she gave out. That night wasn’t my most favourite. But luckily nothing happened.
She started to feel it when we were coming back from a trip into town, and she had asked me to just take the car and let’s go home and let me lay down. I wasn’t having it though, there’s no way I was having the slightest hint of a home birth, so off we sped to our nearest antenatal ward, her in defiance, telling me that it was nothing. We haven’t talked about it much but she feared all through the pregnancy that our wee boy wouldn’t survive. She had convinced herself that because of her back problems we were ‘just going through the motions’, she never offered much of an explanation to that, she mentioned it once or twice, but looking back, I expect she thought about that quite a bit.
Ours wasn’t straight forward either. Alex was coming out the wrong way, and, despite Natalie clinging onto me, and asking me to get a Doctor, because she thought she was going to die, whilst literally every sort of fluid was just dropping from her, the doctors told me that this is natural and we had nothing to worry about. They actually didn’t take stock until Alex began to get distressed and they whisked her into theatre to get herself a forceps delivery. I remember this heavy booted-scrubbed up man fiercely walking up to me, telling me that I can be with her in theatre, but if they say jump, I have to say how high? I remember being scared shitless, and the thoughts running through my head were terrifying. Will Natalie die? Will both of them? Fuck is going on here? Ever been under so much stress that you feel just numb? This was me. Numb to the core.
When Alex was finally born the surgeon dropped him on Natalie’s belly,
“Congratulations, you have a baby boy” as Alex was whimpering with his little newborn eyes closed.
Natalie turned to me first, looking at me, her eyes all pleading,
“Is he alive?”
I nodded and pointed to our brand new baby boy, coughing and very unhappy that he was being dragged out of his nice warm mummies tummy. The doctors went off to wrap him up and weigh him. I felt a great sigh of huge relief that day, my wife was going to be fine, my boy was going to be fine. Everything was going to be fine. Later that night, it must have been 4am whilst I sat awake, contemplating life, Natalie woke up and ordered me to go home and get some sleep. I was overwrought with so much emotion. I needed some sleep. I stopped by the consultants office where everyone was to thank them, and whilst I did that I literally broke down in tears, the events had been too much. After a while I composed myself and headed home.
The next week or so was hard, but inspiring and loving. Natalie was unwell, and I had great fun staying up to all hours with Alex bundled in my arms whilst I watched nonsense on TV. I started to notice something strange though, one day I had came into the house after being at the local shop. I was a regular Dad, buying nappies and milk and god knows what else. I came back and Natalie was looking at me, pleading at me, with tears in her eyes, the sort of empty look every husband dreads to see in his wife, when all you want to do is come and give her the biggest heartwarming cuddle and make everything better but know in your heart it wont. She had just had an argument, and it was enough to tip her over the edge. I hadn’t noticed the signs, I should have but I was too busy trying to be a parent. It’s tough at the start. Anyway, she took herself off to bed, closed the door and was in the midst of rejecting everything. Me, her child, her life, everything. I just sat in the living room, with a child sleeping and not knowing what the actual fuck to do. I was literally scared shitless.
So I did the only thing that I could. I phoned the antenatal ward at the hospital and told them, in my words what was happening, and that I didn’t know what the hell to do and I was lost and scared. The woman on the phone reassured me that I had done the right thing and asked to speak to Natalie. I went upstairs, didn’t tell her who it was and I said it’s the phone for you, it took a bit of convincing but she accepted, and after what seemed like an eternity her body language changed from closed, to very open, she cried her little heart out. I did too, it was an enormous relief to have her back on the same page with me. The hospital had booked her a midwife to see her daily, and she was a godsend. I’d personally name drop her in this article she was that brilliant, and needed thanking, but she gave Natalie the emotional support I couldn’t, she knew what to say and when to say it. It took a few days but she was back being a Mum again and trying her hardest. I, we breathed a sigh of relief.
Fast forward nearly 7 years and Mummy is Alex’s favourite, they get on like a house on fire. Sometimes Daddy gets the favourite position but it’s mostly Mummy, because she’s the one that sits there and entertains him whilst I lay bare our life for you guys to read, and that’s amazing, admirable, and beautiful. My wife has saved me on more than I’d care to admit, she’s always been the strength and the drive behind everything that I do, if it weren’t her I’d probably still be jobless and not putting my talents to use. I’m glad I was able to be there for her, at least once.
Men and Postnatal Depression