Natalie’s Postnatal Depression : From A Dad
It came as a shock when my wife told me that she was going to be pregnant. Truth be told I hadn’t even thought that I could impregnate her. I always thought I had low sperm count because my Dad did, but I had never got it checked. This is probably why.
The raw emotions were running through me at the time she had announced it. She had greeted me with a lovely smile as I came home from work. I always knew I was in for a treat when Natalie was grinning from ear to ear. She kissed me. It was one of those long kisses that said a little more about how she was feeling than I was. Delight was surging through her body.
“You’re going to be a Dad” she told me as she had drawn her lips away from mine and composed herself.
Well. I actually didn’t know what to say. I’ve always wanted to be a father. My life’s dream was to have a family and settle down and be happy. I don’t think I’ve wished for anything else. The work stuff has always come as a second to me. I was forever watching the happy Dads twirl their sons around on fields in moments of euphoric awesomeness before slapping us with some sort of family product. TV adverts were always like that. Plucking at our emotions. And here was me. On the way to be a Dad when I never thought I could. I was so happy I could almost cry.
We had a difficult birth. Alex had to be delivered by forceps and Natalie had one of those Spinal taps. I can’t remember much about the birth because it was very traumatic. At one point I thought my beautiful wife was going to die. Her hands were clasped onto my shoulders whilst fluid was dripping from her body as she stood up shaking and quivering from the trauma she was in.
“I’m going to die, honey. I’m going to die” she whispered into my ear.
The surgeons did nothing either, they kept reassuring me that this was all a natural process and that everything would be fine. Until of course they decided to check her stats. And they whipped her into theatre.
Everything went well without a hitch of course. All done, and a beautiful boy was born that would spread light and joy into our hearts, and two parents suffering from PTSD. Any person that tells you birthing a child is straight forward I would argue with until dawn. It wasn’t easy for us.
Natalie has always been a strong woman, but really she’s a delicate soul. When we took Alex home I could see the fear in her eyes and the acknowledgement of responsibility that we had just taken upon ourselves. I could see fear and confusion in her eyes. It was new for me because I always looked to her for the answers.
Natalie’s Mother means well but I doubt she realises even to this day the bag of worms she let out. On the first day we were home she told Natalie that she’d damage our child’s spine if she keeps holding him that way. Natalie’s Mum being who she is just wanted to be in control and thought nothing of what she said to her. However, Natalie has a crushed vertebra in her spine and knows all too well the difficulties that spinal damage can cause. The result? It caused Natalie to utterly reject herself and her connection to Alex.
I remember that day I felt like crying. I felt like giving Natalie a hug and cry with her. Because it was what she wanted for her entire life. To have a loving husband and a child. She was like me in essence. I could see it in her expression, her body language. The guilt, the complete rejection of her being. The once strong and confident lady I knew was now a jittery and unconfident mess. It was hard. I immediately knew something was up when I asked her to hold Alex. How she refused to. How she told me that she thought he looked more comfortable in my hands. I asked her to talk to me, but she wouldn’t. It was really painful. He was “ours” not just mine.
As I excused myself to go to the bathroom when Alex was having a little nap I secretly took the phone up with me. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I had never been in this situation before in my life. I felt utterly helpless. So I phoned the maternity ward in our hospital. They asked to speak to her. I handed the phone over to Natalie and told her that someone wanted to speak to her. She accepted it
The confused stare she gave me turned into one of tremendous grief. The lady that she spoke to must have been saying the right things because the tears were coming thick and fast from Natalie and she was nodding her head in acceptance over what the ward Nurse was telling her. She was emphasizing with her. I felt a sense of relief but I knew what I did over the next few days would matter. I needed to be on my toes.
Luckily my job at the time were pro Paternal employers. They allowed me two weeks off to watch my son begin his life. It was lucky really because Natalie didn’t cope well at the start at all. I dread to think what would have happened were I not there.
The following day we had a visit from the Health Visitor. These were people that came in and checked that everything was OK with your child and you. As Natalie wasn’t doing so well the maternity ward had given the Health Visitor strict instructions to visit us every day. It was a godsend really. She knew what to say to Natalie. She even told her to send her Mum to her if she says anything like that again. Because we are the ones in charge. Not her. She knew that was empathy, that there were deeper feelings but sometimes we have to massage on the surface emotions to dig into the deeper ones.
The two weeks through my Paternity leave progressed but still Natalie was very reluctant to have anything to do with Alex. She would, but only if she had to. I think for the first two weeks I handled all the care whilst Natalie sat there and felt ill. She was also suffering internally from the scarring the forceps delivery had left. She just didn’t want to deal with it all. She wanted to escape.
I can remember sitting up until 2am with Alex whilst he was cuddled asleep into me watching rubbish on TV with dimmed lights. 2am was his last feed and I was determined to let Natalie sleep. Sleep, if anything was the best thing for her. I was worried. Worried about my work and how it would be for her on her own.
Time passed and going back to work eventually rolled up on me. I had to go back. Had to earn a wage to provide for the three of us. I was scared. But, she was still having regular visits from the people that mattered. I remember coming back on my first day, I remember having my child thrust in my face because she had had enough. Yet she had connected with him. Truly bonded for the very first time with her Son. She was happier than before.
As time progressed the internal abandonment passed and she stepped into her role as fully fledged mother. She really took on that role too. She’s a lovely, lovely Mum and Alex completely adores her. He’s 6 now and we’re 6 years away from her pregnancy. She’s had so many classic bonding moments with Alex I’ve lost track. And it’s safe to say that what existed at the start is no longer there.
Even as I write this she is downstairs playing games with Alex whilst he’s on his Easter break. She loves it!
Hi. I’m Raymond Baxter and I exist as The Relationship Blogger. I’m a mental health activist with a long, and cruel lived history with Mental Illness. I’m a survivor and I no longer have these issues. I managed to recover through long and deep introspection of the bad choices I’ve made in my life. I now write about these and hope that people can reflect on my work and use it to their own advantage. I also have a “better yourself” section which you really need to check out! It’s a work in progress