Today in our new fathers’ series, I’d like to welcome Cortney Sluiter, husband of Warrior Mom Kate Sluiter and blogger in his own right at Tasty Buttered Toast. Aaaaaand, it just so happens he became a father twice over this week with baby number two, so congratulations!!!! Here’s what Cortney wants to share about being a new father trying to navigate through your wife’s postpartum depression:
Why are you so emotional?
What did I do to set you off?
How can I help?
Why don’t we have fun like we used to?
These are but a few of the questions that I would ask myself almost on a daily basis. I had heard of the baby blues or PPD, but never really knew what it meant or what to expect. During check-ups the doctor would ask how things were going and the question about feeling down or out of sorts would come up. And for the most part, we figured we could handle it because “these things are normal” and “typically only last a week or two.”
Famous last words if I ever heard them.
Little did I know that we would battle through this “week or two” for the better part of six months or more. I don’t remember how long after Ed was born that I told Kate she should call the doctor about what was going on in her head. I knew she wasn’t her typical self, and nothing I could do or say was ever right or good enough.
I am the type of person that wants to make “things better.” I would ask Kate what was wrong and I would try to fix it. But no matter what I tried or how I tried it, it was never the correct thing to do and usually made her more upset than she was before I started.
For the first time in our marriage, I truly felt helpless. I was supposed to be the strong one. I’m the man … it’s my job to protect and fix things. But this time, I couldn’t do it, so it was time to turn to the professionals for help with PPD.
Within about a week or two of Kate attending a couple therapy sessions, I could see and sense a difference in her. The old, happy Kate was starting to come back. Through medication and her therapist, she was able to work through many of the issues that brought her to that dark place. She was able to manage and control how events affected her. Walking around on eggs shells was less the norm and more the exception. There were good days and bad, but the highs were higher and the lows were less impactful.
I quickly learned that my place was no longer to try and fix her emotional rollercoaster, but to simply be a quiet, attentive listener. Not to judge or offer advice on how to get better, just listen. Shortly thereafter, our communication as a married couple improved. We were able to talk more openly about our days and about our thoughts on Ed’s daily routines and how what we felt was important as parents. It was like a whole new beginning to our marriage, even though we were more than four years in.
Knowing what I know now, I feel that I’m better equipped should she backslide with the arrival of Charlie [their new baby!]. I don’t feel that it will come to that, but if it does, we are ready. We have become more of a team than we were when we started. While PPD was a hefty setback at the time, we can look back at it now as just a bump in the road.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow in our weeklong dads’ series!
Photo credit: © Dmitry Pichugin – Fotolia.com