Dads Speak Out on Postpartum Depression, Part 5: Diving In To Help

postpartum depression menWelcome to day 5 of our weeklong series on the father’s perspective of PPD. Today we welcome Rick Brannan, husband of Warrior Mom Amy Brannan:

After Ella was born in May of 2007 our house seemed too small, so Amy started scouting for a new house. It wasn’t too long until we found one we liked. We put our house on the market and received an offer almost immediately. We made an offer on the house we liked and it was accepted. In October 2007 we sold a house, bought a house, and moved.

When Amy started to complain about always being tired, I figured it was just the extra stress and work of selling the house along with the move that was catching up with her. It wasn’t until the day we moved that it began to dawn on me that something more was wrong.

Amy and I ended up back at the old house to finish cleaning up. She was tired, but it had been a long day so it seemed reasonable. We got some take-out Chinese food on the way to the house, so there we sat, in our empty house, eating Chinese food. Only Amy was so tired, she couldn’t eat. She couldn’t even talk.

I was concerned — it didn’t seem like her — but didn’t really know what to do. So I finished up while she rested, we picked up our last things, and then went back to the new house.

Looking back now, we should’ve known something more than tiredness was going on. But life was busy. It was easier to focus on what was coming up instead of what was actually happening.

Right about the time that life was hitting the bottom and we didn’t really know what to do, I did what in hindsight was probably about the worst thing I could’ve done: I left home for a week on a business trip.

When I returned, I realized that Amy was exhausted. Not simply tired, but exhausted.

In retrospect, much of this is a blur. But my clearest memory is one day when I called Amy to tell her I was coming home from work for the day. As I was walking in the parking garage to my car, talking with her on the phone, she suddenly slipped into quietness. She didn’t hang up, she just stopped talking mid-sentence. I was completely shaken. It was the longest drive home I ever had. When I got home, Ella was safely napping in the crib, and Amy was in a deep sleep on the couch.

Outside of the state of the love of my life, who spent every ounce of energy she had every day on just getting up and making sure Ella was fed and had clean diapers on, the worst thing for me was that I had no idea what to do. Like most guys, I’m a fix-it guy. That is, I’m a fix-it guy in the sense that when something is wrong, I just want to fix it and get on with life.

The crazy thing about being the husband of someone with postpartum depression: You can’t just fix it. There is no fix. There is only work.

When I say there’s work, I mean the best thing I could do was to dive into doing whatever I could around the house — cooking meals, cleaning, grocery shopping, and taking care of Ella — so that Amy could just “be.”

I realized relatively quickly that I couldn’t make Amy get better. And Amy didn’t have the energy to take the steps that she so wanted to take. I had to walk beside her along the way, encouraging her, helping her do what she could, when she could.

Counseling? Awesome. I’d go, but she had to find the counselor and make the appointments, not me. Psychiatrist for medication consultation? Great, but again, she had to do the legwork, and I’d make sure we got there. I woke Ella up in the morning and got her ready for the day. I came home from work at lunch to make sure everything was OK, and would put Ella down for her nap. I’d put Ella to bed in the evenings too. We worked together.

In hindsight, I can say that this was my way of “fixing” it: smooth over whatever bumps I could and get the obstacles out of her way. Amy had the tough work: She had to learn what “getting better” was and how to get there. Compared to that, the household chores and other things I tried to do to clear the way for her to get better was easy.

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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  1. I had never really thought of exhaustion as being a symptom but you are so right-when I was battling the hard days I had no energy to do anything else. My husband is a fix-it guy too. There are times I wish that his helping was enough to make me better just to pay him back for the support he's given me. You're a warrior dad for sure.

  2. Looking back at the months after my daughter was born, my husband did the exact same thing. Your wife and I are very lucky women to have men like you in our lives.

  3. My wife had our first baby 8 months ago, her second who is now 5, born 3 months premature but is a wonderful bright happy cheeky little boy. Her anxiety began shortly after her premature birth. We have been married 2 years in June and it did take her quite some time to get back to normal despite having anxiety and depression. She is on medication for this, however 8 months post birth and she is still suffering from exhaustion headaches lack of concentration and is so forgetful,poor her. After engaging in researching the net, reading forums and blogs I am pretty much certain she has ppd and post anxiety disorder. We went to the gp the other week, she was referred to do blood tests for anaemia diabetes etc which have all come back clear. Her medication has been upped and we have got to go back In 2 weeks.
    Is the next step therapy now as she has now come to terms with her illness and has accepted it. We now just need some help. Like you rick and most men I too am a fixer and also feel hopeless. I have pressured her to do things she doesn’t agree with or want, but I know feel and understand what she is going through. It has been reassuring f to read these posts and hopefully in time we too will be stronger than ever. It certainly won’t break us up because I will not let it.

    Any help more than appreciated thanks


    • Damian – Therapy would be a good next step. If you can, find a therapist that specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression. If she is taking medication, you may also want to consider setting up an appointment with a psychiatrist who may be better trained to help manage her medications.


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