I try not to feel guilty about having postpartum depression, but sometimes I can’t help but feel guilty about putting my husband through it. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for him. Husbands, the fathers of our children, are often left out of the postpartum depression conversation. Our men can be just as clueless about PPD as we are before it runs us over like a mac truck. They must feel just as lost and helpless as the women they love and now share a child with feel. Most want to help but have no idea where to even begin.
I’ve been asked the same question by so many moms I know. They want to know how my husband was able to “get it.” Some of these moms who also suffered from PPD had husbands who didn’t immediately understand what they were going through–how could they not fall in love or bond with their baby right away–why a trip to the gym or nail salon couldn’t alleviate their tears and anxiety. I remember a few things about my husband during that time. First, he agreed to come to a therapy session with me. This proved to be extremely helpful because he could listen to a trained professional specializing in what I was going through. Second, my husband is a “researcher”, so I’m pretty sure he educated himself about PPD on the Internet. Third, I made him read the information here and he followed it. Lastly, he just tried to be supportive without ever forcing motherhood on me or judging the fact that I wasn’t capable of embracing it immediately.
For these reasons, I thought it would be helpful to write about my struggle with PPD from my husband’s point of view, so I interviewed him. Here are his responses. He promised me he wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t sugar-coat. He assured me he would give real, honest, detailed responses. Breathe Jen. You will get through reading and reliving this. Read more
The Morning of Date Night:
Mommy just has to make it through the morning routine–get tiny human dressed, fed, and dropped off at school. Then it’s just pick up from school, nap time, and movie in Mommy’s bed while she gets ready. Should be easy and smooth sailing until tiny human’s uncle picks up him up for a sleepover.
Mommy thinks maybe she will have the energy for some post-date night sex. Mommy makes mental note to remember to shave her legs and moisturize.
The Afternoon of Date Night:
4:00PM – Wake up from light nap
4:15PM – Slightly panic as I walk to get son from nap/quiet time because monitor shows
he is not in his bed anymore.
4:16PM – Open door to see quiet time was not so quiet.
4:17PM – Silently scream and curse because son looks like a mime as his arms, face and
hair are covered in white from a mix of cream from the sunscreen tube and
moisturizer pump he took off his dresser.
When I first launched my blog back in January, I made an agreement with my husband. He knew I was writing but he wouldn’t try to find my blog or read any posts until I told him I was ready. I had always planned to talk to him about everything right before I decided to go public. He fully supported this. He wasn’t concerned. He didn’t ask questions. My close friends and sister? Not so much.
If you know me, you know that there is no bullshit. No sugar-coating. Just open, honest truth. I’m not afraid to share, tell you how I feel, and I own my shit and who I am. I always planned to bring this to my blog. As I started writing my truth about motherhood, marriage, and sex, in came the frantic text messages and phone calls from various friends and family members.
Does my husband know what I’m writing about? Does he know how I feel about our sex life? Do I talk to him about what I write for the world to read? Jen, are you okay? Jen, are you going to do something impulsive like have an affair or run away? Jen, should we be concerned? Jen, do we need to come down to the South for an intervention?
Valentines Day is so different when you have been with the same man for over 12 years (married for seven). I remember the first time I went to visit him at school. We were newly dating and it happened to be Valentines Day. Oh the pressure! Do I get him a gift? Do we even acknowledge it’s Valentines Day? Is he going to get me anything? If he does, is he into this more than I am? If he doesn’t maybe he’s not into this at all?
It turned out to be the perfect Valentines Day for a new couple. We had dinner as if it was any other night, but when we got back to his apartment, he surprised me with homemade molten chocolate cakes. Um, a guy who not only cooks, but can make his own molten lava cake? I probably knew I was going to marry him right then.
I’ve always hated Valentines Day. I never had a proper Valentine. I swear I was jinxed by my 8th grade boyfriend. We will just call him asshole. Asshole dumped me the night before Vday when I was in 8th grade. And to make it even worse, my so-called best friend knew it was going to happen, went with me to buy him cards and a gift, and didn’t tell me. What a bitch! And what an asshole! Who dumps his girlfriend the night before Valentines Day? I had already picked out my outfit. It was going to be my first real Valentines Day. Of course my life was over. I couldn’t show my face at school the next day. My mom made me go anyway and I hated her for 48 hours.
I would like to preface this blog by saying that my husband was a rockstar last week. I was away for five days and he watched our son without many breaks. He had to stay home from work to take him to the doctor for a stomach bug. He got stuck at home with him during a snowstorm. He was a champ. Maybe I should also say that these are things moms do all the time, things I do all the time (my husband travels for work), often without any recognition…
Anyways, we all know that moms and dads are different. I always understood that men and women are different species. We all know the saying, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus,” blah blah blah. But I never realized it more than when I became a mom. Yes, my husband loves our son. Yes he takes great care of him and is a wonderful dad, but it’s just not the same as being a mom. It never will be. There are things our husbands, the fathers of our children just don’t get, no matter how many times we try to tell them. They never will, no matter how badly we want them to. I am constantly reminded of this fact by some of the dumb shit my husband says from time to time. As a way to slowly accept this fact, I’ve decided to write some of them down. Let’s start with three recent ones.
Husband: “You don’t need to have a glass of wine until after we do bath and put him to bed.”
Me, inside my head: Seriously? Just because you can’t multitask…I’m more than capable of drinking with with one hand and helping you bathe and get our son to bed with the other.
My husband did something extremely nice for me today. Not that he doesn’t do nice things for me, but I’m actually a bit shocked over this one. My father in law offered us two of his Panthers football tickets last week for today’s playoff game. It’s a big game. They only have to win one more to make it to the Super Bowl. Let me first specify that we are New York Giants fans. But since we live here and the Giants well, basically sucked this season, we will support the home team. Ok, not the home team, the team that plays where we live. New York is still home. Of course I couldn’t find a babysitter for a Sunday afternoon game. I just assumed that husband would go to the game leaving me to babysit our small child because that’s how it always works. He decided that if we both couldn’t go we would give away the tickets. Fair enough…works for me!
So as we sit at breakfast this morning with my father in law and inform him of our decision, he gives me the death stare, as if I”m some asshole wife preventing his son from attending a football game that he barely even cares about. I did tell husband he should go if he wanted to go and I told father in law that. Not good enough! Wow, I didn’t know that built in babysitter for sporting events was part of my job description too. But then my husband suggests I go to the game! I wanted to say “Yes, I’ll go,” immediately. But doesn’t that make me such a bitch?
Here I am not wanting my husband to go without me but I have absolutely no problem going without him, while he stays at home to babysit. OK, I’ll go! Of course I asked him about 50 times if he was sure it was okay. And he said, “Yes, of course it’s okay!” He reminded me that I haven’t been to any games this season in the new seats and that he always gets to go while I stay home to watch our son. None of the “do what you want” bullshit! Whoa! I should also now specify that my husband is a nicer human being than me. Even when he drives me nuts, even when I complain or bitch or moan, he is still a nicer human than me. So I went to the game and didn’t look back!
I have a very involved husband when it comes to parenting. A definite hands-on dad. I can go out for a girl’s night and he does our son’s dinner, bath, and bedtime routine no problem. I can leave for a weekend and he can handle it. Of course by the time I return he is handing our tiny human back to me, but I do the same thing when he travels. And he travels a lot for business. And yes, I know it’s for work but it’s still a break. Husband, you still get to leave and completely check out, even if you are in some city in bumblefuck Kansas I have never heard of.
Back to being a hands-on dad, this is extremely attractive. He is 100 percent capable. All men are 100 capable of this, some just choose not to be. I have mom friends whose husbands can’t be at home alone with their children, thus making it difficult for their wives to enjoy the occasional night out with the girls or even a getaway. I don’t get that. I never will. It wouldn’t work for me. I need my nights out and trips away like I need air to breathe. They keep me sane. They make me a better mom and wife. Sometimes I just need to leave and take a break and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Every mom should be afforded that opportunity.
But lately, my husband is confusing me. When we talk about girls’ nights out or trips or me taking a solo trip to NYC in general terms, he just says, “You can do what you want.” When we talk about him going to play golf or watch football with the guys, I always say, “Great, have fun! You should make plans like this more often.”
I’m not sure how I’m feeling right now or how I should be feeling. Angry? Anxious? Guilty? Resentment? Fear? Exhausted? Yes, definitely exhausted. Maybe that is the problem when you’re a mom. The divide between how you are actually feeling and how you should be feeling or how you think you should be feeling.
For the past few nights, my almost three year-old has not only fought going to sleep, but he has woken up screaming like clockwork right around midnight. It doesn’t help that we are on vacation and he shares a tiny room with my husband and me. He sleeps in his own bed next to ours.
And who do you ask wakes up with the little one? Well, his mom of course! I actually physically wake up the minute I hear him, like I have some internal mom radar. Where is my husband you might ask? Oh, he is next to me, sleeping soundly and snoring even louder. In creeps the resentment and anger. I want to scream at him, “HOW COULD YOU SLEEP THROUGH YOUR CHILD WAKING UP CRYING???!”