#PPDChat Topic: Town Hall – Open Forum


An Unsung Hero: Dads


When a mother is pregnant, everyone showers attention on her.

“When are you due?”

“You must be tired. Have a seat.”

“Eating for two now! Have some more!”

Pregnant moms even get their very own parking spots at most stores.

But we often forget about Dad.

It is easy to do given that Dad is not the one undergoing a huge physical transformation in just nine short months. But he is still undergoing a psychological change. He is father. There is a new person growing inside his partner for whom he is jointly responsible.

Father.

A two-syllable word yet so powerful.

Any man can create a baby. It takes a real man to hang around and be involved.

Once a woman gives birth, the attention shifts to baby. Then back to her. In fact, one of the first things we hear even when celeb moms give birth is that “Mom and baby” are doing just fine. What about Dad? How is he doing? Did he faint at the sight of the needles? How IS he doing emotionally? Oh oops..wait. It’s not okay to talk about a Dad’s emotions. He’s a man. Manly men are brawny. They grunt, growl, pound each other’s chests, howl, and all that caveman stuff. Right? Right?

Wrong.

Dads today are involved more than ever.

I can’t tell you how many Stay At Home Dads I know on Twitter. Or how many Dads who do work and are actively involved in their children’s lives.

And let’s not forget our current Commander in Chief who is father of two young girls.

In 1994, a National Fatherhood Initiative began work to decrease Fatherhood absence in the lives of young children.

President Obama has been very supportive of this Initiative since taking office.

And this month, the National Fatherhood Initiative is challenging Dads to take a 30 day pledge to be a better Father.

You can also find Dad to Dad support at Twitter.com by simply utilizing the hashtag #DadsTalking. These Dads offer a large base of support, weekly chats, and a website. You can also follow them @DadsTalking.

There’s also a project called Strong Fathers over at Twitter.com. Their main goal is working with Dads and Kids in schools. Visit their website for more information.

Involved Dads deserve recognition. They deserve to be encouraged without being torn down, nagged, or attacked. Sure, he may not do things as perfectly as you think they should be done, or even the way you would do them at all, but at he is doing his best in his own way. Just as another mom does things in her house her own way, so does your husband/partner. Give him kudos when he helps out. Let him know how much you appreciate everything he does for you, for your children, for your family. It’s particularly important because according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million children are living without fathers.

It’s hard to provide recognition when struck down by a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Dads, know that if your wife is struggling with a Mood Disorder after a birth, she is grateful for any help you are providing. One day she will thank you for everything you did to help her recovery. She needs someone to listen, to help with daily household tasks, to let her know that she is not alone. She may need to sit in silence. She may need to rest. She may need you to watch the baby if she goes to therapy. Staying positive and listening with an open mind is one of the best things you can do for her.

Fathers of the world, thank you. Thank you for being man enough to hang around for the tough part. We, your partners and children, are eternally grateful.

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: @Daddysdown


Today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week post was written by my husband, Chris. He’s been through hell right along with me. We have both learned so very much from this long bumpy road. My husband has not only survived my own bouts with Postpartum Depression, he’s also survived his own depression and overcome addiction to Marijuana. He has been sober for two years and counting. I have watched him grow as a father, a friend, a person, and as a husband. Amazing does not even begin to describe his transformation. We have a long way to go and our marriage has been dashed against the rocks more times than we care to admit. But through it all, we have managed to cling to each other and God. Smooth sailing may happen once in awhile but we both rest confidently knowing God will carry us through anything else that comes our way. Recently, he has become more active in supporting fathers as they journey through their own Depression after the birth of a child or through their partner’s depression. Believe you me, he’s got some experience under that belt of his. He just started a blog to share his insight. You can visit him at Daddy’s Down. Swing on by and show him some love! And now, I give you my husband’s words of advice.

“Congratulations on your new baby!” “How’s baby?” How’s the new Mommy?”

Someone I know just had a new baby. These are the questions that I heard asked on Facebook. They are good questions. They are appropriate questions. The only thing I didn’t hear among the accolades and congratulations is “Dad, how are you doing?”. I understand everyone is concerned about this precious new life, so delicate and innocent. That baby needs the love and support. Mom, well she just sweated and toiled through 10 hours of labor, not to mention the nine months of swollen feet, cravings, morning sickness and whatever else that baby growing inside her threw her way. That Mom needs the love and support as well. But Dad often gets forgotten. He is an important part of the equation too. After all, who do you think is going to be there to provide the love and support that baby and Mommy need after all the well-wishers are gone?

Daddy is under a lot of stress to perform. He was probably raised to be a man and not share his emotions. If Mommy and baby are well, there is still stress and adjustment. But if Mommy is not well, and is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, the stress and adjustment can be magnified. Dad may be handling it all fine, or he could just be faking it. Making him feel like he matters is an important part of the support that he needs during this time. And if Daddy isn’t well because he is suffering from depression himself, as one in ten new fathers do, he is not able to be there for his family to give them the support that they need.

So, here are 5 things that you can do for Daddy to help him get through this time and to help him be there for his family.

  1. Give him a gift. It may sound small or inconsequential, but Mommy and baby have received all kinds of goodies; flowers, gift baskets, stuffed animals. It doesn’t have to be big, but something to help him know that he hasn’t been forgotten.
  2. Offer to babysit so that he can have some time alone with Mommy. Chances are since baby has been born that Mommy and Daddy haven’t had a moment to themselves. Daddy needs some time with his partner, if for no other reason but to have a brief moment of the way things were before his whole world changed.
  3. Take Daddy out for dinner or coffee. Daddy needs to know that his friends and family haven’t abandoned him. Usually family and friends don’t want to bother Daddy when he has a new baby at home. Trust me, Daddy needs to know that even though his whole world has changed at home, he hasn’t lost his friends too.
  4. Encourage him. Daddies need to know that they are doing a good job too. Hey, Daddy may be new to this baby thing, and it is really easy for him to feel like he doesn’t know what he is doing.
  5. Just ask him how he is doing. He very well may not be honest, but he will at least know that you care. Even if no one does any of the other four things, this is one thing that you can do that will go the furthest in making Daddy feel like he is important.

I remember when my first two kids were born. I remember the joy I felt knowing they were a part of me and that I was their father. I also remember feeling neglected and unappreciated by everyone else around me. While suffering from depression after the birth of my second child, this feeling only helped to feed the depression. I felt as if my entire world had been turned upside down, my friends had left me, my family had abandoned me and that I had lost my wife forever. I wish that someone had asked me how I was doing or had given me some time away with my wife or with a friend. It would have gone a long way to make me feel important and wanted.

Daddy has to be taken care of too. Part of taking care of his new family is making sure that he is taken care of. If Daddy is depressed or is struggling to maintain his sanity, then it can make it impossible for him to be there for his family. “Being there” doesn’t just mean physically, but mentally as well.

Let’s just make sure that Daddy doesn’t get forgotten in all of the excitement. His role is important too, and it is most often appreciated by everyone, but if that appreciation is not expressed it can leave Daddy feeling like he is not important. Let’s face it, we all need to feel important.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Let’s talk about sleep


"Sleeping Like a Baby" by NoVa Hokie @ Flickr

The person who coined the phrase, “Sleep like a baby,” clearly never had one. Granted, when babies DO sleep, they are peaceful. For all of what seems like two seconds. And then bam. Right when you hit the couch, they’re up again. Diaper. Feed. Burp. Walk. Rock. Glare at the pile of laundry skulking off to Vegas and wondering how you can hitch a ride without anyone calling CPS. Yeah, I think we’ve all been there a time or two.

I remember the early days. Blurring together, feeling like I had just closed my eyes only to have hubs waking me to inform me of Babe’s infinitely empty stomach. But I JUST nursed! No, it was about two hours ago. What the… really? So I’d jump roll slowly creep out of bed as I cursed the boob monster responsible for ripping me from my nest.

Sleep. My best friend in college. The reason I had no classes before noon my senior year. The reason my last quarter of college only had me in one class well after noon and only twice a week. I mean, really. Whole days of sleeping in – who is going to begrudge you that in college?

Once the kids are in school, I tell myself, I will take the first day off. I will put all three of the children on a bus at 635 a.m. because that’s what time it gets here, I will smile and wave. And then? Then I will Irish Jig ALL the way up the damned driveway, happily skip into my bedroom, reset my alarm for 2pm, and close my eyes. Think I’m kidding? August 5, 2012. I.WILL.SPEND.THE.ENTIRE.DAY.IN.BED. It’s on my calendar.

They say you can’t catch up on sleep. Once you miss it, it’s gone. No sleeping in on the weekend will recapture the sleep you missed out on because Junior decided 345am was an awesome time to wake up and play with trains. Or because Princess decided that 213am was the new 7am. Nope, you’re so screwed out of that time. I don’t know that I believe that. I always feel better after sleeping in on a Saturday.

So let’s get to just talking – how are you sleeping? Falling asleep easy? Feel rested when you wake up? Or are you struggling to fall asleep? Waking up feeling like you never quite got the rest you should have in the hours you were sleeping? Or are you not sleeping at all? Sleep deprivation does feed into Postpartum Depression. And Postpartum Depression? Yeh, it decreases your quality of sleep. Lovely. Oh, the havoc of sleep deprivation!

I will say this – prior to becoming a parent, coffee was not my best friend. It is now my holy grail. For without it, I would never survive.

How do you survive your sleeping issues? What works for you? Any tips for moms with PPD currently struggling with sleep issues? Toss ’em out there into Comment Land. I’m sure there are some Moms in need of suggestions!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The WE factor in Postpartum Mood Disorder Recovery


When a new mom struggles with Postpartum Mood Disorders, her absolute first line of defense and support is her partner/spouse. If she has no support from the person to whom she is closest, the chasm into which she finds herself opens deeper, wider, and threatens to swallow her forever. A new mom turns to those closest out of sheer instinct. It’s a bit like falling off a cliff and reaching out for anything you can grab a hold of as you fall. If there’s nothing there or it breaks under the weight, you continue to fall with an unrooted twig in clasped in your hands and dirt under your fingernails.

Oftentimes, loved ones are the first to notice something is not quite right with Mom. They notice the lack of sleep or the increased sleep. They notice the irritability. They notice she does not want to hold the baby or spend time with them. They notice the housework piling up and Mom curling up in the corner. But they do not know how to tell Mom. They do not know where to turn for help. They do not know what to do. Instead they stand there. Watching. Helpless. Sliding toward hopelessness.

This is why education about Postpartum Mood Disorders is so absolutely important.

Husbands/Partners are especially vulnerable because they are left picking up the slack if Mom does not improve or seek treatment. Often this may create resentment between a couple and harm the marriage, sometimes irreparably. A harsh environment of anger, irritability, resentment, and discord seeps into the home as a result. This very environment has nearly destroyed my own marriage. Even six years later it still persisted, it’s ghost inserting itself into every interaction and conflict. We are FINALLY dealing with this negativity head-on now.

How do you prevent something like this from happening? I wish there was an easy answer. But alas, there is not.

A Postpartum Mood Disorder sneaks into life much like a thief in the night. It steals things like happiness, sanity, serenity, and harmony. Evil little bastard, really. Thing is, just as with any other life event, you can prepare for its arrival even if it may or may not happen. It’s a bit like installing a security system with alarms to go off to keep you safe. Even if this is your first pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders including how to recognize depression in your husband/partner.

Up to 50% of dads with a depressed partner will experience a form of depression called Paternal Postnatal Depression. It’s real, it happens, and two depressed parents make for a very tense household. There’s yelling, shouting, uncomfortable silence, judgment, and misunderstandings which lead to very ugly places. Trust me, I’ve been there. I would not wish the past six years of my life on anyone. Not even the devil himself. It’s been worse than hell.

As you struggle to fight your way back, please remember that your husband has been right there with you. Hopefully he jumped into the trench with you instead of staying on the sidelines watching you battle your way down field as you kick PPD toward the goal of Good Riddance. But if he stayed on the sideline, don’t count him out. He might be scared. He might be depressed himself. Or he might be self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. And just as you have expected space in which to heal, he too deserves the same space in which to heal himself. The both of you deserve permission to not be okay if that indeed is what’s going on with you.

If your husband is not responding to any of your attempts to get him involved, it may be time to take him to a doctor /therapist appointment. He may have questions he needs answered. Or he may be unsure of anything he can do to help. Or he may be struggling himself. Regardless, many men find solace in hearing facts straight from a professional. It’s not personal, ladies. It’s just the way some men operate. The degree/training matters.

But what if your husband/partner disagrees with your choice of treatment? If your treatment option is working for you and has been discussed with a medical professional, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what anyone else things, even your husband or partner. YOU are the one who has to live with you. YOU know what works and what does not. Do not let anyone bully you into switching to a form of treatment you are not comfortable with or does not work. It is okay to shop around for a good doctor or therapist but do not use “I did not click with Therapist X” as a reason to stay away from help, as @postpartumprogr pointed out in yesterday’s #PPDChat.

There were quite a few ladies at yesterday’s #PPDChat discussing this very topic. But I wanted to open it up to those of you who read the blog but don’t/can’t make it to our Twitter Chats on Monday.

A few of the questions asked at Chat were:

Did your husband notice there was something wrong before you did? Did he tell you? How did he tell you? How did you react to this news?

What advice do you have for other dads/partners who might be struggling to figure out how to tell their loved one she/he needs mental health help? What approach worked for you?

What are some simple things Dads can do around the house to help Mom out after the birth of a baby? What were some little things your own husbands did for you that made a big impact?

Dads? What advice do you have for Moms? Anything we can do to try and help you out in the midst of all of this? Realize we are not capable of a lot when we are incapacitated by a Postpartum Depression but a little knowledge and insight goes a looooong way.

Please share any resources you have found invaluable not only for Postpartum Mood Disorders but for marriage as well.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ on this Tuesday!

(P.S. If you choose to answer this on your own blog, grab the above button and link it back to this post with your response! Thanks!)