Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Postpartum Depression for Dads? Com'n Man!

Heard about this article in Newsweek on talk radio the other day. Just had to look it up and read it for myself.

It's written by Joel Schwartzberg, a columnist and PBS producer. He writes of his struggles as a new dad. Please, read it for yourself then see if you share the same reaction.

Basically he takes about 800 words to say he's selfish.

"When a child was added to my life, it was as if something enormous and coveted was subtracted in return, and the transaction left me reeling, like someone who'd just gambled away his soul."

"...not 48 hours after we returned home with our boy, a truth dawned on me with shocking force: my life was gone. Movies, sleeping, long showers—all gone. We became slaves to this tiny new thing living in our home, and there was no going back."

You learn that a few visits to a psychotherapist helped him discover that what he was actually dealing with was male postpartum depression. SERIOUSLY?!?!? Since when did men experience hormonal and physiological changes after NOT carrying a baby in their bodies for 40 weeks that led to uncontrollable depression as Schwartzberg describes?

As you read further you learn that his wife calls him out.

"My wife seemed to consider me selfish and irresponsible. She was tired, she'd say, of parenting both of us. Even when the bickering ended, the wounds never healed. Our marriage took a fatal hit."

Okay, timeout here. Your wife takes priority over everything. If you can't get your marriage straight, you ain't gonna get parenting straight. That's the struggle any new dad can attest to. Your family is growing and the newest member requires constant attention, so how do you maintain your relationship with your wife? Being just as needy as the newborn yourself won't do it.

In the end the writer comes around and realizes his son needed him all along. Took him nine years to realize it! But the sad part is he just dismisses the whole affair by claiming to simply have been a "lost" father.

Now, as a father to a 16-month-old son, I can relate to some of the writers feelings. Late night feedings and sleep deprivation, the constantly dirty and wet diapers, spit up covering every horizontal surface, a house that isn't always as tidy as it once was, etc. These things can wear on you and cause frustration and fatigue, but there's a name for it. It's called parenthood. It's not postpartum depression! It's called fatherhood, which means you now have a responsibility not only to your wife, but also to your son.

So, as you can see I'm a bit fired up by this article. What are your thoughts? Can you relate to the writer? How did you handle the transition to fatherhood?


Someone Famous Once Said...

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated,
let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does
in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right."

-- Bill Cosby