Combating the daddy blues: A Singapore dad's story
Ten percent of new fathers get postpartum depression. A father tells of his experience and gives you advice on how to stay patient and strong
I will never forget that lump in my throat when the nurse stopped me mid-way. I stared hard, looking for hints of trouble or traces of worry on her smiling face. I could not help but wonder if she was holding back some bad news as I looked into her droopy brown eyes. I wasn’t even convinced when she beamed, “Congratulations!”
For the first time in my life, I understood what people meant when they said, “I saw my whole life flash before my eyes,” for I practically lived an entire lifetime in those couple of seconds. It was a roller-coaster of sorts: Anxiety—What if something goes wrong? What if the baby is not well? Excitement—I’m going to be a father!
Peering into my baby’s eyes for the first time, I felt another giddy rush of emotions. Silent questions such as “How will I know?”, “But, what if? and “ Why am I not madly in love with him yet?”, crossed my mind as I looked down at the precious bundle sleeping in my arms. And the wives say that we Dads have it easy with regards to child delivery!
While it’s true that we don’t have to go through the physical traumas that mummies do, but just like our leading ladies, we too undergo postpartum blues.While we try our best to keep the new Mom happy, while we attempt to load up those additional tasks in our already impossibly hectic daily grind, it’s only natural that we start to miss out some of own our personal “needs.”
At one time or another, we may suddenly feel at a loss. It is not uncommon for a new Dad, (despite his good-natured support to the wife, and his genuine love and concern for the new baby) to feel over-burdened, stressed-out, sad or sometimes all three.
You may start to feel drained and angry, once you realise that you are suddenly thrust into a new set of responsibilities. In spite of yourself, you may feel that you have completely lost your freedom; you feel guilt, insecurity, etc. This scary feeling of losing track of yourself could be overbearing, you might feel let-down and angry as you are taken out of your comfort zone.
Welcome to the world of Dad’s postpartum blues, my dear friend. While I wish I could offer you a simple solution to combat it, truth be told, the only way you can solve this, is by learning to deal with all your emotions. First recognise that it’s all right, and normal to be in awe of the responsibility of parenthood and to be perfectly honest, rather terrified by it.
If you feel really miserable, don’t be afraid to take a few days off work for a while, take time to chill out, and only think from one day to the next.
Talk to your wife
My best advice is to talk it out with your wife. Just as your wife needs you, you also need her. Constant communication, mutual showing of selfless support, trust and love, can go a long way, in both the marriage and in parenting.
Hang in there because being a father is truly an amazing experience!