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Welcome to the PostpartumMen online forum. This is the first and only online community for men with concerns about depression, anxiety or other mood disruptions after the birth of a child. We hope this is a comfortable place for you to find information and get support from other dads to help in your recovery. Please be aware that PostpartumMen reserves the right to delete any post that we believe is inflammatory, derogatory or hurtful. We want the men who post here to know they’re safe from judgement when revealing their very private concerns. I will try to visit the forum as much as possible. However, this forum is primarily intended to serve as an online community of self-help and mutual support. If you have a concern about a posting, email me at DrWill@SadDaddy.com. Please understand that I am unable to respond to individual emails regarding mental health concerns.

Depression and anxiety after first child
« on: September 03, 2020, 01:28:35 PM »
Hi all.

My name is Jonas, im 35 years old and from Belgium. I came across this website and forum some days ago when searching on the internet for some hope and explanation.

My wife gave birth to our first child 6 weeks ago. Before that we went to fertility treatment for 3 years and then suddenly we got pregnant all naturally against all odds. Most of the pregnancy went well, but during week 33 my wife got preeclampsia and therefor she ended up giving birth week 37 - 3 weeks early. My newborn daughter was 3,2 punds. It was an exhausting week with no sleep in the days up to the birth and also in the days after, because my wife was sick. Luckily my wife and daughter are both perfectly fine now.

But im not... I have always been a perfectionist, a control freak and a person not suited for an unpredictable life. I have never been good with sudden changes of life events and I have managed to plan and control my life for me to be calm and secure, without any big surprises. I have had problems with anxiety before - mostly in connection with my work and the need to perform perfectly. I have always been able to cope or to get rid of my anxiety by quitting my job or taking a long brake. In life if I was not comfortable I always changed something, eliminated the source or removed myself from it.

But that is not possible now. I can't stop this or press pause. I can't just quit. My daughter is born and she will be here no matter what. 4-5 weeks after the birth I startet getting that same anxiety and panic attacks, but this time 10 times more powerful. I was starting to fear that my daughter was not well, was not growing fast enough, was not sleeping enough and that she would not develop correctly. Every time a new thing happen I search the internet for if its normal or how it should be and I can not relax until its like that. I get panic attacks if my daughter wakes up because she is supposed to sleep. I can't relax when she is sleeping, because im afraid she will wake up. I get anxiety and panic attacks when she cries, because I think she's not well. Im afraid that she's not eating enough and not gaining enough weight. Im afraid to try and calm her down because im afraid of failing and not be able to calm her. Every time she makes a noise I get anxiety attacks. Im only calm when she's sleeping heavily for several hours.

These thoughts have left me in a depressed and anxious state of mind. The every day life of a father makes me anxious and my anxiety makes me depressed. For the last week I had to leave my house and sleep at my parents house because I was a mess and got panic attacks. I couldn't be in my own house because my daughter was there.

What causes a big part of my depression is giult towards my wife. The feeling of leaving my wife behind and alone with our daughter is killing me. The thought of her sitting at home alone with our crying daughter. The feeling of me failing and not being there to support her. I have cried several times the last weeks - every time when thinking of how Im letting my wife down. I see her in my mind getting no sleep and trying to calm down our crying daughter. If I sent her a text message and she's not responding within 30 seconds I get anxiety, because I think my daughter is crying and my wife is struggling to calm her down all alone.

My wife is 100% supportive and knows how I feel. She was actually the one telling me to go to my parents house to sleep, so I could calm my anxiety and relax. Also she said it was easier for her to take care of our daughter without having to worry about me at the same time. She tells me that she has everything under control and that she is okay. That she has the support from her parents and my parents. That she is not even close to breaking down and this is all how it should be with our daughter. That it os totally normal. I have never doubted my wife and she seems 100% sincere, but my depression and anxiety tells me that she is only saying these things to calm me down. I fear that she will break down because of the lack of support from my side and because im sick.

Im not sure how I will get through this. If I will ever be able to cope with being a parent - with all the worries that goes along. I tell myself that it will be better when my daughter gets older, but im not sure. I hope so.

Thats my story and why Im here. Maybe some of you a tried something similar and can guide me. If not I hope that if someone is having the same struggle as me they can see that they are not alone.
Re: Depression and anxiety after first child
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2020, 07:11:13 AM »
Jonas,

First, congratulations on your daughter.  Being a father is the most rewarding and challenging thing you can ever do.  Second, you must believe me when I say you are not alone on how you feel and the struggles that you are facing being a new father.  I am a firm believer in that the fathers that struggle the most are the ones that are a bit more of a "control freak" when it comes to organizing their lives, etc.  Not a control freak in controlling others but more in the way things are planned out, organized, etc.  When a child arrives it completely destroys that "controlled lifestyle".  You are now the one being controlled by a cute, sweet, adorable, crying, no sleeping, pooping bundle of love. LOL.  I was the exact same way!  So you are not alone!

You must take a step back and take a deep breath.  You are a good father because you care so much.  You came to this site because you know in your heart that you don't want to think this way.  Like I have mentioned, it takes so much more of a man to realize you are not where you want to be and do something about it versus just keep doing what you're doing and "tough it out".

I am not a licensed therapist so my input is strictly from my own experiences so take it from that perspective.  You may consider some anti-anxiety medication to help get you through this challenging time as a new father.  You may also consider some therapy.  For some reason you have developed a false belief system and I did the same thing.  At times I still do.  What I mean by this is that when events happen in your life (could be very simple things) you automatically go to a negative belief/thought.  For example, you said you text your wife and if she doesn't reply within 30 seconds you get extremely anxious, etc. because she may be struggling with your daughter and something bad may be happening.  You came to this belief based on NO true facts to support it.  You automatically went there.  Who knows, they may of been playing together, napping, etc.  Does that make sense?  So many times when we assume things are bad, they aren't.  You told us that your wife is doing great and she seems to be enjoying being a new mom but you doubt she is telling you the truth.  You doubt her because of the negative beliefs you place in your head with NO true facts to support them.

Being new parents will have it's great rewards as well as make you question what the heck were we thinking starting a family...again, all normal thoughts.  However, if you don't change the way you are thinking then you will not enjoy being a father.  You will look back with regrets.  Just enjoy the ride!  You don't have to have all the answers.  I promise you..you will not have them.  If your daughter is healthy, is eating, sleeping at times, etc. then you and your wife are doing all you can to care for her.  Now just mentally enjoy being a father and it will all work out...

I truly hope this helps you.  You will be just fine. 

Best,
rssooner