Is Depression Common For New Dads?
After you have announced to friends and family that you will be welcoming another member to your family of two, everyone is happy. A few days after that, they check on the mom-to-be and baby. How is mom doing, what is she eating to give more nutrients to the baby, is she getting enough sleep, and a few more questions about the baby as well.
With all of this, the soon to be father can start to feel sidelined. I think that is pretty much normal right? Since he is not the one carrying the baby inside of him, he’ll usually end up doing everything else until the baby comes out.
This very same scenario is what my friend Dave is experiencing.
It was a Friday and I was looking forward for some quality time with my kids and husband, Gerry. I was shutting my computer off and was about to leave when I, for no reason, looked at Dave, my copy editor. He just recently got married and was, I think, almost always the first to leave the office on a Friday.
Since they’re still on their “honeymoon” stage, Dave is constantly on his phone or computer, checking on new places that he and his wife, Mary can explore. From time to time, he shares with me stories about the trips they have taken. I sometimes envy them because I do not have that kind of quality time with Gerry. Our special moments are spent in front of the television enjoying two bottles of beer, or an ice cream for me, a gin and tonic for him. Haha.
This is just our usual weekend routine and we love it. However, we still try to go out, sometimes with the kids or other times, with our friends. Gerry and I both know that we need to socialise so as to gain a different perspective courtesy of our friends and of course, for us to maintain good relations with them.
Anyways, back to Dave. I called out to him and asked him if everything’s alright. He nodded, and said that he was just going to stay a bit in the office, and will eventually head home. Since I still have a few hours to spare before Gerry picks me up. I decided to invite Dave for a cup of coffee in one of the coffee shops nearby our office.
While waiting for our coffee to be served, I did not even have to ask again because Dave quickly opened up about what’s on his mind. It turns out, Dave and his wife Mary have just welcomed baby Michaela in their life. I congratulated him and asked him how everything is at home.
Dave said that both baby and Mary are doing okay. He’s glad that Mary’s parents decided to stay for a few weeks to help them out, since they feel clueless on how to raise their baby.
I told Dave that it’s a continuous learning curve and can be different with each kid. I again asked how is he doing, and he was silent at first, then said that he’s doing okay.
I can sense that Dave is struggling with his new role. I then said that it’s okay to tell someone that he’s stressed, and that having a baby is not really all it’s… he gasped.
It seems my observation was right, and so I told him that it is completely normal for new dads to be stressed. Even if they’re not the ones who went into labor, and delivered the baby, they are entitled to feel anxious, and stressed. I know all of this because Gerry experienced it.
Gerry kept it to himself about the stress he had been experiencing. He eventually shared with me that when he comes home, he feels he is obliged to take the baby away from me so that I can shower, cook dinner and attend to the other kids. Sometimes he likes the routine but when he had a long day at work, he’d rather just relax, watch TV with a beer in hand.
It took a toll in our relationship because we would breathe on each other’s necks! Long story short, Gerry and I sought help, and it turns out, he was indeed stressed and depressed. During those times, we were told to always keep our communication lines open, especially when it comes to sharing responsibilities about the babies. We were also asked to set date nights without the kids around, to serve as a breather for both of us. It worked and now, we are doing great with our two kids.
Even if Dave did not tell me that he is in the exact same scenario, I gave him that piece of advice. I know men, at times, finds it hard to open up about what they are feeling, so I just let Gerry’s experience speak for itself.
Dave felt relieved about it when we said our goodbyes. I also made a mental note to look for the doctor that counseled us through with that episode in our life because she might be able to help him.
As for me, when Gerry picked me up from work, I gave him a big, long hug and told him how much I appreciate him. He doesn’t understand where the affection came from, but I know he likes it very much!