My husband, Jimmy, went back to work full-time when our daughter, Mae, was six weeks’ old. In the US, this is considered lucky. For me, this wasn’t long enough.
When he went back to work, many issues collided and I became super anxious. Every morning, I would beg him to stay home. He’d plead with me to get out of bed and try to make me take a shower, and then he had to leave, waiting until the last absolute minute before he had to head out the door. He felt guilty every morning when he left for work and hated checking in with me because he never received a positive report, yet he kept checking in.
Jimmy and I talked about PPD while I was pregnant. We even had a plan in place. He would help me seek help from our midwives. I asked for him not to tell our families. I would see a therapist. We knew what we would do. But then, we were both in it and sleep deprived and we didn’t recognize what was happening. You just keep thinking “everyone goes through this” and things will get better, soon.
Jimmy said he would measure the weeks by how many times I said “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” On good weeks, maybe I only said that phrase a few times. On bad weeks, that’s all I could say.
I can only imagine how scary that most have felt, the threat of being left alone with a colicky newborn. He didn’t even know what it meant; me going to a hospital, or just not being able to go on at all anymore. I don’t think I knew what I meant, either. I just knew that most days I felt like I was going to explode or shut down or just stop being. Every next step felt impossible.
But we made it through.
I got on medication, and Jimmy gave me the gift of sleep. He took care of Mae at night for over a month so that I could recover. Letting me sleep was one thing that he could do, but I couldn’t do it because of my crippling anxiety. It felt horrible, closing my eyes and just listening to him work and work with Mae while I stayed wide awake. Eventually, though, sleep got easier.
We’ve grown so much as a couple, as people, and as parents through this crisis. We’ve seen each other at our best and worst, and we both stayed.
Jimmy saw a new level of patience in me, even in the worst of my anxiety, and I saw the same steadfast patience and loyalty that he’d always had be tested, and tested, and he stayed with us. He put his head down and did the work, and he opened his arms and held us.
Related post: Rage: The Scariest Symptom of PPD