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#PNDAW16- The Father's side

I always felt Greg was scared about what I was going through. He blanked it out for as long as he could. Until he had to take note, something was wrong. That he thought I was being lazy or selfish. That he didn't actually understand what I was telling him. Although it is you that is suffering, your partner does also go through it with you. Whether they understand or not. They watch you change, they watch you shrink and withdraw. They may feel helpless. This is Greg aka Papa NICU, my partner of nearly 9 years and father to Elijah experience with PND/PTSD.

Greg's Story

I’m not saying I’m the perfect father but I will strive to do my best for Elijah. I see it all too often these days, people I know, friends, getting a girl pregnant and not dealing with the consequences or even trying to make their relationships work for the sake of the kids. I understand some people are just not meant to be together but that doesn’t mean you have to totally abandon your offspring, your own flesh and blood. Call me old fashioned but I believe in making it work. Once again I will reiterate that I am not the perfect partner. Heaven knows that me and Vicki have our disagreements. In some respects, we are very different people but as parents we stand as one.
I guess this all stems from my own childhood. My Mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and was hospitalized several times when I was young. This also added to her increasingly poor health which inevitably would end her life by the time I was 28. When I was the age of 10 my Father decided that this was all too much to for him and left Me (aged 10), my brother (aged 3) and my mentally ill mother. It would be the last time I saw him.

Fast forward 19 years and now it was me who became a father. But from the off things would be complicated. Elijah was born with a bleed on the brain and would require open heart surgery at Great Ormond Street. It was hard times. Probably harder than dealing with the loss of my mother. Not only did I have to learn how to be a father but I would have to watch this little fella go through hell and back, and not even know to much about it. He’s the bravest person I have ever met.

Again from the off, Vicki would encounter problems of her own. I guess at the time I was so focused on Elijah that I didn’t notice Vicki spiral downwards. It was obvious she was upset by the whole ordeal, what doting parent wouldn’t be? After the labour she was ill. She had lost a lot of blood. She was so weak they advised her not to breast feed and on top of that she had to leave hospital without her baby 8 days later. I really felt for her. This was the most depressing time for her.


When Elijah came home we had 6-7 months of being normal parents, granted his operation was hanging over us like a tonne of bricks but I felt like we could be us for a while until that time. We did have all the pleasures of being new parents, the night feeds, first smiles, the ever changing poop in his nappy but things seemed different. Vicki seemed different. Don’t get me wrong. She is a fantastic mother. But her personality had changed. She was so negative about everything. She believed he would not survive his operation. At times I felt quite intrusive on her and Elijah’s relationship but it was becoming clear that this was more than just circumstantial stress. She was depressed.

I get stressed or grumpy about things day to day but generally I’m quite an upbeat person. Sometimes it annoys people that I’m always happy, so trying to understand what was going on in Vicki’s mind was difficult for me. I supported her in the best way I could which was being a good partner and father. Maybe I wasn’t a good enough friend, I don’t know but she would tell you herself that I pulled my weight. She tried to talk to me about what was going on in her head a few times but I didn’t know what to tell her. She didn’t get her fairy-tale start to being a mother that she had longed for. She shut down all together after a while.

After one night in particular of arguing and then talking, we decided she needed to speak to a professional. She repeatedly said she couldn’t process things or come to terms with what had happened or understand why I didn’t care as much. I did. I’ve always kept my grieving to myself. She shut people out, friends and family alike. Despite everyone’s support, mine included she didn’t want to see anybody. It must have been a lonely time for her.

If you have never experienced depression it is hard to understand what a person is going through. Although we were having a hard time with the start to life Elijah had been dealt, I didn’t see things from her point of view. On one hand I found Vicki selfish and at times annoying. I didn’t really appreciate she was crying out for help in battling her demons.

She was diagnosed with PTSD. Finally, it was official. She got the help she needed and became more open, with me and with the world. She could talk about things like she never had before. Eventually she would find her calling in blogging about her experiences and helping people in similar situations. It wasn’t until I read her blogs that I fully understood the severity of her condition. I’m not saying she was a danger to Elijah or anything but the way she viewed herself and the demoralising self-loathing was upsetting to read. Although I didn’t really get it at the time I understand it a hell of a lot better. The internet blogging has almost acted like a cure and even though those memories will forever be with her, I can see the difference it has made in her. She is happiest when she is helping others. I can’t really put down into words how I felt. I’m just grateful the weight has been lifted from her shoulders.
We are 3 weeks away from Elijah’s 2nd birthday and he is no longer my little baby. He is my little boy. He is healthy, happy, funny, my god is he funny and life is good. We do activities like a normal family, long walks, swimming etc.’ and we are better than ever.

I don’t blame her for anything. People deal with things in different ways. I’m not advising partners of those that suffer with depression to get them blogging. What I’m saying is recognising the signs and offering your support is crucial to you helping with their recovery. There are people out there to help and advise but at the end of the day, in your house, with your family, the only way to beat this is by sticking together.

 
If you would like to donate to PANDAS (Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) to help them support sufferers of perinatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for further information and support. (Texts cost donation amount plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer's permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.)

To follow Greg aka Papa NICU on Instagram click here, or Facebook here.

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