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.
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.
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