No matter what the status is of your relationship with your partner you have the responsibility of being the best you in that relationship. Especially during the newborn phase of your child’s life.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy your partner is vulnerable to PPD (Postpartum Depression) a condition that affects more than three million new mothers every year. It is a mood disorder that where a new mom can feel hopeless, anxious, and overwhelmed. You might see unusual crying and anger. She might have a persistent doubt that she can take care of the baby and in very serious cases may have thoughts of harming herself or the baby.
The most important thing you can do as a new dad is to listen to her and be supportive. Supportive also means listening. If she tells you she is feeling this way, do not get angry at her. And most importantly, don’t try and diagnose her. You learned about this on the internet, you are not a doctor now. Only a doctor can diagnose her and only a doctor can fix her. Your role is to change diapers, feed your baby, and keep them safe. And be supportive of your partner.
Dad’s can get PPD, too. So be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings. If you feel like your adjustment to fatherhood is not going well reach out for help. Talk to your friends, especially friends that have kids. Talk to your parents, your siblings. If you are going through this adjustment alone then reach out to someone. And if you think you are showing signs of PPD then reach out for professional help.
There is also just the run of the mill stress that comes with being a new parent and that’s the experience I can share with you. No matter how much you prepare for a new baby, you will never be fully prepared. Preparation will make life easier, but this is my first kid and sometimes I feel like I only have one shot to get it right. There are many things I have learned to do over the years. At first they are difficult but with practice and repetition I usually get the hang of it and life’s a breeze. Deciding to be a parent is deciding to tackle one new challenge after another.
Sometimes knowing the magnitude of responsibility I undertook can be overwhelming, but I started reaching out early to friends and family. I listen to them share their experiences and add their insights to my repertoire. A lot of things in life are trial and error, and the fear of failure can be great at times. But I have to remind myself that I am not incompetent, I can figure things out and I can ask for help from other people who have been through this before.