After the birth of my daughter — my first child —I took comfort in the months of prep, from decorating her room to planning out our daily routines, to ease my fears of parenting. One thing I hadn't counted on, however, was the surge of postpartum hormones that sent me spiraling into an abysmal hole of darkness for more than a year of my daughter's life. My life. When I look back now, I see all the things I wish my partner had done for me postpartum, without me actually having to ask for help.
Diagnosed with Postpartum Depression (PPD), my "baby blues" became more than I could handle. I wasn't "weepy," I was suicidal. I knew enough to talk to my doctor about what I was going through and, thankfully, he prescribed medication and suggested immediate counseling, which I took and did. However, my partner didn't quite know how to navigate my rollercoaster of emotions and, honestly, I don't blame him. It was a really dark place I'm thankful to have come out of.
Even if you aren't diagnosed with severe PPD, those days and weeks and months adjusting to life with a new baby are as challenging as they are draining. You might find yourself wishing your partner would pick up a little more slack. Only, you don't want to have to ask for the help because, if you're like me, you hope your partner will just "get it" and do what needs to be done; no words or exchange of requests required. Doesn't that sound glorious?! However, if you have a partner similar to mine, he or she may not know what you want and can't necessarily win, no matter what they do. Communication is hard, you guys. If I could go back, here are some things I wish my partner had known to do postpartum, without me asking for any help. After all, if mommy's happy, everyone's happy.
Wake Up When I Wake Up
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it would've been nice to have my partner wake up with me for every feeding. You know, just to show a little solidarity. I only attempted breastfeeding a short time thanks to complications, but having an equally tired partner next to me for moral support would have helped my morale.
If we could do it over again, I'd hope he'd be up with me every hour on the hour so I'm not the only one miserable the next day.
Drive Me To Appointments
When you have as many health issues as I've had, the doctor becomes your closest acquaintance for more than a few months before and after labor and delivery. I remember those first few postpartum visits and, after the very first one, having to do it all by myself.
Not only was my body still recovering, but I could've used the emotional support to help my new-parent anxiety.
Do Any Portion Of The Laundry
I don't know how babies go through so much laundry when they don't go anywhere, but there were days when I was doing multiple loads per day. As if I wasn't exhausted enough, right? I wish my partner stepped up and did most of these tedious tasks so I could further focus on taking care of myself, and our baby.
Offer A Day Of Rest
My partner will never know how much work it is to be pregnant and give birth. If he had, I'm sure I would've been showered with all the pampering possible after arriving home. Instead, I went days without showering, months without a haircut, and at a certain point, lost track of who I was. It would've been great to have a thoughtful partner willing to remind me of who I am as a woman, outside of motherhood.
Do The Grocery Shopping And Meal Prep
I've always been the one who cooks, so when we came home with a new baby and there was nothing to eat,you'd think my partner would've assumed it was on him. In fact, one of the things you can do to help a new mom is to cook for her. Duh.
Luckily, family and friends provided prepared meals and gift cards for us to live on for a couple days postpartum. After that, however, it was right back to my skilled chef's hand. This isn't because he expects me to cook; I think it's just what we became accustomed to and, unfortunately, it came back to bite me.
When I'm Obviously Tapped, Take The Baby
I loved my babies. I loved time with them. I loved feeding them. I loved bathing them. I loved sleeping with them. However, there comes a point when mom needs a break. I wish my partner had read my mood better and gave me more breaks than he did, so I could return refreshed and in better spirits. Besides, there's only so much of me these kids can take.
Recruit Others To Help When Going Back To Work
When my partner went back to work, I wasn't ready. It wasn't only the lack of household help (because I did most of it anyway), but that overwhelming feeling of having to do the parenting thing alone. It's quite sobering, actually, to have someone with you for some time and then to be left all alone with a small human life you're responsible for.
I wish he'd have done some major recruiting before we came home and invited others to come by. They wouldn't have had to clean or cook but, instead, simply see how I'm dealing and maybe not leave until everything felt OK again. Hugs are great, too.
Be My Support System
Listen, postpartum is hard. Not only is it an adjustment to having a new baby, it's an adjustment to your post-baby body, emotions, and life. It's a lot to deal with and can overwhelm even the strongest of women. Having a supportive partner — someone who notices everything I'm going through — is worth so much more than any of the above. I think if I'd had this kind of system in place, my PPD days may have been a little bit easier to overcome.
Let Me Sleep
For the love of all things, it's not called "labor" for nothing, so the biggest thing I wish my partner had done postpartum? Please let me sleep. It would've helped my mood, my outlook, and honestly, my ability to parent, if I'd been on the receiving end of just a little more shut-eye.
Life changes drastically when you go from a couple to a family and, honestly, it's all one big learning process. Now, ten years later, I'd like to think my partner would be better equipped to deal with life, postpartum. Because now, he's older, wiser, and knows what it's like to live with me if he doesn't do these things.