My wife experienced a missed miscarriage early in her first pregnancy. The resulting change in hormones is suspected to have triggered post-natal depression.
Three months later we were pregnant again. Since then my wife has described her pregnancy with our daughter as joyless.
My wife continued to be very busy working a demanding role with lots of business travel (carrying out 19 trips in 7 months) and we moved house during this period too. She continued to manage all aspects of her life and we prepared for our baby’s arrival with some tension. She wanted to understand hypno-birthing as an option, so we enrolled in a local class.
As part of the homework she had to listen to a hypno-birthing CD every night. I could see that this was the only time she visibly relaxed while the underlying tension was increasing.
My wife had a very challenging experience during the birth and our daughter’s first week was spent in hospital. During this time the hospital diagnosed our daughter had septicaemia.
Our daughter pulled through and we went home but I could see that my wife’s personality was ebbing away.
She was functioning with tasks and keeping our daughter safe but I needed to be home by late afternoon to provide support and we took turns at night to be on “shift” so the other could get sleep.
Home life became increasingly challenging as my wife’s personality had changed to someone who had a very short temper; I couldn’t do anything right. I wasn’t trusted and she spoke down to me a great deal which eroded my confidence in me and my abilities. I struggled with the tone and words she used and how she was able to belittle me.
To my wife’s credit once our daughter was three months old she told us she was suffering and we sought help. Unfortunately the NHS doctors, health visitors, midwives and psychologists were a catalogue of disaster and uninterested in helping.
Our relationship continued to be very challenging. I felt incredibly alone not understanding how I could help or support, as well as grappling with learning how to be a new dad.
After two years my wife found a CBT therapist who identified she had PTSD in addition to post-natal depression. Over time and with the help of this therapist, my wife was able to overcome first the PTSD and then the post-natal depression.
After 4 and half years I now have my wife back to the woman I married. Elements of the challenging behaviour can show its head when she is under pressure but life is good again.
I would have really benefitted from having someone to talk to. I didn’t share the challenges with my parents or friends. They knew of my wife’s challenges but I didn’t share how it was truly impacting me and my self-esteem.