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5 things i wish you knew...

5 Things I Wish My Wife (and I) Knew about Postpartum Depression

A love letter to the mother of my child.

woman in white bathrobe holds a newborn baby in a white towel close to her chest as it sucks on a green pacifier
Photo credit: Courtesy of Joe Rupolo
A young woman with dark curly hair is using mobile phone. Female is smiling while holding smart phone. She is lying on sofa at home.

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Do you remember how our marriage began in much the same way we lived our lives? We whipped up a wedding in just four months, jetted off to Italy for a honeymoon, and returned to New York as Mr. and Mrs. There was a part of me that felt like my life had officially begun. We spent the next three years traveling the world, jumping out of airplanes, bar crawling along the Upper East Side of New York City—just the two of us. We had a lot of fun, to say the least.

When we decided it was time to make our dynamic duo a trio, it was an equally exciting time. From the moment you showed me that positive pregnancy test, I just couldn’t wait for the big day to come. Would it be a boy or girl? What would we name him/her? Who would he/she look like? We spent the next nine months gabbing about strollers and sleep rituals and schedules. The anticipation of this little human entering the world and us getting to watch it grow week after week was one of the happiest times in our marriage.

When you went into labor, a few weeks early in fact, it surprised us both. But we rolled with it and hoped for the best. After a super smooth labor and delivery, she was here. SHE! A baby girl. We couldn’t help but wonder, “What did we ever do to deserve this?” She was perfect in every single way. We were over the moon.

The next couple of days were like a hazy dream. We were deliriously happy, mind-numbingly sleep-deprived, and over the moon excited to just quietly stare at our beautiful baby girl. But after 48-hours of endless text messages with friends, phone calls with family, and countless visitors, something changed. Wrapped in a towel, you walked out of the bathroom after a shower and began sobbing. The tears didn’t stop for three straight weeks.

As it turns out, this is quite common. Studies show that upwards of 70 percent of women suffer from “baby blues” and as many as 20 percent of new moms experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. We all know it exists. But the way it took hold of you and held on tight was not something either one of us was really prepared for. But the truth is, I could have recited all the statistics to you every day during your postpartum days and it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference. All you needed was for me to listen, really hear your fears, and validate your feelings. I know that now. I wish I had known it then. This is what I wish you knew when you were going through it all.

1. You’re not crazy

“I know how crazy this sounds…”

It was the way you started so many of our conversations that made me feel  completely helpless. How do you get someone you love deeply to understand that what’s eating them up inside is absolutely not crazy, but completely normal? Certainly not by saying “try not to worry about it” or “just relax.” I know better now. The truth is, you were agonizing over things that plenty of women before you have felt, but so few are willing to talk about openly.

2. I’ll never truly know what you’re feeling but I’m doing the best I can

We both had our fair share of sleepless nights and early mornings. We dealt with the same number of crying fits where our daughter seemed completely inconsolable. We were both run down, tired, frustrated. In fact—something I didn’t tell you at the time—I wasn’t sure if I was even cut out for all of it. Everybody warned me about how hard it would be but that didn’t even scratch the surface. I already felt like I had my hands full when it was the two of us taking care of her together. What would happen when you went back to work and I was left alone with a newborn all day? And then had to work myself into the night? And yet, there is still no way I will ever be able to know what it was like for you to feel completely overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and loneliness on top of everything else. This beautiful little girl who we had waited so long for was finally here and, at the same time, a part of you was missing and you couldn’t really explain why. I will never pretend to know what that really felt like.

3. Don’t worry about your body

On top of the daily emotional rollercoaster, you see and feel the difference in your body. Your old clothes still don’t fit and you know it’s going to take a lot of work to get back to where you were physically. This is what you’ve told me. But this is certainly not what I see. I see the same gorgeous woman who left me breathless the first time we met. There are plenty of ways to get your old body back, but do it at your own pace. In the meantime, my advances won’t stop because you are too damn sexy!

4. We’re in this together

I couldn’t take those feelings of loneliness away from you, but I always had your back. I’ll always do whatever you need, morning noon and night. Once I went back to work, it started with nightly phone calls, just to check in and give you someone to cry to. I hope you know those phone calls were never a burden—in fact, I looked forward to them more than you did!

5. You’re already the most amazing mom in the world in my eyes

I knew how great a mom you would be—it’s one of the reasons I wanted to marry you! What I didn’t expect was how quickly you would exceed all my expectations. It’s a new adventure every day with our little girl. The way you’ve adapted and changed with your new role has been fascinating to watch. Every time it gets overwhelming, every time you can’t figure out why she’s crying, every night you’re alone putting her to bed while I’m at work, every time she pukes on your clothes… just know I’ve never loved or respected you more than I do right now and I cherish every moment I get to watch you raise our daughter.

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Published January 2nd, 2019
A young woman with dark curly hair is using mobile phone. Female is smiling while holding smart phone. She is lying on sofa at home.

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