I have been with my partner since 2015. All the way through our relationship there was never any issues relating to mental health. In 2019 we found out she was pregnant with our first child. I could see a change almost straight away in my partner’s mental health which began to decline. She became very set back and undecided about what she wanted to do, whether we kept the baby or not. This obviously caused a few issues in the relationship but in the end she wanted to keep the baby which we both were very happy about.
My partner has epilepsy and as the pregnancy progressed she became very unwell to the point her seizures became uncontrollable and she ended up admitted to hospital multiple times, including being rushed to hospital in an ambulance and taken straight to Resus. Getting those calls telling me my partner was there was never easy and really upset me, it just never seemed to get easier. Due to the seizures it became very apparent that my partner started to have negative thoughts about the pregnancy and also becoming a mother.
Initially I thought she was getting through it and began to see the good in what was about to become but when the baby was born it all changed.
When our daughter was first born during Covid there was not much help available before, during and after, for example there were no classes where she could meet other mums. Both being new parents it was a very daunting and stressful time.
I took extra time of work to support my partner at the start due to the seizures. It became apparent very quickly that my partner was struggling more than ever with her mental health. She became very distant with both me and the baby it was heart breaking to see the person I loved in such a dark place.
I recall very early on waking up on the sofa to the baby laid in the cot on the floor next to me crying and I could hear my partner crying in the kitchen. I consoled our daughter before walking into the kitchen area to my partner sat in the middle of the floor crying and not being able to say much to me other than she can’t do it.
My partner became more reserved and was breaking down almost daily to the point she began walking out the house without saying where she was going and what she was doing.
At this point I was broken and felt useless as to what I could do. Seeing my partner in such a bad place I ended up having to have time of work and ended up on medication which I had never had to take before. After around a month I felt in a much better place due to the support from the organisation and family that I returned to work.
We were very lucky that our parents helped us as much as they could but it became very apparent professional help was needed for her. We contacted our health visitor and informed them of what had been happening. They then referred my partner to the Perinatal Mental Health Team for support who were very good with both our daughter and my partner and offered lots of support which I could see was beginning to work. For a month or two things seemed to be going back to normal to the point she was signed off by the Perinatal Team and to be honest I felt things were finally looking up for us all and I felt better in myself.
I was back at work at this point and was on an attachment where it meant I was home on nights and could support my partner with the night feeds. As my attachment was coming to an end my partner informed me that she was scared about me going back to my old shift pattern as she felt she couldn’t cope. She became that scared she began to self-harm which I was completely unaware about as she was hiding it from me up until this point.
Just as I thought things were looking up it turns out my partner had been in a dark place again. From being off work the first time I ensured that I followed what advice I was given previously & what I had learnt which helped me deal with the issues without myself breaking. Luckily the organisation supported me and I managed to stay on the shifts I had been doing. This really helped both me and my partner.
My partner is still in contact with mental health services and is gaining support. One thing I did notice not once was I asked how I was managing, the focus was on my partner and the baby, although I am thankful for their support for them. It just shows how men’s mental health throughout is forgotten about. I am not even sure if they were aware that I ended up off work due to mental health.
I have suggested to all those that were involved in my partner and daughters care that there is more support for both Mum & Dad’s mental health after birth.
I was lucky I had the support from both the organisation and our families, but what happens to those that have neither?