'I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect dad and husband'

Thea was due to be born on the 21st August 2017. The pregnancy as a whole was quite difficult, as my wife Harriet had bleeding and so we were back and forth to the hospital quite a lot. We were also told at a scan that Thea was very small, so I think we were both already quite stressed and anxious before she even arrived. It was like walking on egg shells. Do you raise the subject, or just try to carry on and not to think what could happen? On the 31st July 2017, Harriet went into labour and our little Thea was born 3 weeks early and weighing just 4lbs.

I don’t think anything can prepare you for becoming a parent. Emotionally and mentally, I had changed over night. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect dad and husband, as I felt Thea and Harriet deserved this. The problem was, I felt I was failing. I would overreact and hate myself for it. Silly things like forgetting something off the shopping list, or not managing to do everything that I needed to do. I wouldn’t get mad, but would just get upset or feel numb... both feelings I hadn’t felt before.

Even now it’s hard to explain. I adored Thea and was lucky enough to spend time with her and bond when she was tiny. I did feel slightly overwhelmed, but was totally besotted with Thea. Those feelings I had lasted about 6-8 weeks, during which time I kept it all to myself. I reached a point, however, where I couldn’t an longer, so I told Harriet about how I felt. We both got quite upset, but it was an opening to speak about our feelings and how our lives had changed. Off the back of this, we decided to make some changes and to be honest with each other.

The postpartum period can be such a destabilising time. Everything around you is changing and inside you feel so different. It’s hard to describe and every person will have their own experiences. I felt my emotions were heightened to level 100, and I was up and down all the time. I don’t think dads really talk about it, and I in particular found it very personal, so only opened to Harriet about it.

I did find some dads on Instagram who had had a difficult time as well, and found their posts helpful to know there are support networks out their. I had no idea what was happening at the time, and I wish I had looked into and researched more about the postpartum period before Thea was born. Not just for me, but so I could of done more for Harriet.

Author credit: Anthony Docherty