More Than 'Baby Blues'
The Resnicks' experience is not unique, says Sandra Thomas, PhD, director of the doctoral program in nursing at the University of Tennessee, and the researcher whose study was published in the nursing journal. Thomas noted similar stumbling blocks for the eight PPD-affected couples included in her study. They were told by doctors, "Oh, all new moms are tearful. Don't worry about it," she says. Thomas believes the study underscores the need for more PPD preparedness among health professionals.
Wendy Davis, PhD, a psychotherapist and the Oregon and Idaho state coordinator for Postpartum Support International, agrees. Many healthcare professionals lack sufficient training, she says. Davis says PPD was not covered in her own doctoral program 12 years ago. Like many, she had a personal PPD crash course when it flared up after the birth of her first child.
"One of the biggest problems is that these men are so isolated," Thomas tells WebMD. "It was really disturbing to think of how alone these guys were, and how much they struggled and suffered."
Focusing on the Tangible
"My mother was very ill with cancer at the time," David Resnick says. "I looked at how my father supported my mother, and that became a role model." He says he understood that PPD was an illness, like cancer, and not his wife's fault. "I tried to be compassionate," he says.
David Resnick says there was only so much he could do to aid his wife psychologically, so he focused on tangible things -- doing the dishes, dressing the children. Some nights he'd hold her, stroke her hair, and assure her that everything would be all right. Other nights he'd sleep on the pullout sofa next to infant son Max's portable crib, soothing the baby's cries, trying to maintain quiet so his wife could sleep. "Everyone says my husband was a saint," Susan Resnick says.
The one place David Resnick did get support was at the small law firm where he then worked. When he needed to cut back on his hours to help his family, fellow attorneys and his secretary picked up the slack. "Now I work for a much larger law firm, and I think it would be more difficult here," he says.