More Than 'Baby Blues'
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.
It is important to recognize that PPD likely affects all members of the family. Left untreated, it can undermine a woman's confidence in her ability to be a good mom. PPD also can tear apart a couple's relationship, especially when communication breaks down and hope runs out. And it can have long-lasting effects on the baby as well. Studies suggest that babies in the care of depressive moms tend to exhibit social, emotional, and cognitive problems later in life.
Eventually, Susan Resnick found a nurse psychotherapist who recognized her PPD and worked with her to treat it. With a combination of talk therapy and antidepressants, she finally emerged from the darkness where she had spent nearly a year. And David Resnick says counseling helped him resume a balanced life.
It's been four years since baby Max was born, and the days when PPD ruled the Resnicks' lives are over. Though it was one of the most challenging times in their marriage, both Susan and David Resnick say some good came of it. In fact, Susan Resnick wrote a memoir about her trying experience, titled Sleepless Days, which she hopes will help other PPD sufferers realize they are not alone.
Marie Stone is a freelance writer in Portland, Ore., who writes about consumer health.