Local dad shares his battle with postpartum depression after birth of first son

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's common to hear people talk about moms who have postpartum depression, but it's not as common to hear about dads who have it.

FOX4 spoke with a local dad who said he experienced this after the birth of his first son.

Some studies show nearly 25% of men suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), and that can increase to 50% if their female partner has PPD.

“He was just kind of checked out- not wanting to talk, not wanting to ask how Oliver`s day went," mom Jennifer Long said.

Long said one night while sitting on the floor of her son's room, she knew something was wrong.

"I looked at him, and I was crying and I said, 'What`s wrong?  You have to tell me what`s wrong.'"

At that point Long and her husband, Jimmy, had been through a lot. Their son, Oliver, was born premature and weighed less than 4 pounds.

Long had an unplanned c-section, and Oliver spent 47 days in the NICU battling a host of health problems.  This took its toll on Jimmy.

“This is not how anybody pictures the beginning,” Jimmy said.

The Longs believe those first few months frazzled them so much that the anxiety and fatigue turned into postpartum depression.

The nurses told FOX4 they started noticing Jimmy was struggling right around the time they noticed Long was also struggling. That's when they offered help to the new parents.

“We have a task force here that focuses on postpartum depression,” Danielle Renyers-Wilson said.  “When our families are in the NICU, they`re at a higher risk for postpartum depression.”

Renyer-Wilson is a NICU social worker at Advent Health, and she said more dads are talking about their postpartum depression.

“Dads take on not only the fatherly role, but at times, they can feel helpless in the new baby experience,” Renyers-Wilson said.

She said there are a lot of different symptoms to watch for.

“Men can be more agitated, they can have a rapid weight increase or decrease, feeling hopeless, and just socially isolating themselves,” Renyers-Wilson listed.

Jimmy says he`s doing much better now, and part of his healing started with finding his purpose in caring for Oliver. He also said talking to the staff at the hospital about his fears and stress helped.

Now after Oliver`s recent first birthday, both parents say they`ve overcome their depression and some of the trauma surrounding his first few weeks. They told FOX4 all they feel now is joy that their son is thriving.

Advent Health offers a postpartum support group at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

Here are links to some websites with more information:

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