I’ve found the stress of my first two months of fatherhood overwhelming. We’ve had many sleepless nights as we’ve adjusted to meeting the constant demands of a crying baby. My wife and I are incredibly sleep-deprived. But seeing my child smile when she sees my face first thing in the morning makes the challenges worthwhile.
We’ve faced bouts of frustration many times during our night shifts. I’ve questioned my capability as a father because I can’t seem to comfort my child. I’ve done a lot of reading, and apparently, paternal postpartum depression exists. I’ve suffered some of its symptoms: periods of cynicism, lack of productivity, and fatigue. At my lowest, I’ve even questioned whether or not having a baby was a mistake.
While these are stressful times, I need to accept and face my current situation. I can’t run away from my responsibilities.
In our first month of parenthood, Cittie was nocturnal, which meant we had little to no sleep at night. Cza and I would get moody at each other because of the stress. But laughter has helped during this stormy time; having a sense of humor has stopped us from taking things too seriously and allowed us to keep our sanity.
I’m stressed, but Cza may be dealing with even more pressure as Cittie’s mother. We know that our baby is doing what she can to ensure she gets what she needs; she doesn’t intend to irritate anyone. I’ve found that being silly helps to lighten the mood and make the three of us smile. Initially, I refused to make weird faces or engage in baby talk, but sacrificing a little dignity is a fair price to pay to make baby, mommy, and daddy happy.
Reflecting on these experiences and how I manage my chronic illnesses, I realize that it’s crucial that I take my hemophilia and epilepsy seriously. But I fear that if I take my illnesses too seriously, life will lose its luster and I will be sucked into a vortex of stress, anger, and depression.
Things will happen. I will get bleeds and seizures, but these are like the nights we can’t make Cittie content. Life goes on. I need to learn how to handle these events more effectively. Or look back with gratitude that I came through the experience in one piece.
Recently, I’ve noticed something strange. Since Cittie entered our lives, I’ve rarely had a seizure. My primary triggers include sleeplessness and emotional distress. I’ve had a significant increase in stress and sleep deprivation, so I had expected my episodes of seizures to rise. I’m starting to believe that this baby is a blessing for my chronic illness. I’ve learned to manage my emotional state because of her and perhaps this will reduce my seizures.
In a normal situation, parents provide guidance for their child as she grows. However, my daughter is helping me to navigate the path toward maturity and emotional stability. I will be grateful to her if she helps me to control or even heal my epilepsy. It gives me one more reason to tell her that I love her every day.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.