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Having a Baby Feels Like a Huge Mistake










QUESTION:

From reddit.com/r/daddit:

For years I struggled with my wife wanting kids, kept telling myself I'd change my mind later. Turned 36, wife pregnant. Kept telling myself I'd grow into it, everyone said it was great. I had to decide to divorce her then, and lose my house, dog, job (we work at the same place), and most of my friends (since they're hers) or have a kid and hope it works out for me.

Now I have a 5, or is it 6, week old baby girl and I can't stand it. I've always had a problem with being trapped (I can't handle going on holidays because I'm trapped there. I tried a meditation camp and had to bail after day 2 because I couldn't handle being there. I never make social appointments if I can help it because it just stresses me out being locked into it, for example). I'm now horrendously trapped with a baby which I have no interest in. I'm completely miserable, and find myself contemplating suicide daily now - I just want out. I feel totally helpless, and I don't want to talk with my wife about it because she's dealing with the stress of being a new mum, etc. (though she is doing very well).

I'm getting plenty of sleep, it's not sleep deprivation, though, I feel tired all the time. I guess it's the stress.I can read all the self-help guides I want but it can't change the huge mistake I've made. I've completely f----d up my life now and nothing can be done about it...




ANSWER:

The first thing to deal with is the stress you are under. Daily thoughts of suicide are very serious, please find a mental health professional to address these thoughts as well as your anxiety of being trapped. Nothing else we advise will matter if these two issues aren't addressed.

Do something (in addition to reaching out to other dads) to break the trapped mindset you feel; you might think of her like the puppy your dog once was to provide a more positive context. Avoid avoiding her so that your biology can do its thing; try putting her in a baby carrier with her against your chest, put on your headphones, crank them up, and walk around the neighborhood. If you can handle it, repeat regularly (this gives mom a break too). Watch TV with her sleeping on your chest; her in a diaper and you with your shirt off works best (this generates oxytocin - the "love" hormone and will help you bond). Any kind of hands-on activity helps you connect - baths are particularly good.

An understanding wife is critical, though this is tough because most new moms are stressed out and at their hormones' mercy, but she needs to know you are having a tough time but are working on it. We regularly tell new dads that they are the first line of defense when new moms have mental health issues like baby blues and post-partum depression. That advice works in reverse as well and she can be your advocate and help you get the help you need for the suicidal thoughts and anxiety.

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