As the husband and therefore weaker counterpart to my natural-birthin' mama-spouse, I would like to raise awareness of a phenomenon that most men experience, but would never admit. No, I'm not talking about erectile dysfunction, I'm talking about Male Postpartum Depression.
I am very involved with my family, to the extent that I am no longer able to have other male friends because my wife thinks they exert too much of a testosterone-y influence on me. Thus, not only do I revolve my personal time around my wife and kids, but I am also changing my career in order to be at home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with my family.
With that said, it should come as no surprise that I am 100% involved in my wife's pregnancies and childbirths, to the extent that I am now fairly certain that I am pregnant myself. Totally awesome, I know!
Now my wife has birthed eight children, Cloude (our birthrape baby), SkyeDancer, Wax, Lil Wane, Frix and Freya (the twins), Trout, Snubnose Dolphin (our first dolphin-birthed child, affectionately called Snubbie D), and Crash, who was born in the car as my wife sped to attend a home birth while in labor herself, and is currently pregnant with our ninth. While I am fairly certain that now, I too, am pregnant, and have the urine test to prove it, my chiropractor/herbalist/therapist is still not sure that I'm not merely experiencing an intense form of Couvade Syndrome, or quite possibly a hysterical pregnancy. We shall see.
Anyhoo, we all know about women who experience post-partum depression - but what about me? What about my feelings? Men can totally have PPD, and you know what? This can 100% be avoided or cured by your wife getting pregnant again right away, avoiding OBs like the plague, and giving birth unassisted at home. In fact, the ONLY way to ever feel better about yourself again is to birth at home. Here's why:
I was there, every single second, when Wife lost nearly 100lbs from throwing up every day. In fact, I threw up too! Although some of my ex-friends suggested that it may have been due to the vast amounts of spirulina I was consuming, I KNOW what I was experiencing, and it WAS NOT because of the spirulina, or the freeze-dried placenta I was snacking on. I was also there when several doctors, who only had medical degrees and NO training in chiropractic techniques, told my wife that our baby was frank breech and that no way our firstborn, Cloude, was comin' out her vag. I know better now. But still, I was there when they snapped on their latex and rubber gloves and gutted my wife in order to wrench Cloude from her nice cozy womb, yanking her pink and screaming into the glare of the OR lights. I fully believe that it was this act, committed by these doctors, that resulted in my wife and I both unable to cuddle or nurture Cloude, resulting in her growing up to be a petulant, obstinate young lady with absolute disdain for both her parents. And, just between you, me, and the entire Internet-connected world, we really wouldn't mind so much if we lost Cloude, as long as we had our other kids. Just sayin'.
That's not saying we didn't TRY. Cloude just refused to latch, and as evidence has proven over and over, that's just what happens when you have a Cesarean. You cannot bond, you cannot breastfeed, and thus, you cannot love. All because of the doctors.
I was there when SkyeDancer was born, and got stuck in the birth canal with supposedly "shoulder dystocia." Whatever; everyone knows that shoulder dystocia is doctor-code for "my golf game is about to start; let's get this over with!" Alas, we were forced to consent to ANOTHER surgical extraction, but this time we knew better: the only thing that would prevent my wife and I from suffering from yet another bout of PPD was to immediately conceive again, so we started in the car on the way home from the hospital.
I was there, during that next pregnancy, when my wife swelled up like a puffer fish and the arrogant "medwife" suggested she be tested for gestational diabetes and for proteinuria. I was there, when, once again, just because she was full-term, so swelled up that her rings had to be cut off her fingers, and spilling protein into the urine we were forced to have tested, she was strong-armed into an induction by the "medwife" and her team of crackpot OBs. I was there when the lead OB, who had arms like an NFL linebacker and hands like an NBA star, shoved both his arms up to the shoulders into my wife and yanked little Wax into the world, leaving her precious yoni mangled. I was there when SUPPOSEDLY she had a seizure brought on by eclampsia, but which we now know was just her body shuddering wildly at the indignity of it all.
And finally, I was there when Lil Wayne, Frix and Freya, were born at home and unassisted, with me, my Internet printouts of "How to Deliver Your Baby." and the scent of patchouli and poop water gently caressing our nostrils. And amazingly, although the twins are still not walking at 19 months, Lil Wayne has what our herbalist thinks might be cerebral palsy, and Snubbie D has a few permanent scars from the sharks that were in the water during our empowering Dolphin Birth, we are 100% bonded with each of our special little ones.
But back to me - although I tried to be a rock for my wife during those first traumatic births, cooking cleaning, and (with the twins) lactating myself so I could help with nursing the babies, I was a wreck. I wept at all hours at the drop of a hat, curling up into a fetal ball and rocking in my closet, inconsolable. My therapist tried telling me that taking the huge amounts of (all natural!) estrogen in order to lactate was messing with my hormones, but then my wife ordered me to stop seeing my the-RAPIST and eventually, the shakes and night sweats went away.
So how do we combat male PPD? Research, research, research. I was up every night after I'd finished cleaning the house and doing the laundry, googling "the unnecessarean" and reading The Feminist Breeder and Ina May Gaskin. We will be sauteeing my wife's placenta after this next birth and noshing on its iron-rich, anti-depressant chewy goodness. And, with a lot of magical thinking and "good vibes," maybe one day I'll be producing some placenta of my own soon.