Working Through Postpartum Mood Disorder and a Traumatic Birth: A Partner’s/Father’s Roadmap to Recovery

Trigger warning: this article contains mention of a traumatic birth.

“Code blue, code blue” blared over the hospital intercom. At the time, I didn’t know what it meant, but I was still shocked by what was happening in front of me. It was the last thing I thought would lead up to this incredibly special day that everyone always talks about, the birth of your child! How beautiful it was, how amazing and wonderful everything was when you first saw your child, blah blah blah. Well, folks, my story didn’t follow that narrative, and I hope it touches some of you who are post-birth-guilt, insecure in your parenting skills, angry at the slightest thing, and overwhelmed with anxiety which can be seen in ways you don’t know. Let it shed some light and bring some awareness that the perception of birth can be traumatic for anyone, no matter what happens, and the resulting sense of brokenness and loss as a father/partner will challenge you as a parent to levels you never imagined.

I’ll spare you the specifics of how the traumatic birth happened, because that’s not the point of this story. What we thought would be a routine delivery because of how well the pregnancy went and because everything was healthy, turned out to be the scariest experience of our lives. The epidural that was given to my husband was so far down his spine that the paralytic drug traveled to his lungs and heart, which began to shut down his body. What I was told at the time as “low blood pressure” was an actual attempt to save her and our unborn child’s life. She had to undergo an emergency c-section to get the baby out in time, while being flooded and completely unconscious. She woke up forgetting she was pregnant while I had to witness her almost die in front of me.

Thank God this story has a happy ending where our daughter was born perfectly fine, and my husband recovered from this event. But does it negate everything that happened? Should I be fine and thankful that we can come back as a new family? How did I let something like this happen to him? I have to be the rock, the man, the partner who supports and is there for my family. But why do I feel this way and how can I fix it? There are so many questions, so much uncertainty, and so few answers as to why this happened and how we can move forward.

These moments can determine how we move forward, break free from that story, and flip our perspective on life. However, it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re struggling with overwhelming feelings of guilt for allowing that to happen, loss of identity for who you are, lack of confidence in being the father/partner you thought you were, and anxiety and depression. -worrying about things that don’t affect you. .

One moment at a time, one day at a time, and one more win at a time. It became a foundation for me in working with these feelings. If I can just improve a little each day to regain my identity, strengthen my confidence, embrace my love for my family, and be grateful for life, then I can do it. How though?

It started with my health and my fitness. If I’m going to try to improve my mind, I have to start with my body. Although I have always been an athletic and “fit” person, I took my exercise and diet to another level. With a structured schedule and routine of exercising and eating healthy, I started to feel better about myself. It began to build my self-confidence to be able to support my family and feel like the father I knew I could be.

Exercising has shown me a different perspective on life. It taught me patience with delayed gratification. As much as we all want a six-pack after a week at the gym, it takes dedicated hours that turn into weeks, that turn into months to start feeling and seeing change. Exercise made me do hard things, especially when I didn’t feel like them. When you get up early in the morning and go to the gym or go for a run, you’re following through on a promise you made to yourself and starting your day off with a win. I lived outside my comfort zone through exercise, which is the only place we can grow and get better in life. These small moments taken together are hugely beneficial in releasing that old story and creating the identity of your dreams.

Delayed gratification for me is one of the most powerful tools I use in life. When you can be patient in waiting for something you really want while putting in the work, the reward far outweighs all the struggles it takes to get there. Your personality grows and you become stronger as an individual.

Being self-aware is another skill that has helped me identify challenges, discover a way to deal with them and reflect on what I’ve learned to better use in the future. However, how do we develop self-awareness, if we feel that we must suppress our emotions behind closed doors and bottle things up? Journaling, meditation, and breathing techniques. These three power self-care tactics have opened my eyes to a world of working through some of life’s most difficult times.

Journaling has always seemed silly to me as a “dear diary” book. Well, I was very wrong about that, and had many journals filled with anything and everything in my life. It took me time to get comfortable and sharpen my journaling skills, but it paid off. Beginning each session with what I am grateful for that day has taught me the power of gratitude. Then coming to an affirmation for what I would become or succeed in showed me how effective visualization can be. Writing about my life questions helps me declutter my thoughts into a stream of thought on paper that gives me clarity in finding a solution. I then end each session with my financial stance and the goals I am working towards. This repetitive process becomes a subconscious workhorse that motivates me 24/7 and I love it.

Meditation is something I hold close to my heart and when I practice it in the morning, I can start my day with peace of mind. “Between stimulus and response, there is a gap. In that space is our power to choose our response. Our progress and our freedom lie in our response.” -Viktor E. Frankl, MD, Ph.D. I may not be close to this famous statement, but in meditation, I continue to work towards it and feel the effects of gaining control of the mind on the uncharted journey of life.

Breathing techniques gave me a quick fix to get out of a stressful situation. It is so easy to overlook and forget about the power and life that our breath gives us. Without it, we cannot live. When we take the time to focus on our breathing, it has a powerful influence on strengthening us and slowing down any stressful situation we may find ourselves in. I like to take six deep breaths through my nostrils, and hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale through my mouth like a straw, taking time. It only takes 30 seconds and allows me to push the reset button on what is challenging me at the moment.

While this isn’t a complete blueprint for everyone in overcoming birth trauma or working through postpartum mood disorders, I hope it can be a step in the right direction to feeling like yourself again. I felt alone, lost, confused, guilty, and just angry at the world for what happened, but I knew it wasn’t me. It takes time, but with discipline, resilience, and faith you can overcome your challenges and break free from that old story. Someone once told me, “Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever love.” This is true, but also the most rewarding and loving job. Your being here shows that you want to be the best partner/father you can be. Keep working, keep going, I promise you it will happen.

About the Author

Addison Caproni, Founder, Caproni Coaching

Addison Caproni, Founder, Caproni Coaching

bio: My name is Addison Caproni, and being a father is the greatest moment of my life, after marrying my wife, of course. The introduction to fatherhood did not go as planned, unfortunately, taking a very traumatic turn that was almost fatal for my husband and unborn daughter. This experience changed my perspective and approach to life through a storm of emotions, challenges, and self-development successes. Taught me lessons and showed me opportunities that I will continue to practice for the rest of my life.

As someone who grew up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands where I started my family, I developed a love for teaching and helping others during my sailing years. Since I was 14 years old, I began my teaching career by teaching children as young as 7 how to sail solo on an Optimist. Fast forward 22 years of coaching where I shifted my passion to supporting partners/fathers suffering from postpartum depression or other mood disorders.

I strongly believe in the importance of having parents who live up to their potential of love, trust, and gratitude for their family in raising children. That led me to raising awareness for partners/fathers struggling with PPD or postpartum mood disorder and starting a coaching business to support them. YOU ARE NOT ALONE and growing this community will empower our future generations for a happy and healthy life!

Learn more about Addison at

Keywords: fathers, partners, postpartum, mental health, support, parenting, fatherhood, traumatic birth, coaching, health, fitness, exercise, self-awareness, journaling, meditation, breathing techniques

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The post Working Through Postpartum Mood Disorder and a Traumatic Birth: A Partner’s/Father’s Roadmap to Recovery appeared first on Postpartum Support International (PSI).

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