Dad of a 30 weeker

Hello, I am a medical student and my son has been in the NICU for 4 weeks. He was 10 weeks premature but had no significant medical issues outside of that. I have struggled for decades with depression and I hoped that the arrival of my son but this has been a bit of a whirlwind and I feel guilty for my depression having gotten worse. I am struggling to stay on top of my course work despite receiving support and accommodations from my university. Last night he had his first true apnic event and desat'd into the 20s and turned blue and needed rescue breaths and some CPR. I was not there at the time because I had a bad sinus infection and my PCP had started me on an antibiotic and I didn't want to risk bringing anything to the NICU/my son that could cause problems. I feel guilty because I wasn't there and my wife was there watching this by herself and I couldn't help her. She has been struggling some from PPD and I along with her healthcare providers have been unsuccessful in getting her to visit a counselor/getting help with it and last night's event made everything all that much harder on her and me. I joined this group and am posting because I don't really know what else to do and feel lost. 


4 Replies

  • I think parent guilt is so normal and many of us who have walked this journey feel that way at some point. I wish I could make this journey easier for both of you. Sending so many hugs your way.

  • Hi there! I think everything you are feeling is totally normal. I was dealing with depression before I got pregnant and avoiding going on meds for it. My OB actually started me on meds while I was pregnant to hopefully prevent or lessen my chances of PPD. I have been on them ever since, which is now eight years. I'm not saying meds are the answer for you (you obviously know more about that than I do, being a med student!), but I want you to know that you are not alone and this actually sounds normal compared to my experiences in the NICU. You should definitely talk to someone. Even talking with my counselor on the phone was helpful, since she was too far away for me to actually go in while my son was in the NICU. And talk to the people around you in the same situation. I made such good friends with some other moms. We bonded while pumping in the pump room, which I guess you can't do! But there ARE other dads around. It's stereotypical that men don't want to do that, that they always have to be strong, but is it worth your own health to avoid getting help? BTW, avoiding the NICU when you are sick is the right thing to do! You will always feel guilty about something you are doing, whether your kid is in the NICU or not--that's just part of parenting. You just do the best you can do.

    Something that really helped me was really trusting the staff. I didn't know anything about prematurity before my son was born. While I consider myself an intelligent person, I knew enough to know that I didn't know anything about this, and these people did, so I needed to let them do their thing. Maybe it was just my hospital, but they were AMAZING. So knowledgeable and professional, while also being hugely compassionate and patient. My son was not just their job, but was really important to them. That was obvious right from the start so it wasn't hard to trust them. You want to be there as much as possible, but you know your son is in the best place for him. Take some time to take care of yourself (and that goes for your wife, too).
  • In reply to KWilson428:

    Hi Dad!
    Where are you from? Or in which hospital is the baby at? There are hospitals that offer counseling services for parents, especially moms. Also, there are support groups outside that can help her and you. Let me know how I can help you!
  • Hello Dad!!! Just wanted to send you some love!! Depression sucks! But try not to feel guilty about it. Just remember it’s a chemical imbalance that is not your fault. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself healthy and safe! I personally know it’s hard not to be there in the NICU with your little one. But if you went while your where sick and then your baby or someone else’s baby got sick you would never forgive yourself. I’m so sorry about your little ones episode the other day. Thankfully he had a good staff to keep him safe. Just love love his mom, PPD is awful. And not having you baby home with you makes it even worse. She may not want to go talk to someone for the fear of leaving him and something happening. It a totally normal mom thing.

    I’m not sure if any of this was helpful to you. Or not. But please know, someone cares. And I’ll be praying for your son and family.