In a world where controversial ‘Hot Topics’ are abuzz, Brian Gawlak finds the teachable moments in trending issues.
“Nashville” is a hit ABC soap opera-drama which focuses on the behind-the-scenes pitfalls of the country music industry. The show is chock full of over-the-top story lines, unlikely tragedies and triumphs, and is sewn together by a constant barrage of country songs performed throughout each episode. I am not a fan of soap operas, over-the-top story lines, and I turn my nose at country music; yet, I have never missed a single episode of “Nashville.”
Hayden Panettiere has me glued to the screen, double checking my DVR settings every Wednesday afternoon, and tolerating a lot of fluff that wouldn’t typically tickle my fancy. Panettiere became a breakout star in the show “Heroes,” which I was a huge fan of. It was not until her turn in the role of ‘Kirby’ in the movie “Scream 4” that she really registered on my radar. She is the perfect blend of All-American-girl-next-door charm with sexy-seductive-siren. I would watch her read the phone book.
My wife and I talk about celebrities, and short of a laminated list ala ‘Ross’ from the show “Friends,” we know each other’s favorites. Hayden Panettiere is on my list – the laminated one. My wife often jokes that I am almost old enough to be Hayden Panettiere’s father (how is this possible? I feel like I’m 28). At 41, I feel totally justified in my early summer – late summer crush and see nothing wrong with it. If I talk about it, though, I get, “shh! Say nothing!” from my wife. I return those words whenever she discusses Tatum Ackles, or what’s his name from “Supernatural.”
Hayden Panettiere made headlines this week when she appeared on the talk show “Live with Kelly and Michael” to promote “Nashville” and to discuss her character, Juliette’s, bout with postpartum depression (PPD). Panettiere admitted that she did not understand the scope of PPD until giving birth to her daughter last year (click here for reference). She was under the assumption, before becoming a mother, that PPD referred to only the most severe cases of what PPD actually is.
When my wife gave birth to our firstborn, it was the most blessed time in our lives. We were certainly exhausted, but we both felt like we were floating on air. My wife struggled with breastfeeding our daughter and was frustrated, but seemed to be in seventh heaven as a new mom.
Every time my wife would eat after giving birth, she would cry. By the third or fourth day she would cry, but laugh and shrug it off as “hormones.” I found it odd, but accepted her explanation that it was because she was no longer pregnant and felt disconnected to our daughter who would not really latch on no matter how hard my wife tried.
I felt from the beginning that we should split all the work down the middle, and that I should get up for half the night feedings and diaper changes. I didn’t realize at the time I was probably hindering breastfeeding because I was bottle feeding our daughter the breast milk my wife was able to pump, and allowed my wife to sleep. I thought I was doing something noble, but the amount of time between feedings/pumping and the confusion of going from breast to bottle had to have hindered our daughter’s instinct to breastfeed and my wife’s ability to produce milk.
I became frustrated after a few weeks of this cycle. My wife was still crying every time she ate or chewed (even gum), and breastfeeding was not working. I suggested we switch to formula, as I was concerned our daughter was not eating enough.
I arrived home from work late one evening and found my wife eating, crying, and breastfeeding while watching a movie with her sister. Our daughter began crying and became inconsolable. I walked her around the house rocking her and soothing her, but nothing seemed to help. I looked at the take-out my wife was eating and made the biggest rookie father/husband mistake of my life. I was totally clueless to my tone, and snapped, “what are you eating?” I had read online that seafood is not good for breastfeeding mothers to consume. The half-eaten shrimp with lobster sauce made my frustration get the better of my judgment and tact.
The immediate dagger-look from my wife paled in comparison to the complete look of disgust my sister-in-law gave me. It was as though a force threw me across the room to the top of the wall on the cathedral ceiling. When I realized what I asked (and the frustrated and overwhelmed tone I used), it was as though the looks slayed me and I slowly slithered down the wall into a pool of utter horror and shame. My internal voice advised, “Shh! Say nothing!” Too little, too late!
My wife came to understand that breastfeeding was not going to work out, and she grudgingly switched our daughter to formula. She realized several months later that the crying while she chewed was a trigger for her feeling like a failure as a new mom because she could no longer feed our daughter through what she ate, and now couldn’t breastfeed either. She realized she was depressed for the first time in her life. She was lucky in the sense that it was a very mild form of PPD, but she admitted she sometimes felt a bit out of control of her emotions and that this time was not all smiles and “seventh heaven” for her.
I wish I could go back in time and advise my rookie-self to know when to tactfully say nothing. I would also advise myself to follow up with my wife and encourage her to report any changes in behavior or thoughts/feelings to her OB/GYN to make sure she is not suffering from a serious case of PPD. If you are a new mom or know a new mom who acts in a different way, no matter how subtle, report the change to your doctor. It is important to remember that a new mom’s health has to remain a priority, no matter how chaotic caring for a newborn can be. Sometimes it is worth the risk to say something about nothing because it is better to be safe than sorry.
I prefer this time in my life as a parent having older kids and less frustrating frustrations that I can help with. I will enjoy watching ‘Juliette Barnes’ work through her postpartum depression on “Nashville” as I’m sure she will before the season finale. You know, once she kicks her drug addiction, gets rescued from her kidnapping, recovers from the burns in the freak stage fire, and gets back with her third ex after sleeping with her assistant. I will watch all this with bated breath, remembering that there is always a time to say something or nothing at all.