I think my friend’s wife is suffering from PPD...and he’s totally clueless and I suspect making things worse by not stepping up. I would appreciate some advice.
I just got back from visiting a friend of mine for the first time in awhile. He and his partner had a baby 4 months ago and poor little guy has a heart defect :-( It’s been a shitty time for the Mom - first she had a super difficult birth and ended up with an emergency C-section. Then it turns out that the baby has a congenital heart defect that’s severe enough to need surgery. He needed to put on weight before surgery for best results, however, his heart beats too fast and he burns calories like no ones business. So the Mom had been pumping her breast milk, topping up with formula and feeding him all the time, but it wasn’t enough and he started to lose weight fast when he was a couple months old. The baby spent some time the hospital and had to have a feeding tube placed so that if the baby doesn’t take enough formula/breastmilk via regular feedings, they can feed him via the tube.
So, suffice it to say, everyone is exhausted. But...my friend (the Dad) is just...clueless? When I arrived, his partner (whom I’m friendly with, but not super close to) looked at me exhausted and said “this is supposed to be his afternoon taking care of the baby but he’s late with the feeding”. She clearly was frustrated and anxious because the baby is on a schedule and if he’s not put down for his nap on-time after the feeding, his sleep schedule gets screwed up and that means she sleeps less. I was like “don’t worry! I’ll annoy him until it gets done! you go grab a nap” - So I started jokingly nagging my friend (repeating jokingly “Dude you need to feed the baby, dude you need to feed the baby” over and over again). He brings the bottle over when his phone rings with a business call. He asks me to feed the baby for a minute while he takes the call (I’m cool with this, baby’s are great).
So, then he’s on the phone for an hour... which okay fine, he’s a small business owner and he had to put out a fire or something. So I start feeding the baby and burp him. About a half hour later, while the bottle is being finished, Mom comes out of the bedroom and notices me burping the baby. She comes over and takes him, apologizing saying “I just have to make sure that he really burps, otherwise he throws up and it’s back to square one with the feeding”. I tell her it’s no problem - it’s totally understandable that she wants to make sure it’s done right because the baby is sick and the whole feeding issue. I am in no way insulted.
While my friend is on the phone I gently start asking her how it’s been going and it comes pouring out: her partner (my friend) is always gone, especially in the evening and night, and she’s always by herself (on the one hand, his business stuff does happen at night, but he doesn’t have to be around all night, every night - he has a business partner he can lean on). He hasn’t taken any of his parental leave to help her out (we live in socialist Quebec where Dad’s have 5 weeks use-it-or-lose-it in the first year and again his business partner is happy to take the slack (said business partner took a mat leave last year so she’s more than happy to step up)). She feels really isolated and alone , and although her friends visit to keep her company, she feels trapped at home and like she has no one to lean on. She was looking forward to this afternoon for a week because he was going to take care of the baby and she was going to have a break but that’s not what happened (basically he had been on the phone all day and then pawned the baby off to me, and I can understand that she wants someone who knows more the circumstance (i.e. baby needs to have big burps, etc) not random person me handling her sick infant - again, I am not insulted by any of this : considering the circumstance I can wholly understand).
Then she said out loud “Had I known what this was going to be like, I would have just gotten a pet instead of getting pregnant”.
So when she went to put the baby down, I started to ask my dude friend how things had been. He said things were awful ... because his son had been in the hospital during his birthday and so he had to bring cold sushi and champagne in the hospital waiting room and eat it alone because his girlfriend had fallen asleep and she hadn’t done anything else to celebrate him to compensate for falling asleep... facepalm...dude...so much facepalm.
While we were sitting there chatting, his partner came over after having put the baby down for the nap, visibly upset and told him that they needed to talk. He was totally surprised and didn’t understand why she was upset. I just gently said I would go and it was no problem and that it was fine. I made sure to let the Mom know before I left that I understood and wasn’t “upset” that she needed some alone time to talk with him and to take care of herself.
Sigh, I’ve known my friend for a long time was well aware that my friend was self absorbed and had a large ego that needed feeding, but holy fuck we’re in extra ridiculous territory. Should I sit him down and talk to him? (Note: I have done this before with other things and am one of the only people who will/has done this in the past in his circle) Should I first ask the Mom if I should talk to him? Should I just bring Mom soup and do her dishes and listen if she needs to talk (I am going to this regardless)? I know that Dad’s don’t always step up and try to pretend like nothing has changed (I think this is part of my friend’s issue - he’s in his 40s and has lived a party hearty lifestyle and doesn’t want to give it up), but his partner clearly needs him.
Have any of you been in this situation? Would you have wanted your partner’s friends to say something?