How to Survive Postpartum Depression: A Husband’s Reflection

By: Nicholas Davis (my better half)

When Gina gave birth to Calvin, I was unhelpful and insensitive. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t just take care of our new baby while I was juggling a list of responsibilities. It was a simple equation for me: she takes care of him, and I take care of us.   

What We Didn’t Expect When Expecting

I have two older sisters who had babies and I never heard anything about postpartum depression from them. So, I naturally assumed that Gina would be totally fine like they were and we’d press on into parenthood like the billions of parents before us.

I had a lot of assumptions about mothers with babies, and they were wrong. I had an old school mentality about it: “Just suck it up and it will be fine.” “Power through it,” I thought.

But I was a jerk, this mentality is wrong-headed, and I’m writing this so that any husbands and wives reading our story would be forewarned and would not make the same mistake. Thank God that he sustained Gina through that first time around even when all of us—her family and friends—failed to notice what was going on. Postpartum depression is a real thing, so be sure to watch for it when you’re expecting.

Preparing For It To Happen Again

When we were pregnant a second time, I resolved not to let my wife go through postpartum depression alone again. Her mother, sisters, and I tag teamed to encourage Gina in every way that we could and to prevent her from having needless stress. 

This time, we encapsulated her placenta (a special thank you and shout out to Trisha for doing this for us!) and stocked up on essential oils and a host of other baby products to make known routines easier for us.

All of us worked together to try to calm her anxiety about managing two young kids, we brightened the home in small ways, we made a plan on who could take the newborn at night in rotation so that Gina could get a little bit of sleep before the long nights of clustered breastfeeding.  

With Max, remarkably, Gina experienced little to no signs of postpartum depression. We thought our efforts worked.

Sometimes Being Prepared Still Isn’t Good Enough

When our third baby boy was born, all of us were pros at this—and yet—all of our preparation wasn’t enough. Gina experienced severe postpartum depression much like after her first pregnancy, only this time the placenta encapsulation, the extra help at home, the oils and baby aids and everything just wasn’t enough.

Gina seemed a little lifeless to me. She would tell me that she was having dark thoughts. When we realized as a couple how serious this was, we decided to give medication a try.

Thankfully, we had success with a low dosage of antidepressants and it prevented her lows from getting too low. Her highs and overall enjoyment of life came back to her, and overall, we’ve been able to support one another in the raising of our now three children.

Helpful Suggestions For Dealing With Postpartum Depression

I’m no expert on how to deal with this, but I can share what we have learned by going through it and talking to others with similar experiences. Honestly, I’m thankful to God that this time around, he has provided us with an abundance of help, support, resources, and wisdom to manage expectations and keep Gina in a healthy state of both body and mind.

For husbands who don’t understand why they can’t just muscle through this, I’d recommend a few things.

1.     Get educated on PPD. There are organizations like Postpartum Support International who can provide resources and help for mom’s with PPD. Watch the Netflix show "When the Bough Breaks" to get a better grip on how your wife is feeling.

2.     Help your wife find a community of women or a group of friends, to talk to. She needs to share what’s going on with others whom she can trust and who aren’t in the home.

3.     Listen to some podcasts with your wife. We didn’t do this, but I wish we had listened together.  A podcast can help with understanding the challenges that parenthood brings to everyone. “Mom and Mind” is one that comes to mind. 

4.     Find ways to give your wife time away from the baby, even if it’s only for as little as 15 minutes a day. Suggest that she take a quick walk in the neighborhood, or binge watch Netflix undistracted, or take an hour to treat herself to the nail salon or out for a cup of coffee (either alone or with another friend). Depending on the degree of PPD, it may be best for her to meet someone at the coffee shop who can give her some encouragement. Coordinate with others to help your wife get through this. She is not alone.

5.     Remind her that this is only a short season. When she just had a rough night with baby, remind her that it’s only for a little while longer. Babies will grow up and she will have time and energy again for other needs and things. 

6.     Support her, even if it sounds silly. I still don’t think that Essential Oils are all that essential, but if your wife wants to buy oils to help with postpartum depression, buy all the oils in the world. Maybe they do help—I really don’t know. The smell can definitely have a calming effect in our household so maybe that can improve overall mood and help with more severe symptoms. The science behind that, or candles, or whatever else your wife might want to try, is worth trying. Support her in everything—be there for her and help her every single way that you can.

7.     Consider medication. As soon as Gina recognized she was in a dark valley again, she immediately asked for my feedback on trying antidepressants. I encouraged her to go for it, and we started out with a low dose to help lift her low points. It’s worked really well for us, as part of a holistic approach to postpartum depression.

Surviving? What About Thriving?

I wish I could promise more than surviving to those who are experiencing postpartum depression, but to me, surviving is thriving. There is nothing easy about PPD—it’s hard. It’s hard to watch your wife in such a state of weakness. It’s hard to try everything that you humanly can and still come out short on what she needs. It’s all hard. But surviving that hard together is thriving because it’s real life—and after a short number of those hard days can come another season of life without that hard. Even if it doesn’t come, we’re in this together—in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.

Editor's Note: This post follows "an honest look at postpartum depression pt 1." 

mean mommy.

"Mean mommy."

These are the words Calvin told me a few weeks ago. My first thought was "How dare he call me that, I am not a mean mommy. There are lots of mean mommy's in the world and I am not one of them." But once I set my pride aside, I realized that he was right. I am a mean mommy.

Calvin was not listening to me for something I can no longer remember from the stress of the day. Max was trying to get my attention while I was preparing our lunch, and when Calvin chose to disobey me again I reacted. If I remember correctly, I said something along the lines of, "Calvin, stop that right now. Why do you keep making me repeat myself!?" (in a louder than normal tone, but not yelling).

The problem with me reacting and instead of responding is that I was being a mean mommy. My kids never do well when I raise my voice or do not get down to their level. I also was not doing our normal routine of correction when one of the boys isn't listening to us. Normally, I will get down to his level to ask him 1) why he did what he did, 2) respond with a consequence for his action, and then 3) talk about how we can change the behavior moving forward. 

A few years ago a good friend of mine who moved away told me about sinning against our kids. It never really made sense to me until recently and now I can see how I let my own sin affect my kids. Was it my fault Calvin chose to keep disobeying me? No. He did the action of course. But I chose not to respond correctly because I was too pre-occupied. I also chose the path of anger instead of the way of grace. 

Patience has never been a trait of mine, but I can see more clearly now how desperately I need it with my kids. Later on that same day, I apologized to Calvin. I told him I was sorry for being a mean mommy and asked him to forgive me. The best part about having a young child is their forgiveness. They do not hold grudges and they love us unconditionally.

After a hug and a kiss, he has never brought up or remembered the day I rose my voice louder than normal.

As adults, we hold grudges and have a hard time with truly forgiving someone. With kids it is so easy to forgive, forget, and move on. They teach us how to forgive one another, and even more so remind us of the forgiveness of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Today I am "The best mom in all of the universe," thanks to me buying him whipped cream. Kids need grace and forgiveness just like us, though. We can easily forget this when we're going about our busy day. We need more grace and they need grace too. My prayer is that I will not sin against my kids so much and by God's grace will breathe first before responding harshly toward my kids. Lord, have mercy on us parents.

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Let's Talk About Sex.

Nicholas Davis:

It’s no secret that men think about sex a lot. Research shows that women do too, but as a guy who regularly talks to a girl—I’m pretty sure that men think about sex a lot differently than women do. Sure, both sexes think about sex. How could we not in a culture that divinizes sex? But even if the world wasn’t so infatuated with sex, there is still a healthy way to look at it. God has gifted humanity with the blessing of sex—and it is not an evil thing to enjoy within God’s beautiful design. But I think about sex in a different way than my wife does. Because of this difference, Gina and I thought it would be helpful for a husband and a wife to offer some perspective on a variety of issues related to sex and marriage. Since we’re a husband and a wife, it might as well be us. What follows is our take on a handful of questions.


Question: You said that you think about sex in a different way than your wife does. Could you explain this difference?

Him:

I drive a sports car that runs off testosterone. I’m not the speedster or brand new car that I once was in my early twenties, but I still have higher levels of T than my wife does. What this means is that I’m hardwired for sex in a way that my wife is not. For example, if it’s late at night and my wife is tired, the likelihood of us having sex is at 0 mph. On the other hand if it’s late at night, I’m tired, and my wife makes a move, the likelihood of us having sex goes from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds. We’re different, but unique.

Her:

As a woman my hormones dictate whether or not I will be in the mood. There are days when the absolute last thing on my mind is sex and others when I cannot wait for my husband to walk through the door. My body has grown babies and fed them for months on end so switching gears from mom to wife has been an issue for me. I am also being touched, grabbed, and am constantly needed by two young kids all day long. At the end of the day I just want to go to the bathroom by myself. My role as a mom and as a 24/7 caretaker clearly takes a toll on my body and mind. This of course affects my desire to want sex or think about it.

The funny thing is that before marriage sin makes you think of nothing else other than sex. At least, that was the case for me while I was courting my husband. I couldn’t wait for the day we could lie down together and wake up next to each other. But now that I can have intimacy whenever I want, it doesn’t become an insatiable need because it is always available.

Question: This seems like a pretty big difference between you two. How do you overcome it?

Him:

The great mystery is that although we lose much, we gain more through what is lost.

I can’t begin to love her in the way she needs to be loved if I don’t seek to first understand her. Knowing that my wife doesn’t work the same way I do helps me manage my expectations. For our first two years of marriage I thought it was the same for both of us. Maybe it was at the beginning. We had a lot of time together to explore one another in our early years, partly because we lived in our own apartment and partly because it was before kids. But a lot can change in just a few years. The only way to overcome this difference now is by both of us giving up ourselves in some way in order to gain each other. We have to die to ourselves in order to live together. The only way we can do this is because of our faith. Christianity is like this. Jesus died in order to bring new life. Only through death are we given life. The great mystery is that although we lose much, we gain more through what is lost. We overcome obstacles that otherwise are too great for us to overcome because Christ achieved victory through dying to himself.

Her:

Communication. Communication. Communication. The only way to combat our differences in how we think about and experience sex is simply by talking it out. We have to talk about our desires and expectations. If I simply told my husband “no” every time he asked for sex but did not explain why I answered like that he could easily think I no longer was attracted to him or loved him, which is never the case. Most of the times I cannot truly explain why I was not in the mood other than my body was simply tired. After listening to some great podcasts I have been encouraged to put my selfishness aside and pursue my husband more in this way because it is a desire of him. The fact that my husband desires me should be enough for me to want to be with him and I think acknowledging the gift before, a husband who desires me, helps me to push past my exhaustion and to be present with him. Another great thing that has worked for us is getting away for a night or two alone. The times where we got a nice hotel for the night are times that I am not distracted by kids, to-do lists, laundry, and dishes and can focus solely on my marriage. These little moments away to regroup as a couple has only strengthen our relationship and also is good for our kids to see that after God, mommy and daddy come first.

Question: What do you do when your sex life or marriage is in a rut?

Him:

What I should do is pray and talk to my wife about what's going on inside, and if I can't talk to her to at least speak to a friend about something related to it so we can get out of the rut. But sometimes I won't do what I should and I’ll just bottle it up and lash out at others in small ways. I’ll get angry easily. Feel agitated. Accuse others. Blame-shift. So I don’t always do what I ought. On a good day I'll pray Lord have mercy on us, and we will talk about what's going on.

Her:

sometimes there are things that only someone of the same gender would understand.

When I am in a rut I pray, listen to podcasts, reach out to a really close friend that I trust., but many times it doesn't bother me because sex is not always on my mind. I think it is normal to believe that our sex life and marital matters should stay between only the husband and wife. I even remember our pre-marital meetings where we were told about the circle of trusts and what should be kept only between the two and not shared with anyone else. The problem with this is sometimes there are things that only someone of the same gender would understand. This is where a friend who shares similar life circumstances with you and whom you can trust can be a lifesaver. To be totally honest, the selfish side of me will almost always wait for Nick to bring it up because I have other things consuming my mind.

Question: How do you pursue one another?

Him:

The apostle Paul encourages the husband to “love his wife as himself” (Ephesians 5:28, 33). I think he says this because men have no trouble at all with loving ourselves. But if we want to truly love ourselves, we are called to die to ourselves and to live for our spouse and our children. I pursue my wife mainly through mini dates (date night) and planning out as many vacations as possible for us to get away and reconnect. I used to pursue G a lot more than I do now. I remember writing her lots of notes and cards in our earlier years, now those are more of an afterthought. With the kids, work, and church responsibilities it is so much more difficult than it used to be for us to feel close. We had a pretty rocky year in 2015 adjusting and catching up with life, but this year has been a lot better. I’d say some of the biggest changes have been us texting more throughout the day. I think it’s important that G knows she’s still first in my mind, even though we’re not with each other all day long.

Her:

This question in itself is convicting. I don’t pursue my husband most of the time. When he walks through the doors at 4:30 PM my patience is at an ultimate low and it is the countdown before bedtime for the kids. Sadly, there are days when I do not acknowledge him when he comes in the house because I am preoccupied with what is going on at the moment. My husband pursues me and if it were not for him taking the time to arrange a babysitter for date nights or asking for time with him I can see myself often forgetting to pursue my husband. Don’t get me wrong though he is my best friend and we talk and laugh together all day but pursuing him in a way that makes him feel loved and wanted is the hard part for me.

Question: Is it okay to talk to a friend or mentor about your sex life when you have questions?

Him:

Yes, I do think there is an appropriate time to speak with someone else about intimacy issues and I agree with my wife’s response above. If anyone does decide to open up to a close friend about their sex life, it’s hard to walk this fine line without falling off on either side. But there are seasons of life when you just need some help. Sometimes we need encouragement and unfortunately our own sin and selfishness can cause our hearts to become embittered toward our spouse. When that happens, we do need a word to come from outside of us to either A) knock some sense into us (guys need this from time to time) or B) remind us of Christ’s sacrificial love for us; his bride and church.

Her:

With anything you need to exercise wisdom. I have seen the benefits of reaching out to a friend to talk about sex but I also know there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Marriage is between one man and one woman so when if I am discussing matters of sex I make sure I 1. Am not putting my husband down; 2. Am not allowing that person too deep into our personal circle; and 3. Am not saying anything that my spouse would be embarrassed of me to share. If you are going to someone to seek encouragement, prayer, and advice it should only help your marriage and not hinder it. When we only speak to friends and mentors and not our spouses about matters in the bedroom that is when problems can arise. I do not think the church or even circles of friends talk about this enough though.

Question: Doesn't sex with the same person in mostly the same ways get boring? How can you live life in a monogamous relationship?

Him:

There is nothing costly about Netflix and Chill sex.

Monogamy is widely assumed to be dull and outdated today. People assume that having the same sex with the same person is going to inevitably be very boring. But the opposite is true. Having a new partner on any given night is what actually gets old fast. With the emergence of Tinder (and other hook-up apps), sex is easy and frankly, it's cheap. There is nothing costly about Netflix and Chill sex. There is no sacrifice or time involved; it's just one and done. The problem with this is since there's nothing to lose in a one night stand, there is therefore nothing to gain. 

This is true in gambling: the higher the stakes the greater the prize. Who wants to play for pennies? Who wants to win a jackpot of nickels? But that's exactly what so many people are doing every day when they exchange a monogamous relationship for a one night stand. The lie is that hook-ups are more fulfilling, when in fact a hook-up dumps all meaning out of a relationship and reduces everything down to an orgasm. So no, sex with the same girl never gets boring. Each day that we grow in our love for one another only intensifies our experience of life in and outside of the bedroom. Every day there is much to lose, the stakes are so high, and therefore there is much gained.

Her:

I don't think sex has every been boring for me. There is much more involved than just the act of sex. When I am intimate with my husband it is a physical, spiritual, and emotional encounter. It requires me to be vulnerable, exposed, and is a time to put any shame aside and to be me. I cannot fully answer the monogamous question because I think being in just one relationship, to one man requires so much in itself that the thought of relating to another man on any level would be overwhelming. My husband knows all of my sin, all of my flaws, my weaknesses, and my strengths. I often wonder how someone can be with more than one person because of what it takes to be truly intimate with just one person. Tim McGraw has a new song (Humble and Kind) that sums up my thoughts on monogamy well:

Know the difference between sleeping with someone, and sleeping with someone you love.

But to answer the first question more directly, no. Sex in my experience is never boring. I don't think you need a book of new and exciting tips and tricks to make your bedroom life more interesting. Sex is much more than just sex. Each and every time we come together we are glorifying God and with that I believe God is sanctifying us to sacrificially love one another not only in that brief moment, but for the rest of the day and the rest of our lives too. 


Talking with your spouse about sex is a worthwhile investment. There is no one else in the world that we can be closer to. Our hope is that sharing our experience about what helps us will foster a desire to open up to your spouse about sex. 

Are there any important questions to ask that we missed? Feel free to ask more questions in the comment section.