How a Wristband Helped Me Out of My New Dad Depression
They give you the same kind of wristband you get at outdoor music festivals after you have a baby. At a music festival, you get the little plastic wristband right before you have a wild night, do a bunch of drugs and hang out in close quarters with strangers. For the “You had a baby in this hospital” wristband, you get it after the wild night of drugs and hanging out in close quarters with strangers.
My dad-wristband didn’t say my name, but it did say “Schneweis, Baby Girl.” It signified that Rosalie belonged to me, and that I could take her up and down the halls without getting tackled by security. I loved looking at that wristband. It was like a badge of honor. “You did it man, you did it,” it seemed to say to me as I walked down to the cafeteria to eat, or when I ran home to feed our dogs. Of course, it was my girlfriend who had done all the work, but still, I had done something. I had made it through nine months of preparation. I had survived a super intense labor process. I had become a dad. That wristband was the proof when my baby wasn’t around.
This is why I didn’t take the wristband off when we left the hospital. Those first few days with a brand new baby at home felt really weird. I was still going to work, still going to the grocery store and still going about every day life, but it felt like I had a crazy weight on my shoulders all of a sudden. Part physical exhaustion, part mental fog and part “What the heck am I supposed to do now?” I carried this weight with me everywhere, but nobody could see it. Because nobody could see it, it didn’t feel right that I was feeling this way. The wristband served as my reminder that I’d been through a lot, that my world had changed dramatically and that it was okay to feel however it was that I felt. Whenever this weight seemed like it was getting to be too much, I could look at that wristband and I would suddenly feel better. “Schneweis, Baby Girl.” Those three words were a reminder of not only why I felt this way, but why it was worth it to endure the stress, the fatigue and the crazy weight on my shoulders. I was in a pretty bad funk, and as ridiculous as it sounds, that wristband helped get me through it.
Three months later, I’m still wearing the wristband and you can barely see “Schneweis, Baby Girl” anymore. This seems appropriate, as I can barely feel that crazy weight on my shoulders these days. I’ve gotten used to the fatigue. I’ve gotten used to the mental fog. I no longer need the reminder of why dealing with a little extra stress and exhaustion is worth it. I’ve gotten used to being a dad and I’ve become a normal part of society again. Now that I don’t need this wristband, I guess the next thing to do is to figure out if it’s okay to bring a baby to an outdoor music festival.
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