A man recently opened up about his story, of how he became a dad, detailing how he was diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing the birth of his daughter.
Elliott Rae, from the United Kingdom, was left with disturbingly vivid flashbacks of the ordeal.
Speaking to the BBC, the thirty-eight-year-old father explained how the experience gave him serious mental health issues, but the expectations burdened on him by society meant that he would go without professional help for a year.
“I’m just tired, I’m a new parent,” he would tell the people around him, and that excuse worked for a while, but things only got worse for Elliott as the flashbacks and nightmares started consuming his life.
“I didn’t feel like myself at all and I couldn’t muster the energy to care about anything,” he told the outlet.
This was something he did not expect to happen. When his partner, Soneni, first got pregnant in 2015 the couple were overjoyed. Little did they know, the complications of labor were going to test them to the max.
Within just a few hours, Soneni’s blood pressure rocketed and the baby’s heartbeat was falling so she was moved out of the birthing pool and into a darker room with more medical equipment. Elliott started getting more and more worried as doctors and nurses started rushing in and out of the room.
“That room felt very different, it felt darker, with lots of medical equipment,” says Elliott.
It was then revealed that Elliott’s partner had contracted an infection, Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
While most of the time, it isn’t too dangerous for mothers and their babies, this time it was.
“The midwife put the baby on my wife’s chest and then there was just silence, it felt like everything stopped,” he explained.
On one hand, his child was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit and on the other, his wife had lost so much blood and was laying on a hospital bed. Elliott had no choice but to leave his wife and go with his daughter.
“I was so worried about them both, but my daughter was 5 minutes old, I needed to go with her. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like a child who didn’t know what to do.”
After 2 weeks, the parents were finally allowed to take their daughter home…
And just when they thought that they could have a minute to catch their breaths, they stumbled across a developing bump at the back of her head. Doctors were worried that it could be a tumor or a blood clot, so she underwent testing.
“I could feel the energy draining from my body – I had no more to give,” he said, “We both hit the absolute bottom, we were at our most vulnerable. I remember wondering where all these tears were coming from, because I cried all night.”
Thankfully in the end, it wasn’t anything to worry about and the family were able to go home safely.
After the traumatizing ordeal, Elliott suffered a lot.
Therapy wasn’t something he thought about but when his daughter suffered an allergic reaction to wheat, he was taken back to those moments when she was born.
“Soneni dealt with it really well, but it sent me right back to the birth and that helpless, out-of-control feeling… I thought of PTSD as something only soldiers get after going to war, now I know it can be triggered for anyone who has had a traumatic life-changing or life-threatening event.”
He decided to get help for his trauma…
And he even started up his own charity, Music Football Fatherhood, to talk about being a new parent – though he didn’t talk about the traumatic birth or PTSD until recently.
“As men and as dads, being vulnerable and talking about our mental health and our struggles is a very new thing to do. It still isn’t completely acceptable,” Elliott added.
It’s not acceptable. Men should be allowed to open up about their feelings without being deemed as “less manly”, whatever “manly” even means. If you know anyone struggling with similar issues, please prompt them to get help. No one should suffer in silence.
Read Elliott’s full story here.