Partnership in the Face of Trauma
Facing the challenge of an unpredictable and stressful start of life for your infant can have a massive impact on your partnership. Fathers, oftentimes as much as mothers, report feeling traumatized by the hospitalization of their infants, and often find themselves feeling "left out" of the parenting experience. Fathers oftentimes report feeling like they have somehow "failed" their families, and many turn away from the circumstance at hand because they don't know what they can do to help. The many different coping mechanisms that both partners adopt in reaction to this traumatic experience can sometimes have the affect of creating a rift that is not easy to navigate.
Have you and your partner experienced:
- alienation from each other in trying to find your different parenting "roles" in this new and unpredictable experience
- difficulty communicating with each other after the baby is born
- An avoidance of talking about the birth or the baby to protect yours or your partner's feelings
- concern about your partner's level of depression and how it may affect your relationship or their relationship with the baby
- physical distance in distinct contrast with what your physical relationship looked like before
- substance abuse and/or avoidance behaviors amongst one or the other partner in trying to "numb" memories of the experience
- very different ways of coping with the premature birth of your baby
- anxiety that is so extreme it affects either the partnership relationship or one or the other's attachment with the baby
- alienation from friends and family, and an inability to feel motivated to do things together any more
- feeling like you live a very distinct and separate life from your partner, and that you no longer "connect" in the ways you once did
The experience of having a child hospitalized at birth can promote the distancing of partners in a relationship. The many different ways that partners, as individuals, have coped historically, may become prevalent in the months and even years after the premature birth of a child. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even simply different ways of coping can cause significant shifts in the methods of communicating within a family. It is important to make a space for healing for your coupling, as with the birth of a new baby, especially one with medical needs, parents oftentimes don't have that chance.
By taking the time to recalibrate with your partner now, you are building an incredibly strong establishment for your family.
Partners who participate in the NICU Healing program have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of each other's feelings about and responses to a traumatic event their family has experienced. Through this understanding, couples will be able to manifest a bond with each other unique to those who have been through significant life stresses, and which can create a solid foundation for the future of the family. Through NICU Healing, partners will learn to identify each other's triggers and to promote healthy means of coping, while at the same time developing a deeper sense of intimacy with and compassion for each other.