I remember Allegra's birth as though it was yesterday, but I also remember the time. It was very stressful for Jessica with her work. We brought the baby home and we went through... Couldn't breastfeed, all those sort of stuffs. How do we change nappies? Are we going to... But we battled through and I was working for 60 Minutes as a reporter at the time. So, I was traveling an enormous amount. And I remember Jessica, I think she was hanging on. She was hanging on. As I look back, I see that, but I do remember it got to a point one night where, I think I'd just returned from a long trip for 60 Minutes. Allegra, let's say she was six months old, and Jessica looked at me. She was sitting on a couch opposite me, and said, "I can't do this anymore. I can't do this. I'm not coping. I'm really, really struggling". I can still see her telling me that and it stopped me in my tracks because I'd married this woman that I thought was so perfect, so wonderful.
I remember she said, "I'm struggling. I can't cope. This is absolutely wiping me out. I haven't got the baby blues. Some thing's wrong and I need help". And I stopped in my tracks, and I got up and I went across to her, I gave her the biggest hug and I said, "Everything is going to be alright. Don't worry. Everything is going to be alright". I then said, "Do you have any suicidal feelings about yourself? Or do you have any feelings that you want to harm Allegra?" And they were hard things to say as a husband and a father. And she said, "No", and I took her at her word, but I knew that we were in a pretty desperate situation and I had a very sick wife. And I again reiterated that I will look after her, everything will be alright.
So I think she took a deep breath then and it was a moment of "Phew, I've shared this with Peter", because she's told me that was the hardest thing that she's ever had to do, is to tell me how she was feeling in that situation.
So, the next morning, I had an action plan worked out. I rang her obstetrician, I said this is what's happened. She was fantastic. She got us into a specialist psychiatrist in post-natal depression almost immediately. I went along with Jessica as her husband, and as the father of Allegra, and the ball started rolling. And I know Jessica felt immediate relief, not necessarily from the deep dark feeling she was feeling and the not coping, but just that someone... me, the obstetrician and the psychiatrist had put a big net underneath her, and that we're going to catch her if she fell. And that was the start of a long process of making her feel better, get better. We weren't talking the baby blues, we're talking a mental illness that strikes many, many new mothers, and that's the difference. It's... baby blues can be a little uneven for a while, but gets longer than a couple of days, or a few days, that's when I realised that things were not right.
As I look back, I can see those moments that she wasn't coping, but I really didn't give it a whole lot of thought. I just thought, we'll be right. We've got mum and dad, and Jessica's mum and her dad, and we've got help. We'll be right. Now that's in retrospect that's in hindsight.
The first time I really knew about it was when she poured her heart out to me on the couch, and said, "I cannot cope. I'm not coping. I'm sick. I need help". Can I tell you a story about how I really discovered how deep it went? Not long after, we'd got her into medical care, specialist medical care. I came home from work one day, and the computer was open. And there was a typing, a document. And so, I started reading it. And Jessica wasn't home. And I started to sob, and sob and sob. And she's written about this publicly. She was writing an article about her experience with post-natal depression, and she talked about the little Tiffany clock that we had, that she... Her mind would wander to about how she could use it to hurt our child. The steak knives... her mother, she confided in before me. They were all thrown out.
And I was sitting in front of that computer sobbing my heart out thinking "My God, it's as... tough as this". So, she came home and I just went out and grabbed her, and said "I've read all this, and I didn't realise it was as bad as bad as bad as this". And that was a real eye opener for me. And it was hard in my job, I had to basically say I can't travel. I have to be here for my wife, and my child. And, for any father, they are the most important people, and I was adamant that that took precedence over everything. I had a fantastic boss who absolutely got it when I confided in him.
If you're not coping, if your wife's not coping, the most critical thing you can do is speak up and get help.