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What are our options if I need dh off work to look after me?

(38 Posts)
onceipopicantstop Fri 31-Jan-14 15:07:03

Hi didn't know where to post this but thought I'd start here.
I have pretty severe OCD and am 35 weeks pregnant with dc2. Have had ocd since just before dc1. Last pregnancy was difficult because of the ocd and stress and anxiety it generated, but we coped and have a healthy child. I subsequently gave up work because of the ocd. After much deliberation we decided to have a second child. I was on meds which were having some benefit, although still significant issues. Came of meds and things were fairly stable so we decided to try for dc2.
Things have just gradually worsened throughout the pregnancy, and I'm at a really low level at the moment. Not on meds - and not prepared to take anything as pregnant. I have become increasingly dependent on dh, and really only function at an even vaguely normal level when he's around. I'm not managing the ocd properly in terms of sitting with the anxiety etc because things have become so bad that we have both decided that the important thing is to keep me as calm as possible until dc2 arrives. Despite this I am still suffering from significant anxiety and have had a number of panic attacks. I am terrified that I am damaging the baby with all the stress, and can't wait for him/her to be born and be away from my stress.
Anyway essentially I'm not coping when dh is in work. He has been taking the odd day off to break up my week but on the days he's in work I'm so stressed and really struggling to cope. I don't feel that I'm being a good parent to dc1 as I'm so preoccupied with my issues. I really just want dh to be off work on a longer term basis, at least until dc2 arrives and for a while afterwards until things (hopefully) settle down a bit.
I'm just wondering what his options are? Are spouses entitled to time off work if their partner is unwell? Or could he request a sabbatical or a period of unpaid leave? He doesn't want to give up work as we need the money - and anyway we're hopeful that we'll get things more stable again in a few months.
Sorry this is so long but any advice really appreciated.

Could he request parental leave to look after DC1 - parental leave has to be linked to looking after a child but of course he will also be at home with you.

https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave

DragonMamma Fri 31-Jan-14 15:13:04

Sorry to hear that you aren't coping very well.

I work in HR and in these circumstances we would probably grant a week or two unpaid leave, if we'd been aware prior to asking.

Ultimately though, if you are 35 weeks now he could potentially be off work for 7 weeks plus I'm guessing 2 weeks paternity on top. Nowhere I have worked would say that is ok, to be honest with you.

You are asking for a career break, essentially and that usually requires an application process and notice.

I understand your reasoning for wanting him off but I think from an employers perspective he would be asking a LOT. Remember, he's paid to be there and peform, that's ultimately what they want.

DragonMamma Fri 31-Jan-14 15:22:12

Parental leave could be an option but you need to give at least 21 days notice and you can only have 4 weeks per year, per child if the child is under 5.

onceipopicantstop Fri 31-Jan-14 15:32:28

Thanks for your replies. Yes a career break is what we need I guess. His boss is aware I am unwell and in fact his job has just been reviewed so that he is no longer travelling overseas to try and make things easier for us. But he is still out of the house from 630-6.
I hadn't thought about parental leave so that would be worth looking into.
I hate how things are at the moment. I want to make the most of the time I have left with just dc1 if that makes sense, but I it feels as though I am just spending the day trying to keep my head above water, and counting the hours down until dh gets home. I am not enjoying life at the moment, everything is a struggle. And I am already worrying about how I will cope with a new baby on top of everything else.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 31-Jan-14 15:45:39

I have heard about compassionate leave, but not sure what it is for or the requirements. Is this not a possibility?
Sorry to hear you aren't coping well OP. I have a friend whose son has OCD, and until recently had no idea how debilitating it can be.
Hope you find a solution thanks

thoroughlymodernmillie Fri 31-Jan-14 15:47:41

I work in the public sector and we are only allowed 5 days parental leave a year. This tends to be for emergencies only, however, say for example your child was unwell during the night and you could not arrange childcare for the next day. Unpaid leave tends to be something that you have to give an extended period of notice for as well.
I can understand where you are coming from though as I got increasingly anxious towards the end of my pregnancies. Obviously not to the extent that you are though. My MIL had to come round most days just to keep me company. Do you have a relative that can do this maybe

PenguinsDontEatKale Fri 31-Jan-14 15:49:59

Have you thought about putting in place a longer term option? Your husband would be eligible to request flexible working as a permanent change. Could you survive on four days' per week?

Or would an option for the next few weeks like reduced core hours be an option? There's no legal right to ask for this, but if he is a valued employee they might be amenable.

How old is your first child? Could you look into any sort of childcare or help at home?

I can understand you wanting your partner around and I am so sorry you are unwell, but it sounds unlikely that this will right itself after the baby, and with one income maybe you need to look at more lateral options.

PenguinsDontEatKale Fri 31-Jan-14 15:50:44

Millie - you are thinking of emergency leave for care of dependants. That's a different thing to what's technically in law called parental leave - which is up to four weeks per year and pre-applied for.

millie
That doesn't sound right in relation to statutory parental leave. Its 18 weeks up to the childs 5th birthday but max 4 weeks in any one year unless your employer agrees otherwise. It is unpaid but other benefits like holiday entitlement should continue to accrue.

I suspect you mean leave for emergencies which is a slightly different thing.

lyndie Fri 31-Jan-14 15:56:56

Does it have to be your DH? Do you have relatives that could help or get a mothers help? Where I live there is a project where mums with mh problems get volunteers in to help for a few hours a day. It sounds like your DH really needs to keep his job. Are you under the peri-natal MH team, what support are you getting?

onceipopicantstop Fri 31-Jan-14 16:18:31

I am under the perinatal MH team and see them regularly. I'm reluctant to take any medication for fear of side effects on the baby. Similarly have been offered more CBT but I'm worried about the anxiety the treatment inevitably generates, so have asked to postpone until after the baby arrives. Once the baby is here my treatment options can be reviewed. I really want to breastfeed but things are so bad at the moment I would consider ff so I can start medication.
Most of my anxiety revolves around contamination issues, and I find it very difficult having people to the house - even relatives - so I think having a volunteer in to help would be impossible for me to cope with.
My parents are very aware of my issues - although I think they find it hard to understand like a lot of people - and do a fair amount of childcare for us already. I'm sure they would do more but I don't know if this is the best thing for dc1. In terms of spending less time with me just before all the changes a new sibling will bring? Although he'd definitely have a better time than he is with me as I have no enthusiasm for anything at the moment, and am quite tearful at times. I'm sure that is confusing him too.
DM frequently offers to come and do some housework for us but I'm so controlling about how things are done I've refused at the moment.
We could afford dh having a reduced income, or even a period of no income. We've even considered him giving up work altogether and trying to find something closer to home - he currently commutes 1.5 hours each way - and with fewer hours - but its a big decision. He's been with his company for over 20 years and really enjoys his work. Much as I want him home I also want him to be happy. At the moment he is having to do 99% of the housework on top of his fulltime job, as well as dealing with a stressed tearful wife, and a 4 year old who wants his full on attention as soon as he walks in! I think going to work is actually his only chance of a rest. He's not himself at the moment - he's always very supportive and understanding but the situation must be really frustrating for him.

thoroughlymodernmillie Fri 31-Jan-14 16:22:02

Oh will have to look at our policy for parental leave. Was probably thinking of leave that was paid rather than unpaid.

Is there anything you can outsource? Would you accept meals cooked by others? Could you accept if your washing was done by your DM?

Does DC1 go to nursery, if not, would that be possible?

PenguinsDontEatKale Fri 31-Jan-14 16:28:10

If your older one is four, what pre-school is he doing?

onceipopicantstop Fri 31-Jan-14 16:31:38

DC1 does 4 sessions at nursery. The nursery is full so no option to increase his hours and anyway he's not keen on doing more than half days - we have been gently encouraging him to do a longer day in readiness for reception in September.
I have relented and allowed dm to do some ironing - I couldn't bear her doing our washing though.
Meals wise the problem at the moment is my extreme anxiety about foods in pregnancy. Just to add to the pre-existing issues I have become extremely anxious about avoiding certain foods whilst pregnant, and about washing fruit and veg etc. At least that bit of my anxiety will go once the baby arrives! I guess I could ask DM to do some cooking if I gave strict instructions about the preparation.

DrownedGirl Fri 31-Jan-14 16:36:44

If he has been with the company a long time, hopefully they will be sympathetic to a period of unpaid leave. He can but ask

Could be work from home ?

NatashaBee Fri 31-Jan-14 16:40:57

I would be very nervous about giving up a job that I'd held for 20 years and built up a good reputation in the company, given the job market at the moment. I understand how difficult it must be for you, but I would at least consider allowing your parents to help with childcare even if you can't cope with them cleaning/cooking. Could your husband negotiate some working from home days so he can be around for you but not drop hours or take leave from work?

Its positive you have allowed your DM to help with the ironing. I think you could find a work around with the cooking e.g. giving your DM clear instructions or maybe you wash the fruit and veg and give it to her in a clean bag or perhaps she cooks for DH and DC1 and you prepare your own food, if you are more comfortable with that.

Perhaps focus on those tasks that you can cope with someone else you trust doing e.g. as well as ironing the clothes can your DM put them away. Could she gather up the washing for you even if you are the one who washes it.

JuliaScurr Fri 31-Jan-14 17:09:30

OCD is a disability
contact Council Social Services disabled adults section
they should have an advisor

disabledparentsnetwork.org.uk/

www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/financial-help/

good luck

MiscellaneousAssortment Fri 31-Jan-14 17:36:24

OCD absolutely is a disability but the type of help adult social services will give is sending agency workers around to manage the house and your personal care if necessary.

It doesn't sound like OP could cope with having strangers round every day? And that's the problem with all the kinds of help out there, it all involves having people in your home.

The only thing I can think of is if you can get a carers allowance for your husband? I don't know how it works with him working though?

I think you are right to focus on the fact that your OCD should be better managed once you have the baby because you will be able to access more treatment than you feel comfortable with now. This severe stage hopefully will be reasonably time limited.

onceipopicantstop Fri 31-Jan-14 17:54:47

Thank you so much for all your replies. I feel so stupid being in this situation, even though I know it's not my fault. Dh is home now and as usual I feel better immediately. Just because he's there to reassure and help me. But by Sunday I'll be worrying about coping in the week again.

I think you're right that social services would be likely to offer some sort of help in the house which I wouldn't cope with. Maybe I need to think about dm doing a few more things. The reason I don't let her do any washing is that I'm a bit funny about other people dealing with things like towels and underwear - I tend to treat them like sterile objects - weird I know! Similarly I would never let her put washing away in case she touched something I wasn't happy with. I have been known to rewash a whole load of clothes because I felt unclean when I handled it. But perhaps I should have a trial of her doing other less "intimate" (in my mind) clothing - tshirts etc. I am reluctant to handle dirty laundry at the moment - need to wash afterwards - but dh could bag it up for us. I need to learn to give up some control which is very difficult.

Pre-pregnancy I was still having a lot of issues but was better. Now I seem unable to accept any risk and seek reassurance if I have any doubt whatsoever. Or if no one to ask I will wash repeatedly, change clothes, towels etc etc.

Aaargh it's so frustrating. I want my life back!!

JuliaScurr Fri 31-Jan-14 19:51:45

most local authorities do direct payments now, so we employ our own assistants. You can employ anyone but close family. It can be combined with dp wrking pt and being a pt carer - that is our arrangement. You are still entitled to benefits under that scheme. Get advice from DPN, then approach council

MiscellaneousAssortment Fri 31-Jan-14 20:22:27

Could you cope with employing a person to help you?

Sorry if I sounded negative about ss, I assumed if you can't let family/ parents etc help you you'd find it really stressful BUT that's me assuming. So, get a referral to adult ds from your gp (you can self refer but doing it through a gp usually speeds it all up), then someone will come and do an assessment. You have to andwer their questions really honestly, and not think about how youd feel about someone helping out, or that youd manage somehow as the stress/ embarassment of someone helping sould be worse than no help etc. all those thoughts have to be put aside and just think about what things are a problem for you. If your needs hit their levels at which they will help, then that's good but not the end of your journey!

Alot of councils put people through their 'Reenablement Team' which is providing council/ agency help but also trying to get you involved and doing it yourself. It's a way of screening out people that don't need longer term help. After that they'd move you onto Direct Payments where you choose how best to address your needs.

From what youve said that would be awful for you, so after the assessment of needs, youd need to be cery clear about what you can/ cannot do because of your disability. Perjaps get a medical leyter to explain, protect yourself and be very clear about what's help and what's hell for you! Therefore you couldn't go through any type of Reenablement program, and they'd need to make a special arrangement about that right from the start.

I've been through all that myself as a disabled mum, and I couldn't live without the Direct Payments that let me have carers everyday. But it was really stressful at the beginning and I found having council & agency carers round twice a day incredibly intrusive and it remains one of the worst times in my life. I would worry about you going through that with the added issue that anxiety and OCD will get triggered by that help.

I also think they'd ask if the only person who can help you is your husband, then there isn't any room for the kinds of help they offer (you can't use direct payments to pay your husband).

However maybe you can have a think about creative ways to ease your situation:

For instance could you employ someone and get used to them over time? Or instruct them very specifically and them follow your needs and wear gloves/ be very aware not to touch things etc. Or someone to do other stuff like shopping for you instead, or doing the nursery run just to take some pressure off you and dh.

Having said all of that. I think it might be worth getting assessed and having a conversation about creative ways they could help. You still deserve help even if it's not easy to see a solution! Just be careful and take it one step at a time to ensure that the process itself doesn't overwhelm you.

Hope any of that helps flowers

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