Feel terribly down after meeting with NCT mums :(

(87 Posts)
BotBotticelli Thu 23-May-13 08:37:15

Please can someone reassure me that I am not doing a terrible job as a mum??

I met up with the women from my NCT class yesterday, with all their babies too, and - as usual - I came away from the meet up feeling like an alien: stressed, anxious, upset and like I am some sort of freak cos I am not breezing through this experience of fist-time-motherhood like some kind of pro.

Honestly, they all act as though having their babies has had no affect on their lives whatsover. They talk about taking their babies with them to get their nails/hair done, are planning group outings to Lakeside and other shopping places, they talk about normal things like what they saw on telly last night, etc etc, whereas all I can think/talk about is my son, who seems like a complex puzzle which I a struggling (and failing) to solve every day.

DS1 is almost 6 months old and I am being treated for PND and anxiety, so in my more rational moments I know that my experience of motherhood is bound to be different from theirs, but it just seems so unfair at the moment. Almost half of my year's mat leave is already gone and I don't feel like I have enjoyed a single minute of it sad

Also, I think DS1 is harder work than the other babies....I know this might sound like I am making excuses for finding it so hard (DH certainly seems to think I am), but DS is just such a handful....all the other babies in the group just sit placidly on the floor, shaking a toy, or just drift off to sleep on their mums' laps....DS cannot sit unaided at all yet, and so spends his day rolling around on the floor, screaming his head off every time he rolls onto his tummy so I have to roll him back. Literally we spend who days like this. And he has never just drifted off to sleep, i have to rock him like mad when we're out and about, and he even fights it in the buggy. I could never in a million years take him to a nail salon!! he would be backbending, screaming, grumping within 5 minutes of gettign there, won't just sit in his buggy etc etc.

I just can't shake the fear this morning that I am doing something wrong to make him like this sad I try so hard to keep in entertained and stimulated, I try never to let him see/feel that I feel down, I also try just leaving him to work it out/roll over himself - ie I don't just rush to him everytime he screeches - but he just seems to need so much more help/engagement than the others.

Please can someone reassure me that this is not cos I am doing something wrong? Is it possible that some babies are just harder work than others??

Gah, sorry for long rant, head is all over the place this morning sad

Also the NCT group may be a self selected sample i.e. it may be made up of the mums with placid babies who can get out of the house easily.

While you may be the only mum who is struggling who has managed to get out to the NCT meeting.

So instead of comparing yourself to them, compare yourself to those at home, still in their PJ's, with toast in their hair who haven't managed to shower or brush their teeth yet, who will put on yesterday's leggings at about 2pm when they realise they have to walk to the shop with a little terror who fights the straps in the buggy as they are out of milk and will collapse if they can't get a cup of tea...
(not me at all a few years ago, no no no wink )

moodymary Thu 23-May-13 09:44:10

OP, there are parts of your post that I could have written myself!

DD was very hard work until she was 18 months, she didn't sleep in the daytime at all unless in her pram or the car, I had to rock her to sleep for hours, she cried a lot and just generally made it pretty impossible to get on with nice, 'normal' day to day activities!! NCT meet ups were a nightmare for me and I used to dread them. Of course, as others have said, they are not compulsory and you may find it less stressful in the short term not to meet up so often, but I am so glad I stayed in touch with my group as almost 6 years on, we still see each other and I have made some lovely friends.

In contrast, DS was an absolute dream! He slept properly, rarely cried and was just must easier.

This is nothing that you are doing, and yes, some babies are just harder work than others!

I know it feels so hard at the moment but trust me, it gets much much easier.

kalidasa Thu 23-May-13 10:02:44

OP my best friend is a paediatrician and she says that in her extensive professional opinion women in this situation almost always lie (about sleeping, eating, how they are feeling, everything in fact). If you are not actively lying - even if you're not saying quite how you feel either - you are in the small minority. I found this very comforting.

Anyway, your post really struck a chord with me. My baby son is also nearly six months (on the 28th) and I am also being treated for PND. I haven't enjoyed any of it yet, I was without question a lot happier a couple of years ago than now. I went back to work about six weeks ago because I was just so miserable and desperate (had been off sick all pregnancy too so some unusual circumstances). I do care for him but I don't feel any overwhelming love for him at all, and I don't have any problems handing him over. I find a couple of hours with him morning/evening manageable (though still hard and demoralising) but I really dread the weekends. It is really hard to be honest about this stuff but I don't think it helps anyone to put too brave a face on it.

If by any chance you're in NW London let me know and we can meet in solidarity for a less-upbeat coffee!!

LatinForTelly Thu 23-May-13 10:25:10

That 'What Mothers Do' book that AndIFeedEmGunpowder linked to is brilliant. It shows you how profound the change is in having a first baby, and how much you do without even thinking about it.

My first baby wasn't difficult (wasn't dead easy either!), and used to be one of the babies who fell asleep at the NCT meet-ups. But, she was a 'velcro' baby and was totally happy if I was holding her and not trying to do anything else at all. It would also overtire her being out a lot so she used to scream blue murder when we got back from the meet-ups!

My second was a very unhappy little soul, bad reflux etc etc, and then I found out what it was like to be at the meet-up, the barbecue, in the shops and have a baby who was screaming permanently.

Even though my third was laid-back, I never did get to be the mum who pushed a calm baby round a shopping centre for the day - how do they do that?!!

Long waffle, but please don't feel bad. You are not doing anything wrong at all. You sound like a lovely mum. Babies are all different. Also, circumstances are all different. You don't know how much help these mums get from family, partners etc etc. And yes, they're probably stretching the truth a lot bit.

One thing I got from our NCT meetings was that everyone had some sort of problem somewhere. Not one of us breezed through the whole thing.

Be gentle on yourself, OP, it gets easier. And get hold of that book!

princessnumber2 Thu 23-May-13 10:38:22

You sound like a lovely mum. My first baby was very hard work. I could barely make it out if the house some days and didn't really feel like I got anything done. Years on I realise that my first was very hard work and I was actually doing a great job. Some people have much easier babies (their second might be different!) and for some people the shock of becoming a parent is harder than others.

I agree that you don't know the full story with these other mums and also babies change all the time. They might be finding this stage easy but could end up with nightmare toddlers (or teens!). It's a long road and don't let others knock their confidence. The fact that you're finding it hard work probably means you're a devoted mum who's doing a great job.

Bugger the nail bars. I never managed to get my hair cut with my babies as they were just hyper.

Don't give up on getting out and about but do stuff that works for you and makes you feel good.

Good luck.

IAteTheCake Thu 23-May-13 10:40:11

You description sounds exactly like how I felt! My dd is spirited too. The other thing I think now looking back, is that maybe I expected too much from the NCT group - we all still meet now 2 years later, but some of us are very different so were never going to be best friends. We just happen to have had babies at the same time. I found I got on with people a bit better on a one to one basis. You are not doing anything wrong, it is easy to compare things in such an intense situation with others in a similar situation. You just need to tell yourself that babies develop at different rates etc. My dd still doesn't sleep properly, but is advanced in other areas. None of my NCT group really understood the sleep deprivation. I had PTSD after a traumatic birth as well, which I don't think anyone else in the group could really understand either. Everyone has different experiences with this life changing event of a tiny person taking over our lives, you need to give yourself a break and just be kind to yourself. Take it a day at a time, do activities you want to with the group, seek out other mummy friendships and take it at your own pace. You are doing brilliantly, just keep doing it your way with what works for you and your family. The best piece of advice someone told me was these developmental phases are just that, phases and there could be better or worse around the corner. Not just for you. But for the mothers who seem to be handling things perfectly too ;-)

Scruffey Thu 23-May-13 10:45:50

My ds was hard work as a baby as well. I think nct groups can sometimes be like this - people presenting the positives, boasting etc and not mentioning worries/problems. Don't compare yourself to them and remember the baby stage is only a stage and personally I find other stages much better - my dc are 7 and 5 and I love this stage - they are generally reasonable and interesting and can do fun things, have interesting conversations etc.

Exhaustipated Thu 23-May-13 10:48:02

I am so glad others are recommending 'What Mothers Do'. It is brilliant and I thought of it straightaway when I read your post.

I think you sound like you're doing a great job. I've had PND so I know that it can make you feel bad about yourself and your parenting, but please know that this isn't reality.

One of the hardest things I've had to learn whilst recovering from PND is not to compare myself to others, especially in terms of mothering. It's easier said than done, but it really makes a HUGE difference when you can start to gradually put it into practise.

kalidasa Thu 23-May-13 10:50:11

Oh yes I agree that it can be more rewarding to meet up with e.g. NCT mothers individually. IME people are usually more honest and relaxed in that context and it's all a bit less performative.

OwlLady Thu 23-May-13 10:53:45

My children are all older now and in hindsight I would have done a lot different so I would say to you:

Do you get anything positive out of going to the group? anything at all? do you find it useful?

If the answer is no, stop going

Secondly, lots of Mums find Motherhood hard, it's not your fault. I could have never have taken any of my babies/children to a nail bar either, even now (and two of them are teens) It's just a family dynamic. What baby or child would enjoy that environment anyway? Life isn't about having your nails done it's about finding things that suit you and it will all work out in the end.

I hope your PND improves soon x

MrsBodger Thu 23-May-13 10:54:28

Poor you! My first was like that - never slept during the day, almost never happy - I was at my wits' end.

Had to tell my husband to buy food I could eat straight from the fridge with one hand. She got a bit better when she could sit up cos I think she was less bored then and had a bit more autonomy.

Second baby came along and it was a revelation; she ate, she slept, she ate, she slept, just like the babies in the books.

And I don't think it was because I had got so much better at it, cos I know lots of parents who have had it easy with No 1 and then problems with a later child. All babies are different - you are not doing anything wrong.

saffronwblue Thu 23-May-13 10:54:36

I remember going home from mother's group crying because they all talked about how their babies slept for so long it was boring. DS (it seemed) did not sleep at all and I was averaging about 45 minutes a night. Later another mother told me that she had gone home crying after she had seen me BFing with what she thought was nonchalant ease. Everybody suffers in some way.
I had PND and was heartened when someone said to me that PND is an intelligent woman's response to our non-child friendly society and the isolation of new motherhood.

Note that DS is now 14 and I can't get him out of bed in the mornings!It will get better.

piprabbit Thu 23-May-13 10:56:45

I think your NCT group are, umm, being economical with the truth.

I have never met any group of new mums who haven't found it tough. But if you get just one person (especially if they have an alpha personality) doing the whole "I'm fine" thing then it knocks everyone else's confidence and everyone sits around agreeing that yes, they too are fine before they go home and sob (yes, all of them - not just you).

Try seeing them in smaller groups, mix with different people in different environments and you will start to hear different stories.

Good luck, keep plodding along and you will gradually start to feel more in control, confident and happy.

CoteDAzur Thu 23-May-13 10:59:55

I had one of each - a screaming angry baby and a calm content one. I didn't do anything different with them.

Now one is an agitated highly-strung child and the other is a smiling happy one.

It's not you.

FireEngineDoll Thu 23-May-13 11:00:24

I had this with my nct group. It was so stressful getting to every meet up and the plans they made, made it even more complicated! Trips to the races, legoland, into London on the train. It was all too much for me and my ds who was not happy just to sit quietly in his pushchair in a coffee shop. I found my whole experience with the nct very stressful and once I had my second I realized perhaps I should have spent more of that year of maternity leave at home in my pyjamas feeding myself and ds toast.

Incidentally didn't bother with nct second time round and just went to local baby groups. SO much better, wider mix of people and there is not the competitive parenting there is with the nct.

LikeTheStuffYouHangUp Thu 23-May-13 11:08:16

Hi I haven't read the whole thread but I read the op and needed to tell you this.

I had 2 under 2. They are now 1 and 2. Recently a friend came and told me how much of a failure she felt compared to me, she sai I had breazed through having 1, and having 2 was no challenge at all for me. She asked why she didn't find motherhood as easy as I did. She told me my life was unchanged and wanted to lnow my secret. I was so shocked and taken aback, but I offered her my 'secret'.

I was struggling, I felt like a failure every second of every day. I was struggling with depression and anxiety amongst other mh problems. I wanted to run away and often felt like packing it all in. I was lonely and forced myself out of the house and to put a smile on my face. I hated every minute of being out of the house as the anxiety was so great.

I can bet you anything your nct friends thought you were doing just fine and breazing a long too.

Parenting is HARD there is no manual and every child is different. You are doing the best job you can. Don't doubt yourself, my therapist says it takes a lot to screw up a child beyond repair wink

adagio Thu 23-May-13 11:13:41

FWIW I think I have a fairly easy baby (5 months)- I mean by that she doesn't cry much and seems quite happy.

However, she feeds at most every three hours (day and night), sleeps by BF or walking in buggy and has an aversion to being put down (she generally wakes up as soon as I even think of it) - moses basket sometimes works, cot so far has happened once, for 15 minutes..

But to me she doesn't seem to cry that much and if you go to bed at midnight and get up at 6 then she only wakes up once, technically speaking…!!

I guess I am trying to say that people have their own perceptions and expectations, you are anxious and looking for the issues whereas I was expecting more noise than I am actually getting so in my little bubble its all great, although on paper my DD sounds like an unputdownable nightmare….

She can roll front to back though smile (but not the other way, she has to be 'reset')

I also agree with other posters about try some other groups, I have found some lovely cheap ones in church halls (not particularly religious myself) and they seem to have a much wider mix of people both in terms of age of mums, experience and amount of money (my DD is almost exclusively in hand me downs, not mini boden!)

Hyperhelpmum Thu 23-May-13 11:18:33

Poor you OP. Just to reassure you that DS1 was one of the 'good' babies at NCT type meet ups and slept through at 6 weeks, did everything first. I didn't brag but I think some mums felt i had it easy-fast forward two years, he was the toddler group bully, a total nightmare, really hard work! Swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts! It is all so intense when they are babies but DS is now 5 and toddler nightmare phase if a memory. Keep going, you are doing fantastically well I'm sure and it will pass!

Babies are different. My DC1 was very hard work -- I'd go to postnatal group and wonder why he wasn't like the other bbabies. Then DC2 was a laid-back angel baby who was always either asleep or smiling/gurgling. DC3 was in between the two so it's not just that I was more relaxed with DC2 than DC1.

Fast forward to today and former angel baby DC2 is the stroppiest and moodiest of the bunch, so don't give up hope!

wickeddevil Thu 23-May-13 11:19:18

OP I am sorry that you are feeling like this. I think on the bottom is spot on. As others have explained babies are very different, some are easy to take out, and some are not. Inevitably those that are easy to take out get taken out more....
You made it to NCT. Imagine what those who didn't are struggling with.
The best piece of advice I heeded as a new Mum is not to ruin your relationship with your child over something they will grow out of. This applies to sleeplessness, tantrums, food fads, hitting and other joys of parenting. A child who won't settle and sleep is incredibly frustrating and it would be easy to focus on nothing else. But believe me they grow out of it. Give it a few years and you will be wondering just how to get your teenager out of bed.
What I am trying to say is that while you are having a tough time at the moment, it will change.
Avoid the NCT. Sending you un mumsnetty hugs.

LikeTheStuffYouHangUp Thu 23-May-13 11:20:27

Oh and more than once a week, the girls and I just stay in pj's. the only reason I'm dressed is because I had a dr appointment this morning. The dc are still in pj's!

noblegiraffe Thu 23-May-13 11:22:44

My first was a horror, vomited everywhere for the first few months (but fine with it) so the house was covered in muslins, I spent my time drenched in milk, he wouldn't sleep without being manically rocked and would wake after 45 minutes and at night would be awake for hours at a time. By 4 months I was an absolute wreck and completely exhausted. Getting out of the house took at least an hour of getting ready. He couldn't be left on his playmat for more than a few minutes.

My second is now 4 months and is comparatively a piece of cake. She has just gone to sleep by herself in her Moses basket, after spending a good half hour on her playmat entertaining herself while I tidied the house. I'm now planning on having a shower.

I was seriously dreading the baby period again. I put off having a second child because it was so awful. I can't believe how easy it is when you have an easy baby.

It's not your fault. You are struggling in a horrible situation that would have the calm NCT group tearing their hair out and falling to pieces.

It does pass. DS is nearly 4 and is brilliant. But you have my utter sympathy because I know exactly what you're going through. Be kind to yourself and accept help (and sleep) wherever you can get it.

RobinBedRest Thu 23-May-13 11:23:36

I have a copy of What Mothers Do which I will happily pass on if you PM me your address.

My first was like this and lets face it the lack of sleep and stress dealing with a more challenging baby can really affect your mental health.

On the other hand I think all kids go through difficult phases so maybe your friends will get a shock when their little angels get more mobile.

Don't go to the meet ups if you feel like this everytime, your HV may be able to give you details of PD support groups where you can meet Mum's who are having a more similar experience to you!

DewDr0p Thu 23-May-13 11:28:15

I think maybe it helps to think of these groups as being a bit like facebook - my experience wasn't that people were lying as such but only offering edited highlights! I guess people want others to think they are coping and don't want to be seen as moany.

I remember saying something very similar to your OP to my GP when I was diagnosed with PND and he laughed and said "that's what my wife used to say which was funny because often the same women were crying in my surgery"

And take heart, noone has it easy the whole time through parenthood - some toddlers and/or second babies can be very very difficult and nothing wipes away a smug smile quite so quickly grin

Ds1 was very very hard work for the first six months and then suddenly it all changed with weaning and sitting and he became delightful. Hang on in there OP. And maybe find some more honest mums to hang out with!

DewDr0p Thu 23-May-13 11:32:08

On a practical note, can your ds sit propped up yet? You might want to consider one of those inflatable baby nest things, you can wedge them in with cushions for extra support to start with and then put lots of toys in for them to explore. It was a godsend with 2 of mine when they were at that age, really helped to keep them entertained.

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