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I fear my increasing anger at DD's sleeplessness - is PND back?(8 Posts)
I haven't posted for a long while and I'm feeling fragile so please be gentle This is long! I also posted over in Sleep, but I wondered if anyone recovering/suffering from PND would have a view if my reaction to the sleepless nights is part of a PND picture.
DD is now 11 months and still no closer to sleeping through the night. She had appalling reflux in the early months (still not totally resolved) and only slept for minutes at a time, waking screaming countless times a night and frequently finishing her night's sleep by 3am. For five long months I got virtually no sleep and ended up with bad PND (PND doesn't really cover it. Honestly, I nearly went mad and was suicidal). At 11 months she's now a lot better, but her sleep patterns are totally unpredictable - she'll often wake and cry for an hour or two, and be totally unconsolable for no discernable reason; or wake several times for short bursts.
Although I'm now used to operating on very little sleep during the day, the frustration of the unpredictability of the nights and the feeling that she now 'should' be sleeping through (a lecture I got from the HV last week, helpful...) are beginning to really take their toll. The reason I'm posting is I've realised I am becoming increasingly angry during the wake ups, and although I've never shouted at or - God forbid - shaken DD, I find myself whispering out expletives of the "oh just go the F* to sleep you little sod" kind, and I'm having to put her down and leave the room to bang my head against a brick wall (either literally or figuratively, depending on the night!).
It's worrying me as at the time I feel totally disconnected from her, and all I can think about it going back to bed. I fear that one day I will just snap and I might end up hitting her or something worse (violence of any kind would be totally out of character for me). I feel recovered from the PND and nothing else would suggest I'm currently depressed, but the early depression (in addition to a very traumatic birth) did affect our bond for a while and I fear that I'm now can't be a 'proper' mother to her, if those things hadn't happened I would have more patience and calmly and lovingly handle anything she could throw at me. I feel so guilty and awful after I've got angry with her and I'd hate her to start feeling like she has to be scared of the vibe I'm giving off when I come into her at night. During the day I'm very loving and we have a great time together, so it's such a shame the nights are so bad.
I've tried controlled crying a couple of times for stretches of 3-5 days and it really doesn't work for her - she just gets more and more hysterical and I think it becomes counter productive after a few days. The result of my latest attempt is that she doesn't sleep through the night, but now I can no longer cuddle and feed her to sleep like I used to, as soon as I lay her down she screams again as if she's now worried about me leaving her to cry. She doesn't catch up on missed sleep later in the night either - she's increasingly awake and finished with her night at 5am, which means I am too.
DH is sympathetic but can't help apart from at weekends as he has such a demanding job. I'm supposed to be going back to work but don't see how I can when DDs and my sleep is still so poor.
Can anyone give opinion on whether I need to seek help for this anger, or if it's a normal part of motherhood? Do you think this a facet of the PND, or a 'normal' response to exhaustion and frustration?
Thanks for reading!
Oh so sorry for you. Sleeplessness is an awful thing and you can see why it is used as a torture technique! I am not a young mom but a grandmother but I do know about depression (through first hand experience) and I wonder why you think you are recovered from the PND because it certainly doesn't sound like that to me.
As I said other young mums who have or had PND will come along and be more help. I wouldn't worry about hitting your baby or shaking her - I don't think you are going to do that at all. The HV's comment was very helpful. My younger son and his wife have 2 children and the first one wa a wonderful sleeper but No.2 has been a nightmare. She is 3 now so a bit better but still makes a dreadful fuss when put down at bedtime and wakes in the night, and gets in their bed. But in the past it was really bad and she was waking at 11 when they went to bed, an hour to settle her, awake again at 1 and 3 and like you baby awake for the day at 5 a.m. My friend recalls not having a full nights sleep until he was 6!!! Mind he was a very difficult child.
Does your baby nap in the day - if so maybe you could have a "power nap" but something tells me that she doesn't nap in the day?
I think you should talk to your HV about how you are feeling and wonder if you still have PND - you will need to see a GP to get diagnosed and meds to help you through. Were you on meds before - maybe you stopped them too early. There are loads of MNs on here who I'm sure will be able to offer advice for you.
I know it's hard to believe, but your baby will grow and sleep for longer and longer and you will feel less stressed but it isn't going to happen right now, so I think you need more help to get you through this period and getting meds again for PND. Sometimes PND doesn't show itself for 12 months or so.
Hi, I've just started on Ads for PND you may see my other thread GP gave me sleeping tablets as I was so exhausted I was unable to sleep so being up till midnight and then up with the baby a few times in the night. The lack of sleep has definitely contributed and i'm actually feeling hugely better from just 2 solid nights sleep. I suppose what I am saying is don't assume its pnd, lack of sleep is a bastard. Maybe worth keeping a diary of your mood and see how you feel?
Dd is my 3rd baby she is 14m and all of my dc have not slept through the night regularly. Your health visitor is completely wrong, it is highly unnusual for a 1 year old baby to sleep consistently through the night. I have found I handled them all differently, dc1 I reacted just as you are, dc2 never really bothered me and dc 3 I handle ok by just going with it and letting her sleep in our bed she has bad separation anxiety at the moment although touch wood she slept all night last night, the nights I try and battle with her to stay in her own bed are the worst and just make me feel like a failure. I hope you get sorted soon.
Ps you are a proper Mother, you're her mother here worrying about her. Things will get better, don't be afraid to ask for help. Can her dad deal with her at night?
My god, I feel for you. I'm replying as mother of a 13 month old who does not sleep. I also had PND with an older child. Who didn't sleep either.
First up, the HV who has made you feel crap. HVs come in two types. Helpful ones who can save your life- literally, and crap ones who make you feel worse by lecturing you that your baby 'should be sleeping through'. You got the latter. Ignore her. She is an arse. For starters, countless sleep studies show plenty- plenty!- of babies who are not sleeping through at 11 months.
So now we have established that you don't need to feel guilty, let's think about how to get through this phase- and it is a phase- of having a non-sleeping baby.
I'm going to start by concentrating not on DD - she's harder to fix!- but on you. Here's what I do to stop myself going round the twist for lack of sleep.
1. Go to bed early. Same time as baby. In fact, I am only awake now because I am typing to you. Try to get in those precious four hours if you possibly can.
2. Go to bed when DD naps in the day. Even if you don't sleep, rest rest rest. Don't waste the time trogging round the supermarket with DD in the pram, or doing housework. Even when you're back at work you might be able to rest in a first aid room on your lunch break?
3. Delegate to DH. He has a demanding job. Good for him. You have a demanding job too. At the very least, Fridays and Saturdays- he's on duty. Wear earplugs and sleep as far away as possible. My DH is also in charge of all wake-ups from 5am, so I get to sleep from 5am till 8am. He has a difficult job and it has not killed him yet.
Don't be frightened by your anger or feel guilty or awful. It is completely understandable. I don't think you need to seek help- if by that you mean counselling- for any unusual kind of feeling. You are beyond beyond tired and someone is shouting at you all night. Sleep deprivation is a recognised torture technique. Actually, did you know that anger can be a feature of PND?
Just remember the crucial thing which is to put her down safely and walk away. Babies do not self combust if left to cry while you gather yourself. This is a lesson which is learned with the second baby- who will spend much of their life waiting for mum to get around to them after dealing with the sibling first- but bloody hard to understand with the first. Punch a pillow, have a cup of tea, put your hands in cold water, sniff some Rescue Remedy, sometimes I go and stand in the garden in the middle of the night. Whatever works for you. Please please stop banging your head though- brain injury not a good look.
You are doing really really well. Read this book What Mother's Do which has plenty in it about the effects of lack of sleep, and what amazing and difficult job you are doing.
Right, now for DD. I think TBH you've got two ways to play it. Others will offer advice too.
One is to go for the controlled crying route but stick to it. Stick to it for one week minimum (3 days might be just before a turning point) and play utter hard ball when you're doing it, all the way through to 0700 (not 0500). Write down - in conjunction with DH- how you are going to deal with her wakings, and do not change your mind at 0330 when you're going barking mad and every fibre of your body wants to go to your child. No going back or wavering. If possible go away - some MNetters have checked into a hotel- and let someone else deal with it. My DD2 settles for DH as she knows he means business, and also I think she senses my emotions are running high and this scares her, whereas DH is more straightforward.
The alternative is to go the complete other route if you actually enjoy feeding and cuddling DD and you think she hates to be alone. That would be move her into your bed. Only you will know if that would work for you and her- and DH will have an opinion too of course. FWIW it is not true that it will be impossible to eject a child who cosleeps, often they choose to move into their own cot or bed, so don't worry about the future. If you are having big big problems now anyway the future can take care of itself.
When are you due back at work? It might be that her sleep all changes again as a result of being looked after by someone else in the day, different nap routine etc. - another thing to bear in mind (sorry). You may also find that the distance from her in the day is actually quite helpful in terms of making you feel better about her at night. Not necessarily. But that was my experience.
I do hope these ramblings help, if only a tiny bit. Reading it back, I sound quite bossy, but it's because I am talking to myself really. I get angry with DD2 too when she cries at night, and have thought so much about how to get through. One hour at a time, one hour at a time...
Really good advice from previous poster, just wanted to add that if you can afford it at all, try to get dd to nursery now, could in fact wear her out more, my dd started sleeping through when she went to nursery, she got more tired. Of course could not work, but you can use the time to sleep, and worth a try to help you figure out if you can go back to work or not?
Ps DH put dd to bed for a long while and has very demanding job, can dh do work from home in the evenings so he can help with bedtime?
OP your doing better at me ...I actually DO shout at dd to go to sleep when I'm exhausted. I feel bad but we are only human and lack of sleep is water torture. I'd go to the doctor.
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