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Not getting any easier - high needs 6 month old baby - at my wits end!(53 Posts)
Hi, I'm sorry this post is so long but I just need to talk to someone. I'm currently at my wits end with my 6 month old dd.
She's always been a high needs baby, right from the start. She breastfed almost constantly for many weeks - so much so that whenever anybody came to visit I was stuck feeding her in front of them and nobody got to hold/cuddle her, even dh. We did try but she would literally go purple and scream. Looking back it was probably a lot of comfort suckling, rather than feeding, as she was quite a windy and refluxy baby. The witching hours were particularly hard -I used to joke (back when I still had a sense of humour) that I thought babies woke you up at 4am, not kept you up until 4am!?
Anyway, that's in the past now (thankfully), but overall I feel like things are getting harder, not easier. She has never been a good sleeper but she started really fighting sleep at around 6-8 weeks and we had to resort to walking her in the pram 4 times a day - sometimes walking for two hours just to get a measly half hour nap out of her. I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some - which was great at first but I am now bordering on underweight. Now she has outgrown the pram, doesn't nap in her pushchair, and still fights naps at home as much as ever. We have tried everything - swings, white noise, blackout blinds, lightshows etc etc, and I think we've read every sleepsite/high needs baby site too.
All my antenatal buddies have babies that just nod off as and when, so they can spend the afternoon hanging out together having coffee, or going to baby groups, while I have to make up more and more excuses each time they invite me. I have tried to go out with her, really I have, but as dd is only happy being awake for a couple of hours, our window of opportunity to get there/be there/get back is just too short. Add to that the fact that she will now only breastfeed well at home as she is so distractible, the introduction of solids 2-3 times per day, and the time taken to settle her for a nap, and that window quickly shrinks to nothing. Also, she isn't the type of baby to sit happily on your lap or in the pushchair, while out. Last time I met my fellow new mums, they all ordered and ate their food while I stood jigging my dd on my hip, looking on hungrily while they ate. I felt like everyone in there was staring at me as I was stood up with dd. I'm so bored and lonely stuck at home all day. I have thought about inviting them over to mine but I am so ashamed of how difficult a baby she is. I feel like it reflects badly on me as a mother. Also, my house is a mess as I cannot even find time to shower or cook a meal, let alone clean the bathroom!
My husband has been very supportive but I don't think anyone appreciates how unhappy I really am. I love dd to bits but some days my feelings towards her consist or either resenting her, or feeling desperately sorry for her (it's not her fault after all). I just wish I had a normal baby. I can't even take a break and let someone else look after her as she still breast feeds every couple of hours and nobody other than me can settle her for a nap - the longest I have ever left her for is about 90 minutes when I got a (much needed!) hair cut. I've tried espressing but haven't had much luck - especially as dd feeds so often there is very little opportunity to use the pump, and when I have it has left her short. I've even considered getting up in the night to do it but I am soooo tired I can't face that. DH and I have been invited to a wedding in 4 weeks time and there is simply no way we can go, which is depressing. Other people seem to be able to get out and about, with or without their baby but I seem capable of neither.
At my lowest points I have even considered suicide - I have a goodbye letter already written on my pc. I don't think I ever would though, as I love my dh and dd too much, but it scares me to think that I might.
Sorry this just sounds like a selfish rant. I just don't know what to do anymore. Thanks for listening.
OK well first off, if you are at the point of feeling suicidal then you may have PND and you need to get help. Have you got a nice HV you can talk to?
Secondly, I really do know how you feel. DS1 was definitely a high needs baby; in some ways he's now a high needs 6yo! but I'm used to it and it's a lot easier than having a baby. This phase is exhausting but I promise it will pass.
If you've thought about suicide to the point of writing a letter then you need to talk to your GP.
However you could just simply be exhausted. You haven't mentioned it in your post but have you considered formula to give you a break from the constant breastfeeding?
you need to speak to your GP about post natal depression
a suicide note
it's not a selfish rant - my DD wasn't as bad but she breastfed 3 hourly night and day until she was 6.5 months old and i was insane through lack of sleep
sleep deprivation is very serious especially over a long period of time
did you ever get your DD assessed for reflux?
i am sure there is a high needs baby thread on here and if you search the archives I am sure you will find it
My last baby never slept during the day and he screamed so much he made me deaf. If you are feeling that desperate you need get her to take a bottle so that you can have a break.
You really really need to see your GP. Will she take a bottle at all? If so, express / use formula and give her to someone else so you can have a break. Preferably someone who will cope if she screams blue murder.
When I get to my breaking point my mum takes our baby out for a really long walk just so I can sleep for a few hours.
Have you tried cranial osteopathy? I know it sounds woo but it has done wonders for DS.
It does not reflect badly on you. At all. Again, please call your GP ASAP.
Also, have you tried a sling? DS1 was much happier in his than he was in the pushchair, when he was a baby.
put the baby in the cot. make sure there is nothing she can get herself caught up in. and go to another room. and sleep. Leave the monitor turned off. Eventually she will cry herself to sleep. But thats much better than you shaking her.
It would be much better if you could get someone else to look after her for a few hours and get some sleep. tbh, your wording, 'high needs baby' just sounds wrong. I thought you were going to be talking about a baby with special needs, but nothing in your post sounds like it. Just that baby has gotten used to having you jump at every tiny little breath. Remind yourself, who is the adult in this relationship? breastfeeding a baby constantly is fine, as long as its not traumatising you.
I used to feed my six month old up to twenty times a day. She was mobile by 3.5 months, and refused to take solids or a bottle. Then at 6.5 months I had had enough and followed the gina ford routine, and four days of tortured screaming later, my angel was sleeping through the night, on solids, and breastfeeding only six times in 24 hours.
Unless your child has actually got a medical condition that makes her a special needs child, there is no such thing as a high needs baby
I second the cranial osteopathy. I didnt try it myself, but have known many people who have and its worked wonders
I think you best get to the doc. Firstly for you for pnd and secondly for your dd because something is wrong if she's this unsettled still at 6 months.
Aside from that if it takes 2 hours to settle her to sleep something else is awry. Does she cry in the car seat?
Thirdly see if there is a sling library near you and go and try out some slings. It sounds like she might prefer being upright
I second the dr. For you and your dd. many will say constant feeding and everything is normal. Bit it's not, not really. She might need medication for the reflux or a prescription milk as it could be an allergy or Intollerance too. Don't suffer a minute longer. Call your gp first thing Monday boom a double appointment so you and baby have one. And be honest!!
You sound depressed and may well need medication too xx
Cranial - defo! Doctors - defo! Sling, great idea! If you are suffering with PND whatever you do, do not let your baby cry, you will feel worse! A symptom of depression is feeling guilt, you don't want to make things worse for yourself... Get some help and know you are not on your own, there are loads of support groups for people with PND, first step ... See your HV or Doc
P.S controversial I know especially for MN but maybe consider chatting to doc/HV about formula? agree with others above, you need to check all is well with your baby, might be a simple fix for eating/sleeping
It's so so hard. Mine was a lot like yours. Nothing really helped. Once he started crawling though it transformed him, it really really did. He still doesn't sleep at all well, and still bf far more frequently than his peers, but he's not so impossibly miserable any more, and normal life can continue around him at last.
As others have said, doctor first. If you did decide to sleep train - any method of sleep training - that is up to you and nobody's place to judge you. But I really disagree with the pp who said there's no such thing as a 'high needs baby' and that she is just used to you 'jumping at every breath'. Some babies really are 'high needs' and it does mothers of high needs babies such a disservice to pretend otherwise.
Look after yourself, op.
Oh - re naps - our best days / weeks have been the times I've just stopped caring if or when he has them. I just get on with my day and he either naps on the way (sling) or goes without. Some days he has a total meltdown but other days it pays off. Go to places where it doesn't matter if she cries? See friends with older children (who will remember and sympathise), go to parks etc. Not 'so she can sleep' but for something to do. I always felt that DS picked up on my stress and got more wound up if I was frantic for him to stop fussing.
Sometimes none of that works, though. I know.
So sorry you feel so low. Sounds horrific. Never underestimate the effect of severe sleep deprivation, although I would definitely speak to your GP as writing a suicide note points to PND. Have you told your DH that things have got so tough?
If this was me - I would seriously consider making the move to formula, if only to give yourself and your body a break. You've bf for 6 months which is fantastic and a real achievement.
Also, don't worry about your new mum friends - they will only be feeling sorry for you, not judging you.
It will all get much better, but you must get help.
I know exactly what you mean even down to the underweight thing. Dc1 was/is exactly this. I'm guessing the sling and bottle ideas will be a complete no go because part of the whole thing of a high needs baby is that they just don't adapt well at all.
I don't think it is PND because the depression stems from the situation not an innate down. I found the absolutely only way to move forward was to get some sleep. My dh had to take over and do controlled crying with dc1 as I was going absolutely spare. He screamed the house down and i couldn't have done it alone but it did eventually work. It changed things dramatically when I got several hours sleep in one go. I also used cc for naps although less successfully.
I think hig needs babies often just are quite intense characters and my DC hasn't changed radically as a toddler but we have managed better coping strategies and to find some form of routine as he has got older. I found I bottomed out at 6 months so do hang in there. Talk to HV and GP too.
Please please hang in there. Honestly. It is going to get better. At 6 months your baby will start to become more interestedIn the world from now on and things will get better. Trust me. This is coming from me who with dd 10 years ago I wandered around Sainsburys wondering how I could leave her somewhere and wander off to commit suicide. I promise you it will get better.
But you do need some help and some perspective. And possibly some anti depressants. Have you seen your gp? Things only really started to lift for me when I began taking citalopram at a very high dose 60mg a day.
What is your routine like for dd at the moment? Would you consider mixed feeding or switching to formula or expressing so dh could share some of the load? I'm going to really piss people off here but both my dc have been bottle fed (gave up breastfeeding with dd from 10 weeks as I'd had enough and it was another chore for me to do when I was depressed enough as it was) and both have slept better and been more settled on formula. Again, that is my own experience.
I wouldn't put pressure on yourself with the groups. In fact I never went to any because they made me feel inadequate. I actually went back to work 3 days a week instead to get some adult company and away from dd to regain my sanity. I found a good nursery for dd and it helped me... any good for you? Just an idea.
I now have another dc when I swore I'd never have any more.. he is now 11 months old and literally did not sleep during the day at all for 6 months. I remember one day he went 12 hours without sleeping and no one believed me! But he did....!
I kept trying to put him down for naps in the cot in the dark at regular times, picking him up if he cried and putting him down again etc. And using a dummy!
Gradually he seems to have got it and sleeps well for naps and nights now. But he is still high needs in a way - he won't sit happily if we go out, he doesn't like buggy ! I have never had one of those easy going go anywhere dc!
He also won't sleep at all unless he is at home so we can't really have a day out!
But I look at dd who is 10 years old and I know it passes. Honestly it will.
Here holding your hand.
I couldn't read this and not reply. I am so sorry for you, really I am.
My DS1 and DS2 have both been like this as babies. Never under estimate the toll a crying/ hard to settle baby can have on your mood and state of mind. DS1 was terrible for fighting sleep. He was a cranky baby at the best of times but nap times were horrendous. I spent many a family gathering stood up jiggling him and he hated anyone trying to hold him but me. It was truly the saddest time of my life. It's so easy for people to say PND but I felt like screaming 'I'm not the one who's depressed here!!! My baby is miserable!!' which of cours over time made me depressed anyway. It's a horrible lonely feeling when everyone else seems to have happy, cooing, babies who drift off to sleep wherever they are. I still feel a little bitter even now, like I missed out on getting any enjoyment out of his whole babyhood really. I loved him, would have fought to the death to protect him but I absolutely resented him for isolating me.
I too considered suicide. I wrote a letter to DH and DS saying why I couldn't cope anymore. I started self harming and became a recluse. I truly felt like I was a crap mum but also felt I'd been robbed of having a happy experience. DS1 cried constantly and fought sleep for bloody months and months. I remember the day of his first birthday party DS was crying (as usual) and I just felt like I'd ran out of steam. Like everyone who kept telling me things would improve were lying to me and things would always be this horrible. I remember I'd set his first birthday to be the date that if things hadn't improved by then I'd kill myself the month after. Needless to say I didn't do it but more out of pity for DH leaving him with this restless baby to cope with alone!
Any way, bottom line is, I should have gone to the doctors and told them quite how much DS1's crying and lack of sleep was affecting me. I should have got help but I didn't.
DS1 is now 5 years old and the absolute light of my life. He's not high maintenance or high needs in any way. He remained a willful toddler, argumentative and tearful but nothing can compare to those first 18 months of hell. He seemed to out grow his frustrations early though and by age 2 was brilliant. I really mean that. He is a child I can take any where, he is polite, well mannered, funny, articulate. Knowing him now I can see why he hated being a baby so much. He was frustrated. Your baby won't always be like this. It does get better. It really does.
DS2 is 16 months and exactly the same as DS1 as a baby. It's been one hell of a year. Many low points. I haven't hit the suicidal lows purely because I have DS1 to live for now too but it's not at all been enjoyable. Having a hard to please baby is soul destoying and I feel for you so much. Please take care of yourself and please believe me that it really will get better. x
Oh and take any comments about 'no such thing as a high needs baby' with a huge pinch of salt. Read up on DR Sears on internet. Please know you're not alone. Unless you've had a baby like this, it's impossible to understand fully the torment you're going through. I've still never met babies like mine in real life! Only on mumsnet but they do exist, really! We tried everything to help both of our boys. Reflux medication, referrals to paediatrician, dairy free diet, cranial osteopathy. Nothing worked. Some babies just don't like being babies and really make heavy weather of it.
Loads of sympathy from here too. I'm going to suggest some practical things that help me when DD was like yours:
- I made sure that the first and second feed of the day were 2.5 to 3 hours apart. She HATED it, but I did all I could to distract or ignore her. She would have been feeding every 15 minutes otherwise. This first gap in feeding set up the rest of the days' feeding at 2.5 to 3 hour intervals.
- Mixed feeding, so that DH can help, which means time for you to unwind.
- First sleep of the day - about 1.5-2 hours after waking - DD fell asleep on DH (helps that DH is a chef who works nights). He used to sit in front of the telly with her for a hour or so. At that time they are at their sleepiest so will fall asleep most easily on someone else.
- Wearing a carrier around the house, while pacing up and down watching tv for evening/afternoon naps really helped.
- I found this technique for helping DD to get to sleep. Sit down and bounce DD on knee (helps if crossed over other knee) and pat on back slowly at the same time. Also did "shhhhh" and bought a swaddle blanket. Often used all at the same time.
- This may be frowned upon but it has saved my life roughly 2-3 times a week for 30-60 mins - the gigglebellies on youtube. DD loves it and now tries to sing along.
I am going to be really mean now, but my friend's baby is the same age as DD and he was the quietest and loveliest baby when DD was a right nightmare. You can imagine how it has turned out a year later - DD is an intelligent delight who is tries to say hello and smile at the world, while friend's baby is still doing bugger all.
Hang in there :-) You're a great mum. You have come on here to ask for advice. When I was going through what you are now I worked my arse off trying to figure out how to practically deal with my demanding baby. It's hard work mentally and physically. I hope that you can find ways that make life easier for you.
Couldn't read and run, I have a high needs baby myself, he is now nearly 9month old and slowly getting better. If I can promise you one thing is that it does get better, hold in there!
I found it helpful to stop worrying about naps, to just let them happen when they happened.
Some babies are much harder to look after and mother than others. If you are so upset you are considering suicide please please please talk to your DH and to your GP.
I know it's hard when they need you so much, but they will only learn not to need to by relying on others. It will get so much easier as your DC gets older and less reliant on milk. My DC2 would love to feed every ten minutes if she could, but as both she and I know she is fine with a a snack and water she doesn't get fed that often.
Soon they start moving about and get so much happier and funnier and independent. There is an end in sight I promise. Hang on in there!
My DD1 was like this - she cheered up though when she started getting solids as a proper part of her day (a few weeks after the first tastes). It was like having a different child.
I used to wake up and breastfeed, then read to her and sing to her until it was an hour after she woke up, then give her breakfast (solids), then get her dressed and generally distract her for as long as I could, before giving in and feeding her whenever she wanted it until about 11am. Then I would try really really hard to distract her until about 12 when she got more solid lunch. Then we went out for a walk, and if she fell to sleep good, if not then at least she wasn't feeding.
After that I just fed on demand again until morning. The beauty of it was that once she was used to the gaps, other people could distract her.
I can really recommend the baby whisperer for sleep, but didn't start that until she was about 9 months.
Now she's a really good sleeper, but I'm not!
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