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Need some outside perspective(25 Posts)
I just looking for some outside perspective on this as I don't know if I'm blowing things out of proportion. My husband and I moved abroad about 18 months ago for his job. I was pregnant at the time and due to unforeseen circumstances our baby was born prematurely. As you can imagine the experience was very traumatic for us both. Our baby was in hospital for 3 months before we could bring him home. Ever since he has been out hospital my husband has had severe anxiety/OCD about germs and our baby getting ill. Now I know it's normal to feel concerned when you have had a baby in the nicu because they are so fragile at first but I feel like my husband's behaviour has gone past that point. Here are a few of the things that he has done/does:
Washed his hand continuously before touching our baby and I mean continuously. I.e if he was dealing with our baby and scratched his face he would stop go and wash his hands again. He wanted to make a sign to put on our pushchair saying 'don't touch unless you've washed your hands'. When he had a cold/flu he wouldn't touch our baby, wore a surgical mask, and sprayed every surface with disinfectant spray. He said that I couldn't take him to any mother and baby groups. I am also not allowed to take our child on public transport specifically in London because of germs and terrorists. They are a lot more restrictions too many to list but I just wanted to know is this a normal reaction or does he need some counselling. I'd also like to point out that our child has had no lasting effects of being premature thank god and he has caught up weight wise and is developmently on target. At no point has any of the medical professional we've seen said that we need to isolate our child. Other than when he first came home when he was still very small and fragile . He is now 15 months and a strapping 20 something pounds after being born at 3lbs . Am I being unreasonable to think that this is not normal behaviour, my husband seems to think that because I don't act the same way he does that I don't care as much about our child as he does.
Yep .... He's being totally and utterly weird ..... !
Kids need exposure to create immunity.
My DS was full term but 5lb and failure to thrive and has had over 100 hospital admissions in his 6 years of life and he has 2 siblings who come home with everything under the sun.
Life goes on and cotton wool suits don't exist !
Yes it's odd, to be honest it sounds like he needs to see a Dr about his OCD, there is support out there and therapy might do him good!
Not at all normal. Your DH needs help for his extreme OCD.
Totally and utterly weird??
He is possibly ill, and should be encouraged to see a doctor.
Congratulations on your little one. It sounds like the beginning of his life was difficult and scary for you all. It's perfectly natural to feel like you would do anything to keep your baby safe and I'm sure that's how your DH feels. How he is expressing it though is resulting in some unhelpful behaviour. His love is coming from a good place but it seems to have got twisted. It's not really helping any of you is it?
I wonder if he would agree that he found the whole newborn period traumatic? To me it sounds that way and there are things that can help. Would he agree to go and see the GP and explain how he feels? Will he talk to you about how he feels? Does he dream of the time around your son's birth? Does he think about it in the day? What does he fear most?
A lot of questions I know. Thinking of you.
'Weird' is not a nice thing to say.
He needs some help and you need to be getting out and about. He obviously has anxiety which is understandable.
I hope it gets better for you all.
Thank you all so much for your replies.
I have spoken to my husband about his anxieties/OCD and at times he acknowledges that some of his behaviour is extreme and at others he doesn't seem to think it's anything out of the norm. It's affected our relationship tremendously as I feel that his anxiety has left me feeling very isolated and lonely. Not only because of the extreme personality change in my husband but also because we are so far from friends and family now and not being able to go out and socialise with other mums has meant that I haven't met any friends in the 18 months we have been abroad . Things came to a head recently when for first time we went to visit our family back home in the UK . He insisted that we stay with his parents because he didn't want to stay in London because of germs and 'London being a cesspit' I suggested that I would spend a few occasions visiting my friends/family and I would do so by train. (In laws live an hour outside London by train). He refused to let take my son on the train and insisted that any family members had to either visit me at my in laws or I had to be driven to London. (He was able to do it once, and my dad came to get me once. I also had to leave my baby with my in laws so that I could see my mum
again before we left as I got the train to London.) It meant that I didn't get to spend much time with my family at all after what has been the most stressful few months of my life. I have told my husband that once his contract finishes I want to go back home as I can't continue to live with his anxieties and in isolation like this. I've also said that I would like him to see a professional when we get back he has said that he would but I don't think he will as I don't think he thinks he has a problem. He thinks it's a natural reaction of parent to behave this way. We live in a fairly remote place and I don't think they would have any professional who could deal with this here where we live. When we were back in the UK I spoke to my in laws about my concerns and they didn't think my husbands behaviour was that bad. I kept trying to get them to understand how is behaviour has isolated me but they just kept saying that it because of what he went through at the time of own child's birth. I'm currently at the point of despair without him getting some help I can't see our relationship getting any better. Which is what I said to him, things escalated very quickly and to he replied that he would take my child away if I didn't want to stay with him. I'm a stay at home and depend financially on my husband for anything and suddenly I've just started to feel very vunerable.
Homebird8 he has mentioned that he thinks he has post traumatic stress disorder. He suffers from insomnia and often talks about things relating to our child's birth. He constantly finds excuses to make appointments with the doctor for our son. He has never told me that he has dreamt about our sons birth but it was very traumatic here's a little bit of background. I had preeclampsia and had to deliver our baby soon after diagnosis. Given our remote location I had to been flown to another island where there were specialist who could deal with and prem baby and me. He has never expressed explicitly what his actual fear is but I'm guessing that it's our child getting sick and dying. He will not open up to me at all and I try to discuss it with him we just end up arguing. He feels that because I don't feel the same way as he does in taking precautionary steps to avoid our son getting sick, coming into contact with germs that I don't care about my son as much as he does . This really hurts me when he says this as I love my son to death. I also experienced the same traumatic birth and thought at the time that I could die without even seeing my son. (My preeclampsia got worse after delivery initially and I didn't see my son for at least 36 hours after being born). I'm sorry if I seem to be rambling I just have so many things that I want to get off my chest and I've been dealing with this for the last 15 months on my own as well as having to adjust to being a new mum.
I'm sorry you're going through such an awful time
If you left him he wouldn't get custody of your son. And, in your position, I would leave him /stay in the UK. This is very damaging for your son apart from anything else, even though he's too young to know it.
I'm not saying you necessarily leave him permanently but for now. To preserve your mental health. You are isolated and effectively kept prisoner.
This disorder seems to mean sufferers are notoriously resistant to seeking getting treatment. You can't be mashed up in this and nor can your son.
Your husband sounds ill. Events leading up to the birth of your child & the stress of relocating abroad have probably combined to create this internal hell he's occupying at the moment.
When I spiral out of control due to external factors I zone in on hygiene. In my mind I'm at least able to dictate outcomes. It's hard to relate to outsiders, but sometimes my Dh literally has to remove anti-bac spray & wipes from my clutches and sit me down. On a good day we hoot with hilarity at me. Tears stream down my face.
I fully empathise.
Yy to notoriously resistant to seeking getting treatment.
Gchnmum, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my intrusive questions. I think what you said about he has mentioned that he thinks he has post traumatic stress disorder might be worth consideration.
Without wanting to derail your thread, my DS1 suffered from PTSD caused by some wide ranging bullying and a traumatic accident which caused a head injury he's still recovering from 2 1/2 years later. He was helped immensely by EMDR therapy and I would urge you to explore whether this might be available to you. Does DH's company have a health arrangements he might be able to take advantage of? Feel free to PM if you want to know more about our experience with EMDR. It was very effective and amazingly quick.
I'm sure your PIL are right in that your DH's behaviour was caused by the trauma of your son's birth. It doesn't seem that they have thought about what happens from here though. Do they expect him to say this way and if they don't are they prepared to support you and him in finding some help?
Just because tea often helps have a
Thank you all once again for taking the time to respond. Homebird I would definitely be interested in hearing some more about EDMR. I will send you a PM. We will be based abroad until September when my husband's contract ends. After which I have said that the first thing we need to do when we are back in the UK is address the anxiety. He does have private health insurance with his employer but I don't think there is anyone where we are that is equipped to deal with this. It would be a case of being referred abroad . His parents especially mother thinks that it will all get better in time. But I don't think time is enough. I think they are in denial. He keeps using different milestones for when he thinks his anxieties would get better i.e once our son had caught up with his weight, once he is a year old, once our son had got the ok from a paediatrician at the Portland hospital, once he's fully vaccinated - you see the pattern?His anxieties just jump from one thing to the next.
What does he think would happen if you had another child? Would his anxieties extend to cover both children? What about when your son goes to nursery/school and he can no longer dictate hygiene conditions? He really needs to seek and get help before your son enters education, because the knowledge that he can't do anything about germs then might well make things escalate.
What happens when your ds goes to nursery or school? Or is your dh going to stop your ds from socialising. Like he has done to you. At some point he is going to have to let go. In the mean time his hyper hygiene is setting your ds up to get really ill. Kids need to come into contact with a bit of dirt to build up immunity, otherwise when he does come into contact with other children he is going to spend the first year at nursery/school ill so making your dh more paranoid about germs. IYSWIM
At this present moment I can't see us having another child. I think he would be the same or worse. There is a chance I could get preeclampsia again and I just couldn't deal with everything we went through and his anxieties again. I have said to my husband what is he going to do once our son goes to nursery/school . He seems to think that he will not be so worried then because he'll be a lot older.
I'm not sure he's right about that Gchnmum. If this is really about his mental health, and there is little doubt it is, unless it improves there will always be a need to express his feelings however old your son gets.
If it gets to the stage when your son is older that it is obviously impractical to concentrate on germs then it will be something else. Probably safety as a young boy explores his world (traffic exists so he can't go outdoors, accidents happen so he can't use play equipment, abusers exist so he can't go on play dates). If not that then overinvolved focus on his education and school life, or narrowing his interests to one vetted activity or something else only he will think is an issue.
I know very little about mental health so all I can suggest is that he will probably need qualified and expert help to break free of the mindset his trauma has initiated. Only then, with treatment, will the anxiety and associated behaviours be able to decline. And only then will your little boy be able to grow up unhampered by his father's response to the scary time you've all had.
Munchausens by proxy/extreme OCD? Is there any way you could come back to the UK while he sees out his contract? He is exhibiting severe issues and controlling you by not allowing you to visit your family with your baby. That's not acceptable.
When does his contract end?
Homebird I agree with what you've said totally his anxieties will jump from one thing to the next. When we get back to the UK he wants us to move out of London for our sons schooling. Which I'm in agreement with but I said I'm not committing to any move until the anxieties have been dealt with or are on there way to being resolved.Gide his contract ends in September although he has said that he wouldn't leave until they have got a suitable replacement . This is because his company was really understanding when our son was born. I have said that I would like to be back home in September he could always follow us after but I'd like him to come back with me so that he can get some help asap . We've discussed me coming back sooner than September but he said that he'd prefer me to stay with his parents. I couldn't live with my in laws for that long tbh. Our house is being let and the contract ends in September . He doesn't think my family could 'offer the same environment that his parents can', plus my family are in London. (My family history is a long story and I guess a little more dysfunctional than his but they are not that bad).
Now you see, what you've said here is worrying me. Trauma driven anxiety is one thing; disregarding your needs and desires as less than his is something else. Does he just prefer it if you consider staying with your PIL rather than your own family or is he in some way making the decision for you regardless of your comfort? Would his parents control you within the boundaries of his anxieties out of a sense of loyalty to him or do they see that his response is over the top?
I'm starting to see more than a man who is consumed by worry for his child and traumatised by the life endangering time you and your DS have been through.
Your poor hubby. He is really struggling with the trauma of nearly losing both of you and being completely helpless during the whole experience. Now he compulsively needs to be in control. I had ptsd after a very similar pregnancy to yours - I didn't compulsively clean or germ obsess, but would check my baby 50-60 times a night to make sure he was still breathing. Was convinced I would find him dead. He needs to talk about it to someone removed from the situation, I don't even know what's out there for dads who have witnessed traumatic pregnancies. Ptsd is horrible. And if he does find out it's that, get some support for you too because it's a lot to deal with as a partner.
Homebird, I think there are two issues here one is his anxieties but he is also controlling. I do feel that the anxiety is causing him to be controlling which is why I'm so keen to get the anxiety dealt with, because I can't deal with living like this long term. His parents especially his mother seems to take it as an attack whenever I bring up his anxieties. She often finds excuses or examples to justify his weird/anxious behaviour. Saying things such as 'so and so doesn't want to live in London either' or 'so and so didn't take their baby to mum and baby groups till they were three' . This leaves my husband thinking that his actions and anxieties are normal . His mother most definitely would act in accordance with his anxieties. When I stayed with them recently she insisted we drove into town rather than take a bus. As she knows my husband wouldn't have wanted me to take our son on a bus. I was hoping that they would be more supportive or me trying to help their son and also would be the ones I could go to if we needed to stage a sort of 'intervention', because he's more likely to listen to them than me.
Zoobeedoo thank you for your reply, getting some help for him is the first thing on my agenda when we get back to UK.
Hi there I work in a NICU, and can understand your husbands anxieties. Coming from such a sterile, clinical environment I'm sure it's a bit of a shock when leaving. It's great he's conscious about hand washing and germs as that's obviously important with prem babies, but sounds like he's gone a bit far with it.
I think you're definitely doing the right thing by trying to get him some help, I hope it helps.
Gchnmum, you simply must not go and stay with his parents. In a marriage you take note of each other's ideas and desires and plans, but that does not mean that you have to always act as the other person would. You are definitely taking account of his anxieties in your actions, but his controlling behaviours, which you have already noted are backed up, minimised, enforced and normalised by his parents, have you in their grasp.
Read this thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/a2627090-Man-looking-for-help-Wife-has-mental-health-issues?watched=1 and see where the inability to accept the need for help has left this couple.
Your DH simply must accept that he needs help and be prepared to get it, almost on your say so alone, because he trusts you to be putting his needs and those of your little family first. If he won't then, regardless of your desire to support him and stay at his side, you need to make sure you and the little one are not affected by his choices for himself, in not getting help.
Discussion and agreement is fine, but controlling is not. Can you make plans to return to the UK soon? You have the right to choose to visit with your son whomever you please. Go and see your parents or a friend, find a place for the three of you when he joins you. Do not stay with his parents.
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