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to ask you how you found inner courage?

(37 Posts)
waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 10:33:53

Try to keep this brief. I struggled horribly after the birth of my first baby, who is now 2. Struggled in that I spent most of the days for the three months following the birth feeling desperately lonely and sad, cried constantly and generally didn’t function very well. I had sailed through my pregnancy, had a straightforward birth, baby (DD) was healthy, didn’t struggle with breastfeeding – so no reason for my behaviour, which I felt very ashamed of.

Part of my problem (I think) is that I desperately wanted to put my DD on some sort of sleep/feeding routine but, because I was breastfeeding any HV or midwife I mentioned this to said I couldn’t/shouldn’t. And because I am the sort of person who needs constant reassurance that I am doing the right thing, and hates being “told off” I wanted to do as I was told, even though the voice in my head was screaming to just go ahead and try without their approval. I also constantly, constantly compared myself to all other mums around me, and would find myself lacking which really didn’t help. (Facebook has a lot to answer for!).

After much soul-searching and some honest discussion with my GP, we decided to try for another baby, and I am now 23 weeks pregnant with DC2. I promised myself that this time round I would have courage in my own convictions to do what was right for both baby and myself – whether that be breast or bottle feeding, sleep routines or not. However, I don’t know how to put this into place when the time comes. I have already had a phonecall from a HV wanting to arrange a home visit in a few weeks’ time (they are offering me extra support through this pregnancy) and during the course of the call she asked me if I was planning on breastfeeding, whether I had breastfed my first child, how long for and so on. I felt all the old emotions come rushing back, and this desperate need to give her the answers I thought she wanted rather than the honest answers that I thought were best for me. And if I feel like this now, how will I feel when I am knackered, exhausted and hormonal after the baby arrives?

I am not looking for advice on how to feed my next baby, or indeed on the perils or merits of sleep routines. I really want some honest advice on how people have found the courage to go their own path without approval or validation from others that they are doing the ‘right thing’, especially from those who might have struggled to do this in the past.

Sorry this has been so long - I would really appreciate any responses

MommyBird Mon 24-Mar-14 11:00:08

Trust yourself smile

I could of wrote your post myself. I felt very pressured to do 'everything by the book' breast is best' was my motto....all of things. I tried to do everything what everyone told me. Fit visiters in, keep onto of the house work. Well it didn't work.

I had a vile labour, i couldnt breast feed, i had a very smothering/demanding MIL etc. I had pnd.

Thankfully 2nd time round i knew what i needed to happen, knew what to do, knew how i felt. Im alot stronger this time.

I sat down with my DH and mum and expalined how shit i felt last time and what needed to happen to make sure i didnt feel like that.
It worked smile

Trust yourself and just do what you feel is best.
Smiling and nodding works well when people give you 'advice'..ignore it and go with what you wanted to do anyway.

MommyBird Mon 24-Mar-14 11:01:11

Oh and my HV made me feel like the worst mum in the world.
So i dont see them anymore. Simple.

Thetallesttower Mon 24-Mar-14 11:05:04

I also struggled in a very similar way. I didn't find my own courage, my husband gave it to me when he told me that it didn't really matter for the baby whether it was in a routine, but it mattered for me. He knew I was a very systematic person who was finding the utter chaos of bf on demand/lack of day and night very difficult. I switched to a routine (the dreaded GF one) and never looked back.

Can you talk this through with a person who will support you- partner, parent, good friend?

I also found second time around, I was much more sure of what I needed and what the baby needed and I slotted my second into the first's routines and it all worked extremely well (she was a very easy baby). Perhaps your bad experience will give you that courage.

Don't be so hard on yourself though, there isn't a right way to parent and so when people question us, we are bound to feel a bit vulnerable. Just do things your way this time though.

SaucyJack Mon 24-Mar-14 11:05:32

I'd be declining the extra HV "support" for a start.

You didn't find the HV helpful last time. You're not likely to this time either.

Thetallesttower Mon 24-Mar-14 11:06:26

MommyBird I also didn't see the HV second time around, I can't say they were beating down the door to see me anyway and I just didn't go to the clinic for weighing, I did it at home (get on scales by self, get on with baby, difference is weight) and charted it, knew there was no issues, much nicer.

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 11:08:14

Thanks Mommy - that is good to know! My DH is incredibly supportive, he gets frustrated sometimes though with my negativity in myself. I keep thinking I should go on a course or read a book about how to deal with this, and then not getting round to it. Part of my problem is one of the mums I compare myself to is my own mum - raised 5 kids with no help, apparently never occurred to her once to doubt her own methods, so she just doesn't 'get' what I found so hard!

Swoosg Mon 24-Mar-14 11:14:01

This is a real problem for many mothers I think. My kids are 7 and 10 now and I think I've just got to the stage of thinking I should do what's easiest for me rather than always striving for perfection! Because I can't manage it anyway and end up stressed and shouty!

Here's my advice; lie!!!! When the hv asks if you plan to bf say yes. Keep saying yes until you feel like stopping. Then just stop .... Let yourself be easy on yourself. Because the most important thing for you and for your children is your mental health.

You may get lucky and get an easy baby second time round - I did. Feeding absolutely on demand while lying on bed for first days really helped.

NB I used to run a bf group... They give great support but volunteers are only other mums do may occasionally be a bit tactless. A good bf counsellor will help you not preach.

MommyBird Mon 24-Mar-14 11:16:56

I suffer with anxiety so im allways doubting myself. DH knows this so he is allways saying what a good mum i am which helps more than he knows.

I think every mum feels they arn't 'upto it' sometimes.

Dd1 wasn't in a sleep routine till she was 2.5!
Dd2 is 7 months and isn't in one either. Hey ho!

Dinosaursareextinct Mon 24-Mar-14 11:25:17

Come off Facebook. It's rubbish anyway.
Don't read any baby books.
Bottle fed babies do fine - acknowledge that and take the pressure off. There's way more fuss about breastfeeding than is justified.
Keep in touch with people who are not mothers, or who have older children, so you're not sitting around discussing babies all the time. Take time out sometimes while your DP looks after baby and toddler (with bottle), and do something not baby related.
There is more to life than babies. There are many different and equally valid ways of caring for babies. For instance I went with the no routine ever approach, worked fine for us. We still live that way.

takeiteasybuttakeit Mon 24-Mar-14 11:29:52

I feel for you, and I'm sure you learned so much from your first time around. You might be tired of hearing it, but honestly ime the second time is much easier. Look at your dd, is she happy and healthy? Well done, you've done a great job! This time, please just focus on what makes life easier for you. The first couple of years can be a bit of a slog for everyone, so whatever works for you is what works.

Also, HVs can be a complete pain, so just fob them off. My first HV was singularly unhelpful and didactic and at times that I felt vulnerable they were positively negative for my mental health.

I'd recommend looking at the Gina Ford book to get a sense of what a routine might involve, and then take what you want from it (with a large pinch of salt). It is good to know what a structure might look like if that is what you feel you might want. Good luck and congratulations.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Mon 24-Mar-14 11:34:08

Most breastfed babies need to feed on demand, especially when newborn. If you need to get maximum control then bottle feeding might be best. A book like Gina Ford could help if you need routine. Good luck and I hope that you have a better time with this next baby.

lastnightopenedmyeyes Mon 24-Mar-14 11:34:57

Congratulations! I could've written your post 18 months ago OP. I now have a 3.5 yr old son and a 7 week old daughter. I'm so lucky, my dd sleeps so well and has from day 1. DS was a nightmare and didn't sleep for more than 90minute stretches for the first 8 months.

Obviously it's partly luck but you're so much more confident and relaxed second time around. So far it's a lot easier for us and I hope you will find the same smile

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 11:35:35

Thanks for all the advice, like I say - not really after guidance about feeding or routines as I know in my head what I want to do - it is just finding a way to empower myself into doing it without caring what others think or are doing. That is my major problem - I need validation from others that I am doing it "right" and when that doesn't come (as there are obviously many, many ways to rear your child and everyone has their own opinions) I get very anxious/needy/worried that I am getting it all wrong and that this will have terrible repercussions.

Thetallesttower thanks for your support, my husband is great and has patiently listened to me, held me when I was sobbing, turned round at the end of his 1.15hr commute to come straight back home because I felt like I was going to lose the plot. I just don't want to put myself (or him) through this again!

Love the idea of lying Swoosg - that's another thing I am no good at - but practice makes perfect eh?!

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 11:39:35

Thanks takeiteasy - she is both happy and healthy and I know I should take from that! I also don't want to pass on my negativity to her or next DC, so feel like I really need to nip this in bud sooner rather than later - I always tend to assume I am the one at fault in any given situation and I would HATE her to feel like that...

rachyconks Mon 24-Mar-14 11:42:26

I felt exactly like this when DD was born. The pressure I felt to have a successful bf relationship was immense and nearly pushed me over the edge. Frankly, I hated BF. I felt no joy in it. It was so relentless & exhausting. My life changed when I moved to ff at 14 weeks. This time I'm just going with the flow. Will BF but will NOT allow myself to go through what I went through with DD. If I'm unhappy the bottles are coming out. If you are unhappy, chances are baby will be too. It's better for everyone if you trust your own judgement.

Most of the time HV haven't a clue what they are on about. In fact, I know a couple personally who have had similar BF struggles to myself and feel now they will find it difficult to go back to work and preach about BF.

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 16:21:27

Thanks for all the replies so far - would be interested to see if anyone has read a book that helped, or even gone on a course - I feel like whilst I am motivated to do this I should strike whilst the iron is hot!

Swoosg Mon 24-Mar-14 16:26:45

I started lying about my baby's sleep. Just so much easier to say 'fine' when people asked how she slept rather than admit she was waking up four times a night.

Honestly though you do get loads less advice second time round - first time it seems like everyone wants you to validate their approach; second time they have kind of given up on you! In a good way.

Since you asked about courses - i am considering doing EFT - emotional freedom technique - to curb my anxiety about decisions. It's this odd way of changing patterns of thoughts by tapping... sounds bizarre but a friend (trained psychologist with loads of experience) now teaches it because she finds it so effective. My consultant doctor friend has just told me how wonderfully useful it can be. Best of all, it is quick - you don't need to have endless sessions - it is a quick technique you can use.

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 17:10:34

Where do you think your self doubt comes from?

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 17:26:25

Good question Cailin and one I've given a lot of thought recently. Basically my upbringing, parents mainly did a great job but were determined that none of us got ideas above ourselves. Hard to explain, but if for example I fell out with a friend,my parents would assume I was the one in the wrong without even listening to the story. It was as though we were expected to be grateful/surprised when good things happened (good exam results etc) but anything bad or unfortunate was to be expected. Does that make sense?

waitandsee Mon 24-Mar-14 17:27:43

Thanks for tip on courses Swoosg, will read up on that...

missymayhemsmum Mon 24-Mar-14 19:20:34

The reality of looking after a newborn knocks most of us sideways, but if you and your toddler have a routine you will probably find no 2 slots into it fine, even if you bf, and if you spend the day in your pyjamas in front of cbeebies then so what? Lower your sights from perfection and just give yourself credit for getting through the first few weeks. If you can accept that looking after a newborn and a toddler is tough, chaotic, demanding and frustrating and just reassure yourself that you're doing fine then you'll be ok. I think the concept of 'good enough' parenting is quite valuable. How would it feel if you planned to get no 2 into the routine you have with no 1 by 4 months, but expected it to be chaos until then?

CailinDana Mon 24-Mar-14 19:22:59

Yes that makes sense wait, a lot of people are like that. I can understand where your parents were coming from but it looks like that style of parenting really didn't suit you and it's left you with an insecure sense of self.

Do you think counselling might help? It's worth ironing these things out while the kids are young as it's a shame to let them drag on and affect your relationship with them.

AskBasil Mon 24-Mar-14 19:24:55

I used Mumsnet.

That gave me courage to have faith in my own instincts and beliefs. Any time you need support, it's here.

Congratulations OP, hope your second pregnancy goes well. smile

Sneezecakesmum Mon 24-Mar-14 19:34:40

Make up your mind now what you really want and just stick to it. Much easier now to have a plan around what suits you before the hormones kick in so that you are not pushed where you don't want to go.

If necessary lie to the HV if it's easier than confronting. Don't bf if you don't want to or bf and bottle if it suits the sleep training.

Whether you are a bfing, co sleeping, baby wearing earth mother or a Gina Ford devotee it's your baby, your life and your choice grin

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