To feel like the last 8 months were a silly waste of time? (IABU, I know I am...)(60 Posts)
So I've spent the last 8 months on mat leave with my first child about whom I am embarrassingly PFB. We've struggled with breastfeeding but persisted and she doesn't take expressed milk; she's very wary of strangers and cries hysterically if anyone but me or OH picks her up; she feeds to sleep, and wakes up every hour to two hours in the night. She doesn't seem like my friends' babies and never has - she's always seemed very intense and extremely persistent if denied what she wants (basically me to always be within arm's reach).
After getting past the bewilderment of having her be so much needier than I expected, I've kind of gone with it - I get very little done as always on my knees playing with her, we co-sleep half the night, I feed on demand. I haven't been away from her longer than an hour since she was born. Along the way I've picked up a lot if attachment parenting theory, and felt quite validated in my parenting decisions by that.
I will have to go back to work in 3 months. And my partner is fed up with things still being so intense and wants me to start sleep training, night weaning and getting her on a bottle so we can go out together in the evenings. So basically I'm going to have to start denying her all the instant responsiveness and comfort she's used to. She's still not ready.
I feel like an idiot that I did not seeing this coming, and just introduce bottle, own bed, sleep training etc when she was tiny so she'd be broken to it early. Having worked so hard to foster a secure attachment between us, I now have to set about wilfully breaking it. I also feel like noone in my life thinks I'm a good mother as everything I do us apparently wrong and needs to stop.
I feel like shit, and like I've made so many mistakes, and am anxious going to have to traumatise my baby because I've given her unrealistic expectations.
AIBU to feel like whatever I do now I'll be failing her?
You’re not failing her. You haven’t failed her. You’ve given her the best start in life, given her your undivided love. Part of loving her is helping her adjust to new stages in her development. Gradually, one step at a time. At a pace that suits you and her (and DH).
You are in no way a bad mother for meeting your child's needs. You are doing so out of love. But she will not feel cut off or have any less of a bond with you because you are not with her 24/7.
The definition of a secure attachment, is being able to feel confident to explore and become independent, but she is still only 8months, which is also an age where clingyness sets in.
Don't feel the need to 'work hard' for an attachment. It happens naturally and shouldn't be so intense for everybody. In the long run she will benefit from her independence, but as I said she's still tiny.
For your own sanity though, try and set time aside for yourself.
Ah, you poor thing. It will get easier. Couple of things though:
"I feel like an idiot that I did not seeing this coming, and just introduce bottle, own bed, sleep training etc when she was tiny so she'd be broken to it early."
"I feel ... like I've made so many mistakes, and am anxious going to have to traumatise my baby because I've given her unrealistic expectations."
It doesn't work this way.
Soooo many people (even ones who have actually had children!) think that babies are like adults, or even like toddlers, and that the best way to get them "used to" something is to start as early as possible.
You can't. They are not ready.
So - although it doesn't feel like it right now, you have done all the right things.
It is really tough when you have a bottle-refusing, BF on demand baby. REALLY tough for the first year. You are at a really tough stage right now.
I do think that as solids and other sources of food become more established in your baby's routine, she will become less dependent on you. Sleep training can also become an option in the next few months. Unfortunately it does sound as though she will 'need' it (I know this is really controversial, so this is just my view). It will be really painful for you at first, but better after that, and then you will start to feel a lot better.
Look into bottles that are somewhere between a bottle and a sippy cup. Your DD may prefer that. Soon she will be able to have cow's milk, which she will probably prefer to formula (which is vile in taste). Failing that, she will drink milk and she will survive for an evening without you.
She is on the cusp of greater independence - and so are you. You have done a great job.
I thought I was a great parent with ds1 - he was no bother at all.
Then I had ds2 and realised it hadn't been me, it was ds1. Ds2 was completely different and I barely put him down for the 15 months I was on maternity leave.
He is now 11yo, and guess what he no longer co-sleeps, has to be held all the time, has to be fed to sleep, etc.
He also remembers nothing of his life before 2yo.
Go with what you both feel is best for your dd.
You sound really stressed!!
None of the things you are doing are wrong! Being a mum can be hard as you don’t really get much feedback. Your child isn’t going to do an appraisal and everyone else thinks they know better. She sounds like she wants you around so you must be doing a good job!
Have you tried giving her milk from a beaker instead of bottle? That may solve that problem. Try leaving her with dad initially and then moving on to others.
I hope you find a solution you’re all comfortable with re the sleep! Once your baby takes milk from dad he can help and you’ll get a bit of a break. We didn’t sleep train so no advice on that.
I mean that gently, because I know what you're feeling like - but this is some all or nothing thinking.
You will not ruin everything you've achieved if you go out for dinner - attachment isn't so fragile. You've worked hard to build a close and loving relationship with your baby, and it'll take more than a go with a sippy cup (don't bother with a bottle, she'll be offended - cups are easier at this age) and a few hours with someone else to break that.
You've not made any mistakes, your responded to what a small baby wanted from you. And you could do it - most of parenting is a meeting in the middle of what a child wants and what a parent can give.
You've been a dedicated, loving mother so far - and this won't stop if you try and cut down the amount she feeds in the night or something.
Maybe one thing at a time? What about an evening out first? Night waking/sleeping might be eaiser in a few months when she's a little older. I'm not an example of excellence by any means, but i stopped night feeding about 15m (continued to bed share half way through the night though, and sometimes still do - and he's 4).
Sounds like your partner is being very unsupportive.
She will be fine, as will you. My dd was still bf 4 times a day at 11 months - i was really worried how she was going to cope when I went back to work but then she just started dropping feeds with a little help, she was ready then. She still feeds morning and night at 14 months.
If I were you I would night wean her first tbh if you don't want to co sleep long term. If you want to that's also fine.
I wanted to get my dd onto a bottle, I never managed it with my ds. On a friend's advice I bought Tesco's own easy flow teats and basic bottles. She could get the milk out really quickly and she took to it well. She was probably round 9/10 months I think, so all is not lost with the bottles.
She's still quite clingy with me at times, but she is fine when I'm out of the room! She just wants me mainly if I'm there.
She's still little, it will be fine. I'd pick one thing to work on and see how you get on.
My DS is exactly the same. Bottle refuser, clingy, only wants me. He's now 21 months. But in the meantime I went back to work full time at 9 months and he was with a cm full time for 5 months before his dad stopped working and is now with hm during the week. Evenings and weekends he's still attached to me, we still co-sleep. But he's a happy little boy whose independence just grows every day. Don't be pressured into anything - your baby is still too small to 'get used' to anything. Only now do I feel DS is starting to understand well enough that we can start 'training' him to expect things. It feels like it will never change but honestly they hit a year and suddenly their development is just crazy, your baby will get there in her own time. As will you! Maybe sit down and talk with your DH about your joint approach and expectations? First time I left my DS for more than an hour was around 8 months, with my DH, and they got on just fine. You'll need some time to yourself at some point
Another thought is do you have to do these things? I appreciate your partner wants you too but it's a joint decision.
My 6.5 month old is much the same, feeding issues, spends most of his days attached to me and co-sleeps most nights.
I've just gone back to work with daddy looking after him during the day. Im only doing half days just now so he survives on solids and water till im home. We go out as a family during the day rather than as a couple at night. We decided that he is only young once so we have just gone with it and found ourselves attachment parenting without meaning to.
If you dont feel comfortable sleep training and pushing a bottle then maybe don't do it. Just because everyone else does doesn't mean you have to. It also doesn't mean you are a bad parent.
Sounds like you're doing a brilliant job parenting the child you have. You know her best - don't let anything make you feel like you should've done anything differently.
I agree that your partner isn't being very supportive.
This bit is really tough. 8-13 months felt like developmental leap after developmental leap here, with all sorts of clinginess and separation anxiety in between. It will get easier. Don't rush it if you don't feel comfortable.
You sound like a wonderful mother. Agree your partner does not sound supportive. Suggest you try to improve his attachment with your DD so that you can leave her with him for longer than an hour, in the day first then evenings too. At the same time could you introduce someone else who will become a babysitter? Family member or paid babysitter. Again, daytime first, building up to evenings. It is not just your responsibility to make your DD 'ready' to be looked after by your DH or someone else. He has to be involved too, and find his own way of calming her, helping her sleep etc. You don't have to sleep train her if you don't want to, but you can try to help her sleep without feeding. She is more likely to take a bottle from someone else I think. Has your husband tried this?
My 3rd was a velcro baby. It was hard hard work! Try not to feel so upset about the forthcoming changes. You will both adapt even if its hard at first. I had a bit of a breakthrough when we tried a jumperoo at the toddler group. He was happy in it for 20 minutes at a time! It was amazing! That could be worth a go.
I would focus on the weaning and cups rather than bottles. Also sometimes night sleep seems to improve if there's a good napping routine during the day so that might be worth trying.
Please don't ever feel that you've been wasting your time - you've nurtured a tiny new born into a bouncing baby and that's a huge achievement!
Do you know what? All babies are so different and you have to do what works for you and what gets you through the day. You sound like a terrific mother who has responded to her baby in the way she needs. I think all the Dr Sears high needs baby stuff is worth a read to see if it rings any bells. I would try not to compare to friends' babies. Theirs might grow into tricky toddlers or find school really hard or be ghastly teenagers, you just don't know.
FWIW I felt very similar when DD1 was the same age, I was so worried I'd messed up and she'd be clingy forever. She is now a really confident and happy 5 year old. I am so proud of her. And she doesn't sleep in my bed unless she's really poorly.
Babies can change so much in two or three months so don't panic about work, you don't have to change everything all at once. In terms of your partner could you go out for just an hour of two rather than launching into whole nights out straight away? Even if you just go round the corner so can go home if she wakes up?
As long as you aren't feeling trapped by your DD and it's not making you unhappy then go with your instincts, they only need you this intensely for such a tiny amount of time, promise. It's your life and no one else's. Don't let other people's judgement make you miserable.
Your partner sounds a lot more demanding than your child.
You have done nothing wrong , you are a great mum.
He needs to grow the fuck up and put his child's needs before his own wants.
I had a first child who was very similar to yours. I went back to work when he was 12 months and he was fine, but still coslept at night and fed alllll night long.
inwasnt really prepared to wean him on to a bottle or put him in his own cot when he clearly didn't want to be there just so I could eat my dinner in a different venue, tbh.
If you want to, then by all means crack on with bottles, settling in own bed etc but don't be rushed by your partner. You have the whole of the rest of your lives together to do that stuff. After about twelve months it does get easier to leave them, especially in the evenings but tbh I've got four kids now and have probably been out about three times at night in seven years because it's so complicated to get them all settled, fed etc, get myself ready, get the babysitter sorted that it's not really relaxing at all.
OP listen to your instincts you're doing all the right things, believe me. I gave into pressure from others to stop BF early. Stop co sleeping nada nada. Ended up with a super clingy DS who screamed if I left him at nursery. He also thumb sucked for years right through primary. And having read about attachment theory now, I look back and feel really shit about pushing him to be an 'independent' baby before he was ready. Before we were both ready.
Don't let anyone push you into 'moving on' your DD till you feel it's right for both of you.
As for your DH. It always amazes me that men expect things to 'go back to normal' after having a baby so quickly. The infant years require time. Tell him he needs to appreciate that it may take more than 8 months for you both to get more 'freedom'
You have done a great job and have laid all the foundations of a brilliant attachment. And your DH sounds like a dick, to be honest.
But yes, if you are going back to work some things are going to have to change. (Note, I do not say because your DH wants to go out for dinner some things have to change...)
You need to plan for leaving her and plan what you need to do to leave her. I'd suggest the only essential on your list is feeding, as obviously EBF is going to be challenging. So just change that, gradually, gently, at your own pace. Then deal with sleep, gently, gradually at your own pace. Because you will need more sleep when you go back to work, but that doesn't have to be at the expense of co-sleeping.
I feel for you - fwiw I was in exactly the same position when I went back to work but Ds was only 7 months. It worked fine.
Your DH sounds like my IL... if I listened I’d have her fed, in bed and back with them having cocktails and adult conversation. While she —screamed the night away— learned to be independent.
DD is now two sleeps through the night in her own bed and eats very well. I co-slept, breastfed... to sleep to sooth I gave her the breast! It was hard work getting her in her own space but I personally felt younger than 18 months was a bit too soon... I loved snuggling up to her at night... I miss it! But joe I have a 6months old in bed with me... and love —dreads— when she comes bounding in in the mornings. She’s a fantastic 2yr old minus the tantrums.
Don’t beat yourself up! You’ve done a great job so far.
But agree start putting things in place for your return to work so that both you and your DD have a good transition into the new way of life.
You are not failing her.
She sounds just like my dd! Very clingy, breastmilk obsessed and waking up throughout the night.
She went into nursery at about 8 months old, and although it was hard at first she really did settle eventually, and ended up loving it. She is now an incredibly social, confident, bubbly toddler
still not a great sleeper. She never took expressed milk either, no matter how much we tried so in the end I just gave expressing it for her, and she drank water during the day from a cup. She had milk in the evenings and first thing in the morning, and because she was on solids by then did not need milk during the day - so that might be something to consider if your dd continues to refuse the bottle.
Breast feeding at 1 year is not nearly as intense as EBF a smaller baby.
It sounds like you need to get her used to someone other than you settling her, but this can be done in a gentle way. It cannot be just you who puts in the effort though - if your dp wants to change the way she gets to sleep he needs to spend some nights reading to her etc, and he needs to deal with the screaming etc too. Is he involved with the bedtime routine? Because if not he needs to start getting her used to it - maybe have a routine where daddy does the bath and reads a story before mummy goes in, for example. My dd would refuse to go to sleep without milk if I was there, but would do it for my dp because he didn't smell of milk when he cuddled her, and she wasn't reminded of it by him iyswim.
Before you start leaving her with a babysitter, she needs to get used to being left with dad. This requires effort on his part - he can't just decree that she becomes less reliant on you at night without putting in the effort himself.
Good luck, find a way that works for you and your baby. It might be very different to what I did or what other parents you know do, but that doesn't make it wrong.
You haven't failed her. I don't think night weaning, bottle feeding, sleep training is necessary at all unless you think it is. I didn't do any of those things and could go out with my husband in the evenings from about 18 months. I just fed her to sleep and went out. She never woke up before midnight by that time. Sounds like you need more support, eg breastfeeding support groups in real life or online, do you know about gentle parenting as well? There is a facebook group and there will be ones for attachment parenting too. Try to go at your daughter's pace, not your partners or anyone else telling you you are doing it 'wrong'. You are doing it right.do try to work on bond between daughter and partner as then she will be more likely to settle for him (we introduced dad slowly into bedtime around 15-18 months and now we share bedtimes 50-50, I still feed her to sleep when my turn) but also hopefully he will be less likely advocate choices that don't take her emotional wellbeing into account.
I don't like the way you use the words "broken" and "breaking". You have done a brilliant job through the newborn months, now you are going to support your DD through new challenges and needs as she takes her first (very tiny) moves to becoming a little more independent. It is a cycle that is repeated again and again while raising a child. What is right approach at one stage in their life needs to be tweaked, developed, rethought as they grow.
You will find new techniques to comfort and support your DC. You will feel huge pride (with a tiny edge of regret) when she first sleeps through, or reaches eagerly for her keyworker and you see her becoming her own person. These things will not damage your bond, it will enrich it and bring you both joy.
To lighten the mood, I just stumbled across this timely article:
Your partner sounds like a prize arsehole. I think I'd rather go out for dinner with your daughter. Yep, it's hard when you have a high needs baby, but does he think he's the only one doing it hard? I would stick with the things you absolutely MUST do (like if you have to go back to work for financial reasons, finding a good childcare situation where each child has a strongly bonded keyworker). Dinner out can bloody wait.
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