Help with baby and wife!(60 Posts)
Okay, I know this is mumsnet and I'm a dad. So sue me.
My wife and I have our first baby, a 4-month-old boy, and he is seriously driving us crazy. He screams for no particular reason (I know that you'll get a lot of these topics) and refuses to sleep a lot of the time, except for on a night. That or he won't sleep much and, as soon as he wakes, start with the screaming again. He does occasionally have good days, but not many recently - don't think he's had one for a week.
My wife is seriously getting down by it all, as am I. I'm at work all the time (could only take the regular 2 weeks paternity leave) and just feel guilty for being there when I feel I should be helping. I've considered trying to take leave to help out but we want to go away on holiday at some point. Hell, I've even thought of leaving my job to help - only fleetingly as I know that won't be practical at all. My wife has brought forward the date she goes back to work but even so she's still got another 4 months left.
What can I do? It's really bad knowing, on my way home, that as soon as I come through the door and ask how he was the answer will invariably be the same, and then I take him off her hands for only a couple of hours before bed - I'd happily do longer if I could. I know this is a lot worse for my wife, especially as she has nothing much to do all day - just about all her friends work and parents are too far away to visit often. On a weekend or whenever I can I take him off her most of the day, as well as manage him on nights (he's actually good on a night and normally wakes once for a feed, though sometimes he sleeps through, but now he's just found out he can roll over).
Anybody got any hints? Anything to try for them both? We are considering starting to wean him - think he's at nearly the right stage.
Ps I did put dd in nursery 2 days a week from 3 months too - I saw it as necessary due to help I couldn't get from dh working fewer hours or family/friends. She loved it.
He sounds very much like my first dc at the same age. He slept well at night (hence I got zero sympathy from anyone ) but cried most of the day and rarely napped for longer than 30mins at a time.
Suddenly at 6 months - with the onset of weaning and being able to sit up - it all changed. Looking back I suspect he had silent reflux (his younger brother was later diagnosed.)
So I would suggest:
1. ask the GP about silent reflux
2. try keeping him upright as much as possible. A sling or baby carrier might be useful. You can also make them more upright in a bouncy chair.
3. your dw could try and get herself showered/dressed before you leave for work as often as possible. It is then possible to leave the house even if the baby cries all day. They will both be better for getting out - ideally every day.
4. try feeding him to sleep (I was consciously avoiding this as I had been told it was a Bad Thing - but some babies sleep much better on a full tummy)
5. I knew noone with babies when I had dc1 so asked my HV to put me in touch with some - that was great.
6. ignore any baby advice that suggests your child is going to end up in borstal unless you get it absolutely right now - it is ok to rock or feed to sleep or do whatever you need to do to get through this
7. do be kind to your wife and keep an eye on her - this is a really tough time she is going through (I know you know that) - could her brother babysit while you two go out locally, even if just for an hour or two?
8. THIS TOO SHALL PASS
and then there will be something else to worry about
Most of all, hang on in there. Ds1 has been the world's most easy-going child since the age of 6 months, he was such a delightful older baby, toddler and now fast becoming a lovely young man.
Agree with Tiredemma and some of the others - must investigate reflux. We also switched to Comfort Milk and got Gaviscon sachets from the gp - different baby. Also a product called domperidone helped instantly with a colicky baby.
Also agree with Anjou - there must be a reason and you just need to play detective until you find the answer! Easier said than done of course. Good luck dad - we have twins, get no sleep and are walking zombies. My 'mummies' tea group saved my sanity.
We felt a lot like this when DD was 4 months, especially I think because other parents said either the first 6 weeks or 3 months were really hard, and for us it got worse after both those milestones.
Turned out she did have silent reflux, and was massively better when on meds and then completely better after weaning. I had PND as well, and was trying to ignore it, which wasn't great.
You've had loads of great advice already, so I'm not going to give anymore, except this - It's OK to hate this difficult time, it's OK that you're not living in some kind of idyllic rainbows and bunnies world. DH and I both admitted we felt a lot better when we just looked at each other and said 'this is shi!t, right now, this is awful, and I don't know why we did this, right now, there is very little joy, right now, she is just our daughter, and we just have to get through it, we just have to keep meeting her needs, and keeping her warm, safe, dry etc. even though it's awful'. Acknowledging that to each other was what kept me and DH on the same 'team' and it made us so much stronger, and then eventually, not even very long after that, things got a bit easier, and then a bit easier, and then before we knew it, we were both completely besotted with this little person who at nearly 3 is turning out to be hilariously funny and clever and interesting and kind and beautiful and just fantastic.
Not everybody has the same experience of newborns, and I think expectations and (often false) impressions of how everybody else is doing can mean it's an enormous shock when it doesn't go as planned.
Stick together, love each other, (and look at some of the practical advice too) and you'll get through this.
I doubt it is silent reflux. He has had HV and my wife has mentioned his crying / screaming to her. I think the new screaming is that he is finding his voice (so people say - wish it wasn't so high-pitched!) and that he's just a whingy baby. Laying down horizontally he is fine - he can sometimes play nicely on his mat for nearly an hour!
I did ask at work about swapping maternity / paternity leave, and spoke to my wife about it but we don't think that'd be practical - it'd only mean we swap the last 2 months, plus my paternity pay would be rubbish anyway (the statutory £136 per week - hers is more as the company she works for does good maternity leave). I may suggest putting him in daycare for a morning or two a week. As I say, I won't be able to take much annual leave now as we're saving it for holidays later in the year (company I work for is odd as it does Jan to Dec holiday allocations, rather than Apr to Mar).
Today he's been better, apparently. My wife has tried him with a little bit of baby porridge which he quite enjoyed. In the afternoon he was a lot happier, and in the evening better but then a bit grouchy - probably because he had barely any of his previous feed and we stretched him out a bit too far.
Sleep - sleeps fine at night, no complaints. Yeah, he'll occasionally get up once for a feed (slept through last night, though this may have been down to being tired out from screaming yesterday) but I can't complain about that. During the day he'll normally manage some sleep when in his pram or in the car (again, whenever I can I'll take him for 2 walks a day, which will normally let him sleep about 90 mins to 2 hours in total) but getting him to sleep otherwise is pretty hit-or-miss.
Just hoping it changes soon - that said, I know other people have it a lot worse. He has had some nice periods, but recent weeks haven't been good. When he's happy he's absolutely great.
Remember the happy bits and focus on them.
Be there for each other...
Sorry, just thought I'd suggest something which I don't think has been mentioned up thread.
He could just be ill. Have you had him checked out for ear infections, throat infections etc? Symptoms often hard to spot in littlies.
1. Your employer doesn't get to decide on your paternity leave. You have a legal right since 2011 to share it with your partner, so if she wants to go back to work and you stay at home for the rest of the year, they have to let you do it. Bit of googling and you'll find the rules.
2. It's bloody hard work. What you're going through is what everyone goes through, basically. That's not meant to belittle the agony you're going through, just to reassure you that this is how it's mean to be. Living with a small baby is trench warfare, only you're not supposed to kill the enemy. Because ultimately you love the enemy, they just drive you crazy.
3. It will get better. For all of you. (Enemy eventually deserts the forces of darkness and joins your side).
4. The guy in your office with the rainbows and bunnies? Ha. Ask him where he buys his drugs and see if you can get some too. He's clearly so deep into the war he's done a Kurtz.
5. If there's any possibility that your wife might have post natal depression, contact APNI. They can help. They are amazing. One social event a week is not enough. Your wife needs to get out every day and share the pain with other women in the same situation. Nobody survives this alone.
6. It will get better.
7. Keep on helping her out as much as you can, whenever you can. She will appreciate it so much and you will feel so much better about yourself knowing that you did all that you could.
8. Any chance of parents coming to stay for a few weeks, to ease the pressure? I don't get on great with mine but they were a life saver when we had a newborn.
9. If you have the money, get a doula. Your wife will love you forever.
I started enjoying motherhood from about 8 months (went back to work then coincidently). It is a real shock and if your baby has colic then teething it's harder. I wish I knew then what I do now but no one can prepare you. Things that helped me - bouncers, rockers, in the night garden, dummies, anbesol teething liquid, going for walks, making friends with mums and letting the babies play together - god it was so tough but I now have a fantastic 2 yo
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